Monday Memo: “And The Winner Is…” Like the Super Bowl, this Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast is one of the few remaining events so many of us still witness in real-time. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke bemoans poorly prepared acceptance speeches, and urges “radio talkers to take the hint.” Read his column here.
Pending Business: Rates, Rotation, Negotiation. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says that sellers focusing only on the packages management creates are not serving their clients as well as they could. “Ask the right questions, listen carefully and your advertiser will tell you how to sell them…or not. Yet most sellers are focused on their own goals pushing for the package of the week. They fail to listen, ignoring the advertiser’s goals.” Read his column here.
Morning Host Bob Flaherty’s Exit from WHMP-AM, Northampton, Massachusetts Prompts Programming Changes. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports that Bob Flaherty exited Saga Communications’ news/talk WHMP-AM, Northampton, Massachusetts in late March after what he describes as “a couple of rants” about his thoughts on punishment for the gunmen responsible for mass shootings. He tells the paper, “I was fired. From what I can understand, this came directly from corporate, which is Saga Communications. It had to do with a couple of rants, I guess you would call them, over the last few weeks.” Flaherty, who hosted the morning drive show on the station for the past 11 years, says, “I have nothing but respect and love for my colleagues in Northampton. These are great, great people. I’ve enjoyed every minute.” The station is now airing Compass Media Networks’ “This Morning with Gordon Deal” in the morning drive daypart. It moved “The Thom Hartmann Program” to the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot and added the Howie Carr Radio Network’s “The Grace Curley Show” for the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. Regarding the changes in the morning programming, WHMP general manager Mike Ekblom says ultimately, his goal is to have local programming from 7:00 am to 9:00 am daily.
Dickey Broadcasting Flips WFOM-AM/W292EV, Atlanta to News/Talk. Shucking the sports talk format, Dickey Broadcasting Company announces WFOM-AM/W292EV, Atlanta debuts its new talk format and branding as “XTRA 106.3FM – Atlanta’s Most Conservative News & Talk Station.” The program schedule includes programming from FOX News Radio and Premiere Networks. The lineup is: “Morning XTRA” (Mondays only), “FOX Across America with Jimmy Failla,” “The Glenn Beck Program,” “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” “The Guy Benson Show,” “The Buck Sexton Show,” and “Coast to Coast AM with George Noory.” Dickey Broadcasting president David Dickey comments, “We are excited to announce the return of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and FOX News, among many other great names, to the Atlanta market. These voices have entertained and informed generations of Atlantans and will now continue to do so on ‘XTRA 106.3FM’ and streaming on the XTRA app. Atlantans deserve great options for their news and information. We are proud that we can deliver this popular content to millions of listeners who feel they’ve been disenfranchised by recent programming shifts.”
Ethics Board Rules in Favor of Valdosta, Georgia Mayor Scott James Matheson in Radio Show Complaint. The ethics complaint filed against Valdosta, Georgia Mayor Scott James Matheson has been dismissed by the city’s three-member ethics board by a 2-1 vote. Back in February, four Valdosta, Georgia community organizations petitioned the city clerk to look into what they called ethics violations by Matheson, who is also principal of Small Town Broadcasting, owner of talk outlet WDDQ-FM on which Matheson co-hosts the morning show. The organizations – Concerned Clergies of Valdosta, NAACP Lowndes Chapter, The Mary Turner Project, and Valdosta/Lowndes Community Alliance – say Matheson’s comments on his radio program included unsubstantiated claims of illegal voter canvassing and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and that qualified as a violation of six tenets of the City of Valdosta’s Code of Ethics for elected officials. The board ultimately ruled that Matheson engaged in speech protected by the First Amendment.
TALKERS News Notes. A new true crime series from PodcastOne is premiering tomorrow (4/20) called “Final Days on Earth” that features longtime CBS News journalist and producer Claire St. Amant. The program is an investigative podcast franchise from Cold Case Productions that examines mysterious deaths that have elements of an accident, murder, or suicide – and sometimes all three. In season one – “The Life and Death of Dammion Heard” – St. Amant investigates the baffling disappearance and mysterious death of Texas state champion wrestler Dammion Heard…..iHeartMedia announces its exclusive podcast partnership to launch the NFL’s podcast network that includes the distribution of NFL Media’s existing podcasts, (“Around the NFL,” “Move the Sticks,” “NFL Fantasy Football,” “Huddle and Flow,” “NFL Total Access: The Locker Room,” “Good Morning Football” and “NFL Legends”) as well as the co-production and distribution of two dozen new original podcasts. iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group CEO Conal Byrne comments, “Our partnership with the NFL is an incredible moment for iHeart – and the podcast industry, period. The NFL represents sports at its highest level – with the greatest athletes and the most heart-pounding games the world has seen. These are legendary stories, and we can’t wait to roll out a slate of incredible new podcasts to capture it all – for iHeart’s huge audience and the NFL’s massive fanbase alike.”…..Audacy reveals the launch of “Ultimate Mock Draft 2021,” a six-episode series leading up to the NFL Draft presented in partnership with the Locked On Podcast Network. The series will be released in 45-minute episodes, weekdays from today through next Monday (4/26). The series is hosted by Brian Peacock and Matt Williamson and episodes include a dive-deep into each team’s needs, draft strategy, player short-list, and “Ultimate Mock Draft” pick for the first round of the NFL Draft. Audacy VP of sports Matthew Volk says, “No other sports platform has the unique combination of national voices combined with the localized and team-specific influencers and opinion leaders, and this series will help get football fans fully prepped for this year’s draft, no matter their favorite team. Each year, the NFL Draft helps turn the page to the upcoming season and we’re looking forward to previewing this year’s event alongside our partners at Locked On.”
Mass Shootings/Gun Control, COVID-19, Border Crisis/Immigration Policy, Daunte Wright Shooting/Derek Chauvin Trial, U.S. to Exit Afghanistan, Newsom Recall/Caitlyn Jenner Challenge Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The spate of mass shootings in the U.S., including at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis, in Austin, and at a Kenosha bar, as well as the related issue of gun control legislation; the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the lifting of restrictions in numerous states; the large number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; the police shootings that killed Daunte Wright in Minneapolis and Adam Toledo in Chicago and the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin; President Joe Biden’s order to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11; and the recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom and the report that Caitlyn Jenner is among potential challengers were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Entercom Changes Corporate Name to Audacy. This change was teased by Entercom on Monday in a tweet but makes the news official today, marking the change from Entercom Communications Corp to Audacy, effective immediately. In a press release, the company says: “Over the past three years, the company has purposefully evolved into a scaled, multi-platform audio content and entertainment organization with the country’s best radio broadcasting group and a leadership position in virtually every segment of the dynamic and growing audio market—including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, network, live experiences, music, sports and news. Audacy is also the #1 creator of original, premium audio content.” Chairman, president and CEO David Field adds, “We have transformed into a fundamentally different and dramatically enhanced organization and so it is time to embrace a new name and brand identity which better reflects who we have become and our vision for the future. ‘Audacy’ captures our dynamic creativity, outstanding content, and innovative spirit as we aspire to build the country’s best audio content and entertainment platform.” The company says its evolution has been fueled by: the acquisition of the CBS Radio group, the launch of RADIO.COM and building the fastest growing digital audio platform, the acquisition of Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, enhancing its sports platform with the acquisition of QL Gaming Group and its partnership with FanDuel, and more. The company’s ticker symbol will change from ETM to AUD effective on or about Friday, April 9. Along with the name Entercom, effective today, the company will also sunset the RADIO.COM brand and align its direct-to-consumer platform under Audacy.
Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM, Saginaw Adds ‘Markley, Van Camp & Robbins’ for Early Afternoons. Saginaw, Michigan news/talk WSGW-AM/FM announces it is filling the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart previously occupied by the Rush Limbaugh program with Compass Media Networks’ “Markley, Van Camp & Robbins Show” featuring Jamie Markley, David Van Camp, and Scott Robbins. The Alpha Media station says in mid-March it switched “from the Rush recordings to this new, live show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. WSGW wanted a show that would serve conservatives on the hot topics of the day in an informative and entertaining style. The MVC&R Show does that perfectly because they include a Millennial, Gen Xer, and a Baby Boomer. The range of audience listenership this trio brings closes the generation gap and provides a unique perspective that no other show can do. At the end of the day, it’s three friends hanging out and talking about everything! It is a great show and 100.5 & 790 Newsradio WSGW is excited to announce their addition to the lineup.”
WDUN-AM/FM, Gainesville, Georgia to Air Todd Starnes Show in Noon to 3:00 pm Slot. The Gainesville, Georgia news/talk outlet announces it will fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart with the “Todd Starnes Show.” Jacobs Media’s WDUN-AM/FM is overseen by EVP and general manager Bill Maine, who says, “We know our listeners will miss Rush. He was the absolute best at what he did, and no one can replace him. But we are fans of Todd Starnes and we think moving Todd into that time slot, as well as adding more locally produced programs gives WDUN an exceptionally strong lineup of news/talk programs.”
KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City Expands Local Shows in Talent Shuffle. Salt Lake City news/talk KSL-AM/FM announces a series of changes in its lineup that includes the expansion of three programs. The Bonneville station says that with the departure of Lee Lonsberry from this station, Boyd Matheson’s “Inside Sources” program moves from the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon slot to the new 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daypart. The “Utah’s Noon News” show expands from 30 minutes to a full hour from 12:00 to 1:00 pm and “The Dave and Dujanovic Show” grows by an hour to air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. KSL program director Kevin LaRue says, “Boyd is just too important of a voice to the community to only have him on KSL one hour a day. We’re excited to provide listeners a longer program to cover important issues. The thinking he offers about the news and current culture is unparalleled.” Matheson also serves as the opinion editor of the Deseret News. He says, “Having spent most of my career as an international business consultant really gave me a look at how things work, what leadership looks like, and how you pull people together. Then my time in Washington DC as a chief of staff understanding the behind-the-scenes things that go on where the real levers of power are in DC and of course our connection to politics here locally. ”
‘Free Talk Live’ Host and Co-Founder Ian Freeman Awaits Bail Ruling; Faces Fraud and Money Laundering Charges. The lead host and co-founder of the nationally syndicated talk radio program “Free Talk Live” – Ian Freeman– is awaiting a ruling from federal Judge Magistrate Andrea Johnstone on a bail request from his attorney, according to an article in the Manchester Union-Leader. Freeman is being charged with money laundering, fraud and conspiracy after a recent raid on his home by federal authorities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Georgina MacDonald alleges that Freeman and others operated a Bitcoin-dollar exchange program through churches with which they are affiliated and called Freeman a “sophisticated cybercriminal.” The Union-Leader reports the feds allege that Freeman used Shire Free Church accounts to convert dollars to Bitcoin and that those dollars came from “romance fraud, investment fraud, and your-friend’s-in-jail fraud.” MacDonald says Freeman “offered anonymity, didn’t ask questions and charged a 10% exchange fee” when “legitimate” exchange services charge 3% or less. In requesting bail, Freeman’s attorney, Mark Sisti, argued that Freeman is not a flight risk and that he’s known about the federal investigation for years because people agents interviewed would tell Freeman about their encounter with authorities. Sisti says Freeman could have fled before his arrest. Industry observers who follow this TALKERS Heavy Hundred program know that its main freedom-based theme and Freeman’s ongoing antagonistic position on laws he considers unconstitutional have provided it with provocative and compelling “reality show” type material even though it has been a source of irritation to both local Keene, New Hampshire (where the show is based) and federal law enforcement agencies. Part of the show’s formidable appeal to an ever-growing number of affiliates and loyal listeners has been the willingness of its primary host to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”
Sam Tatum Promoted to VP, Integrated Marketing & Partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media. Rising from his director of sales for Radio One’s Washington, DC cluster to the newly created position of vice president, integrated marketing & partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media is Samuel Tatum. In this new role, Radio One and Reach Media say they are further unifying their sales and integrated marketing efforts across both divisions to help brands and agency partners effectively connect with the coveted and influential Black consumer through authentic and powerful multiplatform touchpoints. Tatum will lead a team of marketers and project managers in developing and implementing new innovative marketing solutions for national advertisers and agencies utilizing all of the Radio One and Reach Media assets. As the primary liaison between the national sales teams and other departments within Radio One, Reach Media, and other Urban One divisions, Tatum will streamline communications, ensure the continuity of national and corporate partnerships, and make sure the sales teams continue to provide their advertising partners with the absolute best-in-class cross-platform solutions. Tatum states, “I am humbled by the confidence Reach Media and Radio One has placed in me and am excited to continue to grow the legacy of our founder, Cathy Hughes, in this new role. Radio One and Reach Media have a rich portfolio of assets, and I am passionate about the opportunity to create, develop, and execute unique, on-brand, and culturally appropriate solutions that provide reach and engagement with the Black consumer for our advertisers and partners. Let’s blaze new trails!”
Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville Announces Content Partnership with A to Z Sports. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces it has entered into a content partnership agreement with popular online sports information and entertainment destination, A to Z Sports. Cumulus Media says, “The agreement brings together the two biggest sports entertainment brands in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, allowing them to create and share unique, deep-dive sports content across their respective digital platforms, including streaming and on-demand content, podcasts, social media, and much more, plus live and local on-air programming on ‘104.5 The Zone’ and high-engagement live events for area sports fans.” Per the terms of the agreement, “104.5 The Zone,” the flagship home for the Tennessee Titans and Nashville affiliate for University of Tennessee Volunteers, will regularly feature A to Z Sports personalities, while “104.5 The Zone” personalities will appear regularly on A to Z Sports’ popular programs. The partnership will create shared and complementary original programming between the brands and their platforms to give fans more and better sports news and talk than ever before. WGFX program director Paul Mason says, “We are truly excited to partner with A to Z Sports! This opens up more doors for both WGFX and A to Z to be more creative and implement new ideas in the market. The true winner in this partnership is the Nashville sports fan.” A to Z Sports is co-owned by Zach Bingham and Austin Stanley. Earlier this month, “104.5 The Zone” signed sports journalist Buck Reising as its midday air personality (10:00 am to 1:00 pm). Reising had previously been a frequent guest host on WGFX, but is mostly known for his “615 Sessions” podcast and live weeknight show, “A to Z Sports Primetime,” heard on A to Z Sports Nashville.
Audacy Unveils New Relationship with BetMGM. The new Audacy, formerly Entercom, unveils another sports betting deal, this time with BetMGM. This relationship is a multi-year deal designating BetMGM as a betting partner of Audacy across its sports broadcast stations, the Audacy, and Bet QL apps and digital platforms, and the “BetQL Audio Network.” The partnership will bring BetMGM’s sports betting content to Audacy sports talk listeners and gives BetMGM preferred access to Audacy talent. The partnership comes on the heels of several recent moves made by Audacy in the sports betting space, including the acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group and the launch of the “BetQL Audio Network, both of which are fundamental components of this deal. Audacy president of sports Mike Dee says, “The advent of legalized mobile sports betting has presented an unprecedented opportunity to bring the action closer to the audience than ever before and, as a result, provide our partners with a direct line of sight to tap into an attentive, fully engaged audience of potential sports bettors. We are proud to partner with BetMGM and wish to thank them for their confidence in us as we become one of their largest media partners. In light of our BetQL acquisition and related offerings, we believe this commitment is the latest validation that no other media company offers the wide variety of ways to connect with the sports betting audience the way that we do on a multi-platform basis.”
COVID-19 Cases Rising/Vaccines, WHO Virus Origin Report, Derek Chauvin Trial, Biden Economic Stimulus Plan, Suez Ship Freed, Lil Nas X Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/29). The rising number of COVID-19 cases and the CDC’s warning of a fourth wave, plus the rollout of vaccines; the World Health Organization’s COVID origin report that suggests the coronavirus jump to humans from animals; the beginning of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the Biden administration’s multi-trillion dollar economic plan that first focuses on infrastructure; the container ship that blocked the Suez canal for almost a week is freed; and the controversy over the new song from Lil Nas X and the accompanying “Satan Shoes” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Monday Memo: UQ. “The most-common mistake I hear?” In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke offers talk radio wallflowers “proven dance steps.” Read it here.
Trump Acquitted/Capitol Insurrection Investigation, Trump Georgia and NY Legal Troubles, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, WHO Wuhan Investigation, Winter Weather, and Claudia Conway on ‘American Idol’ Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. Saturday’s acquittal of Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial and the ongoing investigation into the Capitol insurrection investigation; the legal troubles facing Trump in Georgia relative to his call to the secretary of state seeking vote changes and New York’s probe into his business’ finances; the falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the WHO’s coronavirus investigation in Wuhan, China creates more questions about the initial outbreak; the cold, snow and ice affecting much of the U.S., including the South; and Kellyanne Conway’s daughter Claudia appears on “American Idol” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Pending Business: Reminder. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa writes in this week’s column that sometimes we forget what we get paid to do. When sellers face seemingly impossible buying parameters, they pass. But that, Lapa says, can be a knee-jerk reaction to challenging buying criteria. “The time, the details, the resource drain, all fly through your mind as you process the decision to pass. Yet your income is dependent on one (maybe two) critical step(s) in the process. Closing. No close, no deal, no compensation for you or your talent. And don’t forget collections. You get paid when the deal is closed and the check clears.” Read more here.
‘Florida Man Radio’ Expands to Fort Walton Beach. At JVC Media’s newly acquired Fort Walton Beach, Florida cluster, the company is bringing its “Florida Man Radio” format to classic rock WZLB-FM with a target date of March 1. The company says WZLB will be the third affiliate of “Florida Man Radio,” joining flagship WDYZ-AM/W288CJ, Orlando and WYGC-FM, Gainesville-Ocala. The “Florida Man Radio” lineup features Bubba the Love Sponge in morning drive, Justin Clark from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, Ed Tyll from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, and Shannon Burke from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. JVC Media CEO John Caracciolo says, “The vision for ‘Florida Man Radio’ was of a talk station that isn’t afraid to confront the big issues of the day while not taking itself too seriously. We’ve invested in great personalities that truly bring the attitude of ‘Unfiltered and Unafraid’ – it’s fun to listen to and we know it will be incredibly popular along the Emerald Coast and throughout Northwest Florida!” JVC Florida director of programming Stevie DeMann adds, “Our shows all approach today’s volatile climate head-on with creativity, humor, and compelling content. We don’t hold back. You’ll hear clearly that our shows on ‘Florida Man Radio’ unapologetically love America and support the men and women of our military. That mindset fits like a glove throughout Northwest Florida, especially with Eglin AFB and Hurlburt Field right in our backyard!”
Valdosta, Georgia Mayor and Talk Host Subject of Ethics Complaints. According to a report by WALB-TV, Albany, four Valdosta, Georgia community organizations have petitioned the city clerk to look into what they say are ethics violations by Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, who is also principal of Small Town Broadcasting, owner of talk outlet WDDQ-FM where he co-hosts the morning show. The organizations – Concerned Clergies of Valdosta, NAACP Lowndes Chapter, The Mary Turner Project, and Valdosta/Lowndes Community Alliance – say Matheson’s comments on his radio program include unsubstantiated claims of illegal voter canvassing and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. The organizations claim Matheson has violated six tenets of the City of Valdosta’s Code of Ethics for elected officials. The complaints will be forwarded to the city’s ethics committee.
TALKERS News Notes. Philadelphia sports talk host John Kincade is working to encourage Philadelphia Eagles fans to donate to quarterback Carson Wentz’s charity, The Audience of One Foundation, as well as collecting Wentz jerseys and t-shirts to donate to those in the community in need. It’s widely believed that Carson Wentz will be traded during this offseason and WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “97.5 The Fanatic” personality Kincade says, “Jamie Lynch suggested on ‘The John Kincade Show’ last week that he was envious of the way the Buffalo Bills fans always find a way to do good for others. It got me thinking. Carson Wentz, no matter what has gone down, will be part of the greatest Philadelphia sports story ever told in that Super Bowl championship. Let’s honor him for the 11 wins he contributed to that effort which, ironically, coincide with his uniform number.”…..BBC World Service, iHeartMedia, and American Public Media announce their collaborative efforts to produce the new podcast, “Deeply Human.” Hosted by writer and musician Dessa, the show strives to answer questions about the inner self: why we do the things we do and how the brain guides us and plays tricks on us. About the podcast that will be distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network beginning March 1, Dessa says, “It’s funny how much of your own mind is stowed away in a backroom. So many of our behaviors are driven by forces we can’t feel. On this show, I engage with brilliant people across all sorts of disciplines, traipsing around the dimly-lit subbasement of human nature –the parts not listed on the guided tour. People are endlessly fascinating – our accents, our ticks, the way we style our hair and spend our money – and the perspectives I’ve gained on this show help me understand them just a little bit better.”…..The syndicated Erick Erickson show is added to the program schedule at RadioJones LLC‘s news/talk WJAT-AM/W259AK, Swainsboro, Georgia to air in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart.