Monday Memo: Happy NEWS Year? “Not likely,” consultant Holland Cooke predicts; adding “that spells opportunity…for now. THEN what?” In this week’s column, HC suggests how recent Chris Wallace and Brian Williams sign offs point to what might be “talk radio’s next format.” Read it here.
Pending Business: What You See Is What You Get. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa says that despite the significantly increased traffic on our roads as more people return to working away from home – which means more people listening to radio in their cars – radio sales pros may still have plenty of inventory to sell. He says it’s time to review four basic concepts that help any talk radio seller fill those avails. Read it here.
Audacy Renews Employment Agreements with CEO David Field and COO Susan Larkin. The company has entered into new employment agreements with president and CEO David J. Field and EVP and chief operating officer Susan Larkin. In a filing with the Securities Exchange Commission, Audacy reports that Field will continue to serve as the company’s president and CEO and becomes effective January 1, 2022. The Field agreement has an initial term of three years with automatic one year extensions following the initial term unless either party provides prior notice of non-extension. Field’s annual base salary will be $1,350,000 and a target annual performance bonus of up to 200% of Field’s base salary. Field is eligible to receive a one time “EBITDA Bonus” of $3,000,000 only if, prior to December 31, 2024, the company’s EBITDA for the immediately preceding consecutive 12-month period exceeds $400,000,000. Field is also entitled to an equity grant of 1,000,000 restricted stock units (“RSUs”), subject to the company’s shareholders’ approval of a new Company equity incentive plan at the 2022 annual shareholders meeting. Seventy five percent (75%) of these RSUs have performance-based vesting conditions while the remaining twenty five percent (25%) have time-based vesting conditions. Fields’ performance-based RSUs come after achieving company stock price increases. He receives 250,000 RSUs for hitting the stock price of $6.00; 250,000 for hitting $9.00 per share and 250,000 for reaching the $12.00 per share threshold. Audacy also retroactively amended EVP and COO Susan R. Larkin that increases her annual salary to $750,000 and applies retroactively from June 1, 2021 through May 4, 2023. Her agreement further amends the provision related to future equity grants so that Larkin will be entitled to an increased amount of future grants of restricted stock and/or stock options with an aggregate annual target amount of $500,000.
KBOI-AM, Boise to Add FM Signal. Effective January 3, 2022, Cumulus Media’s Boise news/talk KBOI-AM will have an FM simulcast as current sports talk KTIK-FM becomes KBOI-FM. The sports talker keeps its FM signal (a simulcast of KTIK-AM) on FM translator K237HA at 95.3 FM. In a statement, KBOI program director Nate Shelman says, “Being a part of any positive station launch or new venture is exciting. Our audience has asked for this over the years and it’s exciting to see KBOI return to the FM dial after KBOI-FM switched call signs to KQFC in 1985. The growth in the Treasure Valley and changes in technology have warranted the need for an FM outlet. Interference from powerlines being the most prevalent.”
KABQ-AM, Albuquerque to Flip to Sports Talk. Albuquerque talk station KABQ-AM is flipping to sports talk as “FOX Sports 1350 AM”, effective Monday, January 3. The iHeartMedia station will broadcast FOX Sports Radio programming around the clock on weekdays and weekends. “FOX Sports 1350 AM” will feature “Two Pros and a Cup of Joe with LaVar Arrington, Brady Quinn & Jonas Knox,” “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Doug Gottlieb Show” “Straight Outta Vegas with R.J. Bell,” “The Odd Couple with Chris Broussard & Rob Parker,” “The Jason Smith Show with Mike Harmon” and “The Ben Maller Show.” iHeartMedia market president Hope Romero says, “We’re thrilled to be able to bring the sports talk leader back to Albuquerque. FOX Sports Radio leads the industry with the biggest names and best shows.”
Audacy Names Sarah Foss Chief Technology Officer. The company promotes Sarah Foss to chief technology officer, a role in which she’ll spearhead Audacy’s efforts to innovate and differentiate its products and services via new technological capabilities. The company says that Foss will manage Audacy’s key technology initiatives including: software development, ad tech, business intelligence and analytics, data solutions, and Audacy’s recently acquired live and on-demand audio streaming business, AmperWave. Foss had been serving as Audacy’s chief information officer since joining the company in 2020. Audacy CFO and EVP of strategic initiatives Rich Schmaeling comments, “Audacy continues to invest in technology to create innovative offerings for its listeners, advertisers and clients. We are excited to have Sarah leading these critical areas to drive our transformation faster and further.” Foss states, “Audacy is in the enviable position that we have unique content, great platforms, and an appetite for transformative growth. I am excited that technology is seen as an accelerant and differentiator for us at Audacy.”
Biden’s Build Back Better Plan/Economy, COVID-19, January 6 Investigation, Civil War Fears, Russian Ukraine Aggression, Kim Potter Trial, Ghislaine Maxwell Trial, and Spider Man Film Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. Negotiations over Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan between the White House and Senator Joe Manchin break down and the cooling predictions for the U.S. economy; the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, vaccines and mandates; the House investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol; retired U.S. generals warn of possible U.S. civil war; Russia’s military aggression toward the Ukraine; the trial of former police officer Kim Potter; the defense rests in the trail of Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell; and the new Spider Man movie’s blockbuster opening were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
By Holland Cooke
LAS VEGAS — Like so many of the big conferences only Las Vegas can host, this month’s NAB convention was canceled. But I went anyway. The trip turned into a mini-vacation, since my wife had taken a couple workdays off to join me here post-convention, and we had show tickets.
And what I am witnessing here is a profound glimpse into that New Normal we’ve been wondering about.
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 magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Arm Shots, Gun Shots, and Pot Shots,” looks back at this past week of March 15-19, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network; Rob Carson, talk show host, Newsmax TV; Duke Brooks, talk show host, WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; Howard Monroe, talk show host, WVLY, Wheeling, WV; Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, Gainesville, GA; and McGraw Milhaven, talk show host, KTRS, St. Louis. The 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, 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; 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; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; 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.
Newsmax TV Adds Jason Miller and Andrew Giuliani. Two former Trump administration figures are joining Newsmax TV as contributors. Jason Miller, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump and a principal at SHW Partners joins as a contributor to “provide commentary on a wide variety of issues facing the nation, such as immigration and trade.” Former White House aide Andrew Giuliani – a regular guest on Newsmax – also joins in a contributor role. Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy comments, “Jason and Andrew have been Washington insiders without becoming part of the problem. Both of these gentlemen have tremendous track records in media and government, making their analysis of news events even more insightful for our viewers.”
New Jersey 101.5’s Town Hall to Present ‘A Year with COVID.’ Next Thursday (3/25) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” presents the latest in a series of Town Hall broadcasts designed to help New Jersey deal with the ongoing pandemic. “A Year with COVID” will look back on the last year and ahead to what many hope will be a normal summer. New Jersey 101.5’s Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments in bringing medical, business and education experts together to talk about the road ahead. He says, “One-million residents are fully vaccinated and New Jersey appears to be on a pace to fully reopen this summer. This program will look at the lessons we learned over the last year, and what must still be done to return to some sense of normalcy.” The program’s on-air expert panel will feature: Dr. Susan Boruchoff, infectious disease specialist at RWJBarnabas Health; Michele Siekerka, president and CEO of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association; and Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey School Administrators Association.
KGMZ-FM, San Francisco’s Kate Scott to Join All-Female Warriors Broadcast. In celebration of Women’s Empowerment Month, KGMZ-FM “95.7 The Game” morning show personality Kate Scott will take part in an all-female broadcast of the Golden State Warriors vs Chicago Bulls game on Monday, March 29, as part of the station’s flagship coverage of the team. Scott will handle play-by-play duties alongside fellow broadcaster Mary Murphy, who will serve as color commentator. NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kerith Burke will host pre- and post-game coverage of the broadcast on “95.7 The Game.” Scott says, “I can’t thank the Warriors and ‘95.7 The Game’ enough for this incredible opportunity. As a play-by-play announcer, you dream of getting the chance to cover the teams you grew up cheering for, but more often than not those dreams never realize. So, as a lifelong Warriors fan, to be given the opportunity to call Bulls vs. Warriors and get to share this special night with two talented women who I’m lucky to call dear friends…it’s unimaginable.” In addition to her work with KGMZ, Scott serves as a play-by-play announcer, anchor, host and reporter for the Pac-12 Networks in addition to play-by-play assignments for NBC Sports Networks and Stadium.
TALKERS News Notes. Iconic singer and current WABC, New York weekend program host Tony Orlando releases a best-of album via Time Life titled, Timeless: The Big Hits. The album features re-recorded versions of his million-selling songs as well as a bonus track, “America Is My Hometown.” Orlando debuted the bonus track on 77 WABC during his weekly radio program, “Saturday Nights with Tony Orlando.” WABC was also the first station to play Orlando’s debut single, “Halfway to Paradise,” in 1961…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WSCR “The Score” morning drive co-host David Haugh is adding co-host of the weekend baseball show “Inside the Clubhouse” with Bruce Levine from 9:00 am to 11:00 am Saturdays. Afternoon drive co-host Matt Spiegel is also doing summer baseball show duties as co-host of “Hit and Run,” that airs from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon Sundays…..CBS News Radio announces a new feature available to affiliates called, “SportsBrief” – one-minute reports available twice daily on weekdays that present the “stories behind the scores.”…..BIA Advisory Services is debuting its first podcast called “Leading Local Insights” that looks at the local media marketplace. The program is hosted by Rick Ducey and each episode will “feature its analyst team delivering insights and analysis for broadcast and digital media business professionals.”…..NRG Media’s Omaha sports talk radio duo KOZN and KZOT “The Zone” renew their deal with Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals to continue airing the team’s play-by-play through the 2022 season. NRG general manager Mark Shecterle says, “We are extremely excited to continue to be the Kansas City Royals broadcast home in Omaha. The Royals have been a great partner and we look forward to another two years of carrying the Royals games.”
COVID-19 Vaccines, Variants and Stats Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 15-19. The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines and the concerns about variants combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was immigration reform and the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, followed by the Atlanta spa murders tied with Asian Americans under siege and gun control 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.