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Thursday, July 1, 2021

| July 1, 2021

TALKERS 2021 Conference Video Posted – “Programming News/Talk Radio in the ‘20s.” The fourth 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 explores the main challenges facing spoken-word commercial radio’s largest and most influential format as we move into the highly unpredictable third decade of 21st century. Introduced and sponsored by Doug Stephan of the “DJV Show” and moderated by Mike McVay, CEO of McVay Media Consulting, the panel includes Phil Boyce, senior VP/spoken word format, Salem Media Group/Salem Radio Network and VP/operations New York region; Michael Czarnecki, PD, WONK-FM, Washington, DC/iHeart Podcast ChannelDave LaBrozzi, SVP/programming, Red Apple MediaJosh Leng, CEO, Talk Media NetworkGreg Stocker, executive producer, Rich Zeoli Show and APD, WPHT, Philadelphia; and Joe Thomas, morning show host/PD, WCHV, Charlottesville, VA. TALKERS will be posting a new video from TALKERS 2021 each business day until all 10 are archived and available for on-demand viewing.

WFAN, New York Programmer Mark Chernoff Honored with Studio Naming. Yesterday (6/30) was Mark Chernoff’s last day on the job at Audacy’s WFAN, New York and the CBS Sports Radio Network. Chernoff retired from the company after an illustrious career in which he served as program director for legendary sports talk outlet WFAN for 28 years. In honor of his service, the company dedicated the sports newsroom as “The Mark Chernoff WFAN Newsroom.” Pictured above are (top l-r): Craig Carton, Chernoff, Al Dukes, and Eddie Scozzare and (bottom l-r): Boomer Esiason, Jerry Recco, and Chris Oliviero. The plaque reads: “Program Director 1993-2021. Influenced the sound of New York sports over four decades while nurturing the careers of many who traveled this space. Dedicated June 30th, 2021.” (Photo: Audacy)

WSB, Atlanta Meteorologist Kirk Mellish to Retire; Christina Edwards to Join the Station. A meteorologist dedicated just to a radio station is indeed a rare thing in today’s media landscape and Cox Media Group’s WSB Radio (WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta) has enjoyed the service of “first and only radio-only” meteorologist Kirk Mellish for 34 years. Mellish will retire at the end of July and transition into a consultant role through the end of the year. However, the station will not be without a meteorologist as Christina Edwards will assume the role. Mellish says, “When I joined WSB in Atlanta in July 1987 just three years after graduation, I never would have thought I’d stay this long. It has been a blessing to turn my childhood hobby into a career and to serve most of these decades as the first radio-only, full-time meteorologist in the country. This is the type of broadcasting innovation typical of WSB and CMG leadership in the industry. It has been an honor and privilege to work with so many great colleagues and big names in our business in management, on-air and behind the scenes. I look forward to the next chapter in my life and am excited to pass the baton, or should I say barometer, to Christina Edwards who will be a great fit for the tradition of weather coverage on 95.5 WSB.” About her new position, Edwards says, “I am thrilled to be joining the legendary 95.5 WSB Radio! I grew up in metro Atlanta, listening to Kirk Mellish’s weather reports during my family’s daily commute, and I continue to listen even today. I appreciate Kirk’s ability to break down complex weather forecasts in a way listeners can understand. And, of course, diving into the details online in his weather blog. I am thankful for Kirk’s service and weather forecasts. It is an honor to join 95.5 WSB Radio and continue in the footsteps of Kirk’s legacy.”

iHeartMedia and Audacy Honored by Philly Civic Organization. The Philadelphia operations of iHeartMedia have been named a 2021 honoree of The Civic 50 Greater Philadelphia by Philadelphia Foundation, in partnership with Points of Light and other local partners. Modeled after Points of Light’s national program, The Civic 50 Greater Philadelphia provides a standard for corporate citizenship and showcases how employers use their time, skills and resources to drive social impact in their communities and company. iHeartMedia Philadelphia director of news and community affairs Loraine Ballard Morrill says, “iHeartMedia Philadelphia’s six stations have a long history of community service, especially critical during this pandemic. We are deeply honored to receive this recognition. To quote President Barack Obama, ‘If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope.’” Audacy vice president of social impact Sarah Harris says, “We are honored to be recognized as one of the region’s most community-minded companies. And I am thrilled to share our national impact and commitment to supporting sound communities in our inaugural social impact report. Thank you to our employees, partners and neighbors for the incredible work you do to move people to action within our markets.” Pictured below at a ceremony for the honor are (from l-r): Michael Nutter, former Mayor of Philadelphia; Natalye Paquin, president & CEO, Points of Light Foundation; Sarah Harris, VP social impact, Audacy; David Yadgaroff, SVP / market manager, Audacy Philadelphia; Diane Melley, Points of Light board member & executive director, Philadelphia Foundation; Pedro Ramos, president & CEO, Philadelphia Foundation.

HOLIDAY DOUBLE HEADER: Mandy Connell and Vince Benedetto Are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. KOA, Denver 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm personality Mandy Connell and Bold Gold Media Group founder/CEO Vince Benedetto are this week’s guests on a special Independence Week edition of the PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison states, “We wanted to do a short-but-sweet salute to the nation’s 245th birthday and the selection of Mandy Connell and Vince Benedetto really fits the bill. Mandy is a refreshingly objective conservative commentator and rising star in news/talk radio armed with facts, wit and goodwill. She articulates the subjective nature of today’s media and the role that it plays in perpetuating the wave of polarization gripping our republic. Vince Benedetto is a former Air Force pilot and U.S. intelligence agent with a remarkable wealth of scholarly knowledge about the founding fathers and the formative years of America’s development from Thomas Jefferson all the way through the mega-challenges faced by Abraham Lincoln. Together, but separately, Mandy and Vince present an informative and thought-provoking tribute to our nation’s past, present and future. Happy Birthday, America!” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here

iHeartMedia Unveils ‘NextUp’ Podcasting Initiative. The iHeartPodcast Network is launching an initiative called “NextUp” that takes up-and-coming and underrepresented diverse creators and gives them a chance to learn all about the world of podcasting from iHeartMedia. This initiative is being led by iHeartPodcast Network executive producer Anna Hossnieh and executive podcast producer Joelle Smith. Hossnieh says, “I’m excited to help launch ‘NextUp’ with the iHeartPodcast Network, an initiative that takes underrepresented diverse creators and gives them a chance to learn all about the world of podcasting from one of the largest global podcasting networks. Led by myself and fellow executive podcast producer Joelle Smith, the program will mentor two people in each of iHeart’s three major podcasting hubs: Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta. We believe by helping to elevate the voices of underrepresented storytellers and providing an incredible opportunity to be heard, iHeart will become the epicenter of compelling podcast talent and an industry leader in helping to address the market inefficiencies among underrepresented audio creators. The program will take place over five months and include a monthly stipend. ‘NextUp’ aims to empower participants by giving them the tools to succeed in the podcast industry – from developing and marketing a podcast to using industry-leading software. Participants in ‘NextUp’ will learn from some of iHeartRadio’s top creators and leave the program with at least three finished episodes and a polished pitch for their podcast. Submissions to apply for the program open July 5 – July 9 and can be found here.

Trump Org CFO Surrenders, COVID-19, Tucker Carlson NSA Allegations, Condo Collapse, Big City Violent Crime, Cosby Released, House January 6 Investigation, CCP Anniversary, Heatwaves, and Donald Rumsfeld Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/30). Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg surrenders to authorities after being indicted by a grand jury; concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant and the slowing rate of vaccinations in the U.S.; FOX News host Tucker Carlson claims he’s being surveilled by the NSA on the Biden administration’s orders; the continuing rescue efforts at the collapsed condo in Florida; the soaring rate of violent crime in America’s large cities; Bill Cosby is released from prison after a PA court overturned his conviction; the U.S. House plan to investigate the January 6 Capitol attack; the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party and Xi Jinping’s warning to the West; the record-setting heatwaves in the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast; and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dies were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

| February 11, 2021

NYTimes Piece Pins Capitol Attack on Talk Radio. The piece in The New York Times titled, “How Right-Wing Radio Stoked Anger Before the Capitol Siege,” comes on the heels of a story published by the Washington Post several days prior that attempts to assess the state of talk radio and where its future lies in the 21st century American media landscape. The two stories are at the forefront of an effort by the mainstream media to determine why U.S. citizens aligned with Donald Trump were willing to break into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election. In the Times story, the writers quote statements by leading talk hosts, some of which show sympathy for the “stolen election” allegation, others that directly claim it to be true, and still others that use language that advocates protest but falls short of encouraging law breaking. TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison is quoted saying, “We always had shock jocks. But then we had a shock president.” Harrison, one of the most vocal proponents of the First Amendment in radio over the past half century, elaborates by stating, “Democracy and free speech as reflected and discussed on political news/talk radio constitute the major hardball league in the marketplace of ideas. Neither democracy nor free speech are tidy processes and can get real mean, loud, and even dirty – but both are vital to the very foundation of liberty as we understand it as being the American way. It takes courage to stake out a controversial opinion in the media and willingness to face the negative blowback of critics and political opponents from other platforms – even to the point of economic boycotts – keeping in mind that negative reaction comes with the territory of a healthy First Amendment in action under which they are all fair game. From this perspective, media practitioners such as Rush LimbaughSean Hannity and Mark Levin are among the most important commentators in America today and they should be cut some slack from being demonized for performing their jobs. That being said, we should never confuse the difference between being a pre-meditated liar for personal gain and simply being wrong in our interpretation of the evidence and news at hand in a swirling, ever-changing political environment. We should also not forget that there is a HUGE difference between being a non-elected media pundit and being the President of the United States. The fact that these talk show hosts are being compared to the President of the United States as being responsible for his statements and their real-world consequences either shows how incredibly important this profession has become or just how low Donald Trump – the first ‘shock president’ – has sunk the presidency and is pulling his loyal media followers with him down the rabbit hole. These hosts will have to decide for themselves if they want to stay on the Trump train or get off at the station being offered by the Senate trial. History WILL eventually be the judge of the wisdom of their decisions going forward.”

Root: I Was ‘Disappeared’ by Twitter. Las Vegas-based, nationally syndicated talk radio host Wayne Allyn Root writes an opinion piece for TALKERS magazine today in which he decries his Twitter account being shut down. Root is one of a number of conservative media personalities who’ve lost their Twitter accounts, many of which were suspended or shut down for supporting election fraud theories, and liberal media figure Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just lost his Instagram account for his anti-vaxxer posts. Of course, not everyone in conservative talk radio takes Root’s position that private social media platforms are obligated to carry materials or opinions with which they disagree or believe to be harmful. After all, if the Fairness Doctrine was repressive to talk radio, isn’t imposing a similar obligation on Twitter equally repressive to the First Amendment? The First Amendment protects private platform owners from being obligated to run content with which they disagree and only protects free speech from government censorship. You can read Root’s piece here.

NAB Comes Out Against Geo-Targeting Using FM Boosters. The National Association of Broadcasters is filing comments with the FCC on its inquiry into whether to amend its rules to allow FM booster stations to originate programming. As TALKERS reported earlier this week, GeoBroadcast Solutions received permission for its fourth test of its technology that enables FM radio broadcasters to use boosters to air geo-targeted content, independent of a broadcaster’s primary signal, within different portions of a station’s market – what the company calls ZoneCasting.  But the NAB says that after a careful and thorough review of the Notice, it is strongly opposing revising the booster rule that forbids them from airing unique content, a requirement for ZoneCasting. The NAB says, “A close review of the Notice suggests that rather than bolster the industry’s economic outlook, GBS’s proposal would instead undermine the industry’s fundamental business model. The vast majority of broadcasters – from a wide array of perspectives – agree that permitting program origination on boosters will almost certainly drive both advertising rates and revenues down even further as advertisers push to purchase geo-targeted ads. The outcome is unavoidable, given the obvious business incentives for advertisers to purchase spots that cherry-pick what they view to be their most desirable customers and at a lower cost. Further inspection also leads to the inevitable conclusion that broadcasters will not be able to recoup such losses through sales of any additional spot inventory that is created on boosters. Based on their considerable advertising expertise, most station owners predict that existing advertising customers will likely substitute, rather than supplement, market-wide ads with cheaper, geo-targeted ads. They also agree that potential sales of geo-targeted ads to new customers are purely speculative. Broadcasters do not by and large see pent-up demand by small businesses in their local markets that have not previously purchased advertising time, and even if such demand exists, it would not be economical to undertake the substantial investment to capture the additional business.”  The NAB goes on to say, “Amending the booster rule could very well produce a race to the bottom of ad rates and revenues and NAB is concerned that ZoneCasting will only increase the leverage of larger broadcasters and consolidated groups at the expense of smaller stations. Minority- and women-owned stations could be hardest hit if they cannot afford the expense of selling geo- targeted ads or absorb lower advertising rates and new competition for ad dollars from the boosters of larger stations.” It also questions the effect the technology could have on listeners. “Broadcasters are extremely concerned that the interference caused by geo-targeting where the boundary of a primary station meets a booster airing different programming will spur listeners to change to an alternative platform and reflect poorly on the reputation of FM radio service. Even if an individual station is willing to risk that loss, listeners may not limit their disdain to one station or group; rather, they may become so disenchanted with the reliability of terrestrial radio that they seek out a plethora of other options.” You can see the NAB’s complete comments submitted to the FCC here.

MIW Group’s Gender Analysis Report Card Shows Improvement and Room for Growth. The annual MIW Gender Analysis Study for the year 2020 is released by the Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio Group. Each year it compiles and analyzes the number of women in radio broadcasting who are rising to the ranks of management – specifically tracking the progress of female professionals holding general manager, sales manager, and program director positions. MIW says the figures and percentages in the study’s conclusion are reflective of 11,158 AM and FM radio stations across America, as accounted for by PrecisionTrak as of December 31, 2020. Looking at the general manager position, the study finds that in 2020 19.9% of stations had women in that role, up from 19.5% in 2019. MIW says this number continues to show consistent growth from 2004, when the percentage of female GMs was only 14.9%. Moving to sales managers, MIW says the best management opportunities for women in radio continue to be in sales management. 33% of stations had a woman sales manager in 2020, that figure was basically flat from 33.1% in 2019. MIW says that although there continues to be progress, the greatest challenge for women in radio management continues to be in the area of program director. Women currently program 12.2% of stations versus 11.6% last year. This is the second year in a row this number has increased, as it has remained stalled for fourteen years. MIW Group national spokeswoman Ruth Presslaff comments, “In a year as challenging as 2020, any growth should be celebrated. However, our mission is advocating for the advancement of women to senior radio positions in radio. If not flat, the 2020 numbers reflect only slight increases. This fuels our passion for mentoring and inspiring women in the industry and drives our dedication to seeing these numbers rise in 2021 and beyond.”

Two New Affiliates for Erick Erickson Show. The syndicated, midday “Erick Erickson Show” adds two new affiliates to its roster of stations. RadioJones LLC’s WVOP, Vidalia, Georgia (yes, the home of the Vidalia onion!), that covers a significant portion of the southeast part of Georgia, adds the program in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm time slot. Also, QBS Broadcasting’s WBQO, Brunswick, Georgia, covering the Georgia coastal area, picks up the show, airing it live from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon.

Doug Stephan’s DJV Show Adds Jai Kershner as Air Personality and Social Media Director. The nationally syndicated “DJV Show” – starring Doug Stephan, Jen Horn, and Victoria Keelan – announces the addition of Jai Kershner to the program as an air personality social media director. Kershner was most recently with Saga Communications’ country WVVR-FM, Clarksville, Tennessee “The Beaver 100.3” where she was air personality. Prior to that she was co-host of the nationally syndicated “Dawson McCallister Show.” Stephan says, “Jai brings a contemporary feel to the show and keeps the audience abreast of what’s trending. She fits in nicely with Jennifer, Victoria, and me.” Kershner comments, “It’s a great responsibility and challenge, which coupled with the great reach of the ‘DJV Show,’ presents an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Former ICE Acting Director Joins FAIR as Senior Fellow and Spokesperson. The Federation for American Immigration Reform announces that former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan joins the organization as a senior fellow and an additional spokesperson. FAIR says that Morgan “brings a wealth of knowledge and dedication to the immigration policy debate and, in his new capacity at FAIR, he will continue to be an important voice in the ongoing debate about immigration enforcement and border security.” FAIR executive director Bob Dane adds, “Mark’s experience and unwavering commitment to enforce our nation’s laws has made him one of America’s most respected experts on immigration. His expertise and ‘tell it like it really is’ approach are needed now more than ever as the Biden administration is whittling away interior and perimeter controls at breakneck speed. As Mark has done so many times during his decorated career, he once again answers the call to serve his nation as senior fellow at FAIR. Quite simply, Mark is the right guy, at the right time, in the right place.” Speaking about his new role, Morgan states, “I’m honored to serve as a senior fellow with FAIR, which is dedicated to engaging in meaningful dialogue to influence, formulate and promote responsible immigration policies for the 21st century and beyond. I am delighted to be part of the effort to seek out solutions to mitigate the tremendous burden and negative impact of uncontrolled immigration on our country’s national security and economic prosperity.”

Rachel Rollar Joins Newsmax TV’s Morning Show. The newest addition to the on-air staff at Newsmax TV is broadcast journalist Rachel Rollar, who is now part of the “Wake Up America” morning program hosted by Rob Finnerty. Newsmax says Rollar will deliver national and international news and social media updates. The program will include her feature, “Rachel’s Rapid Reactions,” in which she’ll “show what people are talking about in real time on social media in hope of bridging the gap between the audience and the newscast.” Speaking about her new position she says, “I’m excited to be joining the Newsmax TV team and its growing number of media professionals. This is a great opportunity to speak to viewers who are passionate about news.”

Hats Off to Radio Pioneers Edwin Armstrong and William Lear. The confluence of National Inventors Day (2/11) and World Radio Day (2/13) is a great time to remember the accomplishments of two of radio’s technology pioneers: Edwin Howard Armstrong, inventor of FM radio, and William Lear, inventor of the first practical car radio. Aaron Bennett of the National Inventors Hall of Fame writes a piece published today in TALKERS to help us remember these men – both inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame – whose inventions helped make radio the 20th century media powerhouse that it became. Read his piece here.

Trump Impeachment Case/Georgia Criminal Probe, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Social Media & Censorship, Robinhood Lawsuit, Springsteen OUI-Jeep Spot, and Larry Flynt Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/10). The impeachment case against Donald Trump and the state of Georgia’s probe into Trump’s call to its secretary of state seeking changes in the presidential vote totals; the number of positive COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; conservatives’ complaints about being censored by social media platforms and anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr is banned from Twitter; the family of college student Alex Kearns sues trading firm Robinhood over his suicide; Bruce Springsteen’s Jeep spot is pulled after his November OUI becomes public; and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt dies at 78 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

| January 26, 2021

Programming Consultant Greg Moceri Working with ‘Our American Stories.’ News and talk radio programming consultant Greg Moceri joins American Private Radio – producer of the extremely successful “Our American Stories” program – as strategy and content consultant. The “Our American Stories” nightly program is currently heard on more than 300 stations, including new affiliate KEIB-AM, Los Angeles “The Patriot AM 1150.” American Private Radio CEO and show host Lee Habeeb says, “We’re thrilled to have Greg as a part of the team. We’ve long admired his well-earned standing in the business, his ability to help stations and talent be better versions of themselves, and his all-around excellence and cheerfulness, too. He is already making a real difference.” Moceri, CEO of Moceri Media, LLC, comments, “I have always been about content. ‘Our American Stories’ exemplifies this. Uplifting, wonderful stories about our nation’s most connecting and emotionally gravitating people in our amazing past and present. Just uplifting daily reminders, from people you may know, and people you don’t. A perfect antidote to division, politics, and the anger of day. Honored to be part of this brand and product.”

It’s Official: Kim Gordon Joins WLS-AM, Chicago as News Anchor. Yesterday (1/25), TALKERS reported a tip from Chicago media writer Robert Feder that Windy City news pro Kim Gordon had exited Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM and would sign with Cumulus Media’s crosstown WLS-AM. Today, Cumulus announces Gordon’s joining the station as afternoon drive news anchor. WLS-AM program director Stephanie Tichenor states, “Finding the facts and reporting the news has never been an easy job. Doing it in this environment hasn’t made it any easier. You need experience and grit to craft a meaningful, accurate newscast and Kim Gordon has both of those qualities in spades. I’m delighted to have Kim join our 890 WLS-AM news team as the PM drive anchor. Her attention to facts and detail will enhance our news product and yes, she can probably teach John Howell a thing or two about golf.” Gordon comments, “I am thrilled to be joining the WLS news team and to be working with John Howell in the afternoons. It’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of John Dempsey. I’ve long admired his integrity and passion for news. I hope to continue that legacy at WLS.”

WECK-AM, Buffalo Owner Puts Republican Assemblyman’s Show on Hiatus; Denies Station Was Threatened by Antifa. The weekly, hourlong program on WECK-AM, Buffalo hosted by Republican New York State Assemblyman David DiPietro was put on hiatus by owner Buddy Shula but not because he received any threats from “leftists” to “burn the station down.” Shula tells the Buffalo News that it was a miscommunication between him and DiPietro over his rationale for the show’s hiatus. After DiPietro posted comments on Facebook suggesting that “leftists” threatened the station and forced Shula to cancel his show, Shula said, “I wanted to make sure I make it perfectly clear that Dave DiPietro did zero wrong in terms of me putting his show on hiatus. It was me being spooked by the Capitol events. That’s it. Nothing more.” Shula indicates he was speaking hypothetically about the station being attacked in the aftermath of the Capitol assault and believes DiPietro misunderstood him to mean that threats were actual. He adds he’d like to bring DiPietro back to the air with a Democrat on the other side of the table for balance.

New Affiliates Join Doug Stephan’s DJV Show. The nationally syndicated “DJV Show” – starring Doug Stephan and featuring Jen Horn and Victoria Keelan – adds new affiliate stations: WPMO, Pascagoula, Mississippi; KFOW, Waseca, Minnesota; KOMY, Santa Cruz-Monterey; KHOB, Hobbs, New Mexico; WTGB, Brownsville, Texas; WDOC, Pikeville, Kentucky; KBST, Big Spring, Texas; and KMAX, Colfax, Washington. Doug Stephan states, “I’d like to thank all of these new affiliates of the show. Our goal is to make our listeners lives better. We want them to be informed without having to sift through the vitriol.” McVay Media Consulting president Mike McVay adds, “What I like most about the ‘DJV Show’ is that it’s a talk show that is truly balanced in their opinions. It’s informative and fun. They’re a great first place to find what’s trending every day.”

Entercom Launches BetQL Audio Network; Unveils ‘The Bet’ Stations in Denver and LA. On the heels of Entercom’s acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group, the company is launching the BetQL Audio Network. The network is headlined by two daily shows – “You Better You Bet” with Nick Kostos and Ken Barkley and “BetQL Daily” with Joe Ostrowski and Ross Tucker.  Additionally, Entercom is debuting two radio stations to carry gambling-oriented programming. KEZW-AM, Denver is now “The Bet 1430AM” and KCBS-HD3 is now “The Bet 93.1 HD3.” Entercom president of sports Mike Dee comments, “With our acquisition of QL Gaming Group in November, we committed to leveraging our national scale to amplify the rapidly growing sports gambling landscape and deliver smart, data-supported sports-betting content to our listeners. By combining the BetQL brand and our deep collection of expert talent, this new network complements our industry-leading local sports broadcast portfolio and will further enhance our position as a leader for sports betting programming.” The new network is being promoted across Entercom’s 39 all-sports stations including WFAN-AM/FM, New York; WIP-FM, Philadelphia; and WSCR, Chicago “The Score.”

Newsmax TV and FreedomWorks Partner for ‘Save the Nation’ Program. A new, Sunday morning program titled, “Save the Nation,” is debuting on Newsmax TV via a partnership with FreedomWorks. The hour-long program – co-hosted by FreedomWorks president Adam Brandon and economist Stephen Moore – will premiere on February 7 at 11:00 am ET will provide “Americans with critical information they need on the economy, government policies, and the latest news.” Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy says, “We look forward to bringing our rapidly-growing audience exclusive content from respected economist Stephen Moore, Adam Brandon, and the team at FreedomWorks. It is one of the nation’s most effective and respected grassroots organizations in touch with the issues Americans care about.”

New York Festivals 2021 Radio Awards Open for Entries. Entries for the New York Festivals 2021 Radio Awards are now being accepted. NYF Radio Awards says that each year it carefully evaluates and updates the category roster to provide the most current categories to reflect the innovative content produced today. Vice president and executive director Rose Anderson says, “In a year marked by disruption of every kind, New York Festivals is implementing additional categories for social justice across all genres. These categories spotlight storytellers who are using all of their creativity to engage with their listeners on this critical topic.” New categories for 2021 include: Best Social Justice Report, Social Justice Reporting, Social Justice Documentary, Best Regularly Scheduled Social Justice Program, Best Social Justice Special, Social Justice Promo, Best Digital Social Justice Program, Social Justice Podcast, and Social Justice Student Content. See all of the 2021 Radio Awards Categories here. The New York Festivals is partnering with the NAB Show for the 11th year and again NYF will honor the winners in Las Vegas in October. Anderson adds, “Combined with our TV & Film Winners, it will be a celebration of innovative storytellers across all platforms.” For more information and to enter visit here.

TALKERS News Notes. Talk show host Ray Appleton returned to the air on Cumulus Media‘s KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno on Monday (1/25) after a two-week suspension for a comment about news coverage of the January 6 Capitol attack in which he stated some news editors should be “hanged – maybe.” He said his words were tongue-in-cheek but station management meted out the suspension nonetheless…..New York news/talk outlet WABC is adding a new weekend program to its schedule. Fashion designer Joseph Abboud is joining the lineup of the Red Apple Media station beginning Saturday, February 6 at 5:00 pm as the host of “Threads,” a one-hour lifestyle program that looks at our world through the lens of fashion and design. WABC says, “From super models and fashion shows to the new world order of post pandemic fashion, Abboud will explore the evolution of one of the most creative and fascinating industries on the face of the earth, and how it weaves through our culture and our lives.”…..KQED, San Francisco “Forum” host Michael Krasny is retiring after his final broadcast on February 12. Krasny’s broadcasting career began in the late 1970s. He joined KQED in 1993 as host of “Forum.” To help commemorate his career on February 12, Krasny will be joined in his final broadcast by NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving who will co-host…..Two new affiliate stations – KCPS, Burlington, Iowa and KLMB, Roundup/Billings, Montana – add the “Todd Starnes News & Commentary” feature to their programming…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs” program picks up new affiliates as KCPX-AM/K290CS, Spanish Valley, Utah and WHIR-AM, Danville, Kentucky add the show to their lineups.

COVID-19 & Vaccines Rollout, Senate Power Sharing/Battle Over Filibuster, Trump Impeachment, Social Media & Censorship, Dominion Sues Giuliani, and Biden Reverses Trans Troops Ban Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/25). The number of COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variant strains, and the vaccine rollout problems; Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer agree to a Senate power-sharing deal and Democrats don’t have the votes to eliminate the filibuster; the impeachment case against Donald Trump; MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is permanently banned from Twitter; election process firm Dominion sues Rudy Giuliani for defamation and seeks $1.3 billion; and Joe Biden reverses Trump’s ban on trans people serving in the military were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

| July 7, 2020

Nielsen to Cut 3,500 Jobs in ‘Broad-Based Optimization Plan.’ Media ratings and consumer data giant Nielsen Holdings plc announces the implementation of a “broad-based optimization plan to drive permanent cost savings and operational efficiencies, as well as to position the company for greater profitability and growth.” The company says it is “prioritizing resources to focus on key strategic initiatives, higher margin products and services, and greater efficiency” and as a result will include a global reduction in force of approximately 3,500 employees. Nielsen CEO David Kenny says, “Across Nielsen Global Media [ratings segment] and Nielsen Global Connect [consumer data segment], we are making progress on increasing our operational and financial discipline, including zero-basing our cost structure as we move toward the planned separation of Nielsen Global Connect. As discussed on our earnings call in April, we have increased our focus on platform consolidations, further automation, optimizing our global footprint, and ensuring that our resource allocation aligns with high-margin essential services. Today’s plan encompasses, accelerates, and expands on those initiatives. These restructuring actions will further expedite our transformation to a more efficient, agile, and scalable organization and are designed to drive sustained margin expansion and increased cash generation. As part of the optimization plan, we have made the difficult decision to exit selected businesses and markets and permanently reduce our workforce. While these are important actions to take, I recognize the impact they have on our people, and I am grateful for the important contributions made by these talented associates during their time at Nielsen.” The company says cash payments for the severance costs will continue into late 2021.

WVON, Chicago Morning Show Exits Over ‘Censorship’ Issue. Chicago media writer Robert Feder has the story about the sudden departure of urban news/talk outlet WVON, Chicago’s morning program. Maze Jackson, co-host Todd Stroger, and producer Sonia Escobar resigned from the station last week after station management ordered the program to cease criticism of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Jackson tells Feder he was instructed not to talk about the mayor or allow callers to do so and he consequently resigned because he “could not accept the censorship.” The trio are now brokering the 6:00 am to 9:00 am slot on Gospel WBGX-AM. WVON is searching for a new morning show as Ernest B. Fenton handles the morning show on an interim basis.

Report: SiriusXM to Acquire Stitcher. According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, SiriusXM Satellite Radio is very close to a deal with E.W. Scripps to buy podcasting platform Stitcher for $300 million. Scripps paid $4.5 million for Stitcher in 2016. The piece notes that Stitcher owns podcast networks Earwolf and Stitcher Podcasts that comprise some 50 shows, including “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” and “Freakonomics Radio.” Stitcher also has deals with other podcast networks for distribution and sales via Scripps’ Midroll Media division that totals more than 250 programs.

TALKERS News Notes. Seattle news/talk KIRO-FM is producing a special version of its ongoing series “COVID-19: Seattle Podcast,” this one targeting children. The “COVID-19 Seattle: Kids Edition” was released on July 2. For this episode, Bonneville’s KIRO Radio asked young listeners to call in with questions about the coronavirus, in their own words. KIRO Radio hosts Dave Ross, Mike Lewis, Tom Tangney, John Curley, Rachel Belle, Dori Monson, Ursula Reutin, Gee Scott, Feliks Banel, and Colleen O’Brien answered these questions “with heart, humor, and the best information available.” Dr. Mollie Greves Grow from Seattle Children’s Hospital also contributed to this podcast as a local healthcare expert…..The BetR Network is partnering with Skyview Networks for network audio and affiliate sales and distribution and announces it has an affiliate agreement with Denver’s Mile High Sports. As a result, KDCO-AM/K284CI will bring sports betting programming to Denver, including select content from VSiN, The Sports Betting Network…..Public media’s KQED announces its long-running public affairs call-in radio program “Forum” is making the 10:00 am hour of the program available for public media stations across California starting July 13. The second hour of the 9:00 am to 11:00 am daily program will be hosted by Mina Kim, who shifts from her role as the Friday host of “Forum” and afternoon anchor for KQED news. Longtime host Michael Krasny continues to host the 9:00 am hour of the program. Kim says, “This is a moment of unprecedented change and people are hungry for meaningful dialogue about these issues. I couldn’t be more excited and honored to help bring ‘Forum’ to other communities across the state — and to bring in a wider range of voices to these conversations.”

Michael Kindhart Promoted at Premiere Networks. Affiliate sales pro Michael Kindhart is promoted from senior director of operations, affiliate sales at Premiere Networks to vice president of operations, affiliate sales. Nashville-based Kindhart will help develop strategic and operational initiatives to improve sales effectiveness and efficiency for nearly 200 of Premiere’s radio programs, services, and podcasts in this new position. Premiere EVP of affiliate sales Peter Tripi says, “Michael’s contributions to our affiliate sales division have been significant. He is constantly searching for ways to enhance our business through collaboration and by providing the best possible tools and resources to serve our affiliates and partners. This is a well-deserved promotion and I’m proud to have him on the team!”

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Heightened Gun Violence, Presidential Race, John Bolton/Mary Trump Books, PPP Scrutiny, TikTok Ban, SCOTUS Electoral College Ruling, and Charlie Daniels Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/6). The spike in COVID-19 cases in Sun Belt states and projections for future cases; the spate of gun violence in some urban areas and the shooting death of an 8-year-old girl in Atlanta; the November presidential election; the book by former Trump national security adviser John Bolton and the soon-to-be released book by Mary Trump; the Trump administration releases the names of companies that benefitted from the Payroll Protection Plan; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the administration is considering banning the China-based TikTok app; the Supreme Court rules that states can bind presidential electors’ votes; and musician Charlie Daniels dies at 83 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The daughter of Reach Media nationally syndicated morning radio personality Rickey Smiley is recovering in a Houston hospital after being shot in that city late Sunday night. AL.com reports that Aaryn Smiley was driving to a Whataburger restaurant in Houston close to midnight and was stopped at a red light when shooting between several men erupted and she was hit at least twice. She is recovering from her wounds. Meanwhile, authorities are searching for the shooter.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

| July 2, 2020

COMING THIS WEEKEND:  Independence Day Weekend Edition 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, will be posted tomorrow (Friday) afternoon at 3:00 pm ET.  This new episode titled “Self-Evident!” will look back at this past week of June 29-July 3, 2020 in addition to paying tribute to the founding of America.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSVince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media GroupJennifer Horn, talk show host, Salem Media Group / VP, CRN Digital Talk RadioMatthew B. Harrison, law professor, Western New England University / VP Goodphone CommunicationsLincoln Ware, talk show host WDBZ, Cincinnati; Dan Yorke, talk show host, WPRO, Providence; Doug Stephan, talk show host, “DJV Show” / talk show host, “American Family Farmer.” This acclaimed news/talk radio 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 WRKO, Boston; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; 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; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE,  Mankato, MN; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode (posted Friday 7/3 at 3:00 pm ET),  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.

LiveXLive Closes on PodcastOne Acquisition. The live stream and on-demand platform LiveXLive Media, Inc announces it has closed on its acquisition of PodcastOne. LiveXLive says in a press release, “PodcastOne, which recorded revenue of $27.5 million in calendar 2019, will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of LiveXLive. The acquisition is expected to be accretive and will strengthen LiveXLive’s balance sheet as well as diversifying its business model with a significant advertising component.” PodcastOne’s library includes more than 300 podcasts, including: “The Adam Carolla Show”, “The Big Podcast with Shaquille O’Neal,” A&E’s “Cold Case Files,” “Hotboxin with Mike Tyson,” and more. PodcastOne founder and executive chairman Norm Pattiz joins LiveXLive as a significant shareholder and remains executive chairman. Under the terms of the acquisition, LiveXLive acquired 100% of the equity interests of Courtside Group, Inc., the owner and operator of PodcastOne, and issued to stockholders of PodcastOne approximately 5.36 million restricted shares of LiveXLive’s common stock, which are subject to a 12-month lock-up period and certain trading restrictions thereafter.

TALKERS News Notes. Baton Rouge alt-weekly The Advocate reports that Guaranty Broadcasting’s sports talk KNXX-FM “104.5 ESPN” shuffles its programming lineup. Writer Kyle Whitfield says the station breaks up the “Sports Today” duo of Charles Hanagriff and Jimmy Ott with Hanagriff being partnered with former LSU running back Jacob Hester for the new 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm “Hangin’ with Hester and Hanny” show and Ott starting his own “Gametime” program airing from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm…..FOX News announces that after an independent investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace, it has fired “America’s Newsroom” co-anchor Ed Henry. The company sent a memo to staffers written by FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and president and executive editor Jay Wallace explaining Henry’s departure. Henry’s attorney, Catherine Foti, issued a public statement that Henry denies the allegations and “is confident that he will be vindicated after a full hearing in an appropriate forum.”…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that radio producer Carl Amari’s golden age of radio programming is moving from Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM to Salem Media Group’s crosstown WIND-AM. WGN recently announced it is dropping the weekend overnight “WGN Radio Theatre” program. Now, the syndicated “Hollywood 360” – co-hosted by Amari and Lisa Wolf – will air from 8:00 pm to 12:00 midnight on WIND-AM. Salem Chicago RVP and general manager Jeff Reisman says, “We are excited to have ‘Hollywood 360’ and Carl Amari back on AM 560. Carl expertly weaves together a unique mix of content that has continued to attract and entertain listeners for years, and we look forward to welcoming them back.”…..This might fall into the “at least they spelled our name right” category. Daily Herald columnist Jim O’Donnell writes about the state and future of ESPN’s WMPV, Chicago “ESPN 1000” – being operated by Good Karma Brands under the leadership of general manager Mike Thomas. O’Donnell is clearly not impressed with sports talk in Chicago but gives Thomas – who arrived in his home state back in January after leading the programming at Entercom’s WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” – the opportunity to talk up the changes taking place at WMVP.

‘Mightier 1090’ in San Diego to Use SportsGrid Tech Platform. When the new iteration of talk programming takes to the airwaves of San Diego on XEPRS as “The Mightier 1090” sometime this summer, SportsGrid’s cloud-based automation and live production tools will be used by the station. SportsGrid says its production services will stream the “Mightier 1090” audio feed through a low-latency IP connection from the cloud to the station’s transmitter. Marketing executive Bill Hagen is leading operations of the soon-to-debut station. He says, “I’ve listened to the people and the dream of bringing ‘The Mighty 1090 AM’ back to Southern California has now become a reality. The legendary tradition is back in a Mightier fashion, allowing for carefully thought out, desired programming to once again serve the Southern California region.”

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections/Mask Controversy, Seattle CHOP Ends, Policing in America, Confederate & Colonial-Era Monuments Issue, Russia-Taliban Bounty Report, Facebook Advertiser Boycott, Court Strikes Trump Asylum Order and Vacate Mary Trump Book Restraint, and Status of Sports Leagues Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/1). The rise in COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future outbreaks tied with the controversy over the wearing of masks to diminish transmission; the Seattle police clear the CHOP in the aftermath of two killings in the area; the criticism of policing in the U.S.; the movement to remove Confederate and Colonial-era monuments; the report that Russia has been offering bounties to Taliban fighters for killing U.S. servicemen; Facebook deals with an advertiser boycott over its handling of “hate speech” and “misinformation”; a court strikes down the Trump administration’s order denying asylum requests from people from Latin American nations and a court vacates the restraint on Mary Trump’s book; and the status of American sports leagues were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. New York hip hop outlet WWPR “Power 105.1” is presenting “A Celebration of Pop Smoke’s Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon Album Release” starting at midnight tonight (7/3). iHeartMedia’s “Power 105.1” will celebrate the life and works of Pop Smoke by playing songs from Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon at the top of every hour, plus exclusive Pop Smoke interviews with Power 105.1’s Angie Martinez, behind-the-scene photos and performances from Power 105.1’s POWERHOUSE available at Power1051’s website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, as well as check-ins from 50 Cent, Steven Victor, Lil Tjay, Fivio Foreign, The Breakfast Club and more…..The weekend country radio show “B-Dub Radio Saturday Night” debuts Saturday (7/4) in partnership with its syndication development partner, Skyview Networks. Host Bryan “B-Dub” Washington is throwing a Fourth of July party featuring country radio’s superstar duo LoCash as a special guest to celebrate the show’s re-launch with listeners across the country. The show has added new affiliate stations, including iHeartMedia’s WEBG, Chicago “BIG 95.5,” whose PD Lance Houston says, “B-Dub has added such a great energy to ‘BIG 95.5’ on Saturday nights! If you want your station to sound fun again on Saturday night, while staying true to the format and the sound of country music, then this is the show for you.”…..Programming pro Mike McCoy is named operations manager at Stephens Media Group’s Rochester, New York that includes adult contemporary WRMM-FM “Warm 101.3,” alternative WZNE-FM “94.1 The Zone,” and adult hits WFKL-FM “Fickle 93.3.” He will also program “Warm 101.3” and “Fickle 93.3” SVP of programming Bob Thornton says, “Mike is exactly the kind of person we need in the Rochester market. His relentless pursuit of excellence, leadership qualities and vast experience will take this cluster to new heights.”