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SRN’s Mike Gallagher Tours Border Region of Yuma, Arizona. Pictured above is Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher (foreground) and KKNT, Phoenix talk host Seth Leibsohn (behind Gallagher) at the U.S.-Mexico border in Yuma, Arizona with Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ 5th District.) Gallagher says, “While we were observing an area by the Morelos Dam, a group of 27 migrants was detained a few feet from us. While there, I witnessed numerous men, women, and children with backpacks walking across the border and into the custody of the Border Patrol and National Guard. It was 101 degrees when I was there. I witnessed some of these people being dropped off by vehicles on the Mexican side and then they walked across the border to the American side.” As part of the visit, Gallagher interviewed the Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot and other notable officials who are grappling with the border crisis.
Edison Research: Audio Consumption Affected by Work-From-Home Shift. The latest data from Edison Research’s Share of Ear study sheds further light on audio consumption as a significant share of American workers shifted to at-home employment in 2020. Edison says the latest Share of Ear release shows a clear difference in listening between those working primarily at home vs. those not working from home. Among employed persons who work from home, nearly three-quarters of their total audio consumption (72%) happens at home. Meanwhile, among those who work away from their homes, only 29% of their listening happens at home. Edison says that Share of Ear has tracked the growth of audio consumption since 2014 and has always tracked listening location as part of that dataset. The study has now added a measure of those U.S. adults who are employed and work primarily from home, and those who are employed and do not work primarily from home, leading to new insights. Director of research Laura Ivey adds, “We knew from Share of Ear data in 2020 that a tremendous amount of listening had shifted to home as a result of quarantine restrictions. While almost everyone was spending at least some increased time at home during the pandemic, it is those who shifted their work to their homes who drove the biggest changes. We also saw audio consumption rise on computers and other devices such as internet-connected televisions, so we can see that at-home workers are using various audio devices at home.”
Stacey Kauffman Promoted to RVP and Market Manager for Audacy Northern California. Adding oversight of Audacy’s San Francisco market to her current responsibility for the Sacramento market is Stacey Kauffman, who begins her new role as regional vice president and market manager for Northern California on June 7. Audacy operates all-news KCBS-AM, sports talk KGMZ-FM, “95.7 The Game” and four music brands in the San Francisco market. Kauffman will report into regional president Doug Abernethy and succeeds Greg Nemitz, who is assuming a leadership role as SVP overseeing West Coast sales and operations for Audacy’s National Partnerships team. Abernethy says, “Stacey has demonstrated incredible leadership in every phase of the game. She builds an incredible team culture that produces results. It is an honor to work alongside her and promote her to Regional Vice President.” Additionally, Kieran Geffert is promoted to vice president of sales for Sacramento and San Francisco, reporting into Kauffman.
Rob Carson Receives Condolences from President Trump. Conservative media personality Rob Carson received condolences on the passing of his mother Bonnie from former President Donald Trump. The former president wrote: “Your mother, Bonnie, was a woman of great warmth, humor, and personality. She will be missed. Condolences to all!” Carson hosts “Rob Carson’s What in the World?” that airs on Newsmax TV on Saturday nights as well as the podcast “The Newsmax Daily.” A top Trump adviser tells Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy that Trump watches Carson on Tuesday mornings on Newsmax TV and says, “He’s the funniest guy on TV!”
JAKIB Media Partners Adds ‘National Football Show’ to Network. Content firm JAKIB Media Partners announces the addition of “The National Football Show with Dan Sileo” to its slate of sports content. The program launched on YouTube last month and airs live from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET. JAKIB Media founder Joe Krause says, “Dan Sileo brings a powerful rolodex and incredible knowledge about football. JAKIB Media will re-define how football fans consume sports content and ‘Big Silz’ will be leading the way around the country with more live shows in 18-weeks than any other sports entity.” JAKIB Media says Sileo’s new show has already attracted an impressive lineup of notable guests, including Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich; legendary sports talker Howard Eskin; former ESPN host Mike Golic; Eagles great Ron Jaworski, Super Bowl-winning head coach Bruce Arians; and more.
COVID-19/Wuhan Lab Origin Theory, Barr Memo Appeal, Border Crisis/Immigration Reform, Belarusian Hijacking Case, AZ and GA Vote Audits, Florida Social Media Bill, and Israeli-Palestinian Cease Fire/Attacks on Jews Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/24). The fast-falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about vaccine hesitancy, and Dr. Tony Fauci’s admission that he can’t rule out the Wuhan Virology lab as the origin of the coronavirus; Joe Biden’s Justice Department appeals part of the request for public release of former AG William Barr’s memo on the Mueller Report; the large number of child migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; Belarus faces European backlash for forcing a Ryanair jet to land in Minsk in order to capture opposition activist Roman Protasevich; the 2020 vote audit taking place in Arizona and the audit just authorized in Georgia; Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signs a bill banning social media censorship; and the ceasefire in Gaza and the rise in domestic attacks on Jews were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
SAG-AFTRA Files Grievance with NLRB Against WNYC. On Sunday, SAG-AFTRA filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against New York Public Radio, owner of WNYC, Gothamist and other media properties, in response to what it calls “a coordinated and aggressive campaign to undermine union and protected and concerted activity.” SAG-AFTRA says the charge was filed “in response to a management-driven strategy to silence a thriving newsroom and undermine accountability and transparency by issuing discipline and threats against employees for asking questions and engaging in legally protected activity. The union also maintains that WNYC management maintained and enforced work rules designed for the purpose of curtailing accountability and transparency and surveilled employees or created the perception of surveillance of employees in their communications with the union and one another.” The union also says New York Public Radio fired “two respected journalists, including the SAG-AFTRA shop steward and an 18-year employee for indefensible and unlawful reasons that violate the collective bargaining agreement and the NLRA.” SAG-AFTRA is asking for New York Public Radio’s chief executive and president, Goli Sheikholeslami, to immediately reinstate all unjustly terminated employees irrespective of union member status. Additionally, SAG-AFTRA has called on the NYPR board of directors to immediately investigate management actions in recent months in a transparent process and report all findings to the public.
TALKERS News Notes. Albany news/talk WGY-AM/FM and sister hot AC WRVE raised more than $350,000 to benefit the Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med via its 23rd annual “Cares for Kids Radiothon.” iHeartMedia Albany area president Kristen Delaney says, “iHeartMedia Albany has partnered with the Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med for 23 successful years of the Cares for Kids Radiothon. The event allows us to introduce some incredible kids to our listeners and share their stories. We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the Capital Region community.”…..Charlamagne The God’s and iHeartMedia’s The Black Effect Podcast Network and TV personalities Gizelle Bryant and Robyn Dixon are launching a new podcast titled, “Reasonably Shady.” In the debut episode, Gizelle and Robyn discuss how their long-lasting friendship began, how both women became cast members on “The Real Housewives of Potomac and why they decided to start a podcast during the pandemic…..iHeartRadio announces it has officially surpassed 150 million registered users. In addition to eclipsing 150 million users, iHeartRadio has also seen an explosion in growth of app downloads, music and podcast streaming and more. As audio streaming grew even more popular during the pandemic, iHeartRadio has recorded more than 3 billion app downloads, with monthly downloads peaking as high as 28% as compared to last year.
Caroline Beasley to Receive NAB’s National Radio Award. This fall, National Association of Broadcasters will bestow its National Radio Award upon Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley. The honor will be presented during the Radio Show opening session on Wednesday, October 13. The Radio Show, co-produced by the Radio Advertising Bureau, will be co-located with NAB Show and held October 13-14 in Las Vegas. NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “We are thrilled to honor Caroline Beasley and commemorate her impact on the radio industry with the National Radio Award. Her business savvy and extraordinary leadership have propelled Beasley Media Group to new heights, while her passion for radio perfectly illustrate the spirit of broadcasting.”
Round Two of April PPM Ratings Released. The second of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s April 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington DC, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s April 2021 survey period covered April 1 – 28. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Washington, although Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM adds one-tenth for a 4.0 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share), it falls from #9 to the #10 rank. Hubbard Radio’s crosstown all-news WTOP-FM dips nine-tenths but retains its #2 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston sheds one-tenth for a 4.3 share and remains ranked #8 while sister all-news WBZ-AM adds two-tenths for a 6.6 share finish and is steady at #4. In Seattle, Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM falls from #1 to #2 after losing two-tenths for a 6.2 share finish while Sinclair Broadcast Group’s all-news KOMO-AM/FM falls from #5 to #8 after losing nine-tenths and wrapping the survey with a 4.1 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this second round of markets (as well as yesterday’s first round ) here.
KERN-AM, Bakersfield and KIVA, Albuquerque Add ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show.’ Effective Monday (5/24), two news/talk stations add Premiere Networks’ “The Rush Limbaugh Show” to their program schedules. American General Media’s KERN-AM, Bakersfield “Newstalk 1180 & The New 96.1 KERN” announces the addition of in the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart and Rock of Talk LLC‘s KIVA-AM, Albuquerque “The Rock of Talk” adds the show in the 10:00 am to 1:00 pm daypart. KERN regional director of operations & programming Robert Lewis says, “‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’ has always been the gold standard of talk radio. Having the opportunity to add Rush’s wise words to our broadcast day was a very easy choice for KERN Radio.” KIVA program director and Rock of Talk LLC CEO Eddy Aragon says, “I understand the tremendous value of the Rush Limbaugh brand for our audience as the legacy of the greatest radio host in American history continues. ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’ is the perfect complement to our impressive talk lineup. May the second century of radio live on with what we have been blessed to have known!” Premiere Networks says, “The program features Limbaugh’s relevant and entertaining audio from his award-winning career in broadcast excellence. The audio is guided by familiar voices of the program, including Todd Herman, Ken Matthews, Jason Lewis and Brett Winterble.”
Jim Blasingame Announces End to ‘The Small Business Advocate Show.’ Longtime host of the daily talk radio program “The Small Business Advocate” – Jim Blasingame – announces he’s ending the show after more than 23 years after this Friday’s program. Blasingame says that he just turned 72 years old and he’s getting tired of getting up at 4:20 am to begin his broadcast day. He says he’s also putting his weekly syndicated column to bed after 22 years and more than 1,100 columns. He says, “Started my first job in the 4th grade, grew up on a farm, punched a time-card for the first time in 1966, and haven’t missed a day or a deadline since. And as much as I’ve loved every minute of my work as ‘The Small Business Advocate,’ I don’t mind admitting that trying to program and write small business relevance during the pandemic and lockdowns has taken its toll. Perhaps you can relate… The good news is that I plan to maintain my library of archived content, so any interviews we conducted will still work. Please continue to leverage them to your advantage.”
Focus360 Reveals New Logo, Campaign Theme. National radio sales and syndication network Focus360 unveils its new look including a fresh logo and campaign slogan for 2021, “Speak Volumes.” The company says the refresh is the first in several years for the network and follows a record start to 2021 with the company seeing growth of more than 20%. As part of its brand launch Focus 360 is rolling out a new website, a modern, image-focused ad campaign, all new internal graphics and communications and a very active social media strategy across all platforms. Their 2021 campaign slogan “Speak Volumes” was chosen to highlight the company’s success across several of its offerings including the Jelli network which covers major markets across America and reaches almost 100% of the available audience. Founder and CEO Phil Brown comments, “This is an exciting day for all of us here at Focus 360. Our new logo, website and the Speak Volumes campaign tells our story in a most powerful way. It’s been an incredible year so far and we want to show the entire radio industry more of what we have planned. Stay tuned!”
January 6 Commission, COVID-19 Mandates/Vaccines, Israeli-Hamas Conflict, Asian Hate Crime Bill, Trump Organization Investigation, AZ Vote Audit, and Andrew Giuliani’s Gubernatorial Bid Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/18). The U.S. House to propose creation of January 6 Commission to investigate Capitol invasion; the loosening of COVID-19 mask mandates and the battle against vaccine hesitancy; the ongoing rocket fire between the IDF and Hamas in Gaza; the U.S. House’s COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to prevent hate crimes against Asians; the New York State probe into the Trump Organization widens to criminal wrongdoing; the audit of 2020 election votes in Maricopa County, Arizona; and Andrew Giuliani announces bid for New York governor in 2022 among top news/talk stories yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
TALKERS News Notes. An agreement between Newsmax TV and iHeartMedia puts the audio from Newsmax TV shows on iHM’s iHeartRadio digital platform. The deal also allows iHeartRadio users to hear Newsmax podcasts including “The Newsmax Daily with Rob Carson” and “Greg Kelly Reports.”…..A new study from Edison Research called “Clubhouse Users in America” indicates that 15% of social media users 18+ say they have ever used Clubhouse – the invitation-only, audio-based social networking platform that debuted last year. Although Clubhouse has a relatively small number of users compared to other social media networking services, it has garnered significant attention due to its premise of shared audio spaces and the exclusive nature of its invitation-only membership. “Clubhouse Users in America” found that the percentage of social media users who use Clubhouse remained relatively flat over the survey period (Feb 2021 – Apr 2021) and that time spent using the service declined in April. However, those that do use the service use it often, with 44% of Clubhouse users saying they use the service at least once per day, and 28% saying they use it at least once per week. See more from the study here…..The Independent Broadcasters Association announces its next webinar in its members-only series, “Selling In The Culture of Response,” will be held at 2:00 pm ET on Tuesday, May 25. The webinar will be presented by Paul Agase, CRO of advertising analytics and attribution company AnalyticOwl. The webinar offer broadcasters, streamers, and publishers advice on using historical response data to demonstrate the results that broadcast delivers and help advertisers and agencies build effective campaigns. See more information about IBA here…..This weekend (5/20-23), SiriusXM is presenting comprehensive play-by-play and talk coverage of the 2021 PGA Championship from Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Live hole-by-hole coverage, which SiriusXM will co-produce with Westwood One, airs starting at 1:00 pm ET Thursday through Sunday and continue through the completion of each day’s play…..The Fishnet Syndication program “On the Right Side” with host Reid L. Rosenthal adds new affiliate KRQN-FM, Vinton, Iowa to its roster of stations.
Monday Memo: Was Rush the Format? As the American comeback unfolds, polls demonstrate widespread optimism. “Yet,” consultant Holland Cooke reckons, there’s “a day-after-day negativity, a wearying sameness, among the half-dozen hosts vying for the Rush Limbaugh hours” on his affiliate stations. And in this week’s column, Cooke warns against typecasting the format as political talk: “If we learned one thing during the pandemic shutdown, it’s people’s appetite for ‘survival information.’” Read his column here.
Pending Business: Why Buy? Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says that if you ask yourself the question: Why buy advertising on your station, you know the answers to this in your sleep. “Yet why do three different sellers give three different answers? It sounds silly, but even at the best run stations, large market or small, my experience is the answers vary a little too much.” He offers eight questions to ask yourself that will help you formulate the answers to that question: Why buy? Read it here.
Townsquare Media Q1 Net Revenue Down 5.1%; Digital Revenue Up 13%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Townsquare Media reveals total net revenue was $88.8 million, a decline of 5.1% from the same period in 2020. The company’s net loss shrinks dramatically from $59.5 million in the first quarter of 2020 to $6.1 million in Q1 of 2021. Operating income also did an about-face, shrinking from a loss of $72.1 million in Q1 of 2020 to income of $8.8 million this year. Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson says, “We are extremely proud to report that Townsquare’s first quarter 2021 results approached, and in some cases exceeded, levels achieved in the pre-COVID first quarter of 2019, which surpassed our expectations and previously stated guidance. In the first quarter of 2021, net revenue declined -5% year over year, and -1.6% excluding political and Live Events net revenue. When excluding Live Events net revenue, first quarter net revenue increased +0.3% as compared to the first quarter of 2019. Total digital revenue growth accelerated to +13% year over year (+32% vs. Q1 2019), contributing nearly 49% of Townsquare’s total first quarter net revenue. Our digital revenue growth was fueled by Townsquare Interactive, our digital marketing solutions subscription business, Townsquare Ignite, our digital programming advertising platform, and Townsquare Amped, digital advertising on our owned and operated brands, which increased revenue year over year by +15%, +12%, and +11%, respectively. Impressively, TSI, Ignite, and Amped’s first quarter net revenue exceeded Q1 2019 revenue levels by +34%, +45%, and +15%, respectively. Over the next three years, we expect to grow our digital net revenue from $167 million (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of March 31, 2021) to $250 million. The strong growth of our digital revenue, together with our strong expense management, led to Adjusted EBITDA increasing nearly +30% over the prior year. I am especially proud to share that first quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $20.1 million is +$1.3 million, or +7%, higher than Q1 2019’s pro forma Adjusted EBITDA, and +$2.1 million, or +12%, higher when excluding profit from Live Events.”
The Mayor and the Mobster. Nationally syndicated Compass Media Networks talk star Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo scored an amazing one-hour double interview with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former high-profile mobster Michael Franzese last week which he ran on Tuesday through Friday (5/4-7) as a four-part special series on his radio show titled, “The Mayor and the Mobster.” Giuliani prosecuted Franzese 40 years ago at a time when the two men were arch enemies. Much has changed since then in terms of their relationship. In a fascinating conversation about the nature of crime fighting, prosecution, and redemption, the two men have more than reconciled their differences as indicated in a wonderful interview conducted brilliantly by Pags. You can watch the entire 56-minute conversation captured on video by clicking here.
Missouri House Passes Bill to Make January 12 ‘Rush Limbaugh Day.’ The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill last Thursday (5/6) that would make January 12 “Rush Limbaugh Day” in honor of the Cape Girardeau, Missouri native who died in February at age 70. The bill met with opposition from Democratic House members, including Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove who criticized Limbaugh for “constant attacks on Black people and other people of color,” according to a report by the AP. Republican Rep. Sara Walsh, a supporter of the bill, said, “Rush demonstrated courage to speak boldly and encouraged his listeners and viewers to reach for their dreams and to push onward beyond the naysayers and discouragers that we all encounter in life.” The bill must pass the Missouri Senate before it moves on to the governor’s office.
AdLarge and Sounds Profitable Partner for ‘Up Next – A Podcast UpFront.’ Audio ad sales network AdLarge Media partners with podcast ad tech publication Sounds Profitable to launch Up Next – A Podcast UpFront. The companies say that “embracing a ‘never-been-done-before’ concept, Up Next utilizes the podcast format to promote podcasting with two acclaimed industry leaders hosting the series, FRQNCY founder/CEO Michelle Khouri and Edison Research SVP, Tom Webster. The idea originated from a brainstorming session between the leadership team at AdLarge and Sounds Profitable and is NOT an event but rather a podcast series specifically designed to showcase the multiple facets of the podcast industry including publishers, networks, content producers, and more. No special invitation required to listen to the podcasts, they are available to everyone.” In the first season of the Up Next series, AdLarge’s premiere episode focuses on the power of podcast advertising in addition to exploring the intriguing and valuable aspects of the podcasting world. The AdLarge season consists of six episodes, which also includes sample episodes from some of the most favored podcasts in the space today such as: “Crime Junkie,” “Swindled,” “The Hey Girl Podcast,” “The Trip,” and “Kill Me Now with Judy Gold.” AdLarge SVP, head of revenue operations & digital sales Ilwira Marciszek says, “It’s crazy that no one thought of this earlier. We know podcasts get results. This is the perfect way to get in front of people on their own time. I’m beyond thrilled to use the medium we’re selling to showcase the power of podcasting.” You can learn more here.
Broadcasters Foundation of America Seeks Donations to Counter Lost Fundraising Events. The Broadcasters Foundation of America is in need of donations to counter the loss of funds from major fundraising events that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. A 501(c)3 charity, the BFoA is the only organization dedicated exclusively to providing financial aid to broadcasters and their families whose lives have been upended by debilitating illness, accident, or catastrophe. BFoA chairman Scott Herman says, “In its more than 70 years of existence, the Broadcasters Foundation has provided financial assistance to every broadcaster who qualified, and we want to continue that track record. These men and women are our colleagues, and unthinkable tragedy has left them unable to work. We cannot turn our backs on them.” Cancelled fundraisers for the Broadcasters Foundation include the Celebrity Golf Tournament, the Golden Mike Award, and the Philip J. Lombardo Charity Golf Tournament. Personal and corporate donations can be made here.
COVID-19, GOP vs Cheney, Rising Consumer Goods Prices, Weekend Gun Deaths in U.S., Gas Pipeline Hack, Biden’s Infrastructure Plan, Afghanistan Girls School Bombing, and Arabian Sea Arms Seizure Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy, and the outbreak in India; U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney faces losing her GOP leadership role for not carrying the stolen election banner; concerns about the fast-rising prices of gas and consumer goods; the slaying of six at a Colorado Springs birthday party and numerous other gun deaths over the weekend; the hacking of a gas pipeline by Russia-based operatives; President Joe Biden to push his infrastructure plan this week; the bombing at a girls school in Afghanistan that killed 85 people; and the U.S. Navy seizes a large weapons cache in the Arabian Sea were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Michael Harrison Animal Welfare Music Video Going Viral on YouTube. The animal welfare anthem “I Know You’re Real” that appears on the new Gunhill Road album What Year Is This! has been picking up an accelerating number of views this past week – approximately 1,400 per day – solely based thus far on radio interviews. The song’s lyrics, penned by Michael Harrison and recited by him on the recording and video, discuss the metaphysical nature of the relationship between humans and animals as well as the connectedness of all sentient life forms to the universe at large. The video, described by talk media host Thom Hartmann as “a masterpiece,” displays a fascinating array of photos and video clips depicting animals – domestic and wild – and cosmic images. Harrison recently became a regular working member of the legendary NYC-based band that has been around since the late 1960s. To book Harrison to appear as a guest talking about animal welfare, cosmic consciousness, and the golden days of FM rock radio, please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Barbara Kurland at TALKERS at 413-565-5413. To view the video, please click here.
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “The Knock on the Door,” looks back at this past week of May 3-7. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, talk show host, Compass Media Networks; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder, scamicide.com; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network; Todd Starnes, talk show host / owner, KWAM, Memphis; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company; and Brian Koonin, Broadway musician / member, Gunhill Road. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast 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.
iHeartMedia First Quarter 2021 Net Revenue Down 9.5%. The company reports net revenue for the first quarter of 2021 of $707 million, a dip of 9.5% compare to the $781 million reported in the first quarter of 2020. iHeartMedia also reports an operating loss of $76 million compared to 2020’s operating loss of $1.7 billion. The company reports financial data by segment and the positive aspects of the report are its digital and podcast segments which reported revenue of $119 million (up 55%) and $38.4 million (up 141.9%), respectively. Broadcast radio’s revenue was $358.5 million (down 22.3%); networks revenue was $115 million (down 14.5%); and sponsorship and events revenue was $22.4 million (down 23.7%). iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman states, “The first quarter outperformed our expectations on all financial metrics as the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn, which is not just a continuation of the positive trends we’ve seen across the business – we believe it’s a validation of our long-term multiplatform product and revenue strategy and the investments we have made in growth areas like podcasting, ad tech, and the continued expansion of broadcast radio on digital devices. As a company we continue to prioritize identifying new opportunities across the audio, advertising, and data analytics sectors to expand our Total Addressable Market from just the $15 billion of Radio TAM to include the $160 billion of Digital TAM, providing us with new revenue opportunities for meaningful and sustainable growth for all our operating segments.” Company president, COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our ability to adapt and innovate, as well as our strategic allocation of capital, during the COVID-19 pandemic have set the stage for strong growth in 2021. Our cost management, investments in key areas of growth, and focus on our core-competencies helped us to achieve Adjusted EBITDA of $102 million in the first quarter, and we remain confident that we will be back to 2019 Adjusted EBITDA levels by the end of 2021.”
Audacy Net Revenue for First Quarter of 2021 Declines 19%. Reporting its first quarterly financial report after rebranding from Entercom to Audacy, the company says net revenue for Q1 of 2021 was $240.8 million, a decrease of 19% over the same period in 2020. Audacy also reports a net loss of $21.6 million compared to the Q1 2020 net loss of $9.1 million. Breaking the company down by segments: local and national spot revenue was $154.3 million (down 27.5%); digital – including podcasting – revenue was $49.9 million (up 15.9%); and network revenue was $17.6 million (down 19.1%). Audacy president and CEO David Field says, “The year has gotten off to an active start as we successfully completed the rebranding of the company to Audacy, reflecting our transformational progress into a leading, multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with scaled audience reach and a leadership position in virtually every key segment of the dynamic and growing audio market. We are in the midst of a strong, albeit uneven, advertising recovery reflecting the nature of our business mix. First quarter digital revenues grew 17% and national revenues rebounded to prior year levels, but local ad revenues remained behind as many of our customers continue to be impacted by the pandemic. Because the local radio advertiser base is weighted toward later-stage recovery categories including restaurants, concerts and entertainment, movies, travel, and theme parks, we anticipate a strong recovery of local advertising across these businesses during the third and fourth quarters. Our second quarter pacings are up more than 60% over 2020 reflecting massive improvements across all segments of our business from the depressed levels of the prior year. In another strong sign of recovery, our average local customer spending levels are now exceeding their average 2019 spending levels. Total local ad spending is down because of a decline in the number of customers with a significant majority of those inactive accounts concentrated in later-stage recovery business categories. During the quarter, we announced and completed the acquisition of Podcorn, the country’s #1 podcast influencer marketplace hosting over 44,000 podcast creators, substantially bolstering our customer product offerings. We also announced a multi-year agreement with BetMGM making them a preferred sports betting partner of the company. We are emerging from the pandemic as a meaningfully stronger and better positioned company with significantly enhanced growth potential and are excited by the opportunities ahead as we continue to drive innovation and development of new products, content, and capabilities.”
Salem Media Group Reports Q1 Revenue Growth of 1.9%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Salem Media Group, delivers positive numbers as total revenue for the company was $59.4 million, an increase of 1.9% over the same period in 2020. The company reports that total operating expenses decreased 27.9% to $55 million from $76.3 million and operating expenses – excluding gains or losses on the disposition of assets, stock- based compensation expense, changes in the estimated fair value of contingent earn-out consideration, impairments, depreciation expense and amortization expense – decreased 6.2% to $51.4 million from $54.8 million. Salem also reveals operating income of $4.4 million compared to the operating loss of $18 million it posted in the first quarter of 2020. Salem Media Group reports its business segments and says net broadcast revenue was $44 million, a decline of 2.5% compared to the first quarter of 2020; same station net broadcast revenue was $43.9 million, a dip of 1.9%; digital media revenue was $9.6 million, an increase of 5.7%; digital media operating income rose 21.6% to $0.9 million from $0.8 million; and publishing revenue increased 43.4% to $5.7 million from $4.0 million.
‘1010XL’ in Jacksonville Celebrates Alumni Week. Jacksonville sports talk WJXL-AM/FM “1010XL” is taking a look in the rearview mirror next week as it celebrates Alumni Week beginning on Monday (5/10). The Seven Bridges Radio LLC-owned station is bringing back popular hosts of the past, is “re-pairing” hosts who formerly worked together and is taking a journey back through the memories of the station’s first 15 years. Frank Frangie, the station’s afternoon drive host, and Rick Ballou will reunite in afternoon drive for the entire week. The duo handled afternoon drive together for more than seven years beginning in 2009. They also will be joined periodically throughout the week by Jessica Blaylock, a mainstay on the show during much of the time Frangie and Ballou were together. Mike Dempsey, the host of “Jaguars Today,” will be reunited for the entire week with his former co-host, former Jags’ linebacker Tom McManus. Guest during the week include Jeff Lageman, David Garrard, Jason Godbee and Ryan O’halloran. “Helmets and Heels,” the station’s weekly show featuring all-female hosts, will air every night during the week from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Current hosts Lauren Brooks and Donna Murphy, who have been on the show since its inception, will be joined by show regular Taylor Doll as well as former cast members Jessica Blaylock, Blythe Brumleve, Amanda Borges and others. “The Drill,” the station’s morning show, will have interview segments with former co-hosts Jordan DeArmon, Mackenzie Thirkill, as well as Tony Boselli and some surprise guests. Hays Carlyon, currently an afternoon drive co-host, will sit in on “XL Prime Time” with Joe Cowart, Matt Hayes, and Leon Searcy. “XL Prime Time” guests include Chad Scott, Terry Norvelle, Scott Manze and more. While Frangie and Ballou will have segments with Joe Block, Pat Dooley, Amanda Borges, former program director Jason Dixon, and others.
RTDNA Presents Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. The RTDNA announces the regional winners of the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Awards and bestows more than 750 awards in recognizing more than 350 local radio and television stations. RTDNA chair Andrea Stahlman says, “The regional RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award recipients we announce today produced extraordinary journalism that brought clarity and context to 2020’s biggest news stories. The winning work demonstrates dedication, determination, and a commitment to the highest ethical standards enshrined in RTDNA’s Code of Ethics.” In a new category for 2021, more than 40 news outlets earned regional Murrow Awards for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, including examples of bilingual reporting, contextual coverage of inequality and discrimination, and newsroom-convened community discussions. RTDNA executive director and COO Dan Shelley comments, “Local journalists across the country guided Americans through a pandemic, ongoing racial reckoning and a fraught election cycle, despite facing unprecedented operational challenges and an astonishing number of physical attacks during 2020. The persistence of the regional Murrow Award winners we recognize today is a testament to these journalists’ commitment to their First Amendment duty.” See the complete list of winners here.
Edison Research Releases ‘Moms and Media 2021’ Study Results. The results of Edison Research’s “Moms and Media 2021” study have been released and the company says some of the highlights include that 46% of U.S. moms own a smart speaker, up from 33% last year. Sixty-three percent of U.S. moms now use voice-operated personal assistants of any kind, including smart speakers, smart phones, tablets, computers, and other devices. Of those moms who own a smart speaker, they own an average of 2.7 of the devices. Edison Research vice president Melissa DeCesare says, “The past year during COVID has been about adjustment, especially for moms. The pandemic uprooted everything we knew and were familiar with and it forced a new at-home lifestyle for the entire family. Moms are tasked with keeping it all on track and they do it with help from modern technology. Our 2021 report shows that moms have not only maintained their commitment to devices and mobile tendencies, but they’ve actually adjusted their habits to better suit their needs during the pandemic.” Other noteworthy data include: More moms are consuming online audio with 82% of U.S. moms being monthly online audio listeners compared with 76% in 2020, and 76% of U.S. moms being weekly online audio listeners compared with 70% in 2020; and more moms are listening to podcasts with 64% of U.S. moms having ever listened to a podcast (up from 57% in 2020) – 40% having listened in the last month and 28% having listened in the last week. See more about the study here.
TALKERS News Notes. After nearly three years of hosting and producing “Bagels and Broadway with Valerie Smaldone” on WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer,” Smaldone says she’s ending the radio edition of the food and theatre-themed program but will continue the show as a podcast this fall when Broadway reopens. Smaldone recently began a new position as executive vice president and producer at multiplatform content company Audio Drama Initiative…..PodcastOne announces a multi-year first look deal with Picture Perfect Federation, the joint venture between Picture Perfect Entertainment and Federation Entertainment led by Patrick Wachsberger, for the development of scripted serial podcast content. Under the development deal, Wachsberger and his team will introduce scripted content across multiple genres with an eye to package the resulting audio IP for television, film, and streaming platforms. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Patrick and his team are true professionals with unparalleled success in the movie, television and scripted world. The partnership with PodcastOne will complement their expertise with over 10 years of experience in the audio space developing weekly interview styles and successful scripted programming. Together, we are going to supercharge our story telling and fan development capabilities to create a slate of programs that will be exciting for audiences, advertisers and production houses looking to be involved with our amazing IP.”…..Advertising mogul and veteran TV personality, Donny Deutsch is teaming up with Kast Media to launch his first-ever podcast titled, “On Brand with Donny Deutsch,” on May 13. Deutsch has hosted television shows such as CNBC’s long running series, “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch” and MSNBC’s “Saturday Night Politics.”…..Alpha Media Canton announces that news/talk WHBC-AM is the new home of “Tangled Up In Blues with Cornel Bogdan.” Bogdan’s show first aired in September 2000 in Youngstown. He says, “When I started ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ over 20 years ago, I had no idea it would be so greatly accepted. It’s very humbling. My listeners are passionate about this music like no other. WHBC is a cornerstone in Canton. I wanted to be part of that heritage. ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ on WHBC is really good mojo!”…..“The Motley Fool” radio show host Chris Hill is the narrator of the audio book edition of Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money (2021 Harriman House) that is enjoying having just hit the milestone of 100,000 audiobook sales.
COVID-19 Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 3-7. The COVID-19-related issues including vaccines, variants, politics, the soaring death toll in India, and statistics combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Facebook’s Oversight Board keeping Donald Trump’s page suspended and the broader issue of censorship, followed by party politics and Liz Cheney’s battle for her status in the GOP at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.
Meadowlark Media and DraftKings Ink Big Deal for Content Distribution. The Miami Herald has the story about the new $40 million deal that Meadowlark Media – the company formed by former ESPN chief John Skipper and former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard – and DraftKings have entered into. According to the Herald, DraftKings is getting into the content distribution business and by June or early July will be responsible for getting Meadowlark’s flagship program “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” onto radio, television, podcast platforms, and social media. It will also serve as title sponsor. The paper reports that Meadowlark negotiated with several other companies including SiriusXM, NBC’s Peacock and iHeartMedia. Le Batard told the Herald that didn’t want fans to have to climb a paywall for his show. “We didn’t want to do that to our listeners. The thing that I chose was freedom. Every time I’ve negotiated anywhere was for freedom, not money. This allows Meadowlark to be profitable from the start and have total freedom to do what we want. We can go forward and appear everywhere. We can make partnerships anywhere we want. We don’t have any corporate overlord. Our partner is our sponsor and what they are sponsoring is our freedom. The media landscape is changing very rapidly, and this shows how much power and value individuals can exert in breaking free from the corporate machine.” By summertime, Le Batard’s show – currently only available in podcast form – will be found in video formant on YouTube, Twitch, and DraftKings’ own nascent channel. The Herald adds that “the partnership will include DraftKings commissioning content projects and original programming that Meadowlark will develop and produce, including sports documentaries, as DraftKings broadens its sports entertainment footprint.”
Alpha Media Files Opposition to Larry Wilson’s Petition to Deny with FCC. As Alpha Media works to emerge from bankruptcy – approval for which it has received from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern Division of Virginia – it also needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission. But minority interest holders Larry Wilson and Paul Stone filed Petitions to Deny with the FCC, claiming that Alpha has failed to comply with FCC regulations regarding licensing of some of its stations and that the matter requires further review of foreign ownership interests, respectively. Alpha recently filed its opposition to the Petitions to Deny. In that filing’s summary, it says, “In short, when one peels away the bombast of Wilson’s Petition, it is clear that Wilson is inappropriately using the agency as a platform for rehashing his differences with certain members of the Company’s Board of Directors and management, and vainly attempting to shoehorn assessment of his personal grievances into the Commission’s processes under the guise of spurious claims that Alpha is unfit to hold its broadcast licenses. Moreover, his assertions are false. For Stone’s part, he simply criticizes the FCC’s well-established policy of promoting companies’ ability to promptly emerge from bankruptcy where further regulatory review of foreign ownership interests is required, a policy that is grounded in public interest considerations and comity with the bankruptcy laws. Neither Wilson nor Stone has standing as a party-in-interest. Any claims they had as holders of minority interests in Alpha pertaining to the Plan or to Alpha’s governance could and should have been presented to the Bankruptcy Court or the Delaware courts. While they inexplicably chose not to avail themselves of these alternative forums, they cannot now seek redress before the Commission. It has been black-letter law that the FCC does not adjudicate private contractual matters for far longer than the ‘more than 40 years’ that Wilson’s counsel has been ‘practic[ing] before the Commission,’ and the FCC has no reason to do so here.”
Westwood One Announces Executive Promotions. Three Westwood One staffers are promoted to new positions within the syndicator and sales firm’s programming and operations divisions. Twenty-eight-year Westwood One employee Susan Stephens is promoted to SVP and general manager, Westwood One programming. In this expanded role, Stephens will work to optimize programming and content opportunities and collaborations between news, talk, music, and entertainment. Tim Seymour rises to SVP, head of operations in which the 20-year WWO staffer assumes responsibility for the operations, partner relations, affiliate & sales operations, traffic & continuity, and research operations teams. Becky Bennett is elevated to VP, partner relations. Stephens and Seymour both report to Cumulus Media executive vice president of marketing and president of Westwood One Suzanne Grimes. Bennett will report to Seymour. Grimes says, “We have an enviable depth of talent within Westwood One with the unique experience to lead us forward. It is a privilege and a pleasure to announce these well-deserved promotions that will position us to succeed in 2021 and beyond.”
Edison’s Annual ‘Moms and Media’ Study Unveiled May 6. The results of the annual “Moms and Media” study from Edison Research will be revealed at a webinar being presented next Thursday (5/6) at 2:00 pm ET. Edison says, “This year’s ‘Moms and Media’ study provides insight on media usage, social media habits, and current outlook on tech by U.S. moms. Findings incorporate data from The Infinite Dial study from Edison Research and Triton Digital, as well as data from Edison Research’s new ongoing syndicated measurement of social media, The Social Habit. The 2021 report features data trends on devices, media engagement, and technology usage of U.S. moms. Highlights from this year’s study include: smart speaker ownership, podcast adoption, online audio listening, and social media engagement. In addition, the report will showcase brand new research centered on social media usage by U.S. moms and their children. You can register for the webinar here.
Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Harry Hamm Sentenced in Child Porn Case. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that former longtime KMOX, St. Louis air personality Harry Hamm was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. The 79-year-old former entertainment editor for the radio station admitted that FBI investigators found child porn on two of his cell phones and his laptop. Hamm is also facing charges of second-degree statutory sodomy, incest and possession of child pornography in St. Louis County. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. The Post-Dispatch story says the St. Louis County charges stem from allegations of sexual contact with a 16-year-old. Hamm began his career with the station in 1975.
TALKERS News Notes. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway is bringing two of the Navy SEALS who were on the mission that killed al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden to Des Moines for a fundraiser for the Puppy Jake Foundation that provides service dogs for combat-wounded veterans. Rob O’Neill – the SEAL who fired the shots that killed Bin Laden – and SEAL dog handler Will Chesney will take part in the June 18 event…..ABC News Radio is providing coverage of President Joe Biden’s address this evening and will begin with a one-hour special, “The Biden Presidency: The First 100 Days,” looking back at the start of the Biden administration. The program will air live on the radio network from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET anchored by correspondent Aaron Katersky. ABC News Radio will also provide live anchored coverage of President Biden’s speech, with reporting and analysis from ABC News’ team of correspondents and experts…..Public radio outlet WPLN, Nashville announces it has hired Caroline Eggers as the newsroom’s first environmental reporter. She starts her new position in June and will cover environmental issues with a focus on equity for WPLN News as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms across the U.S. to report on under-covered topics and communities. She comments, “WPLN News delivers essential stories with incredible intellect and empathy. I can’t wait to reflect these values while investigating Nashville’s climate action plan, air quality and infrastructure challenges.”
COVID-19, Biden’s 100 Days Address to Congress/$1.8 Trillion American Families Plan, Andrew Brown, Jr Protests/Police Violence, 2020 Census-House Seats, Critical Race Theory Controversy, John Kerry Iran Allegation, and Southern Border Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/27). The CDC’s new directives on mask wearing, the rollout of vaccines, and the high rate of cases in places like India and Brazil; this evening’s 100-day address to Congress by President Joe Biden and his $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the protests of the police shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. and other cases of police violence; the results of the 2020 census and its impact on U.S. Rep seats; the controversy over “critical race theory” and its use in public schools curricula; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Israeli air strikes with Iran’s foreign minister; and the overwhelming number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.