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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

| June 30, 2021

TALKERS 2021 Conference Video Posted – “Welcome to the ‘20s” and “A Fireside Chat with Bill O’Reilly.” The third video, under the direction of Art Vuolo, from the TALKERS 2021 Conference that took place at Hofstra University on June 11 is posted. This installment contains two consecutive sessions conducted by TALKERS founder Michael Harrison. The first segment features a greeting from Harrison in which he reflects upon his 54-year career in radio and his view of the state of the industry. The second segment features a one-on-one conversation (“fireside chat”) he conducted with Key Networks commentator and talk media icon, Bill O’Reilly. Both segments are chock full of interesting and productive takeaways. TALKERS will be posting a new video from TALKERS 2021 each business day until all 10 are archived and available for on-demand viewing.

Townsquare Media Consolidates Digital and Programming Teams; Jared Willig Named Chief Content Officer. Leading the newly consolidated radio and digital platforms is Jared Willig, who has been serving Townsquare Media as digital leader. In his new role as chief content officer, Willig will oversee all content for the company across all its radio and digital platforms and consumer touchpoints, including all platforms for 322 local radio stations, over 350 local websites and mobile apps, and national music and entertainment brands XXL Magazine, Taste Of Country, Loudwire, Ultimate Classic Rock, ScreenCrush, and PopCrush. He will also continue to oversee AMPED, the monetization of the digital platforms of the company’s owned and operated local and national brands. Willig will oversee the newly created Townsquare content team, consisting of team members with varied expertise across platforms, formats and disciplines, in order to drive the company’s 360-degree strategy in radio, digital, on demand, mobile apps, social, and video. Additionally, longtime Townsquare radio programming head Kurt Johnson expands his role across all media to become SVP, content and programming, while continuing to lead the company’s music industry relations. Jackie Corley, who had been overseeing Townsquare’s digital content team, also widens her purview to become the VP of local content and programming. Willig says, “For over 10 years now, I’ve had the great privilege of running Townsquare’s digital content strategy and operations, and while our company is Digital First, radio has always been at our core. So, by merging all platforms into one content team, we are simply making official what we’ve already been doing for over a decade. There is no better programmer in the industry than Kurt Johnson, and no better local digital content expert than Jackie Corley, so with their expanded roles, I couldn’t be more excited and confident for our continued success in audience and brand growth across all forms of media.”

Lee Habeeb’s ‘Our American Stories’ Joins Premiere Networks. The nationally syndicated “Our American Stories” franchise is joining the Premiere Networks radio lineup, effective August 2. The program, created and hosted by radio pro Lee Habeeb, will continue to be available to stations Monday through Friday for two hours to air between 7:00 pm and 12:00 midnight. Additionally, the show will feature separate two-hour Saturday and Sunday options for weekend clearance. “Our American Stories” will also be available as a podcast on the iHeartRadio Podcast Network. The program is currently heard on some 200 affiliate stations across the country. Habeeb says, “We have spent the last five years telling stories about all that is good and decent in America, and why millions of people from around the world still wish to call our country home. The show has grown because Americans want more than conflict and bad news: they crave positive, redemptive stories from our past and present – many from our listeners – that lift their spirits and inspire them, and that’s what we do each and every day on our show.” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott adds, “We’re excited to offer this entertaining and compelling program to even more stations nationwide. Lee and his team are masterful storytellers and they’ve created a unique and inspiring program that resonates widely with audiences.”

WEEI, Boston’s Glenn Ordway Retires from Afternoon Show. Boston sports radio personality Glenn Ordway – one of the architects of the station when it flipped to sports in 1991 – announces he’s retiring from the afternoon drive show after 34 years. Ordway will leave the show he currently hosts with Christian Fauria and Lou Merloni but will remain with the Audacy station as host of “The Real Post Game Show” following every Patriots’ game in the fall, in addition to making other station appearances and developing a podcast. He says, “To be able to do something I’ve loved doing daily for nearly five decades has been a blessing, but to do it in the best sports city during the best championship run in the history of sports…what more can you ask for. I’ve had the opportunity over the years to do it with some of the best talent in the business on a legendary radio station. Though I’m walking away from the daily hosting role, I’m excited about new opportunities and my continued presence at WEEI and maybe a little free time every once in a while.” Audacy regional president Mark Hannon says, “Glenn has been an ever-present force at WEEI, both on air and off air, for over three decades. He was the station’s first program director and oversaw some of the most dominant years in Boston radio. He has been an enduring on-air presence and has been side-by-side talking to Boston sports fans through the best and worst times. Glenn will go down as one of the most influential players in sports radio format history, and thankfully his presence will continue on the station into the future.”

Bill O’Reilly Announces New Book, Killing the Killers. The next book in Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing” series is slated for release in November and it titled, KILLING THE KILLERS: The
Secret War Against Terrorists
(St. Martin’s Press, 2021). Co-authored with Martin Dugard, this 11th book in the series “reports on America’s intense global war and manhunt against the terrorist extremists that not only carried out the attacks on 9/11 but also executed hundreds of others both on American soil and globally. The authors trace America’s efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and ISIS worldwide. In addition, O’Reilly and Dugard have gained access to top secret national security documents as well as interviewed the highest national security officials in the United States.” St. Martin’s says the current book in the “Killing” series, Killing the Mob, topped the New York Times hardcover nonfiction best-seller list for six weeks and sales of the series are approaching 19 million copies worldwide. O’Reilly’s radio program – “The O’Reilly Update” – is syndicated nationally via Key Networks.

Kim Komando’s Cryptocurrency 101 eBook Tops Amazon Best-Sellers List. The
new ebook Cryptocurrency 101 by digital technology radio host and entrepreneur Kim Komando hit the #1 position on Amazon’s Money & Monetary Policy best-seller list. According to Amazon, the book “breaks down the basics of the cryptocurrency boom. If you want to invest in cryptocurrency, it can be very complicated to know where to even begin. Kim goes through your options when it comes to buying and storing digital currency and gives you pro tips to keep you safe from hackers and scammers. In this quick, thorough guide, you’ll learn what you need to know to get started, the safe way.”

Salem’s David Santrella Elected NAB Joint Board Chair. Broadcasting executive David Santrella – president of broadcast media for Salem Media Group – has been elected chairman of the NAB Joint Board of Directors. He assumes the role previously held by Hearst Television, Inc. president Jordan Wertlieb. At the same time, Bill Wilson, chief executive officer of Townsquare Media Group, has been elected Radio Board chair by the NAB Radio Board. John Zimmer, president and owner of Zimmer Radio of Mid-Missouri, Inc., was elected Radio Board first vice chair, while Kevin Perry, vice president and chief operating officer of Perry Publishing and Broadcasting Company, was elected Radio Board second vice chair. Collin Jones, senior vice president of corporate development & strategy for Cumulus Media, was elected to the Radio Board’s major group representative seat on the NAB Board’s Executive Committee.

Newsmax Adds Eric Bolling to Talent Roster. Television host and best-selling author Eric Bolling joins the talent roster at Newsmax. Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy says, “Eric Bolling is a consummate media professional who isn’t afraid to ask tough questions, get provocative answers and challenge establishment thinking. His background in business and politics separates him from the competition.” Bolling has begun his work with Newsmax as a guest host for shows and is slated to host a new program in July with details to be announced soon. Most recently, Bolling hosted “America This Week With Eric Bolling” airing on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s 200 television stations. He’s also served with FOX News Channel, having filled in for Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Bolling says, “Like myself, Newsmax is concerned with the direction that Big Tech and Big Corporate Media have taken journalism and our nation. I’m excited to join an organization that delivers programming you can trust.”

COVID-19, Condo Collapse, Northwest Heatwave, NYC Mayoral Voting Snafu, Big City Gun Violence Spike, House January 6 Investigation, and Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/29). The spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the rate of vaccinations in the U.S., and mask controversy; the search for victims of the Florida condo collapse and the building’s safety history; the deadly heatwave affecting the Pacific Northwest; the New York City mayoral race is hit by a voting counting problem; the spiking gun violence in America’s large cities; the U.S. House moves to investigate the January 6 Capitol attack; and the bipartisan infrastructure deal were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: New Talent, New Rules

| June 1, 2021

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

 

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The race to replace Rush in syndication is shaping up and new names are filling the time period.

How’s your sales strategy working?

Every market situation will have it’s own nuance, but there will be universal strategies that need to be in place as you roll out. This round will be different as many stations try and replace a proven ratings winner with new talent, never before tested in the time period in your market. An audience that has been built up over years may start dial surfing with a newfound curiosity. What happens if audience levels wobble through the short term as your competitor pushes the emergency stop button?

Read More

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

| May 12, 2021

Audacy Names Spike Eskin VP of Programming for WFAN, New York and CBS Sports Radio. Sports and radio programming pro Spike Eskin is being promoted to vice president of programming for Audacy’s WFAN-AM/FM, New York and CBS Sports Radio, effective July 1. Eskin, who has been brand manager for the company’s sports talk WIP-FM, Philadelphia, will take over for longtime WFAN programmer Mark Chernoff, who is stepping down from his roles with Audacy on June 30. Audacy New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Spike has the vision, creativity, and drive to craft the next chapter of the iconic and influential WFAN brand. Along with CBS Sports Radio, his experience will be ideal to fuel our sports production powerhouse of 48 hours a day of original audio, 12 hours of quality television, all alongside a vibrant digital and social experience for both New York and the nation. As a longtime colleague of Spike, I am excited that he has joined our all-star team and have no doubt that he will succeed.” Speaking about his new role, Eskin says, “I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity to help lead WFAN into its next chapter. It’s an iconic station with incredible talent, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m grateful to Chris Oliviero and Audacy for the opportunity. Working at 94WIP over the last decade has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’m grateful to David Yadgaroff for his belief in me and the staff who stepped up to every challenge.”

Urban One 2021 First Quarter Net Revenue Declines 3.6%. The 2021 first quarter financial results for Urban One, Inc. indicate net revenue was approximately $91.4 million, a decrease of 3.6% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $36.4 million, a decrease of 3.3% from the same period in 2020. The company reports operating income of approximately $23.8 million for Q1 of 2021 compared to an operating loss of approximately $27.3 million for the same period in 2020. Net income was $7,000 compared to a net loss of approximately $23.2 million during the first quarter of 2020. Adjusted EBITDA was approximately $28.8 million in Q1 compared to approximately $32.3 million for the same period in 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins III, states, “Normalizing for approximately $1.4 million of Richmond gaming chase costs, which were one-time in nature, our Adjusted EBITDA was down approximately 6.3% year-over-year, which was encouraging in the context of pre-COVID radio comparatives for January and February and a lack of political revenues. It is worth noting that compared to Q1 2019, which was a pre-pandemic and off-cycle political quarter, our Adjusted EBITDA was up by approximately 4.1% (and by 9.1% after normalizing for the Richmond gaming project). Our core radio advertising was down approximately 13.7% for the quarter, with January -28.4%, February -19.9% and March +8.8%. Currently for second quarter, core radio is pacing up over 70%, with April finishing at +89%. Our digital business had another strong quarter, with revenues up 64.6% and Adjusted EBITDA up by approximately $3.2 million. Cable TV revenues were down 2.6%, but Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $24.8 million was 14.5% higher than Q1 2019 (approximately $21.7 million), which is a more realistic comparison than the COVID-impacted Q1 2020, during which content production and marketing were effectively shut-off. Under the circumstances, we delivered a solid first quarter, and I anticipate further sequential improvements in Q2.”

Longtime WFAN, New York Programmer Mark Chernoff Named to New York State Broadcasters Association 2021 Hall of Fame Class. One of the four broadcasters joining the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame this year is longtime WFAN, New York program director Mark Chernoff, who’s been behind the programming helm of the legendary sports talk station for almost 30 years. The NYSBA says, “While known for his sports programming, Mark started his career at music stations including the legendary WNEW-FM from 1985-1989. He was the program director at ‘K-Rock 92.3 FM’ from 1989-1993 which included working with the legendary Howard Stern. Mark again worked as K Rock’s programming director from 2004-2006, where he helped develop the unique ‘Free FM’ format as a response to subscription-based satellite radio services and had the opportunity to work with  Opie and Anthony. He even worked as a rock music DJ for more than a decade. Mark joined ‘The Fan’ in 1993. At WFAN Chernoff oversaw iconic shows such as ‘Imus in the Morning’ and ‘Mike and the Mad Dog.’ Chernoff’s skills were put to the test as he rebuilt WFAN’s programming following Imus’s comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. He managed the legendary Mike Francesa and Chris Russo. Chernoff brought Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton to the station for a morning show that saw ‘Boomer & Carton’ reach No. 1 in the market during their decade-long run. In a recent Newsday interview, Audacy SVP and New York market manager Chris Oliviero stated, “When people think of WFAN, names like Imus, ‘Mike & The Mad Dog’ or Boomer [Esiason] often come to mind, but no name has been more responsible for the consistent excellence of THE FAN than ‘Chernoff.’”

Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights Release Podcast Download – Spring 2021. The sixth Podcast Download report from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights is “a comprehensive evaluation incorporating several studies that examine podcast audience and advertiser trends over the past five years.” This sixth installment was released to coincide with the IAB Podcast Upfront as part of Cumulus Media’s commitment to share insights and research findings with the podcast community. Cumulus Media EVP, marketing and president, Westwood One Suzanne Grimes says, “Our new Podcast Download Report underscores the power of the podcast. Listeners look to podcasts for stories, for entertainment, for learning, and for escape, especially in a year of such upheaval. Audiences soared as listeners experimented with a broader array of content genres and used more distribution platforms than ever to listen to their podcasts.” Some of the findings include the conclusion that the pandemic was a podcast listening accelerant. The study reports that among weekly podcast listeners, the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for increased podcast listening. In March 2021, 53% of weekly listeners reported spending more time with podcasts since the pandemic, up +29% from July 2020 (41%). See more about the study here.

WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids Programmer Randy Lee to Retire. According to a report by KGAN-TV, Cedar Rapids, longtime news/talk WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids program director and on-air personality Randy Lee will retire at the end of this month after a 46-year career in broadcasting. Lee has been the program director at iHeartMedia’s WMT-AM for the past 32 years.

SummitMedia Promotes Tom Scott to Vice President of Engineering. Radio engineer Tom Scott is promoted to vice president/engineering for SummitMedia, LLC. In this role, Scott will manage engineering for all SummitMedia Markets throughout the U.S. SummitMedia CEO Carl Parmer says, “We are delighted for Tom to direct all engineering efforts for SummitMedia. It is certainly a well-deserved promotion. His depth of knowledge and strategic vision will be invaluable to us as we continue to innovate and evolve the technical side of our business.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new weekly podcast from CNN Audio titled, “The Handoff,” and starring CNN anchors Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon debuts later this month. CNN says, “Each night during the primetime hours of CNN’s television programming, viewers witness the deep love, honest candor, and respect that these two anchors – and friends – have for one another in their unscripted ‘handoff’ conversations between shows. Now, with no broadcast clock to hold them back, they are stepping out from behind their anchor desks to come together and ignite even more personal and hot topic conversations. Nothing is off limits.”…..Actor Rainn Wilson and author Reza Aslan are teaming up with Kast Media to serve up their podcast, “Metaphysical Milkshake,” set to debut on June 15. Wilson, known for his Emmy-nominated role as Dwight Schrute on the NBC series “The Office,” and Aslan, author of three internationally best-selling books including bestseller, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, “bring their unique backgrounds, philosophies, and curiosities to create a podcast all about life’s big questions.”…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” – nationally syndicated by Talk Shows USA – adds radio stations KHOB-AM, Hobbs, New Mexico and WGAN-AM /FM, Portland, Maine to it roster of affiliates.

Voting Rights Bill Debate, Cheney vs GOP, COVID-19, Pipeline Hack, Israel-Gaza Fighting, Border Crisis, and Gates Divorce Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/11). The debate in the U.S. Senate over the For the People voting rights act; Liz Cheney addresses the U.S. House as the GOP prepares to strip her of her leadership role for challenging the “stolen election” narrative; COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the U.S., mask guidelines, and India’s soaring death toll; the gas shortage in the Eastern U.S. due to the DarkSide pipeline hack; the shelling between Israel and Hamas in Gaza; the migrant crush at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Joe Biden administration’s immigration policy; and the controversy over the Bill and Melinda Gates divorce and the Jeffrey Epstein connection were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, May 7, 2021

| May 7, 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, “The Knock on the Door,” looks back at this past week of May 3-7.   The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, talk show host, Compass Media NetworksSteve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder, scamicide.com; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkTodd Starnes, talk show host / owner, KWAM, Memphis; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company; and Brian Koonin, Broadway musician / member, Gunhill Road. 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; 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; 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.

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

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

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

‘1010XL’ in Jacksonville Celebrates Alumni Week. Jacksonville sports talk WJXL-AM/FM “1010XL” is taking a look in the rearview mirror next week as it celebrates Alumni Week beginning on Monday (5/10). The Seven Bridges Radio LLC-owned station is bringing back popular hosts of the past, is “re-pairing” hosts who formerly worked together and is taking a journey back through the memories of the station’s first 15 years. Frank Frangie, the station’s afternoon drive host, and Rick Ballou will reunite in afternoon drive for the entire week. The duo handled afternoon drive together for more than seven years beginning in 2009. They also will be joined periodically throughout the week by Jessica Blaylock, a mainstay on the show during much of the time Frangie and Ballou were together. Mike Dempsey, the host of “Jaguars Today,” will be reunited for the entire week with his former co-host, former Jags’ linebacker Tom McManus. Guest during the week include Jeff Lageman, David Garrard, Jason Godbee and Ryan O’halloran. “Helmets and Heels,” the station’s weekly show featuring all-female hosts, will air every night during the week from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Current hosts Lauren Brooks and Donna Murphy, who have been on the show since its inception, will be joined by show regular Taylor Doll as well as former cast members Jessica Blaylock, Blythe Brumleve, Amanda Borges and others. “The Drill,” the station’s morning show, will have interview segments with former co-hosts Jordan DeArmon, Mackenzie Thirkill, as well as Tony Boselli and some surprise guests. Hays Carlyon, currently an afternoon drive co-host, will sit in on “XL Prime Time” with Joe Cowart, Matt Hayes, and Leon Searcy. “XL Prime Time” guests include Chad Scott, Terry Norvelle, Scott Manze and more. While Frangie and Ballou will have segments with Joe Block, Pat Dooley, Amanda Borges, former program director Jason Dixon, and others.

RTDNA Presents Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. The RTDNA announces the regional winners of the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Awards and bestows more than 750 awards in recognizing more than 350 local radio and television stations. RTDNA chair Andrea Stahlman says, “The regional RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award recipients we announce today produced extraordinary journalism that brought clarity and context to 2020’s biggest news stories. The winning work demonstrates dedication, determination, and a commitment to the highest ethical standards enshrined in RTDNA’s Code of Ethics.” In a new category for 2021, more than 40 news outlets earned regional Murrow Awards for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, including examples of bilingual reporting, contextual coverage of inequality and discrimination, and newsroom-convened community discussions. RTDNA executive director and COO Dan Shelley comments, “Local journalists across the country guided Americans through a pandemic, ongoing racial reckoning and a fraught election cycle, despite facing unprecedented operational challenges and an astonishing number of physical attacks during 2020. The persistence of the regional Murrow Award winners we recognize today is a testament to these journalists’ commitment to their First Amendment duty.” See the complete list of winners here.

Edison Research Releases ‘Moms and Media 2021’ Study Results. The results of Edison Research’s “Moms and Media 2021” study have been released and the company says some of the highlights include that 46% of U.S. moms own a smart speaker, up from 33% last year. Sixty-three percent of U.S. moms now use voice-operated personal assistants of any kind, including smart speakers, smart phones, tablets, computers, and other devices. Of those moms who own a smart speaker, they own an average of 2.7 of the devices. Edison Research vice president Melissa DeCesare says, “The past year during COVID has been about adjustment, especially for moms. The pandemic uprooted everything we knew and were familiar with and it forced a new at-home lifestyle for the entire family. Moms are tasked with keeping it all on track and they do it with help from modern technology. Our 2021 report shows that moms have not only maintained their commitment to devices and mobile tendencies, but they’ve actually adjusted their habits to better suit their needs during the pandemic.” Other noteworthy data include: More moms are consuming online audio with 82% of U.S. moms being monthly online audio listeners compared with 76% in 2020, and 76% of U.S. moms being weekly online audio listeners compared with 70% in 2020; and more moms are listening to podcasts with 64% of U.S. moms having ever listened to a podcast (up from 57% in 2020) – 40% having listened in the last month and 28% having listened in the last week. See more about the study here.

TALKERS News Notes. After nearly three years of hosting and producing “Bagels and Broadway with Valerie Smaldone” on WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer,” Smaldone says she’s ending the radio edition of the food and theatre-themed program but will continue the show as a podcast this fall when Broadway reopens. Smaldone recently began a new position as executive vice president and producer at multiplatform content company Audio Drama Initiative…..PodcastOne announces a multi-year first look deal with Picture Perfect Federation, the joint venture between Picture Perfect Entertainment and Federation Entertainment led by Patrick Wachsberger, for the development of scripted serial podcast content. Under the development deal, Wachsberger and his team will introduce scripted content across multiple genres with an eye to package the resulting audio IP for television, film, and streaming platforms. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Patrick and his team are true professionals with unparalleled success in the movie, television and scripted world. The partnership with PodcastOne will complement their expertise with over 10 years of experience in the audio space developing weekly interview styles and successful scripted programming. Together, we are going to supercharge our story telling and fan development capabilities to create a slate of programs that will be exciting for audiences, advertisers and production houses looking to be involved with our amazing IP.”…..Advertising mogul and veteran TV personality, Donny Deutsch is teaming up with Kast Media to launch his first-ever podcast titled, “On Brand with Donny Deutsch,” on May 13. Deutsch has hosted television shows such as CNBC’s long running series, “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch” and MSNBC’s “Saturday Night Politics.”…..Alpha Media Canton announces that news/talk WHBC-AM is the new home of “Tangled Up In Blues with Cornel Bogdan.” Bogdan’s show first aired in September 2000 in Youngstown. He says, “When I started ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ over 20 years ago, I had no idea it would be so greatly accepted. It’s very humbling. My listeners are passionate about this music like no other. WHBC is a cornerstone in Canton. I wanted to be part of that heritage. ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ on WHBC is really good mojo!”…..“The Motley Fool” radio show host Chris Hill is the narrator of the audio book edition of Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money (2021 Harriman House) that is enjoying having just hit the milestone of 100,000 audiobook sales.

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

Monday, April 26, 2021

| April 26, 2021

Monday Memo: Help Wanted, Local Host. “Radio’s best years were between network programming that ended at the end of the 1950s and syndicated longform that now dominates talk programming and robotic music formats that displaced local DJs.” And, in this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke suggests how that same business model can restore the local programming “which will always be broadcasters’ silver bullet against digital competitors.” Read it here.

Pending Business: Pack Your Bags. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says the demand for summer travel is very high and this category of advertiser is still adjusting to new protocols. “Consider the total packaging concept you can deliver. Many marketers in the travel industry look for strong inquiry and booking accountability. Be prepared with multiple options always considering easy access for your audience to respond. As categories regroup from pandemic business paralysis new opportunities will emerge. Adjust your thinking, planning and preparation now.” Read his column here.

KVI, Seattle Names Ari Hoffman Afternoon Drive Host. After joining Sinclair Broadcast Group’s news/talk KVI, Seattle earlier this year to fill in after Kirby Wilbur’s retirement, Ari Hoffman is officially named the permanent afternoon drive host, effective today (4/26). The station says Hoffman is a local businessman and civic activist who ran for Seattle city council in 2020 who has also appeared on FOX News, Newsmax, “The Dr. Drew Show,” “60 Minutes,” and the KOMO News documentary “Seattle is Dying.” He also reports regularly on Northwest issues in The Post Millennial. He says, “I am thrilled to be joining the amazing team at KVI. If I had known how much fun this gig would be, I would have started 20 years ago. I look forward to bringing common sense ideas and a fresh take on news, politics, and the culture wars to our listeners.” KVI program director Rick Van Cise says, “Our new afternoon host was right under our nose. What’s important to you is important to Ari. He has an engaging and entertaining perspective on local and world issues that’s enlightening and fun to hear!”

Rhode Island News/Talk Pro Ron St. Pierre Launches New Podcast. A story at RINewstoday.com highlights the new podcast being launched by Rhode Island talk radio pro Ron St. Pierre (right). The new program, “Ron and Jen’s Great Escape” – co-starring Jen Brien (left) – launches on May 3. St. Pierre was most recently hosting the morning drive show on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ, Providence until the company declined to renew his contract back in December and, in an effort to save money, put the WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based Jim Polito show in WHJJ’s morning drive slot. During his career, St. Pierre has also served with crosstown WPRO-AM and WABC, New York, among other media outlets. Of his new podcast, St. Pierre says, “Our goal is to provide an escape from the negativity that can overtake conversation about the day’s hot topics…an escape from the banal repetition all too often associated with talk radio. Our goal is a positive approach to news and lifestyle topics with an infusion of humor across the board.”

Westwood One’s Hoops Coverage Generates 19.2 Million Listeners. Citing an IPSOS national audience study conducted April 9-11, Cumulus Media’s Westwood One says its exclusive live coverage of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship generated 19.2 million listeners to the play-by-play action from all 66 men’s basketball games, including eight first-round and second-round games, plus regional semifinals and finals. WWO president Suzanne Grimes comments, “We are thrilled that audio audiences for our NCAA March Madness audio coverage returned so strongly. College basketball fans were excited to experience NCAA Men’s basketball and listened across our streaming, smart speaker, and broadcast platforms.” The IPSOS study also found that listening audiences were equally distributed across demographics with 31% of listeners aged 18-34, 41% 35-64 and 27% over the age of 65. Additionally, the coverage attracted a highly educated audience that was 6% more likely than average to be college graduates and 46% more likely to have an advanced degree. 56% of the audience was employed and nearly half (47%) had household incomes of $75,000 or more.

TALKERS News Notes. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden will deliver his first speech to a Joint Session of Congress marking his 100th day in office. Salem Radio Network News is covering the speech for affiliate stations. SRN coverage will be anchored by SRN News U.S. Senate correspondent Bob Agnew and he’ll be joined by TOWNHALL News Capitol Hill correspondent Bernie Bennett…..Coverage of this year’s NFL Draft begins this week and ESPN“SportsCenter” anchors Elle Duncan and Kevin Negandhi are kicking off the network’s coverage on their “Get Up” morning show on April 29 and 30. They will also lead ESPN Radio’s NFL Draft broadcasts alongside NFL Front Office Insider Mike Tannenbaum, ESPN Radio’s Bart Scott and reporter Ian Fitzsimmons. ESPN Radio’s coverage will continue Saturday, May 1, with host Jason Fitz, NFL Draft analyst and Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy, Tannenbaum and Fitzsimmons…..C13Originals, a division of Audacy’s Cadence13, has signed on critically acclaimed bestselling author Shawn Levy for “Glitter and Might,” a documentary podcast franchise about power and influence originating from Hollywood. Season One will explore the relationship between legendary Hollywood mogul Lew Wasserman, a young actor named Ronald Reagan, and notorious labor lawyer Sidney Korshak, and the story of how they came together, and rose to become, respectively, the most powerful executive in Hollywood, the most powerful man in the world, and the most powerful lawyer in the country, forever changing the entertainment industry and the country itself.….The Independent Broadcasters Association is supporting COVID Remembrance Day on May 25 as a day of honor and reflection for those who have been lost to the pandemic. A special IBA members-only webinar is set for 2:00 pm ET on Thursday, April 29 to provide how-to instructions and outline the tools and resources that will be available to participating radio stations. COVID Remembrance Day is being produced by Paige Nienaber and CPR Promotions, in conjunction with partners MannGroup Radio, Benztown and P1 Media Group. Nienaber, who will host the webinar, says, “On COVID Remembrance Day participating stations and their listeners can reflect on the events of the past year, honor and give tribute to the victims, heroes, and people in their communities who have stepped up and been a part of the response effort. We hope every radio station in America will join us.”

Free-Form Radio Pioneer Bob Fass Dies at 87. The New York Times has the obit for legendary free-form radio personality Bob Fass, who died on April 24 at his home in Monroe, North Carolina. Fass hosted the “Radio Unnameable” overnight program on WBAI, New York for more than 50 years. Fass’s program could include any program element – avant-garde music, political talk, calls from listeners, and drop-in guests. He would have guests such as Abbie Hoffman or a young, still-largely unknown Bob Dylan.  He once told an interviewer, “I’d put anyone on, because the idea was if you didn’t like what I was doing, three minutes later I’d be doing something else.”

COVID-19, Biden’s First 100 Days, Chauvin Verdict Aftermath, Border Crisis, and Oscars Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the severe outbreak in India; President Joe Biden’s administration approaches its 100-day mark; the aftermath of the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict and the larger issue of race relations in the U.S.; the crush of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; and Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.