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Thursday, May 6, 2021

| May 6, 2021

Saga Communications Q1 Net Revenue Down 15.5%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Saga Communications announces net revenue for the period was $22.3 million, a decline of 15.5% from the $26.1 million reported in Q1 of 2020. Station operating expense decreased $3.3 million to $18.9 million for the quarter compared to the same period last year.  Station operating income was $4.7 million, down from the $5.5 million reported in the first quarter 0f 2020. Free cash flow increased 21.4% to $1.8 million for the quarter. Saga Communications reports net income of $758,000 in the first quarter, compared to $1.7 million in Q1 2020. The company’s balance sheet reflects $56.3 million in cash on hand as of March 31, 2021 and $57.4 million as of May 3, 2021. Saga’s total bank debt remained at $10 million as of the end of the first quarter 2021. Capital expenditures in the first quarter were $534,000 compared to $1 million for the same period last year. Saga expects to spend approximately $4.5 – $5.5 million for capital expenditures during 2021.

Nielsen Q1 Revenue Up 2.5%. Ratings and analytics giant Nielsen Holdings plc reveals its financial results for the first quarter of this year and revenue was $863 million, an increase of 2.5% on a reported basis. Nielsen notes that these results reflect the March 5, 2021 sale of the Global Connect business (consumer data) for $2.4 billion in net proceeds, which resulted in a $542 million preliminary gain on sale, net of taxes, recognized in the quarter. Of the net proceeds, $2.28 billion were used for debt reduction in March and April 2021. Beginning in the first quarter of 2021, Global Connect results were reclassified to discontinued operations for all periods presented. Nielsen CEO David Kenny comments, “We delivered a solid first quarter, as our teams executed incredibly well. We closed on the sale of Global Connect in March and are now singularly focused as the global essential data, measurement, and analytics provider for the entire media ecosystem. We are investing in our future and we are well-positioned to drive new growth from new solutions across all of our end markets globally. In particular, we are pleased with the advances we’ve made in Audience Measurement, Outcomes and Gracenote Content Services. We are executing as planned and we are increasing key elements of our 2021 guidance.”

FOX Corp Acquires Clay Travis’ Outkick. Yesterday (5/5), FOX Corporation announced an agreement via its subsidiary to acquire Outkick Media, LLC, the digital media platform founded and led by Clay Travis, and related assets. FOX says, “Outkick is an omnichannel leader in sports, opinion, politics, and pop culture content across its radio, podcasts, online and social outlets, as well as being one of the foremost sources of sports wagering information in the United States. Further, Outkick is in an exclusive marketing agreement with FOX’s partner FanDuel and serves as a significant source of sports wagering referrals.” FOX Corp executive chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch comments, “As FOX further diversifies our growing digital portfolio and broadens our position in the sports wagering ecosystem, there could be no better acquisition than Outkick. Clay and his team have quickly made Outkick a content powerhouse with a very large, loyal and engaged audience. We expect the synergies presented across FOX’s existing portfolio of assets will turbocharge this exciting business.” Travis adds, “Outkick has grown out of my passion for producing bold, well-informed, and entertaining content about sports, current events and, more recently, sports wagering. With the power of FOX behind us, we look forward to maintaining Outkick’s unwavering commitment to that mission, as well as further accelerating the growth of our audience, and continued leadership in the sports wagering affiliate category.” Clay Travis will remain integrally involved at Outkick and serve as its president. The price of the acquisition has not be announced.

Dr. Laura’s ‘Call of the Day’ Hits 100 Million Download Mark. The “Call of the Day” podcast from Dr. Laura Schlessinger has reached the 100 million-downloads mark. The podcast is a feature that’s taken from Dr. Laura’s daily SiriusXM talk show in which she features a call she designates as the best from each day’s show. The “Call of the Day” podcast was launched in 2017 and has consistently ranked #1 in Parenting on Apple Podcasts, is top ranked in Kids and Family, and is among podcasting’s Global 200 according to Chartable. Dan Brady, director of podcast operations and program audio content for Take On The Day LLC, says, “We set forth to make this podcast a new avenue to hear Dr. Laura. It turns out we made it one of the most popular focusing on families and parenting. Take On The Day LLC president Geoff Rich adds, “In addition to its popularity with listeners old and new, Dr. Laura’s ‘Call of the Day’ has proven to be a great opportunity for advertisers who want to reach the desirable demographic of women 25-54.  It’s been a win-win for everyone.”

Todd Starnes Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Entrepreneur, syndicated talk show host, radio station owner, author, columnist, and conservative/evangelical thought-leader Todd Starnes is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” After working as a radio news reporter and news columnist for a number of years, this colorful and controversial personality began hosting a syndicated talk radio show on FOX News Radio in 2017. In 2019, he moved on from FOX, launching his own independent syndicated show which just recently cracked the 100-affiliate milestone. In January 2020, he significantly expanded his media empire by purchasing Memphis talk station 990 AM KWAM which now serves as the flagship for his growing radio show and political/industry influence. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

Report: Future of Centennial’s WINC-AM, Winchester, Virginia Uncertain. A story in the Winchester Star shines a light on the status of Centennial Broadcasting II’s Winchester, Virginia news/talk outlet WINC-AM. Company CEO Allen Shaw tells the paper that WINC-AM “hasn’t had great financial success” lately and that the death of Rush Limbaugh has added to the station’s woes. Shaw tells the Wincester Star that his company is selling WINC-FM and WZFC-FM, to Fairfax, Virginia-based Metro Radio Inc. for $225,000 and that Centennial offered WINC-AM as well “practically for nothing” but Metro didn’t want it. If Centennial can’t sell WINC-AM, it would consider donating it to a college or a religious group before it would take the station dark.

COVID-19, Trump vs Liz Cheney/Future of GOP, Facebook Trump Ruling, Giuliani Investigation, Border Crisis, Newsom Recall/Jenner Run, and Peloton Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/5). The rate of COVID cases in the U.S., the move to waive COVID vaccine patents, and the soaring death rate in India; Donald Trump’s orchestration of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s fall from power in the House and the future of the GOP; Facebook keeps Trump account suspended but allows for further review; the FBI’s investigation into Rudy Giuliani and the mainstream media’s reporting errors; the crush of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Joe Biden administration’s immigration policy; the recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom and Caitlyn Jenner’s plan to run for the office; and Peloton recalls all of its treadmills after numerous accidents and one death were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

| March 30, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 1, 2021

| February 1, 2021

Mark Chernoff to Retire from WFAN, New York. An internal memo from Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero reveals that longtime WFAN program director Mark Chernoff will retire from his position with the station this year. Oliviero’s memo states: “After nearly 30 years of unmatched success, our colleague and industry programming icon, Mark Chernoff, will step down from day-to-day oversight of WFAN and CBS SPORTS RADIO later in 2021 after a worthy successor has been identified – which trust me will be no easy task. Since no one knows the job better, Mark will be a member of the search committee for the next sports content lead for both brands and, until that time, will remain fully responsible for all operations. Also, Mark will continue on as an advisor to WFAN after the search and transition is complete. I was lucky enough to first meet Mark in 1998 in his windowless sub-sub-basement office out at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens. I was a college grad groveling for part-time board op shifts at WFAN. That began a relationship that has evolved into one of the most rewarding, important and genuine friendships of my entire life. One that I have and always will cherish. When people think of WFAN, names like Imus, ‘Mike & The Mad Dog’ or Boomer often come to mind, but no name has been more responsible for the consistent excellence of ‘The  Fan’ than ‘Chernoff.’”

Monday Memo: Cancel Culture Canceled! “Cooperstown controversy! Social media malpractice! First Amendment flap! COVID contagion! Giddy over GameStop!” Anxious alliteration aside, this week’s column from Holland Cooke forewarns fake news fabricators. Read it here.

COVID-19/Vaccine Rollout, Trump Impeachment, GOP Election Deniers/‘Country First’ Drive, GameStop Trading/Financial Markets Activity, Putin Protests, and Myanmar Military Coup Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll and the complications affecting the rollout of the vaccines; the impeachment case against Donald Trump; Republican members of congress still implying that Donald Trump won the 2020 election, led by Georgia’s MarjorieTaylor Greene, and the “Country First” drive to “save the GOP” being launched by U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger; the GameStop trading saga and the global financial markets activity; the protests in Russia over Vladimir Putin’s detention of critic Alexei Navalny; and the military detains Myanmar’s leaders were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: All Impressions Are Not Created Equal. Radio sellers are hawking impressions to potential buyers. But, as sales and management pro Steve Lapa says in today’s column, all impressions are not created equal. Just as your body uses the same amount of calories from an apple and a processed snack differently, the various “products” your station offers have different impression values. Read more here.

Holiday 2020 PPM Ratings Takeaways. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from the first round of Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2020 PPM survey that covered the period of December 3 – January 6. The annual Holiday PPM survey is usually not kind to the all-news and news/talk formats due in part to holiday music listening and the changes in listeners’ daily lifestyles because of the holiday season. However, this year was a little different because of the historical aftermath of the November elections. In New York, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOR dipped only slightly from a 2.8 share in the December survey to a 2.4 share in the Holiday survey. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI adds one-tenth to finish with a 4.7 share and the #3 rank in the market. While Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM was flat at a 6.8 share and the #3 rank, Nexstar Media Group’s news/talk WGN-AM was up nine-tenths for a 3.7 share finish at the #7 rank. Meanwhile, Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta remained the #1 ranked station while dipping seven-tenths to a 9.0 share. Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle also stayed in the #1 position while flat with a 7.2 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Remembering the King. Pictured above are TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (right) and media consultant and host of RT America’s “The Big Picture,” Holland Cooke, as they discuss the talk media career of Larry King, who died at age 87 last weekend. During Harrison’s appearance, they also talked about Rush Limbaugh and the nature of today’s media. See it here.

‘ESPN Charlotte’ Expands Local Afternoon Drive Show. “The Afternoon Rush” program on 2G Media’s sports talk WZGV-AM/W248CO, Charlotte expands as program director and co-host Bobby Rosinski (left) moves morning personality Molly Cotten (center) to the afternoon show alongside himself and co-host Mark Yarbro (right). Cotten had been co-hosting the morning program with Walker Mehl. The station begins airing ESPN Radio’s “Keyshawn, JWill, and Zubin” in morning drive with Mehl continuing to host the morning edition of “SportsCenter CLT” as well as an evening edition of the program airing at 6:00 pm.

Colin Cowherd and iHeartMedia to Launch New Podcast Network. A collaborative effort between Colin Cowherd and iHeartMedia is producing another podcast network, this one called “The Volume.” The two partners have already created “The Herd Podcast Network.” Colin Cowherd says, “There has never been a more exciting time to develop new sports content. Podcasts have totally changed the game, and the expanded use of sports gambling makes this the perfect moment to launch this endeavor. I’m thrilled to work with iHeartRadio and this dynamic group of talent to start building ‘The Volume.’” FanDuel has signed on as a primary sponsor. Five new podcasts will appear on the network that debuts today (2/1): A new “Colin Cowherd Podcast”; an NBA-themed show called “The Jenkins & Jonez Podcast” starring LaJethro Jenkins and Dragonfly Jonez; “Moneyline Monaco” hosted by comedian and sports gambling fanatic Alex Monaco; “Oral Sessions with Renée Paquette” focusing on combat sports; and “Catchin’ Fades With Aqib Talib,” an NFL show hosted by Aqib Talib.

TALKERS News Notes. PhillyVoice.com reports that longtime Philadelphia sports talk personality Marc Farzetta is starting his own streaming sports talk show via YouTube called, “The Farzy Show with Marc Farzetta.” Farzetta was let go by Beasley Media’s WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic” in early December. Prior to his two years with WPEN, he served with Entercom’s crosstown WIP for 13 years. The new program streams from 6:00 am to 7:00 am daily. Former Philadelphia Eagles star Hugh Douglas (a former co-host of Farzetta’s) will be a recurring guest on the program…..Nationally syndicated talk host Thom Hartmann publishes his latest book this week. The Hidden History of American Oligarchy — Reclaiming our Democracy from The Ruling Class (2021, Berrett-Koehler Publishers). The publisher says that in this book Hartmann “lays out the ways in which inequality in America has shifted over the last 50 years and identifies a handful of sensical, powerful solutions that address these issues at different levels, such as getting money out of politics, addressing social despair and economic inequality, strengthening democratic institutions of governance, and fighting fear.”…..Radio One’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte helped raise $255,000 for three charities in the Charlotte area. In partnership with Moments of Hope Church, WBT was able to donate $85,000 each to The Charlotte Rescue Mission, Kings Kitchen, and Camino Community Center. The awarding of the funds took place on “The Pat McCrory Show with Bo Thompson,” along with Moments of Hope Church pastor David Chadwick (who hosts a Sunday morning show on WBT) present. The live broadcast resulted in an additional $5,000 being donated, which was matched by Moments of Hope and rounded up so that the final total was $270,000, with each charity receiving $90,000…..GCN nationally syndicated talk host Dr. Daliah Wachs is pictured at left getting her first COVID-19 shot from Pfizer. She says, “It was painless going in, but the next day or two I had some muscle aches, fatigue, and nausea. Thirty hours later, however, I felt great. I know the vaccine scares a lot of people and new variants keep popping up, but I feel we need to protect and plan for the here and now, with expectations that booster shots will be required for the newer strains. The vaccination is not without its risks but COVID illness is much riskier.”

Friday, November 20, 2020

| November 20, 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 “Let Me Take You Down…” looks back at this past week of November 16 – November 20, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, Walter Sterling, talk show host, “Sterling on Sunday”; Holland Cooke, media consultant / talk show host, RT AmericaDr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Sid Rosenberg, talk show host, WABC, New York; 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 RadioPodcast 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.

WLS-AM, Chicago Names Bruce St. James New Morning Drive Host. On the heels of Erich “Mancow” Muller’s recent announcement that he’s leaving Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago morning show because he’s tired of doing “radio without joy” during the pandemic, the station says it is hiring radio pro Bruce St. James to assume the morning show duties, effective December 14. Most recently, St. James had been midday talk host on Bonneville Media’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix until last February. Chicago media writer Robert Feder has the story here. Station program director Stephanie Tichenor says in a memo to staff that St. James “is here to have a conversation, not a lecture. He is not here to change formats. He is here to continue what 890 already does best – inform and entertain our listeners.” It’s not clear from the memo whether St. James will move to Chicago or work from Phoenix.

Cox Media Group Names J.P. Hannan EVP and CFO. Media executive Joseph P. “J.P.” Hannan joins Cox Media Group as EVP & chief financial officer, effective immediately. Hannan, who previously served as CFO for Cumulus Media and Lincoln Financial Media, was most recently EVP/CFO for AutoWeb. CMG says that Hannan brings “three decades of deep functional expertise and technical knowledge in all aspects of corporate finance and financial planning across media and technology” to the company. “He has successfully completed $5 billion in career M&A and financing transactions as CFO; realized $250-plus-million of post-deal operational synergies across 16 separate transactions; and implemented numerous enterprise ERP systems for financial and human capital management. He is well versed in complex tax strategies to maximize operating cash flow and has leveraged his role on several executive leadership teams to help create expanded efficiency, innovation and growth.” Hannan says, “This is an exciting time to be joining CMG and I am energized by the potential for enhanced growth and value creation given the well-respected and dynamic content, products and people CMG is known for. I look forward to working with the team to drive a clear focus on delivering strong results that will help CMG continue to grow and gather momentum as an innovative industry leader that is shaping the future of media.”

TALKERS News Notes. Las Vegas talk radio host Heidi Harris moves from morning drive to the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot on Kemp Communications’ KMZQ-AM, effective November 23. Harris says, “I am excited about this change and am really looking forward to doing some things we haven’t been able to do in the past. We’ll still have a great mix of news and analysis, compelling guests, and of course my snarky take on what our elected and unelected ‘leaders’ are doing to our money, our rights, and our country.” Salem Radio Network’s Mike Gallagher will air during the 6:00 am to 9:00 am daypart…..New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick writes an interesting piece about the awkward dynamic between Entercom’s WFAN, New York afternoon personality Craig Carton – who served one year of a three-year prison sentence for a fraud scheme designed to pay off gambling debts – and the station’s recent $32 million acquisition of QL Gaming Group, as well as its relationship with FanDuel for which Carton’s partner Evan Roberts voices ads. In the piece, Mushnick references an on-air conversation Carton and Roberts had on Monday in which they discussed the fact that, as he puts it, “Gambling operations, even legal, are not out to make money for anyone other than themselves. We were therefore left to glean that the ‘make it rain’ and ‘get-rich-quick’ commercial promises, mostly aimed at young adults, target the vulnerable.”…..As part of a contract extension that runs through December of 2024, WGN-AM, Chicago’s Lou Manfredini, a.k.a. “Mr. Fix It,” is getting a fourth hour for his Saturday morning talk program on the Nexstar Media station, beginning in January. “HouseSmarts Radio with Lou Manfredini” will air from 6:00 am to 10:00 am. WGN VP/GM Mary Sandberg Boyle is quoted saying, “We are excited to continue the legacy that Lou has built at WGN Radio the past 25 years. While his media empire looks a lot different now than when he first started here, one thing remains the same: Lou is here to serve the audience. He is patient and kind with every listener, while keeping his genuine sense of humor. He truly is the definition of the ‘helpful hardware man.’”…..Entercom’s news/talk WCCO-AM, Minneapolis helped raise more than $330,000 to provide over 169,000 meals and care to those in need through its “2020 Union Gospel Mission Hunger Radiothon” that took place on November 17. The amount raised during the 18th annual radiothon brings the overall fundraising total since 2003 to over $3.3 million. Entercom SVP and market manager Shannon Knoepke says, “Entercom Minneapolis and 830 WCCO are proud to support the Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities and its local efforts to fight hunger, homelessness and addiction in Minnesota. During this pandemic, I’m incredibly proud of the selflessness and generosity of our listeners who stepped up to help us deliver another successful radiothon.”…..Condolences to the family and friends of former talk radio host Barbara Heisler, who passed away on Monday (11/16) at the age of 89. Heisler began her radio career in 1958 at WDEW-AM, Westfield, Massachusetts. She worked in radio for three decades, including stops at WREB-AM, Holyoke, Massachusetts; WPTF-AM, Raleigh, North Carolina; and finishing her talk radio career at WNNZ-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts.

SiriusXM Debuts New Podcast Destination. Satellite and online audio platform SiriusXM is making it easier for users to find podcasts as it creates a new category on its menu under which all podcasts can be found. SiriusXM says subscribers with streaming access “can enjoy a unique mix of exclusive, original, and popular podcasts via the SiriusXM mobile app or online. The launch of SiriusXM’s new podcast destination coincides with its latest “Listen Free” campaign, in which any non-subscriber in North America can sample SiriusXM for free from November 19 to December 1. SiriusXM president and chief content officer Scott Greenstein comments, “As the popularity of podcasts continues to expand, we’re thrilled to offer our subscribers an amazing selection of podcast entertainment and expand on our unmatched variety of compelling, must-hear programming. With exclusive new series from entertainment powerhouses like Marvel and Kevin Hart, SiriusXM originals from some of our most popular hosts, and a curated collection of top shows from leading providers, subscribers now have direct access to our new destination for podcasts without ever leaving the SiriusXM app. And with Stitcher and their catalog of hugely popular original podcasts joining the SiriusXM family, this is just the beginning.”

IBA and MSN Partner to Help Out of Work Radio People. Radio pros currently out of work can take advantage of the partnership between Media Staffing Network and the Independent Broadcasters Association that is part of the recently announced IBA Rapid Response Opportunity. This partnership with MSN “gives jobseekers in radio access to valuable tools that will help them improve their story with more effective resumes and job search skills that can help them land more quickly. MSN plans to host informative webinars on how to research and target new opportunities, stand out in the hiring process, and conduct and navigate a search in a remote world.” IBA president and executive director Ron Stone says, “With many broadcasters needing to downsize because of the impact COVID has had on the economy, there are many radio professionals looking for work. Media Staffing Network’s expertise in the media business, especially radio, will be an asset to those seeking employment, as well as to those looking to hire. We’re very pleased that they are sharing their insights and knowledge as we work together to keep radio strong and help radio talent get through a very difficult situation.”

Broadcasters Foundation of America Launches Year-End Giving Campaign. The Broadcasters Foundation of America is launching its annual year-end giving campaign, appealing to those in the broadcast industry for tax-deductible personal donations to the Guardian Fund and corporate contributions to the Angel Initiative. The Broadcasters Foundation is a 501(c)3 charity and the only organization dedicated exclusively to providing aid to broadcasters and their families whose lives have been upended by tragic illness, accident, or catastrophe. The annual Giving Campaign comes as more broadcasters than ever before are reaching out for monthly or emergency relief. This year, the Broadcasters Foundation will award more than $1.7 million in monthly and one-time emergency grants. Monthly grants have increased over 79% since 2016, and more than 500 emergency grants have been awarded since 2017. Over the past 20 years, the Broadcasters Foundation has distributed over $13 million to broadcasters in need. BFoA chairman Scott Herman says, “Our only goal at the Broadcasters Foundation is to provide aid to those in our industry who need it most. Our grant recipients are hard-working broadcasters from across the country, who have been hit by challenging, often life-altering circumstances. Together, we can help them get through the toughest times.” Donations can be made by visiting www.broadcastersfoundation.org/donate.

COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Vaccines, and Prevention Top News/Talk Stories for Week of November 16-20. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad and projections for future cases, vaccines and prevention combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election and the executive transition problems, followed by post-election 2020 politics and the Georgia runoff elections at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The “Wilhite and Wall” show is being syndicated nationally by Sun Broadcast Group. Starring Darren Wilhite and Tim Wall, the country radio program is being offered for all dayparts. SBG chief development officer Rich O’Brien says, “We are excited to add high profile personalities Wilhite and Wall to our content line up. In these challenging times, it is important for stations to have flexibility in how and when they integrate programming into their local lineup. Wilhite and Wall provides multiple format options and dayparts for barter.”

Thursday, October 29, 2020

| October 29, 2020

Carton and Roberts Show to Launch on WFAN on November 9. One day after WFAN, New York personality Joe Benigno announced he’s retiring from the afternoon drive show after his November 6 program (see story below), Entercom unveils the new Craig Carton and Evan Roberts program to launch on November 9, confirming months of speculation about the return of Carton after his conviction and one-year prison sentence on fraud charges. Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says in a statement, “Craig Carton was part of the fabric of WFAN for a decade, both on and off the air, engaging and entertaining audiences with his one-of-a-kind personality and talent. We all hope that this next step on his road back will not only be beneficial to Craig, but also for his audience as he shares his story and looks to make an impact through the power of his voice. WFAN welcomes him back and is excited to have him join Evan Roberts in afternoon drive.” Carton says, “I am grateful to Entercom for the chance to return home to WFAN. I have dreamt about this moment every minute of every day for the last three years. I know I have work to do to regain the trust of my colleagues, listeners, and advertisers and am committed to doing just that. I can’t wait to get started with Evan Roberts on November 9th.”

WFAN, New York Officially Announces Joe Benigno’s Retirement. A week from tomorrow will be the final regular broadcast for New York sports talk host Joe Benigno. As has been speculated in the New York media and media trade publications, Benigno is leaving the station after a 26-year career. Entercom says that Benigno will continue to be heard on the station “in select roles beginning in 2021.” Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Joe Benigno is the quintessential New York sports fan, broadcasting his trademark straight-from-the-heart perspective on the city’s sports scene every day for nearly three decades. Though Joe first came to prominence as ‘Joe from Saddle River,’ he departs as one of the most successful and enduring hosts in the long and iconic history of WFAN. It is comforting to know that he remains a part of the ‘FAN’ family and will still be keeping a close eye on his beloved Jets, Mets, Knicks and Rangers.” Benigno joined WFAN in 1995 after winning the station’s Fan Appreciation Day contest, where the prize was to host on WFAN. After a stint at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting and a small New Jersey radio station, Benigno was hired as the overnight host at WFAN in 2004. He served as the station’s midday show co-host from 2003 to 2019 before moving to afternoons in 2020.

Round Three of October PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s October PPM survey is released for 12 markets, including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen’s October 2020 survey period covered September 10 – October 7. You can see all the 6+, weekly AQH share data from subscribing stations here. Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from these markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland adds a full share and finishes the survey with a 7.0 share to remain ranked #3. In Charlotte, Entercom’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM tacks on nine-tenths for a 6.9 share and rises from #4 to #3. iHeartMedia’s KNRS-FM, Salt Lake City adds three-tenths – completing a four-survey spike of 2.3 shares – to finish with a 7.6 share and jumps to the #1 spot for the first time in the PPM era. Across town at Bonneville’s KSL-FM, it rockets up 1.3 shares for a 7.4 share and finishes the October survey at #2. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets – as well as the first two rounds – here.

Entercom and FanDuel Announce Strategic Partnership. The six-year partnership designating FanDuel as the official sportsbook partner of Entercom across its sports broadcast stations and RADIO.COM will give listeners unique access to FanDuel odds, insight, and promotion via Entercom on-air stations and personalities. Entercom and FanDuel will also “collaborate on in-depth integrations and co-produce content that will pioneer the industry with all-new formats.” Under the agreement, FanDuel will be the official sportsbook of Entercom, and receive preferred and increased category access to all Entercom talent in every market where Entercom and FanDuel both operate. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “We believe this is the largest advertising commitment ever made within the radio industry. We are focused on delivering the best sports betting experience for our audiences in markets where legalized sports betting will be pervasive. The marketplace is growing exponentially and FanDuel is an ideal partner to take full advantage of the influence and reach of Entercom’s robust sports platforms to deliver an even better, audio sports experience to our listeners.”

TALKERS News Notes. A reminder that this evening (10/29) is the 2020 Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony taking place from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET on both the iHeartRadio app and via SiriusXM’s Triumph Channel. Being inducted are: Mark & Brian, Donnie Simpson, Angie Martinez, Cokie Roberts, Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, & DJ Envy, Sway Calloway, and Glenn Beck. You can listen here…..ABC News Radio is presenting live anchored coverage on election night beginning at 7:00 pm ET, running through at least 2:00 am ET. Correspondents Aaron Katersky and Karen Travers will anchor coverage. It will also feature reporting from correspondents on-location with the candidates and in crucial swing states. ABC News Radio will offer four one-minute Status Reports each hour throughout the evening. ABC News’ flagship daily podcast “Start Here,” hosted by Brad Mielke, will have special coverage throughout the week, including special editions on Election Day, November 4, and as news warrants…..Sun Broadcast Group announces two new hires in marketing. Lindsay Carr joins as director of marketing and Megan Hermensky is named assistant marketing manager. SBG vice president of business operations Laura Orkin says, “As we expand our ad sales team to meet the growing needs of our advertisers and partners, we are building our marketing support to develop new promotions, social media extensions, and more. Lindsay and Megan have the marketing expertise to bring new concepts and fresh designs to Sun. I’m delighted to welcome them both to our team.”

The Presidential Election, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Financial Markets Activity, Philadelphia Racial Tensions, Hunter Biden Emails, Big Tech Before Congress, France Terror Attack, and Tropical Storm Zeta Hits Gulf Coast Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/28). Next Tuesday’s presidential election and the last-minute campaigning by Donald Trump and Joe Biden; the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad and projections for the fall and winter seasons; the world’s financial markets sink on fears of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic; racial tensions in Philadelphia in the aftermath of the police shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr; the allegations that Hunter Biden’s emails indicate he improperly benefitted from Joe Biden’s vice presidency; CEO’s of Facebook, Twitter, and Google appear before a Senate Commerce Subcommittee to answer questions about censorship; a terrorist kills three in a church in Nice, France; and Tropical Storm Zeta dumps more rain on Louisiana were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Presents 2020 Election Preview Featuring Bill O’Reilly. Pictured above are WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte talk show host Bo Thompson (top left), North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (top right) with special guest, Key Networks nationally syndicated talk show host Bill O’Reilly (bottom). The production was dubbed “WBT’s TALKTOBERFEST 2020” and you can see it here. Station brand manager Mike Schaefer tells TALKERS magazine that O’Reilly appeared during the first talk hour of the program. Also on the program were WBT-AM/FM personalities Vince Coakley, Brett Winterble, Mark Garrison, Brett Jensen, and Joe Gillespie. It was broadcast Tuesday evening (10/27) live on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

Former Westwood One News Radio White House Correspondent Bob Costantini Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Journalism in America is going through a challenging transition. The technology, sociology, and economics of the times have conspired to shrink newsrooms, shut down news organizations, and put a critically large number of journalists out of work. This pinch is certainly being experienced in radio as most recently evidenced in the discontinuation of a news department by syndication giant Westwood One. Former Westwood One White House correspondent and veteran radio/TV journalist Bob Costantini is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Costantini was a high-profile casualty of the Westwood One news shutdown, but he wasn’t a victim, having wasted no time before launching his own boutique news agency, Ear on the White House, specializing in providing radio stations across America with customized reports and coverage of the White House and ongoing presidential developments. The fact that Costantini has already signed up several client stations out of the gate is a strong indication he’s off and running in the right direction with this new venture. With the presidential election dominating the national conversation, the White House has become the central focus of the nation and its concerns and promises to remain so in the months and years ahead. Costantini, a 30-plus year veteran of the field, has covered the White House for such news organizations as FOX News Channel, CNN and CNN Radio, NBC News Radio and most recently Westwood One. He’s a graduate of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. Harrison and Costantini talk about what it’s like inside the White House press corps, how the White House Correspondents’ Association operates, differences between the administrations he’s covered from George H.W. Bush to Donald Trump, and the current election, as well as the state and future of journalism. Don’t miss this illuminating deep-dive conversation about the nuts and bolts of covering the executive branch on radio. 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.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Rock radio pro Wade Linder is promoted to vice president, classic rock for Cumulus Media. The company says that in this new role, Linder will serve on Cumulus’ content leadership team as a key resource for the company’s 34 classic rock radio stations and will report to Troy Hanson, VP/corporate programming, rock formats. Linder will continue in his current role as PD for WLS-FM, Chicago. Linder says, “I’m grateful to be entrusted with this new appointment from Brian Philips and Troy Hanson. It’s a privilege to work with the programming brains and pure personalities in classic rock at Cumulus, with so much brand knowledge already present. Add to that the daily grounding and inspiration I receive from my closest radio family here at 94.7 WLS-FM in Chicago, where Marv Nyren shows us how to win and be kind at the same time. I want to also thank Dave Milner, John Dimick, and Doug Hamand.”…..Premiere Networks and Bobby Bones, VP/creative director of iHeartCountry, announce the launch of a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast, “Talk to Chuck” with Chuck Wicks, distributed by Bones’ Nashville Podcast Network. “Talk to Chuck” features the singer and songwriter as he shares his unique perspective on what’s happening in the world of country music. With behind-the-scenes access to the biggest stars, he’ll welcome music artists, celebrities, athletes, and others who share a love for country music. Listeners and country fans will also join the conversation as Wicks and his guests discuss the hottest topics of the week…..Beasley Media Group announces classic rock outlet WCSX-FM, Detroit, in conjunction with the Mayor of Royal Oak, Michigan, will proclaim Friday, November 6, 2020 as ‘Glenn Frey Day’ in honor of the late Eagles co-founder and Michigan native. Station morning show personality Jim O’Brien from “Big Jim’s House Morning Show” will broadcast live on Glenn Frey Drive in commemoration of the late singer/songwriter’s birthday. In addition, O’Brien will join Mayor Mike Fournier in officially proclaiming “Glenn Frey Day” as well as share stories about the late Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee from Detroit legends Bob Seger, Alice Cooper and others.