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Monday, July 19, 2021

| July 19, 2021

Monday Memo: Selling The Sorehead Show. Because “we live in a divided America” in which many use talk radio to validate grievance, consultant Holland Cooke sees sales opportunity: “Affinity = entre.” In this week’s column, HC suggests an approach to kindred prospects, and recommends four packages and specific copy points for improving results from endorsement spots. Read it here.

Pending Business: Wobbles. Sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, writes in today’s column about the challenges of selling when the ratings wobble. He says, “After over a year of COVID craziness, the last thing you want to deal with is game planning for more negativity. Business should be accelerating, yet here we are looking at many large market news/talk radio stations down trending after lineup changes designed to improve audience levels have been slow to show upticks. Maybe a little too soon to judge, maybe sampling wobbles, maybe work-life patterns shifting, maybe we should start dealing with what we can control – our game plan.” Read more here.

Round Four of June PPM Ratings Released. The fourth of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s June 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen’s June 2021 sweep covered May 27 – June 23. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from these markets. In Austin, Waterloo Media’s news/talk KLBJ-AM loses nine-tenths for a 4.0 share (6+ weekly AQH share) finish and the #9 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTKK-FM, Raleigh rises six-tenths, finishing with a 5.8 share good for the #6 rank in the market. In Indianapolis, Emmis Communications’ news/talk WIBC-FM tacks on one-tenths for a 7.0 share and rises from #3 to #2 in the market. In the Milwaukee market, Good Karma Brands’ news/talk WTMJ remains in the #1 rank even though it lost three-tenths. It finished with an 8.9 share on the strength of Brewers baseball and Bucks basketball and easily topped iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talk WISN, which lost one-tenth and finished with a 6.5 share and the #4 rank. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (and the first three groups) here.

FAIR’s Hold Their Feet to the Fire Event Sets Record Attendance. The 14th annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row event is taking place this year on September 29 and 30 at the Phoenix Hotel on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The annual event in which talk radio hosts from around the nation gather to broadcast from Washington and discuss the issues surrounding American immigration policy with legislators and experts is almost completely booked. FAIR executive director Bob Dane says, “Thanks to Biden’s border crisis – and apparently the itch to just get out after a year of being isolated – this year’s 14th Hold Their Feet to the Fire radio row has set record attendance with 70 hosts now confirmed to broadcast September 29 and 30. After 14 years of doing this, I guess next year, we’ll need a bigger boat!” Inquiries can be made to Matt Tragesser at mtragesser@fairus.org

California Recall Controversy as Larry Elder Left Off Official List of Candidates. The official list of candidates in California’s recall election of Governor Gavin Newsom was released Saturday and Salem Radio Network host Larry Elder – who’s taking a leave from his nationally syndicated talk radio program in order to run – was not on the list. KCRA-TV reports that state officials say Elder’s filing did not include complete tax returns for the past five years, which are required to run. The report does not explain what was missing from Elder’s filing. In response, Elder tweeted the following: “Politicians know I’m the only candidate who will beat Gavin Newsom — and that’s why they don’t want me on the ballot. They’re using shenanigans that they invented to block the doors to the Governor’s Office and make sure they stay in power.”

WPTF, Raleigh’s Tom Kearney Retires. Longtime evening talk radio host Tom Kearney has retired from Curtis Media Group’s news/talk WPTF, Raleigh after almost 40 years with the station. Kearney joined the station in 1982 and in 1988 he began his full-time role as evening talk host. The Raleigh Observer says Kearney didn’t copy political hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, but “chose a folksier path: garden chats, computer repair tips, stamp collecting, Friday night trivia. He picked guests who could pass on something useful: the astronomer who explained Pluto’s non-planetary status, or the assistant attorney general who offered advice on fighting elder fraud.” WPTF VP of content Rick Martinez is quoted saying, “Whether he’s talking to a political leader or an auto mechanic. Tom always seems to know what questions the listeners want answered. Tom has always put the listener first.”

iHeartMedia Miami Promotes Mark McKenzie to Sales Manager. Radio sales pro Mark McKenzie is promoted from account executive to sales manager for iHeartMedia’s Miami station group in which he’ll be responsible for overseeing all sales operations for “103.5 The Beat,” “Throwback 105.5 Miami” and Miami’s BIN 880 WZAB “Black Information Network.” iHeartMedia Miami market president Shari Gonzalez says, “Since joining iHeartMedia, Mark has led our team in multiple capacities. It is wonderful to make it official. As sales manager, I am confident that Mark will take this brand and team to new heights.”

Opinion: Mama, Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be Sportscasters. Author Michael Levin writes an opinion piece after reading Julie DeCaro’s new book, Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America, which he says, “details what a slime pit the world of sports broadcasting really is.” He says, “DeCaro is an attorney turned sports talk radio host who, in her book, decries the piggish nature of virtually all men in the world of sports, from the male broadcasters to the executives who run teams and broadcast outlets, to many of the players, and certainly to the fans.” But, Levin says, DeCaro is guilty of the legal concept called, “coming to the nuisance.” Read his piece here.

TALKERS News Notes. WSGW, Saginaw operations manager Dave Maurer is being inducted into the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Maurer has also served as the host of news/talk WSGW’s morning show for the past 42 years. The station lists Maurer’s accomplishments during his time with the station: Maurer and his news team were named AP Station of the Year for 25 consecutive years; in 2005, he received the Michigan AP Lifetime Achievement Award; and in 2016, he was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International for his coverage and contributions to humanitarian causes in Northeast Michigan. Under his leadership, WSGW was awarded the 2020 NAB Crystal Award for Community Service and the 2020 NAB Service to America Award for the Sharing Hope Radiothon…..NuVoodoo Media Services, is revealing findings from its recently completed Ratings Prospects Study 18 that indicates more than 40% of those 14-54 year-old radio listeners most likely to participate in ratings say that they have gotten out of the habit of listening to local morning radio shows. NuVoodoo will be presenting results from the study in a series of webinars beginning on Wednesday July 21. Interested attendees can sign up for free at NuVoodoo.com/webinars…..Triton Digital, the global technology and services provider to the digital audio and podcast industry, announced today the release of the latest U.S. Podcast Report for the June 2021 reporting period (May 31 – June 27, 2021), as measured by Triton’s Podcast Metrics measurement service. The Top Network Reports are ranked by Average Weekly Downloads and Average Weekly Users, in accordance with v2.1 of the IAB Podcast Technical Measurement Guidelines. In this reporting period, Stitcher Media remained in the #1 spot with 31M Average Weekly Downloads and 9M Average Weekly Users, followed by NPR with 30M Average Weekly Downloads and 7M Average Weekly Users. The Audacy Podcast Network ranked #3 with 16M Average Weekly Downloads and 6M Average Weekly Users. See the whole report here.

COVID-19, Facebook Anti-Vax Charges, January 6 Investigation/Sentencing, Critical Race Theory, the Economy/Inflation, Trump and the GOP, Voting Bills, European Floods, and Western Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rising rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about the Delta variant, and the debate over restrictions; Facebook is called out by President Joe Biden who says it is “killing people” by allowing anti-vax posts; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the sentencing of those who’ve pled guilty; the furor over the teaching of “critical race theory” in public schools; the state of the U.S. economy, the shortage of workers, and concerns about inflation; the relationship between former President Donald Trump and the GOP; the various voting laws recently passed and the controversy over Texas Democrats leaving the state to avoid voting on that state’s bill; the devastating floods in Europe; and the wildfires in the U.S. West were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

| June 15, 2021

FAIR Announces 14th Annual ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ Set for September 29-30 in Washington, DC. The Federation for American Immigration Reform announces it has set the dates for this year’s 14th annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row broadcast in Washington, DC. The event will take place on Wednesday, September 29 and Thursday, September 30 at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill. As in the past, this event features talk hosts from across the nation broadcasting live both days debating immigration policy while interviewing members of Congress, law enforcement officials, experts, activists, administration officials, and those who live and work along the southern border. FAIR says the F2F hosts 70 stations and has become the largest annual radio row and the centerpiece of the immigration debate each year for the media. FAIR executive director Bob Dane says, “Last year we had to cancel this long-running annual radio event. Not this year. No way, no how. Not with the Biden border crisis underway. This September we’re right back at it discussing, debating, sorting truth from fiction, hearing first-hand accounts, offering reasonable solutions and making collective noise on Capitol Hill and across the country. Barriers have to be built, asylum loopholes closed, more resources brought to bear, the rule of law enforced, and the lies of the mainstream media refuted. Most importantly, Americans – not special interests – need to be heard from.” Reservations are required and hosts/producers should call FAIR now to reserve their spot. There is no cost to attend and all technical engineering and expenses are taken care of by FAIR. Congressional guests, activists, high profile media personalities, and immigration experts will be in attendance and available throughout the event for wall-to-wall interviews. Talk hosts interested in attending should contact Matthew Tragesser, event manager at 202-328-7004 or mtragesser@fairus.org.

TALKERS 2021 Was a Success! The 24th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important conference, the Talkers Convention, took place this past Friday (6/11) on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The event was a presentation of TALKERS in association with Hofstra’s multi-award-winning radio station, WRHU. More than 50 industry leaders from talk radio and cable news/talk TV spoke during a non-stop day of presentations and panel sessions. Due to strict regulations adhering to COVID-19 protocols, attendance was limited to a sellout crowd of 175 people which was reached about a week prior to the event. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says, “We were delighted to be able to join forces again with our colleagues at Hofstra – the site of our very successful 2016 event – and be able to actually present a live conference in an extremely COVID-19 compliant environment which Hofstra was equipped to provide. The convention achieved its goal to boldly address key existential issues facing the talk radio and talk media industries at this dramatically critical juncture.” TALKERS will be posting extensive coverage of the event in the days to come including video documentation recorded under the direction of Art Vuolo covering every speech, presentation and panel discussion. Stay tuned for details.

FOX News Radio midday personality and stand-up comic Jimmy Failla presents his welcoming remarks to the the attendees at TALKERS 21 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11.

WPG, Atlantic City morning personality Harry Hurley (left) presents $5,000 from his charity to the Broadcasters Foundation of America, accepted by BFoA representative Renee Cassis (right) at TALKERS 21 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11.

Appearing on the “Strategizing a Talk Show Hosting Career” panel were (from l-r): Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency; Grace Curley, talk host, Howie Carr Radio Network; Dom Giordano, talk host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Rob Carson, talk host, Newsmax TV; and Erick Erickson, talk host, WSB, Atlanta and in syndication at TALKERS 21 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11. (Not pictured: Harry Hurley, WPG, Atlantic City; and moderator Kevin Casey, VP/executive editor, TALKERS magazine.)

Townsquare Media Names Mary Fork Market President and CRO for Southwest Michigan. Sales and management pro Mary Fork joins Townsquare Media as market president/chief revenue officer for Southwest Michigan. In this role she’ll lead the company’s “Digital First” strategy and drive strategic multi-platform sales and content initiatives across the region that includes Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. Fork most recently served with Comcast. She will report to Townsquare SVP Todd Lawley, who says, “From the first time I spoke to Mary it was clear that the ability to coach, lead and execute a multi-platform strategy is in her DNA. She possesses a unique skill set that will allow her to bring our world class set of digital and local broadcast solutions to the market with the mission of making Townsquare Kalamazoo/Battle Creek the #1 local media company in Southwest Michigan.” Fork adds, “I am beyond excited to be returning home to Southwest Michigan and joining the Townsquare Media family. What compelled me to join Townsquare is not only the full-service digital marketing capabilities and incredible local media brands, but the way Townsquare goes to market and its Digital First strategy. I was completely impressed when I saw how Townsquare’s campaigns have full transparency, true optimization and industry leading attribution. With the unmatched product power and campaign management integrity of Townsquare, I knew I needed to join this winning team.”

Westwood One Blog: Network Radio is ‘Reach Accelerator.’ This week’s Westwood One blog features data that suggests “adding network radio into any media generates an outsized lift in incremental reach.” Addressing the fast-declining audience for linear TV and the rate of cord cutting, the blog “outlines how advertisers can use network radio to amplify their media plans and accelerate reach.” On the state of TV in 2021, MoffettNathanson says since 2011, non-live cable audiences are down 49%. Broadcast network non-live audiences are down 44%. MoffettNathanson adds that pay TV penetration has dropped from 89% of U.S. homes in 2009 to 60% today. Citing Nielsen Media Impact data, the blog says, “a 20% addition of CTV (connected TV) media weight to a linear TV buy results only in an 8% increase in reach.” Supporting the notion that “network radio is the media plan reach accelerator,” data from the Nielsen Commspoint media planning tool suggests a three-million-dollar investment in network radio generates a weekly national reach of 50%, 47% greater than the same investment in digital and TV (34%). Adding network radio into any media generates an outsized lift in incremental reach.

RAB Reveals Radio Mercury Awards Final Round Judging Panel. The Radio Mercury Awards 2021 Final Round Jury is being named. RAB says in a press release, “The incoming panel of top-level agency creative leaders represents radio’s top advertising categories, including automotive, consumer packaged goods (CPG), communications, community service, education, financial services, nonprofits, quick-serve restaurants, retail, spirits, technology, travel and utilities. The jury, curated with the help of 2021 Radio Mercury Awards chief judge Robin Fitzgerald, chief creative officer, BBDO Atlanta, comprises thought leaders from across the country and represents all size markets with diverse audiences and cutting-edge creative work for advertising’s biggest brands.” The 2021 Radio Mercury Awards Final Round Jury is: Adia Betts, associate creative director/copywriter, Dagger Atlanta; Nathalie Brown, executive creative director, VMLY&R NY; Bianca Guimaraes, partner and executive creative director, Mischief NY; Paul Johnson, freelance copywriter/creative director; Derrick Ogilvie, vice president/creative director, BBDO Atlanta; Andrés Ordóñez, executive vice president/chief creative officer, FCB Chicago; Alejandro Ortiz, executive creative director, Campbell Ewald Detroit/NY; Shannon Washington, senior vice president executive creative director, R/GALewis Williams, chief creative officer, Burrell Communications Group Chicago; and Sherman Winfield, executive creative director, VMLY&R Atlanta. Find out more about the judges here.

Biden European Trip/Putin Summit, Infrastructure Deal, COVID-19, McConnell SCOTUS Threat, Trump DOJ Investigation, and Israeli Politics Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/14). President Joe Biden’s meeting with G7 leaders in Cornwall and his looming meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin; the U.S. Senate’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure proposal; the fast-falling rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rate of vaccinations, and the search for the origin of the coronavirus; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s declaration he’ll refuse a Biden Supreme Court nominee if Republicans take back the Senate in 2022; the possible investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged use of the Department of Justice to settle political scores; and the ouster of Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister of Israel were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

| February 11, 2021

NYTimes Piece Pins Capitol Attack on Talk Radio. The piece in The New York Times titled, “How Right-Wing Radio Stoked Anger Before the Capitol Siege,” comes on the heels of a story published by the Washington Post several days prior that attempts to assess the state of talk radio and where its future lies in the 21st century American media landscape. The two stories are at the forefront of an effort by the mainstream media to determine why U.S. citizens aligned with Donald Trump were willing to break into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election. In the Times story, the writers quote statements by leading talk hosts, some of which show sympathy for the “stolen election” allegation, others that directly claim it to be true, and still others that use language that advocates protest but falls short of encouraging law breaking. TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison is quoted saying, “We always had shock jocks. But then we had a shock president.” Harrison, one of the most vocal proponents of the First Amendment in radio over the past half century, elaborates by stating, “Democracy and free speech as reflected and discussed on political news/talk radio constitute the major hardball league in the marketplace of ideas. Neither democracy nor free speech are tidy processes and can get real mean, loud, and even dirty – but both are vital to the very foundation of liberty as we understand it as being the American way. It takes courage to stake out a controversial opinion in the media and willingness to face the negative blowback of critics and political opponents from other platforms – even to the point of economic boycotts – keeping in mind that negative reaction comes with the territory of a healthy First Amendment in action under which they are all fair game. From this perspective, media practitioners such as Rush LimbaughSean Hannity and Mark Levin are among the most important commentators in America today and they should be cut some slack from being demonized for performing their jobs. That being said, we should never confuse the difference between being a pre-meditated liar for personal gain and simply being wrong in our interpretation of the evidence and news at hand in a swirling, ever-changing political environment. We should also not forget that there is a HUGE difference between being a non-elected media pundit and being the President of the United States. The fact that these talk show hosts are being compared to the President of the United States as being responsible for his statements and their real-world consequences either shows how incredibly important this profession has become or just how low Donald Trump – the first ‘shock president’ – has sunk the presidency and is pulling his loyal media followers with him down the rabbit hole. These hosts will have to decide for themselves if they want to stay on the Trump train or get off at the station being offered by the Senate trial. History WILL eventually be the judge of the wisdom of their decisions going forward.”

Root: I Was ‘Disappeared’ by Twitter. Las Vegas-based, nationally syndicated talk radio host Wayne Allyn Root writes an opinion piece for TALKERS magazine today in which he decries his Twitter account being shut down. Root is one of a number of conservative media personalities who’ve lost their Twitter accounts, many of which were suspended or shut down for supporting election fraud theories, and liberal media figure Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just lost his Instagram account for his anti-vaxxer posts. Of course, not everyone in conservative talk radio takes Root’s position that private social media platforms are obligated to carry materials or opinions with which they disagree or believe to be harmful. After all, if the Fairness Doctrine was repressive to talk radio, isn’t imposing a similar obligation on Twitter equally repressive to the First Amendment? The First Amendment protects private platform owners from being obligated to run content with which they disagree and only protects free speech from government censorship. You can read Root’s piece here.

NAB Comes Out Against Geo-Targeting Using FM Boosters. The National Association of Broadcasters is filing comments with the FCC on its inquiry into whether to amend its rules to allow FM booster stations to originate programming. As TALKERS reported earlier this week, GeoBroadcast Solutions received permission for its fourth test of its technology that enables FM radio broadcasters to use boosters to air geo-targeted content, independent of a broadcaster’s primary signal, within different portions of a station’s market – what the company calls ZoneCasting.  But the NAB says that after a careful and thorough review of the Notice, it is strongly opposing revising the booster rule that forbids them from airing unique content, a requirement for ZoneCasting. The NAB says, “A close review of the Notice suggests that rather than bolster the industry’s economic outlook, GBS’s proposal would instead undermine the industry’s fundamental business model. The vast majority of broadcasters – from a wide array of perspectives – agree that permitting program origination on boosters will almost certainly drive both advertising rates and revenues down even further as advertisers push to purchase geo-targeted ads. The outcome is unavoidable, given the obvious business incentives for advertisers to purchase spots that cherry-pick what they view to be their most desirable customers and at a lower cost. Further inspection also leads to the inevitable conclusion that broadcasters will not be able to recoup such losses through sales of any additional spot inventory that is created on boosters. Based on their considerable advertising expertise, most station owners predict that existing advertising customers will likely substitute, rather than supplement, market-wide ads with cheaper, geo-targeted ads. They also agree that potential sales of geo-targeted ads to new customers are purely speculative. Broadcasters do not by and large see pent-up demand by small businesses in their local markets that have not previously purchased advertising time, and even if such demand exists, it would not be economical to undertake the substantial investment to capture the additional business.”  The NAB goes on to say, “Amending the booster rule could very well produce a race to the bottom of ad rates and revenues and NAB is concerned that ZoneCasting will only increase the leverage of larger broadcasters and consolidated groups at the expense of smaller stations. Minority- and women-owned stations could be hardest hit if they cannot afford the expense of selling geo- targeted ads or absorb lower advertising rates and new competition for ad dollars from the boosters of larger stations.” It also questions the effect the technology could have on listeners. “Broadcasters are extremely concerned that the interference caused by geo-targeting where the boundary of a primary station meets a booster airing different programming will spur listeners to change to an alternative platform and reflect poorly on the reputation of FM radio service. Even if an individual station is willing to risk that loss, listeners may not limit their disdain to one station or group; rather, they may become so disenchanted with the reliability of terrestrial radio that they seek out a plethora of other options.” You can see the NAB’s complete comments submitted to the FCC here.

MIW Group’s Gender Analysis Report Card Shows Improvement and Room for Growth. The annual MIW Gender Analysis Study for the year 2020 is released by the Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio Group. Each year it compiles and analyzes the number of women in radio broadcasting who are rising to the ranks of management – specifically tracking the progress of female professionals holding general manager, sales manager, and program director positions. MIW says the figures and percentages in the study’s conclusion are reflective of 11,158 AM and FM radio stations across America, as accounted for by PrecisionTrak as of December 31, 2020. Looking at the general manager position, the study finds that in 2020 19.9% of stations had women in that role, up from 19.5% in 2019. MIW says this number continues to show consistent growth from 2004, when the percentage of female GMs was only 14.9%. Moving to sales managers, MIW says the best management opportunities for women in radio continue to be in sales management. 33% of stations had a woman sales manager in 2020, that figure was basically flat from 33.1% in 2019. MIW says that although there continues to be progress, the greatest challenge for women in radio management continues to be in the area of program director. Women currently program 12.2% of stations versus 11.6% last year. This is the second year in a row this number has increased, as it has remained stalled for fourteen years. MIW Group national spokeswoman Ruth Presslaff comments, “In a year as challenging as 2020, any growth should be celebrated. However, our mission is advocating for the advancement of women to senior radio positions in radio. If not flat, the 2020 numbers reflect only slight increases. This fuels our passion for mentoring and inspiring women in the industry and drives our dedication to seeing these numbers rise in 2021 and beyond.”

Two New Affiliates for Erick Erickson Show. The syndicated, midday “Erick Erickson Show” adds two new affiliates to its roster of stations. RadioJones LLC’s WVOP, Vidalia, Georgia (yes, the home of the Vidalia onion!), that covers a significant portion of the southeast part of Georgia, adds the program in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm time slot. Also, QBS Broadcasting’s WBQO, Brunswick, Georgia, covering the Georgia coastal area, picks up the show, airing it live from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon.

Doug Stephan’s DJV Show Adds Jai Kershner as Air Personality and Social Media Director. The nationally syndicated “DJV Show” – starring Doug Stephan, Jen Horn, and Victoria Keelan – announces the addition of Jai Kershner to the program as an air personality social media director. Kershner was most recently with Saga Communications’ country WVVR-FM, Clarksville, Tennessee “The Beaver 100.3” where she was air personality. Prior to that she was co-host of the nationally syndicated “Dawson McCallister Show.” Stephan says, “Jai brings a contemporary feel to the show and keeps the audience abreast of what’s trending. She fits in nicely with Jennifer, Victoria, and me.” Kershner comments, “It’s a great responsibility and challenge, which coupled with the great reach of the ‘DJV Show,’ presents an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Former ICE Acting Director Joins FAIR as Senior Fellow and Spokesperson. The Federation for American Immigration Reform announces that former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan joins the organization as a senior fellow and an additional spokesperson. FAIR says that Morgan “brings a wealth of knowledge and dedication to the immigration policy debate and, in his new capacity at FAIR, he will continue to be an important voice in the ongoing debate about immigration enforcement and border security.” FAIR executive director Bob Dane adds, “Mark’s experience and unwavering commitment to enforce our nation’s laws has made him one of America’s most respected experts on immigration. His expertise and ‘tell it like it really is’ approach are needed now more than ever as the Biden administration is whittling away interior and perimeter controls at breakneck speed. As Mark has done so many times during his decorated career, he once again answers the call to serve his nation as senior fellow at FAIR. Quite simply, Mark is the right guy, at the right time, in the right place.” Speaking about his new role, Morgan states, “I’m honored to serve as a senior fellow with FAIR, which is dedicated to engaging in meaningful dialogue to influence, formulate and promote responsible immigration policies for the 21st century and beyond. I am delighted to be part of the effort to seek out solutions to mitigate the tremendous burden and negative impact of uncontrolled immigration on our country’s national security and economic prosperity.”

Rachel Rollar Joins Newsmax TV’s Morning Show. The newest addition to the on-air staff at Newsmax TV is broadcast journalist Rachel Rollar, who is now part of the “Wake Up America” morning program hosted by Rob Finnerty. Newsmax says Rollar will deliver national and international news and social media updates. The program will include her feature, “Rachel’s Rapid Reactions,” in which she’ll “show what people are talking about in real time on social media in hope of bridging the gap between the audience and the newscast.” Speaking about her new position she says, “I’m excited to be joining the Newsmax TV team and its growing number of media professionals. This is a great opportunity to speak to viewers who are passionate about news.”

Hats Off to Radio Pioneers Edwin Armstrong and William Lear. The confluence of National Inventors Day (2/11) and World Radio Day (2/13) is a great time to remember the accomplishments of two of radio’s technology pioneers: Edwin Howard Armstrong, inventor of FM radio, and William Lear, inventor of the first practical car radio. Aaron Bennett of the National Inventors Hall of Fame writes a piece published today in TALKERS to help us remember these men – both inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame – whose inventions helped make radio the 20th century media powerhouse that it became. Read his piece here.

Trump Impeachment Case/Georgia Criminal Probe, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Social Media & Censorship, Robinhood Lawsuit, Springsteen OUI-Jeep Spot, and Larry Flynt Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/10). The impeachment case against Donald Trump and the state of Georgia’s probe into Trump’s call to its secretary of state seeking changes in the presidential vote totals; the number of positive COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; conservatives’ complaints about being censored by social media platforms and anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr is banned from Twitter; the family of college student Alex Kearns sues trading firm Robinhood over his suicide; Bruce Springsteen’s Jeep spot is pulled after his November OUI becomes public; and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt dies at 78 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, June 3, 2019

| June 3, 2019

TALKERS 2019 Heavy Hundred Published Today.  The 2019 edition of TALKERS magazine’s “100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America” – also known as the Heavy Hundred – has been published.  This is the 25thedition of the Heavy Hundred that is compiled by the editors of TALKERSmagazine and inclusion is based upon a combination of hard factors such as ratings, revenue and longevity, plus soft factors including effort, impact, recognition, service, talent and uniqueness. Executive editor Kevin Casey says, “As the editorial staff was preparing to publish the Heavy Hundred, we reflected on the 25-year history of this list – especially how challenging it is to whittle the thousands of hosts doing a talk radio program in America today down to the 100 most important.  That said, we are excited to publish this year’s list and we believe it represents an honest reflection of the state of talk radio today.”  See 2019 Heavy Hundred here.

Cumulus Makes PD Changes in New York; Craig Schwalb Exits WABC. TALKERS magazine hears from several sources that program director Craig Schwalb has exited Cumulus Media’s news/talk WABC.  The change was made on Friday and our sources tell us that programmer Dave LaBrozzi – until Friday the program director for hot AC WPLJ – will program WABC and sister urban contemporary WNBM.  Cumulus also let WNBM PD and VP/urban programming Ken Johnson go on Friday.  Prior to joining WABC, Schwalb served as program director with Cumulus at Providence news/talk WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM.

FAIR Announces Dates for 2019 ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ Radio Row. The Federation for American Immigration Reform announces today that the 13th annual Hold Their Feet to the Fire radio row will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, September 25-26 at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill in Washington. DC.  As in years past, this event brings together talk hosts from across the nation to broadcast live while debating immigration policy interviewing members of Congress, law enforcement officials, experts, activists, administration officials, and those who live and work along the Southern border.  FAIR says the event has evolved greatly since the first one in 2006.  “F2F now hosts 70 stations and has become the largest annual radio row and the centerpiece of the immigration debate each year for the media.  Unfortunately, several things have not changed – a stagnant status quo of lax enforcement and open borders, obstructionist Democratic positions, hostile courts and a complicit mainstream media.  So, in September, radio hosts are back at it discussing, debating, sorting truth from fiction, hearing first-hand accounts and considering reasonable solutions.  At a minimum, barriers have to be built, asylum loopholes closed, more resources brought to bear, and the rule of law enforced.  Most importantly, Americans – not special interests – will be heard from.”  Talk hosts and programmers wishing to take part should know that reservations are required, and hosts/producers should call FAIR now to reserve their spot.  There is no cost to attend and all technical engineering and expenses are taken care of by FAIR.  Congressional guests, activists, high profile media personalities, and immigration experts will be in attendance and available throughout the event for wall-to-wall interviews.  Contact Matthew Tragesser, event manager, 202-328-7004 or mtragesser@fairus.org.

Monday Memo: Camera Tips for Radio.  In this week’s Monday Memo, consultant Holland Cooke presents the first in a three-part series of tips from digital professionals.  With radio broadcasters scrambling to populate all the platforms with which they share listeners’ attention (and advertisers’ do-re-mi), HC begins with advice from photo pros for taking and presenting quality pictures. Read the column here.

WGDJ, Albany Suspends Host After Controversial Social Media Post. “Talk 1300” general manager Paul Vandenburgh announced on the website of news/talk WGDJ, Albany that afternoon drive talk host Kevin McCashion is suspended from his program after issuing a social media post that some are calling insensitive.  McCashion’s tweet attacked the Albany Times Union for its coverage of the Memorial Day death of a former local female high school basketball star. Twenty-one-year-old Ayanna Hunter died after being shot at a cookout.  McCashion’s tweet showed two images, one of Hunter posing with a stack of money, with the text, “another.@timesunion W H I T E W A S H just an innocent basketball player ha ha.”  Vandenburgh stated, “Ayanna Hunter was shot and killed in Niskayuna and Kevin posted an untimely, unwanted and unnecessary Twitter comment and rightfully so, many people were upset.”  He says he’ll address the situation with McCashion today (6/3).  See the Times-Union story here.

TALKERS News Notes. Nationally syndicated talk radio host Dana Loesch adds new affiliate stations.  Syndicator Radio America announces: KXRA-AM Alexandria, Minnesota, KONA-AM, Tri-Cities, Washington, KGYN-AM, Guymon, Oklahoma; KMPT-AM/FM, East Missoula, Montana; WMJD-FM Grundy, Virginia; WDRC-AM, Hartford; WMMW-AM, New Haven; WSNG-AM, Torrington, Connecticut; WJML-AM, Petoskey, Michigan; WJNL-AM, Kingsley, Michigan; WHAK-AM, Rogers City, Michigan; WWMN-FM, Thompsonville, Michigan; and WYPV-FM, Mackinaw City, Michigan all add “The Dana Show” to their program lineups…..The Westwood One-syndicated “Mark Levin Show” joins the program schedule at Entercom’s news/talk WYRD-FM, Greenville, South Carolina “106.3 WORD.”  Entercom Greenville SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi comments, “Mark Levin is a seasoned radio host and has one of the biggest shows in talk radio.  His program is topical and drives passion. This addition delivers on our commitment to continuously provide the best and most relevant content to our listeners.”…..Former WEEI, Boston morning personality Kirk Minihane – who recently cut a deal with Entercom to get out of his contract with the company – is joining Barstool Sports.  The sports media personality said during a Periscope video that he’ll be doing a daily podcast “live to tape” starting June 15…..Nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah WachsGCN-distributed program is adding WSLA, Slidell, Louisiana to its roster of affiliate stations…..iHeartMedia Twin Cities, the University of Minnesota, and its multimedia rightsholder, Gopher Sports Properties, announce an extension of the broadcast agreement for KFXN “KFAN-FM 100.3,” KTLK-AM/K278BP, and “KFAN Plus 96.7 FM” (K244FE) to continue to serve as the Gophers’ flagship radio stations through the 2022-2023 athletic season…..Shep Rose, star of Bravo’s hit TV show, “Southern Charm,” launches a new podcast on PodcastOne titled, “Enough About Me.”  The program will also feature interviews with athletes, teachers, soldiers, stunt men, and even himself in this “weird, wild, funny and dramatic,” weekly show.

Virginia Beach Mass Shooting, Mueller News Conference/Impeachment Talk, Trump Visits UK, 2020 Presidential Race, U.S.-China Tensions, Middle East Peace Plan, and Rocketman Film Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The deadly shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center that took the lives of 12; the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s news conference and Democrats’ talk of impeachment; President Trump embarks on an official visit to the UK; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; the tariff wars and the tense relations between the U.S. and China; Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace plan and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s calling it “unexecutable”; and the Elton John biopic, Rocketman were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Health Media Personality Asa to Executive Produce and Co-Host Discovery Life TV Show. Radio host, author, television personality and medical doctor Asa Andrew will serve as executive producer and co-host for the second season of the Discovery Life series, “Reversed.”  Co-hosting the show with Asa will be celebrity chef Charles Mattocks.  The first season of the show was designed as reality TV intended to present the powerful effects of unmanaged diabetes and the hope of reversal.  This new season will showcase the struggles and the triumphs of individuals living with cancer as they work to radically transform their lifestyle choices.  Asa says, “This season is personal.  Cancer took my father’s life at age 68, now I’m on a mission to help others before it’s too late.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  The show will have an evidence-based team of nutritionists, trainers, doctors, therapists, and celebrity guests focused on the common goal of improving the health and well-being of each person living with cancer. Asa and Mattocks are producing the show via their company, WellTent Media Group LLC.

13thAnnual Kellar Radio Talent Institute Begins Today. The 13th annual Kellar Radio Talent Institute at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina begins today.  Twenty-four students from three universities have been accepted into this year’s 10-day institute during which more than 40 broadcast pros from Beasley Media Group, Entercom, iHeartMediaRadio One, Capitol Broadcasting, Dick Broadcasting, along with Doug Rice, president and voice of Performance Racing NetworkMick Mixon, play-by-play announcer for the Carolina Panthers, Don Anthony from Talk Show and Morning Show Bootcamp, Warren Kurtzman president of Coleman Research, and others, will lead sessions for the students.  This summer, National Radio Talent System Institutes are taking place across the country. They include the Beasley Radio Talent Institute at Emerson College in Boston; GAB Radio Talent Institute, University of Georgia; TAB Radio Talent Institute at the University of Tennessee; Confer Radio Talent Institute at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania; Hubbard Radio Talent Institute at Central Washington University; KBA WKU Radio Talent Institute at Western Kentucky University and the MBA Radio Talent Institute at Northwest Missouri State University.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Chuck “DZL” Thompson is the new program director at iHeartMedia’s country WKKT, Charlotte “96.9 The Kat.”  iHeartMedia regional SVP for the Virginia-Carolina region Chadwick “A.J.” Hausknecht says, “DZL’s unique insight on the market, coupled with his talent, creativity and innovative style of thinking will ensure that the station continues to do great things in Charlotte.  Because of his vision and passion, I’m thrilled to have DZL lead our team at ‘96.9 The Kat.’”…..On-air pro Shelby Sos is named evening personality at iHeartMedia’s CHR WZFT “Z104.3.”  She comes to Baltimore from the company’s WIHT, Washington “HOT 99.5” where she was an assistant producer for “The Kane Show.”   iHM Baltimore SVP of programming Mike Preston says, “Shelby brings so much experience from ‘The Kane Show’ to her new position at ‘Z104.3.’  Shelby is immensely talented and really knows how to engage an audience.  We can’t wait to have her on the air in her hometown to shake things up!”…..The Sun Broadcast Group-syndicated “Woody & Wilcox Show” adds new affiliate stations.  Now airing the show are: WCYY, Portland; WQRR, Tuscaloosa; and WVWB, Clarksville, Tennessee…..Programming pro Brian Thomas joins Townsquare Media where he’ll serve as operations manager for the company’s Grand Rapids stations as well as the company’s 17 classic hits-formatted stations.  Thomas was most recently with Cumulus Media Atlanta as PD for country WKHX “Kicks 101.5.”

Monday, February 11, 2019

| February 11, 2019

Legendary Talk Show Host Bruce Williams Dead at 86.  “Welcome my friends, welcome to my world.” It was with those words radio talk show host legend Bruce Williams began his nationally syndicated show for more than 29 years. Williams died on Saturday (2/9), at his home near Tampa, FL after a brief illness.  Spanning a career that lasted more than three decades, Bruce Williams created a loyal listenership of hundreds of thousands of people strong with his informative and entertaining program, delivered in his signature deep, warm, welcoming voice.  But, one of the most unusual and remarkable facts surrounding Williams’ National Radio Hall of Fame career is that it did not begin until he was well into his 40s.  Born February 18, 1932, Williams grew up in East Orange, NJ.  Blessed with an innate sense of business, at age 11, he devised a way to address one of the many shortages common at the end of World War II by melting down lead pipes and casting them into toy soldiers. Eyes wide open, he was off and running, pursuing every avenue where he believed a profit could be made.  After serving in the US Air Force during the Korean conflict and graduating from Newark State College (now Kean University), he opened a pre-school named after his children. He spent time driving an ice cream truck in New York City. He was also a taxi driver and drove a beer truck. For 70 years of his life, he spent the holiday season selling Christmas trees in New Jersey.  On the white-collar side, Williams sold insurance, owned a flower shop, a car rental agency, a barber shop and he owned and operated several nightclubs.  There was even a whirlwind tour into the world of politics where the Honorable Bruce H. Williams was elected to the Franklin, NJ Township Council, as well as serving terms as Deputy Mayor and Mayor between 1967 and 1975.  It was the weight and wealth of these life experiences that Williams relied on throughout his accomplished radio career and gave depth to his on-air persona.  His outstanding career began in 1975 at WCTC 1450 Talk Radio, The Voice of Central New Jersey, where Williams hosted a show called “At Your Service.”  After some time, his success took him to WMCA, New York where his momentum and audience continued to build. Williams’ growing popularity brought him to the attention of radio executives at NBC who were searching for a host of a national nightly advice-oriented talk show. After a long selection process, Williams was chosen and his program launched in November of 1981. It was from this platform, his reputation as a broadcaster blossomed.  That blossom was almost nipped a year later, when a plane he was piloting crashed into some trees during an aborted landing attempt. Critically injured and nearly dead when he arrived at the Medical Center of Princeton, Williams rallied and was back on the air broadcasting again from his hospital room, just four weeks after the accident. Over the next three decades, Williams’ voice was heard coast-to-coast as he became one of the most listened to talk show hosts in radio history.  The industry recognized Williams’ accomplishments in 1999 when he was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago. TALKERS magazine also honored Williams in 2002 by including him at Number Six in its list of the Greatest Radio Talk Show Hosts of all Time.  He authored six financial and real estate advice books as well as a syndicated advice column called Smart Money.  Bruce Williams was 81 years old when he hung up his head phones for the final time in 2013, signing off as he always did by saying, “Keep in touch.”  Upon learning of Williams’ death, TALKERS founder Michael Harrison stated, “He was one of a kind and represented a breed of radio talk show host that made the genre truly special among all formats – a seemingly ‘regular guy’ who simply knew the answer to just about every problem that people face in day-to-day life and was happy to share it in completely understandable terms when asked for advice.”  Radio consultant Valerie Geller shared the following thoughts about Williams with TALKERS, “Bruce influenced my career. In the early days he kindly and generously spent time encouraging me.  This man was the original radio late night ‘companion, personality and  expert…’ helping thousands of listeners with personal advice, business advice and more importantly, being a ‘friend in the night.’ A powerful storyteller and powerful communicator, we have lost  a true talent.”

More on the Great Bruce WilliamsTALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents the profile piece he did on Bruce Williams years ago while writing for Inside Radio.  In the piece, Williams is very frank about the success he achieved in the talk radio business and talks openly about the ups and downs he experienced in radio.  Williams told Kinosian at the time, “I don’t know many people who’ve been successful who haven’t also failed.  We’re blessed to be in a society where failure isn’t a condemnation.” Read this insightful piece here.

Monday Memo: PPM Myths Debunked. Consultant Holland Cooke presents this week’s Monday Memo in which he offers some advice on station identification and keeping listeners in order to maximize ratings.  In some circles, post-PPM thought was that the meter diminished – or even eliminated! – the need to say the calls/frequency because now the meter registered “true” listening.  Cooke says there are still very good reasons to ID the station.  Read his memo on this matter here.

WLS-AM, Chicago Program Director Peter Bolger to Retire. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, five-year WLS-AM operations manager and program director Peter Bolger announces he’s retiring from the station and the radio business, effective March 15.  There is no predestined successor to Bolger.  Cumulus Media Chicago vice president and market manager Marv Nyren says, “I cannot begin to tell you how appreciative I am for all that Peter has done for this station over the years and the recent rebuild of the on-air lineup.  I can only thank him for all he’s done and wish him the best as he enjoys life.  With many years in radio…he has been a proponent of our medium and we will miss his calm personality and talent in the hallways.” As Feder notes, the last five years have seen a lot of change at the venerable AM signal and there’s nowhere else to go but up for struggling news/talker.  Read Feder’s thoughts on the matter here

Raj Sharan Rises to Program Bonneville’s Denver Sports Talk Duo. Assistant program director and executive producer Raj Sharan is promoted to program director for Bonneville’s Denver sports talk stations KKFN-FM “Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan” and KEPN-AM “ESPN Denver 1600,” effective immediately.  The PD position opened after Armen Williams joined Entercom’s sports talk KILT-AM, Houston.  Bonneville Denver VP/market manager Bob Call states, “I couldn’t be happier to give Raj the opportunity to program Denver’s biggest sports brand, ‘104.3 The Fan.’  Raj has a natural leadership quality that is apparent the moment you meet him.  His creativity, superb coaching skills, and knowledge of winning sports content makes him the perfect choice to lead ‘104.3 The Fan’ into the future.”

Chris Ganoudis to Lead Curtis Media’s Raleigh News/Talk and Oldies Duo. Moving from JVC Broadcasting’s Orlando operations to Curtis Media Group’s Raleigh offices is radio sales and management pro Chris Ganoudis.  He assumes the general manager position for the company’s news/talk WPTF, oldies WPTK-AM/W284CP “Just Right Radio,” and Triangle Traffic Network.  Curtis Media Group president/COO, Trip Savery comments, “I am very pleased to welcome Chris to North Carolina and Curtis Media Group.  Chris brings a proven track record of success and is a great addition to our Raleigh management team.  I am confident he will lead these brands to even greater success.”

Entercom Launches Digital Sports Platform ‘Radio.com Sports.’ A new digital sports platform is being unveiled by Entercom called RADIO.COM Sports.  Entercom says this will serve “to magnify the company’s unmatched local business to a more prominent national scale in order to better serve its listeners and advertisers.  RADIO.COM Sports will sit atop Entercom’s deep roster of leading local sports stations and will also be fully integrated into RADIO.COM.” Entercom president of sports Mike Dee adds, “RADIO.COM Sports is a strategic initiative to further elevate our existing portfolio of local brands and personalities and provide a more robust and unified experience for fans coast to coast.  The platform also offers our advertisers an efficient way to tap into Entercom’s scale and multiplatform content.”  As part of the launch, RADIO.COM Sports will kick off its RADIO.COM Sports Insiders program, a network of experts across all major sports who will make appearances on Entercom sports stations nationwide to provide insight and commentary.  This premium content will also be available on demand.  Sports Insiders will include Joe Girardi, former Major League Baseball player, manager and current analyst for the MLB Network; Ross Tucker, former National Football League offensive lineman and current national sports broadcaster; Bob Nightengale, USA Today MLB columnist; Jason La Canfora, CBSSports.com NFL columnist; Armando Salguero, Miami Herald sports columnist; as well as others who will soon be added.  Dee says, “We are going to be aggressive to expand our depth chart of new talent as well as use our existing stars in new ways on multiple distribution channels outside of their home market, and in many cases, on our expanding digital and editorial platforms.”  Entercom inks Mercedes-Benz as its launch partner.

Beasley Reveals Q4 2018 and Full-Year Financial Data; Pro Forma Net Revenue Up 9.9%. The fourth quarter and 2018 full-year financial report for Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc indicates net revenue for Q4 was $75.6 million, an increase of 29.1%.  For all of 2018, net revenue was $257.5 million, an increase of 10.3% over 2017.  These numbers reflect the sale of Beasley’s six-station Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville cluster, the exchange of WMJX-FM and $12 million for sports talk WBZ-FM in Boston, and the acquisition of country WXTU-FM, Philadelphia from Entercom.  The company’s pro forma net revenue cited here reflects the operations and results from WBZ-FM in the three and 12 months ended December 31, 2018 and WMJX-FM in the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2017, prior to its divestiture. The results also reflect a full quarter’s contribution from WXTU-FM in the three months ended December 31, 2018 and approximately five months of contribution from WXTU-FM in the 12 months ended December 31, 2018 and four months of contribution from the Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville stations in the 12-month period ended December 31, 2017.  Beasley’s pro forma net revenue for Q4 was up 9.4%.  For the full year of 2018, pro forma net revenue was $263.5 million, an increase of 4.7% over 2017.  Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “Our record 2018 fourth quarter and full-year revenue and strong operating results, despite the benefit of non-cash transaction related and tax items in the 2017 period, highlight the value being created as we execute strategies to expand our scale, diversify our revenue mix, and leverage the value of our local brands in our core and ancillary verticals.  Actual fourth quarter revenue rose by 29.1% on a year-over-year basis driven by net revenue increases at 10 of our clusters, recent acquisitions and station swaps and approximately $3.9 million of fourth quarter gross political revenue.  While we remain focused on diversifying our operating base, our fourth quarter pro-forma revenue rose an impressive 9.9%.  Fourth quarter net income declined from 2017 levels solely because of gains and tax benefits in the year-ago period that did not recur in the 2018 fourth quarter.”

Jeff Foxworthy Visits Old Pal Jim Villanucci on ‘101.7 The Team’ in Albuquerque. Pictured above is comic Jeff Foxworthy with afternoon drive talk show host Jim Villanucci at Team Broadcasting’s sports talk KQTM-FM, “101.7 The Team” studios. Foxworthy is an old friend of Villanucci’s from the stand-up circuit and stopped by to chat on Villanucci’s radio show while appearing in the Albuquerque area.  Pictured above are (from l-r): Villanucci, Foxworthy, show special correspondent Sam Hauser, and show producer Robert Maler.  Hauser is new to Villanucci’s show, officially joining today as special correspondent from his most recent gig with Alpha Media’s Austin, Minnesota station group where he managed the sports department at its news/talk outlet for three years.

Border Wall Battle, New Government Shutdown, Warren in Iowa/2020 Presidential Hopefuls, Ilhan Omar Anti-Israel Statements, Virginia Political Chaos, Venezuela Unrest, Grammy Awards, Alliance of American Football Debut, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The political battle over President Trump’s plan for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border; the threat of another federal government shutdown; Senator Elizabeth Warren announces presidential campaign and the related story of the Democratic field of contenders; the flap over Muslim U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s accusation AIPAC buys off U.S. politicians to support Israel; the political chaos in Virginia over the blackface scandals involving Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring and the sexual assault accusation against Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax; the unstable political situation in Venezuela; Sunday night’s Grammy Awards show; the debut of the Alliance of American Football league; and NBA action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

SEAN HANNITY TO KEYNOTE: 2019 Talkers Convention Set for NYC. The 22nd annual installment of the longest-running, most-important national talk media convention has been set for Friday, June 7, 2019 in New York City. Talkers 2019: Telling the Story will take place at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater located in the colorful Chelsea district of Manhattan.  It has just been confirmed that Premiere Networks and FOX News Channel superstar Sean Hannity will reprise his long-standing role as the morning breakfast host and kickoff speaker for this convention.  Hannity will be joined by TALKERS founder Michael Harrison in the event’s annual one-on-one opening keynote conversation.  The rest of the stellar agenda of speakers and sessions will begin to be announced next week.  The conference will feature more than 50 top speakers from all aspects of the spoken-word media industry – including talent, programmers, managers and owners – with a focus on talk radio and its role in the rapidly accelerating digital age. This will include programming, sales, marketing, and technology as well as the full spectrum of concerns, challenges and opportunities facing modern-day talk broadcasters and broadcasting organizations. It will feature keynote addresses, panel discussions, fireside chats, one-on-one conversations and exhibits of the latest services and equipment available to broadcasting professionals. Like its predecessors, Talkers 2019: Telling the Story will also provide its attendees with unparalleled networking opportunities and social mixers including breakfast, lunch, and a closing cocktail reception — all in a single, power-packed day! Full agenda details, speaker roster and hotel information will be posted in TALKERS during the days and weeks ahead. As is customary with TALKERS conventions, Talkers 2019: Telling the Story is only open to members of the professional media industry and communications students. Because seating is limited and the event has been an early sellout every year since the 1990s, in order to maintain this policy, non-refundable registrations can only be purchased via telephone with a credit card. Full registration, including all functions, meals, and refreshments, costs $329 per person. To register or obtain sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413. To take advantage of the hotel discount available to TALKERS convention attendees, contact the Hilton Fashion District Hotel located directly across the street from the venue at 152 W. 26th St, New York, NY 10001 by clicking here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. A new rock outlet debuts in Columbus as iHeartMedia flips WXZX-FM from sports talk to classic rock as “105.7 The Brew, The New Generation of Classic Rock.”  iHeartMedia Columbus VP of programming Michael McCoy says the station’s playlist will focus on rock from the 80s into the 2000s, including songs from core artists such as AC/DCFoo Fighters, Tom Petty, Soundgarden, Van Halen, Metallica, Mötley Crüe, and Guns N’ Roses.  The station is bringing Columbus radio personalities Mark Blazor and DaveMan aboard.  McCoy says, “We are excited to offer a unique station for Columbus’ rock listeners.  The Brew’s mission is to provide one great rock song after another and that’s why we call it the new generation of Classic Rock.”…..Programmer Randy Hawke is promoted to vice president of programming at Mid-West Family Broadcasting’s Madison, Wisconsin cluster.  He’s been serving as PD for rock WJJO and OM for the cluster that includes rhythmic CHR WJQM “93.1 Jamz,” alternative WRIS “106.7 The Resistance,” and sports talk WOZN. In this new role, he’ll serve as PD for adult contemporary WMGM “Magic 98,” country WWQM “Q106,” and classic country WHIT “Hank.”  At the same time, the company ups APD/MD Jennifer “Ski” Crowell to program director for WJJO…..On-air pro Bill Mitchell adds to his morning gig on Magnum Media’s country WMBZ, West Bend, Wisconsin by also handling the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show at the company’s country WVTY, Racine, Wisconsin.   Magnum Media owner Dave Magnum says, “Factoring in market-wide remote broadcasts and promotions, we wanted some personality cross pollination between ‘Buzz Country’ and ‘VTY Country.’  With [morning host] Mitch Morgan and Bill Mitchell on both stations, we’ve achieved that objective.”…..A number of staff changes take place at Griffin Communications’ Tulsa cluster.  First, Dave “Wavy Davy” Michaels joins the company as PD and afternoon personality at classic hits KBEZ “92.9 The Drive.”  Wavy Davy comes from Cox Media Group’s crosstown classic rock KJSR “103.3 The Eagle.” Second, Tanner Messer is promoted to host of the afternoon drive shift at classic country KXBL “Big Country 99.5” and the evening jock at country KVOO.  Finally, Nikki Reid is now host of afternoons on KVOO and night jock at CHR KHTT “K-HITS 106.9.”…..Pictured below is the staff of rhythmic oldies XHRM, San Diego “Magic 92.5” bestowing the first-ever “Magic 92.5 Lifetime Achievement Award” to radio legend Art Laboe.  The award recognizes Laboe’s many achievements over his legendary 75-year radio broadcasting career and was presented in front of an audience of more than 6,000 people at the station’s 2019 Valentine’s Super Love Jam concert on February 9.  Pictured (from l-r) are: Magic 92.5’s Greg Mack, Rick Nuhn, Xavier “The X-Man,” R Dub!, Laboe, Jagger & Kristi, Sheryl Love, Hurricane Andrew, Jammin’ Jay Michaels, Kelly Cole, and Billy Blast. Photo: Alan Hess