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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

| April 28, 2021

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.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

| April 8, 2021

Cumulus Fires PD and Morning Hosts in Aftermath of Racist Bit at WGRF, Buffalo. As reported by WGRZ-TV, Buffalo, Cumulus Media has taken further action after the March 24 morning program radio bit by “The Morning Bull” personalities in which the three cast members discussed the color of Black female celebrities’ skin, comparing them to burnt toast. On that day, WGRF-FM, Buffalo “97 Rock” morning host Rob Lederman was fired and co-hosts Rich Gaenzler and Chris Klein were suspended. Now, the station has fired Gaenzler and Klein as well as program director John Hager. Cumulus issued the succinct statement: “Upon further consideration following the racist incident that occurred on ‘The Morning Bull Show,’ we decided to terminate the whole morning show in addition to the program director.” Rich Gaenzler also lost his gig as arena announcer for Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits games and as stadium announcer for University of Buffalo football.

Richard Baum Named Chief Revenue Officer for Sun Broadcast Group. Sales pro Richard Baum joins Sun Broadcast Group as chief revenue officer. SBG says that in this newly created position, Baum will lead partner strategy, revenue growth, and oversee the growing ad-sales team. SBG adds that Baum’s “proven success in sales planning, team management, revenue strategy, and business development blend seamlessly into his new role, as he will focus on leveraging both sales and ROI to drive growth for Sun Broadcast Group.” Sun Broadcast Group president Warren Friedland comments, “When looking for our new CRO we wanted to find an industry professional with vast knowledge of network radio, emerging tactics, an impeccable reputation as well as an eye for growth, and Baum fits all those characteristics. His knowledge will allow us to provide more comprehensive and competitive solutions for both clients and agencies, while maximizing revenue growth across all platforms.” Baum says, “In searching for my next opportunity, I was looking to join a team with a strong infrastructure, a solid foundation, and the available resources to grow aggressively. Warren and his team at Sun fit that criteria perfectly. I am excited to work with the crew at Sun and Gen Media Partners to continue to help build a best-in-class network audio company.”

Hillsdale Weekend Program Available Via Salem Radio Network. The “Radio Free Hillsdale Hour” program produced by Hillsdale College is being made available for radio stations via Salem Radio Network. The one-hour, weekend radio program is divided into four segments with each episode featuring multiple guests including Hillsdale faculty members, speakers who visit one of the College’s campuses, alumni, and others. WRHF, Hillsdale “Radio Free Hillsdale” general manager Scot Bertram is host of the program and he says, “We’re thrilled to be able to offer the program through Salem and give radio stations another option for airing the show. Talk radio listeners already know Hillsdale by reputation, but this is an opportunity to hear more directly from the college’s faculty, staff, alumni, and others. Our goal always has been to reach as many listeners as possible across the country. The ideas and arguments discussed here at Hillsdale are relevant to all citizens, and this radio program is one way to share them.” Stations that recently added the program to their lineups include: WIBX-AM, Utica, New York; WZUS-FM, Decatur, Illinois; and KTOE-AM, Mankato, Minnesota.

Westwood One Offers Barstool Sports’ ‘Picks Central’ to Radio Stations. In a deal between Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and Barstool Sports, the Barstool program “Picks Central” will be made available to radio stations live from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET or for delay broadcast.  The daily gambling and sports show is hosted by Brandon Walker with a rotation of Barstool personalities including Dave Portnoy and Dan “Big Cat” Katz, in which they “provide the scoop on the best gambling lines of the day. The crew discusses relevant sports topics, bad beats, moneylines, and over/unders. They also offer their thoughts on where to place winning bets for every sport under the moon.”

Hallerin Hilton Hill Named to Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame. Knoxville talk radio host Hallerin Hilton Hill – heard in afternoon drive on Cumulus Media’s WOKI-FM, “NewsTalk 98.7” – is being inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2021. Cumulus Knoxville market manager Ken Slayer says, “Our entire team is very proud of Hallerin and his career accomplishments. No one deserves this honor and statewide recognition more than he does. His commitment to broadcast excellence and service to our community are unsurpassed.” Hill also works as singer/songwriter, author, motivational speaker, and trainer. He wrote “Who Would Imagine a King” with Mervyn Warren which was recorded by Whitney Houston for the film, The Preacher’s Wife, and was included on the film’s Grammy-nominated soundtrack.

Gimlet Media and The Ringer Podcast Producers Unionize. The writers and producers at Gimlet Media and The Ringer – both owned by Spotify – ratified first collective bargaining agreements as members of the Writers Guild of America, East. The contracts affect 48 members at Gimlet Media and 65 members at The Ringer. Some of the key components of the union contracts provide for: Significant increases to salary minimums with The Ringer establishing $57,000 plus overtime as an entry-level floor and Gimlet Media beginning at $73,000 for associate producers; limitations on the use of contractors within bargaining unit positions; minimum of 2% guaranteed annual increases; minimum severance of 11 weeks for all employees, regardless of tenure; and more. Writers Guild of America, East executive director Lowell Peterson comments, “The collective bargaining agreements at Gimlet Media and The Ringer demonstrate that the people who make podcasts, from writers to producers to editors, bring enormous value to the major platforms for whom they create content. Collective bargaining ensures creative professionals have a seat at the table to address issues like inclusion and equity, intellectual property concerns, and sustainability of careers.”

Adnan Virk to Contribute to Meadowlark Media. According to a story in The Wrap, Adnan Virk is joining the talent stable at Meadowlark Media – the company launched by former ESPN chief John Skipper and sports talk personality Dan Le Batard. In addition to his work as a contributor, Virk’s “Cinephile” podcast will become part of the “Le Batard & Friends” network. Virk says, “I’ve had the amazing fortune to have John Skipper as my boss at ESPN, DAZN, and now Meadowlark. Clearly the third time is the charm and I’ve long enjoyed John’s ambition, erudition, and sense of humor. Skipper adds, “Adnan is a unique talent – the kind of broadcaster who can thrive in any sport and in any environment. We’re thrilled for the opportunity to welcome a friend who offers a diverse voice and shares our desire to create high-quality content that pushes beyond the boundaries of sports.”

WPHT USO Radiothon Raises More Than $95,000. The March 19 “Talk Radio 1210 WPHT USO Radiothon” raised more than $95,000 to benefit the United Service Organization of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey (Liberty USO). The 12-hour radiothon was hosted by WPHT, Philadelphia talk show hosts Rich Zeoli and Dom Giordano and included interviews and stories from USO staff and families, dignitaries and special guests such as actor Justin Melnick, WWE announcer Lillian Garcia, and Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen. Audacy Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We’re proud of another successful year raising funds and awareness for Liberty USO. These individuals have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and it’s our honor to band together with our listeners to support them and their families.”

COVID-19, Biden Gun Control Moves, Infrastructure/Tax Plan, Voting Legislation, Border Crisis, Derek Chauvin Trial, and Matt Gaetz Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S., status of variants, post-COVID effects, and vaccine rollout; President Joe Biden moves to ban ‘ghost guns’ and stabilizers; the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan and the proposed tax changes to pay for it; Georgia’s restrictive voting laws and Democrats’ plans for a national voting rights bill; the large number of unaccompanied minors amassed at the U.S.-Mexico border; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; and the investigation into allegations U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz had sexual relations with a minor were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

| April 1, 2021

Lee Habeeb, Host and Producer of Our American Stories, Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. At a time when appreciation for the art of storytelling is clearly on the ascent in talk media, Lee Habeeb, the host and producer of “Our American Stories” makes a return appearance as a guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Since its launch six years ago, the weekly two-hour syndicated program has been added, mostly in the evenings, to the menus at more than 315 news/talk radio stations across the nation including some really big ones. It is a highly researched and meticulously produced story-based overview of contemporary American life and cultural history that Michael Harrison describes as being “one of the most promising inventions to come down the commercial talk radio pike in years… a program that illuminates history, popular culture, politics, business, science… the spectrum of topics, people, and angles that make up the rich and intricate fabric of America.” Harrison and Habeeb take a deep-dive into the subjects of American history and the nation’s centuries-old mission to overcome its problems and form a more perfect union, in addition to discussing the positive tenets of capitalism, the differences between legal and illegal immigration, and the need for the media focus on the positive as well as the negative. Habeeb explains new ways of expanding the boundaries of the standard news/talk radio format as well as its conventional business model. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

NPR and Edison Study Identifies Six Unique Radio Segments. Data from a recent study from NPR and Edison Research – titled Radio: Live On Air and Everywhere – will be revealed in a webinar on April 15. The study examines the role radio plays in Americans’ lives in 2021 and reveals listening behavior among the six unique radio audience segments. In teasing the webinar, Edison says the study finds 63% of those in the U.S. age 18+ are reached by radio every day, and 41% of all daily audio time in the U.S. is spent with radio. The study explores listener attitudes about advertising on radio and other media, and provides insight into NPR listeners and how they occupy a unique place in this context. Edison and NPR says the webinar will reveal: What the six types of radio listeners are and how they engage with radio; which type of listener is most open to radio advertising content; how radio listeners feel about advertising on radio versus other platforms; and where NPR listeners fit into the six segments of listeners, and their attitudes toward sponsorships.

‘Todd Starnes Show’ Added to KBDT, Dallas and KQSP, Minneapolis. The nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” is being added to the program schedule at USA Radio Networks’ KBDT-AM, Dallas and KQSP-AM, Minneapolis in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. USA Radio is also adding the “Todd Starnes News & Commentary” daily feature to 18 stations including KBCF-AM/FM, Muscle Shoals, Alabama; KPKY, Terrell, Texas; KVNN, Victoria, Texas; and seven stations in the Nevada Talk Network.

‘ESPN 102.5 The Game’ in Nashville Adds Caroline Fenton to PM Drive Show. Nashville sports talker WPRT-FM “ESPN 102.5 The Game” brings Caroline Fenton aboard as part of the “Stillman & Company” afternoon drive show led by Jared Stillman. Ryan Porth is program director for the Cromwell Media-owned station. He says, “We are extremely excited to be able to add Caroline to our talented team. Caroline will pair well with Jared in the afternoons, becoming 102.5 The Game’s first full-time female on-air host in our nine-plus years of existence. She will also greatly assist the show and the station with our digital efforts across all platforms.” Fenton was most recently digital video/social content producer with ESPN. In that role, she helped integrate content strategies and produce digital shows such as “Baseball Tonight Live” and “Countdown to College Gameday.” She says, “As the daughter of two Tennessee natives, this state has always felt like home to me and I couldn’t be happier to be here representing some of the best sports fans in the country. It’s an honor to learn from and work with Jared and the entire team at ‘102.5 The Game’ and to continue our reputation as Nashville’s best sports talk.”

iHeartMedia Cleveland Launches ‘The Jimmy Malone Show.’ A new, local program is launching on iHeartMedia Cleveland’s sports talk WARF-AM “FOX Sports 1350 The Gambler.”  “The Jimmy Malone Show” – hosted by longtime Cleveland radio personality Jimmy Malone. It debuts today (4/1) airing each Thursday and Friday morning from 6:00 am to 9:00 am. The program will also air on sister adult contemporary WMJI-FM “Majic 105.7” on Saturdays from 6:30 am to 9:00 am. iHeartMedia Cleveland says, “Each week Jimmy will host conversations with politicians, community and business leaders, journalists and others, all with the goal to make a difference in Northeast Ohio. The debut show on April 1 will feature Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, along with author and justice advocate Andrea Thome, who is a native Clevelander and wife of former Indians slugger Jim Thome.  Friday’s show reunites Jimmy with his longtime, now retired, radio partner John Lanigan.”

Charlie Thomas Named Area President for iHeartMedia’s Mid-North. Thirty-six-year radio pro Charlie Thomas is promoted to area president for iHeartMedia’s Mid-North area. He was most recently area president for North Dakota. In this new position, he’ll oversee markets including Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota as well as Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot, Grand Forks and North Dakota markets that comprise 29 stations. Thomas will report to Shosh Abromovich, division president for iHeartMedia. Abromovich says, “We are very excited for Charlie to oversee these six markets. His proven leadership helped the North Dakota area be among the top performers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m confident that his forward thinking will guide and grow these communities to the next level.”

Heather Cohen Among Honorees at Inaugural ‘Sheroes in Media’ Awards. The inaugural “Sheroes in Media” awards from the Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association were held virtually last night and Weiss Agency EVP Heather Cohen was one of the recipients. The MMCA event honored “women who promote and exemplify diverse media excellence.” Also honored were: Julie Burton, executive director, Women’s Media Center; Francine Compton, president, Native American Journalist Association; Michelle Lee, chair, Asian American Journalists Association; Nora Lopez, president, National Association of Hispanic Journalists; Lisa Matthews, president, National Press Club; and Dorothy Tucker, president, National Association of Black Journalists. MMCA president David Morgan says, “At this critical time in our country it is more important than ever to have greater diversity in who, what, where, when and how stories are told. MMCA is beyond honored to launch this annual event by celebrating the powerful ‘sheroes’ currently leading the organizations at the spear of the fight for media diversity while also building support for our ongoing effort to increase diverse media ownership.”

Radio One Names Yonni Rude Executive Producer of ‘The Morning Hustle.’ Moving from his operations manager role at Radio One’s Cleveland station group  to executive producer for Reach Media’s “The Morning Hustle” is Yonni Rude. In this new role, Rude will work with the team to create captivating content.  He will oversee all aspects of the show both on-air and digitally. He’ll focus on daily operations while overseeing the entirety of the brand. Rude says, “The Morning Hustle is the next evolution of morning radio and I’m excited to lead the team and help grow the brand. Thanks to Colby Colb, Mitch Henry and David Kantor for the opportunity to lead this amazing team.”

TALKERS News Notes. On April 6, ABC Audio will debut the first episode of its new podcast, “Soul of a Nation: Tulsa’s Buried Truth,” written and hosted by ABC News senior national correspondent Steve Osunsami. The podcast examines the racially motivated attacks on Black residents of Tulsa in 1921 in which as many as 300 Black Americans died. Featuring archival audio accounts from witnesses and interviews with historians, “Tulsa’s Buried Truth” brings listeners through the painful history and into the modern-day quest for closure and healing…..iHeartMedia launches “COVID-19 Immunity in Our Community,” an iHeartRadio Original limited podcast series produced in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to share timely and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines. The show is hosted by iconic ABC News television broadcaster Robin Roberts. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne states, “With more and more Americans getting access to vaccines as supply increases, it is important the public has the facts about the vaccines in order to understand how important they are to ending this pandemic. ‘COVID-19 Immunity in Our Community’ will provide listeners with reliable resources and information rooted in science, so they’re equipped to make decisions about their lives – and the lives of those around them.”…..Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios unveils two new original documentary podcasts series – “My Fugitive,” in which Emmy Award-winning documentarian Nina Gilden Seavey uncovers disturbing secrets hidden away by the FBI for decades that shed new light on one of the most famous cases in American history; and “Stay Away from Matthew MaGill,” the story of a mysterious man who died alone in the backwoods of Georgia leaving behind a treasure trove of clues, papers, and remnants of his stranger-than-fiction life of crime, luxury, and scandal – and how reporter Eric Mennel’s five-year journey to uncover the truth led him to question his own path…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One announces the debut of the “Politics of Food” podcast, an in-depth look into the intentional politicization, economics, and community impact of food on a global scale. Political strategist and organizer Cristina González hosts the show and talks with restaurateurs, executives at major food companies, farmers, consumers, and experts on a wide variety of issues. She also explores the impact of COVID-19 on restaurants, social issues like racism in food media, and the different ways political decisions work as a force to drive hunger across the globe…..The Tampa Bay Rays announce an extension of their comprehensive broadcast agreement with iHeartMedia Tampa Bay to keep play-by-play broadcast on sports talk WDAE through the 2025 MLB regular season.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Biden Infrastructure Plan/Tax Increases, Derek Chauvin Trial, Border Crisis/Immigration Policy, Matt Gaetz Allegation, Violence Against Asians, and Voting Legislation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/31). The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan and the tax increases necessary to pay for it; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the large number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; the allegation of sexual relations with a minor against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz; the rise in violence against Asian Americans; and Georgia’s stricter voting rules plus the Congressional Democrats’ bill to expand voting rights were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

| February 9, 2021

WSCR, Chicago Announces Parkins & Spiegel New Afternoon Show. Chicago sports talker WSCR-AM “670 The Score” brings Matt Spiegel back to the air in a full-time capacity, hosting the afternoon drive show with former partner Danny Parkins. The two co-hosted the midday program in 2017 and 2018 before Spiegel was bumped to a part-time role and Parkins moved to afternoons alongside Dan McNeil, who was let go from the station back in September after tweeting disparaging comments about ESPN sideline reporter Maria Taylor. WSCR program director Mitch Rosen says, “Matt has always been part of the ‘Score’ team, but the fact that he is now reunited with Danny in afternoons is great news most for fans. Matt’s popularity with our audience throughout all of our platforms is unwavering. The content he delivers on a daily basis is thoughtful, entertaining, opinionated sports talk, and data shows from the previous time together that listeners love this tandem of Danny and Matt.” Spiegel comments, “This is where I’m supposed to be: talking sports and more with this audience, creating a daily space for connection and companionship. There’s nothing like it. Danny Parkins is a great host and a good friend. What he and I had found in terms of chemistry was special three years ago, and I’m super excited to resume, move forward creatively and see where we can go.”

Sports Talk Host Bill Michaels Back on the Air in Wisconsin. After exiting Entercom’s sports talk WSSP-AM, Milwaukee “1250 AM The Fan” on January 8, sports talk personality Bill Michaels has a new flagship station for his midday program. Starting today (2/9), Michaels is being heard on Mid-West Family Broadcasting’s WOZN, Madison “1670AM and 96.7FM The Zone” from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Mid-West Family VP of programming Randy Hawke says, “We are excited to have one of the biggest names in Wisconsin sports talk history as part of our growing sports properties. Bill is known and loved throughout the state as the authority on all things Wisconsin sports, pro and college. Bill is the trusted voice, and we already have radio stations calling to secure his show.” Michaels’ program is being heard on Mid-West Family radio stations WKTY, LaCrosse and WAYY-AM/W286CK, Eau Claire. Mid-West Family says it plans to make the show available on a market exclusive basis throughout all of Wisconsin immediately. Michaels comments, “I’m grateful for this opportunity with Mid-West Family and I’m even more excited to get back to doing what I love. In addition, I’m so thankful and appreciative to all of my family, friends, listeners and sponsors for encouraging me to come back. I can’t even begin to tell you what your support has meant to me. Let’s go!”

‘The Dana Show’ Now Heard on KXNT, Las Vegas. The Radio America nationally syndicated talk program “The Dana Show” – starring Dana Loesch – joins the program schedule at Entercom’s Las Vegas news/talk outlet KXNT-AM for the 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm hour. Entercom Las Vegas SVP and market manager Dan Kearney states, “We are excited to bring the energy and originality of ‘The Dana Show’ to our listeners throughout Las Vegas and the Valley. Dana’s bold personality and sharp opinion will fit perfectly in our superstar KXNT lineup.”

SummitMedia Announces Management Changes. Birmingham, Alabama-based SummitMedia, LLC announces it has made a number of changes to its programming leadership team. Company CEO Carl Parmer says, “Our goal is to bring each Summit brand experience to life and innovate in the media space. While the past year disrupted radio as we knew it as well as experiencing the recent passing of programming legend Bill Tanner, we recognize the incredible opportunities before us for those who can deliver fresh ideas to the industry.” Parmer announces that programmer Randy Chase, who joined the company back in July as SVP of programming, is the new EVP of programming, a role in which he’ll lead the company’s strategic and programming charge and oversee the company’s team of brand and content leaders. John Olsen, continues as SVP of programming managing rock, classic rock and alternative along with special projects. Maurice DeVoe, most recently operations manager for the Greenville, South Carolina cluster, moves into the brand and content leader role for the company’s rhythmic top 40, hip hop and R&B stations. Rick Thomas, formerly the vice president of programming for Max Media in Denver, joins the company as the new brand and content leader for top 40, hot AC and AC formats. Chase comments, “We have assembled a team with both incredible experience and a tremendous hunger to capitalize on the disruption in the media space and arrive first into the next normal. With this leadership team in place, I believe we will deliver highly engaging products for our consumers and set up every member of the SummitMedia team to perform at their full potential.”

Rob Finnerty Named Anchor of Newsmax TV’s ‘Wake Up America.’ Television sports and news pro Rob Finnerty is appointed anchor of Newsmax TV’s new morning program, “Wake Up America” that airs from 6:30 am to 9:00 am ET.  Finnerty was most recently serving as an anchor and reporter for the CBS television affiliate in Tampa. Newsmax founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy comments, “Rob has the rock-solid journalistic credentials we look for here at Newsmax. Our viewers will be well-served by his honest, accurate reporting.” Finnerty, who also has served with New England Cable News; KCTV-TV, Kansas City; and KBAK-TV/KBFX-TV, Bakersfield; adds, “I couldn’t be more excited to join the network, especially at this moment in our history. Not only is Newsmax TV growing at an unbelievable pace, but with everything happening in our country politically, I don’t think there is a better place to be right now.’’

GeoBroadcast Solutions ZoneCasting Test Gets FCC Approval. The Federal Communications Commission grants approval for the fourth experimental operation to build and operate two new co-located on-channel boosters at two discreet locations to GeoBroadcast Solutions. The company calls the technology ZoneCasting and will conduct the test via Universal Media Access’ KSJO-FM, San Jose. This trial will demonstrate KSJO’s ability to add localized weather and traffic, news, advertising, and EAS tests during short parts of a broadcast hour. ZoneCasting allows the additional geo-targeting and geo-fencing of audio and graphical advertisements. GeoBroadcast Solutions says, “These emerging technologies give radio broadcasters the tools that are vital in order to compete in the face of innovations from online and other forms of message distribution.”

TALKERS News Notes. The Washington Post publishes a piece today (2/9) by Paul Farhi critical of the future of the talk radio business. Citing the stage 4 cancer diagnosis of Premiere Networks superstar Rush Limbaugh, Farhi’s story questions what the future of the format will be post-Limbaugh in a media world teeming with alternative platforms to radio, where the bulk of listeners are well beyond Madison Avenue’s coveted 25-54 demographic…..Public media’s WNYC, New York announces that Karen Rouse is promoted to newsroom editor where she will oversee a new audio, writing and editing training effort for reporters and editors, and work as part of a team of editors editing Gothamist and WNYC content. Rouse will also work with WNYC editor in chief Audrey Cooper and SVP of diversity, equity and inclusion Brenda Williams-Butts to develop a newsroom fellowship program aimed at bringing more Black and brown journalists into WNYC’s newsroom…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One announces the release of the first three episodes of “The Washies,” a 10-episode serialized fictional podcast from partner Omnicast Media. The serial is set in in the not-so-distant future of 2025, amid a backdrop of significant political unrest, in which a TV producer finds and promotes five millennials who happen to be direct descendants of George Washington. The three women and two men participate in a reality TV show that catapults them to both fame and infamy. As they struggle to slay their own personal demons, they also represent the paradox of George Washington — hero/slave owner. Through all this, they learn to love each other and truly become family, just as the country needs them most…..SiriusXM unveils a new, multi-part audio documentary titled, “Obsessive Comedy Disorder: Boomers – The Story of The ‘80s Comedy Boom and Bust,” that is airing all this week. As SiriusXM notes, the “comedy boom” of the 1980s was a critical time for stand-up comedy, as its popularity skyrocketed and new clubs emerged in New York, Los Angeles, and everywhere in between. This program is hosted and executive produced by Dan Pasternack, and chronicles this period, with major comedy stars offering their first-hand accounts, including: Chris Albrecht, Louie Anderson, Judd Apatow, Elayne Boosler, Tom Dreesen, Jeff Foxworthy, Gilbert Gottfried, Barry Katz, Robert Klein, Jay Leno, Larry Miller, Paula Poundstone, Kevin Pollak, Paul Provenza, Paul Reiser, Bob Saget, Jonathan Schmock, Yakov Smirnoff, Judy Tenuta, Jimmy Vallely, Marsha Warfield, and Keenen Ivory Wayans.

Trump Impeachment, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Stimulus Package Negotiations, Smartmatic Lawsuit, North Korea Hackers, and Super Bowl LV Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/8). Today’s beginning of the Donald Trump impeachment trial; the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the concern over variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the negotiations in Congress over the next COVID stimulus package; the Smartmatic lawsuit against FOX News and numerous Trump allies; North Korean hackers steal hundreds of millions to fund nuclear program; and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

| January 14, 2021

Key Networks Names Deidra Hoye to Lead Expanded Sales Team. Syndication firm Key Networks appoints network advertising sales executive Deidra Hoye to the senior vice president, ad sales position in which she’ll lead the company’s newly expanded sales team. Los Angeles-based Hoye will supervise the enhanced sales team of veteran network radio sales professionals that includes recent hires Maggie Sisco, vice president, Eastern sales; Brian Pollina, vice president, Midwest sales; and Michelle McLynn, supervisor of sales support & operations. Hoye previously served as vice president, network sales, for Premiere Networks. Sisco joins Key Networks from PodcastOne, where she was vice president/director of sales, Eastern region. Pollina comes to Key Networks from United Stations Radio Networks, where he was vice president of digital assets and Midwest sales. McLynn joins Key from Westwood One, where she was affiliate services manager. Key Networks and Sun & Fun Media CEO Rob Koblasz says, “We are delighted to welcome Deidra to the Key Networks team. Her wealth of experience in the network ad sales arena will allow us to serve our partners now and as we grow our network. Deidra’s leadership along with the breadth of experience of our team is a winning combination for our customers.” Key Networks syndicates “The O’Reilly Update,” starring Bill O’Reilly to almost 250 radio stations. It also manages all network advertising sales, affiliate sales, and marketing for Bloomberg Radio and distributes “Shawn Parr’s Across The Country,” as well as news/talk program “The Jesse Kelly Show,” alt rock morning program, “The Billy Madison Show,” and Virtual Jock programming services.

KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh News Anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas to Retire. Pittsburgh news anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas is retiring from her PM drive anchor post at Entercom’s news/talk KDKA-AM after 45years in the broadcasting business. Ryan-Douglas has been with KDKA-AM since 2002. She joined KDKA-AM after anchoring the morning news at crosstown (current classic hits outlet) WWSW “3WS” for almost 20 years. Entercom Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “Rose has been the ultimate news professional. Not only will we miss her on the air but her calming influence in the newsroom is irreplaceable. On behalf of all of us at KDKA Radio and our listeners we thank her for the tremendous work she has done over the years.” Her last shift will be Friday, February 26.

Seth Goldberg Exits ‘ESPN Syracuse’ for Gig with the NBA. Syracuse.com reports that WTLA-AM, Syracuse “ESPN Radio Syracuse” host and producer Seth Goldberg is leaving the radio station to take a position with the NBA. Goldberg began working at WTLA in 2015 producing “Upon Further Review” with hosts Chris McManus and Steve Neikam while still a student at Syracuse University. Joining WTLA full time after graduating in 2016, Goldberg has been co-host and producer for “Orange Nation” (co-hosted with Steve Infanti), and produces “On the Block,” a program with Syracuse.com’s Brent Axe. Both programs also are featured on the WTLA-SU Twitch streaming channel ‘Cuse Sports Talk.’ Galaxy Media CEO Ed Levine says Goldberg’s on-air role on “Orange Nation” will be filled in the interim by Paulie Scibilia.

Beasley Media Group’s Preliminary Q4 Net Revenue Down 5.8%-6.5%. Releasing preliminary financial data from the fourth quarter of 20201, Beasley Media Group says it expects net revenue for the period to be approximately $67.4 million to $67.9 million. Compared to the same period in 2019, the figures represent a decrease of between 5.8% and 6.5%. The company says the change reflects a year-over-year decrease in commercial advertising revenue due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, partially offset by growth in digital, esports, and political revenue. Other data points include: fourth quarter 2020 Station Operating Income increased by approximately 23.1% to 28.8% year-over-year to approximately $19.2 million to $20.1 million; and fourth quarter 2020 EBITDA increased by approximately 25.0% to 33.8% year-over-year to approximately $17.0 million to $18.2 million. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “We expect to report top-line revenue improvement in the second half of the year, with sequential quarter-over-quarter growth in both the third and fourth quarters of 2020. Our preliminary fourth quarter performance also demonstrates the significant operating benefits from the actions we took earlier this year to address the pandemic, including reducing station operating expenses and negotiating discounts with landlords, service providers, and partners. Although it is difficult to predict what the impact of COVID-19 will be in the coming months, we remain optimistic that the commercial advertising market will return to more normalized revenue levels as we move further into the year, following broad vaccine distribution.”

CES2021: Technology Is Merely the Plumbing. As the (virtual) convention that reporters are scolded for calling “the Consumer Electronics Show” wraps today, consultant Holland Cooke urges broadcasters to focus on product, not package. Read his analysis here.

First Detroit Sports Talk Show Hosted by Frank Beckmann? Not So Fast… Former longtime Detroit Free Press writer John Smyntek reaches out to TALKERS magazine to let us know that legendary Detroit radio personality Frank Beckmann – who announced his retirement from Cumulus Media’s WJR-AM on Wednesday (it takes effect at the end of March) – was not the first to host a sports talk program on Detroit radio as the press release from WJR claims. Smyntek says, “WXYZ-AM (1270, now WXYT-AM) had the late Dave Diles hosting a daily sports talk and caller dial-in show from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm weeknights starting, I think, in 1967 and running through 1969 or 1970. Then Ron Cameron had a sports call-in format on WXYT-AM under the Chuck Fritz regime for several years in the 1970s, long before Beckmann’s show started.” Smyntek – who retired from the Free Press in 2008 – says Beckmann’s “Sportstalk” program, launched in 1981, was indeed the first sports show to air on WJR-AM.

WSB, Atlanta Talk Star Erick Erickson Is This Week’s Guest on the Harrison Podcast.  One of the rising stars of talk radio, Erick Erickson of WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” He’s one of the most important talk radio figures in the Peach State where, for the past eight years, he’s been hosting “Atlanta’s Evening News with Erick Erickson,” a 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm program on the Cox Media Group heritage station. He also hosts a recently launched, daily three-hour show airing from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon on his own independent network of almost 20 stations stretching across Georgia that many industry observers say is ready to expand nationally. His background is fascinating. Born 45 years ago in Jackson, Louisiana, he was raised between the ages of five and 15 in Dubai where his father worked for Conoco Oil as a production foreman. Returning to the U.S., he received a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and a J.D. degree from Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. He practiced law for six years at a major legal firm in Georgia. He served four years as an elected city councilman in Macon. He was one of the founders of RedState.com which he managed as editor-in-chief for 10 years. He’s been a regular contributor to CNN and FOX News Channel over the years. He’s currently attending a seminary where he is working on earning a theological degree and he’s one of the talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh turns to when he needs someone to fill in. Erickson is a conservative who has not been reluctant to tell his audience the truths he thinks they need to know as opposed to engaging in the daily dance of affirmation and only telling them what they want to hear – especially when it comes to his opinions about President Donald Trump. Don’t miss this extremely timely conversation about the state of talk radio and politics in America today recorded the day after the Capitol insurrection. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Report: Dan Le Batard and Former ESPN Boss John Skipper to Form New Sports Media Company. According to a report by Michael McCarthy at Front Office Sports, former ESPN radio and TV personality Dan Le Batard and former ESPN chief John Skipper are partnering for a new “politically progressive sports media company” that is “described as the strategic opposite of Clay TravisOutkick.” The Le Batard-Skipper partnership was first reported by the Miami Herald. McCarthy’s piece says that Le Batard and Skipper are seeking talent including former ESPN talent Jemele Hill, Bomani Jones, and Kate Fagan. Hill tells FOS, “We’re trying to figure out the most productive way to work together. Both John and Dan know I have such a deep level of respect for them. So, me working with them again always felt like it was inevitable.” Skipper is currently executive chairman of sports streaming platform DAZN. Hill, in the aftermath of her departure from ESPN, formed her own production company that produces the Vice TV show “Stick to Sports,” and the “Jemele Hill is Unbothered” Spotify podcast.

TALKERS News Notes. Detroit talk station WFDF “910 AM Superstation” announces that former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, who served as mayor during the city’s water scandal, joins the station as a talk host. She’ll appear Monday-Friday in the 8:00 am to 9:00 am hour. Adell Radio Group CEO Kevin Adell says that with former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder being criminally charged with willful neglect in conjunction with the Flint water crisis, bringing Weaver aboard is timely. “Mayor Karen Weaver watched this disgraceful water episode unfold firsthand and will have much to talk about as Rick Snyder works his way through our legal system”…..The Armstrong & Getty Show – starring Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty – announces that QBS Broadcasting’s talk WBQO-FM, Brunswick, Georgia adds the program to its lineup. WBQO program director Paul Andresen says, “There’s a reason Armstrong & Getty’s reputation precedes them. So, when tasked with finding a replacement for Clark Howard, it was a no-brainer. A&G brings a much-needed change of perspective and influx of personality to not only 93.7 WBQO, but our market as a whole. The listeners’ response, from the first show onward, has been nothing short of fantastic and I couldn’t be prouder to have Armstrong & Getty in our on-air lineup.”…..The “RMWorldTravel with Robert & Mary Carey and Rudy Maxa” announces that it has added 23 new affiliate stations in 2021 so far, bringing its affiliate roster to more than 460 stations!

U.S. House Votes to Impeach Trump, Capitol Attack Investigation, States Prep for More Attacks, Social Media and Free Speech, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, WHO Investigating COVID Origin in China, and Powerball Jackpot Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/13). The U.S. House of Representatives votes to impeach Donald Trump; the investigation into last week’s attack on the Capitol; states across the nation move to protect their capitals from potential future attacks; the removal of Donald Trump and others from social media platforms and questions about free speech; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the WHO enters China to investigate the origin of the coronavirus; and the record Powerball jackpot were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

| December 17, 2020

Newsmax Media Founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The CEO of Newsmax Media – the conservative news organization that owns and operates Newsmax.com and Newsmax TV in addition to a number of other platforms and services in digital and print publishing – is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Veteran journalist, entrepreneur, and news executive Christopher Ruddy discusses the history and strategy that has led to Newsmax TV achieving enormous rating gains this year in its juggernaut campaign to provide FOX News Channel with formidable competition in the conservative news/talk cable TV ratings wars. In this revealing conversation, Ruddy tells Harrison his side of the recent story by media writer Ben Smith published inThe New York Times under the headline, “The King of Trump TV Thinks You’re Dumb Enough to Buy It.” He dispels the notion conveyed in that piece that Newsmax TV has strategically flanked FOX to its far right and is telling President Donald Trump’s most ardent loyalists whatever they want to hear regardless of the truth. Ruddy discusses the bigger picture of Newsmax content which also delivers stories and items that are unfavorable to Trump and collectively covers a broader segment of the spectrum best described as center-right, as opposed to far-right. Harrison and Ruddy take a deep-dive into talk media political “positioning” which lies at the very heart of modern competitive programming. They also speculate on the future of American politics and the talk media coverage thereof. True to his unpredictable and often contrarian approach to what many observers consider conventional wisdom, Ruddy states that it appears President-Elect Biden is not veering to the far left as many Republicans and Trump supporters fear he will as evidenced by many of his cabinet picks, and that the 46th president will be far more of a “centrist” than many in both parties are expecting. Ruddy also candidly discusses the balancing act required to maintain a long-standing “friendship” with Trump while not being afraid to criticize his policies on those occasions when he believes such criticism is warranted in addition to outlining his immediate plans to grow Newsmax as a full-service news organization in 2021. This podcast is a must-listen! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Floyd Reese Exiting ‘102.5 The Game’ in Nashville. According to a story in the Nashville Post, former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese is giving up his sports talk host gig at Cromwell Media’s WPRT-FM, Nashville “102.5 The Game.” Reese co-hosted the afternoon drive program “Jared & The GM” with Jared Stillman for the past five-plus years. Stillman will continue to host the afternoon show now billed as “Stillman & Company” as the station seeks out a new afternoon co-host. The Post cites a press release in which Reese states, “This is something I’ve been contemplating for a while and I feel it’s time for me to take a step back. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my tenure with ‘102.5 The Game’ and doing a show with Jared has been a terrific experience. He and I formed a unique partnership that allowed us to be teammates and friends. I’d also like to thank Cromwell Media owner Bud Walters and [program director] Ryan Porth for their non-stop support over the years. It’s been a good run.” Reese was general manager of the NFL’s old Houston Oilers from 1990-1999 and the Titans (after the Oilers moved from Houston to Nashville) from 1999-2006. He was a senior football advisor for the New England Patriots from 2009-2012. He joined “102.5 The Game” in 2015.

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Keeps The Bike Drive Alive. The annual holiday “Bikes for Kids” drive was launched by retired WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte talk host John Hancock 26 years ago. With Hancock’s retirement at the beginning of 2020, the fate of the charitable drive that had provided some 20,000 bikes (as well as gifts, food, clothing and more) to tens of thousands of needy Charlotte-area kids was up in the air. Ultimately, WBT staff, in partnership with the Carolina Panthers, WSOC-TV, Frito Lay, and some other local charitable organizations, worked to get 400 brand-new bikes collected during the “Bike Drive” that took place on Tuesday (12/15). Brett Winterble, who took over the afternoon drive show following Hancock’s retirement, says, “It was an amazing day for Hancock’s bikes for kids. This was my first opportunity since joining WBT in February to interface with this amazing audience in person. The generosity and good cheer of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday was truly awe inspiring. In gathering hundreds of bikes for well deserving children I forged new friendships with dedicated listeners to WBT. One man named Steve told me he was a 50-year listener of WBT and had attended every one of the bike drives Hancock led. It was an unbelievable show of generosity and good civic pride. I look forward to next year and can’t wait for this to continue to grow!”

Townsquare Media to Offer $550 Million in Senior Secured Notes. In a filing with the SEC, Townsquare Media reveals it has priced an offering of $550 million in aggregate principal amount of its 6.875% senior secured notes due 2026. These notes are being offered to institutional buyers and will be senior secured obligations of the company and will be guaranteed on a senior secured basis by certain of the company’s direct and indirect wholly owned subsidiaries. The closing of the offering is anticipated to take place on or about January 6, 2021. Townsquare says that it intends to use the net proceeds from the offering, together with cash on hand, to repay existing senior secured credit facilities, to redeem all of its outstanding 6.500% senior notes due 2023. It is also terminating its existing senior secured credit facilities, including its existing revolving credit facility.

Skyview Networks and MLB Radio Rightsholders Team Up for Annual Meeting. This year’s annual meeting of Major League Baseball radio rightsholders and Skyview Networks to discuss their broadcast operations and ad sales experiences from the previous season was done remotely. This year’s panels placed a heavy focus on fan engagement and advertising strategies with emphasis on maximizing digital assets under the restrictions of the pandemic. Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones says, “The MLB radio rightsholders play a significant role in their teams’ success through broadcast sponsorships. Radio and baseball have always put fans first and this season proved no different. Skyview played an important role in helping teams find creative solutions during the pandemic and we showcased those solutions to the whole league this week.” Skyview says many teams also leveraged the power of social media to engage with fans through promotions from their biggest sponsors, citing proactive communication as their key to success. Putting their followers’ interests at the forefront, these organizations hosted many virtual gatherings through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more to encourage listenership and interaction while the season was on a hiatus. Additional panel topics included software and strategies to streamline remote broadcasting, creating awareness for franchises’ ancillary digital content to increase broadcast listening and sponsorship extensions, and monetizing the evolving sports betting opportunities across a radio platform.

New Drive Time Shows on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. Channel in January. Starting on January 4, the new lineup on SiriusXM’s non-partisan P.O.T.U.S. channel will includeJulie Mason Mornings” (6:00 am to 9:00 am ET) and “The Laura Coates Show” (3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET). Veteran journalist Mason takes over for Tim Farley’s “The Morning Briefing” after Farley’s retirement at year’s end. Coates – a CNN senior legal analyst – moves to the P.O.T.U.S. channel from SiriusXM’s Urban View channel. Julie Mason has more than 30 years of experience covering local, state and national politics, including four presidential campaigns. In more than 10 years at the White House, she traveled internationally and reported from more than 30 different countries. She is a former elected board member of the White House Correspondents Association. In addition to her media work, Coates has served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law.

United Stations Radio Networks Names Jim Roberts Director of Affiliate Sales and Marketing for Sports. Sports radio pro Jim Roberts is named director of affiliate sales and marketing/sports content for United Stations Radio Networks. He comes to USRN after a 20-plus years career with Disney/ESPN in which he oversaw the inception and growth of the affiliate network of 500-plus stations for ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes while also managing Disney owned-and-operated stations in New York City and Dallas. United Stations recently announced a partnership with SportsGarten Network to provide stations with short-form, long-form and daily daypart options in sports and sports wagering content. In his new role, Roberts will market all USRN sports-related programs and services, including the Total Sports Prep service. USRN’s Stefan Jones comments, “At United Stations we are growing our programming, services, and partnerships in the sports and sports-wagering lane. As more and more states are legalizing sports wagering, we want to ensure our company delivers quality options.”

TALKERS News Notes. Sports media personality Rich Eisen and Westwood One reach an agreement for the latter to feature “The Rich Eisen Show” podcast on the Westwood One Podcast Network, beginning on January 4. The deal also calls for the development of a new podcast by Eisen called “Just Getting Started” (scheduled for a February debut) in which Eisen interviews the biggest names from news, entertainment, sports, and pop culture, discussing their career origins and mining their stories on how they got started, in a format where audiences can be inspired by their endeavors…..In Chicago, Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM, Chicago is handing the agribusiness beat over to Steve Alexander with the retirement of Orion Samuelson at the end of this month. Samuelson is putting the wrap on a radio career that spans 60 years. Alexander says, “When I’ve filled in for Orion over the past 12 years, I’ve often joked that he gave me the key to the tractor, and I was able to keep it out of the ditch until he returned. Come next month, I’ll try to keep the tractor upright and continue Orion’s efforts to explain how important agriculture is to all of us.”…..GCN-syndicated talk radio host Dr. Daliah Wachs’ program adds two new affiliate stations as WEOL, Elyria, Ohio and KPRL, Paso Robles, California pick up the show.

COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Vaccines, the Economy & Closings, Stimulus Talks, Ongoing Election Denial, Georgia Runoff Elections, Biden Transition, and Northeast Snowstorm Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for post-holidays cases; the beginning of vaccine distribution in the U.S.; the state of the U.S. economy and forced business closings; the congressional negotiations over a new stimulus package; the ongoing denial of the election results in the Donald Trump camp; January’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the Joe Biden administration’s transition and nominations; and a big snowstorm hits the Northeast were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. There’s a series of holiday programs being made available on Entercom’s RADIO.COM that’s airing from December 18-20. The shows are: “POP Goes Christmas,” featuring Why Don’t We and Ava Max; “Acoustic Christmas,” featuring Kelly Clarkson, Meghan Trainor, Dan + Shay, Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, Rob Thomas, Train, Matt Nathanson, Ava Max, and a special performance from Keith Urban; “Country Christmas,” with Keith Urban, Dan + Shay, Lady A, Runaway June, and Russell Dickerson; and “Not So Silent Night” starring Machine Gun Kelly, 24kGoldn, All Time Low, SHAED, and Wallows. Those four shows will culminate in the “RADIO.COM LIVE! Holiday Music Festival,” a free video stream of the concert performances on December 21 at 6:00 pm ET, available nationwide on the RADIO.COM app and website at RADIO.COM/Live. Portions of the show will also be available on Twitch and via RADIO.COM’s social media channels. The performances will be accessible on demand for 72 hours after the show on RADIO.COM and station websites…..SiriusXM announces the rollout of several new pop up channels, holiday specials, live programs for New Year’s Eve, exclusive video, podcasts and best-of live performances. “New Year’s Nation” will launch beginning December 29 as a pop-up channel on SiriusXM dedicated to the ultimate New Year’s celebration songs in pop, rhythm, dance, and hip-hop from across the nation featuring the hottest hits from Harry Styles, Dua Lipa, The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Drake, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Taylor Swift and more. New holiday pop-up channels include Top 100 Interviews of 2020, highlighting the top celebrity interviews from the past year. Hosted by SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle and Julia Cunningham, the pop-up channel will feature interviews from shows including “Andy Cohen Live,” “The Hoda Show” and “The Jess Cagle Show” with some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Ben Affleck, Hugh Jackman, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Laverne Cox, Lily Collins, Lizzo, Ramy Yousef, Sam Smith, Sean Penn, Spike Lee and dozens more.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

| December 15, 2020

Ramsey Solutions Forgives $10 million in Debt for 8,000 Americans. Through his company Ramsey Solutions, Dave Ramsey has taken on the debt of 8,000 people across the United States and totally forgiven a total of $10 million in debt. Ramsey Solutions has purchased $10 million of unpaid medical and car debt from two private debt collection companies in order to forgive it. Starting on November 9, Ramsey and his 950 team members made phone calls to let the recipients know their debt had been forgiven. Recipients will also be notified by a letter in the mail within the next five weeks. Ramsey says, “This year has been one of the worst financially for so many Americans. Thirty years ago, my wife Sharon, and I were on the heels of a financial catastrophe ourselves. We know firsthand the pain of having creditors calling at all hours of the night and wondering how we were going to keep the lights on. But we said never again to living with debt. We worked our way out of bankruptcy, turned our finances around, and now we can have the most fun with money that we ever have – giving.” You can read more about Ramsey Solutions’ $10 million debt payoff here.

Charlie James Named Afternoon Drive Host at WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg. The new afternoon drive talk host at Entercom’s WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg “106.3 WORD” is Charlie James, who joins the station from his most recent post as morning host for Cumulus Media’s news/talk WTMA-AM, Charleston, South Carolina. James – who starts on December 23 – succeeds Bob McLain, who is retiring from the station. Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi says, “Charlie is a well-respected and seasoned talk show host and his track record of success in South Carolina with his award-winning program makes him a perfect fit for ‘106.3 WORD.’ Charlie’s experience informing and entertaining listeners through his style, knowledge, and influential opinions on topics that matter most will be a welcomed addition to our station’s programming and will build on the afternoon audience that has been well served by Bob McLain.”​

WHO-AM, Des Moines Names Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet New Morning Drive Show. Current WHO-AM, Des Moines morning drive host Van Harden announced yesterday (12/14) to listeners that market radio pros Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet will take over hosting the morning drive show after he retires from the station early next month. Schaeffer comments, “The weight of what we have ahead of us is not lost on me.” Schaeffer and Sweet previously worked as morning drive co-hosts at Saga Communications’ crosstown classic hits KIOA-FM until exiting in May of 2018. Harden announced his retirement from WHO back in January of this year, giving iHeartMedia a full year to plan for the new morning show.

Ken Kohl Announces Retirement. Radio programming and management pro Ken Kohl announces that he’s winding down his 50-plus year broadcasting career that’s seen him program news and talk stations in markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Sacramento. Kohl has been serving for the past 12 years with DirecTV managing broadcast and sales operations, project and talent management for the radio and TV simulcasts of “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and “The Artie Lange Show.” Kohl says, “It’s been an amazing 50-year career. From overnight jock on Long Island’s WBLI-FM to program director of legendary WLIR-FM, rockin’ the Rockies at KBPI-FM, great runs programming KOMO-AM and KFBK-AM, launching talk on KFI in Los Angeles and San Francisco’s ‘Free FM’ to the award-winning, wall-to-wall coverage of the OJ trial, and two sports Emmy nominations and a Marconi with ‘The Dan Patrick Show.’ I’ve been blessed with fantastic staffs, amazing talk talent and exceptional ownership but there are a handful of folks who championed my career to whom I am eternally grateful: Michael Harrison, Monty Grau, Jim Donahoe, Jimmy de Castro, Chris Long, and the best of the best, Gerryann Agovino.” Kohl says he remains available for a limited number of consulting clients in between bites of fresh salmon and can be reached at kenkohl@acquaintmedia.com

Townsquare Media Issues Preliminary Fourth Quarter Financial Results. While the fourth quarter of 2020 doesn’t wrap until December 31, Townsquare Media is issuing “preliminary estimated financial results” for the period. Chief executive officer Bill Wilson says, “We are pleased to pre-announce very strong fourth quarter estimated results that outperformed the expectations we had previously outlined on our third quarter earnings call. At that time, I stated that our goal for fourth quarter net revenue was a year-over-year decline of 7.5%, approximately half of our third quarter net revenue decline of 15%, which had been a material improvement from Q2’s decline of 35%. Today, I am proud to share that we expect fourth quarter net revenue will be between $107 million and $109 million, which equates to a decline of approximately 2.7% to 4.5%, materially outperforming our goal. In addition, we expect Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA will be between $27 million and $28 million, representing between 8.3% and 12.3% growth year-over-year. This far exceeds our previously stated goal (by at least $2 million) that Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA would approach Q4 2019 Adjusted EBITDA of $24.9 million.”

i4 Media Ventures Launches with Debut Podcast ‘We Interrupt This Broadcast.’ The new firm i4 Media Ventures announces its plans to “bring podcast listeners vividly memorable stories from the history of American broadcasting.” The 12-episode podcast series “We Interrupt This Broadcast” – the first season of six seasons planned for release over the next three years – debuts in February. The series will feature first-hand accounts, little-told anecdotes and insights recorded over the course of decades with such icons of broadcast journalism as David BrinkleyTom BrokawWalter CronkiteSam Donaldson, Don HewittDan Rather, and Tim Russert, among many contemporary correspondents, and with numerous news directors and producers, as well as with guests connected to broadcast journalism’s rich history such as Casey MurrowEdward R. Murrow’s son. Advertising sales and sponsorship for the series will be represented by New York and Los Angeles-based Crossover Media Group Sales. The series is based on the 1998 New York Times bestselling multimedia book We Interrupt This Broadcast by author Joe Garner, a co-founder of i4 Media Ventures. Legendary longtime CBS journalist and A&E and NPR host Bill Kurtis, the original narrator for the multimedia book, will reprise his role by introducing each episode. The narrator for the series will be announced in coming weeks. Garner says, “It’s our intention with this series to celebrate broadcast journalism’s crucial role in our society and in history. And while our inaugural podcast series will feature major news events throughout broadcast history, these stories – such as the Rodney King beating and the presidential-election dispute of 2000 – all have relevance and offer lessons today.”

Joe Piscopo to Host Sinatra Show on WABC, New York. Well-known TV personality and radio talk show host Joe Piscopo is joining Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York to host “Ramsey Mazda’s Sunday Nights with Sinatra” program that airs from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The show is being simulcast on WLIR-FM on Long Island. Piscopo played Sinatra in a recurring role during his time as a cast member of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” in the early 1980s. He says, “It’s an honor to bring the music of the most legendary icon of our time, Frank Sinatra, back to the legendary WABC Radio. I am thrilled and excited, and it’s gonna’ be swingin’ baby!” Red Apple CEO John Catsimatidis comments, “Throughout history, there has been no more iconic name in music than Frank Sinatra, nor has there been a more iconic name in radio than WABC. Bringing these two together again on Sunday nights with celebrity host Joe Piscopo, a crooner himself, is a one-of-a-kind way to honor ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ and celebrate what would-be his 105th Birthday with this show’s debut.” Piscopo hosts the morning drive program on Salem Media Group‘s WNYM, New York “970 The Answer.”

ESPN’s ‘30 For 30 Podcasts’ Looks Back at Beginning of Pandemic. The next installment of ESPN’s “30 for 30 Podcasts” debuts on December 21, is titled, “March 11 2020,” and tells the story “of a day that started in one reality and ended with a new one — the day the NBA shut down and the pandemic became real — as told by those who lived it.” ESPN says the experiential podcast features a mix of audio clips from news stories of the day and interviews with key figures in the NBA as well as from Dr. Anthony Fauci. Senior editorial producer Julia Lowrie Henderson says, “This has been the strangest, longest, and most challenging of years. It’s hard to process all we’ve been through, but it’s actually quite simple to identify the turning point, the moment where it felt like everything changed: March 11. All of our lives were impacted by the events of that day. At the time we had no idea how deeply, or how long this might last, but we felt the seismic shift when the first professional athlete tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA suspended its season. If our mission at ‘30 For 30’ is to tell stories that explore how sports, competition, athleticism, and adventure affect our lives and our world, then it felt crucial to us to find a way to tell the story of that day.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a story at GVWire.com, KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno program director Blake Taylor says Twitter blocked access to the station’s account because of comments made by U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes on KMJ. During Nunes’ interview with KMJ talk host Ray Appleton, he said he “tested positive for the COVID antibodies” causing some confusion and concern that he had contracted the COVID-19 virus. GVWire.com reports that Taylor fielded requests from consumer media outlets seeking to clarify what Nunes had said so he did so on Twitter. Taylor says that immediately the station’s Twitter account was suspended. He reached out to Twitter but received no response. The blackout lasted 20 minutes…..Entercom’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia “SportsRadio 94WIP” announces special coverage of the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2020-21 season. WIP’s coverage of the team will include “Trust The Pregame,” hosted by Joe Giglio. The station will continue airing “Rights To Ricky Sanchez Radio,” a one-hour show named after the popular podcast. That show will be hosted by Joe Giglio and feature Spike Eskin, as well as Rights to Ricky Sanchez writers Adam Aaronson and Mike O’Connor. The station also announces a collection of additional contributors for the upcoming season, including  WIP’s Jon Johnson and Billy KingDerek Bodner of The AthleticKevin O’Connor of The Ringer, and Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice…..Digital products and services provider Vipology moves its ad sales representation exclusively to AdLarge Media. AdLarge co-founder and co CEO Cathy Csukas says, “Where most digital companies simply create and sell what’s needed at the time, Vipology gets ahead of the constantly evolving media landscape to develop solutions that allow radio to increase ratings and revenue. We’re very excited about representing their advertising inventory from more than 1,000 top radio stations across America to our advertisers.”…..Erick Siqueira joins Focus360 as business development & planning specialist. In this role, Siqueira will work with the Focus team to deliver new revenue and inventory opportunities for clients. He will also continue relationships with agencies and buyers with whom he’s worked for all Focus360 network products and the Focus360 Podcast Network

Electoral College Votes Biden Winner, COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive, COVID Stats & Projections, Barr to Resign, Georgia Runoff Elections, and Stimulus Negotiations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14). The Electoral College votes Joe Biden the 46th president; the first COVID-19 vaccines begin arriving at U.S. hospitals; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for post-holidays outbreaks, and Dr. Tony Fauci’s estimation the U.S. will achieve herd immunity by late spring or early summer; Attorney General William Barr announces he’ll resign next week; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; and negotiations on a new pandemic stimulus package were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. According to a report at NewscenterMaine, former Saga Communications air personality Randi Kirshbaum – who was a program director and jock at country WPOR and triple A WCLZ in Portland, Maine is filing an employment discrimination complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company after she was dismissed for refusing to return to the stations’ offices due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kirshbaum says her mother passed away from pulmonary fibrosis and that she is genetically predisposed to getting it. She adds the disease can be triggered by a respiratory virus. When Kirshbaum was laid off in May, Saga Portland SVP Chris Forgy said Kirshbaum violated her signed agreement that she could be called back to the office by management and would lose her job if she refused…..Condolences to the family and friends of radio pro Steve Cooper, a.k.a. James Carr, who died on Sunday (12/13) at age 71 after several years of battling multiple illnesses. Cooper worked in the Indianapolis market for 32 years, working at such signals as WNDE, WIFE, WFBQ, and WTPI. You can see a tribute video made by good friend Art Vuolo here.

Monday, December 7, 2020

| December 7, 2020

Monday Memo: Podcasting’s Prime Time. Once a hobbyist platform, on-demand audio now features the biggest stars, delivers advertisers ears and analytics they can’t get elsewhere, and pairs listeners and content creators like no other medium. In this week’s column, Holland Cooke summarizes the keynote Spotify’s Dawn Ostroff delivered during the CNBC Evolve webcast “The Evolution of Content and Consumption.” Read it here.

Pending Business: Time for a Skills Inventory. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa president of Lapcom Communications Corp – writes today that year-end is a good time for radio sellers to take inventory of their sales skills and make sure they match up with the pandemic-influenced restrictions and technology-requisite times in which we’ll be working in 2021. Read more here.

Dom Giordano to Be Honored by the Zionist Organization of America.  WPHT, Philadelphia 9:00 am – 12:00 noon host Dom Giordano will be honored by the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Zionist Organization of America, the nation’s oldest pro-Israel organization, for “his patriotism, friendship to the Jewish community, support for Israel and honest commentary about the Middle East” on his show. Giordano will be one of eight people nationwide recognized as “Zionist Spotlights” as part of ZOA’s Virtual 2020 National Superstar Gala. The Gala, taking place on Sunday, December 27, at 7:00 pm ET can be seen (live and on demand) at zoavirtualgala.com. Attorney and legal icon Allen L. Rothenberg is the other honoree representing the Greater Philadelphia Region. The event will also feature Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight, hip-hop artist Ice Cube, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, physician and philanthropist Dr. Miriam Adelson, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan, ZOA national president Morton Klein and more. Giordano – a former school teacher who is nationally recognized as one of the leading experts on education in talk radio and a perennial member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred – received the Greater Philadelphia ZOA’s 2011 Ben Hecht Award for Outstanding Journalism/Man of the Year at the annual Gala that year.

ESPN’s WEPN-FM, New York Moving DiPietro, Canty & Rothenberg to AM Drive. As reported by the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, ESPN is going local in morning drive on sports talk WEPN-FM, New York for the first time. In January, the Rick DiPietro, Chris Canty & Dave Rothenberg program moves from its current 9:00 am to 11:00 am slot to the 5:00 am to 8:00 am slot with the ESPN Radio nationally syndicated “Keyshawn, ZWill & Zubin” show airing from 8:00 am to 10:00 am. These changes come as ESPN tweaks the national lineup in preparation of the departure of Dan Le Batard in January. On WEPN-FM, “Greeny” with Mike Greenberg will air from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, followed by the “Bart [Scott] & [Alan] Hahn” show that’s now part of the national ESPN Radio lineup from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm.

Bernie Miklasz to Return to St. Louis Airwaves on KFNS-AM. According to Dan Caesar’s report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, sports talk KFNS-FM, St. Louis is bringing former Post-Dispatch columnist and former crosstown WXOS-FM personality Bernie Miklasz aboard to host the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show. Also, former KMOV-TV, St. Louis sports director Steve Savard will host the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm show. John Hadley is operating the station while he and a group of investors work to buy the station from owner Randy Markel. Hadley admits that his acquisition of Miklasz’s and Savard’s talent was only possible because they both agreed to work for the “hometown discount.” Miklasz tells Caesar, “Unlike other potential employers who who tended to make promises they couldn’t keep, Hadley was realistic and honest about what they could do for me. The economy is bad, and I wasn’t looking to break the bank. But Hadley didn’t try to exploit the situation by making a ridiculous, low-ball offer. I was enthusiastic about working with him to reach a fair deal for both sides… The trust factor meant a lot to me… Local ownership appeals to me. Local ownership is investing more than money… The personal investment is meaningful.”

PPM Analysis: Four… Less… Years. News/talk stations in Nielsen Audio’s PPM markets enjoyed improved ratings during the November 2020 survey – 68% of news/talk stations in that survey were up over the previous month’s survey – that coincided with the final month of the presidential campaign (October 8 to November 4). In today’s analysis, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian compares the performances of news/talk stations in the November 2020 survey with the same period during the last presidential election in 2016. He shows that 74% of news/talk stations in PPM markets were up (6+, weekly AQH share) in the November 2020 survey compared to the same period in 2016. In fact, there were 10 news/talk stations that increased their AQH share by three full shares or more from the November 2016 survey to November 2020. Find out which stations accomplished that plus much more in Mike Kinosian’s piece here.

Former NFL Player George Wrighster Hosting Late Nights on Mad Dog Radio Channel. Former NFL tight end George Wrighster joins SiriusXM to host the 10:00 pm to 1:00 am ET “Night Cap” program on the Mad Dog Sports Radio channel, beginning tonight (12/7). Wrighster was drafted out of the University of Oregon in 2003. After his playing days, he transitioned into his second career as an entrepreneur/investor and sports media personality.  He has hosted shows on radio and television for a number of networks including FOX Sports, ESPN, and KFWB and KLAC in Los Angeles. SiriusXM SVP of sports programming Steve Cohen says, “With his experience both on the field and in the media, George brings an excellent and well-rounded perspective to the Mad Dog Sports Radio channel and we’re excited to have him deliver an engaging and entertaining show to our listeners on a nightly basis.”

UNUSUAL TALK MEDIA GUEST ALERTBob Kosch Is Back! Former mortgage banker, loan broker, tax lien investor, rock ‘n’ roller, and music/talk radio broadcaster Bob Kosch is back (after another prison stint) and available to do talk media interviews. If you’re looking for a change-of-pace type of special guest for your talk radio show, TV show, or podcast, check out this fascinating ex-con. Michael Harrison (a longtime friend of Kosch) describes Kosch as a “compellingly articulate, original, charming and informative larger-than-life character” who has no problem taking on a variety of subjects including the economy, commercial real estate, scams, the Donald Trump Era (he’s an outspoken Trump critic), prison reform, and pop music, among others. Bob Kosch is an ex-con with a plan that he says can save America from recession and move the economy forward. Experiencing corporal punishment by nuns at St. Anthony’s in Hawthorne, NJ as a child because of learning disabilities and left back in the 5th grade, he began engaging in deceptive behavior at an early age – all of which he talks about openly. He is an expert in mortgage law, focusing mainly in foreclosure and equitable subrogation. Kosch was charged with wire fraud by the U.S. Government in 1999. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 60 months in prison on September 12, 2001. His case brought to light Household Finance’s alleged predatory lending which ultimately led to that company’s demise. The most recent were charges by the State of New Jersey for theft-related offenses which he points out were fabricated by local prosecutors. The case was reversed, and charges vacated but Bob spent six years in prison during the process!  While in State custody, Kosch was in charge of the Law Library at Northern State Prison and worked as “substitute counsel” in court line proceedings. In a particular case, he worked with the ACLU when a transgender inmate was brutally beaten by police and then charged with assault. He was successful in having her transferred to the Women’s Prison in Clinton, New Jersey – setting a precedent in the system and the state. He was instrumental in the enactment of a bill signed by Governor Phil Murphy to end Administrative Segregation arguing Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment claims. Since his release on November 1, 2020, he voluntarily continues to help others in custody who do not have the money to hire an attorney for appeals and post-conviction related matters. He just recently filed a “writ of coram nobis” in an immigration proceeding for an inmate subject to deportation. Bob Kosch can be contacted via email at r2892k@gmail.com or phoned at 973-900-2831.

Beasley Media Group Promotes Tina Murley to VP of Corporate Sales. Boston director of sales Tina Murley is promoted to vice president of corporate sales for Beasley Media Group, effective immediately. Murley has been DOS at Beasley Boston since 2014 and will continue to be based in Boston. In her new role, she’ll be responsible for overseeing the traditional and integrated sales efforts on behalf of the entire company. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “Tina brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to her new role as VP of corporate sales. Her positive attitude and commitment to excellence on behalf of our advertisers and the company made her the perfect choice to lead our company’s sales efforts into the future.”

Nate Dixon Named VP of Sales for Entercom St. Louis. Radio sales pro Nate Dixon joins Entercom’s St. Louis station group as vice president of sales for the cluster that includes news/talk outlets KMOX-AM and KFTK-FM and four music radio outlets. Dixon was most recently with Radio One’s St. Louis operations as station manager. Entercom St. Louis SVP and market manager Becky Domyan comments, “Nate has an incredible track record of performance, community outreach, and team building throughout his career in St. Louis. He is going to elevate our performance to new heights, and I look forward to him leading the way for our sales operation, turbo-charging revenue on all fronts.”

COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Giuliani Hospitalized, Lives vs Livelihood Debate, Trump Challenges Election Results, Biden Transition, Georgia Runoff Elections, and the Economy/Job Losses Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines in the U.K., and expectations for U.S. vaccine distribution; Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is hospitalized with COVID-19; the lives-versus-livelihood debate as lockdown’s hit California; Trump’s continuing challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues building his administration; Georgia’s January U.S. Senate runoff elections and Sunday’s LoefflerWarnock debate; and the state of the U.S. economy and the effects of job losses were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. It’ s going to be double duty for on-air pro Frank Ski who is joining Cox Media Group’s urban contemporary WALR-FM, Atlanta “KISS 104.1” as morning host, effective February 1. Ski will continue to host the afternoon drive program at Howard University’s urban contemporary WHUR, Washington, DC. In addition to his radio work, Ski is signed to a global publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing for his catalogue of hip-hop, rap, gospel, and Baltimore club-music. WALR director of branding and programming Terri Avery says, “I’m thrilled to usher in this new era of ‘The Frank Ski Show’ on ‘KISS 104.1.’ Frank Ski is a proven leader and trusted voice in Atlanta’s African American community. We welcome Frank to the ‘KISS 104.1’ team.”…..Hubbard Radio announces that Fitz – host of KNUC, Seattle’s “Fitz In The Morning” show – will end his daily program in the next few weeks to focus his efforts on the nationally syndicated “Country Top 40” and the creation of new projects. Fitz says, “While I will dearly miss the daily interaction with my Seattle listeners, I’m truly excited to focus my attention on continuing the tradition of ‘CT40’ and bringing it into the next decade with fun, captivating new features, emotion, and remembering the stars of yesterday, while introducing the country stars of tomorrow.” KNUC brand/content director Scott Mahalick says, “We look forward to writing a new chapter for ‘98-9 The Bull’ next year and are working on plans now. We are glad to continue being the flagship radio station for ‘CT40’ with Fitz and look forward to him playing the hits for years to come.”

Friday, December 4, 2020

| December 4, 2020

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Hazy Shade of Winter, looks back at this past week of November 30 – December 4, 2020. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Jim Bohannon, talk show host, Westwood OneHeidi Harris, talk show host, KMZQ, Las Vegas; Stephanie Miller, talk show host, WYD Media ManagementAmy Hao, talk show host, KSCO, Santa Cruz; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio 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.

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s November 2020 PPM survey (October 8 – November 4), today focusing on the news/talk format. This survey leading up to the November 3 presidential election was, in general, a boon to the news/talk format. In fact, 78% of news/talk stations in PPM markets saw their weekly, 6+ AQH share increase from the November of 2019 survey to this November 2020 survey. Comparing the October 2020 survey to the November survey, 68% of news/talk stations’ ratings were up, with gainers led by iHeartMedia’s WKRC, Cincinnati (+2.3), KNRS-FM, Salt Lake City (+1.9), KFYI, Phoenix (+1.7), and Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis (+1.7). Returning to year-over-year numbers, big gainers here included iHeartMedia’s WISN-AM, Milwaukee (+7.6), KFYI-AM, Phoenix (+5.0) and WIBC-FM, Indianapolis (+4.5). In what is a first, the top 10 news/talk stations by market rank were all #1 in their respective markets during the November 2020 survey. See which stations those were and a whole lot more in Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Dan Le Batard and ESPN Agree to Part Company. This is one of those separations that might have been termed a “shocker” simply because of the successful nature of the relationship between ESPN and Dan Le Batard. But as industry watchers are aware, the relationship has been contentious recently and Le Batard made no secret about his displeasure with ESPN’s directive during the summer to steer clear of politics. He was also not pleased that ESPN laid off his radio producer Chris Cote as part of its staff cutbacks (Le Batard brought Cote back by paying his salary out of his own pocket). Pile on top of that the fact that ESPN recently moved the video simulcast of his show from cable’s ESPNews to the subscription ESPN+ platform and reduced his radio show from three to two hours. Le Batard’s final programs will be on January 4. In a statement, ESPN EVP and executive editor Norby Williamson says, “It was mutually agreed that it was best for both sides to move on to new opportunities and we worked together closely to make that possible. We thank Dan for his many years and contributions to ESPN and wish him all the best going forward.” Le Batard’s official statement is as follows: “Gracias to ESPN for unleashing Papi and Stugotz upon an unsuspecting America, and for lending its substantive credibility to our careening clown car. Can’t believe Stugotz finally achieved his dream of becoming a high-priced free agent. I’m forever indebted to Erik Rydholm, Matt Kelliher and their vibrant team for providing a creative oasis across a decade, and for expanding the Le Batard family to include so many brilliant colleagues who have become forever friends, bonded eternally by laughter and love. Want to also extend my gratitude to Chuck Salituro, Jimmy Pitaro, Traug Keller, Marcia Keegan, Connor Schell, Juan Diaz, Mike Foss, Amanda Gifford, Liam Chapman, Megan Judge, Elizabeth Fierman, the Hialeah-soaked crew at Imagina …and when did this become a droning acceptance speech instead of a quick goodbye? In short, thank you, Disney and ESPN, for a quarter century of absurd blessings. To our loyal army of concerned fans, and to everyone who walked along and played an instrument in our Marching Band to Nowhere, know that it is a very exciting time for us, not a sad one. And that you’ll be hearing our laughter again soon enough.”

New ESPN Radio Schedule to Launch on January 5. With the departure of Dan Le Batard from the ESPN Radio and ESPN television schedules, ESPN announces the broadcast schedule for the radio network that begins effective on January 5. ESPN moves “Greeny,” with Mike Greenberg from the early afternoon slot to Le Batard’s current 10:00 am to 12:00 noon air time. It inserts the WEPN-FM, New York duo “Bart & Hahn” – Bart Scott and Alan Hahn – into the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm daypart. As for the television program “Highly Questionable,” it will continue with a “contributing team” consisting of Elle Duncan, Domonique Foxworth, Israel Gutierrez, Bomani Jones, Mina Kimes, Katie Nolan, Sarah Spain, Pablo Torre, and Clinton Yates.

Joe Madison to Be Honored by the National Black Radio Hall of Fame. Talk radio pro Joe Madison is being honored by the National Black Radio Hall of Fame as a 2021 inductee for the “National Satellite Talk Radio Award.” Organization president Bernard Hayes says, “We as a board decided that it would be only fitting to continue the honoring of our leaders in Black Radio despite the current climate in our country and have thereby decided to continue honoring the legacy of those who have done so much to support our communities at large. We will fulfill this task by using the services of the Zoom application.” The National Black Radio Hall of Fame, whose main facility is located at Harris Stowe State University, will have its program hosted by its National Board Members and the local Atlanta Chapter on Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 6:00 pm ET.

WDUN-AM, Gainesville, Georgia Talk Host Martha Zoller Recovering from Health Issue. Georgia talk radio host Martha Zoller is off of her regular talk show on Jacobs Media’s news/talk WDUN-AM, Gainesville, Georgia after having emergency surgery on a burst abscess on a lung that sent her to the hospital on November 21. She tells TALKERS magazine that she is recovering at home and will be away from her radio show for a couple of weeks and then expects to be hosting her program from home until she’s cleared to return to WDUN’s studios.

WAMU Staff Joins SAG-AFTRA. The content creation staff at American University’s public radio outlet WAMU-FM, Washington voted unanimously to recognize SAG-AFTRA as its union. The new bargaining unit will cover the public media professionals who create content for all areas of the station, including DCist.com, “The Kojo Nnamdi Show,” “1A,” “The Big Broadcast,” “Hot Jazz Saturday Night,” and the podcasts “Dish City,” “What’s With Washington,” and “Diane Rehm: On My Mind.” The newly formed bargaining unit will be made up of 80 employees, including hosts, reporters, producers, editors, and engineers who create content for the news, programming and digital units. WAMU “Morning Edition” host Esther Ciammachilli says, “WAMU’s content creators, as a collective bargaining unit represented by SAG-AFTRA, are thrilled to advance our shared beliefs in transparency, accountability, fairness and most importantly, the truth.”

Longtime Chicago Cubs TV Personality Len Kasper Joining WMVP Radio for White Sox Broadcasts. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, 16-year Chicago Cubs television play-by-play man Len Kasper is joining Good Karma Brands-operated sports talk outlet WMVP-AM as announcer for Chicago White Sox broadcasts. Feder says that Kasper – who replaces Andy Masur in the play-by-play role – will work alongside analyst Darrin Jackson.

COVID-19 Spike, Vaccines, and Prevention Tie for Top News/Talk Story of the Week. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the anticipated rollout of vaccines, and prescriptions for prevention of the disease tied for the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio for the week of November 30 to December 4, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Donald Trump’s continuing to claim election fraud. Coming in at #3 was the pardons granted by President Trump and the possibility he’ll grant pardons to his children and himself, followed by the Georgia Senate runoff elections at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Las Vegas adult contemporary outlet KSNE-FM “Sunny 106.5” and KLAS-TV “8 News Now” is presenting a special broadcast titled “A Very Sunny Christmas” to benefit Opportunity Village in Southern Nevada – a nonprofit organization serving adults in the Southern Nevada community with intellectual and related disabilities. Airing on the iHeartMedia radio station and KLAS-TV on December 18 and 25, it will feature Sunny 106.5 morning hosts AJ and Joanna plus performances by Nevada-based entertainers including Wayne Newton, Little Big Town, Debbie Gibson, Darius Rucker, Mat Franco, Brian Newman, Russell Dickerson, Shin Lim, Daniel Emmet, Piff The Magic Dragon, Xavier Mortimer, and many more. AJ says, “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous challenges to Opportunity Village and the people they serve, particularly with the upcoming event season as their normal holiday events like Magical Forest have been cancelled for the 2020 season.”

Thursday, November 5, 2020

| November 5, 2020

Cumulus Media’s Q3 Financial Report Reveals Net Revenue Down 30.1%. Reporting its earnings for the third quarter of 2020, Cumulus Media says net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 30.1% from the same period in 2019. The company also reports a net loss of $15.8 million compared to the $16.3 net income reported for the third quarter of 2019. Same station net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 29.4% from Q3 of 2019. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “In the third quarter, the company continued to focus on maximizing revenue performance, executing meaningful expense reductions, protecting cash through efficient working capital management and strengthening our balance sheet. Despite the extraordinary challenges of operating through a pandemic, we have reduced debt by $269 million and increased cash by $316 million since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018 (a net debt reduction of more than $585 million or 46%.) We believe that these actions, along with record-setting political revenues, will allow us to navigate through and emerge from the COVID-19 crisis with considerable ability to support our growth initiatives and capitalize on strategic and operating opportunities in 2021 and beyond.”

Bakersfield Talk Radio Personality Inga Barks Dies. According to a report by KERO-TV, Bakersfield, former market talk radio personality Inga Barks has died unexpectedly at age 53. At this point details are few, but it appears Barks passed away on November 4. KERO-TV quotes Barks’ friend Cindy Andrews – who worked with Barks at American General Media news/talk outlet KERN-AM – saying, “I am deeply saddened over the death of my former coworker and friend, Inga Barks. Not only was she a talented talk show host, but she was also very devoted to her family. We shared many laughs and unique experiences as female broadcasters for American General Media. She will be missed by many.” You can see KERO-TV’s report that includes tributes from former co-workers – including KMJ, Fresno’s Blake Taylorhere.

WTIC-AM, Hartford Morning Co-Host Joe D’Ambrosio to Leave Station in June. According to an account in the Hartford Courant, WTIC-AM, Hartford morning drive co-host Joe D’Ambrosio says he’s frustrated with his “inability to speak his mind on the air and will leave his position when his contract expires in June.” The paper reports that D’Ambrosio told co-host Ray Dunaway, “At this radio station at this time, I’m not allowed to let my opinions be known. I’ve told management, when my contract is up in June, my time with WTIC will be over.”  It’s not clear if D’Ambrosio is upset with a directive from management or just with the general tenor of host and caller opinions. Reporter Susan Dunne says that when reached later, D’Ambrosio declined to elaborate on his comments.

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the news/talk format. Over the last eight PPM surveys going back to March, the global pandemic, racial tensions/protests, and the election year have provided the news/talk format with ample hot-button issues to discuss and the format’s performance has improved over the same period in 2019, based on Nielsen’s 6+ weekly AQH share data. In the October 2020 survey, 61% of news/talk stations were up over the September 2020 survey with gainers being led buy iHeartMedia’s KFYI, Phoenix (+1.4) and Bonneville’s KSL-FM, Salt Lake City (+1.3). Comparing year-over-year data, 68% of news/talk stations were up in October 2020 compared to October 2019 with gainers being led by iHeartMedia’s WISN, Milwaukee (+6.2), KNRS-FM, Salt Lake City (+4.4), and WCBM Inc’s WCBM, Baltimore (+3.7). In the October 2020 survey, seven news/talk stations ranked #1 (6+) in their respective markets. Find out which stations were ranked #1 by reading Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Mid-West Family Madison Donates $900k in Advertising. The Madison, Wisconsin station group of Mid-West Family Broadcasting gave $900,000 in free advertising (more than 31,000 commercials) to hundreds of local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic between March 21 and July 21 through its “NOW OPEN” program. Mid-West Family Madison president Tom Walker says, “Our company was formed in Madison, we’ve been here for 91 years, and our commitment to the community and local businesses is our top priority. ‘NOW OPEN’ gave us the chance to connect businesses with consumers when they needed it most.”

Report: ESPN to Lay Off 300. According to a report by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, sports giant ESPN is laying off 300 staffers and will not fill some 200 positions that had been open. This comes as parent company ABC/Disney deals with the effects of the pandemic and the changes in media consumption behavior. Marchand’s report indicates that the cuts will be “spread across the network” but will largely spare on-air personalities. Marchand adds, “As is the case across Disney, ESPN is trying to shift more of its business to direct-to-consumer. It has created ESPN+. It had reported 8.5 million subscribers as of this summer. The pandemic has also created new ways to deliver programming with less people.”

The Road to 270 Electoral Votes/Promised Legal Challenges, Portland Violence, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, European Lockdowns, New Islamic Terror Threats, U.S. Exits Paris Climate Accord, Prop 22 Passes in California, Watch on Hurricane Eta Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/4). The counting continues as Donald Trump and Joe Biden each hope to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to claim victory and the gearing up of legal challenges to some states’ vote totals; the National Guard is called in to Portland, Oregon after a riot is declared; the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for the fall/winter seasons; the lockdowns being ordered in numerous European nations to combat the rising number of COVID cases; concerns about new terror attacks by actors sympathetic to the Islamic State; the United States officially exits the Paris Climate Accord; California passes Proposition 22 which allows Uber and Lyft to treat drives as contractors and not employees; and the possibility that Hurricane Eta will gain steam and head for Florida were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and iHeartMedia are teaming up for an exclusive podcast partnership for the series “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Vault” that will debut Friday (11/6), the day before the 35th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony airing on November 7 on HBO. The series covers iconic induction speeches and will debut with The Beatles inducted by Mick Jagger, N.W.A inducted by Kendrick Lamar, The Eagles inducted by Jimmy Buffet, and Stevie Nicks inducted by Harry Styles. New episodes will premiere every Friday through the end of the year and a second season will premiere in early 2021. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “Over the past 35 years, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies have become renowned for their impassioned and sometimes outrageous acceptance speeches. We’re thrilled to bring the most iconic moments of past and present music infamy to fans around the world and continue to share what’s made the event special in the past and for years to come.”