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Thursday, February 20, 2020

| February 20, 2020

Key Networks to Launch Jesse Kelly Show in National Syndication. Syndicator Key Networks says Jesse Kelly is a “fresh voice in conservative talk.”  The U.S. Marine veteran, former congressional candidate, and conservative radio and television host will launch his new, 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET talk radio show on April 6.  Key Networks says network advertising is included within the show, with no additional barter units for stations to run.  Currently, Kelly hosts a two-hour version of “The Jesse Kelly Show” on KPRC, Houston as well as the “I’m Right” program on The First TV, a news and talk channel on Pluto TV.  Kelly was deployed to Iraq as an infantry Marine during the Second Persian Gulf War and received an honorable discharge after four years.  In 2010, he ran for congress and was narrowly defeated by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The race initially ended in a vote recount.  After his congressional run, Kelly continued to be a major voice among conservatives, using his large social media following as a platform to continue many of the conversations started on the campaign trail.  He says, “I love talk radio and I’m beyond humbled that Key Networks realizes that I’m a generational talent.  While my background might be more blue collar than other radio hosts, I’m confident my huge ego will help make up for my lack of education.  I’m excited to bring something new to stations nationwide.”  iHeartMedia Houston region president Eddie Martiny comments, “Listeners won’t be able to see that Jesse Kelly stands 6 foot 8, but his towering humor and intellect will absolutely captivate the listening audience.  Jesse is an Iraq War veteran who will win the hearts and minds of listeners with the wit of a stand-up comic.  He’s been featured on most major TV networks, especially FOX News with Tucker Carlson who says, ‘Jesse cracks me up.’  Jesse is a fresh voice of a rational conservative for a new generation.  My listening audience and advertising community in Houston embraced Jesse immediately.  Informative, entertaining, but most importantly, unique!”

Kevin Battle Joins KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh’s Morning Show. Radio programmer, host, and journalist Kevin Battle is joining “The KDKA Radio Morning News with Larry Richert” as co-host, effective March 9.  Entercom Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “As we celebrate the centennial of KDKA Radio, the world’s first radio station, we were focused on adding a host that can reflect the energy and pulse of where Pittsburgh is in 2020 and beyond.  Kevin Battle is the perfect person to join Larry Richert on the KDKA morning show and tell the story of our great city.”  During his career, Battle has served as program director and air personality for Entercom’s sports talk WJZ-FM, Baltimore “105.7 The Fan,” been director of marketing and promotions and on-air personality for rock WDVE-FM, and was a member of the inaugural staff of “FOX News Headlines 24/7.”  The Pittsburgh native comments, “There have been three morning hosts at KDKA Radio in my lifetime – Jack Bogut, John Cigna, and Larry Richert, and I am thrilled I get to work with one of them.  Larry is part of the fabric of Pittsburgh.  I have been a fan of KDKA for a long time and fondly remember listening with my family each morning.  I cannot wait to help our listeners start their day off well-informed.”

FCC Permanently Dismisses License Renewal Applications for Four St. Louis Signals. An administrative law judge has ruled that the applications for license renewal for four radio stations owned by Entertainment Media Trust are “dismissed without prejudice due to the applicant’s failure to prosecute.”  Judge Jane Hinckley Halprin states in the ruling that Trustee Dennis J. Watkins’ failure to respond to a January 24 Order that was a final attempt to get information from EMT was the last straw in a series of non-compliances on the part of Watkins.  The stations in question are: KFTK-AM (formerly WQQX-AM), East St. Louis, Illinois; WQQW-AM, Highland, Illinois; KZQZ-AM, St. Louis; and KQQZ-AM, DeSoto, Missouri.  The case goes way back to 2012 when Mark A. Kern filed a petition to deny the license renewals, alleging that talk host and convicted felon Robert Romanik actually controlled the stations, in violation of FCC regulations.  Romanik’s Insane Broadcasting Co. operates the stations under an LMA, but is not allowed to own stations.  The ruling notes that the Media Bureau investigated the allegations and “found evidence that it concluded supports the claim that Mr. Romanik exercises defacto control over the stations.  The Media Bureau also adduced evidence suggesting that Mr. Romanik, who hosts a weekday talk show on one of the stations, has held himself out as the stations’ owner and is personally involved in station business.”  Romanik hosts a show on KQQZ-AM and positions himself as a local raconteur, calling himself “The Grim Reaper of Radio.”  Read the judge’s ruling here.

New Afternoon Show Among Lineup Changes at Sports Talk ‘105.7 The Fan’ in Baltimore. With WJZ-FM “105.7 The Fan” afternoon drive personality Scott Garceau named the new play-by-play broadcaster and pre-game and post-game host for Baltimore Orioles broadcasts on cable’s MASN-TV, he leaves his daily talk show duties at the Entercom sports station.  His co-host Jeremy Conn moves to evening show duties and host of “Orioles Baseball Tonight.”  Beginning March 9, the new afternoon drive show is “Inside Access” with co-hosts Jason La Canfora and Ken Weinman.  La Canfora is a RADIO.COM Sports and CBS Sports insider.  Weinman is a longtime WJZ-FM air personality.   Entercom Baltimore SVP and market manager Tracy Brandys says, “This revamped programming schedule will allow us to continue providing around-the-clock content for Baltimore’s biggest sports fans.  Adding Jason and Ken to our already successful lineup is a big win for our market.  We are also excited about Scott and Jeremy’s new roles.  All are an integral part of the success of ‘105.7 The Fan.’”

Presidential Race/Las Vegas Debate, Stone Sentencing/Barr Criticism, Coronavirus Pandemic/Deadly Flu Season, Germany Mass Shooting, and Grenell to Lead Intelligence Agencies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/19). The Democrats battling to take on President Trump in November and last night’s debate in Las Vegas; the controversy surrounding the sentencing recommendation for former Trump adviser Roger Stone and the related criticism of Attorney General William Barr’s leading of the Justice Department; the status of the Covid-19 pandemic and the deadly influenza season in the U.S.; the slaying of nine people in the German city of Hanau by a reported right-wing extremist; and President Trump’s naming Ambassador Richard Grenell acting director of national intelligence were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Round Two of January PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s January 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets, including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s January 2020 survey period covered January 2 – 29.  Rebounding from the challenging Holiday 2019 survey, a number of spoken-word stations performed well – weekly, 6+ AQH share – in January.  Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM, Washington rises 1.9 shares from the Holiday survey to post a 6.9 share and climbs to the #5 rank in the market. Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM adds five-tenths to finish January with a 7.4 share and the #2 rank.  In Boston, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO tacks on seven-tenths to finish the survey with a 3.5 share, while sister all-news WBZ-AM adds two-tenths for a 6.2 share and the #3 rank in the market.  Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle breaks out with 1.1 share increase to finish the month with a 6.0 share and the #2 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KDFD-AM, Denver adds eight-tenths to finish the January survey with a 3.3 share, its best since it flipped from sports talk in July of 2019.  You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here.  Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways here.

TALKERS News Notes. Las Vegas-based, USA Radio-syndicated talk show host Wayne Allyn Root tells TALKERS magazine his Newsmax TV show, “The Wayne Allyn Root Show: Raw & Unfiltered” is moving to a new air time – 10:00 pm ET – effective March 3.  Root says, “It’s a great honor to be part of Newsmax TV’s primetime lineup.  When I first began hosting my show in June 2017 on Newsmax TV it reached 15 million homes.  Then 30 million. Then 50 million. Then 60 million. Now just under 80 million.  And Cox cable added Newsmax TV a few weeks ago – so now my television show reaches the entire Las Vegas area, my hometown!  Kudos to Chris Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, for building America’s fastest growing cable news network.”…..SiriusXM announces its MLB Network Radio channel presents its annual MLB Spring Training tour beginning Saturday (2/22) and running through March 13.  MLB Network Radio’s experts and insiders will visit all 30 MLB team camps to give fans an in-depth preview of every ball club.  It will consist of 30, two-hour shows, each focused on a single MLB team.  SiriusXM’s hosts – many of whom are former general managers or players – will be on location at each spring training ballpark to interview managers, players and executives, and share an insider’s view of each club as it prepares for the 2020 season…..iHeartMedia announces that it has partnered with Flatiron Books on a book imprint based on iHeartRadio’s popular curiosity podcasts.  The imprint, named “Stuff You Should Read: An iHeartBook,” launches with STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW: An Incomplete Compendium of Mostly Interesting Things, to recognize “Stuff You Should Know” – one of the first podcasts to reach one billion downloads.  iHeartMedia says it believes that this is the first line of podcast-based books between a major book publisher and leading podcast network.

Pop Music Historian and Curator Barry Scott of “The Lost 45s” Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  One of the true legends of oldies radio, Barry Scott, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”  Scott is the host of the long-running, Boston-based music radio show, “The Lost 45s,” which has been on the radio since 1981 and in national syndication since 1993.  The premise of the show is that top 40 radio of the golden era (1960s – 1990s) missed a tremendous number of valid hit records that deserved airplay due to faulty research, closed-mindedness and a lazy, follow-the-leader mentality.  (“It’s not on the list suggested by our consultant.”)  Many of these songs have gone on to be completely forgotten within music radio culture.  Harrison states, “I had the pleasure of programming Barry’s flagship station in Boston back in the 80s and was amazed at the loyal following this weekend show generated – even within the context of a classic rock format.  Barry’s excellent curation and fascinating storytelling created tremendous interest in songs that were either obscure or considered unprogrammable within standard format categories. In today’s music radio desert, where pop music history is largely ignored or generally forgotten, this show is a priceless beacon of the culture that originally illuminated music radio.”  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Detroit rock outlet WRIF, Beasley Media Group promotes Jade Springart to assistant program director and midday host.  She has served with WRIF for the past 12 years, most recently as music director and weekend personality. Springart says, “This is an amazing opportunity for me to continue working and winning with a brand that I have grown up with.  It has been a privilege to learn from some of the best in the industry.  I’m very grateful for the support of everyone in the Beasley Media Group family and am excited to be able to continue 101 WRIF’s legacy in the active rock format here in the Motor City.”…..Air personality J.R. joins Beasley Media Group’s country WQYK, Tampa Bay to host “Tampa Bay’s Morning Krewe with J.R. and Melanie,” effective March 2. He’ll join station air personality Melanie Mineau for the 6:00 am to 10:00 am program.  He was most recently co-host of the “J.R. & Beth Show” on Cox Media Group’s country KCYY, San Antonio “Y100.”  He also currently serves as the host of United Station Radio Networks’ syndicated “Twenty Country Countdown.”  J.R. says, “This is a very exciting time for me.  To be able to build a show under the direction of [operations manager] Travis Daily and alongside a talented co-host like Melanie Mineau is the opportunity I have been looking for.  We are going to have a lot of fun in an amazing city!  I am very grateful to Travis and the Beasley family for this opportunity and can’t wait to create live, local, and unique radio for the Tampa area.”…..Entercom stations and staffers are honored with three Academy of Country Music (ACM) Radio Awards.  KILT-FM, Houston “100.3 The Bull” (KILT-FM) was named Major Market Station of the Year and WUSY-FM, Chattanooga “U.S. 101” was named Medium Market Station of the Year – the 8th time the station has received this honor.  WYCD, Detroit’s afternoon drive show “Rob and Holly” program was given the Major Market Personality of the Year honor.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

| January 28, 2020

Talk Radio Plays Role in Build-Up to Jersey Shore Trump Rally. Local talk radio has been front and center during the two days leading up to President Trump’s rally tonight (1/28) in Wildwood, New Jersey.  Pictured above is WNTP, Philadelphia “AM 990 The Answer” morning drive personality Chris Stigall – who broadcast his Tuesday morning show from Wildwood – posing for a selfie with some members of the large crowd gathered near the convention center hoping to get tickets to attend tonight’s event.  WPGG, Atlantic City morning drive host Harry Hurley hosted Lara Trump – wife of Eric Trump – on Monday’s program to talk about the president’s rally and the intense demand for tickets.  Hurley also had the opportunity to interview “Duke” – the man with the unique designation of being the first person in line at the convention center to get a ticket.  Hear that interview here.  WPHT, Philadelphia late morning talk host Dom Giordano says, “Due to Wildwood being a small resort town, this became Trumpstock.  This became a town taken over by Trump supporters.  On air, there was a feeling that this was a once-in-a-lifetime event that resulted in huge crowds in Wildwood.”

Senator Sherrod Brown Seeks Answers About iHeartMedia Layoffs. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) penned a letter to iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman last week asking for information about the recent “employee dislocation.”  In the letter, Brown tells Pittman – after pointing to Pittman’s $9 million bonus in 2017 and $9.3 million incentive bonus in 2018 – “It is difficult enough to understand the decision to continue the hollowing out of local media outlets by laying off disc jockeys in smaller communities.  But it is particularly difficult to make sense of this decision given that it came after a significant increase in the company’s executive compensation over the last few years.”  Pittman is not bound by law to answer Brown’s questions, but TALKERS suspects he’ll do Brown the courtesy of a reply of some sort.  Here are the four questions he’d like answered by February 14:  1) How many workers were affected by iHeartMedia’s recent layoff announcement?  Of those workers, how many are in Ohio?  2) The company is reportedly giving severance to the affected workers.  Please provide details about the severance provided, including whether it includes severance pay and if so, how much and whether it includes health care benefits, and if so for how long.  3) Is the company giving affected workers priority consideration in the hiring process for any currently open positions in the company?  Is the company going to give affected workers priority consideration in the hiring process for any positions that become open in the future?  If so, for how long will affected workers be given hiring preference?  4) Is the company offering or paying for any training affected workers might seek to help them find new employment? If so, please provide details about the training offered or paid for, including the type of training, the length of time a worker can pursue such training, and, in the case of training paid for by iHeartMedia, the amount the company will pay for the worker to obtain such training.

FCC Close to Dismissing Renewal Applications for Entertainment Media Trust’s St. Louis Market Stations. An FCC administrative law judge is giving Entertainment Media Trust’s Dennis J. Watkins, trustee, until February 18 to comply with a request for information and an order to show cause why the applications for license renewal for four AM stations and an FM translator construction permit should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute.  In an Order to Show Cause, Judge Jane Hinckley Halprin outlines the numerous failures to comply with FCC requests on the part of Trustee Watkins – including not showing up for a December 5, 2019 prehearing conference.  This comes almost eight years after petitioner Mark Kern challenged the license renewals of KFTK-AM, East St. Louis; WQQW, Highland, Illinois; KZQZ, St. Louis; and KQQZ, DeSoto, Missouri alleging that Robert Romanik – a convicted felon – is illegally controlling the stations.  Kern alleges that Romanik – who operates the stations d/b/a Insane Broadcasting Company – helped fund the Trust’s acquisition of the stations although he’s not part of any FCC applications.  Romanik hosts a daily show on KQQZ from 10:00 am to 11:00 am.  The website says of his show, “‘The Grim Reaper of Radio’ is not politically correct or politically incorrect, he’s politically insane!!”

Round Four of Holiday PPMs Released. The fourth and final round of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2019 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford.  The survey period was December 5 through January 1.  Perhaps on the strength of the Green Bay Packers playoff run and the performance of the first-place Milwaukee Bucks, flagship WTMJ – owned by Good Karma Brands – adds two-tenths to its 6+ weekly AQH share for a 5.9 share and the #4 rank.  Cox Media Group’s news/talk WOKV-FM, Jacksonville halts a three-survey slide with a two-tenths increase to finish the Holiday survey at an 8.3 share and the #2 rank.  See all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here.  Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways here.

Impeachment/Bolton Manuscript, Presidential Race, Pompeo-NPR Spat, Coronavirus, Kobe Bryant Death, SCOTUS Immigration Ruling, and Grammy Awards/Race Relations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/27). The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump and the manuscript penned by former national security adviser John Bolton; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in November; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s anger with NPR over Ukraine line of questioning; concerns over the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus; the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and eight others in a helicopter crash; the Supreme Court overrules a lower court’s stay on the Trump Administration’s “public charge” rule for low income immigrants; and Sunday’s Grammy Awards and allegations of bias against black artists 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. On-air pro Jayn is promoted to the role of music supervisor for Entercom’s hot AC KLLC “Alice @ 97.3” and alternative KITS “ALT 105.3.”  She continues as afternoon drive personality and APD for KLLC.  Entercom San Francisco SVP and market manager Greg Nemitz says, “Besides being the musical muse behind ‘Alice’ for the past 16 years, Jayn has been an integral part of the ‘ALT 105.3’ music team alongside APD and music director Aaron Axelsen.  Jayn and Aaron together are an unstoppable force and will continue to make these two stations leaders in this market.”  Jayn joined “Alice @ 97.3” in 2004 as assistant program director and music director.  She expanded her role to midday host in 2006 before transitioning to afternoon drive in 2014…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One announces six new affiliate stations for the nationally syndicated urban AC show “Rick and Sasha.”  They include: WGNU-AM/FM, St. Louis; WMXU-FM, Columbus/Starkville, Mississippi; WKZJ-FM, Columbus, Georgia; KVMA-FM, Shreveport; WQVE-FM, Albany, Georgia; and WBXB-FM, Edenton, North Carolina…..On-air pro Kathy Vogel is moving from Rubber City Radio’s classic rock WONE-FM, Akron where she hosted middays to the company’s new adult contemporary WNWV, Cleveland “107.3 JenY FM” as morning drive personality…..Air personality Tim Burger announces via a Facebook post that he’s exited SummitMedia’s country KFDI-FM, Wichita after three years as part of the morning show.  He says, “I am so grateful I was able to be part of a heritage radio station that the people in Wichita have turned to for over 50 years.”…..In the Scranton/Wilkes Barre market, Mark Hoover is promoted to program director for Shamrock Communications’ classic rock WEZX “Rock 107.”  Hoover has been serving as afternoon host and promotions coordinator.  He’ll continue to handle the afternoon shift and manage the promotions department.