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Friday, August 6, 2021

| August 6, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the 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, “Masks, Mandates and Mayhem,” looks back at this past week of August 2-6. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Grace Curley; talk show host, WRKO, Boston / HCRNDavid Gornoski, talk show host, WHBO, Tampa; Brett Winterble, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte; Ralph Nader, political activist/talk show host, the Ralph Nader Radio Hour; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / physician; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The 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, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; 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; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast 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.

iHeartMedia Second Quarter Revenue Up 76.7%. The company reports revenue for the second quarter was $862 million, up 76.7% from the same period in 2020 and down just 6% from the pre-pandemic second quarter of 2019. For Q2 of 2021, iHeartMedia reports operating income of $28.1 million compared to the operating loss of $159.1 million reported in the second quarter of 2020. For all of 2020, the company reported an operating loss of $1.88 billion. That loss has narrowed to $48.2 million for the first six months of 2021. iHeartMedia now reports its data in three segments – the Multiplatform Group that includes broadcast radio, networks, and sponsorship & events; the Digital Audio Group that includes digital content and podcasts; and the Audio and Media Services Group, including Katz Media Group and RCS.  Broadcast radio’s revenue was $451.1 million, an increase of 84.9% while networks revenue was $123.6 million, up 28.3%. As a whole, the Multiplatform Group’s revenue was $605.9 million, up 69.7%. Digital, excluding Podcast was up 100.7% on revenue of $144.5 million and Podcast revenue rose 151.5% on revenue of $53.4 million. iHeartMedia reports that its net debt is $5.4 billion.

Audacy Q2 2021 Revenue Rises 73%. Reporting financial data for the second quarter of 2021, Audacy, Inc. says net revenue was $304.5 million, up 73% compared to $175.9 million in the second quarter of 2020. Breaking down the revenue by type, Audacy reveals spot revenue was $202.8 million, up 98% compared to the second quarter of 2020. Digital revenue was $58.4 million, up 41% compared to the same period a year ago. Network revenue was $20.6 million, an increase of 21% over Q2 of 2020. Operating income for the quarter was $17.9 million compared to the operating loss of $45.5 million the company posted in the second quarter of 2020. Audacy president and CEO David J. Field states. “I am pleased to report that Audacy accelerated its recovery from the pandemic as second quarter revenues grew 73% over the prior year, led by a 98% increase in spot radio advertising and 41% growth in digital revenues. In addition, our momentum is continuing into the third quarter as we expect that revenues will increase by about 10% sequentially from the second quarter and by about 25% compared to prior year. We continue to make great strides in enhancing our business and elevating our competitive position. During the second quarter, we executed a rebranding of the company as Audacy, a name that reflects our evolution into a leading, multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with scaled audience reach and an important leadership position across the full spectrum of the dynamic and growing audio market – including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, network, events, music, news and sports. Our recent acquisitions in podcasting and sports betting, as well as numerous growth investments have significantly enhanced our ability to capitalize on broader advertising trends, augment our product line and better serve our listeners and customers. This has been an active period of development across the company as we recently launched over 350 exclusive new stations on our Audacy digital platform, unveiled our new 2400Sports podcast studio, commenced a three-year strategic partnership with American Public Media (the creators of Marketplace), expanded our BetQL network, and announced an important partnership with Major League Baseball, making us the league’s official podcast and digital audio partner. We are also pleased to note the significant acceleration in each of our digital businesses, including podcasting, digital audio, and digital marketing solutions. 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.”

Personnel Exiting ‘NoogaRadio’ As Station Plans Programming Changes. According to a report at The Chattanoogan, a number of staffers at news/talk outlet WPLZ-HD4/W224AZ, Chattanooga “NoogaRadio” at 92.7 FM are leaving as management plans changes to the programming. The station had been billed as “Local Radio Done Right” and was created by former owner Jim Brewer. After Brewer’s death from cancer, the station is now owned by Sabatino Cuppelli. Station general sales manager Mike Lisowski tells The Chattanoogan, “It is with deep sadness I regret to inform you that as of Friday the ‘Fred the Show’ morning crew, including Jeff Styles, a beloved 29-year veteran of local talk radio, Jen Lambert, also general manager who brought 20-plus years of experience in marketing, advertising, promotions and design, Jason Kirk, also our operations manager who brought a multitude of knowledge and technical expertise, not to mention his sales ability, will be parting ways with NoogaRadio.” Lisowski adds that sports broadcaster Keon Rose is moving to Arizona to advance his career.  The statement continues: “Unfortunately, after four years, a lot of blood, sweat and tears and a whole lot of love, the station ownership has chosen to take ‘NoogaRadio’ in a direction that most of us feel we are unable to stand behind. We are so grateful and proud to have been able to entertain you for as long as we have and, as the general manager, I am able to move on with my head held high knowing that I gave it my all. We genuinely hope we can bring our relationship to an amicable end in the most professional manner leaving no burned bridges, hard feelings or severed business relationships.”

WSB Care-a-Thon Raises $1.67 for Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center. Pictured above are WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta personalities (from l-r) Eric Von Haessler, Scott Slade, and Clark Howard with the check indicating the grand total of $1,671,813 raised during the July 29 and 30 “95.5 WSB Care-a-Thon benefiting the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.” During the 37-hour broadcast, Slade, Howard, Erick Erickson, Von Haessler, Mark Arum, Brian Kilmeade and many other 95.5 WSB hosts turned the airwaves over to the patients and families of Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to raise funds to support research, the Fellowship Program, and the family support team at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Over the past 21 years, the 95.5 WSB Care-a-Thon has raised over $28 million for the cause. 95.5 WSB director of branding & programming Drew Anderssen says, “This event began as an idea from 95.5 WSB’s Scott Slade, and 21 years later we continue the partnership with the great people at Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. This event reminds us that no matter what we have going on in our own lives, there are always others dealing with challenges much more difficult than our own. The passion and heart of our team is represented by the incredible generosity of the 95.5 WSB listeners.”

TALKERS News Notes. Albuquerque sports talk KNML-AM/K240BL “95.9 FM and AM 610, The Sports Animal” announces it is partnering with the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos to bring all Raiders games and non-conflicting Broncos games to Albuquerque sports fans for the 2021-2022 season. The Cumulus Media station is also airing its current powerful slate of Westwood One Primetime NFL programming. Cumulus Albuquerque operations manager Jared Hart comments, “Our partnership with The Raiders and Broncos is vital to Albuquerque as it helps bring NFL football coverage to the extensive Raider and Bronco fan base in our passionate sports state. We couldn’t be more excited to have the inaugural season of Las Vegas’ first NFL team, and the love of the Broncos in Albuquerque is palpable. We think this will energize the NFL programming on The Sports Animal better than almost any other NFL team could.”…..iHeartMedia and Salesforce.org are launching a special six-episode iHeartRadio Original podcast series hosted by Emmy-nominated and NYT Bestselling author, Baratunde Thurston, called “Force Multiplier,” that examines the exponential impact businesses and organizations can have on the world by working together. “Force Multiplier” was created to bring leaders from public, private and nonprofit sectors together to discuss how they’re tackling some of the world’s toughest challenges, such as nutrition insecurity, health equity, workforce development, racial injustice, mental health & wellbeing and homelessness…..ABC News says its hit podcast “The Dropout” returns with new episodes as Elizabeth Holmes – once the youngest self-made female billionaire – goes on trial for alleged fraud, facing decades in prison, if convicted. “The Dropout: Elizabeth Holmes on Trial” is hosted by ABC News chief business, technology & economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, who’s spent more than a decade covering business and five years investigating Holmes. The Stanford University dropout turned founder and CEO of the blood-testing company Theranos suffered an astounding fall from grace amid the accusations of alleged widespread fraud. “The Dropout: Elizabeth Holmes on Trial” debuts with two new episodes on Tuesday, August 31, to coincide with jury selection…..Boston NPR member station WBUR announces the next call for submissions for the WBUR Newsroom Fellowship. This Fellowship is a yearlong program for recent graduates or early-career journalists who are looking to build reporting and production skills and have a demonstrated commitment to advancing issues of underrepresented voices in public radio. For the first time, WBUR will select two Fellows for the program who will each receive a salary of $55,000 in addition to a complete Boston University benefits package. The Fellowship provides hands-on training in every aspect of public media journalism. Fellows will develop their skills under the guidance of WBUR’s editors and producers and will contribute to each part of the newsroom, rotating every three months, maximizing exposure to the many aspects of public media, including newscast, live broadcast, digital and reporting. See more about this Fellowship and apply here…..Audacy announces former NFL All-Pro T.J. Lang is joining sports talk WXYT-FM, Detroit “97.1 The Ticket” and the Detroit Lions Radio Network, effective August 6. Lang will join Dan Miller and Lomas Brown as the sideline reporter. Lang will also be in studio on the station each week throughout the professional football season, joining “The Morning Show with Stoney and Jansen” and “The Mike Valenti Show with Rico” on Monday and Fridays.

COVID-19 Delta Variant, Vaccine Hesitancy, Masks and Mandates Combine as Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 2-6. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy in numerous parts of the country, and the controversy of mask policies and mandates combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the New York Attorney General’s report on the allegations of sexual impropriety against Governor Andrew Cuomo and the push for him to resign. Following at #3 was the investigation into the Capitol attack by the January 6 Committee, the voting legislation taking place in various states, and race relations. 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.

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.

Monday, May 10, 2021

| May 10, 2021

Monday Memo: Was Rush the Format? As the American comeback unfolds, polls demonstrate widespread optimism. “Yet,” consultant Holland Cooke reckons, there’s “a day-after-day negativity, a wearying sameness, among the half-dozen hosts vying for the Rush Limbaugh hours” on his affiliate stations. And in this week’s column, Cooke warns against typecasting the format as political talk: “If we learned one thing during the pandemic shutdown, it’s people’s appetite for ‘survival information.’” Read his column here.

Pending Business: Why Buy? Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says that if you ask yourself the question: Why buy advertising on your station, you know the answers to this in your sleep. “Yet why do three different sellers give three different answers? It sounds silly, but even at the best run stations, large market or small, my experience is the answers vary a little too much.” He offers eight questions to ask yourself that will help you formulate the answers to that question: Why buy? Read it here.

Townsquare Media Q1 Net Revenue Down 5.1%; Digital Revenue Up 13%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Townsquare Media reveals total net revenue was $88.8 million, a decline of 5.1% from the same period in 2020. The company’s net loss shrinks dramatically from $59.5 million in the first quarter of 2020 to $6.1 million in Q1 of 2021. Operating income also did an about-face, shrinking from a loss of $72.1 million in Q1 of 2020 to income of $8.8 million this year. Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson says, “We are extremely proud to report that Townsquare’s first quarter 2021 results approached, and in some cases exceeded, levels achieved in the pre-COVID first quarter of 2019, which surpassed our expectations and previously stated guidance. In the first quarter of 2021, net revenue declined -5% year over year, and -1.6% excluding political and Live Events net revenue. When excluding Live Events net revenue, first quarter net revenue increased +0.3% as compared to the first quarter of 2019. Total digital revenue growth accelerated to +13% year over year (+32% vs. Q1 2019), contributing nearly 49% of Townsquare’s total first quarter net revenue. Our digital revenue growth was fueled by Townsquare Interactive, our digital marketing solutions subscription business, Townsquare Ignite, our digital programming advertising platform, and Townsquare Amped, digital advertising on our owned and operated brands, which increased revenue year over year by +15%, +12%, and +11%, respectively. Impressively, TSI, Ignite, and Amped’s first quarter net revenue exceeded Q1 2019 revenue levels by +34%, +45%, and +15%, respectively. Over the next three years, we expect to grow our digital net revenue from $167 million (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of March 31, 2021) to $250 million. The strong growth of our digital revenue, together with our strong expense management, led to Adjusted EBITDA increasing nearly +30% over the prior year. I am especially proud to share that first quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $20.1 million is +$1.3 million, or +7%, higher than Q1 2019’s pro forma Adjusted EBITDA, and +$2.1 million, or +12%, higher when excluding profit from Live Events.”

The Mayor and the Mobster. Nationally syndicated Compass Media Networks talk star Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo scored an amazing one-hour double interview with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former high-profile mobster Michael Franzese last week which he ran on Tuesday through Friday (5/4-7) as a four-part special series on his radio show titled, “The Mayor and the Mobster.” Giuliani prosecuted Franzese 40 years ago at a time when the two men were arch enemies. Much has changed since then in terms of their relationship. In a fascinating conversation about the nature of crime fighting, prosecution, and redemption, the two men have more than reconciled their differences as indicated in a wonderful interview conducted brilliantly by Pags. You can watch the entire 56-minute conversation captured on video by clicking here.

Missouri House Passes Bill to Make January 12 ‘Rush Limbaugh Day.’ The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill last Thursday (5/6) that would make January 12 “Rush Limbaugh Day” in honor of the Cape Girardeau, Missouri native who died in February at age 70. The bill met with opposition from Democratic House members, including Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove who criticized Limbaugh for “constant attacks on Black people and other people of color,” according to a report by the AP. Republican Rep. Sara Walsh, a supporter of the bill, said, “Rush demonstrated courage to speak boldly and encouraged his listeners and viewers to reach for their dreams and to push onward beyond the naysayers and discouragers that we all encounter in life.” The bill must pass the Missouri Senate before it moves on to the governor’s office.

AdLarge and Sounds Profitable Partner for ‘Up Next – A Podcast UpFront.’ Audio ad sales network AdLarge Media partners with podcast ad tech publication Sounds Profitable to launch Up Next – A Podcast UpFront. The companies say that “embracing a ‘never-been-done-before’ concept, Up Next utilizes the podcast format to promote podcasting with two acclaimed industry leaders hosting the series, FRQNCY founder/CEO Michelle Khouri and Edison Research SVP, Tom Webster. The idea originated from a brainstorming session between the leadership team at AdLarge and Sounds Profitable and is NOT an event but rather a podcast series specifically designed to showcase the multiple facets of the podcast industry including publishers, networks, content producers, and more. No special invitation required to listen to the podcasts, they are available to everyone.” In the first season of the Up Next series, AdLarge’s premiere episode focuses on the power of podcast advertising in addition to exploring the intriguing and valuable aspects of the podcasting world. The AdLarge season consists of six episodes, which also includes sample episodes from some of the most favored podcasts in the space today such as: “Crime Junkie,” “Swindled,” “The Hey Girl Podcast,” “The Trip,” and “Kill Me Now with Judy Gold.” AdLarge SVP, head of revenue operations & digital sales Ilwira Marciszek says, “It’s crazy that no one thought of this earlier. We know podcasts get results. This is the perfect way to get in front of people on their own time. I’m beyond thrilled to use the medium we’re selling to showcase the power of podcasting.” You can learn more here.

Broadcasters Foundation of America Seeks Donations to Counter Lost Fundraising Events. The Broadcasters Foundation of America is in need of donations to counter the loss of funds from major fundraising events that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. A 501(c)3 charity, the BFoA is the only organization dedicated exclusively to providing financial aid to broadcasters and their families whose lives have been upended by debilitating illness, accident, or catastrophe. BFoA chairman Scott Herman says, “In its more than 70 years of existence, the Broadcasters Foundation has provided financial assistance to every broadcaster who qualified, and we want to continue that track record. These men and women are our colleagues, and unthinkable tragedy has left them unable to work. We cannot turn our backs on them.” Cancelled fundraisers for the Broadcasters Foundation include the Celebrity Golf Tournament, the Golden Mike Award, and the Philip J. Lombardo Charity Golf Tournament. Personal and corporate donations can be made here.

COVID-19, GOP vs Cheney, Rising Consumer Goods Prices, Weekend Gun Deaths in U.S., Gas Pipeline Hack, Biden’s Infrastructure Plan, Afghanistan Girls School Bombing, and Arabian Sea Arms Seizure Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy, and the outbreak in India; U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney faces losing her GOP leadership role for not carrying the stolen election banner; concerns about the fast-rising prices of gas and consumer goods; the slaying of six at a Colorado Springs birthday party and numerous other gun deaths over the weekend; the hacking of a gas pipeline by Russia-based operatives; President Joe Biden to push his infrastructure plan this week; the bombing at a girls school in Afghanistan that killed 85 people; and the U.S. Navy seizes a large weapons cache in the Arabian Sea were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Michael Harrison Animal Welfare Music Video Going Viral on YouTube. The animal welfare anthem “I Know You’re Real” that appears on the new Gunhill Road album What Year Is This! has been picking up an accelerating number of views this past week – approximately 1,400 per day – solely based thus far on radio interviews. The song’s lyrics, penned by Michael Harrison and recited by him on the recording and video, discuss the metaphysical nature of the relationship between humans and animals as well as the connectedness of all sentient life forms to the universe at large. The video, described by talk media host Thom Hartmann as “a masterpiece,” displays a fascinating array of photos and video clips depicting animals – domestic and wild – and cosmic images. Harrison recently became a regular working member of the legendary NYC-based band that has been around since the late 1960s. To book Harrison to appear as a guest talking about animal welfare, cosmic consciousness, and the golden days of FM rock radio, please contact him directly at michael@talkers.com or call Barbara Kurland at TALKERS at 413-565-5413.  To view the video, please click here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

| May 4, 2021

Beasley 2021 Q1 Net Revenue $48.2 Million; Operating Loss Shrinks. First quarter financial data from Beasley Broadcast Group – parent of Beasley Media Group – reveals a decline in net revenue of 17.8%, from $57.7 million in Q1 2020 to $48.2 million in Q1 2021. While station operating income was down, $5.2 million compared to $6.7 million in Q1 2020, Beasley greatly reduced its operating loss from $7.1 million in the first quarter of 2020 to $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2021. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “Beasley reported 2021 first quarter financial results consistent with the expectations we outlined when we reported the 2020 fourth quarter, as our strong revenue growth in the first two months of the comparable 2020 period, prior to the onset of the pandemic, created a difficult year-over-year comparison. Though we continued to experience challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic during the first quarter, I am pleased to report that we began to see a strong recovery. As a result, we expect Beasley to return to top-line revenue growth beginning in the second quarter of 2021. During the first quarter, we continued to advance our digital transformation and revenue diversification initiatives across the company. In this regard, Beasley generated digital revenue growth of approximately 10% on a year-over-year basis, with digital accounting for approximately 12% of total first quarter revenue, compared to 9.3% of total revenue in the prior year period. Consumer demand for digital audio content remains strong and with our ongoing emphasis on digital innovation, Beasley continues attracting new business by successfully targeting the sale of non-radio products to non-radio advertisers. With the continued strong growth of our digital business, Beasley will report digital revenue as a separate segment going forward. We believe this milestone represents an important inflection point in the ongoing evolution of our operating model and clearly highlights the value of our revenue diversification strategies.”

Bill O’Reilly’s New Book, Killing the Mob, Published. The latest book from broadcast journalist and talk host Bill O’Reilly (with co-author Martin Dugard) is out as KILLING THE MOB: The Fight Against Organized Crime in America (2021, St. Martin’s) hits booksellers today (5/4). The promo for the book says: “O’Reilly traces the brutal history of 20th century organized crime in the United States, and expertly plumbs the history of this nation’s most notorious serial robbers, conmen, and especially, mob family bosses. Covering the period from the 1930s to the 1980s, O’Reilly traces the prohibition-busting bank robbers of the Depression Era, such as Bonnie & Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby-Face Nelson. In addition, the authors highlight the creation of the Mafia Commission, the power struggles within the ‘Five Families,’ and the battles to control Cuba, Las Vegas and Hollywood, as well as the personal war between the U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy and legendary Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.” Bill O’Reilly currently hosts the Key Networks nationally syndicated radio programs “The O’Reilly Update” and “The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition.”

Townsquare Media Ups Jeff Luckoff to Market President for Michigan. Rising from his Grand Rapids market president role to regional market president and chief revenue officer for Michigan is Jeff Luckoff. In this role, he’ll oversee Townsquare Media’s Michigan local media clusters and will report to SVP Todd Lawley. Lawley says, “In a very short amount of time Jeff has reset the culture, made key hires, and built a foundation that is unlocking the full potential of our market leading online and on-air brands in Grand Rapids. We are now challenging Jeff to unlock the full potential of our statewide footprint which includes Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Flint.” Luckoff comments, “We have incredible talent and local brands throughout the state of Michigan. I am fortunate for the opportunity to utilize Townsquare’s footprint to deepen our impact on the community and further deliver better results for our advertisers. I am honored to be leading such an extraordinary team.”

NAB Opens Nominations for 2021 Marconi Awards. The National Association of Broadcasters is now accepting nominations for the 2021 NAB Marconi Radio Awards and will be accepting submissions until May 31. Established in 1989 and named for inventor and Nobel Prize winner Guglielmo Marconi, the prestigious awards recognize overall excellence and performance in radio. Station and on-air personality nominations may be submitted for the 23 awards presented in the following categories: Legendary Station of the Year, Legendary Manager of the Year, Radio Station of the Year by Market Size, Radio Station of the Year by Format, Personality of the Year by Market Size, Network/Syndicated Personality of the Year, and Best Radio Podcast of the Year. Nominations may only be made by NAB members. You can see the rules here. Winners will be recognized during a special event at the Radio Show, held October 13-14, 2021 in Las Vegas, and co-located with NAB Show.

TALKERS News Notes. The American Urban Radio Networks names Ebony McMorris White House news correspondent. She comes to AURN from Reach Media/Urban One where she most recently served as national news correspondent. She comments, “For such a time as this, it is an honor to join the AURN family as their White House correspondent during such a pivotal and monumental point in history. In taking this role I am reminded of Alice Dunnigan, the first African American woman to receive White House credentials, who said, ‘While the role of the Black press is that of objectively reporting the news as it happens, it has another function equally as important – that of fighting oppression.’”…..Audacy’s sports talk KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh “93.7 The Fan” announces that former MLB player Neil Walker will join “The Fan Morning Show” with Colin Dunlap and Chris Mack Monday mornings at 9:00 am, beginning May 10…..iHeartMedia and Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg’s Pushkin Industries audio production company unveil a new co-produced iHeartRadio Original Podcast called, “Be Antiracist with Ibram X. Kendi.” The weekly interview program builds on Kendi’s extensive body of antiracist work, challenging listeners to consider what an antiracist society might look like and how individuals and communities can play an active role in building it. Kendi says, “After a year that laid bare the pervasive racial inequity that continues to plague our nation, we must continue the difficult but necessary conversations that will allow us to imagine and erect a truly antiracist society. I look forward to exploring these topics with guests whose work I deeply admire and digging deep with them and with listeners.”…..CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is launching a new podcast called, “Chasing Life,” in which Gupta guides listeners on how to mindfully approach our new normal, while finding a balance between self-care and productivity. He says, “As we’re entering a new – and more hopeful – phase of this pandemic, now seemed like a worthy point in time to start a new podcast with recovery and reflection in mind. While we may never be able to replicate a pre-2020 world, I hope we can all start moving forward and start chasing life again.” The first episode premiers May 11 via CNN’s apps.

Audacy and Genomind Partner for Mental Health Care Content. Mental health awareness has been a focus of Audacy’s public service efforts for several years and now the company announces a partnership with Genomind to help “bring mental health conversations into the mainstream.” As part of the partnership, Audacy will leverage the deep local connection of 15 stations across eight markets – Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego and Washington D.C. – to promote Genomind’s new Mental Health Map, the first and only consumer DNA test to offer a concise, easy-to-navigate blueprint of your genetic profile and its influence on stress and anxiety, mood, focus and memory, habits and substance use, sleep, social behavior, and eating behavior. Audacy vice president, social impact Sarah Harris says, “Mental health awareness is a major area of focus for us and a crucial pillar of our companywide social impact platform, and we’re excited to further activate our commitment through this partnership with Genomind. We recognize our significant influence and welcome the opportunity to use our voice, coupled with Genomind’s mental health expertise, innovations and technology, to help improve and save lives and continue our shared mission of ending the stigma of talking about mental health.” Genomind will also serve as the sponsor for Audacy’s “I’m Listening Daily Capsules,” 60-second daily public service announcements as part of the company’s yearlong “I’m Listening” mental health initiative. Genomind will also serve as the presenting sponsor of Audacy’s annual “I’m Listening” broadast, a live national program that brings together artists, athletes and medical specialists every September to remind listeners it’s okay to not be okay, raise awareness and end the stigma of talking about mental health.

COVID-19, Giuliani Investigation, Trump’s Facebook Fate, Bill and Melinda Gates to Divorce, Border Crisis, and Severe Southeast Weather Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/3). Vaccination rates in the U.S. and the politicization of the “jab,” rising infections among young Americans, and the high death toll in India; Facebook to decide the fate of Donald Trump’s currently suspended account; Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and wife Melinda Gates to divorce; the crush of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and the 6,000-plus illegals captured by ICE in April; and the severe weather hitting the Southeast were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Industry Memorial Tribute to the Late Barry Farber Set for May 5. The family of Barry Farber, in association with TALKERS magazine, is presenting an industry memorial tribute to the legendary radio talk show host on May 5 via Zoom. The virtual event will mark the first anniversary of his passing and the 91st anniversary of his birth. Farber, considered by industry observers to be one of the greatest talk radio hosts of all time, as well as one of the genre’s most influential pioneers, passed away on May 6, 2020 – one day after his 90th birthday. The event will consist of a series of personal remembrances delivered by a select panel of family, friends and radio industry colleagues. It will be recorded and available for on-demand viewing as part of a larger display of memories and Farber history being developed for a special commemorative website devoted to the broadcaster. Barry Farber’s on-air career was launched in 1960 and continued all the way to his death in 2020. It included his hosting major shows on such legendary New York outlets as WINS, WOR, and WMCA. He also was syndicated by ABC Radio Networks and Daynet. His final shows were carried by CRN Digital Talk Radio Network. According to The New York Times, at the time of his death he was the longest continually running radio host. Farber was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2014 and is a past recipient of the TALKERS Lifetime Achievement Award among many other honors. He was the author of three books and a student of 26 languages. The memorial event will take place on Zoom on Wednesday, May 5 between 7:30 pm and 9:00 pm and will be hosted by Michael Harrison. Although all Zoom positions are filled, the event will be available to view via live streaming on YouTube. To view the Memorial event in real time on Wednesday at 7:30 pm ET, please click here.

Friday, February 26, 2021

| February 26, 2021

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, “Feeding an Environment of Fear,” looks back at this past week of February 22-26, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Gary Sutton, talk show host, WSBA, York, PA; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Dr. Renee Kohanski, podcaster, Clinical Correlation, Medscape‘s MDEdge Psychcast / forensic psychiatrist; Rush Limbaugh, late talk radio icon; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. The 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; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, MD; 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; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast 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.

iHeartMedia 2020 Q4 Revenue Down 8.8%; Full Year Revenue Declines 20%. Reporting its financial data for the fourth quarter and for the full year of 2020, iHeartMedia fares a little better than its two major competitors (based on the number of radio stations owned) Cumulus Media and Entercom Communications. Fourth quarter revenue was $935.5 million, a decline of 8.8% from the same period in 2019. For the full year, revenue was $2.9 billion, down 20% from the full year 2019. Although the company reports net income of $2.9 million in Q4 2020, that’s down 95% from the $62.1 million net income reported in Q4 of 2019. For the full year 2020, iHeartMedia reports a net loss of $1.9 billion. It reported net income of $11.2 billion in 2019. iHeartMedia says that strong sequential improvement is continuing since the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. It also reports that digital revenue increased 26% year-over-year, including a 91% increase in podcasting revenue. Company chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are pleased that the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn – and it’s particularly rewarding to see the impressive performance from our areas of strategic investment, like podcasting, SmartAudio, digital, and Ad Tech. In addition, with our new reportable segments, we will be able to provide additional insights into both our largest segment and our fastest-growing segment, and help highlight the key metrics and impressive performance of each.” iHeartMedia COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our swift response to the COVID pandemic and our diligent management of expenses throughout the year enabled us to successfully achieve approximately $250 million of savings in 2020. This cost management enhanced our operating leverage and helped us to achieve adjusted EBITDA of $265 million in the fourth quarter, which was an improvement of 64% over the third quarter. The continued sequential improvement of our revenue, adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow over the past three quarters has us well positioned for continued recovery into 2021, and our commitment to make the majority of the $200 million of COVID-19 related savings permanent will further enhance the company’s operating leverage as revenue recovers.”

iHeartMedia Unveils New Business Operating Structure. Saying that this new structure reflects the “increasing size and importance” of its digital businesses, iHeartMedia announces that its two divisions – the Digital Audio Group and the Multiplatform Group – will publicly report their financial data separately and will have dedicated management. The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the iHeartRadio digital service and its podcasting business while the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group includes its broadcast radio assets. The company says that as of the fourth quarter of 2020, the Digital Audio Group encompassed almost 20% of the company’s consolidated revenue and 23% of its earnings, and during that quarter grew revenue by 53% year-over-year and Adjusted EBITDA by 74% year-over-year. The company expects the Digital Audio Group will continue to grow as an increasing proportion of its business in the future. It adds that separate reporting of these two operating segments will provide “improved visibility into the underlying performances, results and margin profiles of these distinct audio-driven businesses.” Here’s how it breaks down: The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the podcasting business; the iHeartRadio digital service; the company’s digital sites, newsletters, digital services and programs; and its digital advertising technology companies, including Jelli, RadioJarUnified and Voxnest, and will also include the recently-announced Triton Digital upon completion of the acquisition. Leading the division will be Conal Byrne as CEO and Darren Davis as COO, with Carter Brokaw serving as the president of digital revenue and Jessica Jerrick as EVP of digital distribution and platform partnerships. Meanwhile, iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group – representing almost 75% of the company’s revenue – includes the 860-plus radio stations in 160 markets; the company’s live and virtual events business; and its national sales organization (which will use iHeartMedia’s full array of products, from broadcast radio and events to its SmartAudio suite of data targeting and attribution products, which allows informed digital-like planning against targeted audiences with the benefit of broadcast scale and impact, as well as using all of the products from the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group). Premiere Networks, which includes the Total Traffic and Weather Network; and BIN: Black Information Network, will also join this group. Leading the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group will be Greg Ashlock as CEO and Tim Castelli as chief revenue officer.  Julie Talbott joins this group as president of Premiere Networks; Hartley Adkins becomes president of the Markets Group; Jeff Howard remains president of national sales and Tony Coles as president of BIN: Black Information Network. Bob Pittman says, “These new reportable segments will enable us to strengthen the mission and tighten the focus of both the iHeart Digital Audio Group and the iHeart Multiplatform Group, while accelerating our ability to deliver industry-leading products and services to our listeners and advertising partners across all of our platforms. Creating these two business reportable segments will allow us to provide the investment community with increased visibility into the financial results of each segment – enabling them to better appreciate the strong growth and success of our digital businesses, including our industry-leading podcast business, as well as the continued strength of our broadcast radio and marquee events businesses.”

Entercom Announces New Programming Leadership Structure. This enhancement of Entercom’s programming leadership structure for its central programming team leaves Pat Paxton in his current position as chief programming officer. He says, “This enhanced leadership team will supplement our premium content offering throughout our portfolio and ensure we have the premier collection of personalities engaging deeply with our audiences nationwide. It will also allow us to best integrate the innovation of new products and content so we are continuously growing the impact and reach of our offering and super serving our 170 million listeners each month.” In this new structure EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano continues to manage Entercom’s sports, all-news, and news/talk brands. He is also being charged with growing Entercom’s content insights and analytics capabilities and overseeing its network and syndicated content development. Dave Richards joins the central programming leadership team as senior vice president of programming, rising from his SVP of programming of KISW, Seattle for the last 19 years and having developed programs like “The Men’s Room” and concepts like KISW’s annual “Live Day.” In his new role, Richards will be responsible for original content ideation, talent development, and coaching. He’ll spearhead Entercom’s efforts to support its expanding business portfolio, which includes RADIO.COM, Cadence13, and Pineapple Street Studios, through the generation of cross-platform content. Michael Martin continues to serve as SVP of programming and music initiatives and oversees Entercom’s relationships with artists, management, and record labels and lead its efforts to collaborate with the artist community on event, digital, and social opportunities. The company also announces the following members of its executive committee, who will collaborate to develop and oversee programming strategy across the company: Pat Paxton; Jeff Sottolano; Michael Martin; Dave Richards; Pam Russo, SVP and general manager, RADIO.COM; Bill Smee, VP of news; Matt Volk, VP of sports; Nikki Nite, VP of programming and brand manager, Entercom Austin; and Reggie Rouse, urban format captain, Entercom, and brand manager, Entercom Atlanta.

Round Three of January 2021 PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. The January 2021 survey covered January 7 – February 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland jumps from the #6 rank to #3 on the strength of 1.4 share increase that helped it finish the January survey with a 6.2 share. Urban One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte tacks on 1.6 shares for a 6.6 share finish and a jump from #5 to #3. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK, Sacramento regains the #1 rank after adding 2.4 share to wrap the survey with a 10.2 share. In Salt Lake City, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-FM also claims the #1 rank after adding 1.9 shares to post a 7.9 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report for this round or markets (as well as his Takeaways from the first two rounds) here.

TALKERS News Notes. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM, Chicago is honoring the memory of former morning drive host Bob Collins, who would have been 79 on Sunday (2/28). Collins died in a small plane collision in 2000. On today’s Bob Sirott morning show, staffers WGN toasted Collins this morning (2/26) at 7:48 and, according to tradition, poured from the bottle of Jack Daniel’s found in Collins’s office. Also on the air with Sirott today were retired WGN morning host Spike O’Dell (who succeeded Collins) and retired agribusiness reporter Orion Samuelson.…..The nationally syndicated “Dan Bongino Show” hits the 100 affiliate station mark a year after its launch. Cumulus Media’s Westwood One says that – in addition to being heard on stations like KABC-AM, Los Angeles; KSFO-AM, San Francisco; and KSEV-AM, Houston – from the November election through February 22, the Dan Bongino Show podcast “boasted more than 51 million downloads on Apple, Spotify and other major platforms, rising 27% during that period.” Bongino says, “Growing up a fan of conservative talk radio makes this moment extra special for me. To be able to reach people across the country with a strong pro-liberty, pro-freedom message is the honor of a lifetime. Special thanks as well to the affiliates partnering with us in this venture.”…..A new sports radio imaging service called Game Plan is being offered to stations from SPLAT! and is syndicated by Sun Broadcast Group. SPLAT! says GAME PLAN is “a new kind of sports radio imaging service, designed specifically to sharpen the competitive edge of local stations, while simultaneously complementing the power of network sports brands. With GAME PLAN, a local station’s imaging sounds just as bold and powerful as their network imaging, maybe even better.”…..Entercom and Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates announce a multiyear radio broadcast contract extension for sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” to continue to serve as the Pirates’ flagship radio station. Under the terms of the new deal, all Pirates weekday afternoon games will air on “93.7 The Fan” and sister news/talk KDKA-AM/W261AX.

COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines and Variants Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 22-26, 2021. The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines and the concern about variants creating another wave of cases combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the U.S. economy tied with the education crisis. Following at #3 was the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s nominees for attorney general, interior secretary, and White House budget office, tied with Donald Trump’s planned speech at CPAC on Sunday. 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.