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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

| December 15, 2021

Don Martin Elevated to Executive Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia Sports. Programmer Don Martin is named executive vice president of programming for iHeartMedia Sports. Martin, who’s been with iHeartMedia for the past 26 years, previously served the company as senior vice president of programming for FOX Sports Radio and SVP of sports talk KLAC-AM, Los Angeles. In his new role, Martin will lead sports radio operations and oversee recruiting for on-air talent, program directors, and board operators for the iHeartMedia Markets Group and Premiere Networks. In addition, Martin will identify opportunities to expand iHeartMedia Sports partnerships – including leagues, teams, podcasting and broadcast. He will continue to oversee the programming, promotions, operations and sales for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Chargers, UCLA and others. Martin will also continue his operational, programming and sales responsibilities for KLAC-AM, Los Angeles. Kevin LeGrett, president of iHeartMedia Sports and iHeartMedia Los Angeles, says, “The iHeartMedia Sports Network would not be what it is today without Don’s years of experience and innovation. He is the perfect choice to lead our ever-expanding network, bringing us the most exciting new partnerships and team members.” Martin comments, “In life, you are only as good as the family around you. I have had the privilege of working with three of the most incredible families in the business – from KOA in Denver to AM 570 and FOX Sports Radio in LA, and now the family just gets bigger! Thank you, Greg Ashlock, Kevin LeGrett, Julie Talbott, and Tom Poleman for your belief and trust in me. I am a blessed man!”

Markley, van Camp & Robbins Takes Over Late Mornings on KDWN, Las Vegas. The nationally syndicated “Markely, van Camp & Robbins” show – hosted by Jamie Markley, David van Camp, and Scott Robbins – is now heard in the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart on Beasley Media Group’s KDWN-AM/K268CS, Las Vegas. The Compass Media Networks program is currently heard on 120 affiliate stations. KDWN program director Steve Hoffman says, “‘Markley, van Camp & Robbins’ feels like the next generation of talk radio with the right combination of political talk, attitude and fun for KDWN.” Markley, van Camp and Robbins comment, “Thanks to Steve and the whole team at KDWN! It’s a blessing to connect with people throughout the country who not only want to know what’s going on but love common sense and to laugh at the absurd. That’s our goal every day.”

Cumulus News/Talk KMAJ-AM, Topeka Adds FM Translator. Topeka, Kansas news/talk KMAJ-AM adds an FM translator to its signal. The Cumulus Media station is now heard on K228FW at 93.5 FM in addition to its 1440 AM signal. Cumulus says the FM signal will cover all of Topeka, as well as all of Shawnee County. With the addition of the translator, the station rebrands as “The Big Talker KMAJ-AM/FM” and unveils its new logo. Cumulus Topeka VP and market manager Nic Merenda says, “KMAJ has been a part of the Topeka radio landscape for over 30 years. To be able to offer our stellar lineup of news, talk, and sports on a stronger, crystal-clear FM signal is an exciting new chapter in this station’s legendary history.” Cumulus Topeka operations manager Amber Lee adds, “Expanding the reach of ‘The Big Talker’ is a great benefit – especially to the listeners of our high school sports coverage. Mike Manns and his sports broadcast team are the voices of an entire community!”

Stapleford Promoted to Vice President at Magnum and Intrepid Broadcasting. Radio management pro Diana Stapleford is promoted from her general manager role to vice president of corporate operations for Magnum Broadcasting and Intrepid Broadcasting. For 16 years, Stapleford led the State College, Pennsylvania station group that includes news/talk WBLF and three music brands which was recently sold to Schlesinger Communications. The company says, “Sixteen years ago, Magnum Broadcasting entered the State College, PA market with the purchase of WUBZ-FM and WPHB-AM. We were continually told at that time that the key to our success was to bring Diana aboard as general manager and that proved to be true. We were fortunate to have Diana join the company then and her incredible talents, skills and dedication will ensure that Magnum Broadcasting realizes great success with her directing our operations and personnel across our five radio stations and two companies. The recognition this promotion brings and the appreciation it shows is thoroughly deserved by Diana. Meanwhile, Magnum Broadcasting and Intrepid Broadcasting have aligned themselves with top broadcast professionals as we position ourselves to excel in a very challenging and ever-changing industry and environment.” Magnum Broadcasting owns and operates WEEO-FM, Chambersburg, PA/Hagerstown, MD “Newstalk 103.7,” news/talk duo WKEZ-FM, Tavernier, Florida and WPIK-FM Summerland Key, Florida “Keystalk,” and several music brands in Florida and New York.

FOX News Digital Finishes Tops in Several Metrics in November 2021. According to data from Comscore for the November 2021 period among news brands in the news competitive set, FOX News Digital’s FOXNews.com was first in multiplatform minutes and multiplatform views, reaching close to 1.6 billion multiplatform views and over 2.9 billion multiplatform minutes. FOXNews.com surpassed CNN’s CNN.com in multiplatform minutes for the ninth consecutive month. FOXNews.com also marks five straight months as number one in multiplatform views. It should be noted that both FOXNews.com and CNN.com both saw reduced Total Minutes, Total Views, and Unique Visitors this year compared to the election month of November 2020. Also, CNN.com handily topped FOXNews.com in the multiplatform unique visitors metric by a margin of 140.27 million to 90.23 million.

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder has the update on former WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago managing editor Julie Mann, who exited the Audacy all-news station last week. Mann is now the public information officer for Kane County, Illinois. She tells Feder, “I saw it as an opportunity to continue working in the field of communications but in a whole new way.”…..Podcast publisher PodcastOne announces that it has signed deals to keep top performing and fan favorite podcasts “LADYGANG,” “Gals on the Go,” and “Rob Has a Podcast” with PodcastOne for the foreseeable future. LADYGANG’s Keltie Knight, Jac Vanek, and Becca Tobin comment, “The team at PodcastOne understands ‘LADYGANG’ exponentially and continues to bring us exciting partnerships with the brands that we love. Our relationship isn’t just about impressions, downloads and contracts – it is about their dedicated team of producers and salespeople working hand-in-hand with us on every single episode so that we can overdeliver on our promises to our brand partners, while remaining authentic, honest and vulnerable with our listeners. We had incredibly successful and lucrative specialty projects with brands like European Wax Center, Obe Fitness, and Hyundai – and all three were so happy with the outcome that they are all hanging with the gang again in 2022. Our listeners are happy. Our brands are happy. We are happy and so excited for the future.”…..Saga Communications announces that its board of directors is declaring a quarterly cash dividend of $0.16 per share and a special cash dividend of $0.50 per share. The dividend will be paid on January 14, 2022, to shareholders of record on December 27, 2021. The aggregate amount of the payment to be made in connection with the quarterly and special dividends will be approximately $4 million. The quarterly and special cash dividends will be funded by cash on the company’s balance sheet. Including this dividend, the company will have paid over $77 million in dividends to shareholders since the first special dividend was paid in 2012.

Hilton Howell to Be Honored with BFoA’s Golden Mike Award. The Broadcasters Foundation of America announces that Hilton H. Howell, Jr., chairman of the board and CEO of Gray Television and Atlantic American Corporation, is the recipient of the 2022 Golden Mike Award. The award will be presented during a black-tie gala on Monday, March 14, 2022, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. This year’s event marks the return of the Foundation’s biggest fundraiser, which did not take place in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Broadcasters Foundation chairman Scott Herman says, “It’s been a challenging year-and-a-half, and we are thrilled to honor Hilton and once again present the Golden Mike Award live and in-person. Looking ahead, our goal remains to provide financial aid for every broadcaster who qualifies.” The Broadcasters Foundation of America Golden Mike Award dinner attracts a who’s who of broadcast media executives and celebrities. The presenters and performers for this year’s event will be announced shortly. Previous recipients include Dave Lougee, Perry Sook, Emily Barr, David Barrett, Michael Bloomberg, Bob Pittman, Gordon Smith, Jeff Smulyan, and more. For information, or to reserve a seat or table, please contact the Broadcasters Foundation at 212-373-8250 or info@thebfoa.org.

COVID-19, January 6 Investigation, Biden Polls/Build Back Better Plan, Debt Limit, China and Russia vs the West, and Fed to Raise Interest Rates Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14). The fast spread of the Omicron variant, vaccine mandates, and Pfizer’s COVID pill; the House investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Donald Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows held in contempt of Congress, texts of Trump staffers and media figures released; Congress passes legislation to raise the debt limit; Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping meeting and their warning against “Western aggression”; and the Fed’s plans to gradually raise interest rates were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

| July 13, 2021

Larry Elder to Run in California Gubernatorial Recall Election. Nationally syndicated talk radio personality, author, newspaper columnist and documentary filmmaker Larry Elder announces he is stepping down from his Salem Radio Network program to run against Democrat Gavin Newsom in the California gubernatorial recall election that will take place on September 14. Elder says, “I’m running for governor because the decline of California isn’t the fault of its people. Our government is what’s ruining the Golden State. Our schools are closed to both students and their parents. Our streets aren’t safe from rising violent crime or the disaster of rising homelessness. And the scandals of Sacramento aren’t going to stop on their own. It’s time to tell the truth. We’ve got a state to save.” In a news story from Salem Radio News, Elder adds that “he decided to enter his first campaign after witnessing California’s out-of-control homeless crisis, spiking crime rates, looming water and power shortages, and whipsaw coronavirus lockdowns. ‘I have common sense. I have good judgment. I’m born and raised here. I think understand the state. I know it’s a long shot’ he added, referring to Newsom’s ability to raise unlimited funds. But he said he was driven by a ‘fire in the belly to see if I can do something… to move the needle in the right direction.’” Salem Radio Network says that WORL, Orlando “AM 950 The Answer” talk host Carl Jackson will host Elder’s 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET show during the campaign. In addition to hosting his own show on WORL, Jackson also serves as a regular substitute host for SRN’s Dennis Prager. Salem SVP spoken word formats Phil Boyce says, “Carl has a warm and engaging personality on the air, and because he had to fight his way out of hard circumstances, he is able to convince others of his correct lifestyle decisions.”

New Talk Station to Launch in St. Louis. According to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, former Audacy programmer Jeff Allen and longtime St. Louis radio sales pro Joe Rusch have partnered to launch a new conservative talk station in the market using the handle “NewsTallkSTL” and airing on Gateway Creative Broadcasting’s KLJY-HD3/K270BW at 99.1 FM and 101.9 FM, respectively. The station will debut on Monday (7/19) and feature local and network talent. Allen programmed KFTK-FM for years but was let go as PD after Audacy acquired the station in 2018. Former KFTK host Tim Jones will host afternoon drive. Vic Porcelli is the 9:00 am to 11:00 am personality. Former “Dave Glover Show” co-host Tony Columbo will host the 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm hour and Katie Fitzpatrick will co-host with Porceli and Columbo. Chris Arps will co-host Jones’ PM drive program. Morning drive will be handled by Mike Ferguson, who also hosts the afternoon drive show on KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri. Also, the station will air Westwood One’s “Dan Bongino Show” in middays. Jeff Allen tells the paper, “When people tune in they’ll hear voices that they know and trust talking about the issues that impact their city.”

TALKERS 2021 Conference Video Posted – Panel Discussion, “Attracting Younger Demos and Broadening the Base.” The ninth video, under the direction of Art Vuolo, from the TALKERS 2021 Conference that took place at Hofstra University on June 11, is posted. This installment features the panel discussion, “Attracting Younger Demos and Broadening the Base.” Moderated by John T. Mullen, operations director, WRHU, Hofstra University and sponsored by Broadcasters General Store, the panel featured (in alphabetical order): Dr. Asa Andrew, talk show host, Asa Rx; Mike “Bax” Baxendale, morning co-host, “Rock 102” WAQY-FM, Springfield, MA; Derek Hunter, talk show host, WCBM, Baltimore; Sid Rosenberg, talk show host, WABC, New York; Brett Winterble, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte; and Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, Gainesville GA. TALKERS will be posting a new video from TALKERS 2021 each business day until all 10 are archived and available for on-demand viewing.

Kevin LeGrett Named President of iHeartMedia Sports. Radio executive Kevin LeGrett is taking on the role of president of iHeartMedia Sports. LeGrett will leave his president of iHeartMedia’s Los Angeles Region role – to be filled by Alexis Ginas, see story below – but will continue as division president for the iHeartMedia Markets Group. In this new role, LeGrett will “work closely with all groups within the company to coordinate its sports assets across all iHeart audio platforms to maximize the impact for its listeners, partners and clients.” The portfolio includes the iHeartSports Network, the FOX Sports Network, and 80 dedicated sports stations nationwide. Additionally, it features the iHeartPodcast Network that contains more than 40 national and 100 local sports podcasts. iHeartMedia Multi-Platform Group CEO Greg Ashlock comments, “We have assembled a one-of-a-kind, cross-platform sports portfolio that is best-in-class. We have scale. We have targetability. We have first party data. We have the best on-air talent in the business, and we have the right leader. Kevin’s experience in broadcast, digital, experiential, podcast and sports in both national and local roles have prepared him to excel in this position and build on the momentum and unique scale and assets of iHeart.”

Alexis Ginas Assumes President of iHeartMedia Los Angeles Post. Taking over the president role for iHeartMedia’s Los Angeles Region is Alexis Ginas. She assumes the role Kevin LeGrett is leaving and will report to him. Ginas joins iHeartMedia from Madison Valley, the media and technology consulting practice that she founded. Her background also includes serving as SVP of cross platform solutions at FOX Sports, VP and head of global brand solutions at The Match Group, and SVP of global brand partnerships at SFX Entertainment. iHeartMedia Markets Group president Hartley Adkins says, “Alexis is a fantastic new leader for our Los Angeles team and our entire company. The breadth of experience she brings from different sectors will be ideal as iHeartMedia, the multiple platform audio leader, continues to evolve to meet the needs of our listeners, clients and the LA community.” Ginas comments, “I am thrilled to join iHeartMedia’s respected Los Angeles team. iHeartMedia Los Angeles is home to some of the most influential brands, talent and events in music, news and entertainment, but what really drives its success are the talented people who work there. I am proud to now be one of them.”

Kevin Graham Appointed PD at Sports Talk KNBR, San Francisco. Programming pro Kevin Graham joins Cumulus Media as program director for KNBR, San Francisco “104.5FM / 680AM The Sports Leader.” Graham was most recently serving the company as program director news/talk outlets WBAP-AM and KLIF-AM in Dallas. Graham previously served as brand manager for Audacy’s WEEI-FM, Boston and was PD and afternoon sports talk host at Cumulus’ KFNZ-AM, Salt Lake City. Cumulus San Francisco VP and market manager Larry Blumhagen says, “Kevin brings extensive experience and a history of successes in spoken word formats, from news to sports. I’m confident that his proven track record in programming along with his collaborative approach will be a winning combination for the San Francisco market.”

David Adams Rises to Operations Manager for NRG Media Omaha. Programmer David Adams is promoted to operations manager for NRG Media Omaha. Adams has been with NRG Media Omaha since November 2020, serving as program pirector for KQKQ-FM, KOPW-FM and KOOO-FM. In his new role, Adams will oversee the seven-station cluster while continuing the day-to-day programming of the FM stations as well as sports talk duo KOZN-AM and KZOT-AM. NRG Omaha general manager Mark Shecterle comments, “Since joining NRG Media in November of 2020, David has proven to be a strong leader who has been able to come in and gain the respect and trust of everyone in the building very quickly. He’s does a great job with our FMs, and I know he will do the same with all our AMs.”

Kim Komando to Be Named to ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business Alumni of Fame. Digital technology expert and media pro Kim Komando is being inducted into Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business Alumni of Fame for 2021. This prestigious honor is awarded to select business school alumni who have demonstrated exceptional achievement and leadership in their profession along with a deep commitment for giving back to their communities. Established in 1977, Komando joins a long line of accomplished Hall of Fame inductees, which includes Chris Cookson, former president of Sony Pictures and Craig Weatherup, former CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America. Komando graduated from ASU with a B.S. in Computer Information Systems in 1985. She says, “So much of what I have used to build and grow my business I learned at ASU. My father was the one who told me to go to ASU. I wish he were still alive to see me accept this prestigious honor.” The Hall of Fame induction event will take place on the ASU Tempe campus on October 28, 2021.

Broadcasters Foundation of America Names Two to Board of Directors. The Broadcasters Foundation of America elects Patrick Butler, president and CEO of America’s Public Television Stations (APTS), and Hilton Howell, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Gray Television and Atlantic American Corporation, to its board of directors. The new directors were voted in during the recent Foundation’s Board of Directors’ meeting, which was held virtually. BFoA chairman Scott Herman says, “We are delighted to welcome Patrick and Hilton to our Board. They each bring a wealth of broadcast experience to our board, and their perspective will be valuable as we continue to advance our mission of helping broadcasters in acute need.”

COVID-19 Vaccinations and Delta Variant, Texas Voting Bill/Harris Rural American Comments, Cuban Protests, Haiti Assassination Aftermath, U.S.-China Tensions, Denver Hotel Arrests, Newsom Recall, and Western Drought/Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/12). Concerns about the falling rate of vaccinations in the U.S., outbreaks in five U.S. states, and the Delta variant; Democrats flee Texas to avoid a vote on what they term a “voter suppression bill,” and Vice President Kamala Harris’ comments on rural Americans’ access to photocopy machines; the crackdown on protests in Cuba and the Biden administration’s response; the investigation into the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise; the tensions between the U.S. and China over the latter’s military control of the South China Sea; the arrest of four people in Denver that authorities believe may have been planning a gun attack at the MLB All-Star Game; the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom; and the drought and wildfires affecting the U.S. West were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, February 26, 2021

| February 26, 2021

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Feeding an Environment of Fear,” looks back at this past week of February 22-26, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Gary Sutton, talk show host, WSBA, York, PA; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Dr. Renee Kohanski, podcaster, Clinical Correlation, Medscape‘s MDEdge Psychcast / forensic psychiatrist; Rush Limbaugh, late talk radio icon; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, MD; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

iHeartMedia 2020 Q4 Revenue Down 8.8%; Full Year Revenue Declines 20%. Reporting its financial data for the fourth quarter and for the full year of 2020, iHeartMedia fares a little better than its two major competitors (based on the number of radio stations owned) Cumulus Media and Entercom Communications. Fourth quarter revenue was $935.5 million, a decline of 8.8% from the same period in 2019. For the full year, revenue was $2.9 billion, down 20% from the full year 2019. Although the company reports net income of $2.9 million in Q4 2020, that’s down 95% from the $62.1 million net income reported in Q4 of 2019. For the full year 2020, iHeartMedia reports a net loss of $1.9 billion. It reported net income of $11.2 billion in 2019. iHeartMedia says that strong sequential improvement is continuing since the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. It also reports that digital revenue increased 26% year-over-year, including a 91% increase in podcasting revenue. Company chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are pleased that the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn – and it’s particularly rewarding to see the impressive performance from our areas of strategic investment, like podcasting, SmartAudio, digital, and Ad Tech. In addition, with our new reportable segments, we will be able to provide additional insights into both our largest segment and our fastest-growing segment, and help highlight the key metrics and impressive performance of each.” iHeartMedia COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our swift response to the COVID pandemic and our diligent management of expenses throughout the year enabled us to successfully achieve approximately $250 million of savings in 2020. This cost management enhanced our operating leverage and helped us to achieve adjusted EBITDA of $265 million in the fourth quarter, which was an improvement of 64% over the third quarter. The continued sequential improvement of our revenue, adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow over the past three quarters has us well positioned for continued recovery into 2021, and our commitment to make the majority of the $200 million of COVID-19 related savings permanent will further enhance the company’s operating leverage as revenue recovers.”

iHeartMedia Unveils New Business Operating Structure. Saying that this new structure reflects the “increasing size and importance” of its digital businesses, iHeartMedia announces that its two divisions – the Digital Audio Group and the Multiplatform Group – will publicly report their financial data separately and will have dedicated management. The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the iHeartRadio digital service and its podcasting business while the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group includes its broadcast radio assets. The company says that as of the fourth quarter of 2020, the Digital Audio Group encompassed almost 20% of the company’s consolidated revenue and 23% of its earnings, and during that quarter grew revenue by 53% year-over-year and Adjusted EBITDA by 74% year-over-year. The company expects the Digital Audio Group will continue to grow as an increasing proportion of its business in the future. It adds that separate reporting of these two operating segments will provide “improved visibility into the underlying performances, results and margin profiles of these distinct audio-driven businesses.” Here’s how it breaks down: The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the podcasting business; the iHeartRadio digital service; the company’s digital sites, newsletters, digital services and programs; and its digital advertising technology companies, including Jelli, RadioJarUnified and Voxnest, and will also include the recently-announced Triton Digital upon completion of the acquisition. Leading the division will be Conal Byrne as CEO and Darren Davis as COO, with Carter Brokaw serving as the president of digital revenue and Jessica Jerrick as EVP of digital distribution and platform partnerships. Meanwhile, iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group – representing almost 75% of the company’s revenue – includes the 860-plus radio stations in 160 markets; the company’s live and virtual events business; and its national sales organization (which will use iHeartMedia’s full array of products, from broadcast radio and events to its SmartAudio suite of data targeting and attribution products, which allows informed digital-like planning against targeted audiences with the benefit of broadcast scale and impact, as well as using all of the products from the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group). Premiere Networks, which includes the Total Traffic and Weather Network; and BIN: Black Information Network, will also join this group. Leading the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group will be Greg Ashlock as CEO and Tim Castelli as chief revenue officer.  Julie Talbott joins this group as president of Premiere Networks; Hartley Adkins becomes president of the Markets Group; Jeff Howard remains president of national sales and Tony Coles as president of BIN: Black Information Network. Bob Pittman says, “These new reportable segments will enable us to strengthen the mission and tighten the focus of both the iHeart Digital Audio Group and the iHeart Multiplatform Group, while accelerating our ability to deliver industry-leading products and services to our listeners and advertising partners across all of our platforms. Creating these two business reportable segments will allow us to provide the investment community with increased visibility into the financial results of each segment – enabling them to better appreciate the strong growth and success of our digital businesses, including our industry-leading podcast business, as well as the continued strength of our broadcast radio and marquee events businesses.”

Entercom Announces New Programming Leadership Structure. This enhancement of Entercom’s programming leadership structure for its central programming team leaves Pat Paxton in his current position as chief programming officer. He says, “This enhanced leadership team will supplement our premium content offering throughout our portfolio and ensure we have the premier collection of personalities engaging deeply with our audiences nationwide. It will also allow us to best integrate the innovation of new products and content so we are continuously growing the impact and reach of our offering and super serving our 170 million listeners each month.” In this new structure EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano continues to manage Entercom’s sports, all-news, and news/talk brands. He is also being charged with growing Entercom’s content insights and analytics capabilities and overseeing its network and syndicated content development. Dave Richards joins the central programming leadership team as senior vice president of programming, rising from his SVP of programming of KISW, Seattle for the last 19 years and having developed programs like “The Men’s Room” and concepts like KISW’s annual “Live Day.” In his new role, Richards will be responsible for original content ideation, talent development, and coaching. He’ll spearhead Entercom’s efforts to support its expanding business portfolio, which includes RADIO.COM, Cadence13, and Pineapple Street Studios, through the generation of cross-platform content. Michael Martin continues to serve as SVP of programming and music initiatives and oversees Entercom’s relationships with artists, management, and record labels and lead its efforts to collaborate with the artist community on event, digital, and social opportunities. The company also announces the following members of its executive committee, who will collaborate to develop and oversee programming strategy across the company: Pat Paxton; Jeff Sottolano; Michael Martin; Dave Richards; Pam Russo, SVP and general manager, RADIO.COM; Bill Smee, VP of news; Matt Volk, VP of sports; Nikki Nite, VP of programming and brand manager, Entercom Austin; and Reggie Rouse, urban format captain, Entercom, and brand manager, Entercom Atlanta.

Round Three of January 2021 PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. The January 2021 survey covered January 7 – February 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland jumps from the #6 rank to #3 on the strength of 1.4 share increase that helped it finish the January survey with a 6.2 share. Urban One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte tacks on 1.6 shares for a 6.6 share finish and a jump from #5 to #3. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK, Sacramento regains the #1 rank after adding 2.4 share to wrap the survey with a 10.2 share. In Salt Lake City, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-FM also claims the #1 rank after adding 1.9 shares to post a 7.9 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report for this round or markets (as well as his Takeaways from the first two rounds) here.

TALKERS News Notes. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM, Chicago is honoring the memory of former morning drive host Bob Collins, who would have been 79 on Sunday (2/28). Collins died in a small plane collision in 2000. On today’s Bob Sirott morning show, staffers WGN toasted Collins this morning (2/26) at 7:48 and, according to tradition, poured from the bottle of Jack Daniel’s found in Collins’s office. Also on the air with Sirott today were retired WGN morning host Spike O’Dell (who succeeded Collins) and retired agribusiness reporter Orion Samuelson.…..The nationally syndicated “Dan Bongino Show” hits the 100 affiliate station mark a year after its launch. Cumulus Media’s Westwood One says that – in addition to being heard on stations like KABC-AM, Los Angeles; KSFO-AM, San Francisco; and KSEV-AM, Houston – from the November election through February 22, the Dan Bongino Show podcast “boasted more than 51 million downloads on Apple, Spotify and other major platforms, rising 27% during that period.” Bongino says, “Growing up a fan of conservative talk radio makes this moment extra special for me. To be able to reach people across the country with a strong pro-liberty, pro-freedom message is the honor of a lifetime. Special thanks as well to the affiliates partnering with us in this venture.”…..A new sports radio imaging service called Game Plan is being offered to stations from SPLAT! and is syndicated by Sun Broadcast Group. SPLAT! says GAME PLAN is “a new kind of sports radio imaging service, designed specifically to sharpen the competitive edge of local stations, while simultaneously complementing the power of network sports brands. With GAME PLAN, a local station’s imaging sounds just as bold and powerful as their network imaging, maybe even better.”…..Entercom and Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates announce a multiyear radio broadcast contract extension for sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” to continue to serve as the Pirates’ flagship radio station. Under the terms of the new deal, all Pirates weekday afternoon games will air on “93.7 The Fan” and sister news/talk KDKA-AM/W261AX.

COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines and Variants Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 22-26, 2021. The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines and the concern about variants creating another wave of cases combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the U.S. economy tied with the education crisis. Following at #3 was the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s nominees for attorney general, interior secretary, and White House budget office, tied with Donald Trump’s planned speech at CPAC on Sunday. 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.

Monday, September 28, 2020

| September 28, 2020

Monday Memo: It’s Not Debatable. As the president and his challenger prepare to take the stage tomorrow night, consultant Holland Cooke can’t resist an analogy about radio programming vs. digital challengers. Read it here.

Amy Coney Barrett Nominated for SCOTUS Seat, the Presidential Race/Tuesday Debate, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, NYTimes Trump Tax Story, BML Movement/Protests, and Western Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The president introduces Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee for the Supreme Court; the November presidential election and Tuesday’s first debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden; the rise in positive COVID-19 cases, especially in the U.S. Midwest, and projections for future cases; the New York Times piece that details President Trump’s tax, income, and debt situation; the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests in numerous cities across the country; and the ongoing wildfires in California, Oregon and others were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

iHeartSports Network Debuts. The new iHeartSports Network from iHeartMedia launches today, “servicing more than 500 broadcast stations and their digital streams throughout the country, across multiple formats.” The company says the new network, “with a monthly reach of 75 million listeners, will feature some of the biggest names in sports including Cris Collinsworth, Colin Cowherd, Dan Patrick, Joy Taylor and more.” The iHeartSports Network will deliver short-form national, regional local sports reports to listeners on formats that index high against sports interest, including rock, country, hip hop, classic hits, news, talk and sports. The company adds, “Scarborough found that 83% of sports fans want a daily update. Nielsen confirms that 89% of sports fans listen to radio each week and radio listeners typically tune in multiple times per day. Research also indicates that almost two-thirds of sports fans do not have the time to seek out additional desired information, so the iHeartSports Network will deliver sports reports to listeners conveniently and timely wherever they are.” iHeartMedia Markets Group president Greg Ashlock states, “This is a product driven network responding to the interests of our listeners. People are passionate about sports and this will deliver the timely regional and local coverage they care most about along with the biggest national stories.”

Sarah Foss Joins Entercom as Chief Information Officer. Advertising executive Sarah Foss is named chief information officer for Entercom. In this role, Foss will “provide strategic direction and oversight for the design, development, acquisition, operation and support of the company’s enterprise technology systems and programs. She will also collaborate with cross-functional executives to create a vision for how digital, data and analytics, and new technologies can help create a differentiated experience and drive efficiency in operations.” Foss was most recently senior vice president, strategic initiatives for FreeWheel Advertisers. Prior to that role, she was general manager, ad tech for Imagine Communications. Entercom EVP and CFO Richard Schmaeling says, “This role is critical to our success in the constantly evolving media landscape and we’re thrilled to have Sarah on board. Her strong business acumen and enriched media technology intellect is incredibly valuable as we continue to evolve and elevate our business.” Foss adds, “I’m thrilled to be joining Entercom at this exciting time in media. We have a unique opportunity to leverage outstanding content and deep community relationships to reach new, targeted audiences through our digital and broadcast platforms. Smart technology choices will accelerate this for us.”

TALKERS News Notes. The first presidential debate of the 2020 campaign is tomorrow night (9/29) from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and ABC News Radio is offering three hours of live, anchored coverage the night of the debate, including a one-hour pre-show, followed by the debate and live post-debate analysis. Correspondent Aaron Katersky anchors coverage with reporting and analysis by correspondent Karen Travers, political analyst Steve Roberts, political director Rick Klein, deputy political director MaryAlice Parks, FiveThirtyEight’s Galen Druke, and others from ABC News’ and FiveThirtyEight’s political teams. ABC News Radio will also offer multiple one-minute “Status Reports” throughout the night…..Entercom’s news/talk KNSS-AM, Wichita takes home three top honors in the 2020 Kansas Association of Broadcasters Television & Radio Awards. The station won first place for Complete Newscast by Steve McIntosh, Ted Woodward, Jad Chambers, Ronelle Williams; Complete Sportscast by Ted Woodward; and Station Website…..A new podcast series called “The Frost Tapes” is coming to the iHeartRadioplatform. It is an original podcast featuring unheard interviews of towering figures in American life during the 1960s and 1970s conducted by legendary broadcaster David Frost and hosted by his son, Wilfred Frost. Debuting on October 6, the podcast will include unaired behind-the-scenes footage from Frost’s famous 28-hour interviews with Richard Nixon, and huge swathes of interviews that have not been heard since their original broadcast date 50 years ago.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Radio pro Todd Schnitt is returning to morning drive in Tampa Bay in his alter ego MJ as “The MJ Morning Show” joins Beasley Media Group’s WRBQ-FM “Q105,” effective October 5. As a result of this move, current longtime morning personality Mason Dixon takes over afternoon drive and Geno Knight shifts to middays. Schnitt continued to host his afternoon drive, Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated talk program “The Schnitt Show.” The Schnitt Show on Compass Media Networks. Beasley Media Group Tampa vice president and market manager Steve Triplett says, “We are excited and proud to bring the ‘MJ Morning Show’ back on the legendary Q105. For nearly two decades, the people of Tampa Bay welcomed this show into their lives and made it one of the most successful content franchises in the history of the market. I can’t think of a better time to return this first-class entertainment experience back to the people of Tampa Bay!”…..Los Angeles-based “Valentine In The Morning” is the new morning program on iHeartMedia’s adult contemporary KSOF, Fresno “Soft Rock 98.9.” The program features Valentine along with his co-hosts Jillian Escoto and Kevin Manno. To make room for the program, Teri-Ann Schlesser moves to middays…..Programming pro McConnell Adams is promoted to director of content for Townsquare Media’s Lansing station group. He’s been serving as brand manager for CHR WJIM-FM “97.5 Now” and adult contemporary WFMK. He says, “I am truly blessed for the opportunities I have been presented by this amazing company. Our multi-platform, ‘Local First’ strategy is second to none at delivering local, original content and entertainment. I am really excited to be working even closer with the talented team here to continue our amazing success.”…..Morning personality John Houston is retiring from Woof Inc’s adult contemporary WOOF-FM, Dothan, Alabama after a 44-year career in radio. The Dothan Eagle reports on Houston’s career and his decision to start sleeping in and spend time with his children and grandchildren.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

| January 14, 2020

iHeartMedia’s New Markets Group Structure. The company says that the changes are being enacted as it modernizes “to take advantage of the significant investments it has made in technology and artificial intelligence (AI) and its unique scale and leadership position in the audio marketplace.”  iHeartMedia adds that it has “made significant technology investments to change everything from how it sells advertising to how it utilizes data and builds new businesses like its digital platform, podcast platform, and robust data platform.”  iHeartMedia explains it is now grouping “its markets by common needs and characteristics into three distinctly different divisions to make sharing of resources and experiences easier and more targeted.”  Greg Ashlock will continue to serve as president of the iHeartMedia Markets Group.  Now, the group breaks down as follows: The Region Division comprises the company’s largest markets, like New York and Los Angeles, that each reach hundreds of cities, communities, and trading areas for local businesses.  It will be led by division presidents Kevin LeGrett and Scott Hopeck; The Metro Division houses markets that are large areas that still encompass multiple communities – but are not regional hubs like the company’s largest markets.  The Metro Division will be led by division presidents Tom McConnell, Tony Coles, and Linda Byrd; The Community Division includes markets that focus on the shared needs of one community and one trading area for most businesses and advertisers and will also group markets into areas which are geographically close and culturally similar.  The Community Division will be led by division presidents Shosh Abromovich, Nick Gnau, and Dan Lankford.  iHeartMedia also says it will use “its new technology- and AI-enabled Centers of Excellence – which consolidate functional areas of expertise in specific locations to deliver the highest quality products and services – for every market, enabling each to take advantage of the company’s scale and shared resources across programming, marketing, digital, podcasts, sales and sales support to provide a better experience for listeners and business partners and a more efficient process for all of its employees.”  Additionally, the company is creating a new division “that cuts across all markets – the very successful Multi-Market Partnerships (MMP) Division headed by Julie Donohue, who is elevated to president of MMP with responsibility for this business.”  As part of these moves, the company’s Integrated Revenue Strategies group, led by president Hartley Adkins, will be merged into the iHeartMedia Markets Group and Adkins will become chief operating officer of the Markets Group working closely with Greg Ashlock.

Newsmax TV Launches ‘Greg Kelly Reports’ in Evenings. Former U.S. Marine and television news broadcaster Greg Kelly joins Newsmax TV as the network debuts his “Greg Kelly Reports” program at 7:00 pm ET.  After leaving the Marines, Kelly became morning news anchor at WIVT-TV, Binghamton, New York.  He worked for several years at FOX News before spending almost 10 years as co-host of “Good Day New York” on WNYW-TV “FOX 5.”  Newsmax TV EVP of programming Elliot Jacobson says, “Greg Kelly comes with compelling new skill sets to our network.  His military experience and his years as a frontline TV journalist differentiate him from prime-time hosts on other channels and allow him to examine the day’s news from a unique and insightful perspective.”  Kelly – the son of former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly – says, “I am very curious.  I find that many people in the media have lost their curiosity.  They just want to let you know what they know.  I like to take a different approach.”  The “Greg Kelly Reports” show debuts tonight (1/14).

Entercom’s Buffalo Market Manager and Sales Administrative Manager Exit. The Buffalo News has the story of the sudden departure of longtime Entercom Buffalo market manager Greg Reid and sales administrative manager Lynn Hooper.  The paper reports the two were fired suddenly – Reid was reportedly called while on vacation and let go – and wonders if their dismissal is related to the company’s admission that it inadvertently failed to post required political advertising information on its website in a timely manner, prompting the FCC to broaden its look into the company’s public file practices.  However, Entercom has been reducing expenses at local clusters for several months via downsizing and it’s possible Reid and Hooper were simply victims of budget cuts.  The News reports that general sales manager Tim Holly is serving as interim market manager.

Report: WGN-AM Cuts Ties with Crain’s Chicago Business. Windy City media reporter Robert Feder has the story here.  He writes that Nexstar’s WGN-AM, Chicago “abruptly severed its longstanding partnership” with Crain’s Chicago Business after the publication wrote a speculative piece about Nexstar prepping the radio station for a sale.  Nexstar acquired WGN-AM along with Tribune’s television stations and it is its only radio property.  Crain’s reporters made regular appearances on WGN shows and WGN’s website hosted the “Crain’s Daily Gist” podcast.  That has been removed.

TALKERS News Notes. Ratings and research giant Nielsen Holdings plc announces the hiring of two executives as it moves to separate into two publicly traded companies.  David Rawlinson is named chief executive officer of the consumer behavior analysis division Global Connect.  He was most recently president of global online business at Grainger.  Also, Linda Zukauckas is named the chief financial officer for Nielsen.  Both appointments become official on February 3…..Four of Alpha Media’s Chicagoland stations are expected to move into new digs at the Gurnee Mills mall in the far northern suburbs in February.  News/talk WLIP-AM, Kenosha and rock WIIL, Union Grove in Wisconsin and Spanish sports WKRS and hot AC WXLC in Waukegan, Illinois are moving as part of a deal to bring foot traffic to the mall.  The village of Gurnee is paying Alpha $200,000 to assist in the transition and the radio stations will host 32 events at the mall each year and provide $129,000 per year in radio ad time to the mall…..QUU – a company specializing in RDS/HD in-car stereo display technology – names Steve Newberry chief executive officer, effective April 1.  Newberry has been serving as EVP for industry affairs and strategic planning at the National Association of BroadcastersBeasley Media Group is among QUU’s investors.

Impeachment/Russians Hack Ukrainian Gas Co, 2020 Presidential Race, Iran Tensions, Pensacola Base Shooting Ruled Terror Attack, Megxit, and NFL Playoffs/College Football Championship Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/13). The articles of impeachment against President Trump and the allegation Russia hacked the Ukrainian gas company central to the impeachment issue; the rift between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and tonight’s debate in Des Moines; the domestic tensions in Iran and the White House’s rationale for killing Iranian general Qassem Soleimani; Attorney General William Barr rules the Pensacola naval base shooting was an act of terrorism and seeks Apple’s helping opening the assailant’s phones; the Sussex’s meeting with Queen Elizabeth over their stepping away from royal life; and the weekend’s NFL games and last night’s College Football Championship 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. The Westwood One nationally syndicated “Rick and Sasha Show” adds programmer and production pro “Smokin” Tony Richards to the team of the urban AC morning show now heard on more than 25 stations.  Richards has worked as a drive time personality and programmer in markets including New York, Houston, Philadelphia, DC, and Chicago.  He says, “This show is going to the moon, and I want to be a part of it.  Rick and Sasha are two people who I feel are the future of radio.  I am here unselfishly to help the team make it happen.”…..In Dallas, Entercom’s alternative KVIL “ALT 103.7” names Ian Camfield afternoon drive personality.  Camfield was most recently midday personality at Hubbard Radio’s alternative KDKB, Phoenix “ALT AZ 93.3.”  As a result of Camfield’s arrival, Mark moves from afternoons to AM drive.