Cincinnati Reds Broadcaster Thom Brennaman Suspended For Gay Slur. Cincinnati Reds play-by-play broadcaster Thom Brennaman – son of National Radio Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman – has been suspended for his using a gay slur during Wednesday night’s Reds-Royals broadcast. Apparently, Brennaman thought he was not on the air when he said, referencing and unknown place, that it is “one of the fag capitals of the world.” Brennaman apologized and left the broadcast before the completion of the double-header. The Reds issued the following statement. “The Cincinnati Reds organization is devastated by the horrific, homophobic remark made this evening by broadcaster Thom Brennaman. He was pulled off the air, and effective immediately was suspended from doing Reds broadcasts.” During his apology, Brennaman implied that he realizes this may cost him his job. “I can’t begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am. That is not who I am. It never has been. And I’d like to think maybe I could have some people that could back that up. I am very, very sorry and I beg for your forgiveness.” Brennaman is part of the broadcast team for the Reds Radio Network and television’s FOX Sports Ohio.
Entercom Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Detroit’s WWJ-AM. Detroit all-news outlet WWJ-AM is celebrating 100 years on the air today (8/20). Entercom says it’s proud to honor “Detroit’s news leader and America’s first continuous broadcasting commercial radio station.” Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “WWJ has served as an important news source for Detroiters for 100 years and continues to provide the most credible and comprehensive multiplatform news coverage relevant to our city. We look forward to honoring our station’s rich history by reflecting on key moments with integral talent and welcoming distinguished guests to celebrate with us. I congratulate and thank the hardworking staff of WWJ and look forward to another 100 years as Detroit’s go-to news source.” Today WWJ will air special programming, including clips of major news stories the station has covered over the past 100 years and interviews with politicians and business leaders including Entercom president and CEO David Field, FCC chairman Ajit Pai, and former Detroit police chief Ike McKinnon. Highlighted in the programming will be on-air pros who have been with the station for over 25 years, including morning anchor Roberta Jasina, auto reporter Jeff Gilbert, city beat reporter Vickie Thomas and business reporter Murray Feldman. There’s a nice piece in the Detroit News accompanied by lots of vintage photos of the station from the paper’s files. It also delves into the hotly contested debate over which was the first commercial radio station in the U.S., KDKA in Pittsburgh, KCBS in San Francisco or WWJ? The Detroit News’ Michael H. Hodges writes that WWJ being the first is disputed by KDKA and KCBS, but “it mostly comes down to a matter of technical definition. KDKA got its federal license a few months before WWJ in 1921, and that’s its line in the sand. But 8MK, as WWJ was known in 1920, was on the air with an amateur license well before Pittsburgh.” Entercom says WWJ is “America’s first continuous broadcasting commercial radio station” and boasts such accomplishments as “being the first radio station to broadcast election returns on August 31, 1920, the first sportscast on September 1, 1920, the first missing person report on March 15, 1922, the first Detroit Tigers play-by-play broadcast on April 19, 1927, and more.”
TALKERS News Notes. The New York Post is reporting that former Howard Stern show cast member “Stuttering” John Melendez is suing SiriusXM for “using his name, likeness and voice without permission on channels dedicated to Stern.” Melendez left the Stern program in 2004 – prior to Stern joining SiriusXM in 2005 – to become the announcer on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” The suit was filed in federal court in New York complaining that the airing of old Stern programs violates California law and “his right of publicity.”…..Westwood One and PodcastOne founder Norm Pattiz is featured in the August-October issue of the investor-targeted magazine Luckbox. The theme of the issue is “Podcasts Rising” and in the interview piece, Pattiz discusses his building of Westwood One in the late 1970s and how in 2011 he began using what he’d learned running WWO to launch PodcastOne for the soon-to-be-burgeoning podcasting industry. You can read the piece here…..Newsmax TV announces that it has entered into a deal with Cox Media Group to air WOKV-FM, Jacksonville’s Mark Kaye program. Kaye’s program airs daily on WOKV-FM from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. The Newsmax TV show will air weekly – Saturdays at 3:30 pm – and will feature “funny and informative clips from Mark Kaye’s radio broadcasts, as well as behind-the-scenes ‘vlog-style’ content that is exclusive to Newsmax.”…..Hearst’s Baltimore radio duo news/talk WBAL-AM and rock WIYY-FM – along with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens – announce the radio broadcast team for the 2020 NFL season. Former Ravens players Dennis Pitta and Obafemi “Femi” Ayanbadejo are joining Ravens play-by-play announcer Gerry Sandusky to handle color and analysis. WBAL and WIYY president and general Manager Cary Pahigian says, “We are pleased to offer Baltimore Ravens fans an exceptional broadcast team. As a former Raven, Dennis has always provided astute analysis to our broadcast. Femi’s extensive NFL experience will add keen insight, and there is no better play-by-play announcer than Gerry Sandusky.”
Stephen K. Bannon Charged with Fraud in ‘We Build the Wall’ Effort. Former Donald Trump adviser, former Breitbart executive, and podcast/talk radio host Stephen K. Bannon is being charged in New York with fraud in what U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss says is his role in a scheme related to the “We Build the Wall” online fundraising effort. The New York Times reports that Bannon is one of four defendants who allegedly “defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction.” Bannon has not commented publicly.
Presidential Race/Democratic National Convention, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Fall School Plans/College Outbreaks, USPS Funding/Vote-By-Mail Debate, Putin Critic Poisoned, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/19). The November presidential election and Wednesday evening’s Democratic National Convention; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the debate over opening schools in September and the COVID-19 outbreaks at several college campuses; the controversy over funding the U.S. Postal Service and the related debate over mail-in voting; Vladimir Putin critic Alexey Navalny in a coma after allegedly being poisoned; and the California wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
WPHT’s Giordano Is on a Documentary-Special Roll. WPHT, Philadelphia’s legendary mid-morning host Dom Giordano has written, produced, and hosted the third in a dynamic series of two-hour specials tapping into his background as a teacher and one of talk radio’s most astute observers of education. The first two specials focused on issues surrounding COVID-19 and kids returning to school as well as a July 4th weekend special celebrating America. The new show airing this week titled, “The Case for Civics: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Reason,” explores the need for civics to be taught in schools and how important it is to the future of America to raise knowledgeable citizens. Like all of Giordano’s productions, it is bi-partisan and features prominent figures including former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. Sara Harris, Entercom VP for social impact is featured and details the radio company’s major commitment to promote civics education. The program is airing on WPHT tonight (8/20) from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm and Saturday (8/22) from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Beijing’s Persecution of Chinese Spiritual Movement Falun Gong Is Focus of This Week’s Harrison Podcast. While Americans continue to be preoccupied with COVID-19, a faltering economy and racial strife, the strained relationship between the United States and China intensifies with each passing day. America is confronted with the CCP’s unfair trade practices, subversive cyber warfare against US interests, intellectual property theft, military aggression in the South China Sea, strangling democracy in Hong Kong, and covered up misdeeds in the origins and spread of COVID-19. Add to that disturbing list the CCP’s heinous abuse of the human rights of its own citizens as evidenced by Uyghur labor camps and the imprisonment, torture, and organ-harvesting of innocent practitioners of a burgeoning spiritual movement based in peaceful Buddhist principles called Falun Gong. Levi Browde is the executive director of the New York-based Falun Dafa Information Center, an organization working to end the human rights abuses against people who practice Falun Gong in China. He is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” In discussing this podcast Harrison states, “The CCP views the growing practice of Falun Gong among Chinese people both home and abroad as a threat to the State’s core position as the ultimate authority. They not only commit atrocities against its participants, they wage a war of toxic propaganda against the spiritual practice portraying it as a subversive cult – a view that has been unwittingly absorbed and perpetuated by the American media. It is my hope that this deep-dive conversation will clear up these misconceptions as well as shed light on the Beijing regime and the dangers its complex relationship with the United States presents going forward into the uncharted, turbulent waters of the 21st century. This is not a left versus right issue but one that I believe should be of great concern to all American talk media hosts and commentators interested in a secure America, freedom of religion, and human decency.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Las Vegas’ KWNR “95.5 The Bull” has a new program director as Mojoe Roberts assumes the reins. iHeartMedia says Roberts joins the country station after most recently serving as country format captain for Alpha Media and PD for KUPL, Portland. SVP of programming for iHeartMedia Las Vegas Tony Matteo says, “MoJoe brings a wealth of format knowledge and expertise. We’re thrilled to have him joining our iHeartMedia Las Vegas team.”…..Seattle CHR KBKS is re-branded “HITS 106.1” The New Home of the Jubal Show and Commercial Free Weekends. The iHeartMedia station is programmed by Jared Fallon who says, “From the moment we launched ‘Jubal 106.1’ the reception from the entire city and across the country has been massive. Today we are thrilled to unveil ‘HITS 106.1,’ the new home of the Jubal Show!”…..Pittsburgh morning radio personality Cris Winter exits Renda Broadcasting’s adult contemporary WWSH “WISH 99.7” as the result of budget-related cuts. She tells the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “When you look at covid-19, it’s a situation where everyone is making cuts. It is such a bizarre time, and everybody is struggling right now. It’s just an unprecedented time for everyone. We are all just trying to keep our heads above water.”…..Programming pro Don Jarrett is named PD at Rich Broadcasting’s country simulcast KWFI-FM and KWFO-FM “The Wolf” in Idaho Falls. Jarrett was most recently programming Riverbend Communications’ crosstown country KTHK-FM “105.5 The Hawk.” Rich Broadcasting operations manager Josh Tielor says, “We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to add Don to our team. He’s well known in the community and well connected in the industry. He brings a new level of excitement and energy to our station family.”…..The photo below published at LARadio.com is not from a time capsule. That KMET billboard is currently up and it put the folks at LARadio.com into investigative mode. The picture was snapped by Los Angeles publicist Hal Lifson who set the investigative wheels in motion. It appears the billboards are up for a movie shoot for a film that takes place in the 1970s. TALKERS magazine publisher and former KMET program director Michael Harrison says, “Seeing the billboard is a rush. I still find it hard to imagine L.A. without KMET. It would be like Brooklyn not having Coney Island.”
Dimick Promoted to VP, Programming Operations, Cumulus Radio Station Group. Programming pro John Dimick is upped from his VP, programming operations position with Cumulus Media to the newly created position of senior vice president, programming operations, Cumulus Radio Station Group. In his new role, Atlanta-based Dimick will lead Cumulus’ team of vice presidents, programming operations, and 11 format specialists across the company. He will continue to report to Cumulus EVP, Content and Audience Brian Philips, who says, “In my first year, John has proven himself to be an indispensable partner in the leadership of this programming group. He is gifted with the intuition, pragmatism, and patience to see us to greatness. This move validates the hard-earned trust and confidence John enjoys within our entire company.” Dimick comments, “Cumulus programming professionals are passionate about radio and understand the value of locally programmed and community involved stations. I am honored to assist Brian Philips in leading our team in this new position while continuing to learn from the best minds in our industry. I’m pleased to work with Mary Berner, Dave Milner, Bob Walker, and especially Brian Philips as Cumulus continues to reinvent the audio entertainment landscape.” Dimick joined the company in 2016.
WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago’s Felicia Middlebrooks to Leave All-News Outlet; Will Launch New Multimedia Platform. Morning drive news co-anchor Felicia Middlebrooks announces via a Facebook post that she is leaving Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago on May 29 after almost 36 years in the morning drive position. She says she’s “not retiring, I’m rewiring” and will focus full time on her Saltshaker Productions company developing a multimedia platform that will include “documentaries and feature films, audiobooks and other projects.” Her first project is a podcast titled, “She Matters,” that focuses on empowering women. She says her exit from WBBM is completely her decision and, in fact, is something she’s been planning for “nearly a decade.” She concludes her post saying, “I also could not have imagined announcing this life change in the midst of a global pandemic. That said, I can tell you that I believe newsradio will always be relevant, dependable and necessary as we all navigate what’s next. Those in medicine are at the forefront of battling COVID-19 and journalists are on the frontlines, disseminating vital information to the public. In a constantly changing world, I can promise you I’ll still be telling stories — stories that heal, elevate, enlighten and connect us. Truth matters. Always has, always will.”
Round Two of April PPM Ratings Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s April 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s April 2020 survey period covered March 26 – April 22. You can see all the weekly, 6+ AQH share numbers from subscribing stations here. The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to more listening for news/talk – both commercial and non-commercial – and all-news stations and that trend continued during the April survey. In Washington, DC, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM rockets to #1 on the strength of a 2.2 share increase giving it a 10 share. It bested Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM, which backslid to a 7.7 share and the #3 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston adds 2.5 shares for a 5.3 share finish and the #5 rank while sister all-news WBZ-AM, Boston dips one-tenth to a 6.3 share and the #4 rank. Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle adds nine-tenths to rise to a 6.9 share and repeating at #1. In Detroit, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WJR-AM jumps 1.9 shares for a 4.8 share and the #4 rank and Entercom’s all-news WWJ-AM tacks on six-tenths to remain at #1 with a 6.4 share. Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix moves to #3 on the strength of a 1.5 share increase that gives it a 6.1 share. And in Baltimore, Hearst’s WBAL-AM rises to #3 after a nine-tenths jump to a 6.0 share. You can see all of TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian’s Ratings Takeaways from the April PPM survey here.
Winners of Regional Murrow Awards Named. Yesterday, TALKERS featured some of the stations that won honors in the Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association. Here are some more stations that were recognized: Sinclair Broadcast Group’s all-news KOMO-AM/FM, Seattle won three regional Murrow awards including: Best Newscast (Morning Drive) with Gregg Hersholt & Manda Factor; Breaking News (Lake City Shooting, Afternoon Drive) with Rick Van Cise & Elisa Jaffe; and Best Continuing Coverage (Boeing, Year of Crisis). KOMO-AM/FM program director Rick Van Cise says, “KOMO Newsradio has once again been honored with one of the most prestigious prizes in journalism which is a testament to our news team’s great work every day.” Entercom all-news and news/talk stations won 23 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards in nine markets: WBEN-AM, Buffalo wins for Overall Excellence, Multimedia, and Newscast (September 5, 2019); WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago wins for Breaking News Coverage (Chicago Teachers Strike), and Newscast (July 16, 2019); KRLD-AM, Dallas wins for Overall Excellence and Newscast; KNX-AM, Los Angeles wins Overall Excellence; WCCO-AM, Minneapolis wins Excellence in Sound (The Power of Music); WCBS-AM, New York wins Overall Excellence and Excellence in Video (The Sweet Spot: Carmine Street Guitars); WINS-AM wins Breaking News Coverage (Jersey City Shootout), Excellence in Social Media (PRIDE), and Newscast; KYW-AM, Philadelphia wins Excellence in Sound (Gone Cold: Jennifer Tong), Multimedia, and Sports Reporting (Living with epilepsy doesn’t slow down Temple lacrosse star Maddie Gebert); KCBS-AM, San Franciso wins Hard News (The High Price Of Housing) and Newscast (9am, 10/24/19); and KMOX, St. Louis wins Excellence in Sound (It’s Your Birthday!), Hard News (Xavier Usanga Has a Name) and Newscast (8:00 am 4/30/19). Hearst Radio’s WBAL, Baltimore wins Breaking News and Excellence in Writing (Josh Spiegel).
EMF Launches Podcast Initiative. Religious broadcaster Educational Media Foundation – parent of K-LOVE, Air1, and WTA Media – is preparing to launch a new podcasting platform called Accessmore that features a growing library of on-demand, faith-based podcasts. It will feature nationally known Christian teachers, authors, speakers, and entertainers sharing content designed to inform and inspire. Some of the podcasts include: “Dare to Be” with Grammy-nominated singer Natalie Grant and Charlotte Gambill; “Equip and Empower” from Christine Caine; “Hey, It’s the Luskos with Levi and Jennie Lusko”; Rebecca St. James Family & Friends; and “Into the Portal” from Elevation eKids. EMF CEO Bill Reeves says, “Since joining EMF last year, we’ve been developing opportunities in new media to reach more people with quality, faith-based content. We were already among the top 10 U.S.-based audio streaming companies. Accessmore is the next major step into that burgeoning segment.”
Statistics and Projections, Re-Opening Controversy/Fauci Warning, $3 Trillion House Aid Bill, Michael Flynn Case, SCOTUS Trump Taxes Arguments, U.S.-China Relations, and MLB Play Plans Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/12). The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the number of deaths, and projections about future infections; concerns about the gradual re-openings taking place in some states and Dr. Tony Fauci’s warning that cases will likely spike; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi files a $3 trillion air bill; a Superior Court judge mulls whether the DOJ can drop the Michael Flynn charges plus allegations of the Obama administration’s role in implicating Flynn; the Supreme Court arguments over President Trump’s efforts to block disclosure of his tax returns; accusations by China and the U.S. that the other is responsible for the coronavirus pandemic; and Major League Baseball announces plans to start season in July were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
45th Annual Gracie Award Winners Announced. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation announces the winners of the 45th annual Gracie Awards. The Gracies recognize exemplary programming created by, for and about women in radio, television, and interactive media. Honorees are selected in national, local and student markets, including both commercial and non-commercial outlets. AWMF executive director Becky Brooks says, “Our leadership is proud to honor the best of the best who embody the spirit and intention of the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation’s Gracie Awards. We want to thank those on the front lines telling the important stories still impacting our world. It is our distinguished honor to recognize the reporters, hosts, producers and media executives who are working to ensure the public is informed. We know everyone in media has been impacted in some way, and we continue to salute this outstanding list of honorees for their award-winning passion, energy and perseverance.” Radio National Honorees from commercial outlets include: Carla Ferrell, “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” Premiere Networks; Elaina Smith, “Nights with Elaina” Westwood One; Jayde Donovan, “The Jayde Donovan Show” Westwood One; Liana Huth, “I’m Listening” Entercom Communications; Michelle Collins, “The Michelle Collins Show” SiriusXM; and Michelle Franzen, “The NICU Cuddler” ABC News. Radio Local Honorees from commercial outlets include: Angela Martinez, “The Angie Martinez Show” WWPR, New York; Brigitte Quinn, WINS, New York; Carla Rea, “The Mike and Carla Morning Show” Beasley Media Group; Chris Rollins, WPST, Trenton, New Jersey; Cooper Lawrence, “WOR Tonight,” WOR, New York; Deborah Honeycutt, “Jim, Deb & Kevin” Cumulus Media; Heather Hunter, “Mornings on the Mall,” WMAL-AM/FM, Washington; Jenn Hobby, “Jenn & Friends,” WSTR, Atlanta; Katie Neal, WNSH, New York; Mary Walter, WMAL-AM/FM, Washington; Meghan Lane, “The Big Ape Morning Mess,” WAPE, Jacksonville; Nancy Wilson, WHKO-FM, Dayton; Rebekah Maroun, “Matty In The Morning,” WXKS-FM, Boston; and Shannon Farren, “Gary and Shannon Show,” KFI, Los Angeles.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Radio broadcasters Cox Media Group, Alpha Media, Beasley Media Group, Hubbard Radio, Neuhoff Media, and Townsquare Media are joining BMI and some of country music’s top songwriters to present, “A Salute to Songwriters,” a radio concert to benefit the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief fund this Saturday, May 16, at 7:00 pm. The three-hour, commercial free benefit concert will be co-hosted by country superstar Luke Bryan and feature some of the songwriters behind country music’s biggest hits straight from their living rooms and home studios. The lineup includes Dallas Davidson and Rhett Akins, Jon Randall and Jessi Alexander, Luke Dick and Jeff Hyde, Brandon Kinney and Clint Daniels, Barry Dean and Natalie Hemby as well as Dylan Altman and Wynn Varble. Proceeds will benefit songwriters who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund. The concert will be broadcast on more than 100 country radio stations across the six media groups…..The SupeRadio syndicated “Most Requested Live with Romeo” program celebrates its 10th anniversary. The Saturday evening live program is hosted by Tim “Romeo” Herbster. SupeRadio president Eric Faison says, “From the very beginning, ‘MRL’ has been one of SupeRadio’s elite programs, and we’re excited to continue to partner with the most interactive and social media-driven radio show in the world for the next 10 years.”