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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

| August 10, 2021

WNDB, Daytona Beach Host Marc Bernier Hospitalized with COVID-19. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that WNDB, Daytona Beach talk show host Marc Bernier is in the hospital being treated for COVID-19. Like some other conservative talk radio hosts, Bernier has been a vocal critic of the vaccines, although station officials tell the paper they do not know Bernier’s vaccination status for certain. The report indicates that Bernier missed last week’s programs while home sick. He was diagnosed on Friday and was hospitalized on Saturday (8/7). WNDB operations manager Mark McKinney tells the paper, “I don’t have an update on him at this point, other than he has been hospitalized.” McKinney later added, “We will be airing announcements several times an hour (during Bernier’s program) that he is recovering from COVID-induced pneumonia and that we hope to have him back on the air soon.”

WSPD, Todelo’s Scott Sands Dealing with Breakthrough COVID-19 Case. Toledo talk host Scott Sands tells his story of contracting a breakthrough case of COVID-19 to WTOL-TV. Sands – who hosts the afternoon drive daypart on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WSPD-AM – says that he was vaccinated in April and is well enough to broadcast from home for the next two weeks. Sands tells WTOL-TV that he believes if he had not been vaccinated his symptoms would have been worse and he is encouraging his listeners to get vaccinated. “Even if it doesn’t protect you from getting COVID-19 at some point, I truly believe at some point it will mitigate the symptoms and help you recover much faster and if nothing else help slow the spread.”

Round One of July PPM Data Released. The first of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s July 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets, including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s July 2021 sweep covered June 24 – July 21. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. In New York, Audacy’s all-news WINS picks up one-tenth for a 2.7 share (weekly 6+ AQH share) good for the #12 rank in the market. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles sheds four-tenths to finish the survey with a 4.0 share and falls to the #6 rank. In Chicago, Audacy’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM takes back the #1 rank from urban AC WVAZ after adding seven-tenths for a 6.7 share finish. Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta remains ranked #1 in the market after adding two-tenths and wrapping the survey with an 8.3 share. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets here.

1010 WINS Launches Spanish Audio Companion. The New York all-news outlet announces the launch of 1010 WINS Noticias.com, “a multiplatform, Spanish digital audio offering for 1010 WINS (WINS-AM), the most listened-to news station in the country.” Audacy says Audacy.com/1010WINSNoticias “will deliver the same energy, resources, and trusted content for news as 1010 WINS, providing original content, audio and video podcasts and a daily newscast for download – all in Spanish. Podcasts at launch include a rare sit-down conversation with Venezuela’s acting president Juan Guaido.”  WINS brand manager Ben Mevorach adds, “We could not be more excited about this new venture. No news brand is more respected or more New York than 1010 WINS. To be able to now share what we do with the Spanish-speaking news consumer represents an extraordinary opportunity for them, for us, and for advertisers.” Audacy says that 1010 WINS Noticias will also aim to create a unique value proposition for advertisers through multiple opportunities to reach consumers, included co-branded targeted social media posts, mobile app display ads and custom email newsletters, as well as homepage takeovers.

Gow Media’s ‘ESPN Houston’ Announces New Program Lineup. Houston sports talk outlet KFNC-FM/K223CW “ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM” unveils its new lineup. Gow Media says the new program schedule will take effect on August 16 and will “showcase a new direction, featuring new voices, and new shows with an emphasis on covering the teams and storylines that Houston sports fans care about. The all-local weekday lineup will continue to boast veteran hosts John Granato, Lance Zierlein, Charlie Pallilo and Joel Blank. New additions to the roster include Jeremy Branham, Jake Asman, Cody Stoots and Brad Kellner.” The lineup is as follows: 7:00 am to 10:00 am – “The Bench with John Granato & Lance Zierlein”; 10:00 am to 12:00 noon – “The Charlie Pallilo Show”; 12:noon to 3:00 pm – “The Killer B’s with Joel Blank & Jeremy Branham”; and 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm – “The Wheelhouse with Jake Asman, Cody Stoots & Brad Kellner.” Additionally, longtime station host Fred Faour will continue to be part of the on-air team, joining shows throughout the week in a new role as the station’s sports betting analyst. CEO David Gow says, “Fred has a deep connection with our listeners, and will continue to be an important part of our on-air team. He will also lead the development of a new online offering that we’ll be launching soon.”

Libby Nolan Named SVP of Sales for iHeartMedia St. Louis. Radio sales pro Libby Nolan is named SVP of sales for iHeartMedia’s St. Louis market. The company’s St. Louis outlets include BIN: Black Information Network’s BIN103.7 plus four music brands. Nolan joins iHeartMedia St. Louis from Zimmer Radio in Springfield, Missouri, where she served as vice president and director of sales. Prior to that, Nolan acted as market president and chief revenue officer for Townsquare Media’s Quincy-Hannibal radio cluster. She spent almost 10 years of her career at Emmis St. Louis serving in several leadership positions. She also held leadership positions at Audacy-owned news/talk KFTK-FM. iHeartMedia St. Louis president John R. Beck, Jr. says, “I am very excited to have Libby on our team. Her diverse background and leadership skills are a perfect match for the amazing things we have to look forward to at iHeart St. Louis.”

Brenda Franco Named GM for JVC Media’s Fort Walton Beach Cluster. Radio sales and management pro Brenda Franco is named general manager for JVC Media of Florida’s Fort Walton Beach station group that includes WZLB-FM “Florida Man Radio 103.1” and three music brands. Franco was most recently key account manager and senior marketing consultant for Cumulus Media in the Fort Walton Beach/Destin market. JVC executive Shane Reeve comments, “JVC’s commitment to the Emerald Coast and all of our markets is to grow our culture of great LOCAL radio for our listeners and clients. The addition of Brenda as our general manager for JVC Fort Walton Beach is a win for everyone in the market. Brenda’s success in sales management up and down the Emerald Coast is due to her incredible knowledge and passion for her clients, listeners, and the industry. I was always so impressed with Brenda during my earlier tenure in Fort Walton Beach and I am thrilled to have someone of her caliber on board with the JVC family.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a report by The Count, KFI, Los Angeles morning host Bill Handel is to undergo heart surgery. The Count says Handel called into the station last Thursday while hospitalized, saying he is to undergo heart valve replacement surgery, telling his fill-in, “Now they have to crack my chest. The valve is definitely infected.” Handel underwent surgery to replace the same aortic valve in 2011…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and the NCAA agree to a multi-year renewal, maintaining Westwood One’s place as the official network audio broadcast partner of the NCAA for many years to come. Westwood One has broadcast the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament since 1982 and every game of NCAA March Madness on multiple platforms since 2005. Under the terms of the deal, Westwood One retains exclusive broadcast radio, digital audio, distribution, and licensing rights for all 90 NCAA Championships, including the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments and the Final Fours…..WGN, Chicago reports that the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks released a medical update on Blackhawks radio color analyst Troy Murray, who says, “I want to let everyone know of the challenge that I’m currently facing. I have been diagnosed with cancer. With the love and support of my family, friends, the Wirtz family, the Chicago Blackhawks organization and WGN Radio I’m confident that together, we will beat this.” WGN vice president and general manager Mary Sandberg Boyle says, “Troy is beloved by all our listeners and is a significant member of the WGN Radio family. It goes without saying that Troy and his family have our love and support as he begins his treatments. We are cheering for him and wish him well. Along with the Blackhawks, we ask that you respect his privacy during this time.”…..VSiN, The Sports Betting Network, announces that former NFLquarterback Shaun King is joining the network as co-host of “The Night Cap” in which he’ll co-host with Tim Murray to cover sports betting markets around the country each weeknight from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am ET. VSiN CEO Brian Musberger comments, “Shaun is an incredible talent, and we’re thrilled to add his unique perspective as a player to our sports betting content as we continue to expand VSiN’s programming and reach. His experience as an NFL quarterback coupled with the skills he honed as a former ESPN and NBC Sports analyst will be an incredibly valuable addition to our evening lineup.”…..Pictured below is Westwood One late night talk radio star Jim Bohannon (right) being inducted into the Missouri Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame at the organization’s annual gathering in Branson, Missouri.

COVID-19 Delta Variant & Masks Debate, Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, Infrastructure Bill, Climate Change/Wildfires, Prince Andrew Sexual Abuse Suit, Capitol Riot Investigation, and Obama Party Backlash Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/9). The rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the controversy over mask mandates for school children; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo digs in as sexual harassment allegations put pressure on him to resign; the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill; the UN’s IPCC-authored climate report and the wildfires devastating California and Greece; American Virginia Giuffre sues Prince Andrew for sexual abuse; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol riot; and criticism of former President Barack Obama’s birthday bash for flouting COVID-19 guidelines were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, February 22, 2021

| February 22, 2021

Monday Memo: #Rush4ever. Consultant Holland Cooke reckons that “there’s dang little we can do to keep someone sitting in a parked car with the key on Accessories. But Rush did that, often. And these carefully chosen archival clips they’re playing are even more captivating.” In this week’s column, HC suggests longer-term options to succeed a talent “who can never be replaced.” Read his column here.

Pending Business: Rush Changed How We Sell. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says Rush Limbaugh changed not only what people talked about on AM radio, but how we sell the talk radio format. Limbaugh’s so-called controversial content often caused the “no-buy” tag to be applied to his program. “Big ratings were no longer an automatic revenue generator. Rush stood steadfast. His audience grew to become the biggest and arguably the most responsive of any network radio talent. A new chapter had to be written in the ad sales playbook. Sellers knew if Rush got behind an ad campaign, phones would ring, orders would come in, and sponsors could experience the powerful results that only talk radio can deliver.” Read Lapa’s column here.

Belling: Appleton Jock Should Not Be Fired. WISN-AM, Milwaukee afternoon drive personality Mark Belling pens a piece posted to his own website that addresses the suspension of rock WAPL-FM, Appleton, Wisconsin jock Len Nelson by Woodward Communications for comments critical of Rush Limbaugh after his death last week that culminated with the sentiment, “The world is a better place without Rush Limbaugh in it.” Belling, who was a frequent fill-in host for Limbaugh for more than 20 years, says, “Obnoxious as Nelson’s comments are, he should not have been suspended and he should certainly not be fired. If his audience sees him for the doofus he is, fine. But this pandemic of firing people for saying things others don’t like is un-American. And it’s childish. Nelson’s comments are not, to use a word the left loves, hurtful. Rush has been very important to my life and my career and I’m not hurt by Nelson’s comments one bit. I am able to consider the source and move on.” Read Belling’s entire commentary here.

TALKERS News Notes. New York City morning radio personality Jim Kerr signs a new deal with iHeartMedia’s classic rock WAXQ-FM “Q104.3” to continue in his role with the station through 2026. Kerr co-hosts the program with Shelli Sonstein. Station PD Eric Wellman says, “Getting to work every day with one of the true legends like Jim is a joy and a privilege. Knowing he will be with ‘Q104.3’ entertaining our audience every morning along with Shelli lets me sleep better at night. Here’s to another five years with Jim Kerr!” Active for decades in civic and charitable affairs, Kerr is a 35-year board member of HeartShare Human Services of New York and a member of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation board. He’s also a vice president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists…..Former longtime WAAF-FM, Boston air personality Mike Hsu is named morning drive host at Cumulus Media’s classic rock WWFX-FM, Worcester, Massachusetts “The Pike 100 FM.” Hsu lost his ig with WAAF when the station was sold by Entercom to Educational Media Foundation a year ago. He joined “The Pike” last August as a part-timer. Cumulus regional VP and market manager Bob Goodell says, “‘Pike’ program director Chuck Perks and I are both very excited to have Mike hosting The Pike’s morning show. He’s a part of the rock fabric of Central Massachusetts and one of the most well-known personalities from his time served at WAAF.”…..Hubbard Radio‘s WTOP, Washington announces the launch of season two of its “American Nightmare Podcast Series: Murder in a Safe Place.” This season focuses on a cold case that has haunted the D.C. region for over 23 years – the brutal rape and murder of a 50-year-old nurse inside the Maryland hospital where she worked. Throughout the podcast, veteran D.C. crime reporter and podcast host Paul Wagner searches for answers and clues to Sherry Crandell’s death. He says, “When I started working on this podcast a year ago, I thought I already knew everything there was to know about this case. I couldn’t have been more wrong. What I’ve learned as I’ve investigated this case has genuinely shocked me. I’m excited to share this new information with listeners as they come on this podcast journey with me.”…..SiriusXM announces two new talk programs. First, “Jamila’s Jams” is a new, one-hour show hosted by MTV and BET personality Jamila Mustafa, that airs on the Volume channel. On the program, Mustafa breaks down everything going on in pop culture right now – from the biggest moments in music to the biggest influencers of our time – “Jamila’s Jams” features lively conversations about hip hop and its relevance in today’s world. Second, the live, 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET “Lurie Daniel Favors Show” focusing on the interconnectedness of race, class, gender, politics, and the law debuts on SiriusXM’s Urban View channel. Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq., is an activist, attorney and author with a long-standing commitment to racial and social justice. She is a weekly contributor to “The Karen Hunter Show” and co-hosts “Sunday Civics” on Urban View.

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Philadelphia Radio Pro Cody Anderson Dies at 78. The Philadelphia Inquirer has the obit for William “Cody” Anderson, the Black radio personality and executive who was the first GM of urban talker WURD-AM/W240CH, Philadelphia. He died on Saturday (2/20) from complications from COVID-19. Prior to his death he was host of the Saturday morning “Electric Magazine” program on WURD. Prior to his work with WURD, he served as general manager for urban contemporary WDAS-FM and was a former owner of WHAT-AM, where he created a Black talk format. WURD president and CEO Sara Lomax-Reese tells the Inquirer, “Cody was instrumental in breathing life into WURD and shepherding it over our almost 20 years, first as general manager and most recently as a beloved host, mentor and friend. Like his biological family, the WURD family will miss him deeply. But we are grateful for his tireless and generous support of independent Black media, which he championed every day of his life, especially through his advocacy of WURD Radio.”

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, State of GOP-Trump at CPAC, Biden’s Stimulus Plan-PPP Changes, Cuomo Investigation, Newsom Recall, Texas Winter Weather Woes, Denver 777 Incident Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The falling number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the state of the Republican Party in the aftermath of the Trump impeachment acquittal and Donald Trump’s scheduled appearance at CPAC next Sunday; President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan and the new PPP protocol designed to help small businesses; the investigation into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of COVID in nursing homes; the move to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom; Texas’ energy providers criticized for grid breakdown during cold snap; and a Boeing 777 engine fails on takeoff from Denver were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

| February 11, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

| June 10, 2020

iHeartMedia Extends Furloughs for 90 Days. As first reported by Billboard, iHeartMedia announces to staffers that it is extending the companywide furloughs for another three months due to the coronavirus pandemic that has “had a significant impact on advertising revenue.” The company says it will be some time before radio station staffing levels will return to full status. This extended furlough for certain staffers will now last through September.

Pennsylvania Attorney Targets Townsquare Media with Investigation. Bensalem, Pennsylvania attorney Howard G. Smith announces an investigation “on behalf of Townsquare Media, Inc. investors concerning the Company and its officers’ possible violations of federal securities laws” in which he’s seeking qualified clients. This comes a day after the company filed a Form 8-K with the Securities Exchange Commission in which it disclosed that it had discovered an error in projected cash flows that were utilized in its valuation model. As a result, the company is reporting an impairment charge of approximately $39.4 million for its licenses and an impairment charge of approximately $69.0 million for its goodwill. It reported that certain financial statements for fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019 should no longer be relied upon and would be restated due to the error. Townsquare says it is “reassessing its previous conclusions regarding the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. Based on this assessment, the Company expects to report material weaknesses in the Company’s internal controls and therefore conclude that internal controls over financial reporting and disclosure controls are not effective.”  Smith says in a press release that “on this news, the Company’s share price fell $1.20, or nearly 19%, to close at $5.28 per share on June 9, 2020, thereby injuring investors.”

KXL, Portland Promotes Three, Adds On-Air Personality. At Alpha Media’s Portland news/talk KXL “FM News 101,” spoken word content director Bruce Collins announces the promotion of three news team members and the addition of another. Current morning and afternoon drive news and traffic reporter Brett Reckamp moves to the co-anchor chair on the station’s “Portland’s Morning News” program. He’s joined by co-anchor Veronica Carter. Previously, she’s served as West Coast regional news director for iHeartMedia and news anchor/reporter for Entercom’s WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM and Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM in Chicago. KXL assistant news director Jim Ferretti is promoted to news director and Jeremy Scott is promoted to full-time morning and afternoon drive traffic reporter. Collins says, “It’s awesome to have such a strong staff and be able to promote from within. With the addition of Veronica Carter and the promotion of key personnel, it puts KXL in an extremely strong position.”

WGN-AM, Chicago Adds ‘Sunday Standards with John Williams’ to Weekends. Chicago heritage news/talker WGN-AM adds a second music program to its weekend programming schedule beginning June 21 with the launch of “Sunday Standards with John Williams.” The Nexstar Media Group station says that following the success of “The Sinatra Hours with Dave Plier,” which ranked #2 with adults 25-54, it’s adding the new program hosted by midday talk personality and Great American Songbook aficionado John Williams to air from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm. The show will feature a wide range of artists, including Sammy Davis, Jr., Nat King Cole, and Burt Bacharach, along with more modern artists like Linda Ronstadt, Barry Manilow and Amy Winehouse covering those songs. Williams comments, “Some of the hits we play go back 85 years, others go back 15 years. The music is really nice to listen to, and that’s the idea. I think there’s something really big about WGN Radio, a 50,000-watt AM station, energizing this music all over again – and getting people something they need right now.” Left out of the new Sunday program schedule is “The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson” that’s been airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm weekly. WGN general manager Mary Boyle says, “The success of ‘The Sinatra Hours’ has proven there is an appetite for nostalgia. This music is hard to find, and certainly not on free, over-the-air radio. John Williams has a passion for this kind of music, so it’s a natural fit.”

Kevin Wall Takes Over Afternoons on KMZQ, Las Vegas. Talk show host Kevin Wall is joining Kemp Broadcasting’s KMZQ, Las Vegas to handle the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show. The station says that “together with morning drive host Heidi Harris, the addition of ‘Live and Local with Kevin Wall’ gives Las Vegas Valley radio listeners more local talk than any other Vegas radio station.” Wall – who has served with such talk outlets as KFI, Los Angeles and KSFO, San Francisco – was most recently hosting a talk show on Royce International Broadcasting’s KBET, Las Vegas. Prior to that he was the afternoon personality on Entercom’s crosstown KXNT. Kemp EVP Marty Basch says, “Now more than ever with what’s happening in our country and locally, KMZQ will have Las Vegas’ only live and local morning show with Heidi Harris, and now afternoons with Kevin Wall. It’s Las Vegas radio’s ‘Dream Team,’”

Bob Adams Exits Saga’s Portland Station Group. According to a story in the Portland Press Herald, Bob Adams has exited his general manager role at the Portland cluster of Saga Communications stations that includes news/talk WGAN-AM and seven music brands. The paper says that a memo sent to station staffers from SVP of operations Chris Forgy and Saga president and CEO Ed Christian indicated the reason for Adams’ departure was the need for a “more defined growth pattern” and that “a change was necessary.” The company expects to name a new general manager within the next few days. Adams’ exit comes after a number of high-profile air talent were recently laid off, including WGAN-AM talk host Ken Altshuler and music programmer and jock Randi Kirshbaum.

Round Two of May PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s May 2020 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 May 2020 survey period covered April 23 – May 20. You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets and he reports that a number of all-news and news/talk stations that saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares go up in April as a result of coverage of the coronavirus pandemic are starting to see those numbers fall. Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM, Washington dropped seven-tenths to a 9.3 share but stays in the #1 position in the market. Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM, Washington adds three-tenths and climbs into the #2 spot. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston gives up a half share to finish May at a 4.8 share and the #6 rank. Sister all-news WBZ-AM also forfeits a half share for a 5.9 share finish and the #4 rank. Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle bucks the trend, adding three-tenths to wrap the May survey with a 7.2 share and the #1 rank. Meanwhile, Entercom’s all-news WWJ, Detroit drops seven-tenths to a 5.7 share and falls into the #2 rank in the Motor City. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

TALKERS News Notes. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that the status of ESPN Radio personality Trey Wingo is up in the air as the sports media giant mulls its options. He currently co-hosts the morning drive show with Mike Golic. Marchand says ESPN is “reshaping its radio and NFL presentations” and with Wingo’s contract up, it’s not clear what his status with ESPN is. He says the company would like Keyshawn Johnson – who’s currently heard on O&O KSPN, Los Angeles – and Max Kellerman on its national radio platform. Johnson’s contract is up at the end of the summer…..Cumulus Media’s sports talk KNBR-AM/FM, San Francisco announces it raised more than $100,000 for Bay Area hunger relief partnering with Giving in Motion for last week’s fund drive. The money raised will provide more than 6,500 family meals, plus 1,300 bags of school supplies and household essentials to Bay Area residents impacted by COVID-19. The KNBR staff will deliver the meals to people in need at specific locations in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Walnut Creek…..Cox Media Group Tulsa announces that it has helped its community partners raise more than $2 million in the first half of 2020. The cluster – including news/talk KRMG-FM, four music brands and three TV signals – says that figure does not include non-monetary fundraising efforts it has pushed through its channels. The cluster partnered with the Community Food Bank to collect more than 774 pounds of food for its annual Spread the Love campaign, collected 220 pints of blood through a drive with the Oklahoma Blood Institute, and diverted more than 93 tons of recyclable items from the dump through the inaugural Big Spring Clean. CMG Tulsa market VP Cathy Gunther says, “During times of great uncertainty, like now, people rely more than ever on the support of community partners to help them get through. This is why we have not only upheld our commitments to our current partners but have gone a step further and added a number of new events to try and help our partners jump-start donations to serve more people who are now reliant upon them.”

George Floyd Funeral/Protests, Police Reform, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Presidential Race, Georgia Election Problems, Russia Probe Review, Financial Markets Activity, MLB Negotiations/NFL Racism Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/9). The funeral of Minneapolis police violence victim George Floyd and the ongoing protests taking place across the country; the calls for the reforming and de-funding of police departments; the rising and falling of confirmed COVID-19 cases as states continue the re-opening process; the November presidential election; the troubles Georgia faced holding efficient voting on Tuesday; the review of the Russia probe being led by John Durham; the world’s financial markets react to the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. unrest; and the negotiations between the MLB’s players and the league and the state of racism in the NFL were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

NEED A GUEST? We’ve Got Some Good Ones for You at ‘Expert Guests.’ Talk media hosts, producers, and bookers are advised to check out the newly expanded “Expert Guests” section of TALKERS. It is updated on a weekly basis with outstanding experts and personalities available by telephone, Skype, or Zoom for booking on radio, TV, and online talk shows. This week you’ll find a wide array of guests that includes an expert on how to generate lost revenue due to COVID-19 via online marketing, an author who writes about Islamic matters, and an expert on finance who puts the race-oriented protests, demonstrations, and riots into perspective from an economic standpoint – plus a whole lot more. To visit “Expert Guests,” please click here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Seattle classic hits outlet KJR-FM “95.7 The Jet” announces the debut of its new morning show, “95.7 The Jet Mornings with Jodi & Bender.” The iHeartMedia station notes that Bender previously served as a morning host on its KBKS “106.1 KISS FM” where he “became one of the most impactful on-air personalities in the Seattle region.” Jodi has served with KJR-FM since 2011. iHeartMedia Seattle market president Robert Dove says, “Putting Jodi and Bender together gives ‘95.7 The Jet’ a dynamic morning show that will be entertaining and provide civic values to our great city of Seattle. Whether it’s Seafair or Seattle Children’s Hospital, Jodi, Bender, and KJR will be there to shine a light on the good things happening in the Emerald City.”…..iHeartMedia announces that Mark Manuel is the new program director for classic rock KCQQ, Quad Cities. He’s been serving the station as APD and webmaster. He says, “I’m really grateful for the opportunity. After chasing a morning host dream for two decades, I found that I really enjoyed the programming aspect of radio for the past five years. I especially want to thank iHeartMedia for believing in me and giving me this opportunity. I’m happy to continue to be part of the team for years to come.”

Thursday, February 13, 2020

| February 13, 2020

Cumulus Media Re-Vamps Mornings at KGO and KSFO in San Francisco. Station air personality Nikki Medoro is being promoted from her role on KGO’s Chip Franklin show in afternoons to host of her own “The Morning Show with Nikki Medoro” on KGO, effective March 2.  Medoro will be joined by station news pro Bret Burkhart.  The new show takes over for the KSTE, Sacramento-based, syndicated “Armstrong & Getty” program that is moving over to mornings at sister news/talker KSFO.  That daypart at KFSO opened up when Brian Sussman chose to retire from the station last month.  Cumulus San Francisco operations manager Lee Hammer says, “Nikki has done a tremendous job working with Chip Franklin in afternoon drive, and she’s earned this opportunity to host mornings on KGO.  Nikki and Bret will bring a fresh approach to the day’s news, both locally and nationally.  They’ll also invite the Bay Area’s listeners to join the conversation and share their opinions.  I’m also excited that Armstrong and Getty will be staying in our station family, just moving down the dial to KSFO.  Joe and Jack are fantastic entertainers, super knowledgeable and they’re not afraid to share their opinions.  They’ll be a great addition to the KSFO lineup.”

Bonnie Lucas to Retire from WHO-AM, Des Moines Morning Show. After serving at iHeartMedia’s heritage news/talk WHO-AM, Des Moines for the past 25 years, Bonnie Lucas – one half of the “Van and Bonnie in the Morning” show – will retire after the March 6 program.  Lucas told listeners to Wednesday’s program that she’s been thinking about retirement since last fall.  She said she’s looking forward to spending time with her spouse, doing some traveling, and not getting up at 2:30 am on weekdays.  Lucas joined co-host (and station PD) Van Harden in the early 1990s after Connie Murad left the morning show co-host role.

Presidential Race, Wuhan Coronavirus, Roger Stone Sentencing, Antarctic Iceberg/Global Warming, and Trump Budget/Growing Deficit Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/12). The aftermath of the New Hampshire Democratic primary; the status of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact; the controversy over the sentencing phase of Trump attorney Roger Stone’s trial; the report of a large iceberg breaking off Antarctica and the related ongoing climate change debate; and the Trump administration’s fiscal 2021 budget and the U.S.’s growing deficit were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Former Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer to Host Newsmax TV Show. The latest addition to the Newsmax TV program lineup is “Spicer & Co.” – hosted by former White House press secretary Sean Spicer.  The program will debut on March 3 at 6:00 pm ET from broadcast studios near the White House.  Newsmax Media says Spicer “will lead an ensemble of Washington insiders, experts, journalists, and power brokers to analyze the day’s top headlines from the Beltway and the key news from the U.S. and the world.”  Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy says, “Sean has been on the inside of how decisions are made in a way so few have.  He was a success as White House press secretary because he connected to ordinary Americans.”  Ruddy notes that Spicer’s press conference ratings were “off the charts, a phenomenon that hasn’t happened before or since.”  Spicer comments, “We are going to offer viewers a unique perspective and insights into what’s really happening – who is up, who’s down – and most importantly how it’s going to affect their lives.  I’ve had a front row seat to how Washington works at the highest levels – in the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, and K Street.  We are going to invite our viewers into a conversation that is totally unique.  We will ask the questions and cover the topics that everyone in America is thinking about, but no one is asking or talking about.”

MIW Radio Group Releases Results of 20th Annual Gender Analysis Study. The Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio Group is releasing the results of its 20th annual MIW Gender Analysis Study that analyzes the number of women in radio broadcasting rising to management ranks.  The data specifically tracks the progress of female professionals holding general manager, sales manager, and program director positions.  The study reveals that 19.5% of 2,189 stations in the study had women holding the general manager position in 2019, an increase of almost a half of percentage point from 2018.  This number continues to show consistent growth from 2004, when the percentage of female general managers was only 14.9%.  MIW says the best management opportunities for women in radio continue to be in sales management as 33.1% of 3,715 stations had a woman sales manager in 2019.  But, the study also concludes that the greatest challenge for women in radio management continues to be in the area of program director.  Women currently program only 11.62% of 1,304 stations in the study versus 10.6% last year.  However, on a positive note, this is the first time this number has grown in 14 years.  MIW national spokeswoman Denyse Mesnik says, “The MIW Gender Analysis Study is the impetus for the MIW’s mentoring programs that serve female professionals in all aspects of the radio industry.  When the numbers on our annual analysis rise, as they did slightly this year, we work even harder to encourage and mentor our female colleagues who are striving for, and/or have achieved, management positions in radio.”

Joe Pags Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  One of the hardest-working, fastest-rising stars in syndicated talk radio, Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.”   Syndicated by Compass Media Networks and seen on Newsmax TV,  “The Joe Pags Show,” broadcasts live weekdays 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET and is carried on more than 125 radio stations across America.  Plus, his weekend show, “The Weekend with Joe Pags” is carried on more than 200 stations.  Pags is ranked 14th on the TALKERS Heavy Hundred.  In a free-wheeling conversation that sounds like a chat between two friends from Long Island, Pags – the grandson of immigrant Italian bricklayers – discusses his blue-collar roots and their impact on his view of today’s hot issues.  Harrison and Pags talk about politics, polarization, and the president as well as music, pop culture, and social media in the digital era.  In addition to being a world-class talker, Pags is also a professional saxophone player and musician – skills that are utilized in his broadcasts that include satirical song parodies and occasional appearances playing the national anthem at sporting events.  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.

Stigall Billboards Adorn Philly Roadways. Commuters in the Philadelphia market are likely to see billboards like the one above for Chris Stigall’s new morning drive show on Salem Media Group’s WNTP-AM, Philadelphia “AM 990 The Answer.”  Stigall tells TALKERS magazine, “At a time radio companies are scaling back, I’m so excited to work for Salem Media who thinks enough of their people and their products to tell the community at large about them!  It’s a true investment – not just in me and my show – but in radio as a whole.  What a statement!  Salem believes in what they’re doing, and they put their money where their mouths are!  In this case, where my mouth is.”

Lunching with TALKERS Convention Videographer Art Vuolo. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (l) had lunch with “radio’s best friend,” legendary videographer Art Vuolo (r) yesterday (2/12) in Jupiter, Florida to discuss plans for the forthcoming 23rd annual TALKERS Convention set for New York on Friday June 5.  Vuolo will again be contracted to produce the video recordings of the event which is destined to be another historic industry milestone.  Harrison states, “We are honored to have a radio-savvy artist of Mr. Vuolo’s caliber in charge of preserving the priceless content of this conference for posterity.”  Talkers 2020: The Rise of the Media Station is only open to members of the broadcasting industry, related fields and communications students.  It is again expected to be an advance sellout and non-refundable registrations can only be obtained via telephone with credit card.  Full registration, including all functions, meals, and refreshments, costs $329 per person.  To register or obtain sponsorship information, please call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media maven Robert Feder reports that Chicagoland radio personality Mark Zander is joining Good Karma Brands-operated sports talker WMVP-AM “ESPN 1000” as a part-time and weekend host.  Zander was most recently program director at Mid-West Family Broadcasting’s rock WXRX-FM and sports talk WNTA-AM in Rockford…..On-air pro Rob Carson is auditioning for the late morning gig at WTZA-AM/W271CV, Atlanta all this week.  Station co-operators Will Regan and Jamie Chapman are leasing the signals from K&Z Broadcasting.  They have already launched the station with Shannon Burke and Kara Stockton in morning drive, Mike Brooks in early afternoon, and Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson in afternoon drive…..FOX Sports Radio says it set a “new benchmark in January, reaching more than 13 million podcast listens – an increase of +88% over the previous year.”  It adds that “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” podcast was the strongest performer, up +59% year-over-year.  The FSR stream also experienced its best month ever in January, increasing +25% year-over-year.  FSR is a division of Premiere Sports Network…..Entercom sports talk KRLD-FM, Dallas “105.3 The Fan” and the MLS’ FC Dallas agree to a deal in which the station will assist in producing soccer shows for the 2020 season.  KRLD-FM will host the “The Luchi Gonzalez Show,” on Thursdays at 1:30 pm during the 2020 MLS regular season, offering exclusive insight from the FC Dallas head coach…..Motor Racing Network is “throwing the Green Flag” on its 50th season of NASCAR coverage with almost 30 hours of programming originating from the “World Center of Racing,” Daytona International Speedway from February 8-16.  Commonly known as Daytona Speedweeks, MRN announcers and production crew are producing six race broadcasts, three editions of the signature program “NASCAR LIVE,” five separate NASCAR Cup Series practices, and qualifying for the “Great American Race.”  MRN Daytona programming culminates with the 62nd running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 16 that will be carried live on more than 400 radio station partners across the country.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Entercom’s hot AC KRSK-FM, Portland “105.1 The Buzz,”  Liz Luda and Mike Vezzola join as morning show co-hosts.  At the same time, Jamie Tanchyk comes aboard as assistant program director and afternoon drive host.  Prior to joining Entercom, Luda served as a morning show co-host and promotions director for Flinn Broadcasting in Memphis.  Vezzola was previously an on-air personality at WODS-FM, Boston; WTIC-FM, Hartford; and WZMX-FM, Hartford.  Entercom Portland SVP and market manager Kim Martinez says, “Building a strong on-air team is why Entercom Portland is the platinum standard for our listeners and advertisers.  Liz and Mike’s fun and energetic chemistry coupled with Jamie’s exuberant on-air style and programming prowess cements ‘105.1 The Buzz’ as the go-to for young, active listeners in Portland.”