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Convention Coverage Unlike Any in History

| August 3, 2020

By Tom Tradup
Salem Radio Network
V.P. News/Talk Programming

 

DALLAS — R.I.P. American political conventions. You had a good run, but now you’re toast.

2020 has presented talk radio with many challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic — which has personally impacted many in our industry including the amazing infection-through-recovery story of John McConnell. We’ve also been asked to cover nationwide riots — oops, I mean “peaceful protests”— following the senseless killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the contraction of the radio industry including layoffs and pay cuts, and operating day to day with masks and social distancing.

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Monday, August 3, 2020

| August 3, 2020

Monday Memo: 2 Magic Words. Your Mom and Dad were right. “Please” and “Thank you” will distinguish you, particularly in these coarse, troubled times. And in this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke makes the case for “two more ‘Magic words’” broadcasters and podcasters should use as often as possible. Read it here.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Stimulus Bill, Presidential Race/Vote by Mail, Portland Protests, Tropical Storm Isaias/SoCal Apple Fire, Microsoft-TikTok Deal, and Pro Sports Challenges Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rising number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the stalled stimulus talks in Congress as the previous package expires; the November presidential election and President Trump’s remark that it should be delayed due to concerns about vote-by-mail fraud; the violent protests continuing in Portland; Tropical Storm Isaias hits the Southeast Coast and thousands are evacuated in Southern California due to the Apple Fire; Microsoft’s deal to acquire TikTok from its Chinese developer; and COVID-19 takes its toll on U.S. pro sports leagues were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Gone Too Soon. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes about two radio professionals who passed away last week: Herman Cain and Bob McCurdy. Lapa says he knew both men and learned a lot about leadership, sales, and radio from them. Read it here.

Convention Coverage Unlike Any in History. News and management pro Tom Tradup (pictured below at the 2016 RNC) writes in an exclusive opinion piece for TALKERS magazine about the challenges facing radio news and radio talk show hosts covering the 2020 national political conventions. The Salem Radio Network V.P. of News/Talk Programming says, “Pity the responsibility of my network as well as our colleagues at ABC Audio, CBS Radio, and the soon-to-be-defunct Westwood One radio news as we have dodged and weaved as COVID-19 impacted the venerable institutions known as National Conventions for both the Republican and Democratic parties. (Full disclosure: most of us have long understood that the actual ‘news value’ of political conventions was zero, but we nevertheless turned out every four years to provide coverage of delegates from Wisconsin wearing dopey yellow foam triangles shaped like cheese on their heads as we dodged screams and urine from various protest groups.)” Read his entire piece here.

WXYT-FM, Detroit Personality Jamie Samuelsen Dies at 48. It was just last week that WXYT-FM, Detroit sports talk host Jamie Samuelsen announced to listeners that he’s been battling colon cancer since January of 2019 – something he kept to himself until the very end. On Saturday (8/1) Samuelsen passed away at age 48. The Detroit Free Press shares comments from Samuelsen’s friends and co-workers – a number of whom got the chance to visit with him last week after he made his diagnosis public. The Free PressAnthony Fenech writes that Samuelsen – who had been working from home since the COVID-19 outbreak – was not in pain toward the end but his energy was very low. He leaves behind his wife Christy and three children: Caroline, 16, Josh, 14, and Catherine, 11. Samuelsen had been co-hosting the morning drive show with Mike Stone on the Entercom sports talk station since August of 2016.

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Adds Jesse Kelly Show. The nationally syndicated “Jesse Kelly Show” is now airing on Entercom’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte on Sundays from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. The Key Networks-syndicated show debuted in April and airs live weekdays from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET. WBT-AM/FM brand manager Mike Schaefer says, “Jesse Kelly represents the evolving sonic landscape of news/talk. Jesse’s informed, funny, and brings unique experience and wisdom to the listeners that has been earned as both a Marine Corps combat veteran and a congressional candidate. We’re excited to bring Jesse’s show to the listeners of WBT!”

Jim Bryant Leaving Hubbard Radio’s 2060 Digital. After heading up Hubbard Radio’s digital marketing agency 2060 Digital for the past eight years, Jim Bryant announces he leaving the company and his role as president of the division. He says, “I’m an entrepreneur at heart and feel like we’ve now built the business to a day-to-day operating level. My goal was to build the business, and I think we did that…and, quite honestly, 44 years in this business is about as much fun as one guy can handle. I appreciate the huge vote of confidence Ginny Morris and Hubbard Radio afforded me, allowing me to stretch out, take smart chances, and surround myself with the terrific talent required to keep moving this business forward.” Hubbard EVP and CFO Dave Bestler says, “There is no way our digital platform would be where it is today without Jim. His vision and leadership have made 2060 Digital one of the leading digital agencies in each of our radio markets. During the past two years, Jim has focused on expanding 2060 Digital services beyond our radio footprint to new markets, including Indianapolis, Nashville, Detroit and Columbus. His vision has come to life and we look forward to continuing to grow the 2060 business on top of the strong foundation that Jim built.” 2060 Digital general manager and Hubbard SVP of digital strategies Steve Goldstein is assuming Bryant’s duties.

Air Talent Shuffle at Entercom’s WFNZ-AM, Charlotte. The Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell reports that Entercom’s Charlotte sports talk station WFNZ-AM is swapping midday and afternoon drive shows. Effective today, “The Clubhouse with Kyle Bailey” moves to the midday daypart (10:00 am to 2:00 pm) and Nick Wilson and Josh Parcell move to the 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot. According to the piece, Bailey is pleased with the move to middays saying it “aligns with a lot of things in my life right now.” Bailey also hosts the Charlotte Hornets pre-game show on the station.

Farkas Exits ‘101.3 The Game’ in Burlington. At VOX AM/FM’s Burlington, Vermont sports talk outlet WCPV-FM “101.3 The Game,” program director and air personality Brady Farkas exits after four years. Station GM Ken Barlow tells the Burlington Free Press, “These things are never easy. (Farkas) is a very good guy, a very knowledgeable sports guy, and in many aspects of the job he did just fine. But we felt the station was mired in the position it’s in and we need revenue to be able to have it grow an audience and the program director is one of the primary people responsible for that.” Farkas tells the paper he’s proud of his time at the station, “We went through an affiliation switch from ESPN to FOX Sports Radio in fall of 2018 and delivered a number-one-rated station in fall of 2019. I am proud of the work our staff accomplished in order to achieve that.”

TALKERS News Notes. Los Angeles sports talker KSPN “ESPN 710” unveils its new programming lineup that takes effect on August 17. The changes were necessitated in part by owner ESPN’s decision to promote Keyshawn Johnson to host of the network’s national morning show called “Keyshawn, Jay and Zubin” and co-starring Jay Williams and Zubin Mehenti. KSPN will air that program via delay (it’s to air live in morning drive Eastern Time) and Travis Rodgers – formerly part of the KSPN “Keyshawm, LZ and Travis” show – will serve as the local host. “Greeny” with Mike Greenberg airs from 9:00 am to 11:00 am, followed by Max Kellerman from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Steve Mason and John Ireland move from afternoons to the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daypart and the new afternoon drive show is LZ Granderson and Jorge Sedano. San Diego-based Scott Kaplan hosts evenings when there is no play-by-play…..From August 10-14, legendary Chicago disc jockey John Records Landecker will fill in for Bob Sirott hosting the morning drive show on Nexstar’s WGN-AM, Chicago. Sirott says, “Listeners are going to discover that John’s middle name truly is ‘talk!’”…..Roanoke.com reports that the “Big Dawg Sports Talk” show with Rick Watson returns to the New River Valley for morning drive on Monticello Media’s WRAD-AM/FM. The program aired in the market from 2001 to 2010 when the previous station owner canceled the show. Watson serves as director of broadcasting for Radford University and that includes his work as the voice of RU athletics…..iHeartMedia Orlando announces the launch of “Financial Fix” – an online financial resource hub where financial advisors, realtors, tax professionals, bankruptcy lawyers, and more can be featured for the local community to connect with. iHeartMedia Orlando’s Chianna Ray says, “‘Financial Fix’ will be an important resource for our community. Many people do not know where to start when it comes to unexpected financial situations such as refinancing, retirement funds withdrawal, grants qualifications, and more. This hub will be a great place for the community to find solutions in one centralized place.” iHeartMedia Orlando is promoting “Financial Fix” on-air on all of its stations, as well as on social media and the stations’ websites.

iHeartRadio Announces ‘The Next Great Podcast’ Search. In conjunction with the content creation platform Tongal, iHeartRadio unveils its search for “The Next Great Podcast.” Now through August 27, creators around the world can pitch for the chance to produce a new podcast series of any genre and to work with The iHeartPodcast Network to launch the new series. Creators will be asked to submit a short synopsis and treatment that describes their podcast idea, along with links to past work and an optional audio trailer and pitch video. Pitches will be narrowed down by a panel of podcasters, led by head judge and broadcaster Dan Patrick, and 10 semifinalists will be awarded $1,000 to further develop their idea into a 10-minute pilot. These pilots will be shared on “The Next Great Podcast” feed in the fall for fans everywhere to listen and vote. One winner will be crowned “The Next Great Podcast,” featured on iHeartRadio stations across the country and work closely with Patrick and iHeartRadio’s team of expert podcast producers to develop their podcast into an original series for distribution by The iHeartPodcast Network. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “Audio is thriving and is the breeding ground for some of the best IP out there right now. Podcasting has always been an ideal place for cultivating new talent and we are excited to join forces with Tongal to reach their impressive community of creatives as we search for the next great podcast.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Milwaukee, the iHeartMedia cluster that includes urban contemporary WKKV “V100.7,” country WMIL, classic hits WRIT “95.7 BIG FM,” sports talker WRNW “97.3 The Game,” and WOKY-AM “The BIG 920” are launching “Brilliantly Black” – a community resource initiative to support local Black-owned businesses, restaurants, and non-profits. iHeartMedia Milwaukee president Colleen Valkoun says, “I want to congratulate our team on this grassroots opportunity to support Black-owned businesses. Please join us in supporting the Black business community. I am thrilled we can use our stations to impact and inform the public about this much-needed community resource.”…..iHeartMedia’s alternative WHKF, Harrisburg “ALT Rock 99.3” adds Premiere Networks’ “The Woody Show” to the morning drive daypart…..Condolences to the family and friends of Riverbend Communications CHR KFTZ, Idaho Falls morning drive personality Tara Longmore Moss, who died over the weekend after a brief, unexpected illness. Moss’ co-host Brad Barlow tells KPVI-TV, Pocatello, “Tara is that host that I never heard anyone say anything bad about. All I ever heard was how much people loved her and how much people thought of her as a friend.”

Pending Business: Gone Too Soon

| August 3, 2020

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

 

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Herman Cain and Bob McCurdy — two different men from different walks of life. I had the privilege of knowing and learning from both.

Leadership – Herman Cain was raised from humble beginnings and worked his way through Coca-Cola, Burger King to CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.

Bob McCurdy started as a radio salesman in Richmond. Working his way up through the ranks of Katz radio, McCurdy rose to president of the Katz Radio Group.

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Friday, July 31, 2020

| July 31, 2020

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 on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM in Washington, DC.  This new episode titled “Postpone, Opt Out, and Cancel!” looks back at this past week of July 27-31, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSLarry Elder, talk show host, Salem Radio Network / executive producer, “Uncle Tom”; Herman Cain (deceased) / talk show host, Newsmax TVShadoe Stevens, host / producer, “Mental Radio”; Steve Trevelise, talk show host, “New Jersey 101.5” / WIP, Philadelphia; Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York; 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; WTIC, Hartford; 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; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio in 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.

Remembering Herman Cain. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a piece on Herman Cain – the radio talk host and business executive who died yesterday (7/30) at the age of 74 — that was originally run in Inside Radio in 2008 when Kinosian served there as special features editor. It ran three years before Cain would begin his campaign for president for the 2012 election and in addition to revealing facts about his personal history, it provides insight into his political philosophy at the time.  Read it here.

Legal Battle Between Jackson, Tennessee News/Talk Stations Resolved. According to a story in the Jackson Sun, a legal dispute between Grace Broadcasting and Wireless Group over a non-compete issue has been settled, with one company buying the other’s news/talk station. Wireless Group – owner of news/talk WNWS-FM – was suing Grace Broadcasting – owner of news/talk WTJS-FM – after former WNWS host Dan Reaves left and began working for WTJS. Wireless Group claimed Reaves was in violation of his contract while Reaves argued the deal was never a legal contract. The Sun reports that as the coronavirus pandemic took its toll on the Jackson, Tennessee advertising market, the two sides became more amenable to a settlement that culminated with Grace acquiring WNWS for an undisclosed sum. The future of WNWS’ programming is reportedly uncertain at this time.

SiriusXM Q2 Revenue Down; Business Has Been ‘Resilient.’ Reporting its financial data for the second quarter of 2020, SiriusXM says revenue was $1.9 billion, down 5% compared to the same period a year ago. Net income was reported to be $243 million in Q2 of 2020, down 7.9% from Q2 2019 net income of $263 million. Adjusted EBITDA in the second quarter remained roughly unchanged at $615 million. SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer says, “Sirius XM’s business during this challenging period has been resilient, and with improving results and visibility into the remainder of the year, I’m pleased to resume offering subscriber and financial guidance.  Despite the incredible economic stresses brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, our self-pay net subscriber additions grew by nearly 200,000 over the first quarter of the year, and we reported improved churn of just 1.6% per month with rising ARPU. Although advertising revenue fell 34% in the quarter, substantial expense savings in SAC and other areas provided a complete offset, and we generated over half a billion dollars of free cash flow.  We are investing in our business, our people, and external opportunities to position ourselves for future growth.”

Jim Meyer on Howard Stern’s Future. During yesterday’s earnings call, SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer addressed the negotiations underway with Howard Stern and he said, in part, “Howard is performing at the top of his game right now. And he has been for pretty consistently some time. I couldn’t be happier with the status of Howard’s show. In particular, given the transition he’s made from doing everything at our studio at 1221 in New York to now doing it remotely and doing it flawlessly. I’ve been clear. I want Howard Stern to work at SiriusXM for as long as Howard Stern wants to work. And I’ve engaged with Howard’s team… I know what Howard wants and we’re trying to figure out a way to make all those things work together.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript. Subscribers can read the whole earnings call transcript here.

TALKERS News Notes. WDBJ-TV, Lynchburg, Virginia reports that news/talk WLNI-AM, Lynchburg morning drive talk host Larry Dowdy is retiring from his role with the station after a 47-year career in radio. Dowdy is not retiring completely; he plans to do some commercial voiceover work and some podcasting. WLNI PD Kenny Shelton says of Dowdy, “When I started working with him, I just realized what a great talent he is, what a great person he is. The way he goes about doing this job is a great lesson to anybody in the business as far as show prep that he does and just his knowledge of things.”…..Beginning with tonight’s Oakland A’s game against the Mariners in Seattle, Oakland fans will be able to hear their team play on iHeartMedia’s business news KNEW-AM, Oakland. Back in February, the team announced that it had no local radio deal and the way to hear games would be via streaming. Yesterday (7/30), the team announced the deal to air the remainder of this season on KNEW…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WGN-AM morning drive traffic reporter Mary VanDeVelde is moving to the afternoon drive daypart, working from 12:00 noon to 7:00 pm on air. Traffic reports in the mornings and late mornings are being provided by Nexstar’s WGN-TV…..The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation’s releases the latest episode of the AWM Gracie Interview Series titled, “Medicine and The Media – Leadership in Historic Times,” with American Medical Association president Susan R. Bailey, M.D.. The session is moderated by Entercom media personality Kelly Ford.  AWMF executive director Becky Brooks says, “Dr. Bailey shared meaningful insight into the important partnership between media and the medical community. This is a critical time for media to understand its role and for all of us to know our roles as individuals. We look forward to hosting more virtual gatherings to share the wisdom of experienced leaders.” Listen here.

The Presidential Race, Politics, and the Federal Agents Debate Top News/Talk Stories for Week of July 27-31. The November presidential election, politics, and the debate over the Trump administration’s dispatching of federal troops to cities where Black Lives Matter protests are taking place tied for the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the rising cases of COVID-19 in numerous states and projections for future cases. Coming in at #3 was health care, medications for treating COVID-19 and the race to create a vaccine, followed by the debate over opening schools this fall 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 complete chart here.

Salem Seeks Chief Engineer for NYC. This chief engineer position is in Salem Media Group’s New York City operations for news/talk WNYM “AM 570 The Answer” and Christian teaching WMCA (plus translator W272DX). See the list of position duties and qualifications necessary to be considered – and how to apply – here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The new morning show at Entercom’s Los Angeles CHR KAMP-FM “97.1 AMP” is “The Morning Mess,” featuring Joey Boy, Aneesh Ratan, Jeana Shepard, and Karla Hernandez. The company says, “The show, currently on sister station “Live 101.5” (KALV-FM) in Phoenix, will feature curated local content for Los Angeles listeners, including lifestyle, news, daily traffic and weather updates, as well as city-specific COVID updates. Listeners in L.A. will also hear popular segments like “Nachoo’s Revenge,” featuring Joey Boy’s alter ego prank calling unsuspecting listeners. Entercom regional president Jeff Federman says, “Joey Boy and ‘The Morning Mess’ are a true reflection of Southern California. They are diverse, dynamic, socially responsible and completely transparent.”…..Radio pro Frank Ski returns to Howard University’s urban contemporary WHUR-FM, Washington, DC for afternoon drive hosting “The Frank Ski Show with Nina Brown,” beginning Monday (8/3). This comes after Ski’s exit from Entercom’s WVEE, Atlanta “V103” late last month.  WHUR program director Al Payne says, “Frank Ski has dominated ratings and has an incredible legacy of community enrichment wherever he is on the air. He is a media icon and adding his name to WHUR once again completes our DMV Dream Team.”.….Salem Media Group announces that radio pro Amanda Carroll joins the Nashville-based Salem Music Network to produce a five-hour show for daily syndication, effective Monday (8/3). The company says, “Throughout her career, she has worked at major market Christian radio stations, including 89.3 KSBJ-FM in Houston, 91.9 WGTS in Washington, D.C. and K-LOVE national network. Most recently, Carroll worked at Sacramento’s adult contemporary station, KYMX-FM Mix 96.1.”

An Exceedingly Able Cain

| July 31, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece originally appeared in Inside Radio in 2008 when writer Mike Kinosian served there as special features editor. 

 

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS magazine
Managing Editor

 

ATLANTA — Proudly boasting a divergent work history, Herman Cain was relatively new to the radio industry a dozen or so years ago, but was keenly aware of how to persevere – or much more precisely flourish – in the face of formidable odds.

Barest of necessities to the boardroom to the broadcast booth all too swiftly capsulate his intriguing journey.

Neither a burning aspiration nor long-held ambition factored into him becoming WSB-AM, Atlanta’s 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm talk host, yet that’s what eventuated on January 2, 2008.

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