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Thursday, March 25, 2021

| March 25, 2021

Cumulus Fires One and Suspends Two at WGRF-FM, Buffalo After Racists Remarks on ‘Morning Bull Show.’ One member of the “The Morning Bull Show” at Cumulus Media’s classic rock WGRF-FM, Buffalo “97 Rock” has been fired and two other members have been suspended after they did a bit that involved comparing the color of famous Black women’s skin to burnt toast. Spectrum News reports that Cumulus fired Rob Lederman and suspended Rich Gaenzler and Chris Klein. Gaenzler also lost his gig as arena announcer for Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits games and the University of Buffalo says Gaenzler will not be considered for stadium announcer next fall (a position he’s held in the past). At least two advertisers pulled their ads from the station as Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the West Herr Auto Group canceled their current ad schedules. Cumulus issued the following statement: “Cumulus Media operates from a clearly defined set of programming principles and there is no question that Rob Lederman’s comments made on The Morning Bull Show are in direct violation of those principles. We swiftly terminated him and suspended the remainder of the show’s on-air talent. We apologize and deeply regret the incident.”

WBEN-AM, Buffalo Extends Bauerle and Bellavia Shows to Cover Limbaugh Daypart. According to a report in the Buffalo News, Entercom’s Buffalo news/talk WBEN-AM is going to fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart long occupied by “The Rush Limbaugh Show” by expanding the midday David Bellavia and afternoon drive Tom Bauerle shows. Beginning on April 5, the David Bellavia show air from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and Tom Bauerle’s program will air from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The station will add a 9:00 am to 10:00 am program hosted by AM drive co-host Brian Mazurowski and producer and fill-in host Joe Beamer. To fill the 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm hour created by Bauerle’s move, WBEN will air “The News Hour with Tom Puckett and the WBEN News Team.” Program director Tim Wenger says in a memo to staff, “This lineup gives us the ability to super-serve the market with the most compelling stories and topics on the minds of people in Buffalo and Western New York and establishes us as THE go-to outlet for full LIVE coverage all day long.”

Dana Loesch Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The leading female news/talk radio host in America, Dana Loesch, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Loesch has been syndicated by Radio America in the 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm ET time slot for the past seven years and is considered one of the leading players in a growing field of competitors seeking to be cleared on stations looking to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Rush Limbaugh. Loesch, a staunch conservative described as a “next generation” talker, is the author of three highly influential books: Hands Off My Gun: Defeating the Plot to Disarm America (Hachette, 2015), Flyover Nation: You Can’t Run a Country You’ve Never Been To (Sentinel, 2016), and Grace Canceled: How Outrage is Destroying Lives, Ending Debate, and Endangering Democracy (Regnery, 2020). Harrison and Loesch discuss the state of the talk radio industry as it enters the post-Limbaugh era along with her views on the gun control debate in the wake of the latest wave of mass murders in the news.  They also tackle the big questions about the future of the Republican Party, Donald Trump and the conservative movement in America.  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.  Don’t miss this!

Round Three of Nielsen Audio’s February PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s February 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen’s February 2021 sweep covered February 4 – March 3. All-news and news/talk stations that typically see a decline in listening following a presidential election kept the attention of listeners due to the chaos that followed the elections and that continued into the new year with the January 6 Capitol attack and the incoming Biden administration. In this report, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM drops from #1 to #2 after losing two-tenths to finish the February survey with a 6.0 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share). Urban One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte sheds 1.1 shares to finish with a 5.5 share and slides to the #4 rank. In Sacramento, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK remains ranked #1 even while losing six-tenths and wrapping the survey with a 9.6 share. There’s a second-place tie in Salt Lake City as iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-FM dips nine-tenths and Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM is flat – both posting 7.0 shares. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets – as well as the first two rounds – here.

Nielsen: Women Make Up 45% of Podcast Consumers; Kids & Family Most-Listened-To Genre. The new Podcasting Today report from Nielsen indicates that the top genre among female podcast listeners in the U.S. is ‘kids & family,’ with a 77% audience composition while true crime is fourth with a 60% audience composition (health & fitness and arts are second and third, respectively). The rest of the top 10 is: religion and spirituality (58%), education (54%), society and culture (53%), fiction (50%), and TV, film, and music (48%). “Perhaps what this tells us is that regardless of characteristics such as gender, podcasts listeners are a diverse group with diverse interests and that women are among the most voracious consumers of podcasts of all types and subjects.” Nielsen states, “Women are savvy consumers of news, information, and other media across devices. They also make up 45% of all podcast consumers over-indexing in podcasts across all genres. This is a coveted demographic for marketers and advertisers, as female-led households in the U.S. increased 41% in the last five years. No matter what media they’re consuming, truth, transparency, and real representation matter.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new podcast deal is announced in which iHeartMedia partners with Will Packer Media for a slate of original scripted and unscripted podcasts to the iHeartPodcast Network. iHeartMedia says, “The new partnership builds on the success of the true crime podcast ‘Fight Night,’ which launched on the iHeartMedia platform in October 2020 and was co-produced by Will Packer and James Lopez, president of Will Packer Productions. ‘Fight Night’ examined one of Atlanta’s most infamous armed robberies from the night of Muhammad Ali’s historic 1970 return to boxing.”…..ABC Audio unveils its new podcast “Inside the Oscars,” hosted by ABC News’ Ginger Zee. ABC says the six-part series dives into everything listeners want to know in the one-month countdown to an Oscar Sunday that will be like no other, including how filmmaking and the way we enjoy movies has changed. The first episode of “Inside the Oscars” is available today (3/25) with new episodes posting Thursdays…..Entercom and Global Music Rights announce a long-term partnership that allows Entercom to perform GMR’s catalog of hit songs across all of its platforms. Entercom says the multi-year deal starts immediately and paves the way for a strong partnership between the rapidly growing audio content and entertainment platform and the boutique performing rights organization featuring some of music’s most talented hitmakers. Entercom chief David Field adds, “We are excited to partner with Irving [Azoff] and the team at GMR. They represent some of the top talent on radio today. The combination of Entercom’s reach and GMR’s music is a huge win for our audience.”

Biden’s Immigration Policy, COVID-19, Cuomo Troubles, Georgia Voting Bill-Dem’s For the People Act, Suez Canal Blocked, Deadly Boulder Shooting/Gun Control, Biden Press Conference, and Chinese Cotton Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/24). The growing crush of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s response; the rising number of COVID-19 cases in some U.S. states, concern about variants, and vaccine rollouts; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is accused of giving his family priority in COVID testing, he faces allegations of sexual harassment, and engineering a cover-up over nursing home COVID deaths in the state; the Georgia bill that would restrict voting and the House Democrats’ For the People voting expansion bill; the freighter creating a roadblock in the Suez Canal; the slaying of 10 at a grocery in Boulder, Colorado and the larger issue of gun control; today’s first live press conference for President Joe Biden; and the allegation that Xinjiang cotton is made in Chinese detention camps were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

| July 21, 2020

David Bellavia Named WBEN-AM, Buffalo Late Morning Host. The replacement for longtime WBEN-AM, Buffalo 9:00 am to 12:00 noon personality Sandy Beach is former afternoon drive co-host David Bellavia. Beach is retiring at the end of this month after a long career on the Buffalo airwaves. Bellavia co-hosted the Entercom news/talk station’s afternoon drive program with Tom Bauerle from 2016 through 2019, at which time he took a leave from the station to tour the country on behalf of the U.S. Army following his receipt of the prestigious Medal of Honor. Bellavia is a former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant who joined the United States Army in 1999. He’s been awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the Second Battle of Fallujah, the Bronze Star, three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals and the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross. He says, “I have a deep respect for Sandy Beach and am truly humbled to have my own program on WBEN. My goal is to completely reinvent how local talk radio is perceived and make WBEN the place where Buffalo comes together to start their day.”

Entercom Amends Credit Agreement. The company announces that is has entered into an agreement to amend the financial covenants and other provisions under its Credit Agreement solely for the benefit of its revolver lenders. During the covenant relief period, which extends through December 31, 2021, unless terminated earlier by Entercom, the Amendment provides for a covenant holiday for the quarters ending September 30, 2020 and December 31, 2020, among other modifications. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “We are pleased to announce this credit facility amendment, which addresses the significant impact that COVID-19 has had on the economy and our advertising revenues. As previously announced, we have taken a number of actions to reduce costs and enhance our business model to both weather the storm and emerge stronger. We ended the second quarter in a strong liquidity position with $208 million of cash on-hand, up from $189 million at the end of March. During the 2nd quarter, we saw sequential month-over-month improvement in our revenue performance from April and we see the same pattern of month-over-month improvement in our pacing data for the 3rd quarter. Entercom is well positioned to fully participate in the recovery and the attractive growth opportunities in the audio space, with strong leadership positions in broadcast radio and podcasting, the fastest growing digital audio platform, unparalleled leadership in news and sports, and strong data and analytics capabilities. We will provide further comments on our performance and the outlook for the 3rd quarter during our 2nd quarter earnings call on August 7.”

June 2020 Analysis: Cume & Coronavirus. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents part one of a look at how cume (based on Nielsen Audio data from the June 2020 PPM survey) is shaking out for radio stations during the COVID-19 pandemic with today’s focus on the all-news format. Kinosian’s previous four analyses from the June 2020 survey have used weekly AQH share as the metric. Entercom’s WINS-AM, New York was the highest cume all-news station during the June PPM survey with 1.09 million. You can see how the rest of the nation’s all-newsers fared as well as rankings of all-news outlets based on cume increases from May 2020 to June 2020; stations by cume market rank; and more. See it all here.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, GOP Stimulus Plan, NJ Judge’s Son Slain, Presidential Election, Portland Protests, St. Louis Couple Charged, and Sports Leagues Openings Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/20). The rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases in numerous states and the projections for future cases; the battle between President Trump and GOP lawmakers in crafting a new stimulus plan; the shooting death of Judge Esther Salas’ son and the hunt for his killer; the November presidential race and the controversy over election procedures; the protests in Portland and President Trump’s use of federal troops in the city; a St. Louis couple is charged with weapons violations after aiming guns at protestors; and the attempts by U.S. pro sports leagues to start or continue their seasons were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. Sports talk personality Freddie Coleman re-ups with ESPN on a multi-year deal to keep him co-hosting the evening ESPN Radio show “Freddie and Fitzsimmons” with Ian Fitzsimmons. Coleman says, “I have been blessed beyond compare to have been with ESPN Radio for 16 years and that I will have a chance to add to it humbles me beyond words. To continue to keep loving what I do and doing what I love at ESPN Radio is something that I never take for granted.”…..Washington, DC sport talk outlet WSBN “ESPN 630 – The Sports Capitol” is joining the Virginia Sports Radio Network. Jake McCann is vice president and market manager for station owner Cumulus Media, he says, “We are thrilled to be the Washington D.C. area’s home for all the University of Virginia’s football and men’s basketball games. The school has a great tradition of excellence in athletics and in the classroom. There are many alumni in the area who will be delighted to hear the games as well as exclusive content we will be providing on ‘ESPN 630-The Sports Capitol.’”…..iHeartMedia and Tenderfoot TV are expanding their relationship to collaborate on nine new iHeartRadio Original Podcasts to air now through 2022. The deal kicks off with the second season of “Sworn,” Tenderfoot TV’s criminal justice system podcast that exposes the untold stories and hard truths behind major cases. Additionally, new investigative series podcasts for the slate will include “MLK Tapes,” produced in partnership with author Bill Klaber, co-creator of “The RFK Tapes,” set to premiere January 2021; and the next installment of the “Monster” podcast series, which has over 100 million downloads with the success of “Atlanta Monster” followed by “Monster: The Zodiac Killer,” “Monster Presents: Insomniac” and “Monster: D.C. Sniper,” set to debut early next year.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The iHeartRadio Music Festival is on this year – its 10th – but the show will be enjoyed by fans remotely. It’s being hosted by Ryan Seacrest will feature live performances recorded on stages in Los Angeles and Nashville in front of a virtual audience that will include a Capital One Fan Wall of iHeartRadio station winners. The two-day festival will be streamed on The CW App, and CWTV.com, and broadcast on iHeartMedia stations nationwide on September 18 and 19 at 9 pm ET. The CW Network will broadcast the two-night televised iHeartRadio Music Festival on Sunday, September 27 (8:00 pm -10:00 pm ET) and Monday, September 28 (8:00 pm -10:00 pm ET). Artists performing will include: BTS, Coldplay, Kane Brown, with Special Guests Khalid, Keith Urban, Migos, Miley Cyrus, Thomas Rhett, Usher and more…..Neuhoff Media promotes Mike Shamus to vice president and general manager for its Lafayette, Indiana station group. Shamus was previously vice president of programming, cluster OM, and PD for country WKOA-FM. Company CEO Beth Neuhoff says, “Shamus, as we all know him, is an exceptional leader. His work with our award-winning programming team demonstrated his capacity for team building and getting the best out of people. When this position came available, he was the natural choice. I know he will lead this market to a new level.”…..Beasley Media’s classic rock WCSX-FM is working to raise $50,000 for Gleaners Food Bank. Morning show host Big Jim from Big Jim’s House will drive 27 hours on a rockin’ road trip from Detroit to Minnesota to raise the money with help from legendary artist Bob Seger. Big Jim will drive a Chevy truck (provided by Chevrolet) from Detroit to the North Star Bar in Minnesota where Bob Seger reportedly stopped and had a drink in his song, “Roll Me Away.” Big Jim will leave for Minnesota on Thursday, July 23rd and upon his return to the Motor City, Bob Seger and Chevrolet will make a $50,000 donation to Gleaners Food Bank of Detroit.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

| February 6, 2020

Tom Bauerle Solo Again in WBEN-AM, Buffalo Afternoons; Report Alleges Internal Strife and More. According to a report in the Buffalo Chronicle, talk show host Tom Bauerle is back to being a solo performer in afternoon drive on Entercom’s WBEN 930 AM after co-host David Bellavia left the show with no explanation.  The piece says a rift between Bauerle and Bellavia is the reason for the change.  It also reports speculation that Bellavia is in line to take over the late morning show from Sandy Beach as he is considering retirement.  However, what’s far more bizarre is the Chronicle piece accuses Bauerle of “lashing out at members of his audience” and alleges that Bauerle sexually harassed the wife of a caller to the show. David Bellavia is still with WBEN. A station spokesperson tells TALKERS, “We have adjusted his duties to allow him the flexibility to continue with his Medal of Honor duties.  We are incredibly proud to continue our relationship with him and will soon be announcing a new venture with him.”

Quote of the Week.  There has been a lot of reaction, positive and negative, to Rush Limbaugh receiving the Medal of Freedom at the recent State of the Union Address.  The following quote deemed “brilliant” by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison is attributed to Steve Lapa (pictured above), president of South Florida-based Lapcom Communication Corp.: “How ironic is the talk radio world?!  The man who was #1 on the ‘No Buy’ list received the #1 civilian honor by the President of the United States. How many agency marketing directors will open their thinking to what great talk radio is about… and the deep influence of great talent?”

iHeartMedia and VSiN Partner with XFL for Sports Betting Audio Content. The new XFL inaugural season begins on Saturday (2/8) and the league has teamed with Vegas Stats & Information Network and iHeartMedia to create audio BetCasts for two games each week during the 2020 10-week regular season and two-week post-season.  The BetCasts will feature VSiN sports betting experts covering XFL games live from VSiN’s studios in Las Vegas through a wagering lens.  These digital audio broadcasts, available on the iHeartRadio app, will deliver real-time odds, as well as in-depth analysis of the events behind those changing lines to inform fans during the live action of the games.  VSiN founder and CEO Brian Musburger says, “It’s great to see a league like the XFL embrace sports betting as a way to drive fan engagement and interest.  We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the forward-thinking executives at both the XFL and iHeart to deliver the most credible and actionable sports betting content to football fans around the country on the number one audio platform.”

TALKERS News Notes. Retired Orlando talk radio personality Jim Philips authored an op ed piece in the Orlando Sentinel that decries the loss of local talent in radio.  Pointing to the recent staff cutbacks and radio leaders such as iHeartMedia and Entercom, Philips says he’s a realist who understands the business is changing, but says, “This doesn’t mean I have to like it.”  Philips hosted “The Philips Phile” on WTKS-FM “Real Radio 104.1” for 30 years prior to his retirement in 2018…..Lazer Broadcasting and MLB’s San Francisco Giants extend their radio partnership for three‐years – through the 2022 season – for games to air on its newly launched Spanish sports talk KSFN-AM, San Francisco “Unanimo Deportes.” Lazer Broadcasting chief revenue officer Gerardo Martinez says, “The San Francisco Giants are a first-class organization with legions of faithful Latino fans, and we’re excited to be the official home of the SF Gigantes in Español.  The professional sports journalism that ‘Unanimo Deportes’ brings to sports fans is unmatched.”…..The Broadcasters Foundation of America announces that “Inside Edition” Emmy Award-winning anchor Deborah Norville will host its 2020 Golden Mike Award dinner taking place Wednesday, March 4, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.  This annual event is a major fundraiser for the mission of the Broadcasters Foundation to help broadcasters in acute need.  As previously announced, this year’s Golden Mike Award honoree will be Dave Lougee, president and chief executive officer of TEGNA Inc. and the Lifetime Achievment Award will be presented to George Beasley, founder and chairman of Beasley Media Group.

Puckett Named Sales Manager for Beasley Southwest Florida; Johnson Rises to National Sales Manager. Radio sales pro Ellen Puckett is promoted to sales manager for Beasley Media Group’s Ft. Myers station group that includes news/talk WJBX, sports talk WWCN “ESPN Southwest Florida,” and four music brands.  She’s been with the cluster since September of 2016, most recently as a senior AE.  She comments, “As I move into this new phase with Beasley Media Group, I’m delighted to be working with a strong existing sales team.  I look forward to using my skills in training and development to help our team introduce new products into the marketplace while continuing to grow our existing core business to provide results for our advertisers.” At the same time, Todd Johnston is upped from his account executive position to national sales manager for the cluster.  Director of sales Allyson Hillman says, “We are thrilled to be able to promote Todd to his new role.  His talent in negotiating and research are guaranteed to help us win in the national arena in the Ft. Myers market!”

WELI-AM, New Haven Adds FM Signal. New Haven, Connecticut news/talk WELI-AM adds FM translator W245DK to its broadcast, giving listeners to the iHeartMedia station the option to hear it on the 96.9 FM frequency.  iHeartMedia Hartford Region president Steve Honeycomb says, “We are thrilled to be able to increase the reach of these heritage programs to listeners in the northern part of Connecticut.  With this new signal, listeners will get to experience our unique programming like never before.”

Impeachment Ends in Acquittal, Iowa Caucuses/Presidential Race, Russian ‘Information Warfare,’ Wuhan Coronavirus, Financial Markets Activity/Macy’s Announces Closures, and Kirk Douglas Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/5). The Senate votes to acquit President Donald Trump of the impeachment charges against him; the Iowa caucuses technical woes and the race for the Democratic nomination; FBI Director Chris Wray’s warming that the Russians are engaging in “information warfare” over the 2020 election; the status of the Wuhan coronavirus; activity on the world’s financial markets and Macy’s news it will shutter 125 stores; and actor Kirk Douglas dies at 103 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At the Cox Media Group stations on Long Island, longtime VP and general manager John Shea is retiring and the company announces that current director of sales Katelin Tinley will assume the VP/GM role.  Tinley began her career with CMG as an AE back in 2005.  The CMG Long Island operations includes CHR WBLI, classic rock WBAB and its digital media platforms.  CMG EVP radio Bill Hendrich says of Shea, “John is the kind of passionate leader that we love at CMG.  John loves his team.  He loves his stations. And he loves Long Island.  We are losing a friend and a great business partner but know that he has worked hard for this day and wish him the absolute best in his retirement.”…..SiriusXM announces that Pearl Jam will perform at Harlem’s world-famous Apollo Theater in a special invitation-only concert for SiriusXM subscribers and Pandora listeners on Thursday, March 26.  The special event comes days before the band embarks on the U.S. leg of their Pearl Jam 2020 tour.  The concert will take place just hours ahead of the release of the band’s new album Gigaton, that goes on sale at midnight.  The concert will air live on the band’s dedicated SiriusXM’s Pearl Jam Radio channel.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

| June 11, 2019

Cumulus Media Announces Offer of $300 Million in Senior Secured First-Lien Notes. This Issue of notes is a private offering made only to “persons reasonably believed to be qualified institutional buyers.”  The new offering is $300 million in Cumulus Media New Holdings, Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cumulus Media, in aggregate principal amount of senior secured first-lien notes due 2026.  Cumulus reports that it expects to use the net proceeds of the offering to partially repay existing indebtedness under its senior secured term loan facility.

Keith Memloy Appointed PD for WDBO-FM and ‘ESPN 580.’ Rising from assistant program director at Cox Media Group’s news/talk WDBO-FM, Orlando to PD for that and sister sports talker WDBO-AM “ESPN 580” is Keith Memoly.  CMG Orlando director of programming operations Steve Stewart says, “Keith brings a diverse amount of experience and passion to his role.  I look forward to seeing him and the WDBO team help shape the future of Orlando’s iconic radio brand.”  Memoly started his career with CMG in 2010 as the marketing director for WPYO, WCFB, and WMMO in Orlando.  In 2017, he was promoted to assistant program director at WDBO.  He says, “I’m beyond thrilled for the opportunity to lead an amazing, award-winning team of talent that is the fabric of the ‘News 96.5’ and ‘ESPN 580’ brands.  WDBO is a legendary brand in the industry and I would like to thank Jason Meder, Steve Stewart and Tim Clarke for believing and entrusting in me and my leadership.”

Round One of May PPMs Released.  The first round of Nielsen Audio’s May 2019 PPM survey results is being released, starting with 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations hereTALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Takeaways from this round of ratings beginning tomorrow (6/12).

WBEN-AM, Buffalo Talk Host David Bellavia to Receive Medal of Honor. Buffalo talk radio host and decorated Iraq War veteran David Bellavia is being presented with the Medal of Honor by President Trump in a ceremony to take place on June 25 at the White House.  Bellavia co-hosts the afternoon drive show with Tom Bauerle on Entercom’s WBEN-AM, Buffalo.  He’s being presented with the Medal of Honor for “conspicuous gallantry while serving as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army.”  You can read the account of what happened in Fallujah, Iraq on November 10, 2004 and Bellavia’s actions at the White House site here. In a story on the WBEN website, Bellavia is quoted saying, “There’s so much love on the battlefield, and you really do care.  You care for your hometown, you care for your country, you care for your friends, but that’s something that separates us from all the other enemies we fight…we love what we do and we love who we are protecting.”

Michael Castner Out at Entercom’s KXNT, Las Vegas.  Talk and news radio pro Michael Castner has exited his role as morning drive host at Entercom’s news/talk KXNT, Las Vegas.  Castner’s previous experience includes service at iHeartMedia’s WRNO-FM, New Orleans and KEX-AM, Portland, as well as a stint with the Wall Street Journal Radio Network.  Castner says he’s happy to re-locate and is also available for fill-in work.  He can be reached at michael@michaelcastner.com.

TEGNA Doubles Radio Holdings with Dispatch Broadcast Group Acquisition. The television-centric company TEGNA Inc. owns adult hits KFMB-FM and news/talk KFMB-AM in San Diego in addition to its 49 television stations.  TEGNA has just entered into a definitive agreement with the Dispatch Broadcast Group to acquire two television stations – WTHR-TV, Indianapolis and WBNS-TV, Columbus for $535 million in cash.  That deal also includes Dispatch’s two sports talk radio stations in Columbus – WBNS-FM and WBNS-AM – and that would give TEGNA four radio properties.  In a press release announcing the agreement, TEGNA says of the sports talk duo, “WBNS Radio is Ohio’s sports destination.  97.1 is the flagship home of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Columbus Crew, Columbus Blue Jackets, and teams across the state and features popular shows and podcasts including ‘Bishop and Laurinaitis,’ ‘Carpenter & Rothman,’ ‘Common Man & T-Bone,’ and ‘The Buckeye Show.’  1460 AM is the flagship station of Ohio State (OSBI) athletics and the home of ESPN Radio in Columbus.”

ABC Radio Ups Stacia Philips Deshishku to VP/GM. The “interim” is removed from Stacia Philips Deshishku’s title as she becomes vice president and general manager of ABC Radio in which she’ll oversee the company’s audio businesses – from traditional terrestrial radio serving more than 1,650 stations nationwide to podcasts and digital audio.  She had been serving as deputy bureau chief for Washington prior to being asked to be interim leader two months ago.  ABC News president James Goldston says, “Stacia is a terrific mentor, providing wise and candid counsel to all, including me.  She helped successfully transform the Washington bureau and was instrumental in ensuring it maintained its competitive edge and high standards in this non-stop news cycle.”

Chris Moreau Named Market Manager for Cumulus Green Bay. Radio sales and management pro Chris Moreau is promoted from his director of sales post with Cumulus Media Appleton/Oshkosh to vice president and market manager for the company’s Green Bay station group that includes: sports talk WDUZ-AM/FM, country WPCK-FM, hot AC WQLH-FM, classic rock WKRU-FM, and classic hits WOGB-FM.  He’s previously served as business development/account manager for Journal Broadcast Group/E.W. Scripps, vice president/general manager for Bliss Communications in Racine, Wisconsin, and more.

TALKERS News Notes. The San Antonio-based, nationally syndicated “Joe Pags Show” adds new affiliate stations KSEV-AM, Houston and WLOB, Portland to its roster.  “The Joe Pags Show” is syndicated by Compass Media Networks…..Hubbard Radio’s WTOP News in Washington, D.C. and PodcastOne have partnered to produce a new, true-crime podcast series titled, “22 Hours: An American Nightmare,” that details the horrific events that led to a D.C. power couple, their 10-year-old son and housekeeper being held hostage, tortured and brutally murdered inside their own home in May of 2015.  Daron Wint was found guilty of the crimes – known as the DC Mansion Murders – in 2018…..FOX Sports is presenting multiplatform coverage of the 119th U.S. Open Championship.  FOX Sports Radio has on-site coverage from Pebble Beach Golf Links on Thursday and Friday (6/13-14) via “The Doug Gottlieb Show” from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm while FOX Sports Radio news anchor Dan Beyer reports live from the course…..CBS News senior foreign affairs correspondent and “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan is serving as the keynote speaker of KYW Newsradio’s “Women’s Achievement Awards 2019,” being held at Loews Philadelphia Hotel on June 27.  This is the 10th annual edition of the awards from the Entercom all-news station that serve to celebrate women making a positive impact on the Philadelphia region.  This year’s event will honor the accomplishments of five exceptional women, all under the age of 40, who were nominated by KYW Newsradio listeners. Entercom Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We are thrilled to have a journalist as insightful and respected as Margaret on KYW Newsradio every week and honored to have her share her experience and perspective at our event. She embodies what the ‘Women’s Achievement Awards’ stand for and I look forward to her sharing a special evening with our deserving honorees.”

Sterling Swoons Over Swag Bag.  Nationally syndicated Westwood One personality Walter M. Sterling was so impressed with the quality of items in the Talkers 2019 convention “goodie bag” that he devoted a segment of this past weekend’s “Sterling on Sunday” show to talking about it.  Check it out here.

2020 Presidential Race, Trump Impeachment Talk, Southern Border Issues/Mexico Tariffs Threat, U.S.-China Trade War, and Big Papi Shot Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/10).  The Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; the Democrats’ talk of beginning impeachment proceedings against the president; the immigration issues at the U.S.-Mexico border and the threat of tariffs on Mexican exports; the U.S.-China trade war and the looming G20 summit in Japan; retired Red Sox star David Ortiz is shot in a bar in the Dominican Republic were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Motor City urban contemporary WDMK-FM is being sold by Urban One to Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc. for $13.5 million in a deal that Beasley expects “to be immediately accretive to Beasley’s free cash flow without materially altering the Company’s leverage.  Beasley intends to fund the acquisition through borrowings under its credit facility and cash generated from operations.”  Beasley currently operates three stations in the Detroit market: rock WRIF, classic rock WCSX, and rhythmic oldies WMGC. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley comments, “The accretive acquisition of WDMK-FM significantly enhances our revenue and competitive position in Detroit.  Detroit is undergoing an exciting renaissance as a result of billions of dollars of new investments in the city’s residential, commercial, entertainment and cultural centers, all of which are driving new residents, businesses, tourists, employment and economic activity.  We entered the Detroit market in late 2016 and have consistently improved the operating results of the three stations we acquired, and we believe the proposed transaction is a strategically and financially compelling growth opportunity for our shareholders.  The addition of WDMK-FM will mark further progress toward our goal of capturing 30% revenue share in each of our markets while delivering valuable synergies and the potential for SOI margin improvement.”…..Entercom names Kevin Callahan program director for country simulcast KFRG-FM/KXFG-FM, Riverside “K-FROG.”  He says, “I’m honored to be afforded the opportunity to expand my role with Entercom in the Riverside market.  I’ve been fortunate to oversee programming efforts for KSON and I look forward to taking ‘K-FROG’ to new heights in the next chapter of my career.”  Callahan now oversees programming efforts for all Entercom Southern California country stations.  He continues in his role as program operations manager for sister stations KSON, sports talk KWFN “97.3 The Fan,” alternative KBZT-FM “ALT 949,” adult contemporary KYXY-FM, and classic hits KXSN-FM “Sunny 98.1” in San Diego…..Westwood One announces that Nashville-based personality Elaina Smith is re-branding her original podcast, “Breaking Thru With Elaina.”  It was previously titled, “Women Want to Hear Women with Elaina Smith.”  The program returned with new stories from female artists breaking through the music industry on June 9 on The Empow(h)er Podcast Network on Westwood One. Smith won a 2019 Gracie Award for the first season of the show.  She says, “I’ve been itching to get season two going all year long.  I’m so thankful to everyone for being so patient as I worked on launching my new radio show, ‘With Elaina.’  Now that it is off the ground, it’s time to keep this conversation going, and with a new name!”

Monday, December 18, 2017

| December 18, 2017

Pittsburgh’s All-News KQV to Shut Down at Year’s End.  According to a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the news does not mean a format change or sale to a new operator – the Dickey Family-owned station is signing off at the end of the year after 42 years as a news operation.  Robert W. Dickey Jr. (no relation to the Atlanta and Cumulus Dickeys) tells the paper, “Candidly, I think it’s a sad day for broadcasting.”  The Dickey family has owned or co-owned the station since 1982.  The historic signal has been on the air for almost 100 years.  Dickey Jr. adds, “It’s fair to say we’ve been trying to provide a community service.  The bottom line is I just can’t sustain the business model.  We’re an independent, labor-intensive format, and we were happy to take it on as long as we could financially do it.”  Barring some interest from a buyer or investor, the station – which employs about 20 people – will shut down on December 31.

Hubbard Announces Changes to Digital Leadership.  At the corporate offices of Hubbard Radio, EVP/chief financial officer Dave Bestler announces that Jeremy Sinon is being elevated to VP/digital strategy and Steve Goldstein is being named senior director of digital sales strategy.  Sinon was most recently the director of digital strategy for Hubbard Radio.  He will work closely with Bestler, Hubbard Radio president/COO Drew Horowitz, and Hubbard Radio chair Ginny Morris to oversee day-to-day corporate digital initiatives as well as the strategy for Hubbard Radio’s long-term digital goals.  Goldstein will split duties in Washington, DC where he also oversees the local digital sales effort as director of digital sales.  Goldstein has been at WTOP and WFED in Washington, DC for the past 11-and-a-half years.  As senior director of digital sales strategy, Goldstein will work with the local Hubbard markets to utilize best practices and maximize digital sales opportunities.

WBEN-AM, Buffalo’s Tom Bauerle Recovering from Successful Bypass Surgery.  The Entercom news/talk station reports on its website that afternoon drive talk host Tom Bauerle underwent successful quadruple bypass surgery at Gates Vascular Institute on December 8.  Previously, TALKERS magazine reported that Bauerle had been experiencing chest pain and, at the insistence of his co-host David Bellavia and Bauerle’s fiancé, he went to a local urgent care clinic and was then transferred to Gates where his heart condition was being evaluated.  At that time, Bauerle stated he believed he’d miss time on the air to recuperate and may not return until later in January.

TALKERS News Notes.  Embattled public TV personality Tavis Smiley says PBS “made a huge mistake here” – referring to the pubcaster’s decision to cut ties with his firm to distribute “The Tavis Smiley Show” to PBS affiliates after allegations of sexual misconduct were leveled against him.  Speaking during a live, sit-down interview on “Good Morning America,” Smiley said he’s never groped women nor has he coerced any women into relationships with him.  He admits to romantic relationships with women while working on his show but says the relationships were consensual and he can prove that.  See the ABC News story here…..An MSNBC spokesperson is saying that NBC made a “separation-related payment” to a former staffer of talk show host Chris Matthews after a complaint of sexual harassment against him.   The amount paid as part of a severance package for the unnamed, former assistant producer for the “Hardball” program is in dispute, but the company says after a review of the accusation, Matthews was reprimanded.  The Daily Caller reports that MSNBC deemed Matthews’ behavior “inappropriate and juvenile,” but not to be taken seriously as propositions…..Singer-songwriter and Sportsman TV Channel host Andy Ross has just released a new song – one that perfectly touches on the intersection of the holiday season and the turbulent political times – titled, “Make Christmas Great Again.”  Ross, who has been a successful host of “Maximum Archery” on the Sportsman TV channel for years, was inspired to release the new song given the political climate.  You can hear the song here.  Ross makes a great guest on talk radio and is available for interviews.  To book him, call Janet Fallon at 703-469-3766 or email her at Janet.Fallon@gmail.com.

California Wildfires, Mueller’s Trump-Russia Investigation, GOP Tax Reform Bill, Sen. John McCain Health, ATL Airport Power Outage, North Korean Nuclear Program, Pope Speaks on Media ‘Sins,’ The Last Jedi, and NFL Action Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The now two-week-old Southern California wildfires; Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of the Trump campaign’s connections with Russian agents and Mueller’s acquisition of key emails; the state of the GOP tax reform bill; Arizona Senator John McCain’s health as he returns to Arizona for treatment for brain cancer; a power outage at the Atlanta airport causes massive U.S. air travel problems; North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and threats against the U.S.; Pope Francis says sensational journalism and fake news are sins; the latest Star Wars film The Last Jedi, and the weekend’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

“Yappy Tour” Rolls in the UK.  Pictured above being interviewed by famed British talk personality (BOB-FM, BBCGraham Mack in London, England is Bernadette Duncan, author of one of the most-discussed radio books in the talk media industry, Yappy Days: Behind the Scenes with Newsers, Boozers, Schmoozers and Losers (Talkers Books, 2016).   Duncan, a former producer, chronicles her 26 years as the woman behind the glass on shows hosted by such legends as Sally Jessy RaphaelLarry KingTom SnyderLou DobbsGil GrossCharles Osgood and others covering a large swath of modern talk radio’s pre- and post-9/11 “golden era.”  Plus, she tells stories about behind-the-scenes encounters with hundreds of quirky guests from the worlds of show business, politics, media, business and literature including: Donald TrumpOmarosa ManigaultDavid LettermanJoe BidenMike HuckabeeGeraldo RiveraJoan Rivers and dozens more.  Due to the strong response by hosts across the nation and now internationally to both the subject and Duncan’s lively air presence, the “Yappy Tour” will continue to roll on into 2018.  Duncan has already appeared on more than 125 local and syndicated programs since the book’s release in September of 2016.  Hosts and shows interested in booking Bernadette Duncan can do so by calling Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

Guam Radio Broadcaster Ray Gibson of Choice Broadcasting’s ThePOINT is this Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  Guam, a small tropical island in the Western Pacific, is the farthest outpost from the US mainland of all American territories.  Aside from its active tourism industry, Guam is home to a major US military presence and has long played a very important role in American geopolitical interests.  It is the American “tip of the spear” in terms of present-day heightened tensions between the US and North Korea.  In spite of its remote location, Guam has always been an active market for American-style popular media – especially radio – with a colorful history of outstanding deejays and popular music formats ranging from old-style, top 40 to CHR and adult contemporary.  Talk radio in Guam has mostly focused on local civic and lifestyle issues – until now.  In recent weeks, Choice Broadcasting has soft launched a new format called “ThePOINT” on KUSG 1350 AM and 93.3 FM that emulates the traditional American conservative news/talk radio featuring a local show in the morning and syndicated national stars throughout the day.  Such notables as Rush LimbaughSean HannityJim BohannonJohn Gibson and others have begun airing in this exotic land of Asian, Spanish and American culture located on the other side of the International Date Line.  The morning show that launches in January will be hosted by Choice Broadcasting managing partner and veteran Guam radio personality Ray Gibson who has been spearheading this initiative.  Gibson, a Guam native and second-generation radio personality (the son of Bill Gibson), is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison.”  Don’t miss this fascinating and informative almost-8,000-mile telephone conversation!  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves.  Country programming pro T Gentry is moving from Beasley Media Group’s operations manager in the Tampa market (where he also programmed country WQYK) to the company’s Augusta, Georgia cluster where he’ll be operations manager and program director for WKXC “Kicks 99,” effective today (12/18).  Beasley Augusta VP and market manager Kent Dunn says, “T has done a tremendous job over the past 17 years at Beasley Media Group.  He did great in Tampa, but has decided to return to Augusta to be closer to his family.  We are absolutely thrilled to welcome him home to lead our team and ‘Kicks 99!’”  Chris O’Kelly remains on staff as assistant program director and music director of “Kicks 99.”…..Charlotte country outlet WSOC announces the 11th Annual Stout Pull Guitar Pull is taking place on Tuesday, January 9 at Coyote Joe’s in Charlotte.  The live event will feature Dylan Scott, Midland, and Devin DawsonBeasley Media Group says the annual show draws country music fans from across the Carolinas to see their favorite artists collaborate in an intimate stage setting.  The concert benefits Loaves and Fishes and ACM Lifting Lives, the charitable arm of the Academy of Country Music.  WSOC program director DJ Stout says, “The Stout Pull has become a staple in Charlotte for country music lovers.  It’s a unique environment with all artists performing on the stage at the same time.  We keep the cost of the tickets low, so not only is it affordable, but we also give back to the community through music.  It’s a great deal all around.”…..Classic rock WCSX, Detroit received a visit from rock legend Bob Seger last Thursday (12/14).  He appeared on the “Big Jim’s House” morning show during which he talked about his new album, I Knew You When, his late friend Glenn Frey, and more.  Pictured below are (from l-r): “Big Jim’s House” host Jim O’Brien, co-host Erin Vermeulen, Seger, and midday personality Juline Jordan.