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Friday, May 7, 2021

| May 7, 2021

iHeartMedia First Quarter 2021 Net Revenue Down 9.5%. The company reports net revenue for the first quarter of 2021 of $707 million, a dip of 9.5% compare to the $781 million reported in the first quarter of 2020. iHeartMedia also reports an operating loss of $76 million compared to 2020’s operating loss of $1.7 billion. The company reports financial data by segment and the positive aspects of the report are its digital and podcast segments which reported revenue of $119 million (up 55%) and $38.4 million (up 141.9%), respectively. Broadcast radio’s revenue was $358.5 million (down 22.3%); networks revenue was $115 million (down 14.5%); and sponsorship and events revenue was $22.4 million (down 23.7%). iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman states, “The first quarter outperformed our expectations on all financial metrics as the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn, which is not just a continuation of the positive trends we’ve seen across the business – we believe it’s a validation of our long-term multiplatform product and revenue strategy and the investments we have made in growth areas like podcasting, ad tech, and the continued expansion of broadcast radio on digital devices. As a company we continue to prioritize identifying new opportunities across the audio, advertising, and data analytics sectors to expand our Total Addressable Market from just the $15 billion of Radio TAM to include the $160 billion of Digital TAM, providing us with new revenue opportunities for meaningful and sustainable growth for all our operating segments.” Company president, COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our ability to adapt and innovate, as well as our strategic allocation of capital, during the COVID-19 pandemic have set the stage for strong growth in 2021. Our cost management, investments in key areas of growth, and focus on our core-competencies helped us to achieve Adjusted EBITDA of $102 million in the first quarter, and we remain confident that we will be back to 2019 Adjusted EBITDA levels by the end of 2021.”

 

Audacy Net Revenue for First Quarter of 2021 Declines 19%. Reporting its first quarterly financial report after rebranding from Entercom to Audacy, the company says net revenue for Q1 of 2021 was $240.8 million, a decrease of 19% over the same period in 2020. Audacy also reports a net loss of $21.6 million compared to the Q1 2020 net loss of $9.1 million. Breaking the company down by segments: local and national spot revenue was $154.3 million (down 27.5%); digital – including podcasting – revenue was $49.9 million (up 15.9%); and network revenue was $17.6 million (down 19.1%). Audacy president and CEO David Field says, “The year has gotten off to an active start as we successfully completed the rebranding of the company to Audacy, reflecting our transformational progress into a leading, multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with scaled audience reach and a leadership position in virtually every key segment of the dynamic and growing audio market. We are in the midst of a strong, albeit uneven, advertising recovery reflecting the nature of our business mix. First quarter digital revenues grew 17% and national revenues rebounded to prior year levels, but local ad revenues remained behind as many of our customers continue to be impacted by the pandemic. Because the local radio advertiser base is weighted toward later-stage recovery categories including restaurants, concerts and entertainment, movies, travel, and theme parks, we anticipate a strong recovery of local advertising across these businesses during the third and fourth quarters. Our second quarter pacings are up more than 60% over 2020 reflecting massive improvements across all segments of our business from the depressed levels of the prior year. In another strong sign of recovery, our average local customer spending levels are now exceeding their average 2019 spending levels. Total local ad spending is down because of a decline in the number of customers with a significant majority of those inactive accounts concentrated in later-stage recovery business categories. During the quarter, we announced and completed the acquisition of Podcorn, the country’s #1 podcast influencer marketplace hosting over 44,000 podcast creators, substantially bolstering our customer product offerings. We also announced a multi-year agreement with BetMGM making them a preferred sports betting partner of the company. We are emerging from the pandemic as a meaningfully stronger and better positioned company with significantly enhanced growth potential and are excited by the opportunities ahead as we continue to drive innovation and development of new products, content, and capabilities.”

 

Salem Media Group Reports Q1 Revenue Growth of 1.9%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Salem Media Group, delivers positive numbers as total revenue for the company was $59.4 million, an increase of 1.9% over the same period in 2020. The company reports that total operating expenses decreased 27.9% to $55 million from $76.3 million and operating expenses – excluding gains or losses on the disposition of assets, stock- based compensation expense, changes in the estimated fair value of contingent earn-out consideration, impairments, depreciation expense and amortization expense – decreased 6.2% to $51.4 million from $54.8 million. Salem also reveals operating income of $4.4 million compared to the operating loss of $18 million it posted in the first quarter of 2020. Salem Media Group reports its business segments and says net broadcast revenue was $44 million, a decline of 2.5% compared to the first quarter of 2020; same station net broadcast revenue was $43.9 million, a dip of 1.9%; digital media revenue was $9.6 million, an increase of 5.7%; digital media operating income rose 21.6% to $0.9 million from $0.8 million; and publishing revenue increased 43.4% to $5.7 million from $4.0 million.

 

COVID-19 Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 3-7. The COVID-19-related issues including vaccines, variants, politics, the soaring death toll in India, and statistics combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Facebook’s Oversight Board keeping Donald Trump’s page suspended and the broader issue of censorship, followed by party politics and Liz Cheney’s battle for her status in the GOP at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Promotions Positions Open at Audacy. There are two positions open on the Promotions + Experiences team at Audacy. The company says it is “looking to add two talented, versatile promotions pros to our central Promotions + Experiences team. These individuals will focus on promotional partnerships with concert partners, activating select live performance venues, and play a vital role in live events across the company’s portfolio of brands.” You can learn more and to apply for the Promotion Director, Concerts & Experiences position here and do the same for the Promotion Manager, Concerts & Experiences position here.

Monday Memo: Sound Bites

| April 12, 2021

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — To quote the immortal Yogi Berra: “You can observe a lot by just watching.” And listening! And shoptalk we hear reminds us to be agile WHILE doing-what-only-we-can-do:

 “It has the best-best of both worlds.”

SiriusXM CFO Sean Sullivan, telling the recent Deutsche Bank Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference how new two-way interactive 360L satellite radio receivers “can offer up other content, including podcasts and other things” such as Pandora, which SiriusXM bought two years ago, and Stitcher, acquired more recently. NOT among “other things:” Local news and personalities, which smart stations continue to offer.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

| March 30, 2021

Entercom Changes Corporate Name to Audacy. This change was teased by Entercom on Monday in a tweet but makes the news official today, marking the change from Entercom Communications Corp to Audacy, effective immediately. In a press release, the company says: “Over the past three years, the company has purposefully evolved into a scaled, multi-platform audio content and entertainment organization with the country’s best radio broadcasting group and a leadership position in virtually every segment of the dynamic and growing audio market—including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, network, live experiences, music, sports and news. Audacy is also the #1 creator of original, premium audio content.” Chairman, president and CEO David Field adds, “We have transformed into a fundamentally different and dramatically enhanced organization and so it is time to embrace a new name and brand identity which better reflects who we have become and our vision for the future. ‘Audacy’ captures our dynamic creativity, outstanding content, and innovative spirit as we aspire to build the country’s best audio content and entertainment platform.” The company says its evolution has been fueled by: the acquisition of the CBS Radio group, the launch of RADIO.COM and building the fastest growing digital audio platform, the acquisition of Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, enhancing its sports platform with the acquisition of QL Gaming Group and its partnership with FanDuel, and more. The company’s ticker symbol will change from ETM to AUD effective on or about Friday, April 9. Along with the name Entercom, effective today, the company will also sunset the RADIO.COM brand and align its direct-to-consumer platform under Audacy.

Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM, Saginaw Adds ‘Markley, Van Camp & Robbins’ for Early Afternoons. Saginaw, Michigan news/talk WSGW-AM/FM announces it is filling the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart previously occupied by the Rush Limbaugh program with Compass Media Networks’ “Markley, Van Camp & Robbins Show” featuring Jamie Markley, David Van Camp, and Scott Robbins. The Alpha Media station says in mid-March it switched “from the Rush recordings to this new, live show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. WSGW wanted a show that would serve conservatives on the hot topics of the day in an informative and entertaining style. The MVC&R Show does that perfectly because they include a Millennial, Gen Xer, and a Baby Boomer. The range of audience listenership this trio brings closes the generation gap and provides a unique perspective that no other show can do. At the end of the day, it’s three friends hanging out and talking about everything! It is a great show and 100.5 & 790 Newsradio WSGW is excited to announce their addition to the lineup.”

WDUN-AM/FM, Gainesville, Georgia to Air Todd Starnes Show in Noon to 3:00 pm Slot. The Gainesville, Georgia news/talk outlet announces it will fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart with the “Todd Starnes Show.” Jacobs Media’s WDUN-AM/FM is overseen by EVP and general manager Bill Maine, who says, “We know our listeners will miss Rush. He was the absolute best at what he did, and no one can replace him. But we are fans of Todd Starnes and we think moving Todd into that time slot, as well as adding more locally produced programs gives WDUN an exceptionally strong lineup of news/talk programs.”

KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City Expands Local Shows in Talent Shuffle. Salt Lake City news/talk KSL-AM/FM announces a series of changes in its lineup that includes the expansion of three programs. The Bonneville station says that with the departure of Lee Lonsberry from this station, Boyd Matheson’s “Inside Sources” program moves from the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon slot to the new 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daypart. The “Utah’s Noon News” show expands from 30 minutes to a full hour from 12:00 to 1:00 pm and “The Dave and Dujanovic Show” grows by an hour to air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. KSL program director Kevin LaRue says, “Boyd is just too important of a voice to the community to only have him on KSL one hour a day. We’re excited to provide listeners a longer program to cover important issues. The thinking he offers about the news and current culture is unparalleled.” Matheson also serves as the opinion editor of the Deseret News. He says, “Having spent most of my career as an international business consultant really gave me a look at how things work, what leadership looks like, and how you pull people together. Then my time in Washington DC as a chief of staff understanding the behind-the-scenes things that go on where the real levers of power are in DC and of course our connection to politics here locally. ”

‘Free Talk Live’ Host and Co-Founder Ian Freeman Awaits Bail Ruling; Faces Fraud and Money Laundering Charges. The lead host and co-founder of the nationally syndicated talk radio program “Free Talk Live” – Ian Freeman– is awaiting a ruling from federal Judge Magistrate Andrea Johnstone on a bail request from his attorney, according to an article in the Manchester Union-Leader. Freeman is being charged with money laundering, fraud and conspiracy after a recent raid on his home by federal authorities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Georgina MacDonald alleges that Freeman and others operated a Bitcoin-dollar exchange program through churches with which they are affiliated and called Freeman a “sophisticated cybercriminal.” The Union-Leader reports the feds allege that Freeman used Shire Free Church accounts to convert dollars to Bitcoin and that those dollars came from “romance fraud, investment fraud, and your-friend’s-in-jail fraud.” MacDonald says Freeman “offered anonymity, didn’t ask questions and charged a 10% exchange fee” when “legitimate” exchange services charge 3% or less. In requesting bail, Freeman’s attorney, Mark Sisti, argued that Freeman is not a flight risk and that he’s known about the federal investigation for years because people agents interviewed would tell Freeman about their encounter with authorities. Sisti says Freeman could have fled before his arrest. Industry observers who follow this TALKERS Heavy Hundred program know that its main freedom-based theme and Freeman’s ongoing antagonistic position on laws he considers unconstitutional have provided it with provocative and compelling “reality show” type material even though it has been a source of irritation to both local Keene, New Hampshire (where the show is based) and federal law enforcement agencies. Part of the show’s formidable appeal to an ever-growing number of affiliates and loyal listeners has been the willingness of its primary host to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”

Sam Tatum Promoted to VP, Integrated Marketing & Partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media. Rising from his director of sales for Radio One’s Washington, DC cluster to the newly created position of vice president, integrated marketing & partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media is Samuel Tatum. In this new role, Radio One and Reach Media say they are further unifying their sales and integrated marketing efforts across both divisions to help brands and agency partners effectively connect with the coveted and influential Black consumer through authentic and powerful multiplatform touchpoints. Tatum will lead a team of marketers and project managers in developing and implementing new innovative marketing solutions for national advertisers and agencies utilizing all of the Radio One and Reach Media assets. As the primary liaison between the national sales teams and other departments within Radio One, Reach Media, and other Urban One divisions, Tatum will streamline communications, ensure the continuity of national and corporate partnerships, and make sure the sales teams continue to provide their advertising partners with the absolute best-in-class cross-platform solutions. Tatum states, “I am humbled by the confidence Reach Media and Radio One has placed in me and am excited to continue to grow the legacy of our founder, Cathy Hughes, in this new role. Radio One and Reach Media have a rich portfolio of assets, and I am passionate about the opportunity to create, develop, and execute unique, on-brand, and culturally appropriate solutions that provide reach and engagement with the Black consumer for our advertisers and partners. Let’s blaze new trails!”

Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville Announces Content Partnership with A to Z Sports. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces it has entered into a content partnership agreement with popular online sports information and entertainment destination, A to Z Sports. Cumulus Media says, “The agreement brings together the two biggest sports entertainment brands in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, allowing them to create and share unique, deep-dive sports content across their respective digital platforms, including streaming and on-demand content, podcasts, social media, and much more, plus live and local on-air programming on ‘104.5 The Zone’ and high-engagement live events for area sports fans.” Per the terms of the agreement, “104.5 The Zone,” the flagship home for the Tennessee Titans and Nashville affiliate for University of Tennessee Volunteers, will regularly feature A to Z Sports personalities, while “104.5 The Zone” personalities will appear regularly on A to Z Sports’ popular programs. The partnership will create shared and complementary original programming between the brands and their platforms to give fans more and better sports news and talk than ever before. WGFX program director Paul Mason says, “We are truly excited to partner with A to Z Sports! This opens up more doors for both WGFX and A to Z to be more creative and implement new ideas in the market. The true winner in this partnership is the Nashville sports fan.” A to Z Sports is co-owned by Zach Bingham and Austin Stanley. Earlier this month, “104.5 The Zone” signed sports journalist Buck Reising as its midday air personality (10:00 am to 1:00 pm). Reising had previously been a frequent guest host on WGFX, but is mostly known for his “615 Sessions” podcast and live weeknight show, “A to Z Sports Primetime,” heard on A to Z Sports Nashville.

Audacy Unveils New Relationship with BetMGM. The new Audacy, formerly Entercom, unveils another sports betting deal, this time with BetMGM. This relationship is a multi-year deal designating BetMGM as a betting partner of Audacy across its sports broadcast stations, the Audacy, and Bet QL apps and digital platforms, and the “BetQL Audio Network.” The partnership will bring BetMGM’s sports betting content to Audacy sports talk listeners and gives BetMGM preferred access to Audacy talent. The partnership comes on the heels of several recent moves made by Audacy in the sports betting space, including the acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group and the launch of the “BetQL Audio Network, both of which are fundamental components of this deal. Audacy president of sports Mike Dee says, “The advent of legalized mobile sports betting has presented an unprecedented opportunity to bring the action closer to the audience than ever before and, as a result, provide our partners with a direct line of sight to tap into an attentive, fully engaged audience of potential sports bettors. We are proud to partner with BetMGM and wish to thank them for their confidence in us as we become one of their largest media partners. In light of our BetQL acquisition and related offerings, we believe this commitment is the latest validation that no other media company offers the wide variety of ways to connect with the sports betting audience the way that we do on a multi-platform basis.”

COVID-19 Cases Rising/Vaccines, WHO Virus Origin Report, Derek Chauvin Trial, Biden Economic Stimulus Plan, Suez Ship Freed, Lil Nas X Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/29). The rising number of COVID-19 cases and the CDC’s warning of a fourth wave, plus the rollout of vaccines; the World Health Organization’s COVID origin report that suggests the coronavirus jump to humans from animals; the beginning of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the Biden administration’s multi-trillion dollar economic plan that first focuses on infrastructure; the container ship that blocked the Suez canal for almost a week is freed; and the controversy over the new song from Lil Nas X and the accompanying “Satan Shoes” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

| March 10, 2021

Entercom Renews with Bloomberg News for Service to All-News and News/Talk Stations. The extension of this companywide deal between syndicator Key Networks, business news provider Bloomberg Radio and Entercom Communications keeps Bloomberg Radio’s business and consumer news on the majority of Entercom’s 26 all-news and news/talk stations, including 1010 WINS in New York, KNX-AM in Los Angeles, WBBM Newsradio in Chicago, and more. Under the new agreement, Bloomberg Radio will continue to provide Entercom stations with access to its world-class news content, including live, customized reports, “Bloomberg Money Minutes,” and Bloomberg specialty features including: “Bloomberg Business of Sports,” “Green Report,” “Small Business Report,” “Real Estate Report,” and more. Entercom vice president of news Bill Smee says, “As the unrivaled leader in local news radio, powered by some of the most iconic brands across the country, we’re proud to extend our partnership with Bloomberg Radio. Our news stations are committed to serving as a trusted source of vital information for our millions of listeners, and this partnership will continue to enhance the content they turn to on a daily basis.” Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “It is a privilege to bring the most in-depth business and financial news reports to Entercom stations that are best in class from coast to coast. This partnership brings Bloomberg-created content to listeners and advertisers and we look forward to building on this successful partnership with Entercom.”

Townsquare Media Repurchases Oaktree Capital Management’s Stake in Company. Spending $80.4 million in cash, Townsquare Media, Inc repurchases the entirety of Oaktree Capital Management L.P.’s 12.6 million shares and warrants of the company at $6.40 per security and retires those securities. Townsquare repurchases 100% of Oaktree’s 12.6 million shares and warrants, comprising 1.6 million shares of Class A common stock, 2.2 million shares of Class B common stock, and 8.8 million warrants. The purchase price of $6.40 per security reflects a 39% discount to the closing price of the Class A common stock on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, and a 19% discount to the pre-announcement share price. In addition, Townsquare will pay Oaktree a $4.5 million consent fee related to the transaction in four installments, the first of which is due on April 1, 2021. Following the repurchase, Townsquare has approximately 16 million securities outstanding, inclusive of common stock and warrants. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “We could not be more pleased to share that given our strong cash position, we were able to repurchase 100% of Oaktree’s ownership interests in Townsquare, capturing a strong return for our shareholders. This is a beneficial transaction for our investors and the company. The Oaktree share repurchase is significantly accretive on an earnings per share and free cash flow per share basis in 2021, and entirely eliminates Oaktree’s ownership overhang for current and potential shareholders. We thank Oaktree for their long-term support of our company. We look forward to discussing our fourth quarter and year-end 2020 results as well as our first quarter 2021 outlook on our earnings call next week.”

Appleton Rock Station Fires Host for Limbaugh Comments. Rock WAPL-FM, Appleton, Wisconsin has fired longtime morning drive co-host Len Nelson, two weeks after it suspended him for a social media post in which, after opining about Rush Limbaugh’s effect on conservative politics, he closed with the statement “the world is a better place without Rush Limbaugh.” Nelson announced his dismissal with the following Facebook post: “My longtime WAPL radio partner, Rick McNeal, posted some nice words which I’m sharing here regarding my firing today and about our years together. I could not have asked for a better person, nor one more funny than he to have worked with. I am sad that it ends this way and that it puts so much pressure on Rick and the rest of my coworkers. But Rick is resilient, and our fans should rally to him as so many of you have rallied to me. Like I said in my previous post here, none of the air and sales staffs should be blamed for any of this. I put them in this situation, and I will regret that forever. As listeners and advertisers, you can make your own decisions but, in the end, WAPL and Woodward Radio Group are made up of lots of fine people with whom I shared decades of fun and profit. That hasn’t changed. Give them the respect they deserve and give Rick and Carol and whomever else will comprise the new morning crew a chance to entertain you and to serve you as clients. I know Rick is up to the challenge as is the rest of the WAPL team. Very little individual success ever happens without a team effort and I was fortunate to have a great team on which to play. I sincerely thank each of them for that.”

WABC, New York Officially Announces Greg Kelly Joins Station. In a move that was first revealed in the New York Post, Red Apple Media’s news/talk WABC, New York brings Greg Kelly aboard to host the station’s 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm program. Kelly is also host of the 7:00 pm ET “Greg Kelly Reports” program on Newsmax TV.  Kelly is a former U.S. Marine who has served with television outlets NY1 and WNYW-TV “Fox 5 News” in New York. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Greg Kelly is a broadcast veteran with a tremendous portfolio of experience in media. He is dynamic on the air, entertaining, and will bring listeners what they want to hear in a style that is uniquely his own. Greg Kelly is a terrific addition to our daytime radio programming and will bring along with him a loyal audience who appreciates his perspective on the political current events. We are happy to have him aboard.” Kelly is filling in for Curtis Sliwa, who is running for mayor of New York. Regarding Sliwa’s status with WABC, the station previously said, “77 WABC celebrates what is great about America. We support our democracy and our right to vote, fair elections, and the American process. It is with that in mind that, while Curtis Sliwa is a candidate for the Office of the Mayor of New York City, his radio show, podcast, and all related contributions to 77 WABC Radio are on hiatus.” Catsimatidis added, “WABC recently received notice that a longtime member of our WABC family, Curtis Sliwa, is officially running for mayor. Therefore, Curtis is currently on leave pending his mayoral bid. We wish him and all of the candidates good luck in the upcoming race. If Curtis is not successful, we look forward to him rejoining the WABC family.”

Entercom Announces Acquisition of Podcorn. This transaction puts the value of Podcorn at $22.5 million with an upfront cash payment of $14.6 million and a performance-based earnout over the next three years. Podcorn is a self-service marketplace that allows podcasters to connect with advertisers for native sponsorships. Entercom chairman, president, and CEO David Field says, “The acquisition of Podcorn expands Entercom’s product offering for advertisers and builds on our position as one of the country’s three largest podcast publishers and the #1 creator of original, premium audio content. By making it easier for brands to collaborate with targeted podcast creators of all sizes, we are addressing an important market opportunity in the fastest growing segment of media.” Podcorn’s marketplace includes nearly 40,000 creators and has facilitated thousands of podcast ad campaigns. Podcorn creates an infrastructure for enabling direct podcaster and advertiser relationships, surfacing the most relevant matches to scale native branded content, drive higher ROI for brands, and enhance how podcast creators monetize their content. Podcorn was founded by Agnes Kozera and David Kierzkowski following the successful acquisition by Google of their previous company FameBit, a marketplace for video influencers where brands and YouTube stars collaborated for branded content. Kozera and Kierzkowski will continue to lead Podcorn, joining Entercom’s leadership team. Kozera says, “Given the success that podcasters and brands have seen on Podcorn, we’re excited to join Entercom’s growing audio platform to accelerate our vision and help brands and podcasters succeed in an even bigger way. Together, we hope to provide the most effective podcast influencer marketing solution for brands and become the largest driver of brand deals for podcasters of all sizes.” Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley adds, “Remarkably, only a fraction of podcasts generate revenue. We want to change that. Bringing together independent creators, chart-topping talent, and advertisers under one roof – and providing the tools to streamline collaboration, transparency and efficiency – provides greater value for advertisers, creators and listeners alike.”

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “John Batchelor Show,” emanating from Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York, leaves Westwood One and is now being syndicated by CBS News. There’s not much information available as this was done quietly, but Batchelor affiliate stations tell TALKERS magazine the change happened earlier this week…..Twin Cities radio personality, sports writer and producer Dana Wessel is joining Cumulus Media’s active rock KXXR “93X” as executive producer of the “Half-Assed Morning Show.” Wessel previously served with iHeartMedia’s sports talk KXFN-FM “K-FAN,” and Hubbard Radio’s KSTP-AM…..SiriusXM announces that “Information Overload with Vernon Reid” launches on Friday (3/12) on the Volume channel. On the monthly program, musician and Living Colour guitarist Reid sits down with artists, authors, and celebrities to explore how the power of music can help in healing and creating change. Reid will explore topics from racism and social unrest to cultural moments and the onslaught of information and misinformation in social media.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Relaxed Mandates & School Openings, Stimulus Package, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, U.S. Border Chaos, Newsom Recall, and British Royals Interview Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/9). The number of positive COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the several states relaxing mask and occupancy mandates and the push for full school openings; Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package goes back to the House; the growing number of allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the growing migrant chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border; the recall effort against California Governor Gavin Newsom; and the aftermath of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s interview with Oprah were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

| February 24, 2021

Entercom Q4 Revenue Down 25.7%; Full Year 2020 Declines 33.6%. The third major radio company to present 2020 fourth quarter and full year financial data is Entercom (Beasley and Cumulus have already posted their financial results and iHeartMedia is scheduled to do the same tomorrow). The company reveals 2020 Q4 net revenue was $319.5 million, down 25.7% from the same period in 2019, and 2020 full-year net revenue was $1.06 billion, a decline of 33.6% from 2019. Entercom notes that since the depths of the pandemic revenue dip in the second quarter of 2020, business is trending up. Its 2020 Q4 revenue was up 19% from Q3. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “I am pleased to report that Entercom continued to drive strong sequential operating improvement with revenues up 19% and EBITDA more than doubling vs. the third quarter. Digital, podcasting, sports betting and network radio all posted strong double-digit growth over prior year and we are continuing to drive innovation across these businesses to enhance future growth potential. While the pandemic continues to hobble a large number of our advertisers, particularly locally, we are optimistic about a strong recovery in our local ad sales later this year driven by vaccinations, fiscal stimulus and pent-up consumer demand in heavily impacted categories.” Entercom breaks down its revenue by segments and some of the noteworthy data in this report includes that spot (local and national) revenue was down 27.7% from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020; year-over-year spot revenue was down 42.9%. On the positive side, digital revenue (including podcasting) rose 20.5% from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020 and was up 26% year-over-year. Looking at radio revenue by format, while Entercom’s music formats took the biggest hit in 2020 – revenue was down 44% — sports talk revenue declined by 39.3% and news/talk was off by 21.7% during the year.

Round One of Nielsen Audio’s January 2021 PPM Data Released. The first of four rounds of PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s January 2021 survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s January 2021 survey covered January 7 – February 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round. In New York, Entercom’s all-news stations both saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares increase – WINS added four-tenths to finish with a 4.0 share and the #8 rank and WCBS-AM added two-tenths for a 2.9 share and the #12 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles tacked on three-tenths for a 5.0 share and remains ranked #3. In Chicago, Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM added half a share to re-claim the #1 rank with a 7.3 share. Across town, Nexstar Media’s news/talk WGN-AM added four-tenths for a 4.1 share and the #7 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here

Talk Programmer Bob Shomper to Retire in April. Longtime news/talk programmer Bob Shomper announces he’ll retire from the radio business on April 2. Shomper is currently program director at NRG Media’s KLIN, Lincoln, Nebraska. During his career he’s served at some of America’s great news/talk stations, including: WCCO-AM, Minneapolis; KTAR-FM, Phoenix; WLS-AM, Chicago; WGN-AM, Chicago; WBAP-AM, Fort Worth/Dallas; and more. Shomper tells TALKERS magazine that his decision to retire is entirely his own and he’s grateful to be doing so on his own terms.

Robbie Stevens Posts Powerful Commentary to TalkersRadio About Honoring Truth in Media Discussions About Politics.  Noted record producer Robbie Stevens, one of TalkersRadio’s roster of “out-of-the-box” talk talents has posted a powerful new commentary yesterday (2/23) titled, “My Mistake(s),” that takes a candid look at a problem radio talk show hosts wrestle with all the time – staying true to core principles, maintaining a healthy sense of skepticism, and being honest about mistakes when making them. Stevens, who was the first talent signed for TalkersRadio – a service of TALKERS magazine – when it launched in the fall of 2013, has agreed to perform as a commentator on the platform for a “limited engagement” that will run through June of 2021. The Bronx-based New York City native is well-known in the music industry for his years of innovative studio work with a wide variety of high-profile artists, most recently on behalf of the estate and fans of the late John Lennon, for which he has achieved critical acclaim for his “raw” remix of the legendary artist’s Imagine album. He also most recently executive produced 13 Billboard #1 Dance Chart singles in a row, for Yoko Ono’s innovative ensemble Ono. He also recently produced (with Yoko Ono) the “John Lennon Anthology,” a four-CD set of unreleased material that was Rolling Stone magazine’s boxed set of the year. During his colorful career, he’s played on, mixed, or produced records by Herbie Hancock, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other high-profile musicians going back decades. During this time, Stevens has developed an alternative career as a talk radio host and commentator heard occasionally via on-air and online outlets provided by heritage NYC stations WOR and WNYM (in addition to TalkersRadio). Commenting on Stevens’ latest posting, TALKERS general manager of broadcast operations (and former WOR PD) David Bernstein says, “Robbie is raw, fresh, and as real as the urban streets that gave rise to his gritty philosophy and we always get strong response to his work on our exciting platform. This new installment of his show is a grand slam home run because it strikes at the very core of our deepest personal conflicts in arriving at and sticking with our truths as talk radio hosts operating in a swirling ocean of changing information.” To listen to Robbie Stevens’ new series of commentaries on TalkersRadio, please click here. TalkersRadio is an “experimental” talk radio platform launched in 2013 to provide the industry with a “workout space” and “showcase for new talk programming concepts.” Since its launch it has been a temporary home to a number of spoken-word talents – both high-profile and obscure – who’ve used it to work and showcase concepts that have gone on to achieve terrestrial radio exposure and even national syndication. In addition to Stevens, current TalkersRadio hosts include Claire CarterMeg McDonald, and UK sensation, Graham Mack. At the time of his passing, Alan Colmes was working on a series concept called “Healed Planet” heard on TalkersRadio which offered a glimpse into the late FOX News Radio and FOX News Channel star’s metaphysical interests. Files of that fledgling show remain archived on TalkersRadio as a tribute to Colmes. For more information about TalkersRadio, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

Cool Operations Manager Opportunity. Locally owned southern-based radio group seeking a full-time Operations Manager with strong technical and digital skills. The ideal candidate MUST have experience operating OP-X and managing satellite operations for syndicated programs. Applicant must have at least 5 years of experience. Proven experience in managing social media branding, digital marketing, and video production. Proficient in digital automation systems, digital audio editing and production is a must. EEO. Send resumes to dalton@starnesmediagroup.com

TALKERS News Notes. A new channel from Newsmax TV officially launches on VIZIO SmartCast, the award-winning Smart TV platform available to millions of viewers. Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy states, “Launching on VIZIO SmartCast allows our viewers to simply plug in their new televisions and play Newsmax TV. Newsmax is experiencing exponential growth and provides a much-needed perspective on the issues that many VIZIO viewers care about.”…..A new partnership between iHeartMedia and independent UK podcast company Novel will result in the debut of 11 original podcast series over the next three years. The relationship begins with the release of two podcast series, “The Assault on America” and “Deliver Us From Ervil.” “The Assault on America” tells the inside story of the insurrection at the Capitol by working with open-source investigative journalists Bellingcat. “Deliver Us From Ervil” is an investigative true-crime series in which a groundbreaking team of journalists enters a lawless town on the border of Mexico run by a secretive religious sect living in exile and outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. government since 1924…..Content creation company Mean Ole Lion Media adds three new lifestyle-based podcasts to its portfolio. The podcasts are: “Conversations with Dr. Ian Smith,” all about people and discovering their back-story; “Business First with Sonia Alleyne,” that shines a light on brilliant and successful business people in a variety of industries; and “The History of Being Black” with host Eunice Elliott.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Capitol Riot Public Testimony, Biden Cabinet Nominees, Biden Migrant Policy, Trump Tax Returns, Rochester Protests, Russian Sanctions, China’s Hong Kong Loyalty Oath, and Tiger Woods Car Crash Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/23). The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the testimony before the U.S. Senate about the January 6 Capitol insurrection; the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland, embattled White House budget office nominee Neera Tanden, and Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland; the Biden administration’s continued use of Trump policy turning away migrants at the Mexican border; the SCOTUS’ ruling Donald Trump must turn his tax data over to New York AG Cyrus Vance Jr.; the protests in Rochester, New York over the decision not to prosecute police in the death of Daniel Prude; the Biden Administration’s sanctions on Russia for the SolarWinds hack and the Navalny poisoning; China’s instituting loyalty oaths for Hong Kong politicians; and Tiger Woods is hurt in one-car accident in California were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

| November 10, 2020

iHeartMedia Third Quarter Revenue Down 22%. The earnings report from iHeartMedia for the third quarter of 2020 shows the media company in a slightly better situation than some of its similar-sized competitors as revenue was $744 million, a decrease of 22% over the same period in 2019. (Cumulus Media and Entercom were both down 30% and Beasley was down 25%.) iHeartMedia says that its third quarter revenue was up “53% sequentially, moving from down 47% [year-over-year] in Q2 to down 22% [year-over-year] in Q3. The company adds that October revenue increased 2%, benefitting from significant political advertising and digital revenue increased 17% [year-over-year]. Breaking the report down by segment, broadcast revenue declined 29% from $573 million in Q3 2019 to $404 million this year but increased 66% quarter-over-quarter. Networks revenue declined 26% from $160 million to $119 million but increased 24% quarter-over-quarter. Digital revenue increased 17%, from $97 million to $113 million, led by a 74% increase in podcasting revenue. iHeartMedia posted a loss of $32 million in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the net income of $12 million in Q3 of 2019.

iHM’s Pittman: Podcasting Already Profitable for Us. During yesterday’s investors conference call, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman explained the success of its podcasting segment. He said, “Podcasting continues to be our strongest performing business line, reflecting the fact that we built iHeart into the number one commercial podcast publisher in America, with 252 million downloads a month as of September, which is up 71% year-over-year. In Q3, as measured by Podtrac, we were number one in downloads each month. Our audience continues to be more than twice the size of the next largest commercial podcaster. And we extend that our lead over all other ranked podcasters. Let me share with you our model. We partner with the best content creators in the world – some of whom are our very own radio talent – distribute their content to the largest audience possible without a paywall, and use the unparalleled scale of our broadcast radio business as a built-in marketing machine to drive engagement with our podcast shows. We feel this is an important part of our secret sauce. It’s how we continue to build hit podcast after hit podcast, and how we continue to grow our leadership position. According to Podtrac’s latest data, not only are we number one overall, but we currently have the most shows featured across all categories, and we have ranked shows featured in all 19 possible categories, the most among all publishers. Let me be clear, podcasting is already a profitable business for us, and has an EBITDA margin that is higher than the overall company margin. Our podcast business is advertiser supported, it’s not subscription based, and it’s not behind a paywall, which enables our creators to share their passion with the widest audience possible, as we distribute their podcast not only on the iHeartRadio app, but across as many other distribution platforms as possible.”

Entercom Closes on $32 Million Acquisition of QL Gaming Group. According to a press release, Entercom Communications’ acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group will give Entercom “unrivaled data, analytics, and insight-driven content to Entercom’s best-in-class sports broadcast stations, influential podcasts, and RADIO.COM.” The QLGG technology portfolio includes sports betting data and analytical capabilities (BetQL), daily fantasy sports (RotoQL), simulation-based sports outcome predictions and game forecasting (AccuScore), and comprehensive analytical coverage of the ATP and WTA Tours (TennisInsight.com), each with respective subscriber base and licensing opportunities. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “As the sports betting marketplace continues to grow exponentially, the acquisition of QL Gaming Group is a perfect fit for our unrivaled sports audio platform. Integrating QL’s analytics and content with our sports brands enables us to deliver unparalleled experiences for sports fans. The acquisition builds on our track record of digital growth and further enhances our direct-to-consumer technology portfolio with data and analytics capabilities, while also adding an innovative new subscription offering to our platform.” Justin Park, QLGG co-founder and CEO, will continue to lead the business reporting to Entercom president of sports Mike Dee and Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley. Entercom adds that in 2021, under the company’s first full year of ownership, QL Gaming Group is expected to generate approximately $12 million in revenue with an EBITDA margin in the high 20s.

Flag Family Media Partners with Forum Communications to Operate WDAY-AM, Fargo. A deal between Flag Family Media and Forum Communications will give the former “an extensive role in WDAY-AM’s day-to-day operations and provides an eventual path to ownership.” Flag Family Media owns news/talk outlets WZFG, Fargo “AM 1100 The Flag” KTGO, Tioga, North Dakota “AM 1090 The Flag.” Both of Flag Family Media’s principals – Steve Hallstrom and Scott Hennen – have worked at WDAY-AM in the past. Forum president and CEO Bill Marcil, Jr says, “This partnership allows us to focus our attention on our in-depth TV, digital, and print news operations while still sustaining a strong local radio presence in the region. We know Flag Family Media will honor the legacy of WDAY-AM and are looking forward to seeing how they transform our region’s radio experience.” Scott Hennen adds, “This is an extremely significant day for our company, and we look forward to learning from, and working with, some great professionals at WDAY Radio. Steve and I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and bring some energy and creativity to this legendary radio station.”

WOR, New York’s Michael Riedel Publishes New Broadway Book. WOR, New York morning drive co-host Michael Riedel has released his second book, Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, 2020), that chronicles “a transformative decade on Broadway, featuring gripping behind-the-scenes accounts of shows such as Rent, Angels in America, Chicago, The Lion King, and The Producers. In this book, Riedel presents the drama behind every mega-hit or shocking flop, bringing readers into high-stakes premieres, fraught rehearsals, tough contract negotiations, intense Tony Award battles, and more. From the bitter feuds to the surprising collaborations, all the intrigue of a revolutionary era in the Theater District is packed into Singular Sensation. Broadway has triumphs and disasters, but the show always goes on. Riedel, who co-hosts the WOR morning show with Len Berman, says, “I’m a newspaper guy who’s become a radio guy. It’s been my great pleasure to host the morning show with Len Berman on WOR for nearly three years. Len spent his life in sports. I spent mine on Broadway. We certainly talk a lot about politics and current events, but variety is the spice of life, so sports and Broadway are always in the mix. Broadway’s going through a tough time right now, but my book, recounts a better time – the 1990s. I have no doubt that Broadway will be back one day, and Len and I will be there to cheer it on.”

TALKERS News Notes. As eyes and ears shift to Georgia for the January 5 runoff elections to decide that state’s two U.S. Senate races, Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher’s syndicated late morning talk show will “parachute into Georgia in December” as he launches a “Save The Senate” initiative. Gallagher will use Salem’s WGKA-AM, Atlanta “AM920 The ANSWER” as his December base to follow what promises to be the most expensive runoff election in U.S. history. Gallagher says, “This pair of runoff elections in Georgia will be enormously consequential for America. I’m eager to originate my show from the studios of ‘AM 920 The ANSWER’ in Atlanta for a number of days in December, highlighting the dramatic differences between the Republicans and the Democrats in the race. It is all-hands-on-deck for Georgia!”…..The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Cincinnati Public Radio’s WVXU-FM had to shut down its operations after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the station is without much local content until further notice. It posted to its website: “Our programming is being provided through a national feed with limited local information. We apologize for this inconvenience and are doing everything possible to maintain the service you expect. We will return to normal operations as quickly as it is safe to do so.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is presenting the 2020 Masters Tournament with exclusive hole-by-hole coverage beginning Thursday (11/12) through Sunday (11/15). The 84th Masters Tournament from Augusta National Golf Club is being played in November for the first time…..San Francisco public news/talk personality Michael Krasny is retiring from his position with KQED-FM where he’s been host of the late morning “Forum” program for almost 30 years. His last program will be on February 15, 2021. He says, “I want to thank all of the listeners, guests and exceptional colleagues I’ve had the great fortune to encounter over the years as host of Forum. I’ve been unusually fortunate to sustain such a long career serving the Bay Area in a role that allows me to participate in such rich and thoughtful conversations about the topics of our times.”

Biden Transition Process/Trump Refuses to Concede, Barr Orders ‘Irregularities’ Investigations, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Pfizer Vaccine, SCOTUS Obamacare Case, Trump Fires Esper, and Georgia Runoff Elections Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/9). President-Elect Joe Biden proceeds with the transition process while President Trump refuses to concede the election; Attorney General Bill Barr orders Justice Department election crimes office to investigate voter “irregularities”; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and in Europe and projections for fall and winter cases; Pfizer announces its COVID vaccine is 90% effective; the Supreme Court begins hearing arguments on the Affordable Care Act; President Trump fires Defense Secretary Mark Esper and appoints Christopher Miller acting secretary; and the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats 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. Country radio on-air pro Brooke Taylor is named midday host at iHeartMedia’s WSIX-FM, Nashville “The BIG 98.” Taylor was most recently with the company’s Chicago country station “BIG 95.5” until that station’s recent flip to a rock format. Taylor will continue to host the night show for iHeartMedia Denver’s “107.7 The Bull” and broadcast on several iHeartCountry stations across the country. She says, “When I set out to work in country music, one of the first things I prayed for was to be in Nashville one day, and the fact that this is becoming a reality is honestly a dream come true. I can’t wait to join an already incredible team at ‘The BIG 98’ and to represent the iHeartCountry brand.”…..Alpha Media Lincoln names Joe Dobbins, a.k.a. JDub, content director for CHR KFRX. JDub comes to Lincoln from Alpha’s CHR WDJX, Louisville where he was content director and afternoon show host. Alpha Media Lincoln operations manager Rob Kelley comments, “Joe is an outstanding programmer with outstanding vision. He is the perfect leader for our staff and for the brand of a great heritage CHR like KFRX.”…..iHeartMedia’s nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” announces that its fourth annual #Change4Change broadcast will feature a day of giving to help listeners in need. Traditionally a radiothon, this year’s event will grant wishes to listeners experiencing hardship. #Change4Change will broadcast on Thursday, November 19, 2020 on hip hop WWPR, New York “Power 105.1” and across more than 77 affiliates of “The Breakfast Club.”…..WXKB, Fort Myers “B103.9FM” morning personality and Army veteran Jason “Big Mama” Jones, in conjunction with ABC 7, raising awareness and support for Home Base Southwest Florida Veteran and Family Care on Veterans Day (11/11). Jones also hosts Beasley Media Group’s “Bravery Network,” a weekend program dedicated to shining a light on important issues and services available for veterans and their families. He says, “I am very excited about this partnership. Being able to use the power of radio and television to help raise awareness and money for the veterans of Southwest Florida. I am planning some ‘star’-studded guest for the day that will not only make show informative but very entertaining as well.”…..The CHR evening show “Party LiveLine!” partners with Sun Broadcast Group effective immediately. The program was created by John Garabedian and his hosted by Mason Kelter. SBG chief development officer Rich O’Brien says, “Broadcasters are worried about the loss of TSL among 18-34-year-olds, who spend extraordinary amounts of time with streaming services on their mobile devices. Add to this the negative effects which RIFs and voicetracking have had on the ratings of Top 40 stations, and until now there were no good alternatives. That’s why we are so excited to be offering this breakthrough Top 40 night show which is 100% live and interactive.”

Friday, November 6, 2020

| November 6, 2020


NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled “The Envelope Please!” looks back at this past week of November 2 – November 6, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Brett Winterble, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte; Graham Mack, talk show host, Podcast Radio, London, UK; Dr. Renee Kohanski, psychiatrist / commentator, MDedge Psychcast; Michael Zwerling, talk show host / owner, KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; and Walter Sterling, talk show host, “Sterling On Sunday.” This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Entercom and Urban One Announce Station Swap Involving Four Markets. A swap between Entercom and Urban One encompasses stations in three markets. Under the terms of this deal, Entercom acquires WPHI-FM, Philadelphia; WHHL-FM, St. Louis; and WTEM-AM, Washington, DC. Also, Entercom gets the format, brand and creative assets of Urban One’s WFUN-FM, St. Louis “The Lou” which will be moved to Entercom’s KNOU-FM, St. Louis. In return, Urban One acquires Entercom’s Charlotte cluster that includes news/talk WBT-AM/FM, sports talk WFNZ-AM, and hot AC WLNK “107.9 The Link.” Both companies will begin operating their respective acquisitions under LMAs beginning November 23. The addition of WTEM-AM, Washington “The Team 980” gives Entercom a second sports talk outlet in the DC market, complementing WJFK-FM “106.7 The Fan.” Entercom DC SVP and market manager Ivy Savoy-Smith says, “For years, WTEM has established itself as the go-to home for everything surrounding The Washington Football Team, and we’re proud to enhance our position as unrivaled leaders in sports radio by adding the station to our portfolio. The Washington Football Team is a pillar in the D.C. sports community, and we look forward to providing our listeners a home to tune in to all the action on game days and stay up-to-date throughout the year.”

Entercom-Urban One Deal Gives All-News KYW, Philadelphia an FM Presence. With Entercom’s acquisition of Philadelphia FM signal WPHI from Urban One, Entercom announces it will simulcast heritage all-news KYW-AM on the 103.9 FM signal. Entercom Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff comments, “In this critical time for our community and country, simulcasting the iconic ‘KYW Newsradio’ on FM will greatly expand the reach of important, credible local journalism and enhance the listener experience on the crystal-clear FM dial. This station is the heartbeat of the community and we’re really excited about serving more listeners while providing additional access on top of 1060 AM, RADIO.COM, and smart speakers. The simulcast will begin on November 23.

Entercom’s 2020 Q3 Net Revenue Down 30%. On the positive side, Entercom Communications’ net revenue for the third quarter of 2020 was $268.5 million and that was up 53% from the second quarter of this year. However, that was 30% below the $386 million posted in the third quarter of 2019. The company notes that net revenues improved each month during the third quarter compared to the prior year: July was down 36%, August was down 32% and September was down 25%. Digital climbed 41% over the same period in 2019, posting revenue of $47.3 million. Entercom reports a third quarter operating loss of $259,000, compared to operating income of $79.5 million in Q3 of 2019. Entercom CEO David Field states, “I am pleased to report that Entercom continued to make significant organizational improvements in the third quarter in the face of the deeply challenging pandemic. Third quarter net revenues were up 53% from the second quarter while our continuing work on enhancing our business model yielded an 18% reduction in operating expenses versus the prior year enabling us to rebound to positive Adjusted EBITDA of $31 million. We expect further improvement in both revenues and Adjusted EBITDA in the fourth quarter. We continue to suffer from the deep impact of the pandemic which has caused many of our advertisers in businesses such as concerts and live events, tourism, gyms, nightclubs, museums, movies, theme parks, public transportation, airlines, restaurants, and others to temporarily cease or significantly curtail their operations and advertising. We look forward to welcoming them back once we emerge from the pandemic. We continue to build and transform Entercom into a leading multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with scaled audience reach, robust data, analytics and attribution capabilities, and a leadership position in virtually every segment of the dynamic and growing audio market, including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, events, network, music, sports and news. Entercom is strategically well positioned for future performance as our enhanced capabilities enable us to expand our customer relationships and accelerate growth.”

Cumulus Promotes Ken Roberts to Market Manager for Washington, DC. Rising from his vice president, sales position with Cumulus Media’s Washington, DC duo to vice president and market manager is Ken Roberts. He takes over for Jake McCann, who exits to lead the Philadelphia-based real estate investment firm The HOW Group, LLC. Roberts will lead the duo of news/talk WMAL-FM and sports talk WSBN-AM “ESPN 630 The Sports Capital.” Cumulus Media EVP of operations Dave Milner says, “Since joining the Cumulus team in 2016, Ken Roberts has done a terrific job leading our sales effort in Washington, D.C. His creativity, experience, leadership, and performance made Ken the ideal choice for this key role. Ken has earned this promotion and we are excited to have him lead this highly talented and effective D.C. team!”

Twitter Permanently Suspends Stephen K. Bannon’s Account. Former White House chief strategist, former Breitbart chief executive, current talk media host Stephen K. Bannon has had his Twitter account permanently suspended after he tweeted that President Trump should fire Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray and then went further, “I’d put the heads on pikes. Right. I’d put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats. You either get with the program or you are gone.” At the same time, Facebook shut down the page of the pro-Trump group Stop the Steal. A Facebook spokesperson commented to CNN, “In line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension, we have removed the group ‘Stop the Steal,’ which was creating real-world events. The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group.”

The Presidential Race, Electoral College, and Trump Lawsuits Tie for Top News/Talk Story This Week. The 2020 presidential election, the Electoral College, and Donald Trump’s lawsuits combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was congressional races, local races, and propositions, followed by COVID-19 stats & projections and health care at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

TALKERS News Notes. Based on Nielsen data, Newsmax TV broke its previous ratings records with Tuesday’s election night coverage. Newsmax Media says Newsmax TV reached 3 million viewers with the highest per minute viewership at 592,000 viewers. Moreover. Initial OTT reports indicate the network reached an additional 4 million viewers on Election Day and the day after on OTT services such as Roku, YouTube, Xumo, Pluto and others…..The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar reports that the sale process of sports talk KFNS-AM, St. Louis is ongoing despite owner Randy Markel’s belief that he and his wife have contracted COVID-19. Markel is selling the station to a group led by current station manager John Hadley. Markel tells the paper that the process is in the hands of the lawyers now and that the deal “will get done.” Hadley is currently tweaking the station to be a true all-sports outlet. Several weeks ago it ended its deal with general issues talker Frank O. Pinion who’d been hosting the afternoon drive daypart…..iHeartMedia receives approval from the Federal Communications Commission for an increase in its authorized aggregate foreign ownership from 25% to 100% (subject to certain conditions set forth in the Declaratory Ruling). The FCC concludes that the public interest would not be served by prohibiting foreign investment in iHeartMedia of up to 100%. The decision allows holders of iHeartMedia warrants to have those warrants exchanged into Class A or Class B shares of iHeartMedia common stock and affords iHeartMedia flexibility to accommodate increased foreign investment that may result from share purchases by the public…..Alec Baldwin’s “Here’s The Thing” podcast is joining iHeartMedia’s iHeartPodcast Network in January. Baldwin says, “With the shift over to iHeartRadio, we’re breathing new life into a project I’ve been passionate about for nearly a decade. Hosting this show and speaking to so many remarkable people over the years has been such a joy, and I’m eager to see where we go from here.”…..Beasley Media Group unveils the Bravery Network in the Ft. Myers market.  The weekend public affairs radio program is hosted by CHR WXKB “B103.9” morning show personality and Army veteran Jason “Big Mama” Jones and is dedicated to shining a light on important issues ranging from PTSD and wellness to saluting Veterans who are making a difference in the local community. Jones says, “Florida has one of the largest veteran populations in the United States. As an Army veteran, I know first-hand the importance of finding resources after service can be both complicated and unique. The Bravery Network hopes to not only streamline these resources but bring awareness to those who don’t know about the struggle of reintegration into society.”…..The Library of American Broadcasting Foundation announces its 2020 Board of Directors. Heidi Raphael, chief communications officer at Beasley Media Group, is named co-chair, effective immediately. She joins Hubbard Radio CEO Ginny Morris as co-chair of the organization. Pierre Bouvard, Gary Chapman, Erica Farber, David Kennedy, Dr. Judy Kuriansky and Heidi Raphael have been re-elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors. In addition, Ginny Morris, Gary Chapman, David Kennedy and Jack Goodman will continue to serve additional two-year terms on the Executive Committee.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. A collaboration between Beasley Media Group and Broken Bow Records will result in their first-ever virtual “Country Christmas Concert.” The event will take place on Wednesday, December 16 at 8:00 pm on Beasley’s WKXC-FM, Augusta, Georgia; WKLB-FM, Boston; WSOC-FM, Charlotte; WKML-FM, Fayetteville; KCYE-FM, Las Vegas; WXTU-FM, Philadelphia; and WQYK-FM, Tampa. Beasley says the show will be hosted by local station personalities in an “up-close-and-personal setting.” Artists scheduled to perform include: Dustin Lynch, Chase Rice, Jimmie Allen, Runaway June, Elvie Shane, and Lainey Wilson…..Cox Media Group San Antonio names Craig Jones director of sales for the cluster that includes: classic hits KONO-FM, rock KISS, country KKYX-AM/K285EU, hot AC KSMG, classic rock KTKX-FM, country KCYY, and oldies KONO-AM. CMG San Antonio VP and market manager David Able says, “Craig is an influential leader who has a long track record of success leading highly talented sales teams within our industry. I have no doubt that under Craig’s leadership our sales team will thrive and continue to deliver strong results for our clients.”

Thursday, October 29, 2020

| October 29, 2020

Carton and Roberts Show to Launch on WFAN on November 9. One day after WFAN, New York personality Joe Benigno announced he’s retiring from the afternoon drive show after his November 6 program (see story below), Entercom unveils the new Craig Carton and Evan Roberts program to launch on November 9, confirming months of speculation about the return of Carton after his conviction and one-year prison sentence on fraud charges. Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says in a statement, “Craig Carton was part of the fabric of WFAN for a decade, both on and off the air, engaging and entertaining audiences with his one-of-a-kind personality and talent. We all hope that this next step on his road back will not only be beneficial to Craig, but also for his audience as he shares his story and looks to make an impact through the power of his voice. WFAN welcomes him back and is excited to have him join Evan Roberts in afternoon drive.” Carton says, “I am grateful to Entercom for the chance to return home to WFAN. I have dreamt about this moment every minute of every day for the last three years. I know I have work to do to regain the trust of my colleagues, listeners, and advertisers and am committed to doing just that. I can’t wait to get started with Evan Roberts on November 9th.”

WFAN, New York Officially Announces Joe Benigno’s Retirement. A week from tomorrow will be the final regular broadcast for New York sports talk host Joe Benigno. As has been speculated in the New York media and media trade publications, Benigno is leaving the station after a 26-year career. Entercom says that Benigno will continue to be heard on the station “in select roles beginning in 2021.” Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Joe Benigno is the quintessential New York sports fan, broadcasting his trademark straight-from-the-heart perspective on the city’s sports scene every day for nearly three decades. Though Joe first came to prominence as ‘Joe from Saddle River,’ he departs as one of the most successful and enduring hosts in the long and iconic history of WFAN. It is comforting to know that he remains a part of the ‘FAN’ family and will still be keeping a close eye on his beloved Jets, Mets, Knicks and Rangers.” Benigno joined WFAN in 1995 after winning the station’s Fan Appreciation Day contest, where the prize was to host on WFAN. After a stint at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting and a small New Jersey radio station, Benigno was hired as the overnight host at WFAN in 2004. He served as the station’s midday show co-host from 2003 to 2019 before moving to afternoons in 2020.

Round Three of October PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s October PPM survey is 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 October 2020 survey period covered September 10 – October 7. You can see all the 6+, weekly AQH share data from subscribing stations here. Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from these markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland adds a full share and finishes the survey with a 7.0 share to remain ranked #3. In Charlotte, Entercom’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM tacks on nine-tenths for a 6.9 share and rises from #4 to #3. iHeartMedia’s KNRS-FM, Salt Lake City adds three-tenths – completing a four-survey spike of 2.3 shares – to finish with a 7.6 share and jumps to the #1 spot for the first time in the PPM era. Across town at Bonneville’s KSL-FM, it rockets up 1.3 shares for a 7.4 share and finishes the October survey at #2. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets – as well as the first two rounds – here.

Entercom and FanDuel Announce Strategic Partnership. The six-year partnership designating FanDuel as the official sportsbook partner of Entercom across its sports broadcast stations and RADIO.COM will give listeners unique access to FanDuel odds, insight, and promotion via Entercom on-air stations and personalities. Entercom and FanDuel will also “collaborate on in-depth integrations and co-produce content that will pioneer the industry with all-new formats.” Under the agreement, FanDuel will be the official sportsbook of Entercom, and receive preferred and increased category access to all Entercom talent in every market where Entercom and FanDuel both operate. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “We believe this is the largest advertising commitment ever made within the radio industry. We are focused on delivering the best sports betting experience for our audiences in markets where legalized sports betting will be pervasive. The marketplace is growing exponentially and FanDuel is an ideal partner to take full advantage of the influence and reach of Entercom’s robust sports platforms to deliver an even better, audio sports experience to our listeners.”

TALKERS News Notes. A reminder that this evening (10/29) is the 2020 Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony taking place from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET on both the iHeartRadio app and via SiriusXM’s Triumph Channel. Being inducted are: Mark & Brian, Donnie Simpson, Angie Martinez, Cokie Roberts, Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, & DJ Envy, Sway Calloway, and Glenn Beck. You can listen here…..ABC News Radio is presenting live anchored coverage on election night beginning at 7:00 pm ET, running through at least 2:00 am ET. Correspondents Aaron Katersky and Karen Travers will anchor coverage. It will also feature reporting from correspondents on-location with the candidates and in crucial swing states. ABC News Radio will offer four one-minute Status Reports each hour throughout the evening. ABC News’ flagship daily podcast “Start Here,” hosted by Brad Mielke, will have special coverage throughout the week, including special editions on Election Day, November 4, and as news warrants…..Sun Broadcast Group announces two new hires in marketing. Lindsay Carr joins as director of marketing and Megan Hermensky is named assistant marketing manager. SBG vice president of business operations Laura Orkin says, “As we expand our ad sales team to meet the growing needs of our advertisers and partners, we are building our marketing support to develop new promotions, social media extensions, and more. Lindsay and Megan have the marketing expertise to bring new concepts and fresh designs to Sun. I’m delighted to welcome them both to our team.”

The Presidential Election, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Financial Markets Activity, Philadelphia Racial Tensions, Hunter Biden Emails, Big Tech Before Congress, France Terror Attack, and Tropical Storm Zeta Hits Gulf Coast Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/28). Next Tuesday’s presidential election and the last-minute campaigning by Donald Trump and Joe Biden; the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad and projections for the fall and winter seasons; the world’s financial markets sink on fears of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic; racial tensions in Philadelphia in the aftermath of the police shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr; the allegations that Hunter Biden’s emails indicate he improperly benefitted from Joe Biden’s vice presidency; CEO’s of Facebook, Twitter, and Google appear before a Senate Commerce Subcommittee to answer questions about censorship; a terrorist kills three in a church in Nice, France; and Tropical Storm Zeta dumps more rain on Louisiana were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Presents 2020 Election Preview Featuring Bill O’Reilly. Pictured above are WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte talk show host Bo Thompson (top left), North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (top right) with special guest, Key Networks nationally syndicated talk show host Bill O’Reilly (bottom). The production was dubbed “WBT’s TALKTOBERFEST 2020” and you can see it here. Station brand manager Mike Schaefer tells TALKERS magazine that O’Reilly appeared during the first talk hour of the program. Also on the program were WBT-AM/FM personalities Vince Coakley, Brett Winterble, Mark Garrison, Brett Jensen, and Joe Gillespie. It was broadcast Tuesday evening (10/27) live on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

Former Westwood One News Radio White House Correspondent Bob Costantini Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Journalism in America is going through a challenging transition. The technology, sociology, and economics of the times have conspired to shrink newsrooms, shut down news organizations, and put a critically large number of journalists out of work. This pinch is certainly being experienced in radio as most recently evidenced in the discontinuation of a news department by syndication giant Westwood One. Former Westwood One White House correspondent and veteran radio/TV journalist Bob Costantini is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Costantini was a high-profile casualty of the Westwood One news shutdown, but he wasn’t a victim, having wasted no time before launching his own boutique news agency, Ear on the White House, specializing in providing radio stations across America with customized reports and coverage of the White House and ongoing presidential developments. The fact that Costantini has already signed up several client stations out of the gate is a strong indication he’s off and running in the right direction with this new venture. With the presidential election dominating the national conversation, the White House has become the central focus of the nation and its concerns and promises to remain so in the months and years ahead. Costantini, a 30-plus year veteran of the field, has covered the White House for such news organizations as FOX News Channel, CNN and CNN Radio, NBC News Radio and most recently Westwood One. He’s a graduate of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. Harrison and Costantini talk about what it’s like inside the White House press corps, how the White House Correspondents’ Association operates, differences between the administrations he’s covered from George H.W. Bush to Donald Trump, and the current election, as well as the state and future of journalism. Don’t miss this illuminating deep-dive conversation about the nuts and bolts of covering the executive branch on radio. 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. Rock radio pro Wade Linder is promoted to vice president, classic rock for Cumulus Media. The company says that in this new role, Linder will serve on Cumulus’ content leadership team as a key resource for the company’s 34 classic rock radio stations and will report to Troy Hanson, VP/corporate programming, rock formats. Linder will continue in his current role as PD for WLS-FM, Chicago. Linder says, “I’m grateful to be entrusted with this new appointment from Brian Philips and Troy Hanson. It’s a privilege to work with the programming brains and pure personalities in classic rock at Cumulus, with so much brand knowledge already present. Add to that the daily grounding and inspiration I receive from my closest radio family here at 94.7 WLS-FM in Chicago, where Marv Nyren shows us how to win and be kind at the same time. I want to also thank Dave Milner, John Dimick, and Doug Hamand.”…..Premiere Networks and Bobby Bones, VP/creative director of iHeartCountry, announce the launch of a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast, “Talk to Chuck” with Chuck Wicks, distributed by Bones’ Nashville Podcast Network. “Talk to Chuck” features the singer and songwriter as he shares his unique perspective on what’s happening in the world of country music. With behind-the-scenes access to the biggest stars, he’ll welcome music artists, celebrities, athletes, and others who share a love for country music. Listeners and country fans will also join the conversation as Wicks and his guests discuss the hottest topics of the week…..Beasley Media Group announces classic rock outlet WCSX-FM, Detroit, in conjunction with the Mayor of Royal Oak, Michigan, will proclaim Friday, November 6, 2020 as ‘Glenn Frey Day’ in honor of the late Eagles co-founder and Michigan native. Station morning show personality Jim O’Brien from “Big Jim’s House Morning Show” will broadcast live on Glenn Frey Drive in commemoration of the late singer/songwriter’s birthday. In addition, O’Brien will join Mayor Mike Fournier in officially proclaiming “Glenn Frey Day” as well as share stories about the late Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee from Detroit legends Bob Seger, Alice Cooper and others.

Monday, October 12, 2020

| October 12, 2020

Monday Memo: Got Local News? Guard it. Now more than ever – with the pandemic upending the life we were accustomed to – consultant Holland Cooke says “you will continue to distinguish your product from your robotic audio competition, and what’s-left-of the newspaper, by telling listeners something useful that nobody else is telling them.”  In this week’s column, some simple tips. Read it here.

The Presidential Race/Mail-In Voting, Fatal Denver Rally Shooting, VP Debate, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Trump’s COVID Case, New Stimulus Negotiations, Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation, Hurricane Delta-California Wildfires, and NFL COVID Concerns Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The November presidential election and the matter of mail-in voting; the fatal shooting at a Denver political protest gathering and tensions in the city; Wednesday’s vice presidential debate; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for future cases, and President Trump‘s bout with the disease; negotiations for a new federal stimulus package; the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett; Hurricane Delta drenches Louisiana and the ongoing California wildfires; and the positive COVID-19 cases popping up in the NFL were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Take It or Leave It. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes today about selling news/talk radio in a time when your sales planning priorities can shift as quickly as the news cycle changes. He says that “organizing chaos is part of our new sales world” and offers some strategies to keep sellers on track during these unpredictable times. Read it here.

Carmean Joins Entercom Sacto As GSM. The market president and chief revenue officer for Townsquare Media’s Boise (Idaho) cluster – Rick Carmean – is named general sales manager of Entercom Sacramento. According to Entercom Sacramento senior vice president and market manager Stacey Kauffman, “Because of the rich history and success of Entercom Sacramento’s portfolio of brands and assets, expectations are high for this team. Rick’s vast experience in audio, sports, and digital – coupled with his track record of producing winning results – make him an excellent and valuable addition to our strong leadership team. We are excited to welcome Rick to Entercom and Sacramento.” Carmean adds, “I’m thrilled for the opportunity to represent the top-rated radio stations in the market and work with a talented team of sales professionals and on-air talent.” Carmean previously was Red Zebra Broadcasting’s president and chief executive officer and held digital advertising leadership roles at AOL and Source Media. In addition to sports talk KIFM-AM “ESPN 1320,” Entercom Sacramento consists of rhythmic CHR KSFM; CHR KUDL “106.5 The End”; classic rock KSEG “96.9 The Eagle”; KRXQ “98 Rock”; and alternative KKDO “Alt 94-7.”

More Than 2,100 “Attend” NAB’s Online Radio Show. The week-long digital experience began one week ago (Monday, 10/5) and continued through this past Friday afternoon (10/9) at RadioShowWeb.com. According to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), Radio Show in-person attendance has recently been averaging 2,000, while this year’s online event attracted 2,143 registrants. NAB president and chief executive officer Gordon Smith comments, “Although we regret not being able to meet in person, this [past] week’s Radio Show digital experience provided a welcome opportunity to connect and gain valuable insight on how to prevail during this difficult time and move forward as an industry.” RAB president and chief executive officer Erica Farber remarks, “The Radio Show is an industry favorite. Having the opportunity to gather virtually and connect with broadcasters, advertisers, thought leaders, and partners has been tremendously valuable. The good news is all Radio Show content will continue to be made available for on-demand viewing should anyone want to re-watch a specific session or may have missed any of the sessions or presentations.” Among the highlights were a keynote by Dave Ramsey, and a “CEO Town Hall” with Mary Berner (Cumulus Media); David Field (Entercom); and Bob Pittman (iHeartMedia). The Town Hall was moderated by NBC News senior business correspondent/MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle. Next year’s Radio Show will co-locate with the NAB Show, which has been rescheduled for October 9-13 (2021) in Las Vegas.

KBA Honors Talbott. Bluegrass native Julie Talbott will be presented with the Ralph Gabbard “Distinguished Kentuckian Award” from the Kentucky Broadcasters Association at today’s (Monday, 10/12) 2:00 pm virtual Excellence in Broadcasting Awards event. Fifteen years after joining Premiere Networks, Talbott was named president of the company in January 2014 ; she oversees operation of Premiere Networks’ more than 100 radio programs and services. In addition, she manages business partnerships with talent, as well as leading/maintaining affiliate relationships to sell/service Premiere Networks, Total Traffic & Weather Network, and the 24/7 News Network. Talbott previously was chief operating officer of MJI Broadcasting, which was acquired by Premiere’s parent company Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia). Talbott began her career at BBDO Advertising. The Ralph Gabbard “Distinguished Kentuckian Award” is presented in recognition of achievements and accomplishments of former Kentuckians who have earned fame or acclaim in their respected field.

AWMF and ESPN Launch Scholarship For Black Females. The mission of the partnership between the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (AWMF) and ESPN is to provide black women a path into careers in sports media. ESPN’s donation of $10,000 will provide two educational scholarships to assist black females pursuing such career paths. Alliance for Women in Media Foundation executive director Becky Brooks remarks, “It has been wonderful to collaborate with ESPN to conceptualize this scholarship. Through this strong partnership, we’re proud to continue our work in pursuing greater diversity in the sports journalism work force.” ESPN vice president of corporate communications/AWMF board member Katina Arnold notes, “Diversity and inclusion is ESPN’s #1 focus. We want to support and create concrete ways to grow the pipeline of black talent in the sports industry. The ESPN and AWMF scholarship is the perfect way to fulfill ESPN’s mission of supporting black and African-American women pursuing careers in media.” Selection of student winners will be based on applicants developing an essay of 750 – 1,000 words, highlighting the importance of black women in sports media. Applications are due in less than six weeks (11/20). AWMF and ESPN will select one black female undergraduate student winner and one black female graduate student to receive the scholarships payable to each winning student’s educational institution.

TALKERS News Notes. Former CIA officer and NYPD counter-terrorism expert Buck Sexton debuts his Premiere Networks’ three-hour show in Tampa Bay tonight (Monday, 10/12, 9:00 pm – 12:00 midnight) on iHeartMedia’s WFLA “News Radio 970.” Senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia Tampa/Sarasota Tommy Chuck comments, “We are excited to have Buck Sexton join our on-air lineup of strong local and national personalities. His life experience gives him unique perspective that our audience will be very interested to hear.” Sexton adds, “I’m honored to have my show join WFLA, [one of] the greatest heritage stations in the country. I can’t wait to begin speaking every night to listeners in the Tampa Bay area, one of the best talk radio audiences there is.” WFLA’s revised weekday lineup is: “Coast to Coast AM with George Noory” (12:00 midnight – 5:00 am); “AM Tampa Bay” (5:00  am – 9:00 am); Glenn Beck (9:00 am – 12:00 noon); Rush Limbaugh (12:00 noon – 3:00 pm); Sean Hannity (3:00 pm – 6:00 pm); “PM Tampa Bay with Ryan Gorman” (6:00 pm – 9:00 pm); and Buck Sexton (9:00 pm – 12:00 midnight). Also in the iHeartMedia Tampa Bay cluster, personal finance host Dave Ramsey moves his daily talk show to news/talk WHNZ “1250 Impact Radio” from cross-town Beasley Media Group’s WHFS “Money Talk 1010.” According to iHeartMedia market president Chris Soechtig, “We’re excited to add ‘The Dave Ramsey Show to our [2:00 pm – 5:00 pm] line-up. [Dave] brings a new group of listeners to 1250 WHNZ who pay attention to what’s coming out of their speakers and applying what they hear.” ….. Designed to encourage eligible voters to cast ballots in next month’s election, Beasley Media Group’s “Your Vote – Your Voice” initiative will include recorded fifteen- and thirty-second PSAs, as well as custom content that will be featured on the chain’s 64 radio station websites. Beasley Media Group chief content officer Justin Chase notes, “This initiative is a great reminder that no matter who you choose, it’s important to make sure your voice is heard at the polls.” Customized messaging encouraging listeners to vote will be displayed using Quu RDS technology across the company’s in-car dash platforms ….. Technology entrepreneur Matt Moog is named interim chief operating officer of Chicago Public Media, which includes public radio news/talk WBEZ. Moog succeeds Steve Edwards, who performed those duties on an interim basis as well, but segues back to his vice president and chief content officer responsibilities. Chicago Public Media’s CEO role opened up a year ago when Goli Sheikholeslami exited to join New York Public Radio. Earlier this year, American University Washington, DC public radio news/talk WAMU “The Medium Is The Message” chief content officer Andi McDaniel was appointed CPM’s chief executive officer, but departed. The search for a permanent Chicago Public Media CEO is expected to resume next year ….. During a Washington State gubernatorial debate last week, governor Jay Inslee remarked that, “We follow science in Washington.” Bonneville Seattle news/talk KIRO-FM host Dori Monson tweeted, “The state where I could go to Olympia and change my ‘birth cert’ to say I was a girl on 10/2/61 HAHAHAHAHA.” That tweet has led to Monson’s indefinite suspension from his KIRO-FM duties, as well as his pre-game and post-game hosting chores for Seattle Seahawks football games ….. An integral cog of the Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine,” Joe Morgan, has died at his Danville, California home. After his playing career, Morgan became a baseball analyst on television and radio. The former second baseman did color for games of the Reds (1985); San Francisco Giants (1986 – 1994); and Oakland A’s (1995). Morgan attained national exposure on ABC-TV’s baseball telecasts and had a 20-year run (1990 – 2010) as Jon Miller’s analyst on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball.” During that stretch, he was in the ESPN Radio booth for post-season and World Series contests. In 2011, he hosted a daily syndicated radio show for Sports USA Radio Network. In addition to the Reds, Morgan played for San Francisco, Oakland, Houston, and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Hall of Famer was 77 years old.

Midwest Communications Taps Villarreal As Wausau VP/MM. Eight-year Laredo, Texas-based International Business & Marketing consultant Milko Villarreal, Jr. is appointed vice president and market manager of Midwest Communications’ five-station Wausau, Wisconsin cluster. Midwest Communications president and chief executive officer Duke Wright comments, “We welcome Milko to the family and look forward to many successful and prosperous years to come. His passion and desire to win are a great fit for our already positive Wausau operation.” Villarreal, who begins his new assignment in three weeks (11/2), remarks, “I am thrilled to join Midwest. The Wright family has a long-standing tradition of excellence in broadcasting. Ideologically, and operationally, I believe we are a very good fit; I look forward to making a positive contribution.” The former NAB radio board member succeeds Brett Lucht, who passed away three months ago. In addition to news/talk WSAU and sports talk WRIG, Midwest Communications’ Wausau cluster consists of country WDEZ, CHR WIFC, and rock WOZZ.

NEP & Edison Research To Implement COVID-19-Related Protocols. The exit poll conducted by Edison Research on behalf of ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and NBC News, will begin interviewing voters at early voting locations around the country starting tomorrow (Tuesday, 10/13). Edison Research co-founder and executive vice president Joe Lenski states that, “More Americans are expected to vote before Election Day this year than any other election in history. The member networks of the National Election Pool (NEP) and Edison Research have developed innovative new techniques to account for that in our long-standing exit poll. In 2018, Edison and the NEP pioneered the technique of conducting interviews at in-person early voting sites, and today, we’re using that valuable experience to expand those efforts for 2020. It’s simply a matter of taking our time-tested models and applying them to the ways people vote today.” In addition to adapting to the changing ways that voters cast their ballots, the NEP is taking precautions to ensure that voters participating in the in-person exit polls remain safe. Exit polls will be conducted by interviewers wearing masks, who will remain six feet away from respondents and will have single-use pencils available for each voter filling out the exit poll questionnaire. Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes will be available for voters to use before and after completing their exit polls. As it has since 2004, the NEP exit poll will include extensive telephone surveys of those planning to vote by mail to ensure that all voters are represented in Election Night coverage across the pool’s member networks and subscribers. This year, those polls will reach more than 25,000 voters casting ballots before Election Day.

“WTMJ 2021” Airs Tomorrow. The nine-hour broadcast (9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Tuesday, 10/13) on Good Karma Brands’ Milwaukee news/talk WMTJ “News Radio 620” looks at events and issues that will shape the year ahead. It will feature interviews with Wisconsin’s most influential names such as Wisconsin governor Tony Evers; senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson; Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin; Medical College of Wisconsin chief executive officer Dr. John Raymond; and community activist Frank Sensabaugh. Good Karma Brands Milwaukee vice president and market manager Steve Wexler explains, “Every year, WTMJ brings our listeners an all-day look at the issues shaping our future. Little did we know how tumultuous a year 2020 would turn out to be when we gathered last year.” Presidential politics is the leadoff topic at 9:00 am. It will be followed by public safety (10:00 am); sports in the age of COVID-19 (11:00 am); business and the economy (12:00 noon); healthcare (1:00 pm); entertainment (2:00 pm); education (3:00 pm); local and state government (4:00 pm); and the racial divide (5:00 pm).

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Starting today (Monday, 10/12), Mz Shyneka takes over in afternoon drive on Core Radio Group Atlanta urban contemporary WWSZ “Streetz 94.5.” Core Radio Group president and chief executive officer Steve Hegwood comments, “It is my pleasure to sign Mz Shyneka to afternoons. Her addition to our great team keeps us at the forefront of this competitive Atlanta market.” According to Mz Shyneka, “I am overwhelmed with joy to be back on the radio in my hometown. I can’t wait to continue making history at the only black-owned station in Atlanta.” She most recently did afternoons for Radio One’s cross-town similarly-formatted WHTA “Hot 107.9” ….. Elsewhere in Atlanta, after an approximately 20-year tenure at Cox Media Group urban AC WALR “Kiss 104,” Saturday morning “Spotlight Gold” host “Youngbloodexits …..  Under a new one-year deal, all Villanova football and basketball games for the 2020 – 2021 season will be carried on Beasley Media Group Philadelphia adult hits WBEN-FM “95.7 Ben FM.” Beasley Media Group Philadelphia vice president and market manager Joe Bell comments, “Our motto at ‘Ben’ is ‘Playing Anything We Feel Like,’ and we feel like playing some Villanova games. It will be a great season for Villanova sports.” Program director Chuck Damico notes, “We’re thrilled to add Villanova football and basketball to ‘95.7 Ben FM’ this year. It’s an honor to deliver these games to their passionate fans and alumni.” Meanwhile, Villanova Sports Properties vice president and general manager Drew Young adds, “The affiliation with ‘Ben FM’ expands our reach in the Delaware Valley and gives the ‘Nova Nation’ a prominent new home on the FM dial.” ….. The former 15-year afternoon personality/music director at Bahakel Communications Colorado Springs rocker KILO, Jack Wilson, has died from coronavirus. Wilson left KILO in 2015 and did weekends in Phoenix for Hubbard Radio’s similarly-programmed KUPD. KILO’s Facebook page notes, “It is with deep regret that we share this news with the KILO Nation. He was and will always be a big part of the KILO family. We send our love and condolences to his family and friends. Please keep them in your thoughts during this difficult time.” The 38-year-old Wilson is survived by his mother (Pattie Ray); a 17-year-old daughter (Bella); and a six-year-old son (Jack Jr.) ….. “The Quick Silva Show with Dominique Da Diva” moves to Reach Media for distribution and syndication. Reach Media and Radio One chief executive officer David Kantor comments, “I’ve had the opportunity to see this show grow tremendously. Quick Silva and Dominque Da Diva are two very strong radio talents who have an authentic connection to their audience. I am confident that the show will continue to be a huge draw for the listening audience. The beauty of this is that this is one of few syndicated afternoon shows.” The program will be carried from 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm by Radio One stations in Washington, DC (WKYS); Philadelphia (WPHI “Hip-Hop 103.9”); Baltimore (WERQ “92-Q Jams”); Cincinnati (WIZF “101.1 The Wiz”); and Columbus (WCKX “Power 107.5”).

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

| October 7, 2020

2020 Radio Show: “What Business Are You In Now?”  For years – as digital competitors horned-in-on radio Time Spent Listening, and lured advertisers – convention panels have talked-the-talk. Yet cutbacks have compromised the local content that will always be broadcasters’ silver bullet. This Radio Show session details how Neuhoff Media/Decatur walked-the-walk, and made money, during the pandemic shutdown. Read it here.

Syndicated Radio Personality Walter Sterling Says the Technical Snafu During Entercom CEO David Field’s NAB Radio Show Remarks was the ‘Single Most Important Event of the Virtual Conference.  Syndicated radio host Walter Sterling (a.k.a. Walter Sabo, the longtime radio consultant) pointed to a key takeaway from the current NAB/RAB Radio Show taking place virtually. Sterling tells TALKERS, “The key takeaway of the Radio Show was the opening of David Field’s remarks. His video/audio internet connection crashed and was unstable. That was the single most important event. It showed the high risk for any advertiser to invest in the unproven medium of online video and audio streaming. That’s why media buying companies put online video campaign money on the ‘Test Budget’ line of their spreadsheets.” Sterling adds, “Radio is a proven medium that continues to work. It has streamed to the car since 1938. Everyone knows how to access radio content, from eight to 98-year-olds and they access it because they love it. That’s the news.” Today (10/7) marks the third day of the conference.

Bloomberg: Sirius and Howard Stern Close to New Deal. According to a report by Bloomberg, SiriusXM and Howard Stern are very close to a contract extension that will pay the radio legend $120 million per year. The story quotes outgoing SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer saying at a Goldman Sachs conference that Stern is still valuable to the company. “I can tell you that we understand the economics very, very well, for instance, of content like Howard Stern. I can look every investor in the eye and tell them that is a good investment for Sirius XM.” Neither SiriusXM nor Stern’s representatives commented for the Bloomberg piece. Stern’s most recent deal, signed in 2015, is estimated to have paid him between $80 million and $100 million per year.

Forbes: Mark Levin Facebook Page Restricted. A Forbes story by Jonathan Berr indicates that the Facebook page of Westwood One nationally syndicated talk radio personality Mark Levin has been restricted for “repeated sharing of false news.” It’s not clear what Levin posted that Facebook found objectionable but Levin, via a post on the conservative platform Parler, denies the allegation of misleading users and says Facebook is guilty of “censorship” and “pushing a left-wing agenda.” He added, “Every link I post is from a legitimate source. But because so many people are seeing what I’m posting and we’re within weeks of the election, it’s clear that Facebook is trying to influence the election’s outcome.” In his story, Berr cites an NPR piece that says a half dozen “technology experts, including data scientists who have special access to Facebook’s internal metrics” that it contacted concluded “there is no statistical evidence to support the argument that Facebook does not give conservative views a fair shake.” The NPR piece goes on to say that publicly available data shows that “conservative news regularly ranks among some of the popular content on the site.”

Call for Repeal of Section 230 Raises Issues for Media Industry. The movement to repeal Section 230 of the 1990s-era Communications Decency Act – which allows users to put content on the Internet without making the platforms themselves liable – is gaining momentum with President Trump, his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, as well as numerous members of Congress calling for a change in that protection. In fact, earlier this summer the president issued an executive order asking the FCC to create new Section 230 rules and ordered the FTC to act on incidents of deceptive communication. Critics of Section 230 say it is outdated because of the ubiquity and influence of today’s social media and its role in the public discourse as well in the health and safety realms. The Republican-sponsored Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act would “condition the content moderation liability shield on an objective reasonableness standard. In order to be protected from liability, a tech company may only restrict access to content on its platform where it has ‘an objectively reasonable belief’ that the content falls within a certain, specified category.” You can read that bill here. Free speech organizations such as Fight for the Future argue bills such as the one cited here would only make matters worse. Reacting to President Trump’s recent tweet attacking Section 230, Fight for the Future deputy director Evan Greer says websites would become legally responsible for the opinions of its users. As a result, “social media platforms would likely engage in mass censorship and banning of accounts rather than open themselves up to lawsuits for hosting controversial opinions – Trump’s accounts would surely be among the first to go. It would strip users of key protections too. Who’s excited to get sued for retweeting something? The reality is that lawmakers from across the political spectrum are deeply misinformed about how Section 230 actually works. It feels like every week there’s a new misguided proposal in Congress. But repealing Section 230 won’t do anything to hold Big Tech companies accountable or address the harms done by their data harvesting business models. And it won’t do anything to address concerns around biased moderation or the silencing of marginalized voices.” Any changes in Section 230 would apply to audio content as well as text, images, memes, etc.

TALKERS News Notes. Next Tuesday (10/13), Edison Research and NPR will present a webinar (2:00 pm ET) in which they will reveal the results of the second annual “Spoken Word Audio Report.” The data indicates that Americans’ share of listening to spoken word audio is up over 8% in the last year and in the report “NPR and Edison Research explore what is driving this increase and how news, podcasts, audiobooks, and talk radio continue to cut into time that was previously spent with music.” The study promises to reveal which listeners are spending more time with spoken word audio; how time spent with audio has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic; provide excerpts from in-depth interviews that help explain changes in listening behavior; and results from a new national survey that measured these behaviors on a larger scale. Findings will be published online at the conclusion of the webinar. You can register for the webinar here…..Nielsen announces that Radio Research Consortium, Inc. signs a multi-year renewal agreement to license individual non-commercial stations for Nielsen syndicated products, including Nielsen Scarborough syndicated services. Radio Research Consortium president Joanne Church says, “As a long-term user of Nielsen data, we are looking forward to continuing our relationship as we advance our mission and commitment to provide audience data to non-commercial radio stations.”…..Cadence13, a division of Entercom’s Podcast Network, announces an exclusive partnership with Karina Longworth for “You Must Remember This,” the storytelling podcast exploring the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century. Navigating through conflicting reports, mythology, and institutionalized spin, Longworth tries to sort out what really happened behind the films, stars, and scandals of the 20th century. Previous seasons of the show explored stars and scandals including Polly Platt, the woman behind some of the most legendary films of the 1970s and 1980s; the complicated racial and historical dynamics of Disney’s animated film Song of the South; Joan Crawford; the Hollywood Blacklist; and Charles Manson’s Hollywood.

2020 Radio Mercury Awards Announced. The 2020 Radio Mercury Awards were held virtually yesterday evening (10/6) and the Radio Advertising Bureau says that this year’s winners “will serve as a time capsule of work created during the current unusual times.” BBDO Atlanta chief creative officer Robin Fitzgerald served as chief judge for this year’s competition and says, “The innovation and creativity that we heard with this year’s winning audio truly impressed the jury. From at-home recording to using bots as talent, these winners showcased what it means to convey a brand’s message in a way that is both storytelling and story-doing.” RAB president and CEO Erica Farber adds, “Tonight’s awards presentation reflects the power of radio creative and its ability to deliver for listeners and advertisers. Despite these unprecedented times, the Radio Mercury Awards winners continued to bring their all to this year’s awards and pushed the medium forward.” You can watch the program here.

Trump’s COVID-19 Case/White House Safety Protocols, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, the Presidential Race/VP Debate, Stimulus Deal Dead, Big Tech Breakup Talk/Facebook Bans QAnon, Texas Cop Charged in Shooting of Black Man, McCloskeys Indicted, California Wildfires, Hurricane Delta, Eddie Van Halen Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/6). Controversy over President Trump’s return to the White House after his COVID-19 diagnosis and the White House safety protocols; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for increased cases this fall and through the winter; the November presidential election and tonight’s vice presidential debate; Trump’s announcement that stimulus deal negotiations will be put off until after the election; chatter in Washington about breaking up the Big Tech companies and Facebook’s ban on QAnon content; a Texas police officer is charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed Black man; a St. Louis couple is charged with weapons violations and tampering with evidence after brandishing guns during protests near their home; the ongoing California wildfires; Hurricane Delta loses strength; and rock guitar legend Eddie Van Halen dies 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. Programming and on-air pro Don Chris Williams, a.k.a. “DJ Wrekk-1,” signs an extension with Hubbard Radio West Palm Beach to continue his roles as brand content director and afternoon drive host on urban AC WMBX “X102.3.” Cluster operations manager Bruce Logan comments, “We are so excited to continue our relationship with Don Chris ‘DJ Wrekk-1’ Williams! Don has done a masterful job of growing the WMBX ratings. Under Don’s leadership WMBX has achieved new rating highs and is a vital part of the West Palm Beach African American community.”…..iHeartMedia Seattle’s classic rock KZOK helped raise more than $116,000 during its 23rd annual “Rock The Harvest” radiothon to benefit Northwest Harvest, Washington State’s leading hunger relief agency that supports a statewide network of 375 food banks, meal programs and high-need schools. The 12-hour broadcast was hosted by “The Danny Bonaduce and Sarah Morning Show” personalities in which listeners were encouraged to call in to the show and donate $102.50, enough funds to provide nutritious meals to a family of four for a month. Over the past 23 years, “Rock the Harvest” has raised more than $1.3 million to benefit Northwest Harvest.

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