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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.

Friday, May 1, 2020

| May 1, 2020

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   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.  The new episode titled “Living in a Ghost Town” looks back at this past week of April 27-May 1, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS;  Scott Hennen, talk show host, WZFG, Fargo, ND / WTGO, Tioga, ND / KFYR, Bismarck, ND / KTLC, Dickenson, ND; Graham Mack, talk show host, Podcast Radio, UK; Michael Zwerling, talk show host / station owner, KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; Glenn Beck, talk show host, Premiere Networks; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio 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 WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), 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.

Smart Audio Report: Half of 18-34s Consuming More News and Information. Among the results of The Smart Audio Report Spring 2020 from Edison Research and NPR (based upon a national telephone survey of 1,002 U.S. adults age 18 and older, conducted December 31, 2019 through January 5, 2020, and a national online survey of 1,660 U.S. adults age 18 and older, conducted March 31, 2020 through April 1, 2020) is that “77% of those in the U.S. age 18+ are experiencing a change in their typical routine due to the outbreak of COVID-19 as of April 1, and voice-assistant usage has expanded during these disruptions.”  Smart Speaker ownership has reached 24% of the 18+ U.S. population. The study concluded: 1) 36% of U.S. adult smart speaker owners say they are using their device more to listen to music and entertainment since the outbreak, and 2) 52% of 18-34-year-olds say the same; 3) 35% of U.S. adult smart speaker owners are listening to more news and information since the COVID-19 outbreak, and 4) 50% of those ages 18-34 say the same. See more about the study here.

iHeartMedia Creates ‘Small Business Crisis Resource.’ This new initiative from iHeartMedia is designed to help local, small business owners across the country easily find available benefits and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Small Business Crisis Resource” serves as a centralized source for small business owners and includes a weekly iHeart Small Business newsletter and a website providing critical information on the Federal stimulus package, up-to-date small business news, state by state resources, links to top business-focused podcasts and more at iHeartRadio.com/SmallBusiness and SmallBusinessCrisisResource.com. Small business owners can also sign up for special webinars, kicking off this Monday, May 4 featuring iHeartRadio’s Elvis Duran joining senior officials from the U.S. Small Business Administration to discuss ways small businesses can find assistance and vital information. iHeartMedia Markets Group COO Hartley Adkins says, “At iHeart, our focus continues to be about serving our local communities, including the small businesses that support many residents. We also know that studies show business owners look to radio as their trusted news source more than any other medium, so we want to do everything we can to ensure that these businesses have the important information they need to survive and get through this pandemic as best they can.”

Stephan Multimedia Off to Rocking Start on Four-Day ‘Feeding America Emergency Radiothon.’ Beginning yesterday (4/30) and running through the weekend, Doug Stephan’s Stephan Multimedia national radio programs began a four-day “Feeding America Emergency Radiothon,” to help fight hunger resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Doug Stephan says, “With more than 37 million of our neighbors struggling with hunger right now, we answered the call to join forces with RadioCares.org on this project. Within the first several hours, more than $176,000 was raised.” The Radiothon continues on the daily “Doug, Jenn and Victoria Show,” and weekend shows “The Talk Radio Countdown,” “Good Day Health” and “The American Family Farmer.” The combined programs are heard on more than 400 radio stations.

COVID-19 Statistics and Projections Top News/Talk Story for Week of April 27-May 1. The latest tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases, the death toll across the U.S., and projections of future infections were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of health care system and its resources to fight the coronavirus. Coming in at #3 this week was the economy and the issue of lives vs livelihoods, followed by the presidential race, politics, and the #MeToo movement at #4.  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 entire chart here.

Cumulus to Sell Albany, Georgia Station Group. The five-station cluster in Albany, Gerogia includes news/talk WALG-AM, country WKAK-FM, rock WJAD-FM, adult contemporary WEGC-FM, and urban AC WQVE-FM and Cumulus Media is selling it to First Media Services for $450,000.  First Media Services, owned by Rick Lambert and Charles Spencer, also owns stations in Bluefield, West Virginia.

TALKERS News Notes. Copywriter Scott Dahl is the winner of the 13th Annual Dead Radio Contest in which a radio script that was rejected by the client or not green-lighted for some other reason is produced. The contest is sponsored by boutique radio agency Oink Ink Radio. Dahl works for Periscope and the winning script was “Homemade Easy: Call” written for Schwan’s Home Service. Normally, the winner receives an all-expense paid weekend trip to a recording session in NYC with Oink Ink to witness their beloved spot being revived.  But COVID-19 prevented that so Oink Ink moved forward and produced the spot remotely. To hear “Homemade Easy: Call” and for more information about Oink Ink’s Dead Radio contest, click here…..There’s more speculation about the future of air personality Will Cain with ESPN Radio – this time from the Washington Post.  Last week, the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand wrote about possible changes at ESPN. The Washington Post’s piece also reports that Cain will leave ESPN and return to FOX News where he’ll appear on FOX News Channel and the digital platform FOX Nation…..Entercom announces that it will report its 2020 first quarter financial results before the market opens on Thursday, May 14. It will host a conference call and simultaneous webcast at 10:00 am ET that morning to review the results and recent progress against its strategic initiatives…..Longtime Milwaukee and Houston radio personality and programmer Mike Elliott died on April 20 at age 82 after contracting pneumonia. Elliott worked in a number heritage stations – WGST-AM, Atlanta; WASH, Washington; and WIOD-AM, Miami – before landing at WTMJ-AM, Milwaukee in 1974.  He would work in the market at WISN-AM, WZTR, and WLUM during his career.  He also handled Houston Astros play-by-play on KENR-AM and anchored sports on Milwaukee’s WTMJ-TV.  He retired from his last gig with WBWI, West Bend, Wisconsin in 2005.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In addition to his recent appointment as director of programming for Westwood One’s country programming, Paul Williams is also being charged with serving as program director for country WKDF-FM, Nashville. Williams was most recently vice president of marketing & artist development for Reviver Entertainment Group in Nashville. Williams says, “What a unique opportunity to lead a radio station in a community you have lived in for over 14 years in one of the craziest times in history.  We’re going to get through this with our Tennessee neighbors then rebound together with music, hope, fun, and the larger-than-life Volunteer State spirit.”…..Waterloo Media’s adult contemporary KGSR-FM, Austin “STAR 93.3” adds the nationally syndicated “Brooke & Jeffrey” show to the station’s weekday lineup for morning drive. Brooke Fox says, “We couldn’t be more excited to be part of Waterloo Media’s Austin team! [Program director] Krash Kelly’s energy, expertise and leadership at ‘STAR 93.3’ is a real dream for us. This partnership could not be better matched and we can’t wait to get on air to start killing it together.”…..Radio Power’s urban contemporary WAMO-AM/WW297BU “107.3 The Beat” announces that Premiere Networks’ “Big Boy’s Neighborhood” is taking over the morning drive daypart effective Monday (5/4).

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.

Monday, November 6, 2017

| November 6, 2017

iHeartMedia Puts Three Stations in Divestiture Trust.  The deal that iHeartMedia struck with Entercom to swap stations in the Seattle and Boston markets is forcing iHM to put three stations in the newly created Ocean Station Trust LLC in order to comply with ownership caps.  Those stations are: alt rocker KFOO, Centralia, Washington (Tacoma market); rhythmic CHR KUBE, Eatonville, Washington (Tacoma market); and news/talk WKOX, Everett, Massachusetts (Boston market).

iHM Will Not Assume WBZ-AM, Boston’s SAG-AFTRA Contracts.  This is not the news that union staffers at CBS RADIO’s all-news WBZ-AM, Boston want to hear as they prepare to become part of the iHeartMedia family, under an LMA until the deal closes (probably in January).  That LMA could happen as soon as the 17th of this month.  According to a piece in the Boston Globe, SAG-AFTRA has received notice from iHeartMedia that not only will staffers at WBZ-AM have to interview for their current jobs, but iHM says it will not assume the two collective bargaining agreements between SAG-AFTRA and CBS RADIO.  SAG-AFTRA’s Boston-based official Tom Higgins tells the paper that iHM officials who visited the station said they want a “seamless” transition, but says that contract issue “doesn’t sound like seamless.”  Higgins says the union plans to meet with iHeartMedia officials this week. Read the Globe piece here.

Salem Names Ed Martin Afternoon Host at ‘The Answer’ in St. Louis.  He’s the co-author of The Conservative Case for Trump (Regnery 2016) and the former Missouri Republican Party chairman.  Salem reports that Ed Martin will assume the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm show on KXFN-AM/K287BY “1380 AM and 105.3 FM The Answer” next Monday (11/13).  It’ll be called “The Ed Martin Movement” and Salem St. LouisVP/GM Greg Lhamon states, “We looked at a lot of options for afternoons, but no other talk host had their finger on the pulse of national, statewide, and local politics like Ed Martin.  He’s smart and savvy and will force politicians to stay on their toes.  And as a CNN political contributor, he brings a global perspective to talk radio that is sorely missing in St. Louis.”  The press release also states: “Formally trained as a lawyer and ethicist, Ed is the hand-picked successor of Phyllis Schlafly as head of her ‘Eagles.'”

Bill Handel Records Apology to Rep. Wilson.  Under fire for referring to U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson (in connection with the TrumpMyesia Johnson story) as a “cheap, sleazy Democrat whore” on his KFI, Los Angeles morning radio show, Bill Handel recorded an apology that has aired on the station.  But lead critic Janmyne Cannick – a self-described commentator – says it’s too little, too late.  In a story published by LA Weekly, Cannick – who’s been leading the efforts to see Handel punished for his use of the word “whore” in connection with Wilson – tells the paper, “If KFI can suspend afternoon drive hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou (John and Ken) for one-week following their calling Whitney Houston a ‘crack ho,’ then Bill Handel – KFI’s prized morning drive host who called a sitting member of Congress a ‘cheap, sleazy, Democrat whore’ on live air – should get nothing less.”  Read the LA Weekly piece here.

‘Florida Sports Talk’ Duo Re-Brand as ‘Gainesville Ocala All Talk.’  The sports talk multi-cast that Florida Sportstalk LLC is operating in the Gainesville-Ocala market is re-branding and will take on a more “talk radio” approach.  The stations that made up “Florida Sports Talk” are” WMOP, Ocala; WGGG, Gainesville; translator W221DX at 92.1 FM; and WGOT-LP, Gainesville.  The station is now called Gainesville Ocala All Talk “The GOAT FM.”  On its Facebook page, the company says the change is being made “in response to [the stations’] growing voice in the region pertaining to news and social events and based on the feedback from followers and the fan base…[to assure that] our branding more accurately reflects our voice, impact, and prominence in the communities we serve.”  Former WSKY, Ocala talk host Chip Morris is being added to the programming lineup for morning drive.  Stations OM Don DePew Jr. comments, “We were thrilled to see our voice and impact grow as we provided a voice of calm and grace through recent social issues that crossed from sports to everyday life.  Our adjustment in brand to this new reality is a step forward in this regard.  We are further excited to have Chip Morris bring his experience and influence in our region to our team.  We look forward to the days ahead as we bring Gainesville Ocala All Talk to you, our listeners.”

iHeartMedia Promotes Ashlock and Adkins.  Executives Greg Ashlock and Hartley Adkins have been promoted by iHeartMedia in what the company calls “the next step in the evolution of the iHeartMedia Markets Group.”  Ashlock, who has been president of iHeartMedia Markets Group West Division, is upped to president of the iHeartMedia Markets Group.  Adkins, who most recently served as president of Northeast Division and Corporate Operations for the iHeartMedia Markets Group, is now president of Integrated Revenue Strategy.  Ashlock is now managing the entire iHeartMedia Markets Group, including the company’s more than 850 radio stations in over 150 markets.  The company says the consolidation under one leader will allow iHeartMedia to move quicker, be more responsive, communicate more clearly and best serve both listeners and advertisers based on each market’s unique needs.  In his newly created role, Adkins will join the corporate group in New York and will be responsible for working with group heads and other corporate leaders to help develop innovative revenue initiatives that scale across multiple platforms, as well as new strategic solutions specifically for the Markets Group that utilize the unique assets of iHeartMedia.

Beasley Broadcasting Group Reports Q3 Net Revenue.  The company says that its net revenue for the third quarter of 2017 at its legacy stations was “comparable to the net revenue for the same period in 2016” – so we can read that as “flat.”  However, Beasley’s acquisition of the Greater Media stations that took place in November of last year boosts the company’s revenue figures.  Third quarter net revenue jumped from $27.7 million in 2016 to $58.9 million in 2017 because of the 21 new stations in the Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Charlotte, Philadelphia and New Jersey markets (it also takes into account the stations it sold to Entercom and CMG Coastal Carolina).

Traffic Pioneer Rod Carson Dies at 75.  Longtime KYW, Philadelphia traffic reporter and Shadow Traffic co-founder Rod Carson died over the weekend at his home in Pennsylvania at the age of 75.  CBS Philadelphia reports that “before getting into traffic reporting, [Carson] was one of the ‘Wibbage Good Guys’ on the former WIBG, and also did the ‘Rock and Roll Roots’ show on WMMR.”  Carson marked his 50th year in radio in 2007.

National Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2017. Pictured above at the November 2 induction ceremony for the National Radio Hall of Fame at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago are (from l-r): NRHoF chairman Kraig Kitchin, inductees John Records Landecker, Joseph Field, Bobby Bones, Tom Barnard, Bill Handel and MBC founder Bruce Dumont.  Not pictured is inductee Sean Hannity, who did not travel to Chicago for the ceremony.

Donna Brazile Hillary Criticism, Mueller Investigation-Possible Michael Flynn Indictment, Trump in Japan, GOP Tax Reform Plan, Kevin Spacey Sexual Assault Investigation, Texas Church Slayings, Saudi Purge, Rand Paul Assault, Kaepernick Collusion Suit, NFL Attendance-Protests Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  Former interim DNC chair Donna Brazile’s criticisms of the Hillary Clinton campaign in her new book; the Robert Mueller investigation and the possibility of charges against former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn; President Trump’s trip to Japan and statements about strong rhetoric regarding North Korea; the details of the Republican tax reform plan; the UK authorities’ investigation of sexual assault charges against actor Kevin Spacey; the Sunday slaying of 26 at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas; Saudi Arabia arrests 15 ministers and princes in anti-corruption efforts; Senator Rand Paul suffers cracked ribs in assault at his home; Colin Kaepernick’s collusion suit against the NFL; the NFL anthem protests, declining game attendance, and Sunday’s action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wendell Potter is this Week’s Guest on the Harrison Podcast.  Former health insurance spin doctor Wendell Potter, who upon experiencing a “crisis of conscience” in 2008 became one of that industry’s most outspoken critics, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison.”  In June 2009, Potter made national headlines with his scorching testimony before the Senate panel on health care reform. The former senior VP and head of PR at Cigna testified that health insurers make promises they have no intention of keeping, flout regulations designed to protect consumers, and skew political debate with multibillion-dollar PR campaigns to mislead the press and public.  Potter was a former journalist who walked away from a six-figure salary and two decades as an insurance executive because he could no longer abide the routine practices of an industry where he believes “the needs of sick and suffering Americans take a backseat to the bottom line.”  Since then, Potter has been active as an author and consumer advocate warning Americans of the danger inherent in corporate big money corrupting the nation’s democratic process.  Now, he is launching a non-profit, reader/listener/viewer funded, Philadelphia-based news organization called Tarbell (www.Tarbell.org) that will focus on non-partisan, investigative journalism.  Can such a venture succeed in today’s money-driven, politically polarized society where the quest for victory regularly obscures the search for truth?  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

 

 

Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air radio pro Brian Peck is named midday personality at CBS RADIO’s adult hits WJMK “K-Hits.”  CBS RADIO Chicago has appointed Brian Peck to host middays at WJMK, 104.3 “K-Hits.” The opening became available when current midday jock Jeffrey T. Mason moved to afternoons with Gary Spears’ exit and relocation to Florida.  WJMK program director Greg Solk states, “Adding Brian to ‘K-Hits’ gives us a unique opportunity to re-set our on-air lineup with three veteran Chicago voices, all perfectly suited for their dayparts.”  The company says Peck joins “K-Hits” with a history of entertaining Chicago radio fans since 1992 when he co-hosted mornings with former MTV veejay Mark Goodman.  Other Chicago radio stops have included WSHE and WTMX…..Next Wednesday (11/15), Envision Networks is announcing another session of “Coffee With Envision Webinar: Program A Winning Morning Show.”  The free webinar takes place at 1:00 pm ET.  Envision president and CEO Danno Wolkoff states, “Mike Marino and Jason Hillery are experts at producing a winning morning show.  They consult, program, manage and write prep for radio talent daily so Mike and Jason literally wrote the playbook for morning shows to follow.”  Early registration is encouraged as space is limited.  Stations can register for the webinar by clicking here…..Gen Media Partners appoints radio executive Chuck Bortnick to the newly created position of SVP, integrated platforms.   Bortnick’s previous experience includes serving as COO of Westwood One; COO and president of Metro Networks; and regional vice president for Cumulus Media.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

| February 11, 2016

imusdonDon Imus to Be Honored with the TALKERS 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award.  The TALKERS editorial board announced today (2/11) that one of the most colorful, controversial, and venerable radio personalities of all time, John Donald Imus Jr. – mononymously known as Imus – has been named the 2016 recipient of the prestigious TALKERS Lifetime Achievement Award.  The 75-year-old legend has been heard on radio since 1968 on a variety of heritage stations including WGAR and WHK in Cleveland as well as WNBC and WFAN in New York.  He has hosted cable TV shows on MSNBC and more recently Fox Business Channel.  He presently hosts his long-running show “Imus in the Morning” on WABC, New York.  Imus, author of numerous books and performer on several hit comedy albums, is a complex broadcasting figure known both for being a politically incorrect insult-artist as well as being a humanitarian and philanthropist, particularly in the battle against childhood cancer.  Imus has won four NAB Marconi Awards, three for Major Market Personality of the Year in 1990, 1992 and 1997 and one for Network Syndicated Personality in 1994. He inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1989 and was named one of the 25 Most Influential People in America by Time magazine in 1997. In 2002, TALKERS magazine ranked Imus as one of the 25 Greatest Radio Talk Show Hosts of all Time.  In making the announcement on behalf of the board, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “If Don Imus doesn’t deserve this spoken-word radio award, no one does.  His unique position, diversity of styles, capacity for reinvention – not to mention influence on the industry, pop culture and politics – stand out among a rarified handful of bold performers who have made broadcasting history.”  The award will be presented to Imus at the forthcoming TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations convention set for Friday, May 20 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.  It is hoped that he will be in attendance to receive the award personally, despite his challenge with health issues and present home-base in Texas.  True to form, the legend tells TALKERS, “My wife thinks I should do this – be gracious and accept your idiotic award.”

levinmarkCumulus and Mark Levin Agree to ‘Lifetime Extension.’  Both Westwood One EVP of news/talk Bart Tessler and talk radio star Mark Levin jokingly use the term “lifetime” to describe the new contract extension between the two parties, but nine years seems like a lifetime in the world of radio contracts.  Levin says, “I could not be more pleased to extend my radio partnership withwestwood one NEW Cumulus/Westwood One.  For the next nine years — an unprecedented long-term relationship in the broadcasting industry — I am committed to continuing to bring the best possible program, both substantive and entertaining, to my millions of beloved and loyal listeners each and every day.”  Tessler adds, “To know that we’ll be working together for so many years is a Mark Levin show primary victory and a big win for affiliates, advertisers, and listeners.  Mark’s tenure will now exceed that of a two-term president and that means continued excellence on the air on a nightly basis.”  The company says Levin’s show “not only covers the most critical events of the day, but delves into history, economics, philosophy, and the constitution – and continues to be an enormous ratings and revenue winner for Westwood One and for the more than 300 stations that broadcast the show.

entercomEntercom Reports 2015 Net Revenue Up 8%.  2015 was a good year for Entercom.  The company reported net revenue for the fourth quarter was $117.7 million – up 16% from the same period a year ago.  For the year of 2015 net revenue was $411.4 million, an increase of 8%.  These figures include the impact of the transaction with Lincoln Financial Media and the stationfielddavid exchange with Bonneville International Corporation which started in July.  But the impressive revenue hike is not just the result of additional signals; president and CEO David Field notes that the company’s stations performed well.  “I am pleased to report that Entercom’s performance continued to accelerate into the fourth quarter, capping a very successful 2015…Fourth quarter same-station revenue increased by 5%, excluding political advertising.  This marked the second straight quarter of mid-single digit organic growth.  We are very well positioned for success in 2016 with an expanded market footprint, strong station ratings growth, and enhanced digital and customer marketing capabilities.  Our pacings look strong and we are optimistic about our potential to deliver excellent results for our shareholders in 2016 and the years ahead.”

baligianmazaweyfellhauerGreater Media’s ‘Detroit Sports 105.1’ Moves Baligian, Mazawey & Fellhauer to Mornings.  The trio of Sean Baligian, Tom Mazawey and Marc Fellhauer is currently heard in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot on Greater Media’s WMGC “Detroit Sports 105.1.”  Beginning Tuesday (2/16), they will move to morning drive, replacing ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike.  ESPN’s Ryan & Rico will now be heard from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and the afternoon drive show co-hosted by Matt Dery and Drew Sharp will start at 2:00 pm.   Station program director Dave Shore says, “We feel this new lineup will give our dedicated motor city sports fans a more local sports experience.  We are very grateful to ESPN’s Mike & Mike for their contributions to the station.”

iheartmedia logo smallFive iHeartMedia Programmers Boosted. Trading in their titles of senior vice president of programming to become division executive vice president of programming for iHeartMedia‘s national programming group are Tony Coles, Steve Geofferies, Andrew Jeffries, Thea Mitchem, and Meg Stevens. Along with fellow division executive vice president of programming Gene Romano, they will report to iHeartMedia national programming group executive vice president and general manager Brad Hardin. According to national programming group president Tom Poleman, “Great programming is the foundation of our stations. We are fortunate to have an amazing group of local program directors leading our brands. The collaboration between local programming and the iHeartMedia national programming group unlocks the unparalleled scale and assets of iHeartMedia, providing us with unmatched resources which benefit each and every one of our stations.” Formerly organized into major and regional market groups, iHM is now comprised of four geographic divisions, each led by a division president. Jeffries and Geofferies are working in the West division with Greg Ashlock; Coles is in the Central with Matt Martin; Mitchem and Stevens in the Northeast with Hartley Adkins; and Romano is teamed with Tom McConnell in the Midwest-Southeast division.

NH Primary Aftermath/Presidential Race, Hillary Clinton Emails Investigation, Record Low Oil Prices/Financial Markets Activity, Iran-U.S. Navy Incident, U.S. Afghanistan Forces Strengthened, European Refugee Problems, Zika Virus Concerns, and Beyonce Super Bowl Performance Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/10).  The analysis of Tuesday’s New Hampshire presidential primary and the activities of the candidates for president; the ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for State Department business; the continuing downward trend in oil prices, the world’s financial markets activity, and concerns about a new recession; Iran’s gloating over the incident with a U.S. Navy patrol; the U.S. increases peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan; the troubles European nations are experiencing dealing with Syrian refugees; concerns about a Zika virus pandemic and reports of cases in 20 U.S. states; and ongoing criticism of Beyonce’s performance at the Super Bowl were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Odds & Sods.  KEIR, Idaho Falls is expanding its local content.  Riverbend Communications general manager Bill Fuerst tells East Idaho News that the station wants to give more voice to its listeners.  “Idaho’s Morning News with Dylan Carder” will expand to two hours – airing from 7:00 am to 9:00 am – and Mark Richardson will host a new, hour-long afternoon show at 3:00 pm…..Podcasting and audio-video streaming experts StreamGuys are attending “Proclaim 16” – the NRB International Christian Media Convention and Exposition – to share their expertise to assist worship communities extend their reach.  StreamGuys says Matt Kellogg (who joined the company from the recently shuttered Live365) will lead the company’s engagements with houses of worship and religious organizations…..ESPN Radio will present radio coverage of the NBA’s 65th All-Star Game on Sunday (2/14) from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.  This will be ESPN Radio’s 20th year covering the game.  In the booth will be Kevin Calabro and Jon Barry with reporters Marc Stein and Shelley SmithMarc Kestecher will host the pre-game and halftime coverage with analyst P.J. Carlesimo.

harrisonUpCloseFarOutsmallMichael Harrison and Tom Leykis Chat About the Past, Present and Future of Audio Media. Legendary broadcast radio performer and pioneering online radio entrepreneur Tom Leykis joins TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison as this week’s guest on PodcastOne’s international hit, “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison.” The two engage in an extensive, one-on-one discussion about Leykis’ colorful career that spannedleykistom decades as a talk show host on some of America’s highest-profile radio stations and during which time his on-air persona ranged from outrageous “shock jock” to edgy “progressive” political news/talker. Today, Leykis approaches the fourth anniversary of his successful online radio enterprise, The New Normal – a multifaceted platform upon which he streams his daily, live, listener call-in program, “The Tom Leykis Show,” as well as a podcast for radio talents Gary & Dino. A separate iteration of The New Normal delivers two streaming music channels – pop and rock – personally curated by Leykis. Leykis discusses his leading-edge business model that includes a mix of advertising, subscriptions, merchandising and live events – now generating upwards of $600,000 annual gross revenue. The two venerable pros talk about targeting Millennials, the nature of “authenticity” as it applies to today’s younger demos, the scope of non-traditional revenue and various aspects of media theory as it applies to 21st century communications. To listen to this entire uninterrupted conversation, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column of every page of Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.