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.
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 America; Dr. 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 Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; Pioneer Valley Radio; Podcast Radio, UK and many more. To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.
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.”