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Friday, June 11, 2021

| June 11, 2021

TALKERS 2021 Taking Place Today. The 24th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important conference, the Talkers Convention, is taking place today at between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The event is a presentation of TALKERS in association with Hofstra’s multi-award-winning radio station, WRHU. More than 50 industry leaders from talk radio and cable news/talk TV will be speaking during a non-stop day of presentations and panel sessions. CHECK OUT THE AGENDA here. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says, “We are delighted to be able to join forces again with our colleagues at Hofstra – the site of our very successful 2016 event – to be able to actually present a live conference in an extremely COVID-19 compliant environment which Hofstra is equipped to provide. The convention will boldly address key existential issues facing the talk radio and talk media industries at this dramatically critical juncture.” The conference has been limited to a smaller number of attendees and exhibitors than usual and only open to members of the working media and closely associated industries. For the sake of safety, all attendees will be required to comply with COVID-19 regulations in effect at the time of the actual conference regarding social distancing, the wearing of masks, and providing proof of vaccination and/or testing, etc.

WBZ, Boston Begins Celebration of 100 Years of Service. Boston’s all-news WBZ-AM today (6/11) begins a 100-day celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of its first day of broadcasting on September 19, 1921. The iHeartMedia station “celebrates 100 years of being a legendary cornerstone of the Boston media landscape,” broadcasting the latest headlines and news coverage on 1030 AM. The station will celebrate on-air and online with short stories and photos of memorable moments in WBZ’s rich history. iHeartMedia Boston market president Alan Chartrand says, “For a station to broadcast for 100 years is nothing short of amazing. Listeners and advertisers consistently utilize this heritage brand as evidenced by WBZ’s continued ratings and revenue success. People lean into objective news sources to remain informed and none has been more dependable than WBZ NewsRadio.” iHeartMedia Boston vice president of news, talk & sports Rob Sanchez adds, “WBZ NewsRadio is defined by our strong, unmistakable presence in the communities we serve. As the media landscape continues to evolve, our reach has only increased as WBZ listeners have adopted streaming on smart devices and the iHeartRadio app.”

Elston Howard Butler Named to Lead Talk KBLA, Los Angeles. The new talk radio station being launched on KBLA-AM, Los Angeles by Tavis Smiley will debut on June 19, a.k.a. Juneteenth. Smiley Audio Media announces that it has hired Elston Howard Butler to serve as president and general manager of the station as well as president and CEO of Smiley Audio Media. Smiley says the launch of the station will give Los Angeles its “first and only ‘Unapologetically Progressive’ talk radio station for the African-American listening audience.” Butler most recently served as market manager for Taxi Productions’ urban contemporary KJLH-FM, Los Angeles “Radio Free 102.3.” Butler says, “I’m having a great run, but I’m not tired yet. The eyes of the future are looking back at us, hoping and praying that we get it right this time. I have been in and around LA my entire life, and now more than ever in this moment of racial reckoning for America, I feel a deep responsibility to help put our city on the right track.” He adds, “For me, that starts with helping to build a new talk radio station that will sound like our city and reflect the way it looks. KBLA ‘Talk 1580’ is a talk radio station that will give everyday people a voice, and advance conversations that matter. I am grateful to Tavis Smiley for his vision and stewardship of this historic Black-owned and operated media venture. The city is ready, our talented team is ready, I am ready.”

iHeartMedia Names Barb Neren Director of Marketing and Partnerships. In the Twin Cities market, iHeartMedia promotes Barb Neren from director of sponsorships and events to director of marketing and partnerships. In this role, Neren will be responsible for overseeing the market’s marketing, promotions, events and partnership efforts. She will report to market president Greg Alexander. He says, “I am excited to see Barb promoted into this expanded role. Her industry knowledge, both on the promotions and programming side of the business, will serve her well as she leads our marketing and partnership efforts.” The company says Neren’s leadership while events were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic showcased her ingenuity. She was able to create events to connect listeners with their favorite on-air personalities and artists whether that was via Facebook Live or virtual concerts like KDWB’s Star Party. Neren can also be heard Fridays on “KFAN 100.3” and weekends on Cities 97.1. Neren comments, “I am honored to lead this team. While we have loved finding new and creative ways to bring our listeners, advertisers and artists together virtually, we are looking forward to our events being live and in person once again.”

Audacy’s Cadence13 and American Public Media Enter Multi-Year Partnership. This new deal between Cadence13 and the podcast arm of American Public Media makes Cadence13 the exclusive podcast sales representative for APM. Additionally, the organizations will develop future on-demand programming initiatives, co-productions, and collaborative new revenue opportunities. APM podcast division general manager Lily Kim says, “Our organizations share a complementary vision for premium audio storytelling and we are delighted to form a partnership with an established powerhouse like Cadence13 that will help us expand our collective reach and pursue new ways to connect directly with our fans. A cornerstone of public media is the commitment to serve our listeners by providing meaningful content that enriches, informs and builds community. This partnership will further enhance our ability to deliver on that mission.” Cadence 13 chief content officer Chris Corcoran adds, “Cadence13’s objective is to align with the best. Partnering with APM, one of the most premium networks in the industry, brings together two of the most accomplished podcast companies for unmatched opportunities for scale and development. We are so proud to be joining forces with the entire team at APM and look forward to taking this to market together.”

Cumulus Media Partners with Adomni to Rep Uber OOH. This agreement between Cumulus Media and programmatic advertising platform Adomni (with 460,000 out of home digital screens nationally) makes Cumulus the exclusive sales partner to local businesses for the Uber OOH powered by Adomni cartop advertising network in markets where Cumulus operates radio stations. Uber OOH is the official Uber digital out-of-home national advertising network which, in partnership with Adomni, features two-sided internet-connected, video-enabled screens on the tops of Uber vehicles. Cumulus Media EVP of operations Dave Milner comments, “Cumulus Media is delighted by its selection as Adomni’s exclusive Uber OOH local sales partner. Not only does this product give advertisers a unique and creative new way to connect with consumers, but it is also a terrific addition to the portfolio of radio, streaming, podcasting and other digital marketing solutions we already offer local businesses to meet their marketing needs.”

TALKERS News Notes. The Way Media board of directors and president/CEO John Scaggs announces he is stepping down from his post, effective immediately. Scaggs says, “Leading through the pandemic is the hardest thing many of us have done. The board recognized this and recommended a season of rest for me, to which I’ve agreed. My wife Cathy and I plan to relax and catch our breath before finding another great Kingdom role to serve in.” Scaggs spent 18 years on the Christian network’s board prior to being named to president/CEO in 2017. Way Media COO Tim Dukes has been appointed interim president while the board prepares for a national search to select a permanent replacement…..Radio One Charlotte regional vice president Marsha Landess announces that news/talk WBT-AM/FM will partner with the Charlotte Knights on this year’s Fourth of July Skyshow. The annual July 4th holiday event has been celebrated every year since 1976 and is a staple event in the Charlotte community. Last year’s event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic…..ABC News Radio is providing live anchored coverage of next week’s Joe BidenVladimir Putin summit (6/15-16), with correspondent Karen Travers reporting live from Geneva, Switzerland. Correspondent Aaron Katersky will anchor from New York and be joined by ABC News contributors and experts on Russia and cybersecurity. Hourly status reports will be offered throughout the morning and as news warrants. ABC News’ flagship daily podcast “Start Here,” hosted by Brad Mielke, will provide coverage of the summit, featuring the latest updates from ABC News’ reporters and analysts.

COVID-19 Vaccines, Origins, Stats & Politics Top News/Talk Story for Week of June 7-11. The issues of vaccine hesitancy, the coronavirus origins, infection rates and politics combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was a tie between voting legislation and the status of the senate filibuster, followed by the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

New York City Radio Sales Opportunity. The New York City radio stations owned and operated by Salem Media Group announce a sales opportunity. The company says, “NYC is REOPENING and sales are starting to boom – the hottest stations around belong to Salem Media Group’s NY cluster, come join us! If you were born to sell and want a great career with benefits and financial security, write directly to: Jerry Crowley, VP/GM at: Jcrowley@nycradio.com.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

| May 26, 2021

KFI, Los Angeles Suspends Tim Conway, Jr and Sheron Bellio for Racist Bit. According to a report in Deadline, iHeartMedia and KFI, Los Angeles have suspended evening talk host Tim Conway Jr. and executive producer Sheron Bellio after the two performed a bit in which Conway pretended to interview Yuko Sakamoto – the wife of sports talk personality Vic “The Brick” Jacobs and Bellio spoke in a stereotypical Japanese accent. The pair have issued on-air apologies and will serve a week’s unpaid suspension. KFI program director Robin Bertolucci issued the following statement to Deadline: “We of course take matters of this nature very seriously. Their failed attempt to what they thought would be a humorous shtick was thoughtless and unacceptable, and we apologize to anyone who was offended. They both have since apologized on air and I can assure you the situation is being handled appropriately internally. That said, we wanted to make things right with a plan that was not only deeply apologetic, but also educational, and focused on the community – taking further action to help combat racism against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.” Part of the station’s plan includes running PSAs addressing anti-Asian and Pacific Islander hate. The KFI news team is also set to produce a two-hour special designed to raise awareness of anti-Asian hate crimes in Southern California. That special will air on May 30 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Cumulus Media Launches New Talker in Buffalo. Sports talk WHLD-AM, Niagara Falls, New York flipped to news/talk on Monday (5/24). Cumulus Media is branding the station “Talk 1270/WHLD-AM.” Vice president and market manager Jim Riley says, “We’re very excited to launch ‘Talk 1270’ this week in Buffalo as Dan Bongino launches his national radio show. Western New Yorkers can now enjoy daily radio shows on ‘Talk 1270’ from two of the most listened-to podcasters in America, Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino, as well as other marquee talk radio favorites.” In addition to Bongino and Shapiro, the station is airing the “First Light” and “America In The Moring” shows from 5:00 am to 9:00 am, Chris Plante in late mornings, plus Michael Knowles from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Lars Larson in early evenings and Westwood One’s Jim Bohannon in late nights.

Greg Alexander Named Market President for iHeartMedia Minneapolis. Sales pro Greg Alexander is promoted from SVP of sales for iHeartMedia’s Western Great Lakes Region to market president for Minneapolis. Alexander will report to Scott Hopeck, division president for iHeartMedia. Hopeck says, “Greg’s extensive experience qualified him for this role, but more importantly his team lifted him into it, which is a testament to his leadership. I’m confident that Greg and his team will lead our Minneapolis operation to new heights.” The Minneapolis market includes news/talk KTLK, sports talk KFXN “K-FAN,” and four music brands. Alexander says, “This is an incredible opportunity to work with some of the country’s best brands and the industry’s brightest minds. I look forward to collaborating with the programming, advertising, and operations teams while helping elevate the Minneapolis market.”

Peter Rothfuss to Lead Audacy’s Gainesville/Ocala Market. Sales and management pro Peter Rothfuss is promoted from his general sales manager role to SVP and market manager for Audacy’s Gainesville/Ocala, Florida operations that includes news/talk WSKY, sports talk WRUF-AM/W237EJ, and two music brands. Rothfuss takes over for Dick O’Neil who is retiring from the company on May 31. Audacy regional president Claudia Menegus says, “Peter’s experience in this market, coupled with his proven track record of success leading sales efforts, will allow him to seamlessly expand his role and continue the momentum we have achieved. I look forward to watching our market reach new heights under his leadership.” Rothfuss served as general sales manager for Audacy Gainesville/Ocala since 2016. Prior to that, he had two stints with Audacy Wilkes-Barre in which he served as an integrated marketing specialist from 2014 to 2016 and director of sales from 2010 to 2013.

TALKERS News Notes. GRAMMY Award-winning singer, songwriter, and music producer T-Pain signs a deal with PodcastOne for an exclusive podcast and vodcast production and distribution deal. T-Pain will host the upcoming podcast and vodcast “Nappy Boy Radio with T-Pain, set to launch June 3. Upcoming guests on the podcast include Peyton List, Xolo Maridueña, Jacob Bertrand, and Joe Seo from Cobra Kai, Mike Tyson, Lil Jon, Steve-O, Jazzy Pha and Slim Jxmmi. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “At PodcastOne, we seek hosts who are charismatic and engaging with something to say that audiences want to hear. T-Pain is all that and more. His innate curiosity and interest in the world around him and the people who live in it offers up endless possibilities for show content  and we cannot wait to launch ‘Nappy Boy Radio with T-Pain.’”…..Audacy’s C13Originals reveals thatt the third season of “Gangster Capitalism” – the documentary podcast franchise that focuses on white collar corruption and the dark side of the American dream – will chart the rise and fall of Jerry Falwell Jr., and the damage left in his wake at Liberty University. The sex scandal that engulfed the largest evangelical Christian university in the world and Jerry and Becki Falwell is just the beginning. For the eight-episode new season, the Gangster Capitalism team spoke with more than eighty people — insiders, former and current Liberty students, faculty, staff, high-ranking administrators, and those with intimate knowledge of Falwell Jr., many going on the record to reveal their explosive stories for the first time, as well as authors, historians, journalists, and theologians.

COVID-19/China Lashes Out at Fauci, George Floyd Anniversary/Portland Riot, Inflation Fears, Gaza Cease-Fire/Anti-Semitic Violence, NYC Grand Jury Convened in Trump Org Investigation, Election Audits, Border Crisis, and Biden-Putin Meeting Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/25). The fast-falling rate of COVID cases in the U.S, vaccine hesitancy, and China’s state media criticizes Dr. Tony Fauci for admitting lab origin possibility; the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd and Portland breaks out in riots; skyrocketing consumer prices spark fears of inflation; the cease-fire in Gaza and the uptick in violent attacks on Jews; Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jrconvenes a grand jury to hear indictment arguments in the Trump Organization case; the election audits taking place in New Hampshire, Arizona, and Georgia; the migrant crush at the U.S.-Mexico border; and the planned meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.