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Thursday, August 5, 2021

| August 5, 2021

Beasley Broadcast Group Second Quarter Net Revenue Up 96%. Reporting its financial data for the second quarter of 2021, Beasley Broadcast Group (parent company of Beasley Media Group) indicates net revenue was $59.6 million, an increase of 96.1% over the same period in 2020. The company posts operating income of $5.8 million compared to the $17.6 million operating loss it reported in Q2 of 2020. Station operating income also rebounded to $11.1 million compared to the $11 million SOI loss it posted in the same period a year ago. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Beasley’s strong 2021 second quarter financial results reflect growing momentum across our media platform, as the continuing broad-based economic recovery accelerated demand from consumers and advertisers for our premium content and marketing and advertising services. With the significant rebound in the commercial advertising market, second quarter net revenue of $59.6 million increased 24% over first quarter 2021 levels and 96% over the comparable prior year period. Top line growth combined with the meaningful actions we have taken over the past year to permanently reduce costs and improve operating efficiencies, resulted in a significant rebound in net income to $0.2 million and SOI to $11.1 million, as well as positive free cash flow of approximately $1.0 million. Throughout the second quarter, the resumption of advertising in key categories combined with the success of our content monetization strategies resulted in year-over-year revenue growth across all fifteen of our markets, with healthy double-digit revenue increases in Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia and Wilmington. Notably, our continued emphasis on strong local content and consumer engagement drove best-in-industry ratings performance for our station clusters, according to Nielsen. Our cumulative on-air audience share approached pre-pandemic levels in the second quarter, having grown consistently since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. While second quarter non-traditional revenue (NTR) and events revenue was minimal, we made the strategic decision to fully re-open our events business in the third quarter, given the continued strengthening of commerce and consumer activities in our markets, and expect incremental revenue from this source in the second half of 2021. As we work to return all of our revenue sources to pre-pandemic levels of operation, we are closely tracking potential impacts from the Delta variant and the uncertainty it may bring to businesses we serve and our future operating results. Our ongoing focus on digital innovation and the strategic investments we are making in our digital and esports infrastructure and content production capabilities are delivering positive results and continue to highlight the value of our long-term revenue and cash flow diversification strategies. Growing consumer and advertiser demand for Beasley’s digital audio content drove a 96% year-over-year increase in digital revenue, with digital accounting for approximately 13.4% of total second quarter revenue, compared to 13.4% in the prior year period and 12% in the 2021 first quarter. With growing audience share and engagement, Beasley’s digital network delivered record digital audience impressions in the second quarter, with total digital impressions growing 29% over the prior year period.”

Salem Media Group Q2 2021 Total Revenue Rises 20.6%. The total revenue for Salem Media Group’s second quarter of 2021 was $63.8 million, an increase of 20.6% over the same period in 2020. Salem posted operating income of $5.6 million for the quarter, compared to the operating loss of $900,000 it reported during the second quarter of 2020. The company’s net income for Q2 of this year was $2.3 million compared to the net loss of $2.5 million it reported for the second quarter of 2020. Salem Media Group reports data for its three business segments and the Broadcast segment’s net revenue for this quarter was $46.8 million, up 18.5% from the same period a year ago. Station operating income rose 66.6% to $10.6 million. The Digital Media segment saw revenue rise 9.5% to $10.3 million and the Publishing segment revenue was $6.7, an increase of 68.3%. As of June 30, 2021, the Salem Media Group had $216.3 million outstanding on the 6.75% senior secured notes due 2024, no balance outstanding on the Asset Based Revolving Credit Facility, and $11.2 million outstanding on Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans from the Small Business Administration.

Saga Communications Q2 Net Revenue Up 49.7%. Second quarter financial data from Saga Communications, Inc. reveals that the company’s net revenue was $28 million, an increase of 49.7% over the same period in 2020. The company posted operating income of $4.6 million compared to the operating loss of $8.6 million it reported in the second quarter of 2020.  Station operating expense increased $2.4 million to $21.0 million for the quarter compared to the same period last year. Station operating income was $8.4 million for the quarter compared to a loss of $181,000 for the second quarter of 2020. Free cash flow was $4.2 million for the quarter compared to a negative $1.8 million for the same period last year. Saga’s balance sheet reflects $59.4 million in cash on hand as of June 30, 2021 and $59.6 million as of August 2, 2021.  The company’s total bank debt remained at $10 million as of the end of the second quarter 2021.

Urban One Second Quarter Net Revenue Climbs 41.6%. Today’s second quarter 2021 financial report from Urban One, Inc., parent company of Radio One, indicates the company’s net revenue was approximately $107.6 million, an increase of 41.6% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $49.6 million, an increase of 64.3% from the same period in 2020. Urban One reports operating income of approximately $37.9 million for Q2 of 2021, compared to approximately $20.4 million for the same period in 2020. Net income was approximately $17.9 million compared to approximately $1.4 million for the second quarter of 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins, III says, “Overall we had an extremely strong second quarter; not only was Adjusted EBITDA up 82.4% year-over-year, but we also surpassed our Q2 2019 pre-pandemic Adjusted EBITDA. We are experiencing unprecedented advertiser interest in our audience across the entire Urban One platform. The radio advertising business saw a robust rebound from the worst impacts of the pandemic in Q2 2020, with segment revenues up by 73% and radio syndication revenues up 50.2%. We also benefitted from strong TV scatter markets, with TV advertising revenues up 21.3% in the quarter; furthermore, registered interest in our 2021-22 TV upfront sales presentations has also been extremely encouraging, which will help our fourth quarter revenue performance. Demand for our digital products remains high, with digital revenues up by 147.9% for the quarter and Adjusted EBITDA up by over $6 million; a significant help to our top and bottom-line growth. For Q3, our core radio business excluding political is currently pacing up by over 40%, and we are comfortable increasing our FY21 Adjusted EBITDA guidance to mid-$130 million, excluding casino chase costs. During the quarter we completed the second tranche of our Class A ATM share sale program, which yielded $21.2 million net of fees. This cash influx further strengthened our balance sheet, and we ended the quarter with $129.8 million of cash on hand, which is a healthy place to be ahead of the exciting new investment opportunity in the One Casino & Resort in Richmond, Virginia.”

Ralph Nader is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  Legendary consumer advocate, political activist, prolific author, Pacifica radio talk show host and five-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Nader engage in a fascinating discussion about “left/right political thinking” in America as well as social and business changes influenced by advancements in technology, plus more. Nader says working class Democrats and Republicans alike have far more in common than they have differences and that unbridled corporatism is the true enemy of the poor and working class regardless of race or political ideology. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

NAB Announces 2021 Marconi Finalists. The finalists for the 2021 Marconi Awards have been announced. The news/talk Station of the Year finalists are: WSB-AM, Atlanta; WTOP-FM, Washington; KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri; WLW-AM, Cincinnati; and KNX-AM, Los Angeles. (NAB lumps all-news and news/talk stations into the same category.) WSB-AM, Atlanta is also up for Legendary Station of the Year. Talk radio hosts making the finals include, for Major Market Personality of the Year, George Dunham, Craig Miller, and Gordon Keith from sports talk KTCK-AM, Dallas “The Ticket.” In the Large Market Personality of the Year category, finalists include: WFLA-AM, Tampa’s Jack Harris; WBAL-AM, Baltimore’s C4 and Bryan Nehman; WHPT-FM, Tampa’s Mike Calta; and WWTN-FM, Nashville’s Dan Mandis. Medium Market Personality of the Year category finalists include: KRMG-FM, Tulsa’s Dan Potter; KIDO-AM, Boise’s Kevin Miller; KYKX-FM, Tyler, Texas’ Harlen the Sports Guy and Pigskin Bob; and WHO-AM, Des Moines’ Simon Conway. See all the finalists here.

TALKERS News Notes. Next Tuesday (8/10), McVay Media’s Mike McVay is joining Loyd Ford from Rainmaker Pathway Consulting Works, LLC for “The Radio State Of The Union Live Event” on The Encouragers on Clubhouse. It’s being billed as “a frank discussion about employment, job search, career management, corporate & local radio and the future” and takes place at 7:00 pm ET. Ford says, “We have been discussing the people we love in this business, the talent. This is a unique time in our history. If you are on the talent side of the business, it takes some skill to navigate your way through what is happening. I reached out to Mike because he really does have such deep experience and knows radio as a talent, a consultant and someone who ran programming for one of the largest broadcasters in the country. Plus, he’s willing (like I am) to be candid. This will be a conversation with red meat and a lot of helpful hacks to get ahead, stay balanced and help others.”…..Legendary WGN-AM and WGN-TV sports producer Jack “Rosey” Rosenberg will be recognized by the City of Chicago with an honorary street sign. The southeast corner of E. Illinois Street and Cityfront Plaza Drive will double as “Jack Rosenberg Way.” Rosenberg’s career at WGN began in 1954 where he was a producer, news writer, and sports editor and worked with celebrated sports voices including Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, Vince Lloyd, Lou Boudreau, and others. WGN says, “Rosey was a pioneer in modern sports production and broadcasting and is credited with its development. While Rosey himself was rarely heard on-air, the sound of his typewriter clacking in the background was unmistakable.” Rosenberg died December 26, 2020 at the age of 94…..Futuri announces the launch of AdMatic, “a revolutionary system that helps podcast platforms and creators make their content more discoverable and monetizable using advanced metadata sorting and deployment.” Futuri CEO Daniel Anstandig adds, “Two million podcasts all have the same problem: poor metadata sorting that leads to mismatched recommendations for listeners and ineffective advertising for businesses. AdMatic solves this by using Futuri’s AI-driven technology to individually categorize podcast episodes and align with the businesses and products that best match on a case-by-case basis, rather than the hopelessly broad one-size-fits-all approach we currently see in the market.”

COVID-19 Delta Variant/Outbreaks & Mask Policies, Eviction Moratorium, Cuomo Allegations-Impeachment Possibility, Infrastructure Bill, January 6 Investigation, the Tokyo Olympic Games, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/4). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in numerous U.S. states, governors under fire and mask policies; President Joe Biden’s moratorium on evictions; the allegations of sexual impropriety against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the possibility of his being impeached; the bi-partisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; the Tokyo Olympics; and the California wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

| August 3, 2021

Townsquare Media 2021 Second Quarter Net Revenue Up 45%. The company releases financial data for the second quarter of 2021 and reports net revenue was $107.3 million, an increase of 45% over the same period in 2020. Townsquare Media says it achieved 99.4% of Q2 2019’s net revenue when excluding Live Events net revenue. Total digital revenue growth was up 36% year over year and contributed approximately 47% of the company’s total net revenue in the first six months of 2021. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “Over the next three years, we expect double-digit digital net revenue growth to continue, fueling the growth of our digital platform from $180 million of revenue (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of June 30, 2021) to $250 million. Most impressively, I am extremely proud to report that Townsquare’s second quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $30.3 million not only exceeded our expectations, our previously stated guidance, and 2019 levels (+1% vs. Q2 2019), but it was also the highest Adjusted EBITDA generated in any single quarter in Townsquare’s history. To accomplish this strong result only one year after the start of the pandemic is a testament to the strength of the Townsquare team, our digital platform and solutions for local businesses, and our careful expense management efforts.” Wilson adds, “As a Digital First Company, our digital revenue and profit growth has accelerated, driving the diversification of our business, total company growth and separation from our local competition. I am incredibly optimistic about Townsquare’s future, and very proud that we are on the path to achieving 2019’s Adjusted EBITDA in 2021, on the verge of a full revenue recovery in 2021, and plan on delivering strong revenue and profit growth in 2022.” Townsquare reports in three segments: Townsquare Interactive – its digital marketing solutions subscription business; Advertising – including broadcast and digital advertising products and solutions; and Live Events – including concerts, expositions and other experiential events. Advertising net revenue for Q2 of this year was $85.9 million, an increase of 50.4% over the same period in 2020. The company also reports net income of $10.1 million compared to the net loss of $28.9 million it posted during the same period a year ago. As of June 30, 2021, Townsquare had a total of $25.1 million of cash and cash equivalents and $550 million of outstanding indebtedness.

Jeff Rickard Named Brand Manager for WEEI, Boston; Ken Laird Promoted to Assistant Brand Manager. Boston sports talk outlet WEEI announces that Jeff Rickard is joining the station as brand manager, effective August 11. Audacy says that in this role, Rickard will oversee content operations for WEEI-FM and the WEEI radio network that spans the New England region. Rickard was most recently PD and morning host at Emmis Communications’ WFNI-AM, Indianapolis. During his career, Rickard spent almost 10 years in Bristol, Connecticut hosting ESPN Radio’s “Gamenight” program and served with Comcast as managing editor and anchor of the Boston-based “Out of Bounds Latenight” show. Rickard has also hosted shows regularly for numerous SiriusXM channels including: NFL Radio, ESPNU, MLB Network Radio, and Mad Dog Sports Radio. He has served as the host of NFL Radio’s “The Sunday Kickoff” during the NFL season for the past five years and is the host of “College Football Overtime” on ESPNU. He says, “Having worked in sports radio for virtually my entire career, I am thrilled to join the team at WEEI. Its rich history is well documented as is the unmatched passion of the Boston sports fan. I’m looking forward to pairing this talented team with fresh, new ideas to both reflect and match that passion.” At the same time, WEEI executive producer Ken Laird is being promoted to assistant brand manager. He’ll continue his role as update anchor and executive producer of the morning drive “Greg Hill Show.”

Ramsey Network Unveils New Podcast, ‘The Fine Print.’ The newest podcast from Ramsey Network is a show that shines a spotlight on the deceptive methods companies, marketers and scammers use to influence money decisions. ‘The Fine Print’ is hosted by Ramsey personality George Kamel and is “a bi-weekly show featuring interviews with experts and industry insiders about the money traps and trends keeping people broke.” Ramsey Solutions CEO and “The Ramsey Show” host Dave Ramsey says, “For 30 years, I’ve heard the pain in people’s voices when they call into the radio show because of a money trap that’s left them in a world of hurt. What if we could prevent that pain by empowering people to avoid the trap in the first place? That’s what ‘The Fine Print’ does. George educates listeners to recognize and steer clear of money minefields so they can be the heroes of their own stories.” Episodes of the podcast include: How TurboTax Is Screwing You; Could Bitcoin Be Your Ticket To Wealth?; The True Cost of Credit Card Rewards; The Dirty Truth Behind Your Credit Score; and How the Robinhood App Steals from the Rich AND the Poor. Find out more here.

LiveXLive and PodcastOne Announces Podcast Competition. This competition is called “Self Made Podcast Edition” and is “an audio competition to find the next big podcast star for PodcastOne.” The company says the competition will be driven by fans and PodcastOne’s panel of judges, as they listen to see who will take the top prize, a podcasting contract with PodcastOne and a total package worth over $100,000 including promotion across the network which features a roster of celebrity podcasters, including Adam Carolla, Kaitlyn Bristowe, Barbara Schroeder, Michael Irvin, and Jordan Harbinger.” The contest kicks off today (8/3) and is open to amateur podcasters only. The winner of “Self Made Podcast Edition” will be crowned on September 30, 2021 – International Podcast Day. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “There are so many wonderfully creative and innovative podcasters out there. We’re excited to be able to offer someone the opportunity to make their dreams of becoming a self-made podcast host come true.” Learn more here.

SiriusXM to Unveil Lucille Ball’s ‘Lost’ Radio Show on New Channel. The legendary comedienne is the star of the new SiriusXM channel called, “Let’s Talk to Lucy,” named after her 1960s CBS Radio program. SiriusXM says, “In between starring in four television series and more than 70 films, Lucy would frequently jump from set to set, tape recorder in hand, and talk about all aspects of life with some of the biggest names in Hollywood history, including Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Carol Burnett, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and dozens more. These recordings eventually made it onto air when CBS Radio broadcast them as ‘Let’s Talk to Lucy’ from 1964-1965. However, for the last 50-plus years they’ve never been heard publicly again – until now.” Ball’s daughter Lucy Arnaz says, “Although I have been care-taking these ancient tapes for over 30 years, I had never really listened to them all and had no idea how many remarkable people Mom had talked to on these radio shows. It’s a treasure trove of personal information from some of the greatest talents of American entertainment and my family and I can’t wait to share them with the rest of the planet.”

TALKERS News Notes. Tomorrow evening (8/4), a debate among a number of the candidates running to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom in the September 14 recall election will will take place and Salem Radio Network is distributing the event nationally. It’s taking place from 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm ET at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California. SRN host Hugh Hewitt – who serves as president of the Richard Nixon Foundation – will moderate the debate along with panelists Christine Devine and Elex Michaelson of KTTV-TV, Los Angeles “FOX 11 News” and former U.S. National Security Adviser Ambassador Robert C. O’Brien. Special radio coverage will be anchored by KRLA, Los Angeles morning host Jennifer Horn and KRLA news anchor Larry Marino. SRN host and candidate Larry Elder is declining to take part saying his goal is “defeating Gavin Newsom not appearing in a circular firing squad with other Republicans.”…..Westwood One is expanding the role of sports media pro Rich Eisen within the network to include pregame and halftime hosting duties for “Monday Night Football on Westwood One.” The Monday night schedule kicks off on September 13, when the Baltimore Ravens visit the Las Vegas Raiders and concludes on January 3, 2022, when the Cleveland Browns battle the Pittsburgh Steelers. Eisen says, “‘Monday Night Football on Westwood One’ is one of the greatest hosting gigs in broadcasting and I’m honored to have the seat. The fact that I can expand my partnership with Westwood One beyond my daily show and podcast platform by talking even more football thrills me to no end.”…..The application window for programming candidates interested in applying to the “Elevating Women in Audio: MIW & BDSradio Mentorship” is being extended through Tuesday, August 10.  The “Elevating Women in Audio: MIW & BDSradio Mentorship” program is a year-long experience for women in music programming, provided by Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio and MRC Data (formerly Nielsen Music). Personalized conversations with the best programming minds in the business are geared to help advance a career within the radio/audio industry. Additionally, the mentee receives a scholarship to attend Radio Show 2021 this October in Las Vegas. The mentorship is available to one female brand manager, content/program director, assistant program director, and/or music director from any U.S. based music format. To apply, click here…..The popular finance and investing podcast “Pennies: Going in Raw,” hosted by Hugh Henne and Dan, the Deity of Dips, is now a part of the iHeartPodcast Network. iHeartMedia says, “With more than 2.3 million downloads, the podcast takes an exciting and informative spin on stock market topics like day trading strategies, volume, price targets, penny stocks, accumulation, reverse splits and much more. The show also features a range of guests from young, successful traders to the leaders of multi-billion-dollar companies, such as Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph, and CEO and founder of HimsAndrew Dudman…..Today through Thursday, WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive talk host Simon Conway (left) is pulling double duty as he fills in for Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo (right) on his Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated program. Conway’s WHO show is also heard on iHeartMedia’s WMT, Cedar Rapids and WOC, Davenport, Iowa…..iHeartMedia Pittsburgh’s Steelers Radio Network announces changes to its broadcast team. As part of the changes, Craig Wolfley, a former Steelers offensive lineman who has served as a sideline analyst on the Steelers game day broadcast since 2002, will join play-by-play announcer Bill Hillgrove in the broadcast booth as color analyst. Wolfley takes over for Tunch Ilkin, who retired after 23 seasons in the booth. Former Steelers offensive lineman Max Starks is joining Missi Matthews for sideline reports. He recently served as a sideline reporter for Westwood One. Starks will also join Wolfley as co-host of “In The Locker Room, Presented By Neighborhood Ford Store,” a daily, in-season radio program airing on Steelers Nation Radio.

COVID-19 Delta Variant and Masks, Eviction Ban Expires, January 6 Investigation, Voting Rights, Southern Border Policy, Infrastructure Bill, and Olympics Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/2). The rising rate of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in the U.S. and abroad and the issue of mask mandates; the White House puts the onus on states as the federal ban on evictions expires; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the suicide of Capitol police officer Kyle DeFreytag; today’s planned DC rally supporting the For the People voting rights bill; the Biden administration continues the Trump administration policy of deporting illegal migrants; the $1 trillion bi-partisan infrastructure bill; and Simone Biles returns to the Olympics to win bronze in the balance beam were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

| June 29, 2021

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TALKERS 2021 Conference Video Posted – Generating Talk Radio Revenue in a Noisy Digital World. The second video, under the direction of Art Vuolo, from the TALKERS 2021 Conference that took place at Hofstra University on June 11 is posted. This panel – in addition to featuring a brief video from consultant Holland Cooke – was moderated by Westwood One talk host Jim Bohannon and included panelists: Marc Beaven, general manager, WCBM, Baltimore; Kathy Carr, president, Howie Carr Radio Network; Paul Gleiser, president/owner, KTBB, Tyler, Texas; Erik Hellum, COO, Townsquare Media, New York, RAB; Christine Travaglini, president, Katz Radio Group, New York, RAB; and Paul Vandenburgh, owner/morning host, WGDJ, Albany, New York.

Remotes: An Oldie But a Goodie. Radio sales pro Kathy Carr writes today in a piece for TALKERS magazine about the need to keep talk show hosts in front of their audiences. She says the recent trend away from remote broadcasts misses some great opportunities to promote and sell. “Isn’t the mission of a local – or in our case regional – show to cover a certain geographical area? And covering an area includes being on the ground. Just this spring and summer alone, our network will visit 10 different parts of the region to get in front of the listeners via remote broadcasts – at restaurants including 110 Grill and Evviva Trattoria, auto dealerships, seaside inns, and even an arcade. Listeners drive long distances to watch the shows live. Some have come from as far as Ohio.” Read her column here.

WHO, Des Moines’ Simon Conway Raises $100,000-plus for Service Dog Charity. Pictured above is WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive host Simon Conway (standing) at a live event to raise funds for his Puppy Jake Foundation – a charity that helps fund service dogs for U.S. service persons wounded in combat. Joining him were U.S. Navy SEALS Rob O’Neill (center) – whose shot took down Osama bin Laden during Operation Neptune Spear – and Will Chesney (left), who served as the SEALS dog handler on that mission. Conway says, “I am so honored that these true national heroes came to Iowa to support this charity.” Conway’s program – which helped raise more than $102,000 for the Puppy Jake Foundation – is also heard on iHeartMedia stations WMT, Cedar Rapids and WOC, Davenport.

Massachusetts Broadcasters Association to Induct Nine into Hall of Fame. This fall, the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association will induct nine broadcasters into its Hall of Fame, including WAQY, Springfield morning duo “Bax & O’Brien” – Mike “Bax” Baxendale (left) and John O’Brien (right). Other inductees are: WCRB, Boston morning host Laura Carlo; WGBH, Boston jazz show host Eric Jackson; broadcast executive Paul Kelley; former Boston Red Sox play-by-play commentator Sean McDonough; former longtime WMJX, Boston personality Nancy Quill; WCVB-TV, Boston journalist Jorge Quiroga; and former Boston television executive Gerald Walsh.

iHeartMedia Atlanta Commits to Launching 10,000 Black-Owned Businesses. The company is announcing that on the heels of its multi-year commitment to Atlanta-based Operation HOPE revealed back in April, it plans to help 10,000 aspiring Black entrepreneurs in the Atlanta metro area launch their businesses. This is part of the 1 Million Black Business Initiative that aims to create one million new Black businesses by 2030. iHeartMedia says this initiative will continue to amplify the work of aspiring Black entrepreneurs, providing them with top-of-the-line coaching and educational resources and a 120-day free trial, courtesy of Shopify. iHeartMedia Atlanta will also provide social media support and advertising to a select group of entrepreneurs in the future, with additional activations to come. iHeartMedia Atlanta president Drew Lauter says, “We are excited to partner with Operation HOPE to grow Black business ownership here in Atlanta. Our city is the epicenter for entrepreneurial energy, and we are proud to use iHeart’s considerable resources to help owners of Black businesses achieve their dreams.”

George Noory Signs Multi-Year Contract Extension with Premiere Networks. Late night talk radio star George Noory and syndicator Premiere Networks agree to an exclusive, long-term agreement to renew and extend their relationship. Noory will continue to host the “Coast to Coast AM” program that’s heard on more than 640 affiliate stations. Noory comments, “I can’t express how delighted I am that we have extended our agreement well into this decade. As I enter my 18th year as host of this incredible show, ‘Coast to Coast AM,’ I look forwarded to the future. We’re experiencing incredible times and we’ll be there nightly, bringing the best stories and guests to our audience who has made us the #1 rated nighttime talk show in the country.” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott adds, “‘Coast to Coast AM’ continues to be an overnight powerhouse for our partners, and it’s a credit to George’s dedication to the program and his audience. For the past 18 years, he has brought passion and enthusiasm to the program every night, and we couldn’t be happier to extend our successful partnership.”

TALKERS News Notes. On today’s edition of Premiere Networks’ syndicated “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show,” former President Donald J. Trump will appear as a guest during the second hour of the show…..SiriusXM announces the launch of “Top of the World: Lessons from Rebuilding the World Trade Center,” an 11-part series featuring the people at the heart of the historic rebuilding of the new World Trade Center. The special programming premieres July 6 on Business Radio channel 132 and will broadcast for 11 consecutive weeks in the lead-up to the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Among the major figures featured throughout the series are World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; WTC master planner Daniel Libeskind; National 9/11 Memorial architect Michael Arad; and more…..Audacy and Notre Dame Global Partnerships announce a multi-year radio broadcast agreement for Notre Dame Football. As part of the relationship, all-news WBBM-AM, Chicago will air all Fighting Irish football games on the Notre Dame Radio Network beginning with the team’s season opener on September 5 against Florida State. During Notre Dame football broadcasts on WBBM-AM, non-stop news coverage will continue on WCFS-FM…..C13Originals, the Peabody Award-nominated documentary studio division of Audacy’s Cadence13 announces the second season of “Hope, Through History.” This limited-run documentary podcast series is directed and produced by C13Originals and written and narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and bestselling author Jon Meacham and explores pivotal moments of crisis in American history and how they shaped the nation. Season two explores “FDR, Churchill, and America’s Slow Walk to War”; The Battle of Gettysburg”; “George W. Bush and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief” and more.

Facebook Anti-Trust Suit Tossed, COVID-19, Condo Collapse Case, Trump Rally/Trump Org Legal Situation, Big City Gun Violence Spike, House January 6 Investigation, Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, Western Heatwave and Gwen Berry Anthem Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/28). A U.S. District Court judge throws out the Federal Trade Commission’s anti-trust suit against Facebook; the concern about the COVID-19 Delta variant and the flagging vaccination rate in the U.S.; the search for residents of the collapsed Florida condominium and the building’s safety history; former President Donald Trump’s Ohio rally and the legal issues facing the Trump Organization; the spike in deadly gun violence in America’s large cities; the U.S. House legislation to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol; President Joe Biden’s push for the bipartisan infrastructure deal; the record-setting heatwave affecting the Pacific Northwest; and reaction to U.S. Olympic athlete Gwen Berry’s National Anthem slight were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

| April 28, 2021

Meadowlark Media and DraftKings Ink Big Deal for Content Distribution. The Miami Herald has the story about the new $40 million deal that Meadowlark Media – the company formed by former ESPN chief John Skipper and former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard – and DraftKings have entered into. According to the Herald, DraftKings is getting into the content distribution business and by June or early July will be responsible for getting Meadowlark’s flagship program “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” onto radio, television, podcast platforms, and social media. It will also serve as title sponsor. The paper reports that Meadowlark negotiated with several other companies including SiriusXM, NBC’s Peacock and iHeartMedia.  Le Batard told the Herald that didn’t want fans to have to climb a paywall for his show. “We didn’t want to do that to our listeners. The thing that I chose was freedom. Every time I’ve negotiated anywhere was for freedom, not money. This allows Meadowlark to be profitable from the start and have total freedom to do what we want. We can go forward and appear everywhere. We can make partnerships anywhere we want. We don’t have any corporate overlord. Our partner is our sponsor and what they are sponsoring is our freedom. The media landscape is changing very rapidly, and this shows how much power and value individuals can exert in breaking free from the corporate machine.” By summertime, Le Batard’s show – currently only available in podcast form – will be found in video formant on YouTube, Twitch, and DraftKings’ own nascent channel. The Herald adds that “the partnership will include DraftKings commissioning content projects and original programming that Meadowlark will develop and produce, including sports documentaries, as DraftKings broadens its sports entertainment footprint.”

Alpha Media Files Opposition to Larry Wilson’s Petition to Deny with FCC. As Alpha Media works to emerge from bankruptcy – approval for which it has received from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern Division of Virginia – it also needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission. But minority interest holders Larry Wilson and Paul Stone filed Petitions to Deny with the FCC, claiming that Alpha has failed to comply with FCC regulations regarding licensing of some of its stations and that the matter requires further review of foreign ownership interests, respectively. Alpha recently filed its opposition to the Petitions to Deny. In that filing’s summary, it says, “In short, when one peels away the bombast of Wilson’s Petition, it is clear that Wilson is inappropriately using the agency as a platform for rehashing his differences with certain members of the Company’s Board of Directors and management, and vainly attempting to shoehorn assessment of his personal grievances into the Commission’s processes under the guise of spurious claims that Alpha is unfit to hold its broadcast licenses. Moreover, his assertions are false. For Stone’s part, he simply criticizes the FCC’s well-established policy of promoting companies’ ability to promptly emerge from bankruptcy where further regulatory review of foreign ownership interests is required, a policy that is grounded in public interest considerations and comity with the bankruptcy laws. Neither Wilson nor Stone has standing as a party-in-interest. Any claims they had as holders of minority interests in Alpha pertaining to the Plan or to Alpha’s governance could and should have been presented to the Bankruptcy Court or the Delaware courts. While they inexplicably chose not to avail themselves of these alternative forums, they cannot now seek redress before the Commission. It has been black-letter law that the FCC does not adjudicate private contractual matters for far longer than the ‘more than 40 years’ that Wilson’s counsel has been ‘practic[ing] before the Commission,’ and the FCC has no reason to do so here.”

Westwood One Announces Executive Promotions. Three Westwood One staffers are promoted to new positions within the syndicator and sales firm’s programming and operations divisions. Twenty-eight-year Westwood One employee Susan Stephens is promoted to SVP and general manager, Westwood One programming. In this expanded role, Stephens will work to optimize programming and content opportunities and collaborations between news, talk, music, and entertainment. Tim Seymour rises to SVP, head of operations in which the 20-year WWO staffer assumes responsibility for the operations, partner relations, affiliate & sales operations, traffic & continuity, and research operations teams. Becky Bennett is elevated to VP, partner relations. Stephens and Seymour both report to Cumulus Media executive vice president of marketing and president of Westwood One Suzanne Grimes. Bennett will report to Seymour. Grimes says, “We have an enviable depth of talent within Westwood One with the unique experience to lead us forward. It is a privilege and a pleasure to announce these well-deserved promotions that will position us to succeed in 2021 and beyond.”

Edison’s Annual ‘Moms and Media’ Study Unveiled May 6. The results of the annual “Moms and Media” study from Edison Research will be revealed at a webinar being presented next Thursday (5/6) at 2:00 pm ET. Edison says, “This year’s ‘Moms and Media’ study provides insight on media usage, social media habits, and current outlook on tech by U.S. moms. Findings incorporate data from The Infinite Dial study from Edison Research and Triton Digital, as well as data from Edison Research’s new ongoing syndicated measurement of social media, The Social Habit. The 2021 report features data trends on devices, media engagement, and technology usage of U.S. moms. Highlights from this year’s study include: smart speaker ownership, podcast adoption, online audio listening, and social media engagement. In addition, the report will showcase brand new research centered on social media usage by U.S. moms and their children. You can register for the webinar here.

Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Harry Hamm Sentenced in Child Porn Case. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that former longtime KMOX, St. Louis air personality Harry Hamm was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. The 79-year-old former entertainment editor for the radio station admitted that FBI investigators found child porn on two of his cell phones and his laptop. Hamm is also facing charges of second-degree statutory sodomy, incest and possession of child pornography in St. Louis County. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. The Post-Dispatch story says the St. Louis County charges stem from allegations of sexual contact with a 16-year-old. Hamm began his career with the station in 1975.

TALKERS News Notes. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway is bringing two of the Navy SEALS who were on the mission that killed al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden to Des Moines for a fundraiser for the Puppy Jake Foundation that provides service dogs for combat-wounded veterans. Rob O’Neill – the SEAL who fired the shots that killed Bin Laden – and SEAL dog handler Will Chesney will take part in the June 18 event…..ABC News Radio is providing coverage of President Joe Biden’s address this evening and will begin with a one-hour special, “The Biden Presidency: The First 100 Days,” looking back at the start of the Biden administration. The program will air live on the radio network from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET anchored by correspondent Aaron Katersky. ABC News Radio will also provide live anchored coverage of President Biden’s speech, with reporting and analysis from ABC News’ team of correspondents and experts…..Public radio outlet WPLN, Nashville announces it has hired Caroline Eggers as the newsroom’s first environmental reporter. She starts her new position in June and will cover environmental issues with a focus on equity for WPLN News as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms across the U.S. to report on under-covered topics and communities. She comments, “WPLN News delivers essential stories with incredible intellect and empathy. I can’t wait to reflect these values while investigating Nashville’s climate action plan, air quality and infrastructure challenges.”

COVID-19, Biden’s 100 Days Address to Congress/$1.8 Trillion American Families Plan, Andrew Brown, Jr Protests/Police Violence, 2020 Census-House Seats, Critical Race Theory Controversy, John Kerry Iran Allegation, and Southern Border Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/27). The CDC’s new directives on mask wearing, the rollout of vaccines, and the high rate of cases in places like India and Brazil; this evening’s 100-day address to Congress by President Joe Biden and his $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the protests of the police shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. and other cases of police violence; the results of the 2020 census and its impact on U.S. Rep seats; the controversy over “critical race theory” and its use in public schools curricula; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Israeli air strikes with Iran’s foreign minister; and the overwhelming number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

| January 19, 2021

Brian Shactman Joins WTIC-AM, Hartford for Mornings. Television news personality Brian Shactman is named the new morning drive co-host at Entercom’s WTIC-AM, Hartford, joining Ray Dunaway for the “Mornings with Ray and Brian” program. Shactman assumes the role beside Dunaway left open after former morning co-host Joe D’Ambrosio and Entercom agreed to negotiate an early exit from his contract. Prior to joining WTIC, Shactman had been serving as an anchor for WBTS-TV, Boston NBC10 and New England Cable News. He most recently created and hosted “Primary Source,” a nightly political show focusing on the presidential primary and has also anchored weekend evenings on NBC10 Boston since the onset of the pandemic. Entercom Connecticut SVP and market manager Stephanie Perl says, “I’m excited to welcome Brian back to Connecticut to join our morning show program alongside Ray Dunaway. He has a proven track record of entertaining and capturing his audience, and his energy will be a great addition to our show.” Shactman comments, “I have been listening to Ray for years, and WTIC is always my first stop when I get in the car. To now be a part of the WTIC team is an absolute thrill. Connecticut – the whole state – is a community. WTIC is a huge part of that community, and I am excited to help people start their day in this great state.”

Townsquare Media Creates Texas Network Featuring Chad Hasty Show. Following the departure of the Robert Pratt-hosted “Pratt on Texas” program from Townsquare Media’s talk stations KFYO, Lubbock “Newstalk 790”; KYYW, Abilene; and KWFS-AM, Wichita Falls, the company is adding a two-hour version of “The Chad Hasty Show” (5:00 pm to 7:00 pm) to those stations’ program schedules. This move also marks the creation of the Texas Townsquare Media Network that will function on those three stations, with more affiliates expected to be announced later this year. Hasty is the first host to operate under this banner, with more programs anticipated to join it. Hasty has been hosting his eponymous 8:30 am to 11:00 am program on KFYO since the fall of 2012 and he’ll continue that Lubbock-focused program in addition to the new afternoon drive show.

Former Sports Talker Marty Tirrell to Be Sentenced Wednesday. The Des Moines Register reports that former Des Moines sports talk host Marty Tirrell will be sentenced in federal court tomorrow (1/20) after pleading guilty in December of 2019 to one count of mail fraud. Prosecutors are seeking a five-year sentence combined with an order to pay $1.46 million in restitution to American Express, Wells Fargo, Bank of the West and five individuals. Prosecutors say Tirrell defrauded investors of more than $1.5 million in a sporting events tickets resale venture. However, Tirrell didn’t acquire tickets and instead used the cash to “finance a lavish lifestyle and to spend on online gambling.” Prosecutors are seeking the five-year sentence because “the defendant has been defrauding businesses and individuals with his lies for years, with little to no consequences. Defendant continued to lie after he was under investigation in this matter, and the government is concerned he won’t ever stop lying.”

Salem Media Group’s Regnery to Publish Josh Hawley’s Book. After Simon & Schuster decided to cancel its publication of Senator Josh Hawley’s new book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, in the aftermath of the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, Hawley has found a new publisher in Salem Media Group’s Regnery Publishing. Simon & Schuster said in a statement, “We did not come to this decision lightly. As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: At the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.” The Salem press release says, “Despite Senator Hawley’s immediate and forceful condemnation of the violent incursion, social media teemed with calls for retribution for his objection to the certification of the electoral vote. The next day, citing his purported ‘role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom,’ Simon & Schuster announced that it was dropping Hawley’s book, scheduled for publication in June. Responding to the impulsive decision, Hawley stated on Twitter, ‘Simon & Schuster is canceling my contract because I was representing my constituents, leading a debate on the Senate floor on voter integrity, which they have now decided to redefine as sedition.’” The press release goes on to state: “Senator Hawley is an authority on the legal and constitutional implications of Big Tech’s growing power. While the attorney general of Missouri, he investigated how the most powerful company in the world – Google – uses citizens’ private information. In The Tyranny of Big Tech, he shows how Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and other digital giants have abused their enormous market power and political influence, silencing their competition. Explaining why current policies fail us, he identifies alternatives that will break Big Tech’s control over our liberties.”

High-Profile Guests to Take Part in 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards. On Thursday (1/21), the 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards will take place in a virtual format and is being recorded from multiple locations. Just-announced special guests will include: Aaron Mahnke, Hillary Clinton, Holly Frey, Laverne Cox, Questlove, Roy Wood Jr., Will Ferrell, and more. The awards span 30 categories and you can see all of the finalists here. The event will exclusively video stream on iHeartRadio’s YouTube and Facebook pages on Thursday at 9:00 pm ET and will broadcast across iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and on the iHeartRadio App at 9:00 pm local time.

Anny Mansfield Named Corporate Research Director for Gen Media Partners. The company says that in order to meet the growing demands of its expanding portfolio of radio rep firms and networks, Anny Mansfield has been appointed to the newly created position of corporate research director. Mansfield has been with Gen Media Partners since its inception and in this new role will build out a company-wide research department and work closely with the company’s sales departments to serve the needs of network and national advertisers. Gen Media Partners CEO Kevin Garrity says, “I am very pleased that we already had the right person on our team to lead research across Gen Media Partners. Anny is exceptional at finding the data to develop marketing strategies that help our account executives deliver compelling stories and solutions about the power of radio to advertisers and their agencies, especially for new business development.”

U.S. Agency for Global Media Names Board of Directors; Blanquita Cullum Appointed Chair. New boards of directors have been appointed for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks by CEO Michael Pack. The USAGM says the diverse boards “bring exceptional skill in the fields of journalism, language, technology, broadcasting, and diplomacy that are essential to the work of the three surrogate broadcast networks, which provide a lifeline of factual news for those living in places where a free press is denied to them by repressive government.” Blanquita Cullum — host, producer, and writer for “The Hard Question” — is named chairwoman of the three boards. She comments, “From my previous service on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, I understand the importance of delivering objective, accurate news about America and the world to combat our adversaries’ misinformation campaigns and to shine the light of truth into those dark corners where access to a free press is denied. The other board members and I will fight to ensure these networks and their journalists have the tools and support they need to perform their difficult but essential work, which itself is crucial for our national interest.” Serving on the board with Cullum as directors are: Jonathan Alexander, Amanda Milius, Roger Simon, and Christian Whiton.

TALKERS News Notes. This Thursday (1/21) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the latest in a series of Town Hall broadcasts to help New Jersey deal with the mental stresses of the pandemic. The station’s Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments in bringing mental health experts together to talk about these stressors and help residents access help. He says, “The toll this pandemic has taken on our overall mental wellness has been huge. This program seeks to de-stigmatize seeking help and connect our listeners to the many resources available.”…..Beasley Broadcast Group announces that subsidiary, Beasley Mezzanine Holdings, LLC intends to offer $280 million in aggregate principal amount of senior secured notes to persons reasonably believed to be qualified institutional buyers…..In Abilene, Texas, Cumulus Media drops the sports talk format on KTLT-FM and flips to rock as “98.1 The Phantom.”…..iHeartMedia New York’s iHeartRadio Broadway and D’Marie Productions announce that the LGBTQ+ comedy podcast “Slumber Party with Tim Murray” is joining the iHeartPodcast Network, beginning January 20…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs Show” adds new affiliates: WWPR-AM, Bradenton/Tampa; KNET, Palestine, Texas; WNRI ,Woonsocket, Rhode Island; WTBG-FM, Brownsville, Tennessee; and WVEL, Peoria, Illinois.

Trump’s Final Day/Pardons Commutations, Inauguration Prep, Capitol Attack Investigation and Arrests, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, China and WHO Failures, Social Media and Free Speech, New Migrant Caravan, and Australian Open Troubles Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/18). Today’s final day in office for President Donald Trump and the pardons and commutations expected to be issued; the preparation and security for Wednesday’s inauguration for Joe Biden; the ongoing investigation into the Capitol attack and related arrests; the fast-rising number of COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response report indicating China and the WHO failed to act quickly at the beginning of the pandemic; the move by social media platforms to suspend purveyors of extremist content; the caravan of Hondurans heading for the U.S.; and positive COVID tests hamper the Australian Open were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.