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Friday, February 26, 2021

| February 26, 2021

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Feeding an Environment of Fear,” looks back at this past week of February 22-26, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Gary Sutton, talk show host, WSBA, York, PA; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Dr. Renee Kohanski, podcaster, Clinical Correlation, Medscape‘s MDEdge Psychcast / forensic psychiatrist; Rush Limbaugh, late talk radio icon; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, MD; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines and Variants Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 22-26, 2021. The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines and the concern about variants creating another wave of cases combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the U.S. economy tied with the education crisis. Following at #3 was the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s nominees for attorney general, interior secretary, and White House budget office, tied with Donald Trump’s planned speech at CPAC on Sunday. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Friday, July 24, 2020

| July 24, 2020

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM in Washington, DC.  This new episode titled “BLM and MLB!” looks back at this past week of July 20-24, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS;  Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, Gainesville, GA; Lars Larson, talk show host KXL, Portland/Compass Media NetworksThom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD MediaSteve Trevelise, talk show host, New Jersey 101.5/WIP, Philadelphia; and Dr. Renee Kohanski, forensic psychiatrist/commentator, “MD Edge Psychcast.” 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; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Mike Francesa Announces Retirement from WFAN and RADIO.COM. New York City sports talk legend Mike Francesa announced on Thursday’s program that this afternoon’s program (Friday, July 24) would be his last regularly scheduled show on “The Fan.” He told his listeners, “Tomorrow night will be my last regularly scheduled broadcast on ‘The Fan.’ I have been discussing this with the company for a while. We agreed I would stay until sports came back. The reason – I have cut back dramatically. This has been a very strange year. It has made me think about different things and do different things.” Francesa has been at Entercom’s WFAN for 33 years. He left the station at the end of 2017 when his contract ran out and WFAN replaced him with Chris Carlin, Bart Scott, and Maggie Gray, but Francesa returned four months later and resumed his afternoon show, bumping the trio to middays. At the end of 2019, Francesa’s schedule was dramatically changed as he began hosting a half-hour program on WFAN and a full hour on the company’s digital platform RADIO.COM. Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts moved from middays into the afternoon drive slot. Senior vice president and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Mike has been the heart of WFAN for over 30 years, and though his day in and day out presence has come to an end, that bond happily will continue. The future of WFAN as the premiere sports platform in New York is bright, and that is in large part to the foundation that Mike has helped build.”

WHUB-AM, Cookeville, Tennessee Celebrates 80th Anniversary. Pictured above (from l-r) are Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton, WHUB program director and morning drive host Brent Fleshman, and Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter recognizing the 80th anniversary of the Zimmer Broadcasting station. It went on the air on July 20, 1940. Fleshman – a 2016 NAB Marconi winner for Small Market Personality of the Year – tells TALKERS magazine that the company recently built a brand-new studio specifically for the news/talk station to accommodate more guests.

iHeartMedia Adds Sports Talker to Eau Claire, Wisconsin Market. There’s a new sports talk outlet in the Eau Claire, Wisconsin market as iHeartMedia drops the classic hits simulcast on WBIZ-AM/W254CN and launches “98-7 The Fan” on the two signals The station cherry-picks sports talk shows heard in other Wisconsin and Minnesota markets for its programming. Morning drive “The Power Trip” and 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show “The Common Man” emanate from the company’s KFXN, Minneapolis “KFAN” and late morning “Nine to Noon with John Kuhn” and afternoon drive “Drew & KB” are based at WRNW-FM, Milwaukee “97.3 The Game.” iHeartMedia SVP of programming Dave DeVille says, “The Chippewa Valley is often a house divided when it comes to Wisconsin and Minnesota sports teams. We’ve curated a home base station for all sports fans to enjoy.” The station will air Chippewa Valley area high school sports and professional sports including Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Wild, Minnesota Vikings and Milwaukee Bucks.

TALKERS News Notes. WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is celebrating its 40th anniversary on the air. Walt Palmer is director of broadcast operations, engineering, and programming for the Resort Broadcasting Co station. He tells TALKERS magazine, “‘Sunny 92.7’ music morphed to ‘The TALK of Delmarva,’ providing 20 hours of live programming, 10 of which are live and local. Resort Broadcasting has assured listeners it is committed to serving the local communities with news, talk, sports, and information.” The station features local hosts Mike Bradley in AM drive, Jake Smith in late mornings, and Duke Brooks in afternoon drive…..SmartTalk Radio Network and WCGO, Chicago talk radio personality Blanquita Cullum – host of “The Hard Question” – is the moderator of the Voices Against Trafficking international human rights forum that will stream via Facebook Live on July 29 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm ET. Cullum tells TALKERS magazine, “Human trafficking is the world’s fastest-growing, multibillion-dollar criminal industry exploiting men, women, and children across the globe. This program will feature leading national and international human rights activists sharing details on many aspects of the current state of human trafficking.” Guest speakers include: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, numerous U.S. members of congress, internet safety leaders, law enforcement experts, and survivors who are forging a new path for human rights…..Entercom’s St. Louis news/talk KMOX “News Radio 1120” renews to serve as an outlet for Kansas City Chiefs football play-by-play and will simulcast broadcasts from sister station WDAF-FM, Kansas City “106.5 The Wolf,” the team’s flagship station.

Birach Broadcasting Flips WCXI, Detroit to News/Talk. Detroit outlet WCXI-AM flips from oldies to conservative talk using a lineup of conservative talk shows from Premiere Networks and FOX News Radio. Branded “Freedom 1160 WCXI” by owner Birach Broadcasting Corporation, the station’s lineup consists of: “FOX News Rundown” from 5:00 am to 9:00 am, Glenn Beck from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, “FOX Across America with Jimmy Failla” from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, Guy Benson from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Buck Sexton from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Dan Bongino from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight, and “Coast to Coast AM with George Noory” in overnights.

Schools Opening Debate Top News/Talk Story for Week of July 20-24. The debate over how to safely open schools this fall was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the spike in COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future cases. Coming in at #3 was talk about health care, vaccine development, and the $1.95 billion deal for Pfizer to develop a vaccine, followed by the state of the U.S. economy and the GOP-crafted stimulus package at #4. 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.

Independent Broadcasters Association Organizes. The new Independent Broadcasters Association announces that it has filed articles of incorporation in the State of Minnesota and is “officially in business.” Founding organizer Ron Stone of Adams Radio Group says, “We filed the articles last Friday, on a day where we were 96% of our 3,000-station goal. 2,877 stations had signed up, represented by just under 600 owners / operators. We continue to have additional owners signing up every day.” He adds that the initial board of directors has been selected and includes: Deborah Barrera, R Communications; Kristin Cantrell, Seven Mountains Media and Cap City Communications; Darrell Calton, Iliad Media Group; Allen Dick, Dick Broadcasting; Mike Flood, Flood Communications; Kenneth Forte, R&F Communications; Charles Johnson, Northstar Broadcast; Kimberly Martinez, All Pro Broadcasting; Gregory Pretko, Southern Stone Communications; Kelly Radandt, Woodward Radio Group; Tony Renda, Renda Broadcasting; David Stephens, Stephens Media Group; Ron Stone, Adams Radio Group; Tony Richards, Kensington Digital; Cindy Taylor, Ohio Midland Newsgroup; Rebecca White, Salem Media (of Indiana); and Sandra Woodruff, Northwest Indy Radio. Stone adds, “Our first board meeting will be scheduled for next week, to decide mostly organizational matters and to approve our business plan. We will have a conference call with everyone that has signed up on www.radioiba.org schedule shortly after the board meeting to review the business plan and goals of the IBA.” New members are still being accepted.

TALKERS Magazine Publishes the 2020 Heavy Hundred. The editors of TALKERS magazine announce the publication of the 2020 edition of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America – what has become known over the years as the Heavy Hundred. This year’s Heavy Hundred is compiled by the editors of TALKERS magazine using such factors as: ratings, revenue, courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, recognition, service, talent, and uniqueness. We acknowledge that it is as much art as science and that the results are arguable. The editors would like to acknowledge that the publication of this year’s list was delayed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the radio industry. However, it’s also important to note that it is times like these that talk radio personalities have the opportunity to become an even more important part of their listeners’ lives by delivering the information they need and providing the opportunity to hear debate about and take part in discussions concerning the events affecting their lives. Those who do that well are usually rewarded with success. We are proud to publish the 2020 Heavy Hundred in which we salute those hosts our editors believe are serving their listeners and advertisers in way that puts them among the “most important.” See this year’s Heavy Hundred here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Bringmethenews.com reports that Northern Lights Broadcasting has let go of alternative KQGO “Go 96.3” morning show “Ben and Dana” – Ben Holsen and Dana Wessel – in a budget-related move. Wessel tweeted to listeners: “Got some news to share. I was let go by ‘Go963.’ Covid is having a big impact on a lot of businesses and radio is no different. I wanna say thanks and send love to all my colleagues, especially Ben for putting up with me every morning. I have been at ‘Go’ since the day it launched and poured my heart and soul into it.”…..Cox Media Group Orlando moves CHR WPYO afternoon host Danie B and evening personality Kevin Kon to the morning drive daypart as “Danie & Kevin Mornings on Power 95.3.” WPYO brand manager Will Calder says, “I have been watching their chemistry for years and they truly are the best of friends and have the kind of relationship with each other – and our listeners – that make those deep memorable, emotional connections. Moving them to mornings felt like such a natural fit as they will definitely take over Central Florida.”…..iHeartMedia appoints Christopher Squire vice president of sales for its Philadelphia station group, effective immediately. Squire was most recently general sales manager for Townsquare Media’s Trenton-Princeton stations. Senior vice president of sales Jeff Moore states, “I am thrilled to add Chris to our team. He is someone that I’ve gotten to know over the past few years and have been impressed by his leadership qualities, his ability to build meaningful relationships with client partners and his dedication to helping the people he works with succeed. His positive outlook and enthusiasm are contagious and I can’t wait to continue to build on our team’s success with his help.”…..Sales and management pro Johnette Cochran has been director of sales for Adams Radio Group’s five station Salisbury-Ocean City, Maryland operations consisting of five music brands since December of 2019. Now, she rises to vice president and general manager for the cluster. She says, “I’m delighted to grow into this position with Adams Radio Group. Becoming a general manager has always been my goal and I am blessed to have this opportunity on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware. I have been connecting to the community in a limited way during Covid, and now I’m free to truly get out and get to know the people in this great market.”

Friday, May 22, 2020

| May 22, 2020

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted.  The new episode titled “Medicine and Politics!” looks back at this past week of May 18-22, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSDr. Daliah Wachs, physician / talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkBrett Winterble, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte; Richard Neer, talk show host, CBS Sports RadioLarry Elder, talk show host, Salem Radio Network; and Dr. Renee Kohanski, psychiatrist / commentator, MDedge Psychcast. 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; 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; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE,  Mankato, MN, the Virginia Talk Radio Network, Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA, Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode,  please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Cumulus Media Adopts Short-Term Shareholder Rights Plan. The company follows both Entercom (announced on April 21) and iHeartMedia (announced on May 7) in adopting a shareholder rights plan – also known in the financial world as the “poison pill” – to prevent a takeover of the company without the consent of the board of directors. Cumulus Media states, “In adopting the Rights Plan, the Board has taken note of the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on equity market valuations which has led to substantial volatility in the trading of the Company’s stock and a dislocation in Cumulus’ stock price, which the Board believes does not reflect the Company’s inherent value or business performance.  The Rights Plan is intended to promote the fair and equal treatment of all shareholders by preventing a creeping change of control without an appropriate premium and on terms that would not deliver sufficient value for all shareholders. In connection with the adoption of the Rights Plan, the Board declared a dividend distribution of one right (a ‘Right’) on each outstanding share of Class A common stock, share of Class B common stock, Series 1 warrant and Series 2 warrant.  The record date for the dividend distribution is June 1, 2020. Initially, these Rights will not be exercisable and will be attached to the Company’s common shares and warrants, as applicable. The Rights Plan is intended to protect shareholder interests by reducing the likelihood that any entity, person or group  is able to gain control of Cumulus through open market accumulation without paying all shareholders an appropriate control premium or providing the Board sufficient opportunity to make informed judgments and take actions that are in the best interests of all shareholders. The Rights issued pursuant to the Rights Plan would be exercisable only if a person or group acquires 10% (20% in the case of a passive institutional investor) or more of the Company’s outstanding Class A common shares (subject to certain exceptions), including through ownership of the convertible Class B common shares and/or warrants. In that situation, each holder of a Right (other than the acquiring person, whose Rights will become void and will not be exercisable) will be entitled to receive upon exercise of such Right that number of Class A common shares, Class B common shares, Series 1 warrants or Series 2 warrants, as applicable, having a market value of two times the exercise price of $25 per Right. In addition, the Rights Plan contains a similar provision if Cumulus is acquired in a merger or other business combination after an unapproved party acquires 10% (20% in the case of a passive institutional investor) or more of the Company’s outstanding Class A common shares, including through ownership of the convertible Class B common shares and/or warrants. The Board, at its option, may exchange each Right (other than Rights owned by the acquiring person that have become void) at an exchange ratio of one Class A common share, Class B common share, Series 1 warrant or Series 2 warrant, as applicable, per outstanding Right, subject to adjustment.” The Rights expire on April 30, 2021.

TALKERS News Notes. The Buffalo News reports that John Murphy is leaving his role as co-host of the “One Bills Live” program that airs on Entercom’s sports talk WGR “550 Sports Radio” daily from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. Murphy has been co-hosting the program with Steve Tasker. The Buffalo Bills website lists Bills insider Chris Brown and journalist Maddy Glab as Tasker’s co-hosts. Murphy also serves as radio play-by-play voice for the Buffalo Bills and will continue in that role…..UrbanMilwaukee.com columnist Bruce Murphy has a feature piece on Wisconsin progressive radio host and station owner Michael Crute that you can read here. Crute – co-host of the long-running progressive talk radio show “Devil’s Advocate” along with Dominic Salvia – owns progressive talk simulcast WRRD-AM, Waukesha/W269DL, Milwaukee as “Talk 101.7” and operates WTTN-AM, Columbus/W224EG, Madison as “Talk 92.7.” The piece addresses Crute’s decision to drop the “Resistance Radio” brand in Milwaukee of which potential advertisers were leery, as well as his surprise that Wisconsin Democrats have been hostile to his efforts…..ABC Audio’s daily, one-hour radio program “COVID-19: What You Need to Know” is re-launching as “Bringing America Back: What You Need to Know.” ABC says the Aaron Katersky-hosted program “updates the country’s fight against the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – both medical and economic.  We answer your questions about the latest outbreak numbers and treatment developments and look at the cities and towns that are reopening, and what our new normal looks like. ABC’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton and other experts respond directly to questions submitted by ABC News listeners and viewers, and our team of correspondents and medical contributors keep you up to date on the latest news related to coronavirus.”

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 18-22. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and projections about future cases combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the health care system and the controversy over the use of hydroxychloroquine to combat COVID-19. Coming in at #3 was a tie between the state of the U.S. economy and the state of education in the country, followed by the presidential race and politics at #4. 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.

iHeartRadio and Mental Health Coalition Partner for ‘How Are You Really?’ Campaign. During National Mental Health Awareness Month, iHeartRadio is partnering with Kenneth Cole and The Mental Health Coalition to end the stigma surrounding mental health and to change the way people talk about, and care for, mental illness. The initiative addresses the most universally and commonly asked, but rarely answered question, ‘How Are You, Really?’ The campaign challenges people to answer this as honestly as they can and inspire many others to do the same to help destigmatize all mental health conditions. As part of the collaboration, iHeartRadio is airing PSAs voiced by on-air personalities Elvis Duran, Ryan Seacrest, Bobby Bones and Steve Harvey, encouraging listeners to answer how they’re really doing and challenge those in their lives to do the same. In addition, iHeartRadio is hosting and airing a 30-minute public affairs show discussing the effects of COVID-19 on mental health. Interviewees include social activist and iconic fashion designer Kenneth Cole; Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, president of Child Mind Institute; and Dr. Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer of National Alliance on Mental Illness.

MIW Radio Group Adds Four to Executive Committee. The Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group adds four new members to the MIW Group executive committee: Angie Balderas, SVP & general manager Entravision; Valerie Blackburn, principal VKB Media Consulting; Tricia Gallenbeck, VP & general manager Reno Media Group; and Beth Neuhoff, CEO and president Neuhoff Media. MIW Group national spokeswoman Denyse Mesnik says, “Seasoned radio pros, these accomplished ladies bring expertise in a variety of areas, years of experience in leadership and well-earned reputations as some of the best in the business. They are perfect additions to the MIW executive committee and, not surprisingly, they’ve already hit the ground running on behalf of the MIWs! We also extend heartfelt thanks to two good friends and long-term MIW colleagues transitioning off of the executive committee, Heidi Raphael, chief communications officer, Beasley Media Group (MIW Spokeswoman from 2008-2014) and Jennifer Williams, VP digital marketing, Beasley Media Group. They leave with our immense gratitude for many years of dedication and service to the MIWs.”

TALKERS Magazine Presents the 2020 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America. The editors of TALKERS magazine, with input from industry leaders, have compiled and published the eighth annual Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America. This list, like its long-established “sister list” – the long-running annual “Heavy Hundred” that ranks talk radio hosts working in the news/talk and general talk genres – the editors of TALKERS magazine have ranked sports talk hosts, duos, or ensembles from 1 to 100 based upon a set of criteria that includes a combination of hard and soft factors. TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey says it’s important to note that this year’s Heavy Hundred comes with an important qualifying statement. “The publication of this year’s list was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and it is crucial to note that it represents a snapshot of the industry as it was shortly after January 1, 2020 and is based on performances and assessments made prior to that point. Although we were prepared to publish the list in March, we delayed publication in order to focus on the pandemic’s effect on the radio industry. As a result of COVID-19, some of the talent on this list have been victims of unexpected staff reductions and furloughs and are not currently on the air. It is our belief that they deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments, nonetheless. TALKERS salutes the fine broadcasters who made the eighth annual list!” See it here.

PPM Analysis: Classic Hits/Oldies. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s April 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the classic hits and oldies formats. See how those stations performed in April compared to March 2020 and in comparison to April of 2019, plus more, here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The City of Chicago is partnering with iHeartMedia Chicago hip hop outlet WGCI for two days of virtual entertainment to encourage residents to stay home while still enjoying themselves and experiencing music and culture over the Memorial Day Holiday weekend. Under the Stay at Home order and CDC guidelines prohibiting gatherings of over 10 people, the virtual entertainment will provide Chicagoans with an online opportunity to engage and celebrate the weekend at home. The 107.5 WGCI Stay at Home Weekend starts Saturday with an Instagram Battle between two of Chicago’s own hip hop artists, GHerbo and Lil Durk. Starting at 8:00 pm, these two rappers will go song-for-song for the title of Stay at Home Weekend Rap King. On Sunday the Stay at Home Weekend continues with a virtual comedy tour hosted by 107.5 WGCI’s Leon Rogers. This virtual show will feature comedians, Just Nesh, Dawn B, Lavar Walker, Correy B, and Damon Williams. iHeartMedia Chicago region president Matt Scarano says, “I am honored to have the privilege of partnering with the City of Chicago in its mission of promoting the health and safety of our community during this critical time. As a broadcaster it is our responsibility to engage in continuous collaboration with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicagoland community.”

Friday, March 13, 2020

| March 13, 2020

Craig Schwalb Joins WTOP, Washington as Director of Content Integration and Operations. Programming pro Craig Schwalb is named director of content integration and operations for Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington.  At the same time, Hubbard announces that Sarah Beth Hensley is assuming the digital news director position for WTOP.  That position opened after Julia Ziegler was promoted to director of news and programming.  Hensley is returning from maternity leave from her previous position as digital news manager.  Ziegler says, “The addition of our new director of content integration and operations was incredibly important to me in terms of being able to serve the newsroom most effectively.  An additional member on the leadership team helps ensure we meet our content evolution and quality control goals, as well as our goals for team training, development and growth.”  Schwalb was most recently program director for WABC, New York.  Prior to that, he was program director at Cumulus Media’s news/talk WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence.  He says, “For news and content, D.C. is the epicenter.  And if you are in D.C. you are listening to ‘TOP.  Joining this great station at this fascinating time is an absolute honor and a dream come true.  Thanks to Joel Oxley, Julia Ziegler, and Greg Strassell for this incredible opportunity.”  Ziegler says of Hensley, “In our roles as digital news director and digital news manager, respectively, I have had the opportunity to work very closely with Sarah Beth and am constantly reminded of her commitment to excellence and dedication to the WTOP mission and vision.”  Schwalb starts his new position Monday (3/16), and Hensley’s new role begins on April 14.

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM, Washington, DC. The new episode titled “The Panic Is the Cure!” looks back at this past week of March 9-13, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSSid Rosenberg, talk show host, 77WABC, New York; Charles Freedman, talk show host, KSCO, Santa Cruz; Dr. Renee Kohanski, forensic psychiatrist, Psychcast MDEdge; Steve Weisman, law professor, Bentley University / webmaster, Scamicide.com; William O’ Shaughnessy, chairman, Whitney Global Media; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York.  This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on WONK-FM, Washington, DC Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), 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.

Salem Media Group Q4 Revenue Dips 3.8%; Broadcast Down 1.2%.  In addition to reporting consolidated earnings, Salem Media Group breaks its operations into three segments: broadcasting, digital, and publishing.  For the fourth quarter of 2019, Salem’s broadcast segment reported net revenue of $50.5 million, down 1.2% from the same period in 2018.  Station Operating Income decreased 0.8% to $12.5 million; Same Station net broadcast revenue increased 1.2% to $49.4 million; and Same Station SOI decreased 0.5% to $12.8 million from $12.9 million.  For the quarter, digital and publishing were down 15% and 5.1%, respectively.  For the full year of 2019, total revenue was $253.9 million, down 3.4% from the full year of 2018.  For all of 2019, the broadcast segment’s net revenue was $193.3 million – a decline of 2.6%.  Same Station net broadcast revenue decreased 1.2% and Same Station SOI was off 12.1% to $44.8 million from $51.0 million.

CBS News Turns 82 Today. It was on March 13, 1938 at 8:00 pm ET that “World News Roundup” aired as a one-time special in response to growing tensions in Europe and specifically the Anschluss, during World War II when Adolf Hitler invaded Austria.”  CBS News was founded with the debut of that program that was thrown together with Edward R. Murrow in Austria and anchored by Robert Trout in New York.  In a note to his team (currently relocated in the Washington, DC bureau due to coronavirus cases in the New York studio building), CBS News Radio vice president and general manager Craig Swagler says, “Today we should all be extremely proud of the work we are doing with our outstanding journalists around the globe.  We at CBS News Radio continue the legacy of providing the best in news and information to our affiliated stations as it is needed now more than ever!  Good night and good luck to us all.”

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel Calling for Action Related to COVID-19. Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel is calling on the FCC to take aggressive action in response to COVID-19.  Her statement reads: “The coronavirus is already exposing hard truths about the digital divide, but the Federal Communications Commission has the power to help.  Nationwide this crisis means that we are going to explore the expansion of telework, telehealth, and tele-education.  The FCC should immediately convene the country’s broadband providers to discuss what they are doing right now to provide service for Americans. We need to explore how we can facilitate public-private partnerships and consumer education campaigns to expand the reach of connectivity as quickly as possible at little or no-cost to Americans who are impacted by the coronavirus.  Where data caps are in place, we need to explore how those limitations can be eliminated.  We also need to understand how broadband providers will keep workers safe and keep their services running for Americans who will increasingly rely on broadband connectivity for work, healthcare, and education.  At the same time, the FCC should get to work to harness its universal service powers to meet this challenge. The FCC should work with health care providers to ensure connectivity for telehealth services are available for hospitals, doctors, and nurses treating coronavirus patients and those who are quarantined.  In addition, as classrooms move online, the FCC should identify how it can use its authority to provide wi-fi hotspots for loan for students whose schools have closed their doors.  We have an opportunity to confront this challenge head-on and we need to act with urgency.”

TALKERS News Notes. In an effort to assist broadcasters working from home or remote locations, AdLarge Media is offering QGoLive for free over the next two weeks.  QGoLive is an app that allows talent to broadcast remotely with studio-quality audio on iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, or Mac.  AdLarge VP of affiliate marketing Jessica Sherman says, “We know that broadcasters need to continue to provide information and entertainment to their communities, especially during times of crisis or disaster.  AdLarge wants to help keep every radio on-air talent as safe as possible while still broadcasting to their local market.  That’s why we’re offering QGoLive for free for the next two weeks.”  Broadcasters can get the free two-week trial of QGoLive here…..Westwood One and TM Studios are offering a free coronavirus sung music package for radio stations worldwide.  TM Studios GM/vice president of creative Greg Clancy states, “In times of crisis, people turn to local radio.  Radio provides valuable information during these rare, critical events.  This music package was created for stations to provide a focused, cohesive identity around the constant flow of reactions and responses to COVID-19 that are now being communicated to radio listeners.”  Stations can download the package for free, unlimited use here…..ABC Audio says that as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to unfold many may be experiencing a wide range of emotions including: anxiety, stress, and uncertainty.  For that reason, ABC Audio’s “Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris” podcast is posting a bonus episode today (3/13).  In it, Harris speaks with experts Dr. Luana Marques, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the senior clinical psychologist at the MGH Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders program, and Jay Michaelson, Daily Beast columnist and teacher and editor at Ten Percent Happier.  Ten Percent Happier is available for free on all podcast platforms…..The syndicated talk show “The Art of Living and Science of Life with Danielle Lin” is joining the program schedule at SNJ Today’s WSNJ, Bridgeton, New Jersey.  The station – owned by Ken Pustizzi – promotes itself as “Positive Talk” for the community…..Beasley Esports announces that Nathan Bender (left) and Ric ‘Weirdbeard’ Hogerheide (right) are hosts of CheckpointXP’s newest show, “All of Esports.”  Beasley says, “Nate and Weirdbeard have an opinion on everything and they’ll give it to you in two minutes or less!  When the bell sounds, it’s on to the next topic.  These two rarely agree on anything, but one thing they do agree on is their commitment to keeping fans in the know and engaged on everything esports!”

Coronavirus Pandemic Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 9-13, 2020. For the first time since TALKERS began tracking the stories discussed on news/talk radio in the early 1990s, aspects of a single news event occupy the top seven positions on the Talkers TenTM chart.  This week, the coronavirus pandemic as it’s affecting the human psyche, our health care system, the world economy, politics and the presidential race, the media, U.S-China relations, and our sports and entertainment industries were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio.  See the entire Talkers TenTM chart for this week, here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The new morning show co-host at Entercom’s classic hits WOMC, Detroit is Jim “JJ” Johnson.  He moves from middays to join JoAnne Purtan for the “JJ and JoAnne” show, taking over for Stephen Clark, who exited to pursue his country music career.  Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “Jim Johnson is one of the most well-known radio personalities in Detroit, with over 40 years of experience exclusively in the market.  Jim and JoAnne have great chemistry on air together and I look forward to Jim bringing his humor and passion for music to mornings on 104.3 WOMC.”…..In Monroe, Louisiana, Stephens Media Group names Doug Daniels, a.k.a. Doug Holzmeier, operations manager for the stations including adult contemporary KZRZ “Sunny 98.3,” rock KXRR, country KMYY “92.3 The Wolf,” and rhythmic CHR KNNW “Now 103.1.”  Daniels says, “I love these people!  I’ve had more fun in two weeks doing local radio than I’ve had in the previous decade.”  He was most recently with Big Horn Media’s nostalgia-formatted KUEZ, Reno “Easy 104.1.”…..Cumulus Media announces that CHR WPRO-FM, Providence program director Davey Morris is scheduled to be inducted into the Rhode Island Radio and Television Hall of Fame at the 2020 Rhode Island Radio and Television Hall of Fame Annual Induction Dinner on April 30.  Morris began his broadcasting career in 1990 at WPRO-FM as a college intern and was hired full time in March 1991 to host overnights.  Since that time, he has been heard in all dayparts on WPRO-FM and is the longest-running afternoon drive host in the history of the station.”