Brian Shactman Joins WTIC-AM, Hartford for Mornings. Television news personality Brian Shactman is named the new morning drive co-host at Entercom’s WTIC-AM, Hartford, joining Ray Dunaway for the “Mornings with Ray and Brian” program. Shactman assumes the role beside Dunaway left open after former morning co-host Joe D’Ambrosio and Entercom agreed to negotiate an early exit from his contract. Prior to joining WTIC, Shactman had been serving as an anchor for WBTS-TV, Boston NBC10 and New England Cable News. He most recently created and hosted “Primary Source,” a nightly political show focusing on the presidential primary and has also anchored weekend evenings on NBC10 Boston since the onset of the pandemic. Entercom Connecticut SVP and market manager Stephanie Perl says, “I’m excited to welcome Brian back to Connecticut to join our morning show program alongside Ray Dunaway. He has a proven track record of entertaining and capturing his audience, and his energy will be a great addition to our show.” Shactman comments, “I have been listening to Ray for years, and WTIC is always my first stop when I get in the car. To now be a part of the WTIC team is an absolute thrill. Connecticut – the whole state – is a community. WTIC is a huge part of that community, and I am excited to help people start their day in this great state.”
Townsquare Media Creates Texas Network Featuring Chad Hasty Show. Following the departure of the Robert Pratt-hosted “Pratt on Texas” program from Townsquare Media’s talk stations KFYO, Lubbock “Newstalk 790”; KYYW, Abilene; and KWFS-AM, Wichita Falls, the company is adding a two-hour version of “The Chad Hasty Show” (5:00 pm to 7:00 pm) to those stations’ program schedules. This move also marks the creation of the Texas Townsquare Media Network that will function on those three stations, with more affiliates expected to be announced later this year. Hasty is the first host to operate under this banner, with more programs anticipated to join it. Hasty has been hosting his eponymous 8:30 am to 11:00 am program on KFYO since the fall of 2012 and he’ll continue that Lubbock-focused program in addition to the new afternoon drive show.
Former Sports Talker Marty Tirrell to Be Sentenced Wednesday. The Des Moines Register reports that former Des Moines sports talk host Marty Tirrell will be sentenced in federal court tomorrow (1/20) after pleading guilty in December of 2019 to one count of mail fraud. Prosecutors are seeking a five-year sentence combined with an order to pay $1.46 million in restitution to American Express, Wells Fargo, Bank of the West and five individuals. Prosecutors say Tirrell defrauded investors of more than $1.5 million in a sporting events tickets resale venture. However, Tirrell didn’t acquire tickets and instead used the cash to “finance a lavish lifestyle and to spend on online gambling.” Prosecutors are seeking the five-year sentence because “the defendant has been defrauding businesses and individuals with his lies for years, with little to no consequences. Defendant continued to lie after he was under investigation in this matter, and the government is concerned he won’t ever stop lying.”
Salem Media Group’s Regnery to Publish Josh Hawley’s Book. After Simon & Schuster decided to cancel its publication of Senator Josh Hawley’s new book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, in the aftermath of the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, Hawley has found a new publisher in Salem Media Group’s Regnery Publishing. Simon & Schuster said in a statement, “We did not come to this decision lightly. As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: At the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.” The Salem press release says, “Despite Senator Hawley’s immediate and forceful condemnation of the violent incursion, social media teemed with calls for retribution for his objection to the certification of the electoral vote. The next day, citing his purported ‘role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom,’ Simon & Schuster announced that it was dropping Hawley’s book, scheduled for publication in June. Responding to the impulsive decision, Hawley stated on Twitter, ‘Simon & Schuster is canceling my contract because I was representing my constituents, leading a debate on the Senate floor on voter integrity, which they have now decided to redefine as sedition.’” The press release goes on to state: “Senator Hawley is an authority on the legal and constitutional implications of Big Tech’s growing power. While the attorney general of Missouri, he investigated how the most powerful company in the world – Google – uses citizens’ private information. In The Tyranny of Big Tech, he shows how Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and other digital giants have abused their enormous market power and political influence, silencing their competition. Explaining why current policies fail us, he identifies alternatives that will break Big Tech’s control over our liberties.”
High-Profile Guests to Take Part in 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards. On Thursday (1/21), the 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards will take place in a virtual format and is being recorded from multiple locations. Just-announced special guests will include: Aaron Mahnke, Hillary Clinton, Holly Frey, Laverne Cox, Questlove, Roy Wood Jr., Will Ferrell, and more. The awards span 30 categories and you can see all of the finalists here. The event will exclusively video stream on iHeartRadio’s YouTube and Facebook pages on Thursday at 9:00 pm ET and will broadcast across iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and on the iHeartRadio App at 9:00 pm local time.
Anny Mansfield Named Corporate Research Director for Gen Media Partners. The company says that in order to meet the growing demands of its expanding portfolio of radio rep firms and networks, Anny Mansfield has been appointed to the newly created position of corporate research director. Mansfield has been with Gen Media Partners since its inception and in this new role will build out a company-wide research department and work closely with the company’s sales departments to serve the needs of network and national advertisers. Gen Media Partners CEO Kevin Garrity says, “I am very pleased that we already had the right person on our team to lead research across Gen Media Partners. Anny is exceptional at finding the data to develop marketing strategies that help our account executives deliver compelling stories and solutions about the power of radio to advertisers and their agencies, especially for new business development.”
U.S. Agency for Global Media Names Board of Directors; Blanquita Cullum Appointed Chair. New boards of directors have been appointed for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks by CEO Michael Pack. The USAGM says the diverse boards “bring exceptional skill in the fields of journalism, language, technology, broadcasting, and diplomacy that are essential to the work of the three surrogate broadcast networks, which provide a lifeline of factual news for those living in places where a free press is denied to them by repressive government.” Blanquita Cullum — host, producer, and writer for “The Hard Question” — is named chairwoman of the three boards. She comments, “From my previous service on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, I understand the importance of delivering objective, accurate news about America and the world to combat our adversaries’ misinformation campaigns and to shine the light of truth into those dark corners where access to a free press is denied. The other board members and I will fight to ensure these networks and their journalists have the tools and support they need to perform their difficult but essential work, which itself is crucial for our national interest.” Serving on the board with Cullum as directors are: Jonathan Alexander, Amanda Milius, Roger Simon, and Christian Whiton.
TALKERS News Notes. This Thursday (1/21) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the latest in a series of Town Hall broadcasts to help New Jersey deal with the mental stresses of the pandemic. The station’s Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments in bringing mental health experts together to talk about these stressors and help residents access help. He says, “The toll this pandemic has taken on our overall mental wellness has been huge. This program seeks to de-stigmatize seeking help and connect our listeners to the many resources available.”…..Beasley Broadcast Group announces that subsidiary, Beasley Mezzanine Holdings, LLC intends to offer $280 million in aggregate principal amount of senior secured notes to persons reasonably believed to be qualified institutional buyers…..In Abilene, Texas, Cumulus Media drops the sports talk format on KTLT-FM and flips to rock as “98.1 The Phantom.”…..iHeartMedia New York’s iHeartRadio Broadway and D’Marie Productions announce that the LGBTQ+ comedy podcast “Slumber Party with Tim Murray” is joining the iHeartPodcast Network, beginning January 20…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs Show” adds new affiliates: WWPR-AM, Bradenton/Tampa; KNET, Palestine, Texas; WNRI ,Woonsocket, Rhode Island; WTBG-FM, Brownsville, Tennessee; and WVEL, Peoria, Illinois.
Trump’s Final Day/Pardons Commutations, Inauguration Prep, Capitol Attack Investigation and Arrests, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, China and WHO Failures, Social Media and Free Speech, New Migrant Caravan, and Australian Open Troubles Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/18). Today’s final day in office for President Donald Trump and the pardons and commutations expected to be issued; the preparation and security for Wednesday’s inauguration for Joe Biden; the ongoing investigation into the Capitol attack and related arrests; the fast-rising number of COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response report indicating China and the WHO failed to act quickly at the beginning of the pandemic; the move by social media platforms to suspend purveyors of extremist content; the caravan of Hondurans heading for the U.S.; and positive COVID tests hamper the Australian Open were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — It’s talk radio FAQ #1. GMs – excuse me, “market managers,” overseeing more-stations-than-they-have-time-to-hear – are anxious, now forced to pay attention to 15 hours a week they’ve had on autopilot for decades.
Short answer: Nobody can
Thousands of our talk radio brothers and sisters will always owe him for leading the format that extended AM radio’s useful life. On my TV show I reminded Michael Harrison of a prediction he made at the TALKERS New York conference 20 years ago, that talk will eventually save FM, where music formats are now largely robotic and under assault from streaming and satellite competitors that users love. Many pay to subscribe.
Westwood One to Offer Michael Knowles Show in January. The relationship between Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and the Daily Wire expands as WWO announces it will offer the one-hour “Michael Knowles Show” to radio stations beginning on January 4, 2021. The program will be fed live at 5:00 pm ET. Westwood One says, “Michael Knowles will provide a fresh, new voice on radio, delving beyond the headlines and analyzing the top cultural and political issues of the day. Knowles reaches a young conservative demographic, with an extensive following already through his podcast and social media channels. Knowles had the #1 podcast in America throughout most of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial with ‘Verdict,’ his podcast with Ted Cruz; and his podcast, ‘The Michael Knowles Show,’ is among the top 10 News Commentary podcasts on the American iTunes Charts. Knowles has 1.12 million Facebook followers, 393.9k Twitter followers, 352k YouTube followers, and 150k Instagram followers.” Knowles has previously served as a guest host for “The Ben Shapiro Show.”
It’s Official: Grace Curley to Take Over Early Afternoons on WRKO, Boston. As TALKERS magazine reported on Tuesday (11/17), iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston begins airing “The Grace Curley Show” in the early afternoon daypart beginning on January 4. Curley’s program is produced and distributed by the Howie Carr Radio Network and it replaces “The Vinnie Penn Project” in the WRKO lineup. It will air from 12:15 pm to 3:00 pm. Curley is the executive producer of “The Howie Carr Show” – a role she will continue – and also is a Boston Herald columnist. iHeartMedia Boston VP of news, talk and sports Rob Sanchez says, “Grace has a spark ready to be ignited. She is part of the next generation of talk radio hosts and is ready to set the Boston airwaves on fire with her strong and authentic voice. Grace represents core conservative values through a millennial lens and has learned from the absolute best, so she is the perfect lead in for the ‘Howie Carr Show.’”
Cumulus Media and VolunteerMatch Partner for PROJECT SHINE. The cross-platform charitable initiative PROJECT SHINE is a partnership between Cumulus Media and VolunteerMatch. Cumulus describes it as “an evergreen campaign that will inspire local acts of service and human connection in a world that has seen its share of challenges.” Cumulus EVP, content & audience Brian Philips says, “PROJECT SHINE serves as a conduit for human connection. We make it easy for good people to connect with great causes through VolunteerMatch. In every town, in every corner of America, some darkness subsides, and a new ray of light appears. Through service, we help ourselves and the whole world is better for it.” PROJECT SHINE will be promoted on Cumulus’ 422 radio stations and websites across 87 U.S. markets and through Westwood One. Creative promos will feature a new version of Collective Soul’s hit “Shine,” re-recorded exclusively for PROJECT SHINE.
TALKERS News Notes. Progressive talk radio host Stephanie Miller announces that her “Sexy Liberal Virtual Tour” continues this weekend with a show on Saturday (11/21) at 8:00 pm ET featuring John Fugelsang, Frangela, and Hal Sparks…..Cumulus Media San Francisco and the University of San Francisco athletics department announce their renegotiated multi-year agreement that will have KTCT-AM “KNBR 1050 The Sports Leader” serve as the flagship station for USF Dons men’s basketball. The station will carry all of the games, including pre- and post-game shows as well as the weekly “Hilltop Hoops Hour” hosted by the voice of the Dons, Pat Olson…..New York Public Radio names Armando Gutierrez chief financial officer, effective December 2. Gutierrez was most recently CFO for CBS Corporation. NYPR says, “Gutierrez brings more than 20 years of experience developing financial strategy, transforming traditional broadcast businesses, and driving digital growth across media organizations.”
Trump’s Denial of Election Results, Biden Transition, Georgia Recount/Runoff Elections, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccines, Obama Memoir, Iran War Drums, Boeing 737 Max Greenlighted, and NFL Intensifies COVID Protocols Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/18). The refusal by Donald Trump to concede the election; the hampered transition process for Joe Biden; the presidential election recount in Georgia and the January runoff elections for that state’s two U.S. Senate seats; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, projections for winter cases, and the vaccine progress announced by Pfizer and Moderna; former President Barack Obama’s new memoir; the talk of war against Iran by Saudi Arabia and Israel; Boeing’s 737 Max gets approval to fly again; and the NFL institutes stringent coronavirus prevention policies for all teams among top news/talk stories yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh News Reporter Joe DeStio to Retire. Radio news pro Joe DeStio announces he is retiring from Entercom’s KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh after 40 years in the business. DeStio served with WTAE, Pittsburgh before joining KDKA-AM nine years ago. He also serves as the house announcer for University of Pittsburgh Panthers football and mens basketball. He told listeners, “You get to the point that you realize life is short and while you still have the energy to do things, I want to get into music a little bit. I play the saxophone and I want to get good on that… I want to get good on the golf course, that’s the tallest order, probably… my wife and I want to travel… but, who knows, I may do something part time and I may get back into teaching.”
Former Long Island Radio Manager Pleads Guilty to Fraud. The former vice president and general manager of Long Island Radio Broadcasting pleads guilty to felony access device fraud in which she purchased “hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal charges” on the company’s American Express card. Stephanie McNamara Bitis faces 12 to 18 months in prison after the guilty plea. Long Island Radio Broadcasting owns and operates three stations – triple A WEHM-FM, Manorville; CHR WBEA-FM, Southold “The Beach 101.7”; and adult contemporary WBAZ-FM, Bridgehampton – on Long Island. Company owner Lauren Stone says that Bitis, who managed the stations from 2015 through 2017, was fired after “lackluster financial results.” Stone says a suspicious wire transfer caused her to hire outside experts to investigate the stations’ finances and then discovered the personal charges made by Bitis. While Stone says Bitis charged “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in personal expenses, Bitis’ lawyer Thomas Kenniff says Bitis disputes that and says his client was responsible for “no more than $1,000 in any given year,” according to a report in Patch.
RIP Mike Scinto. The passing of talk radio host Mike Scinto on Monday (11/16) was brought to the attention of TALKERS magazine by Salem Radio Network VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup, who shares with us the above photo of Scinto (left) with good friend Mike Gallagher (right). Gallagher and Scinto both got their start in talk radio at WAVI-AM, Dayton and for years Scinto would serve as a guest host on Gallagher’s SRN syndicated program. Gallagher paid tribute to Mike Scinto on his national program this morning, extending sympathy and prayers to Scinto’s wife Kathy and their children Zak and Carly, stating, “We will miss him. He was one of a kind.”
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Country radio pro Michelle Rodriguez joins the “Hawkeye in the Morning” show on Cumulus Media’s KSCS-FM “New Country 96.3.” Rodriguez has been the midday personality on the station for the past seven years. She begins working with Mark “Hawkeye” Louis on November 30. Station program director Mike Preston says, “Michelle has been a shining star on the station for 10 years and pairing her with Hawkeye just made sense. I can’t wait to see the new heights that together they’ll take us to!”…..Entercom flips adult contemporary WDZH-FM, Detroit “98.7 The Breeze” to alternative rock as “ALT 98.7.” Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “This is a huge opportunity to add alternative to our portfolio, and we’re thrilled to further expand our content offering for Detroiters. ‘ALT 98.7’ will serve as a home for some of today’s top hits from premier artists in the industry, while capturing the distinctive style and flair of the Motor City.”…..Radio One Philadelphia begins transitioning the hip hop format on WPHI-FM at 103.9 to its new home at WRNB’s 100.3 FM frequency. The stations will simulcast the format all this week in advance of the switch on Monday (11/23). Radio One Philadelphia station manager, Ezio Torres states, “I’m excited about the updates to our Philadelphia Urban One cluster as this allows the audience and reach of each of our stations to expand.”…..For the 11th year in a row, “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” and Premiere Networks is giving away thousands of turkeys as part of the Steve Harvey Morning Show Annual Turkey Give. Nearly 9,000 turkeys will be provided to affiliates of the award-winning morning radio show to help those less fortunate celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Since the Turkey Give was launched in 2009, nearly 90,000 turkeys have been given to those in need. Harvey says, “We consider it an honor and a privilege to help those less fortunate during the holiday season. On behalf of the entire Steve Harvey Morning Show, Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you all.”