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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

| August 12, 2020

Sumner Redstone Has Died. According to a statement from ViacomCBS, its chair emeritus and chief executive officer of controlling shareholder National Amusements, Sumner Redstone, has died. Redstone served as Viacom CEO from 1996 – 2005, and was executive chair of the Viacom and CBS boards from 2005 – 2016. He since was chair emeritus for both companies. A statement reads, “Sumner Redstone was a brilliant visionary, operator, and dealmaker, who single-handedly transformed a family-owned drive-in theater company into a global media portfolio. He was a force of nature and fierce competitor, who leaves behind a profound legacy in both business and philanthropy. ViacomCBS will remember Sumner for his unparalleled passion to win, his endless intellectual curiosity, and his complete dedication to the company. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Redstone family today.” Sumner Redstone was 97 years old.

Beasley Study: Boston Consumers Optimistic. Results of Beasley Media Group Boston-commissioned/ Strategic Solutions Research-conducted polling indicate the majority of Boston-area consumers remain optimistic even during the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, a large percentage feel their spending is – or will soon be – back to normal. Beasley Media Group Boston vice president/market manager Mary Menna comments, “The company’s study is meant to help guide marketing partners on how to craft the most effective messaging with their advertising and give Boston area businesses critical data as to local consumers’ current state-of-mind and planned future behaviors. It was important for us to conduct this research to get a pulse on Boston consumers for our clients. People in Boston are optimistic that we will make it through the pandemic. That optimism shows true ‘Boston Strong’ grit and determination. They also understand the seriousness of the situation: The great majority of listeners – nine of ten – support wearing a mask, and they expect others to do so as well.” Strategic Solutions Research partner Hal Rood notes that, while shopping patterns have had to shift online, “It does not spell the end of brick-and-mortar establishments. The overwhelming majority of listeners still plan on making in-person shopping part of their mix, and that includes people under 35.” The survey was conducted July 6 – 16 among 1,532 listeners of Beasley Media Group Boston’s five radio stations: sports talk WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub”; classic hits-oldies WROR “105.7 ’80s & More”; WKLB “Country 102.5”; WBOS “Boston’s Rock 92.9”; and rhythmic hot AC WBQT “Hot 96.9.”

Local Ad Revenue Estimates Lowered. Continuing economic fallout owing to the coronavirus crisis has led BIA Advisory Services to adjust its estimate for 2020’s total local advertising market to $140.4 billion, which is down from April’s $144.3 billion. Albeit with this year’s anticipated strong political advertising, BIA’s updated forecast estimate represents a 6.1% decline from 2019. BIA’s senior vice president/chief economist Mark Fratrik explains that, “To update our post-COVID forecast from April, we analyzed the continuing impact on local advertising by the weakened economy, continuing job loss reports, and the downturn in some key business verticals. We believe a realistic view of the economy overall and the advertising marketplace is that, after a dramatic decrease in the second-quarter and a bumpy start to the third, the remainder of the year will turn positive, but end up with an overall decline in local advertising for the year.” As political campaigns continue to drift to online rallies and events, presidential and down-ballot candidates are spending significant dollars in local broadcast and digital advertising. Ever since its April prediction, BIA increased the expected political ad spend from $7.1 billion to $7.3 billion. Distributed share to different media includes $5 million to terrestrial radio; $138 million to over-the-air TV; $40 million to cable TV; and $26 million to online/digital.

COVID-19 Concerns Cause BFA Golf Tourney Cancellation. Owing to coronavirus-related safety fears, the Broadcasters Foundation of America has scrubbed its celebrity golf tournament fundraiser. Another big BFA money driver – the Philip J. Lombardo Golf Tournament traditionally held in conjunction with the NAB Show in Las Vegas – was cancelled as well a few months ago. Broadcasters Foundation chair Scott Herman remarks, “Our colleagues who find themselves in acute need due to a debilitating illness or accident need our help. This year, we are helping more broadcasters than ever before, and it’s imperative that we continue to do so. We cannot turn our backs on our colleagues.” Broadcasters Foundation president Jim Thompson adds, “We have three major fundraisers a year, and the golf tournaments are two of them. Our grant recipients worked in radio or television stations in markets across America.” The two golf fundraisers, along with smaller events, generate over $450,000 a year. In hopes of negating the losses, the Broadcasters Foundation is launching a plea for donations. Personal contributions can be made to the Foundation’s Guardian Fund. Corporate offerings are accepted through the Angel Initiative, while bequests can be made through the Foundation’s Legacy Society.

Mr. Master Marks Milestone: Million Spots Per Week. The company behind Automation Import Manager (AIM) – Mr. Master – has processed and provided compliance for one million network spots per week nationwide. This coincides with Mr. Master announcing new AIM agreements with Neuhoff Communications (five markets/20 stations) and Forever Communications (three markets/26 stations). It has AIM renewal contracts with Entercom (44 markets/453 stations); Alpha Media (46 markets/226 stations); SummitMedia (nine markets/51 stations); and Forever Media (16 markets/63 stations). Mr. Master president Stu Jacobs states, “We are very proud that AIM has become such a widely accepted, and useful tool that helps networks, stations, and advertisers to quickly get the accurate information they need, whether they are working in-office or remotely. One million national network spots a week – 52 million spots a year – is a huge milestone for our company. We couldn’t have done it without our first-class team and the amazing clients who trust us with their accountability.”

Albuquerque’s KQTM Aligns With Cage Side Seat MMA Media. The multi-layered broadcast relationship between Team Broadcasting Albuquerque sports talk KQTM “ESPN 101.7 The Team” and Cage Side Seat MMA Media includes weekly Jim “Gries” Grieshaber-hosted longform programming; daily UFC/MMA commentaries/features; and weekly guest appearances on live programming. KQTM president Joe O’Neill comments, “It’s great to work with Jim. He’s a national-level talent connected to the pulse of UFC/MMA. We look forward to bringing “Gries” to New Mexico.” Grieshaber adds, “We’re so pumped to partner with our friends at ‘The Team’ and the great MMA fans of Albuquerque. Albuquerque is hallowed ground in our sport. It is home of the mecca of MMA gyms Jackson-Wink MMA, the GOAT Jon Jones, and legends like Holly Holm, Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez, ‘The Karate Hottie’ Michelle Waterson, and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. We’re coming strong with the best in MMA/UFC sports talk programming.”

Key Networks And Virtual Jock Partnering. In the barter basis arrangement, New Generation Radio product Virtual Jock will provide syndication company Key Networks access to its on-air talent and programming services. Virtual Jock founder/president/chief executive officer Jason Kidd explains that right before launching Virtual Jock five years ago, “Many stations were downsizing and losing strong local talent in the process. Fast forward to now and the need is greater than ever before. Teaming up with Key Networks will allow us to take things to an even higher level, expanding and offering our major market talent roster to radio stations across all formats. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with them.” Key Networks president and chief operating officer Jim Higgins comments, “The ongoing disruption from COVID-19 has severely impacted every radio company. All have eliminated some on-air positions and daypart shifts as cost-cutting moves in order to retain financial stability. Virtual Jock can now assist these groups and others by offering a no-cost barter option to fill some of these numerous holes and to also reconnect with those disenfranchised listeners. We want to work closely with stations to fill this void as radio is beginning to rebound.” Chief revenue officer Dennis Green notes, “Jason [Kidd] and his team have developed a concept that offers stations a chance to bring top-notch talent across all formats to markets from coast-to-coast. Key Networks is delighted to partner with Virtual Jock to provide a marketing opportunity that is cost-effective for stations both large and small to have dynamic and proven talent on their air.” In addition to 24/7 formats, Virtual Jock currently offers 40 full-time/in-house voice talents, as well as fully-produced audio programs and imaging. New York and Orlando-based Key Networks is a Sun & Fun Media-affiliated company.

Shondaland Audio, iHeartMedia Release Original Podcasts. As part of an arrangement between iHeartRadio and Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland Audio, three podcasts will debut this month: “You Down?”; “Criminalia”; and “Go Ask Ali.” Future podcasts will include “#Matter,” “American Coup,” and “Black Girl Lost.” According to iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne, “Shonda Rhimes is an absolute creative powerhouse. Developing these first few shows together has indicated what a strong partnership iHeartMedia and Shondaland have formed with Shondaland Audio. The breadth and depth of content that’s in progress as part of this partnership is unparalleled. We’re thrilled to work beside the Shondaland team to bring Shonda’s unique storytelling magic to podcast listeners everywhere.” Shondaland Audio chief design and digital media officer Sandie Bailey states, “Podcasts allow for innovative and intimate storytelling and that’s exactly what this slate offers – deeply human stories through a range of genres and formats aimed to engage the varied and ever- growing podcast listenership. iHeartMedia has been an incredible partner in forming Shondaland Audio. I’m thrilled that audiences will soon hear more from our collaboration with this new offering of shows.” Rhimes oversees development of the slate; Bailey manages day-to-day operations. Previously launched “Katie’s Crib,” a bi-weekly podcast following “Scandal” and “Waitress” actress Katie Lowes joined the slate three months ago. It releases a new episode tomorrow (Thursday, 8/13) that features actress Gabrielle Union.

Veritone One Signs On With Nielsen’s Podcast Buying Power Service. Audio advertising and media agency Veritone One is now subscribing to Nielsen’s Podcast Buying Power Service. Veritone One senior vice president of strategy and investment Conor Doyle comments, “As one of the largest podcast advertising agencies serving over 100 active clients across 15,000 podcasts, Nielsen’s research will help us refine our current placements and unlock market opportunities for new advertisers wanting to enter the medium. Access to consumption and audience data will attract brand advertisers who have been previously hesitant to enter the largely direct-to-consumer space. Integrating Nielsen’s unique insights along with our proprietary AI-based analytics and decades of experience will enable us to set a new industry standard in podcast advertising.” Nielsen Global Media executive vice president/managing director David Hohman notes, “Veritone One is an agency that is on the cutting-edge of advertising. We are excited to empower them as they turn their data into actionable intelligence with real-time campaign optimization. With more brand advertisers coming into the podcast medium, and Nielsen’s ability to analyze over 150 podcasts, Veritone One will be able to reach even greater success as an innovative industry leader.”

TALKERS News Notes. “Women To Watch” joins the lineup of Red Apple Media New York’s WABC “Talk Radio 77” this Saturday (8/15) at 8:30 am. It will commence as a 30-minute show, expanding to 60 minutes three weeks later (9/5) at a yet-to-be-determined time. The show’s founder/host Susan Rocco remarks, “I always wanted ‘Women to Watch’ to be the go-to media network for all stories related to women’s leadership and success. We are building a woman-owned, women-run media company to amplify the voices of women who are leading across all industries.” WABC’s senior vice president of programming Dave LaBrozzi notes his station, “is proud to support strong women by bringing this lively and inspiring weekly show to the NYC market.” The first guest featured on WABC will be The Weiss Agency executive vice president Heather Cohen, who comments, “‘Women To Watch’ is the place to go to hear inspiring stories by inspiring women. Susan [Rocco] is the consummate professional and her interviews are spot-on.  I’m honored to be the first guest in the NY market.” Rocco states, “Heather Cohen is an exciting first guest for our new market. She’s a New Yorker, has worked in the industry and was recently elected chair of The Alliance For Women in Media.” Originated and still heard on Entercom Philadelphia’s WPHT “Talk Radio 1210,” Women To Watch has expanded to a national podcast and digital platform … Separate from his duties as 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm host on Cox Media Group Atlanta news/talk WSB-AM & WSBB-FM, Erick Erickson today (Wednesday, 8/12) celebrates the one-year anniversary of doing self-syndication. His first affiliate was in Athens, Georgia (WGAU). Twelve months later, Erickson is on more than a dozen Georgia news/talk outlets. A one-man band, he does affiliate relations, and ad sales. Describing the experience as rewarding, Erickson explains, “Georgia’s swing state status makes a statewide program focused on the state a unique selling point. I try to be upfront, though, that I want to stretch outside the state after the election and keep growing nationwide.”  … As noted yesterday (TALKERS, 8/11), president Trump chatted on-air with Salem Media Networks host Hugh Hewitt. That wasn’t yesterday’s only radio stop for the chief executive though as he visited with Fox Sports Radio’s (6:00 am – 9:00 am, ET) “Outkick The Coverage” host Clay Travis. Regarding college football and the coronavirus, Trump told Travis, “People don’t realize it’s a tiny percentage of people that get sick and they’re old. It just attacks old people, especially old people with bad hearts, diabetes, some kind of a physical problem or a weight problem. These football players are very young, strong people. Physically, they’re in extraordinary shape, so they’re not going to have a problem. You’re not going to see people dying. You can’t have empty seats. I’m not sure college football can do it, but we’ll have to see.” On the return of the NFL and the NBA, he commented, “Well, they want to open and they want to open badly and they’ve been working with government. I would say this – if they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open. Other than that, I’d love to see them open and we’re doing everything possible to get them open. They can protest in other ways. I don’t think they should protest our flag or our country. Basketball ratings are down to very, very low numbers. People are angry about it. They have enough politics with guys like me. They don’t need more as they’re going up for the shot. There was a nastiness about the NBA and the way it was done. I think the NBA’s in big trouble — bigger trouble than they understand.” … Taking the place of annual in-person tours that SiriusXM’s “NFL Radio” channel usually conducts, it will present 32 virtual NFL training camp shows – one for each NFL franchise. Starting today (Wednesday, 8/12), “NFL Radio” channel hosts will interview players, coaches, and team executives via video conferencing. SiriusXM senior vice president of sports programming Steve Cohen states, “Like all NFL fans, we look excitedly ahead to the 2020 NFL season. Even amid these very unique circumstances in which teams are reporting to camp, we remain dedicated to giving our listeners the most in-depth and comprehensive preseason preview of their favorite teams. Our experts include some of the most knowledgeable and well-connected people covering the game today. They will deliver a level of analysis on teams and players that you can’t get anywhere else.” …  Numerous lineup changes next Monday (8/17) at Disney-owned/Good Karma Brands-operated sports talk WMVP will find “ESPN 1000 Chicago” airing two hours (5:00 am – 7:00 am) of ESPN Radio’s new national morning show with Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Zubin Mehenti. Shifting from 6:00 am – 9:00 am to 7:00 am – 10:00 am is David Kaplan. He will partner with Jonathan  Hood, who segues from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Meanwhile, Carmen DeFalco and John Jurkovic transition from 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm to 10:00 am – 12:00 noon, as ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg-hosted “Greeny” takes over the vacated 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm slot. Weekend hosts Chris Bleck and Adam Abdalla advance to 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, while Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman remain in afternoon drive (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm) … Citing pandemic-caused budget issues, Team Broadcasting Albuquerque sports talk KQTM “ESPN 101.7 The Team” parts ways with morning host Jim Villanucci and producer/host Sam Hauser. The station’s afternoon program – “Team Talk” – is being handled by a revolving set of hosts. Formerly an on-air talent at Cumulus Media Albuquerque news/talk KKOB-AM, Villanucci joined KQTM two years ago. He previously worked at news/talk stations in Portland (KXL) and Las Vegas (KXNT). Before coming to “The Team” last year, Hauser served as sports director in Austin, Minnesota at KAUS and was a producer/board op in Miami at sports talk WAXY “790 The Ticket.”

Kamala Harris Receives VP Nod, Mail-In Voting Debate, School Opening Struggles, and Chicago Unrest Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/11).  The selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as Joe Biden’s running-mate topped the TALKERS list of most-discussed stories on news/talk radio across America yesterday (8/11).  It was followed by the debates over mail-in voting and the opening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Other major topics included Chicago unrest, Russia’s vaccine, stimulus relief, and the cancellation of Big 10 and Pac-12 college football according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. With Ryan Seacrest’s television partner Kelly Ripa taking yesterday (Tuesday, 8/10) and today (Wednesday, 8/11) off, his “Live With Kelly & Ryan” co-host those two days is Sisanie, his radio partner. The two work together  on Premiere Networks’ “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” heard around the country from iHeartMedia Los Angeles CHR flagship KIIS “102.7 Kiss-FM.” Sisanie has filled in for Ripa several times the past few years … Last summer, Westwood One’s “Bob & Tom Show” asked David Rush, the world’s fastest juggler and breaker of over 150 Guinness World Records, to attempt shattering the record for most balloons popped in one minute using chopsticks. Rush established that mark in 2018 with 28 balloons, but that feat was subsequently broken. Rush set out to regain the title this past Sunday (8/9) – this time using hand pump-inflated, COVID-free balloon targets bearing “The Bob & Tom Show” logo. Halfway into the attempt, Rush recounts that he was “just barely on pace to beat the record,” but began throwing the chopsticks a little faster to pop 40 balloons in 60 seconds – a new world record. A big promoter of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, Rush dedicates all his world records to that cause … WBVX “Classic Rock 92.1” names Dennis “Dead Air” Dillon program director/afternoon personality of the LM Communications Lexington (Kentucky) outlet. LM Communications owner/president Lynn Martin remarks, “We are pleased to welcome Dennis Dillon, who has a long history of presenting the very best classic rock music and now can present it to the best classic rock audience in Lexington. By introducing him to our locally-owned and operated radio group, we once again show that being a local voice rather than just a cog in a national wheel lets us provide something truly unique to the classic rock audience in Lexington. Dillon notes, “In a time when big corporations are moving away from local DJ’s in the community, I’m ecstatic to have found a home in the city I love with a locally-owned and operated company. I’ve always loved this genre and I’m already discovering that the ‘Classic Rock 92.1’ fans share that same passion.” Dillon previously worked in Cincinnati, Louisville, and Chattanooga … Former MusicMaster vice president of sales Jerry Butler joins Marc Radio Gainesville-Ocala as local sales manager for a cluster that includes alternative WHHZ “100.5 The Buzz”; country WPLL; rhythmic CHR WTGM “Magic 101.3”; classic hits-oldies WXJZ; and contemporary Christian WTMN & WRZN. Marc Radio general manager Dave Cobb comments, “Jerry brings the perfect mix of leadership, marketing, on-air personality, and programming savvy. He knows the radio industry inside and out. He is great at advising clients and introducing them to new products. He’s a great asset to our team.” Butler adds, “Our goal is to guide the local advertising community on how best to earn impressive returns on their investments in any, or all, of our radio station formats.” … After stunting by playing a weekend of all-Christmas music, Zimmer Midwest Communications Springfield, Missouri flips sports talk KWTO “The Jock” to adult contemporary “98.7 The Dove.” ZMC co-owner John Zimmer remarks, “It’s a great day for our company to enter the greater Springfield market with stations featuring the most powerful signals and largest coverage areas to serve the Ozark region. The greater Springfield region has been a great driver of growth in Missouri – we are proud to be of part of the expansion. We look forward to making a positive impact and difference for the community and businesses with our local solutions and stations to promote the economy of the Springfield region.” Kevin Howard and Liz Delany (“Kevin & Liz”) debut in morning drive next Monday (8/17). Core artists on “Lite Rock Favorites The Dove” include Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Billy Joel, and Sting.

Monday, April 16, 2018

| April 16, 2018

Remembering Art Bell. The somewhat eerie fact that 72-year-old Art Bell died on Friday the 13th (4/13 in Pahrump, Nevada) certainly could not go unnoticed or overlooked. Bell was the founder and original host of the paranormal-themed “Coast to Coast AM,” which Premiere Networks syndicated on hundreds of North American radio outlets. Part of a Bell retrospective on that program’s website details that, “His love of radio led him to working for an English-language station in Japan, where he set a Guinness world record for broadcasting 116 hours straight. This was no mere radio stunt, however, as it served to raise funds to rescue over 100 Vietnamese orphans left stranded by the conflict in their home country.  Upon returning to the United States, he entered the world of talk radio with an overnight program on KDWN, Las Vegas.  After noticing that episodes covering conspiracy theories and paranormal topics generated considerable interest from listeners, Bell transformed the show from political talk to discussion of these often-verboten realms. Syndicated nationally in 1993 [by Talk Radio Network], ‘Coast to Coast AM’ soon became a radio phenomenon.  During the 1990s, when ‘The X-Files’ had people wondering about the world of high strangeness, Art Bell was the voice of that world, introducing millions of radio listeners to a vast array of paranormal topics and the researchers that studied them. As he begins his journey on the ‘Other Side,’ we take solace in the hope that he is now finding out all of the answers to the mysteries he pursued for so many nights with all of us.”  The Jacksonville, North Carolina born former Air Force medic “semi-retired” from “Coast to Coast AM” 15 years ago but could be heard hosting the program on weekends from 2003 – 2007 and was an occasional guest host through 2010.  Bell called his show “absolute entertainment” and did not necessarily accept every guest or caller’s claims but offered a forum where they would not be openly ridiculed. SiriusXM debuted “Art Bell’s Dark Matter” in September 2013 on its “Indie Talk” channel, but that four-hour (7:00 pm – 11:00 pm, PT) Monday through Thursday venture ended after just six weeks. Approximately four-dozen stations carried his 9:00 pm – 12:00 midnight PT “Midnight in the Desert” show, which launched on the Internet in July 2015 on Bell’s Dark Matter Digital Network. Three months later in October of 2015, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison interviewed him for his weekly podcast. The following is a brief excerpt from that long-form conversation in which Bell assesses the state of the radio industry and its future.  To listen to the clip, please click here.  Five months later though, Bell exited, citing concerns about his family’s safety.  Bell was replaced as weekday host of “Coast to Coast AM” on January 1, 2003 by George Noory, who reacted emotionally on air last Friday night to Bell’s passing. “I’m trying to get my composure here, folks,” a shaken Noory admitted. “Art and I were not that close.  We had our differences, but he was one of those instrumental in me being where I am right now.  He was a very heavy smoker and was hospitalized a year or so ago because of [that].  I don’t know if that played a factor in [his death] or not.”  In 1996, KTRS, St. Louis’ Tim Dorsey hired Noory to be “The Night Hawk” and as Bell decided he needed an emergency replacement, Noory gained national exposure by doing his first “Coast to Coast AM” show in April 2001. “As Art’s back problems became more severe, I started doing more shows, until he decided to retire from fulltime work,” Noory told Inside Radio’s then special features editor/current TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian.  Equating the experience of substituting for – and eventually succeeding – Bell on a fulltime basis to pinch-hitting for Babe Ruth, Noory maintained, “It’s sometimes an unreal feeling. I never showed it on the air, but replacing Art Bell was overwhelming for me. I realized there was no way I could replace him. It wouldn’t work if I tried to duplicate him.” The first time Noory heard Bell was in 1996 when he was driving to work at heritage St. Louis news/talker KMOX. “I said to myself that I wanted to do that program,” Noory confided to Kinosian. “After I concentrated on the show, strange events occurred that made it all happen.  Whatever’s out there in the universe that makes things happen for people is real.”  Now living in Lexington, Kentucky, noted spoken-word consultant/programmer Gabe Hobbs is a former vice president/programming – news, talk, & sports for Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia). “What a special talent Art Bell was – truly unique,” Hobbs declares.  “He helped talk radio evolve from the Larry King-era into the modern era of our format.  He is the man that made overnights meaningful and profitable in radio.”  Longtime iHeartMedia Los Angeles adult contemporary KOST “Coast 103” air talent Ted Ziegenbusch notes on Facebook, “I did a late-night show for about 20 years in the 1980s and 1990s. On a family trip to central California one night, I heard Art on a tiny radio station. That was long before he became popular and I was fascinated with his stories about UFOs; ghosts; pyramids on Mars; climate change; and all sorts of quirky subjects. His shows were almost always riveting and impossible to leave for even a moment. When I returned from my trip north, I told my general manager that Art Bell would be perfect for our AM station. Nobody had ever heard of the guy, so my suggestion fell on deaf ears. Later, he would join our team and score enormous success. The story doesn’t end there. Sadly, there were some real ups and downs in Art’s life and his career; [however], he was sure a trailblazer and one-of-a-kind entertainer.” Brian Whitman, who does morning drive in Los Angeles on Salem Media Group news/talk KRLA, recounts, “Many years ago when I was younger and less experienced, I was doing some on-air work at Premiere Radio Networks. I asked the boss if he would consider me to be a substitute host on ‘Coast to Coast’ when Art Bell was absent. I took the opportunity to mention that when those crazy people called, I’d goof on them and do a really funny show. The boss made me smarter [by telling me], ‘Brian, you don’t understand. On ‘Coast to Coast,’ when someone calls to tell you an alien landed in their swimming pool, you don’t make fun. You say, ‘tell me more.’ [That was] the genius of Art Bell. I always say that the most important thing for a radio performer is to find his voice.  Art Bell’s singular voice, brilliant mind, and master showmanship came together to create his own brand. He understood the intimacy that radio can create [and] the lives it can touch.”  An executive producer at iHeartMedia Los Angeles news/talk KFI, Michelle Kube, comments that, “Even if I thought some of the stories were crazy, you couldn’t deny [Art Bell’s] talent.” He was “a true radio pioneer and a great storyteller. He created ‘Coast to Coast AM’ – it’s his legacy.”  For the past 14 years, Kurt Kretzschmar has been director of affiliate marketing – Premiere Networks. The former executive producer of Los Angeles sports outlet KSPN and cross-town news/talk KABC asserts that tapes of Bell’s shows “that air on Saturday nights are some of the highest-rated weekend hours on several affiliates.” Senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia’s Northern Ohio region, which includes WHLO “640 Akron’s News Talk,” Keith Kennedy, was among programmers scheduling Art Bell tribute programming this past weekend. Kennedy wrote on Facebook, “Listen to ‘Somewhere in Time’ Saturday at 9:00 pm – we’ll rebroadcast one of his unique programs.”  Bell studied engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park, but dropped out to become a radio chief engineer/board op/occasional on-air talent.  In May 2008, he sold KNYE, Pahrump to station manager Karen Jackson for a reported $600,000. Inducted to the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame (2006) and National Radio Hall of Fame (2008), Bell received Radio & Records’ “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2007. A July 2016 posting on Bell’s website indicated he was hospitalized for pneumonia and that he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  Nye County (Nevada) sheriff Sharon Wehrly described Bell as a “longtime resident” of the area and said an autopsy to confirm the cause of death would be performed later this week. Geller Media International Broadcast Consultants president Valerie Geller proclaims, “May his journey continue in peace.”

WWJ, Detroit Names Brooke Allen PM Drive Co-Host. Detroit all-news WWJ-AM “Newsradio 950” announces that Brooke Allen (right) is returning to the station to co-host the afternoon drive daypart (2:00 pm to 6:00 pm) with current afternoon host Greg Bowman (left).  Allen was most recently the producer and local host of “Morning Edition” on public news/talk WKAR-AM/FM, East Lansing, Michigan.  Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “We are excited to welcome Brooke back to WWJ.  In addition to being an award-winning journalist, Brooke is devoted to our local community.   Her passion for the news and connection to the people of the metro Detroit area will be evident each and every day.”

Johnson Named VP of Sports Sales for iHeartMedia Denver. Denver sales pro Jeff Johnson is promoted at iHeartMedia to vice president of sports sales & partnerships.  In this new role, Johnson is charged with “growing and managing iHeartMedia Denver’s sports partnerships, including the Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies, as well as its Broncos-centric station, KDSP-AM ‘Orange & Blue 760.'”  iHeartMedia Denver SVP of sales Ryan Clune states, “I’m thrilled for Jeff.  Watching him grow over the years from senior account executive to director of sports sales, and now vice president of sports sales & partnerships has been a highlight of my career.  Jeff’s ability to align advertisers with our exclusive sports content, along with delivering unmatched reach, brand affinity, and ROI for our partners makes him the ideal leader to step into this key position.”

Price: Are You Ready for Atlantic Hurricane Season? Former longtime director of business continuity & crisis management for ABC’s news and technology & operations divisions, Howard B. Price, writes today in a piece for TALKERS magazine about the need to be prepared for the Atlantic Hurricane Season.  Price says that tropical researchers at Colorado State University have issued their predictions for this year and have concluded that there will likely be 14 named storms between June 1 and November 30. Of those, researchers expect seven hurricanes, with three of those likely to be major storms (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5, with sustained winds of 111 MPH – plus).  Price provides this nine-point preparedness checklist for broadcasters who could be affected by an Atlantic hurricane or any other natural disaster for that matter.  See it here.

Padres Executive Chairman Opens Up About KEGY Format Tweak.  As reported in the San Diego Union Tribune writer Bryce Miller, San Diego Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler says the team had “significant input and impact” on the format and branding changes Entercom made to KEGY, but not so much as to dictate which air talent should go where.  Union Tribune reports Fowler and the Padres had issues with KEGY’s programming as “97.3 The Machine” before air personality Kevin Klein’s promotional Tweet that referenced the city’s Coronado bridge and its history as a site of hundreds of suicides.  Miller quotes Fowler referencing the station’s programming as “shock-jock” radio.  See Miller’s story here.

Comey’s ABC Interview/Trump-Russia Investigation, U.S. Strikes on Syria, Starbucks-Philly Arrests, Mexico Border Issues, Barbara Bush Health Status, MLB and NBA Playoffs Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. Former FBI director James Comey’s interview on ABC-TV in which he discussed the investigation into the Hillary Clinton email matter and opined on President Trump’s fitness for office and the related investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; the weekend’s U.S. military strikes in Syria; the controversy over the arrest of two black men for trespassing at a Philadelphia Starbucks; the issue of security at the U.S.-Mexico border; former First Lady Barbara Bush’s failing health; and Major League Baseball and NBA playoffs action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes.  According to the most recent list published by The Hollywood Reporter, Premiere Networks and FOX News Channel star Sean Hannity and multi-media personality Ryan Seacrest are two of the 35 most powerful media people in New York. Regarding Hannity, THR says that he regularly commands the largest audience of any cable news host on television, in addition to reaching millions of listeners on his national radio show.  “He also has the ear (and the eyes) of the president…and has the power to make or break Republican political candidates.”  As for Seacrest, the publication says that since Kelly Ripa tapped him as her co-host in May, viewership of ABC’s “LIVE with Kelly & Ryan” has “risen nearly 15% to 3.2 million viewers each day.”  See the whole list here…..Westwood One announces a strategic partnership with American Public Media to increase sales and promotional opportunities for season two of the investigative podcast, “In the Dark.”  The first season of “In the Dark” has driven nearly 12 million downloads to date and continues to receive downloads more than a year later at roughly 465,000 per month.  In this new relationship, Westwood One is providing broadcast radio show promotion and exclusive ad sales representation…..Pictured below is former White House national security adviser Dr. Sebastian Gorka (left) reviewing documents with Ken Lormand (right), Washington bureau chief of Salem Radio Network News.  As a former Trump adviser, Gorka has insight into administration personnel moves, including CIA director Mike Pompeo’s nomination to become the next U.S. Secretary of State.

TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! to Feature Presentation by Salem VP Phil Boyce Titled, “What Has Donald Trump Done to Talk Radio.” There is no doubt that the ascendancy of Donald J. Trump to the U.S. presidency has greatly impacted news/talk radio and its associated platforms of talk media. Salem Media Group SVP of the spoken word format Phil Boyce will deliver an address, backed up by Harker Research data, exploring this phenomenon in detail during the morning sessions of TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! The presentation will be introduced by highly regarded programmer Greg Moceri, CEO of Moceri Media. The 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running, and most important convention takes place on Friday, June 8 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater in the Chelsea district of Manhattan. The day opens with back-to-back keynote “fireside chats” conducted by Michael Harrison with Premiere Networks and Fox News Channel star Sean Hannity and Beasley Broadcasting CEO Caroline Beasley. The conference will also include presentations by such industry notables as PodcastOne executive chairman, Norm Pattiz; former WFAN, New York sports talk superstar, Mike Francesa; Amplifi Media CEO Steve Goldstein, panel appearances by Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott, Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes and an afternoon keynote address by Infowars and GCN maverick Alex Jones. There will be panels on programming, sales, digital convergence and more featuring a total of 50-plus speakers from all aspects of the talk media industry. The convention is on a fast-track to being an advance sellout and there will be no registrations sold at the door. For more information and the complete up-to-the-minute agenda, read the story below.

TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! Agenda Posted. The TALKERS editorial board is pleased to post the basic agenda for the 21stannual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important national convention – TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! takes place on Friday, June 8 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater located in the colorful Chelsea district of Manhattan. The conference will feature more than 50 top speakers from all aspects of the spoken-word media industry – including talent, programmers, managers and owners – with a focus on talk radio and its role in the rapidly accelerating digital age. This will include programming, sales, marketing, and technology as well as the full spectrum of concerns, challenges and opportunities facing modern-day talk broadcasters and broadcasting organizations. It will feature keynote addresses, panel discussions, fireside chats, and exhibits of the latest services and equipment available to broadcasting professionals. Like its predecessors, TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! will also provide its attendees with unparalleled networking opportunities and social mixers including breakfast, lunch, and a closing cocktail reception – all in a single, power-packed day! Full up-to-the-minute agenda details, speaker roster and hotel information can be seen here. If you are planning to attend, it would be wise to register NOW. This convention will be an early sellout.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Denver, iHeartMedia names Chelsea Thomas midday host for country KWBL “106.7 The Bull,” effective April 23.   iHeartMedia region SVP of programming JoJo Turnbeaugh says, “An on-air opening with iHeartMedia in Denver always generates strong interest from many talented personalities.  Chelsea was the clear winner. Her authenticity and unique ability to weave storytelling into her show made her the ideal match for the Bull Nation.”  Thomas was most recently music director and air personality at Alpha Media’s CHR WDJX, Louisville…..KAMP, Los Angeles “97.1 AMP Radio” music director and midday personality Michelle Boros exits her position with the Entercom CHR station after an eight-year stint…..Kristina Carlyle signs on with Albany Broadcasting’s country WKLI, Albany “100.9 The Cat” to co-host the morning show and serve as music director. Carlyle – most recently with Scripps’ KVOO, Tulsa – takes over for the departed Dana Race…..There’s a new morning host at California Radio Partners’ triple A KOZT, Fort Bragg “The Coast” as Dred Scott is tapped to work alongside news director Joe Regelski.  Station co-owner and program director Tom Yates says, “We did a job posting and got 41 responses in two days from some really good candidates.  But Dred is a really good fit with the ‘Coast’ crew.”…..At Ingstad Media’s country KXDD, Yakima, Washington, Lindsey Cleveland is promoted from part-time status to full-time as morning drive co-host with Brian Stephenson on “The Good Morning Gang with Brian & Lindsey.” Cleveland fills the role vacated recently by Carey Jacobson…..In Washington, DC, Kala Simmons is named morning show producer for WASH-FM’s “Toby and Chilli” morning show. Simmons has been with the iHeartMedia Washington cluster for the past three years as assistant digital producer for WIHT’s “The Kane Show.”