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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

| August 31, 2021

Bruce Collins Joins WBAP-AM and KLIF-AM in Dallas as PD. Programming pro Bruce Collins is named program director for Cumulus Media’s Dallas news/talk outlets WBAP-AM and KLIF-AM. Collins joins Cumulus from Alpha Media’s Portland, Oregon cluster where he was spoken word content director and operations manager for news/talk KXL “FM News 101,” talk KUFO-AM “Freedom 970,” sports talk KXTG-AM “The Game” and the Radio Northwest Network. Cumulus regional VP Dan Bennett says, “After a nationwide search, Bruce Collins’ history of winning in news/talk in Portland made him the obvious choice to lead our talented team in Dallas. His perceptions and analysis of our brands convinced me he should be our next programming leader.” Collins comments, “I cannot thank Dan Bennett enough for the opportunity to program two heritage stations like WBAP and KLIF. I look forward to working with the entire Cumulus Dallas/Fort Worth staff and producing stimulating, thought provoking, informative, entertaining content each and every day.”

Beasley Media Group and Three Partners Collaborate to Launch New Detroit Sports Talker. The new Motor City sports talk outlet dubbed “The ROAR, Motor City Sports Talk 93.5 FM and 99.1 FM” can be heard via Beasley Media Group’s WCSX-HD2 and two translators – W228CJ at 93.5 FM and W248CC at 99.1 FM. For this station, Beasley is partnering with Woodward Sports, the Michigan Sports Network, and SportsMap Radio Network for the content. Morning drive features “X’s & BrO’s with Anthony Bellino” from the Michigan Sports Network. The midday show (10:00 am to 3:00 pm) is “Morning Woodward & Big D Energy” from Woodward Sports and features former Red Wing Darren McCarty, former Lion Joique Bell, with host Neal Ruhl and Detroit sports personalities Braylon Edwards and former WXYT-FM personality Terry Foster. The afternoon drive show is “The HUGE Show with Bill Simonson” and the evenings and overnight dayparts are filled with programming from SportsMap Radio including: Kevin Dziepak, Anthony Pepe, and Bill Schmid. Beasley Detroit VP and market manager Mac Edwards says, “There’s a new sports animal in the Motor City – The ROAR! We are absolutely thrilled to partner with Chad Johnson from Woodward Sports Network as well as Marty Booher at MSN and the crew at SportsMap Radio to deliver some of the most compelling sports content Motor City fans have ever experienced!”

WABC, New York Ups Matthew Meany to Assistant Program Director. Rising from his position as executive producer for the “Bernie & Sid” show to his new role as assistant program director is Matthew Meany. Red Apple Media SVP of programming Dave LaBrozzi announces the promotion and says Meany will step into his new position immediately and play an integral role in the day-to-day operations of the radio station, working alongside the programming team. He adds, “Matt’s hand in the impressive growth of the morning show ratings and his desire to grow make this appointment an ideal match for him and the station.” Meany began his radio career at 77 WABC in 2014 as a part-time board operator and quickly rose through the ranks. Red Apple says he took over as executive producer of the “Bernie & Sid” show over a year ago and has piloted the show to its best ratings in years.

Bill Michaels Show Returns to Milwaukee Airwaves. After eight months not being heard in the Milwaukee market, Wisconsin sports talk host Bill Michaels is back on the air at iHeartMedia’s sports talk WOKY-AM in the 11:00 am to 3:00 pm daypart. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Michaels, who was ousted from Audacy’s WSSP-AM “The Fan” as part of the station’s programming changes back in January, is bumping FOX Sports Radio’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” to the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm daypart and consequently moves the Doug Gottlieb show out of afternoon drive on WOKY. Since exiting WSSP, Michaels’ show has been based at Mid-West Family Communications’ WOZN-AM/W244DR, Madison.

WWO Blog: Podcast Listeners Are Young, Educated and Employed. This week’s Westwood One blog reveals findings from the Westwood One 2021 Audioscape, a report that includes data from Edison Research’s Share of Ear study, CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One’s annual Podcast Download release, and Nielsen’s Scarborough USA+ studies that delves into the question of who is listening to podcasts? The report concludes that the podcast audience is young, employed, educated, and upscale. “At 34, the median age of the podcast audience is 14 years younger than AM/FM radio and much younger than broadcast television network audiences (54). 53% of persons who have listened to an audio podcast in the past 30 days are employed in a white-collar occupation. 39% hold management positions and 55% have a household income of $75,000-plus, making this group an audience advertisers want to reach.

WRVA, Richmond Talk Host Jeff Katz Honored with 2021 Father Figure Award. Talk radio host Jeff Katz is being honored by The Relationship Foundation of Virginia with its 2021 Father Figure of The Year award. Katz is one of 11 men nominated as “Funding Fathers” for their work raising funds for The Relationship Foundation of Virginia. Katz personally raised the most money in the history of the Funding Fathers program. The Relationship Foundation of Virginia is a regional, non-profit organization dedicated to fostering and educating men on fatherhood, and presents the award to Katz who, along with his wife Heidi, have three children ranging in age from 16 to 20 years. The Father Figure Award also recognizes Katz’s career as Central Virginia’s leading talk radio personality at WRVA, Richmond and his active role in serving the community. He serves on the board of directors of The Friendship Circle of Virginia, the Hanover County Sheriff’s Advisory Board and represents the Beaverdam Magisterial District on the Hanover County Community Services Board. He is also completing his term as Mayor of Beaverdam, Virginia. Katz volunteers with The Relationship Foundation of Virginia as teacher and mentor, helping men to be better fathers. He happily works with new dads with special concentrations in the areas of fathers to special needs children, fathers in recovery, and fathers who are incarcerated. Chris Beach, executive director of The Relationship Foundation of Virginia, says, “This was the biggest event yet. It wasn’t just an event it was really a celebration of amazing men. These eleven dads raised more than $77,000 collectively for fatherhood and marriage programs in our area. Jeff Katz, the dad who was crowned The Father Figure, raised more money than any dad in the history of this event by bringing in more than $18,000! To say that I am blown away by the hard work of these dads is an understatement.”

NAB Names Anna Chauvet VP of Public Policy. The National Association of Broadcasters announces that Anna Chauvet joins the organization as vice president of public policy. Chauvet reports to Shawn Donilon, executive vice president of government relations. She joins NAB from the U.S. Copyright Office, where she was most recently associate general counsel. NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “Anna enjoys sterling credentials as an expert in copyright law, including deep knowledge of the music licensing regime. Broadcasters will benefit from her experience as the industry navigates a range of critical policy issues affecting radio and television. We are excited to welcome her to the NAB team.”

TALKERS News Notes. The Houston operations of iHeartMedia – along with their listeners – are working to assist the people of New Orleans as they struggle through the destruction left by Hurricane Ida. Staffers from all seven radio stations are loading and deploying dozens of 18-wheeler trucks filled with critically needed items for the communities impacted by Hurricane Ida. KTRH-AM-based, syndicated talk host Michael Berry comments, “The people of Houston are very close to the New Orleans community. They came to Houston after Hurricane Katrina and they came and helped us after our last horrible Hurricane Harvey.”…..ABC News Radio is providing an hour-long special anchored by correspondent Aaron Katersky in observance of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 titled, “9/11 Twenty Years Later – America Remembers” which will be available mid-week for affiliates to air on-demand. The special will also be available later as an episode of the “ABC News Radio Specials” podcast, available on major listening platforms. ABC News’ flagship daily podcas, “Start Here,” hosted by Brad Mielke, will feature special coverage in the days leading up to the anniversary.

Afghanistan Withdrawal, COVID-19, Ida Aftermath, End of Unemployment Benefits, China Limits Online Gaming, Global Supply-Shipping Woes, and Newsom Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/30). Criticism of President Joe Biden’s quick withdrawal from Afghanistan and the recent deaths of U.S. military personnel; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the Southern states dealing with full ICUs, and the controversy over mask & vaccine mandates; the aftermath of Hurricane Ida leaves Louisiana without power; the looming end of federal jobless benefits from COVID aid packages; China announces limits on the time children can spend gaming online; retailers and manufacturers are suffering from lack of inventory and building components due to the broken global supply chain and shipping troubles; and the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

| July 1, 2021

TALKERS 2021 Conference Video Posted – “Programming News/Talk Radio in the ‘20s.” The fourth video, under the direction of Art Vuolo, from the TALKERS 2021 Conference that took place at Hofstra University on June 11, is posted. This installment explores the main challenges facing spoken-word commercial radio’s largest and most influential format as we move into the highly unpredictable third decade of 21st century. Introduced and sponsored by Doug Stephan of the “DJV Show” and moderated by Mike McVay, CEO of McVay Media Consulting, the panel includes Phil Boyce, senior VP/spoken word format, Salem Media Group/Salem Radio Network and VP/operations New York region; Michael Czarnecki, PD, WONK-FM, Washington, DC/iHeart Podcast ChannelDave LaBrozzi, SVP/programming, Red Apple MediaJosh Leng, CEO, Talk Media NetworkGreg Stocker, executive producer, Rich Zeoli Show and APD, WPHT, Philadelphia; and Joe Thomas, morning show host/PD, WCHV, Charlottesville, VA. TALKERS will be posting a new video from TALKERS 2021 each business day until all 10 are archived and available for on-demand viewing.

WFAN, New York Programmer Mark Chernoff Honored with Studio Naming. Yesterday (6/30) was Mark Chernoff’s last day on the job at Audacy’s WFAN, New York and the CBS Sports Radio Network. Chernoff retired from the company after an illustrious career in which he served as program director for legendary sports talk outlet WFAN for 28 years. In honor of his service, the company dedicated the sports newsroom as “The Mark Chernoff WFAN Newsroom.” Pictured above are (top l-r): Craig Carton, Chernoff, Al Dukes, and Eddie Scozzare and (bottom l-r): Boomer Esiason, Jerry Recco, and Chris Oliviero. The plaque reads: “Program Director 1993-2021. Influenced the sound of New York sports over four decades while nurturing the careers of many who traveled this space. Dedicated June 30th, 2021.” (Photo: Audacy)

WSB, Atlanta Meteorologist Kirk Mellish to Retire; Christina Edwards to Join the Station. A meteorologist dedicated just to a radio station is indeed a rare thing in today’s media landscape and Cox Media Group’s WSB Radio (WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta) has enjoyed the service of “first and only radio-only” meteorologist Kirk Mellish for 34 years. Mellish will retire at the end of July and transition into a consultant role through the end of the year. However, the station will not be without a meteorologist as Christina Edwards will assume the role. Mellish says, “When I joined WSB in Atlanta in July 1987 just three years after graduation, I never would have thought I’d stay this long. It has been a blessing to turn my childhood hobby into a career and to serve most of these decades as the first radio-only, full-time meteorologist in the country. This is the type of broadcasting innovation typical of WSB and CMG leadership in the industry. It has been an honor and privilege to work with so many great colleagues and big names in our business in management, on-air and behind the scenes. I look forward to the next chapter in my life and am excited to pass the baton, or should I say barometer, to Christina Edwards who will be a great fit for the tradition of weather coverage on 95.5 WSB.” About her new position, Edwards says, “I am thrilled to be joining the legendary 95.5 WSB Radio! I grew up in metro Atlanta, listening to Kirk Mellish’s weather reports during my family’s daily commute, and I continue to listen even today. I appreciate Kirk’s ability to break down complex weather forecasts in a way listeners can understand. And, of course, diving into the details online in his weather blog. I am thankful for Kirk’s service and weather forecasts. It is an honor to join 95.5 WSB Radio and continue in the footsteps of Kirk’s legacy.”

iHeartMedia and Audacy Honored by Philly Civic Organization. The Philadelphia operations of iHeartMedia have been named a 2021 honoree of The Civic 50 Greater Philadelphia by Philadelphia Foundation, in partnership with Points of Light and other local partners. Modeled after Points of Light’s national program, The Civic 50 Greater Philadelphia provides a standard for corporate citizenship and showcases how employers use their time, skills and resources to drive social impact in their communities and company. iHeartMedia Philadelphia director of news and community affairs Loraine Ballard Morrill says, “iHeartMedia Philadelphia’s six stations have a long history of community service, especially critical during this pandemic. We are deeply honored to receive this recognition. To quote President Barack Obama, ‘If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope.’” Audacy vice president of social impact Sarah Harris says, “We are honored to be recognized as one of the region’s most community-minded companies. And I am thrilled to share our national impact and commitment to supporting sound communities in our inaugural social impact report. Thank you to our employees, partners and neighbors for the incredible work you do to move people to action within our markets.” Pictured below at a ceremony for the honor are (from l-r): Michael Nutter, former Mayor of Philadelphia; Natalye Paquin, president & CEO, Points of Light Foundation; Sarah Harris, VP social impact, Audacy; David Yadgaroff, SVP / market manager, Audacy Philadelphia; Diane Melley, Points of Light board member & executive director, Philadelphia Foundation; Pedro Ramos, president & CEO, Philadelphia Foundation.

HOLIDAY DOUBLE HEADER: Mandy Connell and Vince Benedetto Are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. KOA, Denver 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm personality Mandy Connell and Bold Gold Media Group founder/CEO Vince Benedetto are this week’s guests on a special Independence Week edition of the PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison states, “We wanted to do a short-but-sweet salute to the nation’s 245th birthday and the selection of Mandy Connell and Vince Benedetto really fits the bill. Mandy is a refreshingly objective conservative commentator and rising star in news/talk radio armed with facts, wit and goodwill. She articulates the subjective nature of today’s media and the role that it plays in perpetuating the wave of polarization gripping our republic. Vince Benedetto is a former Air Force pilot and U.S. intelligence agent with a remarkable wealth of scholarly knowledge about the founding fathers and the formative years of America’s development from Thomas Jefferson all the way through the mega-challenges faced by Abraham Lincoln. Together, but separately, Mandy and Vince present an informative and thought-provoking tribute to our nation’s past, present and future. Happy Birthday, America!” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here

iHeartMedia Unveils ‘NextUp’ Podcasting Initiative. The iHeartPodcast Network is launching an initiative called “NextUp” that takes up-and-coming and underrepresented diverse creators and gives them a chance to learn all about the world of podcasting from iHeartMedia. This initiative is being led by iHeartPodcast Network executive producer Anna Hossnieh and executive podcast producer Joelle Smith. Hossnieh says, “I’m excited to help launch ‘NextUp’ with the iHeartPodcast Network, an initiative that takes underrepresented diverse creators and gives them a chance to learn all about the world of podcasting from one of the largest global podcasting networks. Led by myself and fellow executive podcast producer Joelle Smith, the program will mentor two people in each of iHeart’s three major podcasting hubs: Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta. We believe by helping to elevate the voices of underrepresented storytellers and providing an incredible opportunity to be heard, iHeart will become the epicenter of compelling podcast talent and an industry leader in helping to address the market inefficiencies among underrepresented audio creators. The program will take place over five months and include a monthly stipend. ‘NextUp’ aims to empower participants by giving them the tools to succeed in the podcast industry – from developing and marketing a podcast to using industry-leading software. Participants in ‘NextUp’ will learn from some of iHeartRadio’s top creators and leave the program with at least three finished episodes and a polished pitch for their podcast. Submissions to apply for the program open July 5 – July 9 and can be found here.

Trump Org CFO Surrenders, COVID-19, Tucker Carlson NSA Allegations, Condo Collapse, Big City Violent Crime, Cosby Released, House January 6 Investigation, CCP Anniversary, Heatwaves, and Donald Rumsfeld Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/30). Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg surrenders to authorities after being indicted by a grand jury; concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant and the slowing rate of vaccinations in the U.S.; FOX News host Tucker Carlson claims he’s being surveilled by the NSA on the Biden administration’s orders; the continuing rescue efforts at the collapsed condo in Florida; the soaring rate of violent crime in America’s large cities; Bill Cosby is released from prison after a PA court overturned his conviction; the U.S. House plan to investigate the January 6 Capitol attack; the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party and Xi Jinping’s warning to the West; the record-setting heatwaves in the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast; and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dies were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

| September 24, 2020

Chris Stigall and Salem Agree to Two More Years. Talk radio host Chris Stigall and Salem Media Group’s WNTP, Philadelphia “AM 990 The Answer” agree to a contract extension for Stigall to continue hosting the morning program through October 1, 2022. Station general manager Lorenzo Caldara says, “Chris has become must-listen-to radio in Philadelphia during these difficult times. His wit and talent have been incredibly valuable in his first year on the air with us. We’re excited that our audience will be waking up to Chris Stigall for years to come.” Stigall joined WNTP in November of 2019. He’d been hosting his own daily podcast after parting with Entercom’s WPHT in March of 2019. He says, “I’ve never been more proud of what our new team at Philadelphia’s ‘AM 990 The Answer’ has built in our first year. The smartest audience in radio has been with me in Philly for over a decade and I’m excited to continue spending my mornings with them for years to come.” This announcement comes on the heels of the news of Stigall’s also joining Cumulus Media’s KCMO-AM, Kansas City to host a late morning talk program.

‘The Aggressive Progressive’ Chris Hahn Joins WABC for Weekends. New York City news/talk outlet “TALKRADIO 77 WABC” is adding KMG Networks’ “The Chris Hahn Show” to its weekend program schedule.  It will air Sundays from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm on the Red Apple Media station. Hahn, who goes by the moniker “The Aggressive Progressive,” is a regular contributor to FOX News, a lawyer, author, and public speaker. He says, “I am excited to bring my Sunday show to WABC, the nation’s leading talk radio station. My show is part of the national conversation on the issues of our day and it thrills me to engage the WABC audience with a strong progressive voice.” WABC SVP of programming Dave LaBrozzi comments, “Having Chris as a part of the weekend lineup helps us deliver on our goal of presenting both sides of the story. Chris’s background, insight, and compelling conversation are now an integral part of our weekend programming.”

SCOTUS Justice Battle, Breonna Taylor Grand Jury/Protests, the Presidential Race, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccine, School Openings/College Outbreaks, Bolton Book Release Controversy, Senate Committee’s Hunter Biden Report, and Western Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/23). Senate president Mitch McConnell’s plan to vote on President Trump’s nominee to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat before the election; a Louisville grand jury declines to charge officers in the death of Breonna Taylor and the protests that ensued; the November presidential election; the U.S. surpasses 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, projections for future cases, and progress on a vaccine; the challenges facing students, parents, and teachers as schools open and the outbreaks of COVID-19 on college campuses; the controversy over an NSA reviewer’s claim that the White House intervened in the process for John Bolton’s book; a Senate subcommittee’s report on Hunter Biden’s sitting on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm; and the wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. More from the coming HBO documentary “Wild Card: The Downfall of a Radio Loudmouth” about the demise of former WFAN, New York morning host Craig Carton from the New York Post. Andrew Marchand reports that Carton teases he almost committed suicide a month before he was arrested on fraud charges that eventually got him 3 and ½ years (although he served less than a year in prison, the rest is to be served under house arrest). The film is to debut on October 7…..FOX News Radio announces that it welcomes 56 former Westwood One News affiliate stations to a growing affiliate base of more than 1,000 stations nationwide. New affiliates include Red Apple Media’s WABC-AM, New York and Cumulus Media’s WMAL-AM, Washington, DC and WBAP-AM, Dallas…..Former FOX News Channel personality Rob Schmitt begins hosting a nightly show on Newsmax TV this fall. Schmitt was an anchor for “FOX & Friends First” and “FOX Nation.” He says, “I’m extremely excited to join Newsmax, an independent news network on a strong growth trajectory, at this incredibly important time. News has never mattered more. This coming election will certainly be the most important in my lifetime.” Schmitt joins the lineup of evening shows on Newsmax TV that includes Sean Spicer and Lyndsay Keith, Greg Kelly, and Grant Stinchfield.

A STROLL DOWN COVID LANE: Two Talk Show Hosts Who’ve Survived COVID-19 Are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. There’s nothing like first-hand experience to give cred to a commentator in discussing a contemporary issue. Two TALKERS Heavy Hundred radio talk show hosts, Jennifer Horn and Heidi Harris, who’ve contracted and survived COVID-19 this past summer, are this week’s guests on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Jennifer Horn is the morning show co-host on the Salem Media Group’s two Southern California “The Answer” outlets – KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino – in addition to being the co-host of the nationally syndicated “DJV Show.”  She is also VP/general manager of the CRN Digital Talk Radio Network, a company started years ago by her father, the legendary Mike Horn. Heidi Harris is a veteran Las Vegas radio talk show host, podcaster and author who currently helms the morning show on KMZQ. Both women, who are conservative and supporters of President Trump, engage in back-to-back candid conversations with Harrison about their experiences contracting, battling, and surviving the coronavirus. They discuss their symptoms, whom they spread it to, and how they now approach the topic on the air. Don’t miss this! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. WKYC-TV, Cleveland reports that the internet station oWOW radio will cease operations after this month due to pandemic-related financial problems. The station was launched in 2015 by former longtime WMMS programmer John Gorman. The station’s press statement says, “After much consideration and weighing several factors in our industry, we recognized that continued operation of oWOW radio is no longer viable in this negative business environment. Since we are not in a situation to influence the uncertainty of the future, we are unable to ride out the storm. Though this past summer’s online streaming ratings on oWOW were 20% above last summer’s numbers, the numerous business closures prevented us from converting those numbers in a stagnant advertising market. In previous years, the summer months accounted for over 50% of oWOW’s annual revenue.”…..Alternative WEQX, Manchester, Vermont program director and morning drive host Jeff Morad is being promoted to operations manager for the station. Mimi Brown is general manager for the Northfield Communications station. She says, “It is with great pleasure to announce that Mr. Morad has accepted the position of operations manager. Jeff is the hardest working human I have ever met and has been my right hand since he accepted the PD position.”

My Cousin Brucie Problem

| September 8, 2020

By Walter Sterling
Talk Show Host

 

NEW YORK — Cousin Bruce Morrow started on WABC from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm this past Saturday. He will be on every Saturday. It puts a sugar coating on the station, a brilliant decision by Chad Lopez, Dave LaBrozzi and owner John Catsimatidis. As you know, Bruce Morrow’s on-air energy and connection to the audience is unrivaled in American radio. On the WABC schedule my local, live just-for-WABC show comes on at 9:00 pm, after Bruce. How do I come on after Bruce?

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

| August 12, 2020

Sumner Redstone Has Died. According to a statement from ViacomCBS, its chair emeritus and chief executive officer of controlling shareholder National Amusements, Sumner Redstone, has died. Redstone served as Viacom CEO from 1996 – 2005, and was executive chair of the Viacom and CBS boards from 2005 – 2016. He since was chair emeritus for both companies. A statement reads, “Sumner Redstone was a brilliant visionary, operator, and dealmaker, who single-handedly transformed a family-owned drive-in theater company into a global media portfolio. He was a force of nature and fierce competitor, who leaves behind a profound legacy in both business and philanthropy. ViacomCBS will remember Sumner for his unparalleled passion to win, his endless intellectual curiosity, and his complete dedication to the company. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Redstone family today.” Sumner Redstone was 97 years old.

Beasley Study: Boston Consumers Optimistic. Results of Beasley Media Group Boston-commissioned/ Strategic Solutions Research-conducted polling indicate the majority of Boston-area consumers remain optimistic even during the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, a large percentage feel their spending is – or will soon be – back to normal. Beasley Media Group Boston vice president/market manager Mary Menna comments, “The company’s study is meant to help guide marketing partners on how to craft the most effective messaging with their advertising and give Boston area businesses critical data as to local consumers’ current state-of-mind and planned future behaviors. It was important for us to conduct this research to get a pulse on Boston consumers for our clients. People in Boston are optimistic that we will make it through the pandemic. That optimism shows true ‘Boston Strong’ grit and determination. They also understand the seriousness of the situation: The great majority of listeners – nine of ten – support wearing a mask, and they expect others to do so as well.” Strategic Solutions Research partner Hal Rood notes that, while shopping patterns have had to shift online, “It does not spell the end of brick-and-mortar establishments. The overwhelming majority of listeners still plan on making in-person shopping part of their mix, and that includes people under 35.” The survey was conducted July 6 – 16 among 1,532 listeners of Beasley Media Group Boston’s five radio stations: sports talk WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub”; classic hits-oldies WROR “105.7 ’80s & More”; WKLB “Country 102.5”; WBOS “Boston’s Rock 92.9”; and rhythmic hot AC WBQT “Hot 96.9.”

Local Ad Revenue Estimates Lowered. Continuing economic fallout owing to the coronavirus crisis has led BIA Advisory Services to adjust its estimate for 2020’s total local advertising market to $140.4 billion, which is down from April’s $144.3 billion. Albeit with this year’s anticipated strong political advertising, BIA’s updated forecast estimate represents a 6.1% decline from 2019. BIA’s senior vice president/chief economist Mark Fratrik explains that, “To update our post-COVID forecast from April, we analyzed the continuing impact on local advertising by the weakened economy, continuing job loss reports, and the downturn in some key business verticals. We believe a realistic view of the economy overall and the advertising marketplace is that, after a dramatic decrease in the second-quarter and a bumpy start to the third, the remainder of the year will turn positive, but end up with an overall decline in local advertising for the year.” As political campaigns continue to drift to online rallies and events, presidential and down-ballot candidates are spending significant dollars in local broadcast and digital advertising. Ever since its April prediction, BIA increased the expected political ad spend from $7.1 billion to $7.3 billion. Distributed share to different media includes $5 million to terrestrial radio; $138 million to over-the-air TV; $40 million to cable TV; and $26 million to online/digital.

COVID-19 Concerns Cause BFA Golf Tourney Cancellation. Owing to coronavirus-related safety fears, the Broadcasters Foundation of America has scrubbed its celebrity golf tournament fundraiser. Another big BFA money driver – the Philip J. Lombardo Golf Tournament traditionally held in conjunction with the NAB Show in Las Vegas – was cancelled as well a few months ago. Broadcasters Foundation chair Scott Herman remarks, “Our colleagues who find themselves in acute need due to a debilitating illness or accident need our help. This year, we are helping more broadcasters than ever before, and it’s imperative that we continue to do so. We cannot turn our backs on our colleagues.” Broadcasters Foundation president Jim Thompson adds, “We have three major fundraisers a year, and the golf tournaments are two of them. Our grant recipients worked in radio or television stations in markets across America.” The two golf fundraisers, along with smaller events, generate over $450,000 a year. In hopes of negating the losses, the Broadcasters Foundation is launching a plea for donations. Personal contributions can be made to the Foundation’s Guardian Fund. Corporate offerings are accepted through the Angel Initiative, while bequests can be made through the Foundation’s Legacy Society.

Mr. Master Marks Milestone: Million Spots Per Week. The company behind Automation Import Manager (AIM) – Mr. Master – has processed and provided compliance for one million network spots per week nationwide. This coincides with Mr. Master announcing new AIM agreements with Neuhoff Communications (five markets/20 stations) and Forever Communications (three markets/26 stations). It has AIM renewal contracts with Entercom (44 markets/453 stations); Alpha Media (46 markets/226 stations); SummitMedia (nine markets/51 stations); and Forever Media (16 markets/63 stations). Mr. Master president Stu Jacobs states, “We are very proud that AIM has become such a widely accepted, and useful tool that helps networks, stations, and advertisers to quickly get the accurate information they need, whether they are working in-office or remotely. One million national network spots a week – 52 million spots a year – is a huge milestone for our company. We couldn’t have done it without our first-class team and the amazing clients who trust us with their accountability.”

Albuquerque’s KQTM Aligns With Cage Side Seat MMA Media. The multi-layered broadcast relationship between Team Broadcasting Albuquerque sports talk KQTM “ESPN 101.7 The Team” and Cage Side Seat MMA Media includes weekly Jim “Gries” Grieshaber-hosted longform programming; daily UFC/MMA commentaries/features; and weekly guest appearances on live programming. KQTM president Joe O’Neill comments, “It’s great to work with Jim. He’s a national-level talent connected to the pulse of UFC/MMA. We look forward to bringing “Gries” to New Mexico.” Grieshaber adds, “We’re so pumped to partner with our friends at ‘The Team’ and the great MMA fans of Albuquerque. Albuquerque is hallowed ground in our sport. It is home of the mecca of MMA gyms Jackson-Wink MMA, the GOAT Jon Jones, and legends like Holly Holm, Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez, ‘The Karate Hottie’ Michelle Waterson, and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. We’re coming strong with the best in MMA/UFC sports talk programming.”

Key Networks And Virtual Jock Partnering. In the barter basis arrangement, New Generation Radio product Virtual Jock will provide syndication company Key Networks access to its on-air talent and programming services. Virtual Jock founder/president/chief executive officer Jason Kidd explains that right before launching Virtual Jock five years ago, “Many stations were downsizing and losing strong local talent in the process. Fast forward to now and the need is greater than ever before. Teaming up with Key Networks will allow us to take things to an even higher level, expanding and offering our major market talent roster to radio stations across all formats. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with them.” Key Networks president and chief operating officer Jim Higgins comments, “The ongoing disruption from COVID-19 has severely impacted every radio company. All have eliminated some on-air positions and daypart shifts as cost-cutting moves in order to retain financial stability. Virtual Jock can now assist these groups and others by offering a no-cost barter option to fill some of these numerous holes and to also reconnect with those disenfranchised listeners. We want to work closely with stations to fill this void as radio is beginning to rebound.” Chief revenue officer Dennis Green notes, “Jason [Kidd] and his team have developed a concept that offers stations a chance to bring top-notch talent across all formats to markets from coast-to-coast. Key Networks is delighted to partner with Virtual Jock to provide a marketing opportunity that is cost-effective for stations both large and small to have dynamic and proven talent on their air.” In addition to 24/7 formats, Virtual Jock currently offers 40 full-time/in-house voice talents, as well as fully-produced audio programs and imaging. New York and Orlando-based Key Networks is a Sun & Fun Media-affiliated company.

Shondaland Audio, iHeartMedia Release Original Podcasts. As part of an arrangement between iHeartRadio and Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland Audio, three podcasts will debut this month: “You Down?”; “Criminalia”; and “Go Ask Ali.” Future podcasts will include “#Matter,” “American Coup,” and “Black Girl Lost.” According to iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne, “Shonda Rhimes is an absolute creative powerhouse. Developing these first few shows together has indicated what a strong partnership iHeartMedia and Shondaland have formed with Shondaland Audio. The breadth and depth of content that’s in progress as part of this partnership is unparalleled. We’re thrilled to work beside the Shondaland team to bring Shonda’s unique storytelling magic to podcast listeners everywhere.” Shondaland Audio chief design and digital media officer Sandie Bailey states, “Podcasts allow for innovative and intimate storytelling and that’s exactly what this slate offers – deeply human stories through a range of genres and formats aimed to engage the varied and ever- growing podcast listenership. iHeartMedia has been an incredible partner in forming Shondaland Audio. I’m thrilled that audiences will soon hear more from our collaboration with this new offering of shows.” Rhimes oversees development of the slate; Bailey manages day-to-day operations. Previously launched “Katie’s Crib,” a bi-weekly podcast following “Scandal” and “Waitress” actress Katie Lowes joined the slate three months ago. It releases a new episode tomorrow (Thursday, 8/13) that features actress Gabrielle Union.

Veritone One Signs On With Nielsen’s Podcast Buying Power Service. Audio advertising and media agency Veritone One is now subscribing to Nielsen’s Podcast Buying Power Service. Veritone One senior vice president of strategy and investment Conor Doyle comments, “As one of the largest podcast advertising agencies serving over 100 active clients across 15,000 podcasts, Nielsen’s research will help us refine our current placements and unlock market opportunities for new advertisers wanting to enter the medium. Access to consumption and audience data will attract brand advertisers who have been previously hesitant to enter the largely direct-to-consumer space. Integrating Nielsen’s unique insights along with our proprietary AI-based analytics and decades of experience will enable us to set a new industry standard in podcast advertising.” Nielsen Global Media executive vice president/managing director David Hohman notes, “Veritone One is an agency that is on the cutting-edge of advertising. We are excited to empower them as they turn their data into actionable intelligence with real-time campaign optimization. With more brand advertisers coming into the podcast medium, and Nielsen’s ability to analyze over 150 podcasts, Veritone One will be able to reach even greater success as an innovative industry leader.”

TALKERS News Notes. “Women To Watch” joins the lineup of Red Apple Media New York’s WABC “Talk Radio 77” this Saturday (8/15) at 8:30 am. It will commence as a 30-minute show, expanding to 60 minutes three weeks later (9/5) at a yet-to-be-determined time. The show’s founder/host Susan Rocco remarks, “I always wanted ‘Women to Watch’ to be the go-to media network for all stories related to women’s leadership and success. We are building a woman-owned, women-run media company to amplify the voices of women who are leading across all industries.” WABC’s senior vice president of programming Dave LaBrozzi notes his station, “is proud to support strong women by bringing this lively and inspiring weekly show to the NYC market.” The first guest featured on WABC will be The Weiss Agency executive vice president Heather Cohen, who comments, “‘Women To Watch’ is the place to go to hear inspiring stories by inspiring women. Susan [Rocco] is the consummate professional and her interviews are spot-on.  I’m honored to be the first guest in the NY market.” Rocco states, “Heather Cohen is an exciting first guest for our new market. She’s a New Yorker, has worked in the industry and was recently elected chair of The Alliance For Women in Media.” Originated and still heard on Entercom Philadelphia’s WPHT “Talk Radio 1210,” Women To Watch has expanded to a national podcast and digital platform … Separate from his duties as 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm host on Cox Media Group Atlanta news/talk WSB-AM & WSBB-FM, Erick Erickson today (Wednesday, 8/12) celebrates the one-year anniversary of doing self-syndication. His first affiliate was in Athens, Georgia (WGAU). Twelve months later, Erickson is on more than a dozen Georgia news/talk outlets. A one-man band, he does affiliate relations, and ad sales. Describing the experience as rewarding, Erickson explains, “Georgia’s swing state status makes a statewide program focused on the state a unique selling point. I try to be upfront, though, that I want to stretch outside the state after the election and keep growing nationwide.”  … As noted yesterday (TALKERS, 8/11), president Trump chatted on-air with Salem Media Networks host Hugh Hewitt. That wasn’t yesterday’s only radio stop for the chief executive though as he visited with Fox Sports Radio’s (6:00 am – 9:00 am, ET) “Outkick The Coverage” host Clay Travis. Regarding college football and the coronavirus, Trump told Travis, “People don’t realize it’s a tiny percentage of people that get sick and they’re old. It just attacks old people, especially old people with bad hearts, diabetes, some kind of a physical problem or a weight problem. These football players are very young, strong people. Physically, they’re in extraordinary shape, so they’re not going to have a problem. You’re not going to see people dying. You can’t have empty seats. I’m not sure college football can do it, but we’ll have to see.” On the return of the NFL and the NBA, he commented, “Well, they want to open and they want to open badly and they’ve been working with government. I would say this – if they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open. Other than that, I’d love to see them open and we’re doing everything possible to get them open. They can protest in other ways. I don’t think they should protest our flag or our country. Basketball ratings are down to very, very low numbers. People are angry about it. They have enough politics with guys like me. They don’t need more as they’re going up for the shot. There was a nastiness about the NBA and the way it was done. I think the NBA’s in big trouble — bigger trouble than they understand.” … Taking the place of annual in-person tours that SiriusXM’s “NFL Radio” channel usually conducts, it will present 32 virtual NFL training camp shows – one for each NFL franchise. Starting today (Wednesday, 8/12), “NFL Radio” channel hosts will interview players, coaches, and team executives via video conferencing. SiriusXM senior vice president of sports programming Steve Cohen states, “Like all NFL fans, we look excitedly ahead to the 2020 NFL season. Even amid these very unique circumstances in which teams are reporting to camp, we remain dedicated to giving our listeners the most in-depth and comprehensive preseason preview of their favorite teams. Our experts include some of the most knowledgeable and well-connected people covering the game today. They will deliver a level of analysis on teams and players that you can’t get anywhere else.” …  Numerous lineup changes next Monday (8/17) at Disney-owned/Good Karma Brands-operated sports talk WMVP will find “ESPN 1000 Chicago” airing two hours (5:00 am – 7:00 am) of ESPN Radio’s new national morning show with Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Zubin Mehenti. Shifting from 6:00 am – 9:00 am to 7:00 am – 10:00 am is David Kaplan. He will partner with Jonathan  Hood, who segues from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Meanwhile, Carmen DeFalco and John Jurkovic transition from 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm to 10:00 am – 12:00 noon, as ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg-hosted “Greeny” takes over the vacated 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm slot. Weekend hosts Chris Bleck and Adam Abdalla advance to 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, while Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman remain in afternoon drive (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm) … Citing pandemic-caused budget issues, Team Broadcasting Albuquerque sports talk KQTM “ESPN 101.7 The Team” parts ways with morning host Jim Villanucci and producer/host Sam Hauser. The station’s afternoon program – “Team Talk” – is being handled by a revolving set of hosts. Formerly an on-air talent at Cumulus Media Albuquerque news/talk KKOB-AM, Villanucci joined KQTM two years ago. He previously worked at news/talk stations in Portland (KXL) and Las Vegas (KXNT). Before coming to “The Team” last year, Hauser served as sports director in Austin, Minnesota at KAUS and was a producer/board op in Miami at sports talk WAXY “790 The Ticket.”

Kamala Harris Receives VP Nod, Mail-In Voting Debate, School Opening Struggles, and Chicago Unrest Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/11).  The selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as Joe Biden’s running-mate topped the TALKERS list of most-discussed stories on news/talk radio across America yesterday (8/11).  It was followed by the debates over mail-in voting and the opening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Other major topics included Chicago unrest, Russia’s vaccine, stimulus relief, and the cancellation of Big 10 and Pac-12 college football according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. With Ryan Seacrest’s television partner Kelly Ripa taking yesterday (Tuesday, 8/10) and today (Wednesday, 8/11) off, his “Live With Kelly & Ryan” co-host those two days is Sisanie, his radio partner. The two work together  on Premiere Networks’ “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” heard around the country from iHeartMedia Los Angeles CHR flagship KIIS “102.7 Kiss-FM.” Sisanie has filled in for Ripa several times the past few years … Last summer, Westwood One’s “Bob & Tom Show” asked David Rush, the world’s fastest juggler and breaker of over 150 Guinness World Records, to attempt shattering the record for most balloons popped in one minute using chopsticks. Rush established that mark in 2018 with 28 balloons, but that feat was subsequently broken. Rush set out to regain the title this past Sunday (8/9) – this time using hand pump-inflated, COVID-free balloon targets bearing “The Bob & Tom Show” logo. Halfway into the attempt, Rush recounts that he was “just barely on pace to beat the record,” but began throwing the chopsticks a little faster to pop 40 balloons in 60 seconds – a new world record. A big promoter of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, Rush dedicates all his world records to that cause … WBVX “Classic Rock 92.1” names Dennis “Dead Air” Dillon program director/afternoon personality of the LM Communications Lexington (Kentucky) outlet. LM Communications owner/president Lynn Martin remarks, “We are pleased to welcome Dennis Dillon, who has a long history of presenting the very best classic rock music and now can present it to the best classic rock audience in Lexington. By introducing him to our locally-owned and operated radio group, we once again show that being a local voice rather than just a cog in a national wheel lets us provide something truly unique to the classic rock audience in Lexington. Dillon notes, “In a time when big corporations are moving away from local DJ’s in the community, I’m ecstatic to have found a home in the city I love with a locally-owned and operated company. I’ve always loved this genre and I’m already discovering that the ‘Classic Rock 92.1’ fans share that same passion.” Dillon previously worked in Cincinnati, Louisville, and Chattanooga … Former MusicMaster vice president of sales Jerry Butler joins Marc Radio Gainesville-Ocala as local sales manager for a cluster that includes alternative WHHZ “100.5 The Buzz”; country WPLL; rhythmic CHR WTGM “Magic 101.3”; classic hits-oldies WXJZ; and contemporary Christian WTMN & WRZN. Marc Radio general manager Dave Cobb comments, “Jerry brings the perfect mix of leadership, marketing, on-air personality, and programming savvy. He knows the radio industry inside and out. He is great at advising clients and introducing them to new products. He’s a great asset to our team.” Butler adds, “Our goal is to guide the local advertising community on how best to earn impressive returns on their investments in any, or all, of our radio station formats.” … After stunting by playing a weekend of all-Christmas music, Zimmer Midwest Communications Springfield, Missouri flips sports talk KWTO “The Jock” to adult contemporary “98.7 The Dove.” ZMC co-owner John Zimmer remarks, “It’s a great day for our company to enter the greater Springfield market with stations featuring the most powerful signals and largest coverage areas to serve the Ozark region. The greater Springfield region has been a great driver of growth in Missouri – we are proud to be of part of the expansion. We look forward to making a positive impact and difference for the community and businesses with our local solutions and stations to promote the economy of the Springfield region.” Kevin Howard and Liz Delany (“Kevin & Liz”) debut in morning drive next Monday (8/17). Core artists on “Lite Rock Favorites The Dove” include Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Billy Joel, and Sting.