By Holland Cooke
Back to the future, this suggestion, for your own dwindling sanity, and as a courtesy to others during work-at-home-mode: SCHEDULE Zoom-type meetings.
Newsmax Media Founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The CEO of Newsmax Media – the conservative news organization that owns and operates Newsmax.com and Newsmax TV in addition to a number of other platforms and services in digital and print publishing – is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Veteran journalist, entrepreneur, and news executive Christopher Ruddy discusses the history and strategy that has led to Newsmax TV achieving enormous rating gains this year in its juggernaut campaign to provide FOX News Channel with formidable competition in the conservative news/talk cable TV ratings wars. In this revealing conversation, Ruddy tells Harrison his side of the recent story by media writer Ben Smith published inThe New York Times under the headline, “The King of Trump TV Thinks You’re Dumb Enough to Buy It.” He dispels the notion conveyed in that piece that Newsmax TV has strategically flanked FOX to its far right and is telling President Donald Trump’s most ardent loyalists whatever they want to hear regardless of the truth. Ruddy discusses the bigger picture of Newsmax content which also delivers stories and items that are unfavorable to Trump and collectively covers a broader segment of the spectrum best described as center-right, as opposed to far-right. Harrison and Ruddy take a deep-dive into talk media political “positioning” which lies at the very heart of modern competitive programming. They also speculate on the future of American politics and the talk media coverage thereof. True to his unpredictable and often contrarian approach to what many observers consider conventional wisdom, Ruddy states that it appears President-Elect Biden is not veering to the far left as many Republicans and Trump supporters fear he will as evidenced by many of his cabinet picks, and that the 46th president will be far more of a “centrist” than many in both parties are expecting. Ruddy also candidly discusses the balancing act required to maintain a long-standing “friendship” with Trump while not being afraid to criticize his policies on those occasions when he believes such criticism is warranted in addition to outlining his immediate plans to grow Newsmax as a full-service news organization in 2021. This podcast is a must-listen! 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.
Floyd Reese Exiting ‘102.5 The Game’ in Nashville. According to a story in the Nashville Post, former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese is giving up his sports talk host gig at Cromwell Media’s WPRT-FM, Nashville “102.5 The Game.” Reese co-hosted the afternoon drive program “Jared & The GM” with Jared Stillman for the past five-plus years. Stillman will continue to host the afternoon show now billed as “Stillman & Company” as the station seeks out a new afternoon co-host. The Post cites a press release in which Reese states, “This is something I’ve been contemplating for a while and I feel it’s time for me to take a step back. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my tenure with ‘102.5 The Game’ and doing a show with Jared has been a terrific experience. He and I formed a unique partnership that allowed us to be teammates and friends. I’d also like to thank Cromwell Media owner Bud Walters and [program director] Ryan Porth for their non-stop support over the years. It’s been a good run.” Reese was general manager of the NFL’s old Houston Oilers from 1990-1999 and the Titans (after the Oilers moved from Houston to Nashville) from 1999-2006. He was a senior football advisor for the New England Patriots from 2009-2012. He joined “102.5 The Game” in 2015.
WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Keeps The Bike Drive Alive. The annual holiday “Bikes for Kids” drive was launched by retired WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte talk host John Hancock 26 years ago. With Hancock’s retirement at the beginning of 2020, the fate of the charitable drive that had provided some 20,000 bikes (as well as gifts, food, clothing and more) to tens of thousands of needy Charlotte-area kids was up in the air. Ultimately, WBT staff, in partnership with the Carolina Panthers, WSOC-TV, Frito Lay, and some other local charitable organizations, worked to get 400 brand-new bikes collected during the “Bike Drive” that took place on Tuesday (12/15). Brett Winterble, who took over the afternoon drive show following Hancock’s retirement, says, “It was an amazing day for Hancock’s bikes for kids. This was my first opportunity since joining WBT in February to interface with this amazing audience in person. The generosity and good cheer of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday was truly awe inspiring. In gathering hundreds of bikes for well deserving children I forged new friendships with dedicated listeners to WBT. One man named Steve told me he was a 50-year listener of WBT and had attended every one of the bike drives Hancock led. It was an unbelievable show of generosity and good civic pride. I look forward to next year and can’t wait for this to continue to grow!”
Townsquare Media to Offer $550 Million in Senior Secured Notes. In a filing with the SEC, Townsquare Media reveals it has priced an offering of $550 million in aggregate principal amount of its 6.875% senior secured notes due 2026. These notes are being offered to institutional buyers and will be senior secured obligations of the company and will be guaranteed on a senior secured basis by certain of the company’s direct and indirect wholly owned subsidiaries. The closing of the offering is anticipated to take place on or about January 6, 2021. Townsquare says that it intends to use the net proceeds from the offering, together with cash on hand, to repay existing senior secured credit facilities, to redeem all of its outstanding 6.500% senior notes due 2023. It is also terminating its existing senior secured credit facilities, including its existing revolving credit facility.
Skyview Networks and MLB Radio Rightsholders Team Up for Annual Meeting. This year’s annual meeting of Major League Baseball radio rightsholders and Skyview Networks to discuss their broadcast operations and ad sales experiences from the previous season was done remotely. This year’s panels placed a heavy focus on fan engagement and advertising strategies with emphasis on maximizing digital assets under the restrictions of the pandemic. Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones says, “The MLB radio rightsholders play a significant role in their teams’ success through broadcast sponsorships. Radio and baseball have always put fans first and this season proved no different. Skyview played an important role in helping teams find creative solutions during the pandemic and we showcased those solutions to the whole league this week.” Skyview says many teams also leveraged the power of social media to engage with fans through promotions from their biggest sponsors, citing proactive communication as their key to success. Putting their followers’ interests at the forefront, these organizations hosted many virtual gatherings through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more to encourage listenership and interaction while the season was on a hiatus. Additional panel topics included software and strategies to streamline remote broadcasting, creating awareness for franchises’ ancillary digital content to increase broadcast listening and sponsorship extensions, and monetizing the evolving sports betting opportunities across a radio platform.
New Drive Time Shows on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. Channel in January. Starting on January 4, the new lineup on SiriusXM’s non-partisan P.O.T.U.S. channel will include “Julie Mason Mornings” (6:00 am to 9:00 am ET) and “The Laura Coates Show” (3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET). Veteran journalist Mason takes over for Tim Farley’s “The Morning Briefing” after Farley’s retirement at year’s end. Coates – a CNN senior legal analyst – moves to the P.O.T.U.S. channel from SiriusXM’s Urban View channel. Julie Mason has more than 30 years of experience covering local, state and national politics, including four presidential campaigns. In more than 10 years at the White House, she traveled internationally and reported from more than 30 different countries. She is a former elected board member of the White House Correspondents Association. In addition to her media work, Coates has served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law.
United Stations Radio Networks Names Jim Roberts Director of Affiliate Sales and Marketing for Sports. Sports radio pro Jim Roberts is named director of affiliate sales and marketing/sports content for United Stations Radio Networks. He comes to USRN after a 20-plus years career with Disney/ESPN in which he oversaw the inception and growth of the affiliate network of 500-plus stations for ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes while also managing Disney owned-and-operated stations in New York City and Dallas. United Stations recently announced a partnership with SportsGarten Network to provide stations with short-form, long-form and daily daypart options in sports and sports wagering content. In his new role, Roberts will market all USRN sports-related programs and services, including the Total Sports Prep service. USRN’s Stefan Jones comments, “At United Stations we are growing our programming, services, and partnerships in the sports and sports-wagering lane. As more and more states are legalizing sports wagering, we want to ensure our company delivers quality options.”
TALKERS News Notes. Sports media personality Rich Eisen and Westwood One reach an agreement for the latter to feature “The Rich Eisen Show” podcast on the Westwood One Podcast Network, beginning on January 4. The deal also calls for the development of a new podcast by Eisen called “Just Getting Started” (scheduled for a February debut) in which Eisen interviews the biggest names from news, entertainment, sports, and pop culture, discussing their career origins and mining their stories on how they got started, in a format where audiences can be inspired by their endeavors…..In Chicago, Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM, Chicago is handing the agribusiness beat over to Steve Alexander with the retirement of Orion Samuelson at the end of this month. Samuelson is putting the wrap on a radio career that spans 60 years. Alexander says, “When I’ve filled in for Orion over the past 12 years, I’ve often joked that he gave me the key to the tractor, and I was able to keep it out of the ditch until he returned. Come next month, I’ll try to keep the tractor upright and continue Orion’s efforts to explain how important agriculture is to all of us.”…..GCN-syndicated talk radio host Dr. Daliah Wachs’ program adds two new affiliate stations as WEOL, Elyria, Ohio and KPRL, Paso Robles, California pick up the show.
COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Vaccines, the Economy & Closings, Stimulus Talks, Ongoing Election Denial, Georgia Runoff Elections, Biden Transition, and Northeast Snowstorm Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for post-holidays cases; the beginning of vaccine distribution in the U.S.; the state of the U.S. economy and forced business closings; the congressional negotiations over a new stimulus package; the ongoing denial of the election results in the Donald Trump camp; January’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the Joe Biden administration’s transition and nominations; and a big snowstorm hits the Northeast were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. There’s a series of holiday programs being made available on Entercom’s RADIO.COM that’s airing from December 18-20. The shows are: “POP Goes Christmas,” featuring Why Don’t We and Ava Max; “Acoustic Christmas,” featuring Kelly Clarkson, Meghan Trainor, Dan + Shay, Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, Rob Thomas, Train, Matt Nathanson, Ava Max, and a special performance from Keith Urban; “Country Christmas,” with Keith Urban, Dan + Shay, Lady A, Runaway June, and Russell Dickerson; and “Not So Silent Night” starring Machine Gun Kelly, 24kGoldn, All Time Low, SHAED, and Wallows. Those four shows will culminate in the “RADIO.COM LIVE! Holiday Music Festival,” a free video stream of the concert performances on December 21 at 6:00 pm ET, available nationwide on the RADIO.COM app and website at RADIO.COM/Live. Portions of the show will also be available on Twitch and via RADIO.COM’s social media channels. The performances will be accessible on demand for 72 hours after the show on RADIO.COM and station websites…..SiriusXM announces the rollout of several new pop up channels, holiday specials, live programs for New Year’s Eve, exclusive video, podcasts and best-of live performances. “New Year’s Nation” will launch beginning December 29 as a pop-up channel on SiriusXM dedicated to the ultimate New Year’s celebration songs in pop, rhythm, dance, and hip-hop from across the nation featuring the hottest hits from Harry Styles, Dua Lipa, The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Drake, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Taylor Swift and more. New holiday pop-up channels include Top 100 Interviews of 2020, highlighting the top celebrity interviews from the past year. Hosted by SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle and Julia Cunningham, the pop-up channel will feature interviews from shows including “Andy Cohen Live,” “The Hoda Show” and “The Jess Cagle Show” with some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Ben Affleck, Hugh Jackman, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Laverne Cox, Lily Collins, Lizzo, Ramy Yousef, Sam Smith, Sean Penn, Spike Lee and dozens more.
Connected Mobility Conference notes by consultant Holland Cooke
NEW YORK — Cabbies hate Uber but auto makers love Car-Sharing and Ride-Sharing, and eventually their dealers will too. As I’m digesting research presented at CE Week here, the little voice in my head keeps thinking “What does this mean for car radio?”
Face it, AM/FM’s king-of-the-car status was under fire even before dashboards looked like iPad.
- A dozen years ago, iPod plugged-into Aux jacks. More recently, research tells us, in-car podcast consumption is big (21% of on-demand TSL, and growing).
- And all along, radio has sold against newspaper, outdoor, TV, and Yellow Pages as “closer-to-the-cash-register,” because – even with e-commerce – most shopping still involves driving to the point of purchase. So dashboard disruption threatens radio dollars.
There are entire conferences dedicated to radio’s struggle to maintain in-car use; although those discussions seem to focus on remaining conspicuous on new hardware, even as radio continues to downgrade its unique software, the local programming that in-car apps don’t offer.