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Thursday, April 28, 2022

| April 28, 2022

SiriusXM Host Joe Madison is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Civil rights activist, author, speaker and radio talk show host Joe Madison is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Since 1980, “The Black Eagle” has hosted shows at such outstanding outlets as WXYZ, Detroit; WWDB-FM, Philadelphia; WWRC, Washington, DC; and WOL – also in the nation’s capital. He’s been nationally syndicated by Radio One and is now well into his second decade hosting the morning show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s Urban View channel. Madison was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2019. He is the leading civil rights activist broadcaster in America whose main platform is talk radio. He’s conducted high-profile hunger strikes to bring attention to causes he supports and has been arrested at demonstrations. He is a prolific public speaker and inspiration to people seeking racial equality and justice in America. The 72-year-old thought leader has received numerous honors over the years including the prestigious TALKERS Freedom of Speech Award in 2008. Joe Madison is currently the highest-ranked African American personality on the TALKERS Heavy Hundred list of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America (#5). Now, with David Canton, he has written a long-awaited book about his life and career titled, Radio Active: A Memoir of Advocacy in Action, on the Air and in the Streets. Harrison and Madison take a deep dive into the ongoing turbulence of race relations in America. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, click here.

 

FCC’s Carr Says Agency Has No Authority in Twitter Acquisition. Responding to the Open Markets Institute’s appeal to the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission to block the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr issued a terse statement: “The FCC has no authority to block Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, and to suggest otherwise is absurd. I would welcome the full FCC making it clear that we will not entertain these types of frivolous arguments.” The Open Markets Institute says in its statement, “The most obvious problem is that the deal would give to a single man – one who already wields immense political and economic power – direct control over one of world’s most important platforms for public communications and debate. As has been true from the Founding, the American people have an absolute right to ensure the full openness and neutrality of all essential public infrastructure. Specific to communications, we see this in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, in the Telegraph acts of 1860 and 1866, the Mann-Elkins Act of 1910, the Communications Act of 1934, and many other federal and state laws. Americans have also repeatedly used our antitrust laws to prevent concentrations of power over communications, speech, debate, and news.” Read the organization’s release here.

 

Hall of Famer Brett Favre to Join ESPN Milwaukee for Weekly Segment. Green Bay Packers great and NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre is joining Good Karma Brands’ Milwaukee stations for a weekly segment during this fall’s 2022 NFL season. Beginning August 29, the 30-minute interview will air every Monday morning at 7:30 am on WKTI-FM “94.5 ESPN” Milwaukee’s “Jen, Gabe & Chewy” program featuring Packers Hall of Fame inductee Mark Chmura. The interview will be replayed on other ESPN Wisconsin shows, “Newsradio 620” WTMJ, WGKB-AM/W269DL “101.7 The Truth” and Good Karma Brands’ digital platforms. Good Karma VP and market manager Steve Wexler says, “We are excited about our coverage of the team this season, which will include pre-game and post-game shows, expanded hospitality at our Tundra Trio hospitality homes in Green Bay, and the exclusive appearance of Brett Favre on our stations. Brett will bring his unique perspective and experience to our programming and we can’t to hear his takes.”

 

WMVP-AM, Chicago Adds Courtney Cronin as Bears Reporter and Fill-In Host. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, Good Karma Brands’ sports talk WMVP-AM “ESPN 1000” adds Courtney Cronin to the staff to serve as a Chicago Bears reporter and on-air fill-in host during the football season. Feder notes that she had been serving with ESPN covering the Minnesota Vikings prior to returning to her native Chicago to cover the Bears. WMVP director of content Danny Zederman is quoted saying, “We are thrilled to welcome Courtney to our ESPN Chicago family. She is well connected in NFL circles and will bring our fans the Bears information they desire. In addition to her reporting, our fans are going to enjoy what Courtney has to offer as a radio host, where she’ll talk all things Chicago sports.”

 

NAB2022: Employee Wellness and Mental Health. “Because COVID-19 was unlike anything we’ve experienced, they called it ‘a novel coronavirus.’” So, consultant Holland Cooke, recalls “we went into a better-safe-than-sorry mode with lasting consequences,” including in the radio workplace. One NAB Show panelist offers advice. Read it here.

 

Retired AURN Executive Jerry Lopes Dies. Former American Urban Radio Networks executive Gerald A. “Jerry” Lopes died on April 23. Lopes served with AURN for almost four decades, retiring in 2018 as president of programming and affiliations. AURN issued a statement saying, “We cherished his dedication to news, entertainment, and sports. As a valued member of the AURN team and a strong advocate for Black radio in general, Jerry Lopes served on the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters board for over 10 years. A few of his most notable accomplishments were securing and broadcasting an interview between then presidents Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela in 1994, live on-site accounts of the Challenger explosion, and a live broadcast of the ‘Million Man March.’ In addition, Jerry shepherded the production of the radio versions of ‘Lou Rawls Parade of Stars’ for the United Negro College Fund and writing and producing various health and voting rights information pieces in conjunction with NABOB. Jerry’s passion for Historically Black Colleges and Black College Football led him to spearhead a 40-plus-year program of scholarships for student-athletes, The Black College All American, which celebrated students’ contributions on and off the field.”

 

TALKERS News Notes. “FOX Weather,” FOX News Media’s free ad-supported streaming television weather service is expanding its reach to FOX News Audio, launching a new daily podcast as well as offering hourly weather updates on FOX News Headlines 24/7 starting at 6:00 am ET on Monday, May 2. Featuring a rotation of FOX Weather meteorologists, the “FOX Weather Update Podcast” will provide multiple weather updates throughout the day. As the first podcast from the weather service which launched last October, the program will also include breaking news coverage on major systems impacting the country…..Telecommunications law professional Gregg Skall is moderating a live webinar for Independent Broadcasters Association members on Thursday, May 5 at 4:00 pm ET. The webinar, “Best Practices for Political Broadcast Advertising” will “identify and clarify the FCC rules and regulations that will keep your stations compliant, while generating revenue from political.” Skall says, “I’m excited to speak to the members of the IBA and detail the critical FCC rules and regulations for political broadcast advertising. We’re heading into an active political season and knowledge of the rules and regulations will help keep IBA-member stations out of trouble.” Learn more about IBA here…..Glass Podcasts and iHeartMedia announce the launch of the eight-part, true-crime podcast series, “Betrayal.” The series is “the story of TV producer Jenifer Faison whose picture-perfect marriage completely shatters in the blink of an eye when she suddenly discovers that her college sweetheart-turned-doting husband is not the person she thought he was. After seven years of marriage, Faison came home from work one afternoon to find her house searched and her husband arrested for the continued sexual assault of a student. In ‘Betrayal,’ Faison investigates the hidden story behind the story, revealing a dark, double-life fueled by dozens often sordid and simultaneous affairs with friends, neighbors and strangers, dating back to the week they were married.”.….ABC Audio announces its new literary podcast, “The Book Case,” hosted by longtime ABC News journalist Charlie Gibson and his daughter Kate Gibson. The first episode, posting on 5/2, features a conversation with television icon Oprah Winfrey, who discusses the impact of her book club on American readership, her own reading habits, and how she makes her picks. Each week, the father-daughter duo will provide hand-selected recommendations and sit down with a prominent or up-and-coming author, book industry insider or literary influencer.

 

Russia-Ukraine War/Trevor Reed Released, the Economy/Recession Fears, Musk & Twitter, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, Urban Crime, Western Drought-Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/27). Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the global repercussions, and the prisoner swap that brought U.S. Marine Trevor Reed home from Russia; the financial markets activity, the high price of food and gas, and predictions of a deep recession; Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter; the battle for control of Congress in November’s midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the growing rate of urban violent crime; and the drought affecting the U.S. West and the spring wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Sound Bites from NAB 2022

| April 27, 2022

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

LAS VEGAS — No matter how well-planned the agenda, I’ve always found that the most valuable part of a convention is…convening, catching-up with old friends and making new ones. And being the first NAB Show in three years, this year’s event was OH-so-quotable.

“I know what transformational moments feel like, and now we’re in one…on the cusp of the best era for radio and for audio.”

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NAB2022: Don’t Blink

| April 26, 2022

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

LAS VEGAS — If you’re here this week, bear with me. I’m that guy in the row behind you, typing feverishly-enough to resemble the movie character racing the countdown readout to disarm a nuclear warhead about to detonate. If you’re not here, here’s why I am:

Megatrends in the U.S. Audio Listening Landscape

From Laura Ivey, Edison Research, with bullet points from the “Share of Ear” data her firm has been tracking since 2014:

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Friday, March 25, 2022

| March 25, 2022

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the 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, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Midnight in Moscow,” looks back at this past week of 3/21 to 3/25. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSJennifer Horn, talk show host, KRLA (AM 860 The Answer), Los Angeles; Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, Gainesville, GA; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company; and Ivan Pentchoukov, national editor, The Epoch Times. The show airs weekends on WONK-FM, Washington, DC; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; KMZQ, Las Vegas;  WTPL, Manchester, NH; WEMJ, Laconia, NH; WTSN, Dover-Portsmouth, NH; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPodcast Radio UK and many more. To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS 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.

 

Townsquare Media to Acquire Cherry Creek Broadcasting for $18.75 Million. This deal for Townsquare Media, Inc. to acquire Cherry Creek Broadcasting LLC for $18.75 million will add assets including 35 radio stations in nine markets to Townsquare’s portfolio, which will include 356 stations in 74 markets when the deal is closed sometime in the third quarter of this year. To accomplish the transaction, and due to FCC ownership regulations, Townsquare will divest six radio stations in Missoula, Montana, to Anderson Broadcasting, Legacy Broadcasting (a non-profit organization), and Missoula Community Radio (also a non-profit organization), and place two radio stations in Tri-Cities, Washington in a divestiture trust. Townsquare says this transaction solidifies its position as the only local media and digital marketing solutions company of scale focused principally on markets outside of the top 50 in the United States, a vital differentiator for the company. Company CEO Bill Wilson comments, “We are very excited to announce the acquisition of Cherry Creek’s market leading local media brands. The acquisition includes many local heritage brands with strong competitive positions, meaningful audience share, and very talented local teams. This represents an excellent opportunity to deploy our Digital First Local Media strategy across a broader footprint, bringing our national scale, strong digital platform, and resources to the local communities and local businesses in these markets, building upon the strong relationships these local teams have already built with their communities. We look forward to accelerating the digital growth in these markets as we implement our flywheel of powerful and effective marketing and advertising (digital and radio) solutions and technology platforms, in combination with our highly relevant, localized content on air and online. We believe this acquisition furthers our goal of being the #1 Digital First Local Media Company in markets outside of the top 50 in the United States.” This transaction is being funded with cash on hand and Townsquare CFO Stuart Rosenstein states, “This acquisition represents a compelling use of capital that aligns with our priorities of investing in our local business through both organic investments and prudent acquisitions that support our revenue and profit growth. This acquisition is net leverage neutral and due to the strong cash generation of our business and the acquired assets, will not impact our ability to reach our goal of 4x net leverage by year end.” The Cherry Creek LLC stations in this deal are located in the following markets: Butte, Great Falls, and Missoula, Montana; Montrose, Colorado; Sierra Vista, Arizona; St. George-Cedar City, Utah; Tri-Cities and Wenatchee, Washington; and Williston, North Dakota.

 

Round Four of February PPM Ratings Released. The fourth of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2022 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 February 2022 sweep covered February 3 – March 2. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Raleigh, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTKK-FM rises two-tenths for a 7.6 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) finish and remains #3 in the market while Curtis Media Group’s crosstown news/talk WPTF drops 1.3 shares for a 2.0 share finish and falls back to the #13 rank. Emmis Communications’ news/talk WIBC, Indianapolis sheds nine-tenths for a 9.7 share finish but remains ranked #2 in the market. In Milwaukee, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WISN falls from #1 to #2 after dipping two-tenths for a 9.5 share finish, while Good Karma Brands’ news/talk WTMJ adds four-tenths to wrap the survey with a 7.6 share that keeps it in the #4 rank. Cox Media Group’s news/talk WOKV-FM, Jacksonville posts a 10.6 share after rising six-tenths and that is good for the #1 rank in the market. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets (as well as the previous three groups) here.

 

Rhode Island Talk Radio Host John DePetro Continues Reporting from Ukraine. WNRI, Woonsocket, Rhode Island talk radio host John DePetro is pictured above (right) interviewing displaced Ukrainian Andre (left) who is serving as a volunteer in Western Ukraine helping his fellow citizens who’ve lost their homes. DePetro says that the situation in his Western Ukrainian location is “very tense.” So much so that for security reasons, journalists now face being incarcerated for taking any type of military photo or photo showing a specific location. See his video report here.

 

Audacy’s WJZ-FM, Baltimore Debuts ‘Baltimore Baseball Tonight’ Program. The new “Baltimore Baseball Tonight”  program on Audacy’s WJZ-FM, Baltimore “105.7 The Fan” will be hosted by midday personality Bob Haynie, Orioles legends Bill Ripken and Mike Bordick, former Orioles vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette, and 105.7 The Fan’s Orioles beat reporter Cordell Woodland. Beginning Opening Day on April 7, the show will air at 6:00 pm ET on game nights and broadcast live from Pickles Pub across the street from the stadium when the team is home. When the team is on the road, the show will be live from various locations, including the 105.7 The Fan studios. Audacy Baltimore SVP and market manager Tracy Brandys says, “‘Baltimore Baseball Tonight’ will give fans an in-depth preview of the Baltimore professional baseball team throughout the season and bring them closer to the game than ever before. We’re also extremely excited to get back out with the fans at Pickles Pub and share our collective passion for the team alongside Bob, Bill, Mike, Jim and Cordell – five individuals who have decades of insight on the team.”

 

TALKERS News Notes. According to data from Comscore, FOX News Digital finished February as the top-performing news brand in the competitive set in both multiplatform views and multiplatform minutes. FOX News Digital says it delivered 2.9 billion multiplatform minutes and over 1.4 billion multiplatform views, while posting increases in multiplatform unique visitors and multiplatform minutes versus the prior month. February also marked the 12th straight month that FOX News outpaced every news organization in the competitive set in multiplatform minutes. While FOX News Digital topped primary competitor CNN.com in multiplatform total views and multiplatform total minutes, CNN.com beat FOX News Digital in multiplatform unique visitors by a margin of almost two to one…..As reported in Pittsburgh’s TribLive, sports radio pro Adam Crowley leaves iHeartMedia’s sports talk WBGG-AM “ESPN Pittsburgh” to join Audacy’s crosstown sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” for weekend, fill-in, and producer duties…..Actor, director and educator LeVar Burton will receive the first-ever Insight Award from the Library of American Broadcasting Foundation in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to broadcasting, history and American culture during the NAB Show Welcome on Monday, April 25 in Las Vegas. The Insight Award recognizes an individual or organization for an outstanding artistic or journalistic work or body of work that enhances the public’s understanding of the role, operation, history or impact of media in our society. Burton is known for his roles as Kunta Kinte in the acclaimed television mini-series “Roots” and as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” A lifelong children’s literacy advocate, Burton was host and executive producer of “Reading Rainbow,” one of the longest-running children’s television shows in history, during its 26-year run from 1983 to 2009. The show received more than 25 Emmy Awards, including 10 for Outstanding Children’s Series, and was honored with a prestigious George Foster Peabody Award in 1992…..Host David Marzetti’s weekend golf program, “The Shagbag Radio Show,” is celebrating its 20thanniversary on April 2. The program is heard on iHeartMedia’s KION-AM, Salinas, California each Saturday. Marzetti, who broadcasts the program remotely from the Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey, says he has never missed a live show in its 20 years on air – even during the pandemic shutdown – and has featured more than 4,000 guests on over 1,000 shows in its 20-year run.

 

Russia-Ukraine War Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 21-25. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the global effects of the conflict made it the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was President Joe Biden’s leading a NATO summit addressing the Ukraine invasion, followed at #3 by U.S. relations with Russia and China and tied with North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test. 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.

 

 

 

Westwood One Seeks Part-Time Producer. This is a Washington, DC-based position for a part-time producer to support the “Jim Bohannon Show,” “America in the Morning” and “First Light.” The producer performs all the functions of the producer for vacation relief and other times and will assist with the production of the programs, including news assignments, call screening, podcast and archive uploading, and other responsibilities as needed. The ideal candidate should have a strong knowledge of news events and passion for radio. They must be able to multitask and handle a fast-paced working environment, be detail-oriented, prompt and reliable, thrive on working as part of a team and respond well to direction. Must possess excellent writing and storytelling skills. Get more information and apply here.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

| January 27, 2022

Newsweek Opinion Editor Josh Hammer is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The opinion editor of Newsweek, Josh Hammer, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Hammer is also a podcaster, constitutional lawyer, and rising young conservative thought-leader. Newsweek is planning the launch of his new podcast, “The Josh Hammer Show” in February. The one-hour podcast will conform to the format clock of a terrestrial radio show making it conveniently translatable as a syndicated product. Harrison describes Hammer as follows: “At 32 years of age, he has already made a huge splash within the print news community as an editor and political commentator reflective of a young conservative perspective. I suspect he will be doing the same in talk media via radio and podcasting.” Harrison continues, “With such an emphasis being placed on lowering the demos, talk media practitioners – especially conservatives – should hear what he has to say.” Hammer focuses on conservative intellectual trends, contemporary domestic and foreign policy debates, constitutional and legal issues, and the intersection of law, politics and culture. His pieces have appeared in a number of major publications including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post and many others. Harrison and Hammer take a deep-dive into the future of print versus digital, the legal complications of updating Section 230 and holding Big Tech accountable for the control they have seized over the public square, as well as the schism between traditional conservative politics and a viable next-gen approach. They discuss the impact and future of Donald Trump within the GOP and Newsweek’s strategy to appeal to a readership that spans the political spectrum. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

Dan Bongino Booted from YouTube; Focuses His Content on Rumble. After violating the terms of his weeklong suspension from YouTube, Westwood One nationally syndicated talk host Dan Bongino has been permanently banned from the social media video channel. Bongino shared a video on his website in which he says that he was suspended for saying nothing different than what Dr. Tony Fauci told “60 Minutes” in a March 2020 interview in which he said there’s no need for people to be walking around wearing masks because it’s not providing the protection that people think it is. Bongino questions why he’s being banned but Fauci is not. Bongino’s violation of the suspension came after he tried to post a video explaining to his fans why he’s leaving YouTube and will put all of his content on Rumble. Bongino says he had 871,000 YouTube subscribers and says he has more than 2 million subscribers on the Rumble channel.

Former Florida Sports Talk Host ‘Big Joe’ Ellicott to Cooperate with Feds’ Investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz. According to a report by CNN, Joseph “Big Joe” Ellicott has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and distribution of a controlled substance (Adderall) and has agreed to cooperate with the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into allegations that U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) had sexual contact with a minor. Ellicott previously worked for Star Over Orlando at sports talk WRSO “CBS Sports Radio Orlando” on the “Bauman and Big Joe” program. CNN reports that Ellicott pleaded guilty to the charges that stemmed from “a bribery scheme between an unnamed contractor and an unnamed elected government official. Ellicott delivered $6,000 cash from the contractor to the government official in 2017.” Other media sources are concluding that the unnamed elected government official is his friend Joel Greenberg, a former confidant of Gaetz’s who is also cooperating with investigators in the Gaetz case.

Round Two of Holiday 2021 PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s Holiday 2021 sweep covered December 9 – January 5. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Although the Holiday PPM survey usually reveals listening patterns skewed by stations breaking format to air Christmas music, some spoken-word stations were able to avoid ratings declines. Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle was steady with a 6.6 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) that kept it in the #2 rank. Lotus Communications’ crosstown all-news KOMO-AM/FM rose two-tenths for a 5.5 share finish and climbed to the #3 rank. Audacy’s news/talk WCCO-AM, Minneapolis was up seven-tenths for a 5.2 share finish good for the #6 rank in the market. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KOA, Denver added nine-tenths to wrap the survey with a 3.8 share and climbed to the #8 rank. You can see all of Mike Kinosian’s Ratings Takeways from this group of markets (as well as round one) here.

Religious Broadcasters Hope Media Group and WAY Media to Merge. Religious broadcasting companies Hope Media Group and WAY Media announce their intention to merge into one media organization. The formal merger is expected to close by later this year pending FCC approval. The new Christian media organization will be headquartered in Houston and will operate under the name Hope Media Group. Hope Media Group was founded 40 years ago with radio station KSBJ-FM, Houston. WAY Media was formed 35 years ago with WAYJ-FM, Fort Myers. The companies say this is a merger of equals and a cash-free transaction that received a unanimous vote from both boards of directors. Currently, Hope Media Group is a family of media brands that include Houston-focused KSBJ, the brand-new Spanish Christian “Vida Unida,” digital content outlets NGEN Radio (Christian hip-hop and pop), Hope On Demand and Amen: The Prayer App, plus a concert and event brand, Special Events. WAY Media owns and operates a national network of more than 20 “WayFM” stations in markets that include Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Portland, Nashville, and South Florida plus more than 30 translators from Florida to Washington State, in addition to digital content outlets.

TALKERS News Notes. Streaming audio service TuneIn announces a partnership with Estrella Media to bring its content to the TuneIn platform. In addition, TuneIn has partnered with Grupo Fórmula to bring its Spanish-language entertainment and news content to the platform. TuneIn CEO Richard Stern states, “Both Estrella Media and Grupo Fórmula are market leaders in Spanish-language entertainment and news radio content. We are extremely pleased to be expanding our Spanish-language offerings to a new generation of Latin radio fans and listeners around the world through the TuneIn platform. We’re also thrilled to help Estrella Media’s local stations increase monetization outside of their local markets as an added benefit of our partnership.”…..The Luminary original podcast, “The Roxane Gay Agenda,” launches with writer Dr. Roxane Gay as host and welcoming The New York Times writer Tressie McMillan Cottom and acclaimed author Terry McMillan as her first guests. The program is produced in partnership with iHeartMedia.

Stephen Breyer to Retire, Ukraine Tensions, COVID-19, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, Financial Markets/Inflation/Crypto Plunge, Urban Violent Crime Spike, and the Beijing Olympics Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/26). News of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement and President Joe Biden’s possible nominations; the ongoing tensions between Vladimir Putin and the West over Russia’s military build-up at the Ukraine border; the Omicron variant infection rate and legal battles over mask & vaccine mandates; fight to control Congress in this November’s midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the turbulent financial markets, the high retail and oil prices and the plummet in cryptocurrency value; the blowback against liberal law & order polices as violent crime in America’s major cities surges; and the Beijing Olympics were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.