By Holland Cooke
- FOX News feeds gotcha questions to budding correspondents it sends to White House briefings, where this president’s press secretary is more diplomatic than her predecessors.
- Once CNBC’s credible, iconic “Money Honey,” FOX News B-teamer Maria Bartiromo seems to have taken the baton from disgraced Lou Dobbs. Mark Levin’s pitch is approaching an octave only dogs can hear.
- Prominent among cable news and talk radio catch-phrase accusations are that Democrats want “utopia” and “open borders,” words I have never heard Democrats utter.
- Asian-Americans are being assaulted in broad daylight, after Donald Trump branded COVID-19 “The Chi-nah Virus” relentlessly, because he knows what our sales reps preach to advertisers: repetition works.
- Gun sales are so brisk that ammunition – already price-gouged — is being rationed in some places. The U.S. Capitol grounds seem no safer than supermarkets and other modern day killing fields.
- There aren’t enough mental health professionals to meet demand.
Kim Komando Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Talk radio’s leading expert voice on computers and digital technology, Kim Komando, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Komando is an outstanding broadcaster and modern-day thinker who produces, hosts, and distributes a weekend, long-form radio talk show and short-form features about computers and digital technology from her studios and headquarters at WestStar MultiMedia Entertainment in Phoenix, an independent syndication firm that she runs with her husband Barry Young, a legendary radio personality in his own right and an extremely adept businessman. Together, they built a multimillion-dollar empire based on her keen intelligence, outstanding personality, and extraordinary understanding of the new era. Her programs are heard on more than 400 stations across the country. She also hosts a separate business-oriented computer show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. According to Harrison, “Kim – a wife, mother, entrepreneur, broadcasting executive, and former TALKERS magazine Woman of the Year – has been a major radio talk show host and commentator, not to mention newspaper columnist for more than 25 years, disseminating information about computers and technology to the masses and playing a significant role in ushering in this amazing new era in the wiring of the human nervous system. It’s been five years since she’s been a guest on this podcast and the world has changed a whole lot since then… so we figured it’s about time to have her back and do some catching up.” In an extraordinarily candid, free-wheeling conversation, Harrison and “The Digital Goddess” take a deep-dive into a wide variety of aspects of modern radio’s complex relationship with digital technology offering sharp insight into this new era of politics, business, communications and culture. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com. Don’t miss this!
Urban One Reports 2020 Q4 Revenue Up 7.3%; Full Year 2020 Revenue Declines 15%. The fourth quarter of 2020 was a winner for Urban One as political, digital, and cable TV advertising helped push the company’s net revenue to $113.5 million, an increase of 7.3% over the same period in 2019. For the full year of 2020, Urban One reports net revenue of $376.3 million, a decline of 15% over the full year 2019. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $51.9 million, an increase of 51.3% from the same period in 2019. The company reported operating income of approximately $34.5 million for fourth quarter, compared to operating income of approximately $12.1 million for the same period in 2019. Net income was approximately $26.4 million compared to a net loss of approximately $7.9 million for the same period in 2019. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins III says, “The company had an extremely strong fourth quarter, driven by record levels of political advertising and strong demand for our digital and cable TV advertising inventory. In combination with ongoing cost controls, this resulted in a 51% increase in Adjusted EBITDA. All of our operating divisions were able to grow Q4 Adjusted EBITDA year-over-year, and I was particularly pleased with the performance of our digital business, which delivered approximately $6.4 million of Adjusted EBITDA for the full year, an increase of 587% from prior year.” Urban One breaks out its report by segments and, for the fourth quarter of 2020, radio advertising was down 19%, political advertising was up 2083%, digital advertising was up 57.3%, and cable TV advertising was up 5.4%.
Westwood One Creates New Early Afternoon Show Hosted by Dan Bongino. Conservative commentator and podcaster Dan Bongino is the host of a new, daily talk radio program being syndicated nationally by Westwood One live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET. The program launches on May 24 and will air on Cumulus Media news/talk stations that aired the Rush Limbaugh show, including in top 10 markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Bongino is a former Secret Service agent and NYPD officer that WWO says “is uniquely positioned to provide commentary and analysis that directly questions the philosophical underpinnings of both the Left and Big Government Republicans.” Bongino’s Westwood One podcast had more than 117 million downloads in 2020. He also serves as a commentator for FOX News Channel. He says, “I’m excited to embrace the immense power of radio to connect with my listeners live for three hours every day. This is an incredible privilege, and I pledge to honor the trailblazing work of those who came before me.”
Report: ‘Tensions’ Between iHeartMedia and GMEI Over Stock Deal. According to a report in Campaign, British firm Global Media & Entertainment Investments’ seeking permission from the Federal Communications Commission to acquire up to 49.99% of iHeartMedia’s stock as a foreign investor is a source of consternation for iHeartMedia which only wants to allow GMEI to acquire up to 9.99%. Gideon Spanier’s piece indicates that GMEI bought 8.7% of the company last month – without first seeking permission from the iHeartMedia board – and that seems to be the issue. GMEI says it’s surprised by iHM’s move to limit its acquisition to 9.99% since it ran its 49.99% plan by iHM lawyers last month. But iHeartMedia states in a filing with the FCC, “Because iHeart had no advance knowledge of GMEI’s intention to acquire stock in excess of 5% of iHeart’s voting and equity, iHeart had no ability to prevent the acquisition of its publicly traded stock above the amount permitted under the FCC’s rules without [seeking] a declaratory ruling [from the regulator]. GMEI’s independent investment decision” to buy its 8.7% stake “caused” an “inconsistency with the FCC’s foreign ownership rules.” iHeartMedia passed a resolution last year that any shareholder wishing to acquire more than 10% of its stock needs approval from the iHM board. But GMEI says petitioning the FCC for permission to own 49.99% is a separate matter and says its intentions are not hostile and that it wants to “co-operate and work together.”
TALKERS News Notes. The national radio network FOX Sports Radio – a division of Premiere Sports Network – adds its content to new affiliate KGA-AM, Spokane and in doing so hits the 600-station mark. Stephens Media Group Spokane operations manager Kent Jones says, “As the flagship station for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, we are thrilled to add the wall-to-wall sports coverage provided by FOX Sports Radio. This is an exciting time for Gonzaga and Spokane. FOX Sports Radio’s amazing lineup of talent with their coverage of the tournament and everything sports allows us to provide the best sports programming for Spokane, both now and throughout the year.”…..ESPN announces that the podcast “The Right Time with Bomani Jones” expands from two shows per week to three, publishing on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule. The new Friday addition will feature weekly conversations with The Undefeated’s Domonique Foxworth, whose previous visits ESPN says have been some of the most popular episodes from both download and social media engagement perspective. Jones says, “The last year has been great for ‘The Right Time,’ so I’m glad we can give more to our listeners. I also can’t wait to follow through on something those listeners have long wanted, a weekly spot with Domonique, one of the most intelligent and entertaining talents at this company.”…..PBS SoCal and KCET, Southern California’s flagship PBS organizations, announce a new partnership with Southern California Public Radio’s flagship radio station KPCC-FM, Pasadena to deliver free, local daily news programing across multiple platforms throughout Southern California via a new on-air and online program called “SoCal Update.” KPCC and LAist chief content officer Kristen Muller says, “This community-owned, local, public media news collaboration sets a new model for trusted local news and journalism in Southern California as NPR and PBS are two of the most fair and accurate sources of news that exist in the world today. We look forward to this exciting new partnership with PBS SoCal and KCET.”…..Boston public media producer GBH announces an expansion of its award-winning local arts coverage, adding digital writer James Bennett II to its news team. Bennett comes to GBH from New York Public Radio where he covered classical music for classical radio station WQXR and contributed to “New Sounds” and WNYC. GBH general manager Pam Johnston comments, “We recognize the importance of arts and culture to the local community, with leading arts organizations breaking new ground on a regular basis. James is an inventive and accomplished writer with deep knowledge in the arts. As part of the GBH News team he will further strengthen our robust cultural coverage.”
COVID-19, Atlanta Spa Slayings/Racism, Democrats’ Assault on the Filibuster, the U.S.-Mexico Border Crisis, Cuomo on the Ropes, Storms Hit U.S. Southeast, Texas Man Arrested at VP Harris’ Residence, U.S.-Russia Relations, and Candace Owens-Cardi B Spat Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/17). The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, the rollout of vaccines, and rising case numbers in Europe and South America; the shooting deaths of eight people at Atlanta-area massage parlors and speculation about anti-Asian sentiments; Democrats’ attempts to eliminate the filibuster from the U.S. Senate; the masses of child migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s facing allegations of sexual harassment and the investigation into the COVID-nursing home scandal; destructive storms cause damage in the U.S. Southeast; a Texas man is arrested on weapons charges outside of Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington; Russia recalls its U.S. ambassador after Joe Biden calls Vladimir Putin a killer; and the spat and potential legal tangle between conservative commentator Candace Owens and hip hop artist Cardi B were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Monday Memo: Radio Has a 100-Year Head Start. Who ISN’T doing a podcast? “Your advertisers,” who consultant Holland Cooke notes, “are, increasingly, diverting radio dollars to digital shiny objects much less productive than assets stations can craft.” In this week’s column, HC outlines a strategy. Read it here.
Pending Business: Attitude Is Everything. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa writes in today’s column that a seller’s attitude is even more important now. “Negotiating any deal to a win-win can be delicate surgery. The economic variables, personalities, and now the lack of body language feedback can make the process frustrating. As we move to a hybrid sales-work environment of online, in-person, Zoom, and mobile, negotiating takes on a new dimension.” Read his piece here.
Rita Cosby Returns to WABC, New York for Late Night Show. Talk and news media pro Rita Cosby makes a return to the WABC, New York airwaves as host of the 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight show, effective tonight. She fills the slot that opened when Red Apple Media recently dropped the “John Batchelor Show” from the late-night slot. Red Apple CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Rita Cosby is the best in the business, with a tremendous following and incredible background. ‘The Rita Cosby Show’ will bring a new and exciting dynamic to our important evening programming, with Rita’s top-notch interviewing skills, impeccable record in journalism, and deep ability to connect with our listeners. We are proud to welcome such a respected host to 77 WABC Radio and anticipate big success for ‘The Rita Cosby Show.’” Cosby – an Emmy-winning TV host who’s anchored programs on FOX News Channel and MSNBC – previously served with WABC from 2014-18 as a host and political editor. She says, “I am honored to be joining 77 WABC’s terrific lineup and working with legendary New York icon John Catsimatidis and his team. During this pivotal and unpredictable moment in our nation and communities, 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight will be a nonstop voice of reason and truth you will not want to miss.”
WEEI Officially Names Andy Gresh Midday Co-Host. As TALKERS reported last week, longtime Boston sports media personality Dale Arnold’s replacement on the midday show at Entercom’s sports talk WEEI-FM is Andy Gresh, the company announces. Arnold left the station after Friday’s program, capping a 30-year career on WEEI. Gresh partners with Rich Keefe for the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm “Gresh & Keefe” show, starting today (3/15). Entercom Boston regional president Mark Hannon says, “Andy Gresh has a vast amount of experience covering the Boston sports scene, making him a perfect addition to our midday programming. We’re excited to team him up with WEEI’s Rich Keefe to bring listeners a dynamic midday show that will reflect what sports fans are talking about day in and day out.” Gresh, who exited Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence earlier this year, says, “I’m excited to be back on the radio in Boston. I think people know I’m pretty familiar with this time slot, but it’s time to present something new and fresh, with energy, focus and fun. Rich Keefe and I have always had a cool relationship that I truly believe will translate through the speakers.” During his career, Gresh has hosted at “790 The Score” in Providence; WFAN, New York; ESPN Radio; SiriusXM; WTIC-AM, Hartford; and WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub.”
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TALKERS News Notes. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Stephanie Miller’s first Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour show in Madison, Wisconsin, the entire cast is getting together on April 10 at 8:00 pm ET for an online Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour show featuring a look back at the last 10 years (plus all-new comedy just for the occasion). Joining Miller on the live event will be John Fugelsang, Frangela, and Hal Sparks…..Skyview Networks – the exclusive radio network sales and affiliate sales partner of VSiN, the sports betting network, announces six new stations in Phoenix, Palm Springs, Jacksonville, and Toledo sign on for VSiN’s content…..Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants and Cumulus Media’s sports talk KNBR, San Francisco agree to a multi-year extension to keep Giants games on KNBR through 2025. Cumulus San Francisco VP and market manager Doug Harvill says, “We’re elated that Giants baseball and KNBR will continue to be the Bay Area’s favorite summer soundtrack for years to come. Between KNBR’s powerful AM/FM signals and our streaming platforms, we look forward to providing fans with multiple options to enjoy every Giants game.”
Migrant Crisis at the Border, Cuomo on the Ropes, Stimulus Package, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Breonna Taylor Marches, Voting Bills, Georgia’s Trump Investigation, Everard Vigil Arrests, Deadly Myanmar Violence, and the Grammy Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The Biden administration’s immigrant problem as thousands of parentless children amass at the U.S.-Mexico border; the sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the fellow Democrats calling for his resignation; Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package becomes law; the number of COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, the removal of mask mandates in some states, and the rollout of vaccines; the protests in Louisville and other cities on the one-year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s slaying; the voting bills in various states critics say will making voting more difficult; the investigation into Donald Trump’s call to the Georgia Secretary of State asking for more votes; the violence at the UK vigil for Sarah Everard; the deadly violence in Myanmar; and Sunday night’s Grammy awards were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Dawn Ostroff says “a lot of people recognize that this is the next big medium.” The former 20th Century Fox/Lifetime/UPN/CW/Condé Nast exec and TV and film producer is Spotify’s chief content officer & advertising business officer, and she keynoted the latest installment of CNBC’s Evolve webcast series: “The Evolution of Content & Consumption.”