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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

| March 16, 2021

Cox Media Group’s ‘95.5 WSB’ Names Erick Erickson Early Afternoon Host. At news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta, Cox Media Group announces that the daypart long occupied by the “Rush Limbaugh Show” will be hosted by the station’s Erick Erickson, beginning on Monday (3/22). Erickson will move from his current 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot and the station’s early evening host Mark Arum will take over the 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm program. WSB will air an hour of Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity program live at 3:00 pm and will air the rest of the show delayed from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. WSB director of branding & programming Drew Anderssen says, “With these lineup changes, 95.5 WSB will better serve Atlanta with more local programming. Erick Erickson and Mark Arum are both tremendous talents, and the move will continue to strengthen the extraordinary brand that is 95.5 WSB.” Erickson also hosts his own self-syndicated 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET talk radio show that has garnered almost 20 affiliate stations in its first year (although speculation has already begun that other syndication developments could be in the works that take into account the host’s new schedule).  Erickson says, “I would never have gotten into radio without encouragement from Rush Limbaugh who has been gracious over the years with a lot of great advice and guidance. It was an honor to fill in for him on his show, and it is overwhelming and humbling to move into the slot Rush occupied with such distinction for so long. I appreciate and intend to live up to the responsibility that comes with this time slot.” Mark Arum, who’s been with WSB since 1997, also serves as traffic anchor for WSB-TV’s “Channel 2 Action News This Morning.” Arum says, “When I was hired at 95.5 WSB over 23 years ago, I could never have envisioned that I would ever get the opportunity to host a drive time show on the best news and talk station in the nation. It’s a cliché, but this is truly a dream come true.”

WOKV-FM, Jacksonville Goes Local in the ‘Rush Daypart.’ As sister news/talk giant WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta is doing (see story above), Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville is filling the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart occupied by Rush Limbaugh for so many years with a local host, in this case current late morning personality Mark Kaye. CMG says that Kaye “has been growing his audience on 104.5 FM from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon for multiple years. Mark has gained a national following through multiple video streaming platforms, as well as a show on Newsmax TV.” Cox will fill Kaye’s current daypart with FOX News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade whose radio show will air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Kaye comments, “As a life-long fan of Rush Limbaugh, I am still adjusting to a world without his voice. Producing a daily show in ‘Rush’s timeslot’ is a daunting task for any broadcaster, but I am grateful to the leadership team at CMG and 104.5 WOKV for placing their trust in me. With the audience’s help I promise to do my best to keep Rush’s spirit, energy, and unique brand of conservative entertainment alive. This is an incredibly bittersweet opportunity.”

iHeartMedia Names Paul Rogers Area President for North Florida. Media executive Paul Rogers is named area president for iHeartMedia’s newly configured North Florida area that includes Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Panama City. Rogers takes over for Nicky Sparrow who was recently promoted to SVP of multicultural sales for iHeartMedia Markets Group. Rogers reports to division president Linda Byrd. She says, “I’ve worked with Paul for over 35 years, in many different roles. His integrity, judgment, professionalism, and competitiveness are what any manager would look for in a market leader. He is the perfect choice as a successor, and I have no doubt that he will take this area to the next level. I also want to thank Nicky for the great work she has done in getting Jacksonville to where we are today and congratulate her on this exciting new opportunity to expand her role in iHeartMedia.” Rogers has been serving iHeartMedia as market president for Tallahassee and Panama City since 2017.

Townsquare Media 2020 Q4 Net Revenue Down 3.2%; Full Year Revenue Declines 15%. Compared the second quarter of 2020 when Townsquare Media’s net revenue was down 35% compared to 2019, the fourth quarter’s decline of just 3.2% was a source of joy for CEO Bill Wilson. While Q4 net revenue was $108.5 million (down 3.2%), net revenue for the full year was $371.3 million, down 15% from the full year 2019 ($431.4 million). What has Wilson pumped is Townsquare’s digital assets. He says, “Townsquare Interactive, our digital monthly subscription business, excelled throughout the year, accelerating year-over-year net revenue growth in Q4 to +16% and generating over $70 million of revenue for the full year (+14% YoY) at a profit margin of approximately 30%. In total, digital net revenue increased +6% year over year, driven by both Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite (our digital programmatic advertising platform), which grew net revenue by +11% year over year.  With $162 million of 2020 digital net revenue, digital now accounts for approximately 44% of our total net revenue, further differentiating us in the local media marketplace.” Wilson says that the company is proud of its roots and DNA in local radio, “2020 was the year Townsquare became a ‘Digital First’ company.” He says, “I am also pleased to reaffirm our expectation that Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite will each generate $100 million in revenue in two to three years. 2020 served to accelerate Townsquare’s transformation into a premier local media and digital marketing solutions company proudly super-serving markets outside the top 50 markets.”

TALKERS News Notes. One of WFAN, New York afternoon co-host Craig Carton’s fraud victims is petitioning the court asking that Carton’s restitution order be rewritten because Carton has returned to the Entercom sports talk station in what petitioner Gerard LoDuka says “is almost surely an extremely lucrative job,” according to a piece in the New York Post. LoDuka claims that the restitution order requiring him to pay 15% of his yearly income toward the nearly $5 million he owes victims should be rewritten because of his new, high-profile job. But Carton’s attorney says Carton makes “a fraction” of his previous salary as morning drive co-host…..Cumulus Media announces that for the second year in a row, news/talk KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno’s “Morning News” takes home the Golden Mike Award for “Best Newscast under 15 minutes” (Division B) from the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California. KMJ news anchors Matt Otstot, Tony Manes, Liz Kern and Aaron Abeytia – along with sports anchor George Takata and weather anchor Kimberly Kolliner – teamed up for the winning newscast…..The National Association of Broadcasters is offering a new online training course for radio stations containing critical information and guidelines for complying with Federal Communications Commission regulations. The Radio Rules! A Guide to FCC Regulations for Radio Stations course is now available here. The scenario-based training course tests participants’ understanding of acceptable practices for FCC regulation compliance. The guide outlines compliance related to content, advertising, station operation and management, copyright, and public files and reporting in four learning activities.

Mildred Carter Mentoring Program Announces 2021 Participants. The Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group, a volunteer organization dedicated to developing management and leadership skills for women in radio broadcasting, introduces the MIW Group Mildred Carter Mentoring Program’s Class of 2021. They are (pictured above from left to right) The 2021 class is comprised of the following professionals, listed in alphabetical order: Lisa Kirkman, national accounts director, Ruby Radio, Northeastern Nevada; Jenna Miller, integrated sales manager, Cox Media Group, Tampa; Tonee Roper, on-air personality and promotions director, Neuhoff Media, Springfield, Illinois; and Ashley Wilson, director of country programming, iHeartMedia, Kentucky/Indiana Region. The program, now in its 20th year, matches up-and-coming women in radio with female professionals recognized as leaders in all aspects of the industry. vCreative is serving as the lead sponsor of this year’s program. The MIW Group Mildred Carter Mentoring Program is named in the memory of Mildred Carter who, along with her husband Andrew “Skip” Carter, founded the first African American-owned radio station in the U.S. in 1950, when they turned on KPRS, Kansas City.

Migrant Border Crisis, COVID-19, Cuomo Allegations, Stimulus Package, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Voting Bills, Georgia’s Trump Investigation, Gavin Newsom Recall Effort, North Korea Warns U.S., and the Grammy Awards/Oscar Nominations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/15). The Biden administration’s immigrant problem as thousands of parentless children amass at the U.S.-Mexico border; the number of COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, the removal of mask mandates in some states, and the rollout of vaccines; the sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the fellow Democrats calling for his resignation; Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package becomes law; the voting bills in various states critics say will make voting more difficult; the investigation into Donald Trump’s call to the Georgia Secretary of State asking for more votes; California Governor Gavin Newsom battles the recall effort against him; the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un warns the U.S. about military exercises with South Korea, and Sunday night’s Grammy awards and the unveiling of this year’s Oscar nominations were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, December 18, 2020

| December 18, 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. This new episode titled, “The Good, The Bad, The Fake and The False,” looks back at this past week of December 14-18, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/medical doctor; Christopher Ruddy, CEO, Newsmax TV; Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder Scamicide.com; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. 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 WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver “Freedom 93.7”; 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; 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; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; Pioneer 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.

Report: Wynter and Massey Show to Get 90-Day Tryout on WSB. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho reports that the weekend (and fill-in) show “Word on the Street” co-hosted by Shelley Wynter (right) and MalaniKai Massey (left) is getting a 90-day tryout in the nightly 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot on Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta that’s opening due to Clark Howard’s ending of his regular radio programs at WSB this month. The “Word on the Street” program launched in mid-2019 as a weekly show that became a Saturday and Sunday program. Wynter and Massey have also been filling in for other WSB shows. WSB program director Drew Anderssen tells the AJC, “As a result of the breakneck pace of news in 2020 the program has been on quite a bit, tackling tough issues while keeping audiences engaged.” “Word on the Street” has a conservative-versus-liberal aspect to it as Wynter is a Trump-supporting conservative versus Massey’s progressive demeanor, but it’s not too in-your-face. Wynter comments that he “wants the show to be a bit like friends hanging out at a bar.”

Detroit Lions Jump to Entercom’s WXYT-FM Starting Next Season. The NFL’s Detroit Lions have signed a multiyear deal with Entercom to make sports talk WXYT-FM “97.1 The Ticket” the flagship station for the team’s radio broadcasts beginning with the 2021 season. Under the current deal, Lions games are based at Cumulus Media’s WJR-AM, Detroit. Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “The Lions are synonymous with the city of Detroit and this is a great opportunity to leverage our position as the unrivaled leaders in sports radio and deliver dynamic Lions content, both on game days and throughout the year. This partnership now makes ‘97.1 The Ticket’ the flagship station for all four professional sports teams in the Motor City, giving fans a one-stop destination for all of their favorite local teams.” As part of the deal, Entercom will manage the Lions Radio Network – an extensive radio network with more than 30 stations across Michigan and in northern Ohio. All Lions Radio Network programming, including live game broadcasts, pre- and postgame shows, regular season weekly shows and additional offseason programming will air exclusively on “97.1 The Ticket.”

Steve Sommers Re-Launches Overnight Show as ‘The Steve Sommers Overnight Drive.’ After his “America’s Truckin’ Network” program was cancelled by iHeartMedia’s WLW-Cincinnati early last month, Steve Sommers will re-launch his overnight talk program as “The Steve Sommers Overnight Drive” in a partnership with motor vehicle products company Lubrication Specialties Inc and its subsidiary Hot Shot’s Secret. In January Sommers will debut a new, five-hour live stream talk show (12:00 midnight to 5:00 am ET) direct from the brand-new Hot Shot’s Secret studios in the Cincinnati area. A press release says, “The initial motivation is to get Steve back on air as soon as possible, with long-term plans of massive distribution. More details on when and where to find the new program are coming soon.” Hot Shot’s Secret founder and CEO Chris Gabrelcik says, “Hot Shot’s Secret would not be here today if it was not for the persistence of Steve to give me some airtime on his overnight show many years ago when I was first starting the company. The five hours I spent in his studio that very first visit resulted in an avalanche of orders for our product and we have never looked back ever since. Hot Shot’s Secret is now the fastest growing performance lubricant company in the U.S. and I will never forget those early days when Steve was there for us when we needed it the most.” Sommers says, alluding to this past summer’s corporate dictate not to talk politics on his show, “I am excited to get back on the air. What you heard before from my show will be the same – frank talk. Trucking is a tough business, and so is radio. I actually started working in radio when I was just 15 years old in Cincinnati. Many relocations and radio stations later I had the opportunity to return to Ohio in 1996 to produce the radio show that my father Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers started back in 1984. I then took over the show in 2004 and have enjoyed every moment with my overnight listeners. This is my life. And right now, I can see that one good turn deserves another as my friend Chris Gabrelcik is doing whatever it takes to make this show a reality.”

KDWN, Las Vegas’ Steve Sanchez Named a ‘Top 30 Influencer.’ KDWN, Las Vegas early evening host Steve Sanchez has been named one of the “Top 30 Influencers” in Las Vegas by Las Vegas Entrepreneurs Magazine. Sanchez, whose show airs from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on KDWN, was #25 on the list. He tells TALKERS magazine that earlier this year, his program was able to donate 1,000 30-day use facemasks to the Las Vegas Children’s Hospital. Sanchez, who spent that last three weeks battling COVID-19 and pneumonia, adds, “This was very much needed by them since we did this in May, right in the middle of this horrible pandemic.” Currently, Sanchez’s program is syndicated nationally by GCN, but he says he’s ending the syndication of his program next month to “concentrate on growing my show with KDWN, focus more on my social media and digital platforms, and entertain the TV offers coming to me.”

COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines, Prevention Top News/Talk Story for Week of December 14-18. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases, the rollout of vaccines, and policies for prevention combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the economy, stimulus talks, and business & school closings. Coming in at #3 was Donald Trump’s denial of his election loss and the Joe Biden transition. 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.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Next month’s “iHeartRadio ALTer EGO Presented by Capital One” is taking place virtually due to the pandemic. iHeartMedia announces that the fourth annual alternative rock show set for January 28 will be hosted by Woody, host of the syndicated “Woody Show” and will feature all-new performances and stories from Billie Eilish and the Foo Fighters. In addition, it will include previous ALTer EGO performances from BeckThe Black Keysblink-182Cage The ElephantColdplayThe KillersMumford & SonsMusetwenty one pilots, and Weezer. It will livestream exclusively for free on LiveXLive.com, the LiveXLive mobile and OTT apps for iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV and broadcast live across more than 80 iHeartMedia alternative and rock stations at 9:00 pm ET…..Michael Baisden announces he’s leaving radio at the end of the year and will discontinue syndication of his daily show. He will be replaced by “The Jeff Foxx Show with Keke Brown and Nina” on the Sun Broadcast Group’s network lineup. Baisden says, “Sun Broadcast Group has been an incredible network partner and their team, along with Mike Love, have worked diligently to grow my show for the past two years. Unfortunately, due to the historic issues we faced with COVID-19 and the subsequent economic crisis, it’s been challenging to grow affiliation and revenue for the show. To that end, ‘The Michael Baisden Show’ will not be returning for 2021.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

| June 2, 2020

KFI, Los Angeles Front and Center in Coverage of Chaos. Los Angeles is another American city in which authorities are trying to quell civil unrest in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. KFI, Los Angeles – which, on the strength of a 5.5 share in Nielsen’s April PPM survey, shot to #1 in the market – has been front and center in covering the story. Program director Robin Bertolucci tells TALKERS that KFI “was and will continue to be wall-to-wall on this story. KFI’s news team, led by Chris Little, was all over this, covering the protests and the ensuing chaos. One of our reporters, Kris Ankarlo, was so close to the action in the Fairfax district that his tires were slashed. In addition to covering it for KFI, we covered it with updates all weekend long for all of our iHeartMedia LA stations.” Bertolucci shared with TALKERS the content of a memo to all staffers sent Sunday. “I want to remind everyone that as this situation unfolds, we are in NEWS mode. This goes for all shows, news or talk. This is the time to tell people what’s happening and explain all the sides of the story. This is a dynamic situation and we need to cover it clearly, first and foremost. We should try to refrain from drawing grand conclusions, making pronouncements or adding to the overall tension and confusion. The tone is INFORMATION and CLARITY. There are many different factions at play in this story… business owners, antifa, police, looters, the national guard, and let’s not forget the original focus of this… the protest about race and police brutality that launched this moment in history. This has become something very different and awful, but we need to stop talking about this as if it’s an us/them situation. We are all part of the same community and we need to find a way to talk about what is going on. Let’s get the whole story and let’s talk to different members of our community. No, I’m not condoning any bit of this horror show but I am asking us not to simplify this, not to paint everyone with the same broad brush and to find the nuances and tell the stories.”

WSB, Atlanta’s Drew Anderssen: Proud of WSB and CMG News/Talkers. WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta director of branding and programming Drew Anderssen tells TALKERS magazine, “I’m very proud of the work that WSB and frankly all of our Cox Media Group news/talk stations have done in response to local market protests. In Atlanta specifically, our 95.5 WSB news center was staffed around the clock and we aired wall-to-wall coverage of the protests throughout the weekend. ‘The Show’ with Shelley Wynter and Malanikai, which features a predominantly black cast, were integrated into our news coverage and helped facilitate conversations about how we move forward each night as a community while protests continue. We added 22 hours of local programming this weekend focused on the impact of George Floyd’s death at the hands of law enforcement, featuring talk with prominent Atlanta leaders in government, civil rights, entertainment, and faith. We continue to monitor the developments of the historic protests happening across the country and are making real-time decisions on adjusting programming to meet the needs of our listeners and to serve our community.”

KPCC, Pasadena Reporter Shot with Rubber Bullet. As reported by LARadio.com, KPCC-FM, Pasadena reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez was shot in the throat (at right) by a Long Beach police officer. LARadio.com notes that the law allows reporters access to protests in order for them to do their jobs and KPCC had “confirmed with officials from L.A. County and the cities of Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica that journalists were among those exempt from the curfew.” Guzman-Lopez tweeted that he’d just finished interviewing a man with his iPhone when he saw a police officer take aim and shoot. He tweeted, “The rubber bullet hit stings like a mf, and is starting to hurt, talked to doctor friends, said if not having trouble breathing then ok. Going home.” He later tweeted that an ER doctor confirmed no damage to his windpipe.

New York Landmark Boarded Up. In New York City, WABC talk host and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa tells TALKERS he’s been “leading the Guardian Angels patrols at night to stop the looting in Soho and return in the morning to broadcast on WABC about what I just experienced hours before.” The photo above is a still from video Sliwa shot of the Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square – all boarded up. Sliwa adds, “The NYPD seems unable to address these safety issues.  So, the Guardian Angels have stepped in and are now patrolling these hot spot areas around the clock. It is uncertain how long the mayhem will last but we are in it for the long haul. We have been here since 1979 and we don’t intend on going anywhere.” You can see Sliwa’s eerie video of the Macy’s storefront here.

Rush Limbaugh and ‘The Breakfast Club’ Air Conversation About Race. In a first for the Premiere Networks personalities, conservative talk star Rush Limbaugh and “The Breakfast Club” hosts DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne Tha God had a 30-minute conversation about race relations in America that aired on both of their programs. The point of contention between Limbaugh and the “Breakfast Club” cast was the issue of white privilege. During the conversation Limbaugh said he doesn’t believe in the concept of white privilege, calling it a “construct of today’s Democratic Party.” Charlamagne called Limbaugh “delusional” for his stance on the matter. You can hear the exchange here.

Dimes Media Launches ‘K-NEWS 98.5’ in San Luis Obispo. The San Luis Obispo market has a new news/talk station as Dimes Media unveils “K-NEWS 98.5 The Power of Information” on KWWV-HD2/K253BR. Dimes Media president and CEO Eric D. Fahnoe says, “‘K-NEWS 98.5’ now provides San Luis Obispo county residents with a voice and perspective they didn’t have before. We look forward to enhancing the diversity and dialogue regarding issues ranging from local to national which our resident’s face daily. The importance of hearing and considering other perspectives cannot be overstated during these current times. Our culture will best evolve and compromise through informed discussions and we look forward to ‘K-NEWS 98.5’ contribution to the conversation every day.” The station’s weekday lineup includes: “The Armstrong & Getty Show,” “The Glenn Beck Program,” “The Savage Nation with Michael Savage,” “The Andy Caldwell Show,” “The Larry Elder Show,” “The Dennis Prager Show,” “Red Eye Radio” and “The Hugh Hewitt Show.” Weekend programs include: “Handel on the Law,” “Free Talk Live,” “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” “Townhall Review,” “Meet the Press,” “Armed American,” and “The Christian Outlook.”

George Floyd Protests, Trump vs Governors/Military Threat, Trump Church Visit, Facebook ‘Walkout,’ COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, and Limbaugh-Breakfast Club Conversation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/1). The ongoing violence and looting accompanying the protests over George Floyd’s death; President Trump calls U.S. governors “weak” for failure to stop protests and threatens the call in the U.S. military; Trump’s photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church in DC; Facebook employees stage a virtual “walkout” over Trump posts; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and projections for future cases; and the radio conversation between Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh and the syndicator’s “Breakfast Club” hosts were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Salem Media Group Reports Q1 Revenue Down 3.7%. Reporting its financial data from the first quarter of 2020, Salem Media Group says total revenue was $58.3 million, down 3.7% from the same period in 2019. After reporting net income of $322,000 in Q1 of 2019, Salem reports a loss of $55.2 million this year. Breaking down the company by segment, net broadcast revenue decreased 2.0% to $45.2 million. Same Station net broadcast revenue increased 0.6% to $44.3 million. Digital had a tough quarter, dropping 11.1% to $9.1 million.  Speaking during Monday’s investor conference call about the company’s strategy for surviving the economic impact of COVID-19, CEO Ed Atsinger said, “First of all, we’ve reduced discretionary spending such as travel and entertainment, which of course has been easy so far. We’ve eliminated open positions, we’ve instituted a hiring freeze, we’ve made request for discounts or forbearance from vendors and landlords, and we laid off and furloughed about 10% of our employees. We have limited capital expenditures to emergency expenses only, we suspended the quarterly dividend, we suspended the 401(k) match, and we’ve taken advantage of the ability of deferred payroll taxes of approximately 3.6 million under the CARES Act, and we’ve reduced base salary for every employee with salary cuts ranging from between 5% and 10% depending upon the salary levels.” Company EVP and CFO Evan Masyr says the company will not be offering Q2 guidance but delivered some April data. “April revenue is down 24%. I’ll break that decline down in a little bit more detail. Broadcast revenue in total declined 24%; local spot advertising was down 49% and national spot advertising was down 38%; local programs were down 26% while national programs were down 2%; local digital revenue was up 30%; national digital revenue declined 11% and publishing revenue declined 45%; and in May, revenue was down just around 23%.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript. You can read the whole conference call transcript here.

TALKERS News Notes. KXTV-TV, Sacramento reports that KHTK-AM, Sacramento sports talk host and Sacramento Kings play-by-play voice Grant Napear has been placed on leave by station owner Bonneville after a Twitter exchange with former King’s player Doug Christie in which Napear said, “all lives matter.” The Sacramento Kings issued a statement saying they are investigating the incident with broadcast partners KHTK and NBC Sports California…..This Thursday (6/4), Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the latest in a series of COVID-19-related Town Hall broadcasts. This edition is titled, “NJ Back to Business.” The station says, “Even as more New Jersey businesses are permitted to reopen, the road to economic recovery will be long. With unemployment at record levels and the state facing a multi-billion-dollar deficit due to lagging tax collections, critical decisions will be made in the months ahead that will determine how quickly businesses will recover, or if they will recover at all.” Vice president, senior political director and director of special projects Eric Scott leads the discussion with New Jersey State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. LARadio.com reports that Muerelo Media has let a number of staffers go from classic rock KLOS, Los Angeles. Frosty Stillwell – who had been on furlough from the Frosty, Heidi & Frank morning show – is let go permanently. Joining him are afternoon drive host Gary Moore, as well as Jim ‘JD’ Daniels, Steve Jones, Frazer Smith, and Greg Beharrell.…..On-air pro Matt Ryan – assistant brand manager and afternoon host at Townsquare Media’s hot AC WJLK, Asbury Park, New Jersey “94.3 The Point” is named host of “Pop Crush Nights.” He takes over for Lisa Paige. He’ll continue his role with WJLK.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

| February 11, 2020

Pete Spriggs Retires from WSB, Atlanta; Drew Anderssen to Assume PD Duties. Longtime Cox Media Group programmer Pete Spriggs is retiring as director of branding and programming for news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta.  Current senior manager of programming and operations Drew Anderssen will step into Spriggs’ role, effective February 28.  Spriggs began his career with Cox at Dayton’s news/talk WHIO-AM.  He spent three years at the company’s WDBO-AM, Orlando before taking on programming duties at WSB, Atlanta in 2000.  Spriggs says, “WSB will go down in history as one of the greatest radio stations in the world, and I’m humbled to have been the program director there for 19 years.  I’ve worked with some of the finest talent in this business.  Several of them are in either the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame or the National Radio Hall of Fame and we’ve all worked together to make life better for our listeners in Atlanta and Georgia.  It has been an awe-inspiring experience for me, and I’m so grateful to CMG for trusting me with the ‘keys’ to such a great ‘kingdom.’”  CMG EVP radio Bill Hendrich says, “I have had the pleasure of working with Pete for over 25 years.  Along with being the best news/talk program director in the business, Pete is also one of the nicest people you will ever meet.  Cox Media Group has benefited greatly from Pete’s leadership in Dayton, Orlando, Atlanta, and as our news/talk format leader.  We are definitely a better company because Pete Spriggs was on our team.  He will be missed, and we all wish him the best going forward.”  Prior to joining WSB, Drew Anderssen spent years in programming and research for Cox Media Group in Orlando, Florida and Tulsa, Oklahoma.  The company says, “Anderssen brings an immense amount of experience and devotion to his role and CMG looks forward to continuing their partnership to ensure WSB remains an industry leader.”

Newsmax TV Names Emerald Robinson White House Correspondent.  Broadcast journalist Emerald Robinson joins Newsmax TV as White House correspondent where she’ll work alongside Newsmax chief White House correspondent John Gizzi.  Robinson was most recently chief White House correspondent for One America News Network.  Speaking about her new position, Robinson says, “Newsmax TV has become a major force in Washington’s media universe and I’m thrilled to be a part of its major expansion.  Americans trust Newsmax to deliver truthful, unbiased reporting – and that’s what we do every day.”  Robinson began her journalism career as host of “The Daily Orbit,” a syndicated science and technology news show. Her experience also includes entertainment, political, and economic beats. ​ During her tenure on the White House beat, Robinson has covered presidential foreign trips including the Helsinki and Singapore Summits.

Dallas’ ‘The Ticket’ Moves Bob Sturm to ‘The Hardline’ Afternoon Show. In the wake of the recent retirement of longtime afternoon drive station personality Mike Rhyner, Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas “The Ticket” announces midday co-host Bob Sturm moves to afternoon drive to partner with Corby Davidson as co-hosts of “The Hardline.”  Danny Balis continues to produce the PM drive show.  Sturm has co-hosted the midday “BaD Radio” with Dan McDowell since 2000.  Filling Sturm’s role on “BaD Radio” is show producer Jake Kemp, who moves up to the co-host role.  Cumulus Dallas/Houston RVP Dan Bennett says, “Bob Sturm has earned the trust and following from our listeners for over 20 years and is one of the finest sports talk talents in America.  This move made perfect sense and we are excited to entertain our listeners with the new afternoon drive team of Bob Sturm and Corby Davidson, and with Jake Kemp and Dan McDowell for ‘BaD Radio’ in middays.”  Sturm adds, “Our station lost an absolute icon in Mike Rhyner to retirement and we must all pull together to bridge that gap.  I am honored to join forces with The Hardline’s Corby Davidson and Danny Balis to see what we can dream up from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm and we can’t wait to get to our mighty challenge.  Dan McDowell and Jake Kemp will make a fantastic duo themselves from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. Dan McDowell is the closest friend I might ever find in this business and I owe him an immeasurable debt.”

SiriusXM Drops $75 Million into SoundCloud. Audio entertainment giant SiriusXM builds up its relationship with SoundCloud via a purchase of $75 million of securities for a minority stake in the open audio platform.  SiriusXM, via subsidiary Pandora, began an ad sales relationship with SoundCloud in 2019 in which advertisers and brands could purchase SoundCloud’s U.S. ad inventory directly through Pandora, leveraging Pandora’s direct sales capabilities, targeting data, and audio programmatic platform.  SiriusXM says that SoundCloud and Pandora’s combined U.S. audience constitutes more than 100 million unique listeners.  SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer says, “SoundCloud’s unique platform serves a vital role in today’s music ecosystem where new artists are discovered and build their fan base, and established artists experiment and connect directly with their fans in highly effective ways.  We admire SoundCloud’s loyal and growing audience, its offering for creators, and its reputation and popularity in global music communities. We believe this is another opportunity to continue creating value for SiriusXM stockholders by investing in expanding digital audio platforms.”  As part of the minority stake acquisition, the SoundCloud board of directors will expand to include two individuals designated by SiriusXM.

World Radio Day Honor Goes to WTOP.  In celebration of the forthcoming observance of World Radio Day coming up this Thursday (2/13), the American Academy of Radio – a subsidiary of the Academia Española de la Radio (Spanish Academy of Radio) – presented the World Radio Day “American Radio Station of the Year” award  to Hubbard Radio’s all-news outlet WTOP, Washington, DC.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) executive board recommended to the General Conference the proclamation of World Radio Day, on the basis of a wide consultation process, carried out in 2011.  The leader of the project, the Academia Española de la Radio, received support for the proposal from diverse stakeholders, including major international broadcasters and broadcasting unions and associations. The date of February 13, the day United Nations Radio was established in 1946, was proposed by the Director-General of UNESCO which proclaimed February 13 as World Radio Day.  The objectives of the day are to raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio; to encourage decision-makers to establish and provide access to information through radio; as well as to enhance networking and international cooperation among broadcasters.  The jury appointed to judge stations for the American honor are: Heather Cohen, EVP  of The Weiss AgencyDeborah Parenti, publisher of Radio Ink/RBR/TVBR/Podcast Business JournalFrancisco R. Montero, managing partner of Fletcher, Heald & HildrethPaul MacLane, managing director of content, B2B media technology brands and editor-in-chief of Radio WorldMichael Harrison, editor and publisher of TALKERS magazine; and Paul Rotella, president and CEO of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association. In addition to WTOP, nominated stations were KIIS-FM, Los Angeles; WRHU, Hofstra University; and WFUV, Fordham University.  Pictured at this morning’s (2/11) ceremony in the station’s offices and studios are jurists Frank Montero (l) and Paul McLane (r) delivering the trophy to WTOP general manager Joel Oxley (c).

Trump Budget Proposes Elimination of CPB Funding.  In the Trump Administration’s budget for Fiscal 2021 and Fiscal 2022, the line item for funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be reduced from about $445 million to about $30 million.  CPB president and CEO Patricia Harrison says, “We look forward to working with Congress in the continued pursuit of our statutory public service mission of supporting educational, informational and diverse content that addresses the needs of our nation’s citizens – a mission the American people overwhelmingly trust in and support.  The federal appropriation to CPB is the foundation of our uniquely American, public-private partnership that supports our nation’s public media system – a system of more than 1,500 locally controlled and operated public television and radio stations across the country. This seed money pays invaluable dividends to millions of Americans and their families in the form of content and resources that educate, inform and inspire.  Through public media initiatives such as American Graduate and Ready To Learn, stations provide high-quality educational content and community engagement that helps Americans prepare for success in school and career. As the most trusted news source in America, local public media stations offer journalism that elevates local stories to a national audience.  Further, public media stations’ infrastructure provides critical communications functions during local and national emergencies to first responders and emergency management officials.”  Of course, funding is ultimately left to Congress which has historically ignored such calls for CPB defunding.

TALKERS News Notes. Conservative media personality and author Todd Starnes has been chosen to moderate a Fathom Events panel discussion for the upcoming theatrical documentary, Patterns of Evidence: The Red Sea Mystery.  The panel discussion was recently filmed at the Ark Encounter and will be shown nationwide in theaters on February 18.  Starnes is host of the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio program, “The Todd Starnes Show” and the short-form “Todd Starnes News & Commentary” – both distributed by Hamilton Strategies. The long-form show recently added new affiliate stations KARN-FM, Little Rock; KWAM, Memphis; and KLUP-AM, San Antonio…..The “Always in Fashion” radio program, starring fashion industry pro Mark Weber (left) and his son Jesse (right), moves from Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York to iHeartMedia’s WOR, New York.  The show airs Saturday nights from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm and Sundays from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  Weber says, “Throughout my career, I have worked with the best and that’s precisely what has led me to iHeartMedia’s 710 WOR.  We’re thrilled to join the number one audio company and broadcast on one of the leading talk stations in NYC.”…..Nashville sports talk hosts Derrick Mason and Braden Gall announce via Twitter that they have been let go from their morning show duties on The Cromwell Group’s sports talk WPRT-FM “102.5 The Game.”  Back in December, third host Nick Kayal exited the station.  The WPRT website offers no indication of the station’s intentions for the daypart.  Mason played wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans from 1997 through 2004…..ABC Audio will officially launch the ABC Power Portal at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville on February 19.  ABC says the ABC Power Portal is “the first on-demand, original video service for distribution to radio station websites, apps and social media platforms.  ABC Power Portal will house a wide range of music and entertainment videos as well as breaking news and obituary content, all produced by ABC Audio.  These new videos, along with social media teasers, will be available daily for download by Power Portal affiliates as white label content, allowing stations to add their own logos and sponsor ads to the videos prior to publication.  ABC Audio executive director business strategies, programming and distribution Heidi Oringer says, “I’m thrilled to debut the ABC Power Portal and offer stations the type of digital content television outlets have had access to for so long.  This turn-key platform is essential for radio’s digital expansion and allows affiliates to take advantage of ABC Audio’s unmatched array of content.”  ABC Audio posted content from last Sunday’s Oscars.  Below is an image of the Power Portal dashboard.

Presidential Race, Wuhan Coronavirus, Trump Budget-Border Wall, Oscars Political Speeches, Russians Track U.S. Satellites, Chinese Equifax Hackers, and MLB Playoffs Proposal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/10). The New Hampshire primary and the Democrats’ race to take on President Trump in November; the status of the Wuhan coronavirus and the effects on China’s economy; President Trump’s budget and the cuts to services and increase in border wall funding; the political speeches at Sunday evening’s Oscars ceremony; the report the Russian’s are tracking U.S. military satellites; Chinese military hackers are accused of executing the Equifax breach; and MLB floats a new playoff format in which division winners get to choose opponents among top news/talk stories yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Shreveport, Louisiana programmer and air personality Nina Montgomery – who serves as PD and DJ on Cumulus Media’s urban AC KVMA “Magic 102.9” – was recently honored for her significant contributions to Shreveport’s African-American Community.  Montgomery was recognized at the Shreveport-Bossier-DeSoto African-American Scholarship Awards Banquet.  Cumulus Shreveport VP and market manager Aaron Criswell says, “Nina has been a spark of light for the African-American Community in Shreveport and Bossier City for many years.  Nina has committed to spread this light to the community and listeners of urban AC powerhouse KVMA-FM, day in and day out.”…..Entercom appoints Lisa Powell SVP and market manager for its Greensboro, North Carolina cluster that includes hip hop WJMH “102 JAMZ,” country WPAW “93.1 The Wolf,” urban AC WQMG, adult contemporary WSMW “98.7 Simon,” and Gospel outlets WEAL-AM and WPET-AM.  Entercom regional president Doug Abernethy says, “For over two decades, Lisa has faithfully led our sales efforts in the Triad and obtained outstanding results.  We are excited to recognize her accomplishments with a well-deserved promotion and are confident in her ability to lead our cluster to further growth.”…..The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show” cast member Kellie Rasberry is launching her second podcast, this one based on the morning show’s “Love Letters to Kellie” segment.  It’s being produced by longtime show producer Robert Ehrman.  Rasberry says, “Robert and I have been working on this project for quite some time and I’m so excited that we finally get to share it with the world! While we’ll be having a lot of fun on this podcast, I realize people are trusting me to give them advice that can often have serious consequences. I don’t take that lightly.”  She already hosts a podcast titled, “A Sandwich and Some Lovin.’”…..SiriusXM announces that Harry Styles will perform for SiriusXM and Pandora on Friday, February 28 at a secret location in New York City.  The intimate set for SiriusXM subscribers and Pandora listeners will feature Styles performing songs from his recent sophomore album, Fine Line, released via Columbia Records. The event will also include an interview with Harry Styles and “The Morning Mash Up” hosts Ryan Sampson, Nicole Ryan, and Stanley T.

PPM Analysis: Holiday 2019 ExtraTALKERS magazine manager editor Mike Kinosian offers this “extra” look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2019 PPM survey.  This report looks at the weekly 6+ AQH share movement from the December 2019 survey to the Holiday 2019 survey, based on degree of improvement or loss, by format and more.  See the analysis here.