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Monday, August 16, 2021

| August 16, 2021

iHeartMedia Launches News/Talk Outlet in St. Louis. Urban contemporary KMJM “Majic 104.9” is gone (now available on KTLK-HD2) as iHeartMedia flips the signal to news/talk with new call letters KTLK-FM and the brand “104.9 The Patriot.” The station launches today and features market media pro Jamie Allman in morning drive and the much of the slate of conservative talk programming from Premiere Networks, including: Glenn Beck, Clay Travis & Buck Sexton, and Jesse Kelly, plus “The Ramsey Show” and Westwood One’s “Red Eye Radio.” iHeartMedia St. Louis market president John R. Beck, Jr. says, “St. Louis is excited to welcome a talk radio station featuring the latest news, opinions, and discussions from a conservative point of view that isn’t afraid to engage with the other side. ‘104.9 The Patriot’ will deliver all of that and more every weekday.” Allman hosted mornings at crosstown news/talk KFTK-FM until 2018 when he exited in the aftermath of his social media post about Parkland, Florida shooting survivor David Hogg in April of that year.  Until that time, Allman had also been hosting “The Allman Report” on KDNL-TV “ABC-30.” Allman joined Salem Media Group’s KXFN-AM, St. Louis in early 2019 but Salem subsequently sold the signal, along with a number of others, to Relevant Radio later that year.

Monday Memo: Disinformation, the New Disco. As school bells ring – or don’t – angst is amplified, and employers’ vaccine mandates and renewed mask mandates echo a 2020 we’d like to forget. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke cautions that “the pandemic protocol resistance narrative is approaching its ‘use-by’ date.” Read it here.

 

Pending Business: The Feedback & Agreement of Sales. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communcations Corp, writes in today’s column about the deadly effects of the “assumptive close.” He says, “What’s really going with these poorly timed assumptive closers? It’s all part of a fast track sell-by-email culture. When a seller bypasses key steps in any sales flow, the result is typically pushback. When an assumptive close is pushed too early in the sales flow, rapport and ease of access are stressed and difficult to reignite.” Read his piece here.

How Do the Dominion Lawsuits Affect Talk Hosts? TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes in a column today (8/13) about the recent rulings allowing the lawsuits by Dominion Election Systems against Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Lindell to go forward and the recently filed suits by Dominion against One America News Network, Newsmax, and FOX News. In denying the motions to dismiss by Powell, Giuliani, and Lindell, Federal Judge Carl Nichols wrote, “It is true that courts recognize the value in some level of ‘imaginative expression’ or ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ in our public debate…But it is simply not the law that provably false statements cannot be actionable if made in the context of an election.” Weisman notes that the landmark NY Times v. Sullivan recognizes the importance of the media being able to report on newsworthy topics without the threat of being sued for minor errors in reporting. However, he says, “There is a responsibility that comes with the microphone and camera and that responsibility is to not make statements that you know to be false or to make statements of fact when you have not properly investigated the basis for making those statements.” Read his column here.

Jeff Sottolano to Take Over for Pat Paxton as Audacy Chief Programming Officer. Late Friday (8/13), Audacy announced that 21-year corporate programmer Pat Paxton is exiting the company and he’ll be replaced by company programmer Jeff Sottolano, who rises to executive vice president, head of programming. Audacy CEO David Field says of Paxton, “Pat has been a key leader in the organization for the past 21 years, spearheading programming and playing a critical role in helping us build many of the industry’s greatest brands. Pat’s steady, decisive leadership and thoughtful insights have made him a valuable and trusted voice on Audacy’s leadership team. Pat has left an outstanding legacy at Audacy which will stand the test of time. We deeply appreciate his many important contributions to our success and everything he has meant to this company. Please join me in thanking Pat for all of his excellent work at Audacy and wishing him all the best for the future.” Addressing Sottolano’s rise within the company, Field states, “Like Pat, Jeff is a veteran team member, having spent his entire career at Audacy, Entercom, CBS Radio and Infinity. Since the merger, he has played an important leadership role overseeing a number of initiatives and many key elements of our programming.  Over the past year, Jeff led our news transformation efforts and the launch of the BetQL Network. In addition, he expanded our programming data and analytics capabilities, managed our network content partnerships and contributed to our Audacy Exclusive Station launch strategy. In his new role, Jeff will be responsible for the content strategy and performance of Audacy’s local brands in all formats across both broadcast and digital distribution platforms. He will oversee our outstanding programming leadership team, including SVP, programming Dave Richards; VP, news Bill Smee; VP, sports Matt Volk, and Audacy’s team of experienced format VPs.  He will also work closely with our Music Initiatives and Live Events team led by SVP, music initiatives Michael Martin and SVP, promotions and experiences Chad Fitzsimmons, as Audacy curates amazing experiences for its listeners in-person and online. Finally, he will collaborate with digital leadership to ideate new and exclusive features and content on the Audacy app and distribution platform as the company expands its capabilities and offerings.”

Gen Media Partners Unveils G Networks. This new radio network sales and affiliates sales division of Gen Media Partners debuts as G Networks. The company says, “Rising in tandem with the Gen Media Partners successful umbrella of other radio divisions, G Networks will stand alone as a full-service audio network company that is already engaged with over 250 million listeners each month through over 4,000 affiliated radio stations. G Networks has an existing and extensive portfolio of high-quality audio services, produced features, research services, entertainment, sports, news, and programming.” Gen Media Partners managing partner Warren Friedland adds, “Evolution isn’t possible without change. It is with this ethos that we have upped the commitment and engagement for our G Networks radio division and are focusing on what is now vitally important to advertisers and stations in the current media environment. With an eye to the future, we intend to both invest and transform the future of audio.”

Big Joe Staysniak Exits Sports Talk ‘The Fan’ in Indy. Longtime Emmis Communications air personality Big Joe Staysniak has exited “The Fan Morning Show.” The company says in a statement, “Big Joe Staysniak is no longer with Emmis and ‘The Fan.’ We would like to thank Big Joe for his many contributions to Emmis since he joined WIBC in 1998. He was always a fan favorite, and his knowledgeable insights and affable nature will be missed by his coworkers and listeners. We wish him nothing but the best in his next chapter.” Staysniak had been co-hosting the morning show with Jeff Rickard but Rickard recently left “The Fan” to take the brand manager position at Audacy’s WEEI, Boston. Meanwhile, Kevin Bowen continues as morning host at “The Fan” and it’s unclear at this time if Emmis will hire a co-host to work with him. The company recently took “The Fan” off WFNI-AM and shut the signal down after selling its transmitter property for development. “The Fan” is currently heard on WIBC-HD2 and translators W228CX at 93.5 FM and W298BB at 107.5 FM.

TALKERS News Notes. In the wake of the 7.4-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti early Saturday morning (8/14) the Salem Radio Network announces that it is using its network-wide resources to generate food donations for victims. The quake Saturday was worse than the 2010 earthquake that left 220,000 dead across the island nation. SRN’s 24/7 news service SRN News and its news/talk counterpart TOWNHALL News have immediately launched a campaign to generate donations for Florida-based Christian non-profit relief organization FOOD FOR THE POOR. SRN V.P./news & talk programming Tom Tradup says, “For over 35 years FOOD FOR THE POOR has had boots on the ground in Haiti, and their teams are uniquely qualified to distribute food to earthquake-devastated areas of Haiti through their network of local churches.” The Haiti earthquake relief effort will be joined by SRN’s nationally syndicated talk hosts Mike GallagherEric Metaxas, Sebastian Gorka, Hugh Hewitt and Carl Jackson (who is guest-hosting Larry Elder’s national talk show while Elder runs for Governor of California in the state’s September 14th Recall.)…..“Bar Fights: Taking on Issues that Matter,” a new podcast hosted by advocate, survivor and preeminent sexual abuse attorney Sarah Klein makes its debut today. Klein is also a former gymnast and the first known survivor of former Olympic women’s gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. In 2018, she accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs for the bravery that she and her sister survivors exhibited to bring Nassar to justice. On “Bar Fights,” Klein goes after the issues that matter to protect children and vulnerable adults from perpetrators of sexual abuse, the institutions that enable them, and the laws that protect them. “Using my voice and platform to create awareness and positive change has been a huge part of my healing journey. It is an honor to bring on such an incredible line-up of guests who will inform, inspire, and challenge our listeners. To affect real change, we all have to do our part. That’s what we are doing here on ‘Bar Fights.’”…..Pictured below is Tom Griswold, host of the nationally syndicated “The BOB & TOM Show” in an Indianapolis hospital recovering from heart valve replacement surgery. It will be several weeks before he returns to his microphone at the studio, but a home studio is being assembled so he can get back on the air quicker. Those wishing to send well wishes to Tom may send them to: getwell@bobandtom.com.

WFOY, St. Augustine Owner Kris Phillips Dies. Lifelong broadcaster Kris Phillips, whose Phillips Broadcasting owns news/talk WFOY-AM, St. Augustine, has died at age 61 after a long illness. The station’s Facebook page features her obituary. Phillips, a native of Chicago, worked in the TV news and weather business for most of her career. She settled in St. Augustine in 2008 and formed the company that would buy WFOY and sister WAOC. Phillips had lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was a child and battled cancer twice.

COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines & Mandates, Taliban Takes Afghanistan, Haiti Earthquake, COVID Benefits Cyberfraud, Western Wildfires/Drought, Newsom Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rising rate of COVID-19 cases on some parts of the U.S. and the controversy over vaccines and mask mandates; criticism of the Biden administration’s response as the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan; the aftermath of the deadly earthquake that hit Haiti; the report indicating that “tens of billions” of dollars of COVID relief benefits were stolen by cyberfraudsters abroad; the drought and wildfires plaguing the U.S. West; and the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

 

 

Great News Opportunities at Saga Communications. The company is expanding its NEWS presence in several markets. Group program director Scott Chase says, “We are looking for news people who are more than just news people. If you’re a storyteller with a news mindset; if you’re charismatic and have a sense of humor; if you’re active in your community; if you’re interesting; if you’re an elite communicator, we’re looking for you. We want someone who understands how to reach the local listeners and make a story interesting. We want an individual who loves to connect with listeners and the leaders of their respective community. Are you still with us? If so, APPLY NOW. We are expanding our news footprint in South Dakota, Iowa, New York, Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, and the New England area, and we would love to talk to you about your ideas on news in a world that thinks the media delivers fake news. Saga Communications is a great company to work for and an equal opportunity employer. Apply Now!” Contact group program director, Scott Chase at schase@sagacom.com. Please send your resume, audio sample, and or writing sample.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

| March 30, 2021

Entercom Changes Corporate Name to Audacy. This change was teased by Entercom on Monday in a tweet but makes the news official today, marking the change from Entercom Communications Corp to Audacy, effective immediately. In a press release, the company says: “Over the past three years, the company has purposefully evolved into a scaled, multi-platform audio content and entertainment organization with the country’s best radio broadcasting group and a leadership position in virtually every segment of the dynamic and growing audio market—including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, network, live experiences, music, sports and news. Audacy is also the #1 creator of original, premium audio content.” Chairman, president and CEO David Field adds, “We have transformed into a fundamentally different and dramatically enhanced organization and so it is time to embrace a new name and brand identity which better reflects who we have become and our vision for the future. ‘Audacy’ captures our dynamic creativity, outstanding content, and innovative spirit as we aspire to build the country’s best audio content and entertainment platform.” The company says its evolution has been fueled by: the acquisition of the CBS Radio group, the launch of RADIO.COM and building the fastest growing digital audio platform, the acquisition of Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, enhancing its sports platform with the acquisition of QL Gaming Group and its partnership with FanDuel, and more. The company’s ticker symbol will change from ETM to AUD effective on or about Friday, April 9. Along with the name Entercom, effective today, the company will also sunset the RADIO.COM brand and align its direct-to-consumer platform under Audacy.

Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM, Saginaw Adds ‘Markley, Van Camp & Robbins’ for Early Afternoons. Saginaw, Michigan news/talk WSGW-AM/FM announces it is filling the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart previously occupied by the Rush Limbaugh program with Compass Media Networks’ “Markley, Van Camp & Robbins Show” featuring Jamie Markley, David Van Camp, and Scott Robbins. The Alpha Media station says in mid-March it switched “from the Rush recordings to this new, live show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. WSGW wanted a show that would serve conservatives on the hot topics of the day in an informative and entertaining style. The MVC&R Show does that perfectly because they include a Millennial, Gen Xer, and a Baby Boomer. The range of audience listenership this trio brings closes the generation gap and provides a unique perspective that no other show can do. At the end of the day, it’s three friends hanging out and talking about everything! It is a great show and 100.5 & 790 Newsradio WSGW is excited to announce their addition to the lineup.”

WDUN-AM/FM, Gainesville, Georgia to Air Todd Starnes Show in Noon to 3:00 pm Slot. The Gainesville, Georgia news/talk outlet announces it will fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart with the “Todd Starnes Show.” Jacobs Media’s WDUN-AM/FM is overseen by EVP and general manager Bill Maine, who says, “We know our listeners will miss Rush. He was the absolute best at what he did, and no one can replace him. But we are fans of Todd Starnes and we think moving Todd into that time slot, as well as adding more locally produced programs gives WDUN an exceptionally strong lineup of news/talk programs.”

KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City Expands Local Shows in Talent Shuffle. Salt Lake City news/talk KSL-AM/FM announces a series of changes in its lineup that includes the expansion of three programs. The Bonneville station says that with the departure of Lee Lonsberry from this station, Boyd Matheson’s “Inside Sources” program moves from the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon slot to the new 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daypart. The “Utah’s Noon News” show expands from 30 minutes to a full hour from 12:00 to 1:00 pm and “The Dave and Dujanovic Show” grows by an hour to air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. KSL program director Kevin LaRue says, “Boyd is just too important of a voice to the community to only have him on KSL one hour a day. We’re excited to provide listeners a longer program to cover important issues. The thinking he offers about the news and current culture is unparalleled.” Matheson also serves as the opinion editor of the Deseret News. He says, “Having spent most of my career as an international business consultant really gave me a look at how things work, what leadership looks like, and how you pull people together. Then my time in Washington DC as a chief of staff understanding the behind-the-scenes things that go on where the real levers of power are in DC and of course our connection to politics here locally. ”

‘Free Talk Live’ Host and Co-Founder Ian Freeman Awaits Bail Ruling; Faces Fraud and Money Laundering Charges. The lead host and co-founder of the nationally syndicated talk radio program “Free Talk Live” – Ian Freeman– is awaiting a ruling from federal Judge Magistrate Andrea Johnstone on a bail request from his attorney, according to an article in the Manchester Union-Leader. Freeman is being charged with money laundering, fraud and conspiracy after a recent raid on his home by federal authorities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Georgina MacDonald alleges that Freeman and others operated a Bitcoin-dollar exchange program through churches with which they are affiliated and called Freeman a “sophisticated cybercriminal.” The Union-Leader reports the feds allege that Freeman used Shire Free Church accounts to convert dollars to Bitcoin and that those dollars came from “romance fraud, investment fraud, and your-friend’s-in-jail fraud.” MacDonald says Freeman “offered anonymity, didn’t ask questions and charged a 10% exchange fee” when “legitimate” exchange services charge 3% or less. In requesting bail, Freeman’s attorney, Mark Sisti, argued that Freeman is not a flight risk and that he’s known about the federal investigation for years because people agents interviewed would tell Freeman about their encounter with authorities. Sisti says Freeman could have fled before his arrest. Industry observers who follow this TALKERS Heavy Hundred program know that its main freedom-based theme and Freeman’s ongoing antagonistic position on laws he considers unconstitutional have provided it with provocative and compelling “reality show” type material even though it has been a source of irritation to both local Keene, New Hampshire (where the show is based) and federal law enforcement agencies. Part of the show’s formidable appeal to an ever-growing number of affiliates and loyal listeners has been the willingness of its primary host to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”

Sam Tatum Promoted to VP, Integrated Marketing & Partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media. Rising from his director of sales for Radio One’s Washington, DC cluster to the newly created position of vice president, integrated marketing & partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media is Samuel Tatum. In this new role, Radio One and Reach Media say they are further unifying their sales and integrated marketing efforts across both divisions to help brands and agency partners effectively connect with the coveted and influential Black consumer through authentic and powerful multiplatform touchpoints. Tatum will lead a team of marketers and project managers in developing and implementing new innovative marketing solutions for national advertisers and agencies utilizing all of the Radio One and Reach Media assets. As the primary liaison between the national sales teams and other departments within Radio One, Reach Media, and other Urban One divisions, Tatum will streamline communications, ensure the continuity of national and corporate partnerships, and make sure the sales teams continue to provide their advertising partners with the absolute best-in-class cross-platform solutions. Tatum states, “I am humbled by the confidence Reach Media and Radio One has placed in me and am excited to continue to grow the legacy of our founder, Cathy Hughes, in this new role. Radio One and Reach Media have a rich portfolio of assets, and I am passionate about the opportunity to create, develop, and execute unique, on-brand, and culturally appropriate solutions that provide reach and engagement with the Black consumer for our advertisers and partners. Let’s blaze new trails!”

Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville Announces Content Partnership with A to Z Sports. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces it has entered into a content partnership agreement with popular online sports information and entertainment destination, A to Z Sports. Cumulus Media says, “The agreement brings together the two biggest sports entertainment brands in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, allowing them to create and share unique, deep-dive sports content across their respective digital platforms, including streaming and on-demand content, podcasts, social media, and much more, plus live and local on-air programming on ‘104.5 The Zone’ and high-engagement live events for area sports fans.” Per the terms of the agreement, “104.5 The Zone,” the flagship home for the Tennessee Titans and Nashville affiliate for University of Tennessee Volunteers, will regularly feature A to Z Sports personalities, while “104.5 The Zone” personalities will appear regularly on A to Z Sports’ popular programs. The partnership will create shared and complementary original programming between the brands and their platforms to give fans more and better sports news and talk than ever before. WGFX program director Paul Mason says, “We are truly excited to partner with A to Z Sports! This opens up more doors for both WGFX and A to Z to be more creative and implement new ideas in the market. The true winner in this partnership is the Nashville sports fan.” A to Z Sports is co-owned by Zach Bingham and Austin Stanley. Earlier this month, “104.5 The Zone” signed sports journalist Buck Reising as its midday air personality (10:00 am to 1:00 pm). Reising had previously been a frequent guest host on WGFX, but is mostly known for his “615 Sessions” podcast and live weeknight show, “A to Z Sports Primetime,” heard on A to Z Sports Nashville.

Audacy Unveils New Relationship with BetMGM. The new Audacy, formerly Entercom, unveils another sports betting deal, this time with BetMGM. This relationship is a multi-year deal designating BetMGM as a betting partner of Audacy across its sports broadcast stations, the Audacy, and Bet QL apps and digital platforms, and the “BetQL Audio Network.” The partnership will bring BetMGM’s sports betting content to Audacy sports talk listeners and gives BetMGM preferred access to Audacy talent. The partnership comes on the heels of several recent moves made by Audacy in the sports betting space, including the acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group and the launch of the “BetQL Audio Network, both of which are fundamental components of this deal. Audacy president of sports Mike Dee says, “The advent of legalized mobile sports betting has presented an unprecedented opportunity to bring the action closer to the audience than ever before and, as a result, provide our partners with a direct line of sight to tap into an attentive, fully engaged audience of potential sports bettors. We are proud to partner with BetMGM and wish to thank them for their confidence in us as we become one of their largest media partners. In light of our BetQL acquisition and related offerings, we believe this commitment is the latest validation that no other media company offers the wide variety of ways to connect with the sports betting audience the way that we do on a multi-platform basis.”

COVID-19 Cases Rising/Vaccines, WHO Virus Origin Report, Derek Chauvin Trial, Biden Economic Stimulus Plan, Suez Ship Freed, Lil Nas X Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/29). The rising number of COVID-19 cases and the CDC’s warning of a fourth wave, plus the rollout of vaccines; the World Health Organization’s COVID origin report that suggests the coronavirus jump to humans from animals; the beginning of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the Biden administration’s multi-trillion dollar economic plan that first focuses on infrastructure; the container ship that blocked the Suez canal for almost a week is freed; and the controversy over the new song from Lil Nas X and the accompanying “Satan Shoes” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, March 29, 2021

| March 29, 2021

Monday Memo: Copy Worth Copying. “Make commercial copy you craft for local advertisers THIS crisp,” and, consultant Holland Cooke says, “you will make money.” In this week’s column, he rips-off…er, “compiles” examples. Read it here.

Pending Business: Checking In. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says that you’re more likely get a renewal from that advertiser if you check in regularly instead of adopting the “no-news-is-good-news” approach to gauging a campaign’s effectiveness. “Great sellers are like commercial airline pilots, or cruise ship captains. Everyone is prepared with specific goals, timelines, and once the journey (schedule) begins, ready to control the mission.” Read his column here.

The ‘Todd Starnes Podcast’ Joins Salem Podcast Network. Beginning April 5, the “Todd Starnes Podcast” joins the Salem Podcast Network. Salem Media Group SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce says, “SPN is delighted to join in this partnership with Todd Starnes, one of the leading voices in conservative America. His courage in saying what needs to be said is unmatched. His knowledge and ability to explain what is really going on is his forte.” With this deal, the Salem Podcast Network assumes distribution, marketing, and sales representation duties for the “Todd Starnes Podcast.” Starnes also hosts a daily, syndicated radio program and he previously spent more than a decade at the FOX News Channel, hosting a daily radio program on the FOX Radio Network. He comments, “Salem is known for its cutting-edge platforms and excellence-driven programming. I’m honored to join such a well-respected industry leader like the Salem Podcast Network.”

WJR-AM, Detroit Takes Station of the Year Honor. Detroit news/talk WJR-AM is named “Commercial Radio Station of the Year” by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters for the 17th time since 2000. The Cumulus Media station also received 17 other awards, including eight “Merit Awards,” as well as nine “Best Awards.” Some of the “Best Awards” include: Regularly Scheduled Broadcast Personality/Team – “The Guy Gordon Show”; Sports – “Lions Pregame: Around the League”; Special Show Broadcast Personality/Team – “War of the Worlds” live stream event; and Continuing News Coverage – COVID-19 Replay.

iHeartMedia Names Barbara Latham Area President for Central Florida. Sales and management pro Barbara Latham is promoted to area president for iHeartMedia Central Florida in which she’ll oversee the Orlando and Melbourne markets that include talk WTKS-FM “Real Radio 104.1,” news/talk WFLF “WFLA,” sports talk WYGM “FM 96.9 The Game,” plus 10 music brands. She’s most recently been serving the Orlando cluster as SVP of sales. Latham reports to division president Linda Byrd, who says, “I am thrilled to be able to promote Barb to this position. We’ve worked together for 36 years and in many different capacities. She is one of the brightest and most competitive employees I know. Barb has always been a winner, and to her, there is no other option. No one deserves this opportunity more, and it makes me happy to put this team, that I’ve managed for the last 21 years in her capable hands.”

WABC, New York Recognizes Greek Independence Day. Pictured above (from l-r) are Chad Lopez, president of Red Apple Media and 77 WABC; Margo and John Catsimatidis, owners of Red Apple Media and 77 WABC, and Renee Cassis, owner of RC Communications Marketing on March 25 as the radio station hosted a celebration for the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence Day. The event was held in WABC’s event space, Studio 77. During his opening remarks, John Catsimatidis noted the diversity of America and stated that the celebration was for every ethnicity and race.

Josh Innes Returns to iHeartMedia as Morning Host at WNRQ-FM, Nashville. Sports radio talk host Josh Innes is joining iHeartMedia’s Nashville classic rock WNRQ-FM “105.9 The Rock” as morning drive host, effective April 5. The station says “The Josh Innes Show” will be a Nashville-focused blend of classic rock, news, sports and commentary and will broadcast weekday mornings from 6:00 am to 10:00 am. WNRQ program director Jonathan Shuford says, “Josh is wildly talented as a personality, idea generator, and storyteller. He’s unconventional, creative, and exceptionally compelling. We’re beyond excited to welcome him to Nashville and foster in the next great classic rock morning show!” Innes was most recently afternoon host on Gow Media’s sports talk KFNC-FM, Houston. He’s also served with iHeartMedia’s sports talk KBME-AM, Houston, and Entercom’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia. He hosts “The Josh Innes Show” podcast live on Twitch and heard on iHeartRadio.

iHeartMedia Issues Statement on FCC Ruling. The company’s statement issued on Friday (3/26) is in regard to the approval of its pending applications to acquire certain radio stations, and the temporary shareholder restrictions required by the FCC to be imposed upon Global Media & Entertainment Investments Ltd. The company says, “iHeartMedia values its shareholder relationships and we welcome all new shareholders to iHeartMedia. However, because GMEI is a foreign shareholder, its recent investment was inconsistent with the FCC’s foreign ownership rules and created an operating issue for us under the FCC’s regulatory framework. As background, GMEI’s purchase of an 8.7% position in our Class A Common stock, as reported in its Schedule 13D filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 5, 2021, caused a violation of the FCC’s foreign ownership regulations and the FCC’s November 5, 2020 declaratory ruling related to the company’s foreign ownership, both of which limit a foreign investor in GMEI’s position to 5% without prior FCC approval. To address this issue, over which iHeartMedia had no prior knowledge or control, we filed a remedial petition for declaratory ruling requesting FCC approval for GMEI to have the ability to increase its ownership to up to 9.99%. Notwithstanding the GMEI investment, the FCC has approved iHeartMedia’s acquisitions of certain stations, including stations for BIN: Black Information Network. However, the FCC has required that the company impose temporary shareholder restrictions on GMEI as a condition of approving those radio station acquisitions. To comply with the FCC order, iHeartMedia’s Board of Directors resolved to take action consistent with the FCC’s conditional requirements. These actions include imposing temporary voting and other shareholder restrictions on GMEI which will apply during the pendency of the Petition. iHeartMedia respects the FCC process and will, as a matter of consistent policy, ensure the company’s compliance with the FCC’s foreign ownership and other regulations.”

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, CNN’s COVID War Special/WHO Origin Report, Suez Ship Jam, Border Crisis-Immigration Policy, Hedge Fund Failure-Financial Markets, Chauvin Trial, U.S. Afghanistan Operations, and Nashville Floods Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., rising cases in some states, and the rollout of vaccines; CNN’s Sunday special featuring the six doctors leading the U.S. COVID program and the WHO’s report concluding the coronavirus likely came from an animal at a Chinese wildlife market; the status of the container ship blocking the Suez canal and its effect on the global economy; the crisis of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; the failure of a major hedge fund causes problems for Credit Suisse and Nomura that could reverberate through the global economy; today’s beginning of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin; the United States’ Afghanistan operations and the Doha agreement that calls for U.S. troop removal by May 1; and the historic floods in Nashville and Middle Tennessee were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, March 26, 2021

| March 26, 2021

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 Borders of Our Lives,” looks back at this past week of March 22-26, 2021.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Walter Sterling, talk show host, “Sterling On Sunday”; Dana Loesch, talk show host, Radio AmericaBernadette Duncan, author/former talk show producer; Lee Habeeb, talk show host/producer, “Our American Stories”; Bobbie Winston, artist/American ex-pat, Brazil; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. 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 NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Round Four of Nielsen Audio’s February PPM Ratings Released. The fourth and final round of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets, including: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen’s February 2021 survey covered February 4 – March 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Waterloo Media’s news/talk KLBJ-AM, Austin adds a half share to finish the survey with a 6.2 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and remains ranked #4 in the market. In Raleigh, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTKK-FM falls to the #5 rank after losing a full share to finish with a 6.0 share, while Curtis Media Group’s crosstown news/talk WPTF dips two-tenths for a 2.3 share and the #14 rank. Emmis Communications’ news/talk WIBC-FM, Indianapolis falls from #1 to #3 after shedding seven-tenths for an 8.2 share finish. And in Milwaukee, despite losing 1.6 shares, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WISN-AM remains in first place on the strength of a 9.4 share while Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ-AM slides down a half share for a 6.0 share finish good for the #5 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways for this round of markets – as well as the previous three rounds – here.

NYPost: Carton’s Restitution Out of Her Hands. The New York Post reports that one of WFAN, New York afternoon drive personality Craig Carton’s fraud victims will not get restitution any quicker – at least for the time being. Gerard LoDuca – owner of Dukal Corp – had petitioned the court to increase Carton’s restitution to him since he’s employed at Entercom’s sports talk outlet and therefore making substantial money. But federal Chief Judge Colleen McMahon ruled that because Carton is still in custody of the Bureau of Prisons while serving his year of home confinement, it’s out of her hands. Carton has a restitution debt of $4.8 million, of which LoDuca is owed $435,000. So far, LoDuca has received $25,000. Carton’s attorney told the court that 15% of Carton’s paycheck goes to his restitution responsibilities. He also must pay property liens and child support payments for his four children. Carton’s home confinement ends on June 9, after which he’ll be supervised by the Southern District Probation Department.

KNZR-AM/FM, Bakersfield Adds Dennis Prager for Late Mornings. Bakersfield news/talk KNZR-AM/FM fills the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart previously occupied by the Rush Limbaugh program with Salem Radio Network’s Dennis Prager. Alpha Media Bakersfield general manager Jeremy Price says, “KNZR is thrilled to announce that ‘The Dennis Prager Show,’ along with the massive PragerU audience, has now been added to the lineup.” Prager’s nationally syndicated program is heard on more than 400 affiliate stations nationwide. Prager is also the founder of PragerU – an online video channel with more than five million subscribers.

iHeartMedia Colorado Raising Funds for Boulder Shooting Victims. All day today (3/26), the 26 iHeartMedia radio stations in the state of Colorado will conduct the “We are iHeart Colorado. Boulder Strong” on-air broadcast fundraiser to benefit the victims and the families of Monday’s mass shooting. Funds raised from the event will be distributed through the Community Foundation of Boulder County, a local nonprofit responding to immediate needs and anticipating future challenges of the community. The iHeartMedia stations will encourage listeners to help the victims of Monday’s tragic event and their families through monetary donations. iHeartMedia Denver Region president Brenda Egger says, “Words cannot express the grief that our community has experienced as a result of this horrific event. Together, with Community Foundation of Boulder County, we are proud to help with the healing process and provide assistance to those who were impacted by Monday’s tragedy.”

Entercom Announces Deal with Rush Street Interactive. Online casino operator Rush Street Interactive and Entercom are partnering for a number of sports betting audio initiatives. RSI operates the BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse mobile platforms and as part of this deal, BetRivers will be the official title sponsor of the “You Better You Bet” podcast hosted by Nick Kostos and Ken Barkley that recently relaunched as part of Entercom’s “BetQL Audio Network.” Kostos will also be a brand ambassador for BetRivers and serve as the voice of the “BetRivers Sports Betting Minute,” heard on Entercom’s sports talk stations in legalized sports betting markets across the country. Entercom president of sports Mike Dee says, “RSI is an ideal partner for ‘You Better You Bet.’ The company’s authentic approach to the sports betting marketplace aligns well with Nick, Ken, and the hardcore betting audience that consume the nation’s No. 1 fully dedicated daily sports betting podcast.”

WTMJ, Milwaukee to Air and Stream Brewers Games. When the Major League Baseball season opens next Thursday (4/1), Good Karma Brands’ Milwaukee news/talk outlet WTMJ will air the games and will make them available via WTMJ.com and the WTMJ app. The streaming will be available in the five-county Milwaukee metro area — Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Ozaukee and Washington counties only, due to MLB restrictions on audio streaming. Good Karma Brands VP and market manager Steve Wexler says, “We’re thrilled to offer fans in the Milwaukee metro area another way to enjoy the excitement of Brewers baseball with Bob Uecker, Jeff Levering, and Lane Grindle. Brewers baseball is the soundtrack of summer, and now it will be available in more ways than ever before.”

WWOJ, Sebring Morning Host John Meder to Retire. Capping a 62-year radio career and 35 years on WWOJ, Sebring, Florida is morning host John Meder. He’ll hang up his headphones after his final program on April 1 – his 85th birthday. Radio pro Jay Clark serves as programming consultant to Highlands Radio Group’s four stations in the Sebring market. He says, “John is a true professional who has entertained and informed his listeners in Highlands County Florida for years. He is the last of the breed of great hometown morning personalities, a true neighbor and community leader for 35 years. He will be sorely missed by his listeners and me.”

Shooting Violence and Gun Control Top News/Talk Story for March 22-26. The shooting deaths in Atlanta and Boulder and the larger topic of gun control combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was COVID-19, vaccines, variants, prevention, and stats. Following at #3 was the border crisis and the related topic of immigration reform. 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.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

| March 23, 2021

Premiere Networks to Continue ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’; WBOB, Jacksonville First New Affiliate. The 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET broadcast of “The Rush Limbaugh Show” will continue with archival audio from Limbaugh’s 30-plus-year syndicated program augmented by familiar talk hosts. Chesapeake-Portsmouth Broadcasting Corporation’s WBOB-AM/W266CX is the first new affiliate station. In making the announcement, Premiere Networks says, “No one can replace Rush Limbaugh, and Premiere Networks will continue to provide millions of loyal listeners with the voice of Rush for the long term. We have a variety of familiar voices who are guiding the audio of Rush for all of the important issues of the day, including recent guest hosts Todd Herman, Ken Matthews, and Brett Winterble.” WBOB general manager Jonathan McClellan states, “Rush Limbaugh is a pioneering force in broadcasting. He redefined talk radio and shaped the conservative political message for our country. WBOB is excited to add Rush’s program to our lineup. We value the future of his legacy, and we believe his talented team will drive the momentum of the movement far into the future. We welcome this monumental voice.” Limbaugh’s program launched into national syndication on August 1, 1988, with 56 radio stations, was heard on more than 600 stations at the time of the icon’s passing at age 70 on February 17. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison comments on this breaking story, “What an interesting turn of events. This is a multiple win for many elements of the industry. The winners include: 1) The fill-in hosts who’ve become familiar to the show’s regular listeners because they’ll continue to play a role in the show without having to carry the burden of being the ‘guy that followed the guy’ but never could fill his shoes; 2) Premiere, because they’ll continue to productively exploit the greatest brand in talk radio programming history and even though it could never be as big as it would have been with Rush alive, it certainly will maintain value and possibly evolve into something of lasting currency; 3) Other syndicated shows, because they now have a shot at being cleared in the valuable 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm space and get a viable piece of the pie. There are plenty of listeners and revenue to be shared in that huge mine; 4) Local hosts and programming because you can be sure many stations will turn inward during middays now that this big piece of real estate has opened; 5) Local stations, because they now have the options to choose from all of the above; and 6) the legacy of Rush Limbaugh, which will continue to live as a viable part of the national talk radio community. Bravo!”

Dana Loesch Inks New Multi-Year Deal with Radio America. Talk radio star Dana Loesch signs a new, multi-year contract extension with Radio America to continue to host her daily 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm program “The Dana Show” that she’s hosted since 2014. Radio America says Loesch is “the most listened to female talk show host in the country” and has “attracted a large and loyal following in syndication, expanding the news/talk audience to include more men and women in their 30s and 40s, something the aging format desperately needs.” Radio America COO Mike Paradiso says, “We’re excited to continue the explosive growth that Dana’s show has enjoyed over the last few years. Dana has done what few hosts have been able to do, expand the talk format’s audience to make it younger, while still performing very well with the core talk demo. We think she’s uniquely qualified to lead the way during this transitional time in the format.”

Round One of February PPM Ratings Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s February 2021 sweep covered February 4 – March 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets and reports that the unusual surge of listening to news and news/talk stations in January that was the result of the January 6 Capitol attack, its aftermath, and the beginning of the Joe Biden administration has leveled off. In New York, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOR was flat at a 2.5 share (weekly 6+ AQH share) and Red Apple Media’s WABC was up three-tenths to a 1.9 share. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia news/talk KFI was steady with a 5.0 share and the #3 rank while Entercom’s crosstown all-news KNX dipped four-tenths to a 2.9 share. Nexstar Media Group’s news/talk WGN-AM was flat with a 4.1 share but rises to the #6 rank and Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM lost two-tenths to finish with a 7.1 share but remains ranked #1. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaway for this group of markets here.

Report: WFAN’s Jastremski Leaving for The Ringer. According to a piece by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, WFAN, New York evening host John Jastremski is leaving the Entercom sports talk station to join Spotify’s The Ringer. As Marchard notes, Bill Simmons sold The Ringer to Spotify for a reported $200 million but continues to lead the platform. Jastremski’s deal with The Ringer will begin next month and will include him doing three to four podcasts per week.

WWO Blog: Podcasting Provides ‘Massive Head Start’ for New Radio Hosts. A study commissioned by Westwood One and conducted by Maru/Blue reveals “the extent to which Dan Bongino has used his podcast platform, social media presence, best-selling books, and TV appearances to build a strong brand among American talk radio listeners.” The study finds that a podcast star like Bongino enjoys a “massive head start and strong momentum” when launching an AM/FM radio show. It finds 64% of frequent news/talk radio listeners are aware of Dan Bongino and 78% of frequent news/talk radio listeners who are aware of Bongino rate him as excellent/good. Further the study finds, “An AM/FM radio show generates a new audience that is incremental to the podcast audience: the Maru/Blue study found that the Dan Bongino and Ben Shapiro audiences either listen to the podcast or the AM/FM radio show. Currently about 40% listen only to the podcast; 40% listen only to the Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino shows on AM/FM radio. About 20% indicate they have listened both to the podcast and the AM/FM radio show in the last month.” See the blog here.

TALKERS News Notes. The COVID stimulus is getting a radio sweepstakes treatment from iHeartMedia as the company presents the “Double Your Stimulus” contest in numerous participating markets. iHeartMedia is giving listeners the chance to win another $1,400 “stimulus check” that could result in up to six nationwide winners each weekday now through April 2. The company says that “given today’s challenging times due to the pandemic, iHeartMedia is seeing a nearly 20% higher response rate than any other cash contests in the past with winners benefiting from all across the nation.”…..USA Radio Network’s “Classic Radio Theater” adds three new affiliate stations for Wyatt Cox’s historical presentation of radio’s greatest programs of the 20th century. The show is now heard on WMIC, Sandusky, Michigan; KRVN-AM, Lexington, Nebraska; and KGUM-AM, Hagåtña, Guam. Cox says, “It’s a pleasure to give people a dose of history as it really happened – unsanitized and factual. While some stations may be pulling away from presentations of radio’s past, I view it as critical for understanding where we came from and how we got here today… our ‘Classic Radio Theater’ programs are not only great entertainment, but they are set in a background of history that puts all these programs in the context of the times.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One signs a deal with DCP Entertainment to distribute, market, and monetize the company’s new podcasts as well as its back catalogue. DCP Entertainment’s mission is to provide a platform for people of color, women, and LGBTQ communities, and to highlight stories around mental health, disability, and overcoming adversity. Current productions include “Say Their Name,” which was nominated for the 2021 Ambies Award “Podcast of the Year” and “Toure Show: The Central Park 5,” which was a 2020 Webby Award “Best Crime & Justice Episode” honoree.

‘The GRITIRON Show’ Starring Whitney Breaux Launches. The new podcast and YouTube show is being launched by former ESPN Baton Rouge radio host Jordy Culotta who expands his media network with the launch of “The GRITIRON Show” with Whitney Breaux – a show targeting women that premiered on International Women’s Day (3/8). The press release says “The GRITIRON Show” is a weekly podcast celebrating the perseverance, passion, and lifestyle of women on and off the football field. The show features Breaux and “a bevy of guests including women breaking the glass ceiling in sports from journalists, coaches, athletic administrators and sports executives to wives of players and coaches.” Breaux is a former Miss Teen Louisiana and global marketing executive. Culotta says, “We’re excited to add Whitney and ‘The GRITIRON Show’ to our network programming. I’m honestly shocked this is her first time behind a microphone. She’s a brilliant public speaker, her energy is infectious, and she’s always been passionate about sports.”

COVID-19/Spring Break, Border Troubles, Deadly Boulder Grocery Store Shooting, Biden Jobs & Infrastructure Proposal, Capitol Attack-Sedition Controversy, Cuomo on the Ropes, and Deshaun Watson Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/22). The rising number of COVID-19 cases in numerous states, worries about variants, the vaccine rollout, and the enormous spring break gatherings; the immigration problems at the U.S.-Mexico border; the mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado that’s left 10 dead; the Biden administration plans to introduce a $3 trillion jobs & infrastructure bill; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the report that sedition charges may be leveled at some; the allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; and the growing allegations of sexual impropriety by massage therapists against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.