Lotus Communications to Acquire Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Seattle Radio Stations for $18 Million. The three Seattle radio stations – all-news KOMO-AM/FM, talk KVI-AM, and hot AC KPLZ-FM – are the only radio stations in Sinclair Broadcast Group’s portfolio. The company is better known for its television station holdings and its conservative editorial policy. Lotus Communications will acquire the three stations – pending FCC approval – for “an aggregate purchase price of approximately $18 million in cash and other consideration.” Lotus Communications first SVP Jim Kalmenson says, “We are excited to work with the amazing staff at KOMO, KPLZ, and KVI. These are legendary stations which share Lotus’s vision of producing local programming to serve the community, enhance local neighborhoods, and support our hometown businesses. Seattle is home to several excellent broadcasting companies who have made this a great radio market.” Lotus owns and operates 44 radio stations in the Western U.S. This deal was initiated by Richard A. Foreman Associates and acted as exclusive broker representing Sinclair.
George G. Beasley Passes at 89. The founder of Beasley Broadcasting – George G. Beasley – died yesterday in Naples, Florida at the age of 89. Beasley was also serving as executive chairman of the board for Beasley Broadcasting at the time of his death. The company says, “While best known for his many trailblazing achievements in the radio broadcasting industry, George will be most remembered for his humility, kindness, integrity, work-ethic and love of family and friends. Born on April 9, 1932, George grew up working in the tobacco fields in his hometown of Ararat, Virginia. His drive and determination led him to enlist in the army to pursue a degree in Education through the G.I. Bill. Upon completing his B.A. and M.A. from Appalachian State University, he taught in Virginia, before moving to North Carolina in the late 1950s to become a high school principal and coach. Inspired by a commitment to provide a voice for the voiceless in his local community, George built his very first station (WPYB-AM) in Benson, North Carolina in December of 1961. Over the next 60 years, his hard work and vision paved the way for what Beasley Media Group has become today – one of America’s premiere publicly traded media companies, consisting of 62 radio properties located in 15 large and medium-sized markets with digital offerings and an esports division.” Among his proudest professional accomplishments was receiving an honorary doctorate and the unveiling of the George G. Beasley Media Complex on campus to provide future generations of ASU students with the opportunity to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams in broadcasting. Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley says, “George’s unconditional love for our mother, Ann and our family, along with his passion for the radio industry, helped to guide him throughout his lifetime. A loving father, mentor, and friend, I will especially miss his incredible wisdom, keen insight and gentle smile.” A memorial service will take place for family and friends in Naples, Florida. Details will be forthcoming. A private burial service will be held for the family in Ararat, Virginia. In lieu of flowers, the Beasley family requests donations be made in his name to The Broadcasters Foundation of America, 125 West 55th Street, 4th Floor New York, New York 10019. Online donations may also be made at www.broadcastersfoundation.org.
Kim Komando Show: 86% of Those Surveyed No Longer Trust Big Tech. A national survey of 6,351 Americans conducted by “The Kim Komando Show” found that 86% of participants no longer trust Big Tech companies. Kim Komando says the poll underscores the growing concerns surrounding the power and influence Big Tech companies have on society and the little confidence Americans have in the tech power players. She says, “Americans are finally waking up to the fact that when a product is free, they are in fact the product.” Among the findings of the study: 1) 82.73% of those polled say they think smart speakers listen to what you say all of the time instead of only when you use the “wake” words. Kim recently explored how users can stop smart devices from listening to you and recording what you say; 2) Nearly 60% fear their smartphone is spying on their activity and have had advertisements populate for something they were just discussing. Thankfully, Kim explained in a recent “Daily Tech Update” episode that this phenomenon is likely dumb luck! 3) Participants surveyed believe Big Tech has too much influence on politics, with Facebook and Twitter each at 92%; 4) 67% of Facebook users would be willing to delete their account knowing that the social media platform tracks everything, sells data and cannot control what is posted on the site; and 5) 92% of people surveyed think Google knows too much information about their personal lives. To combat this, Kim has rounded up alternatives to Google that won’t track your information. She adds, “Since the onset of COVID-19, Big Tech companies have seen accelerated demand as the world has shifted to a more digitalized landscape. Across the board, the survey demonstrated that a majority of individuals worry that Big Tech has too much influence or knows too much about our personal information, yet nearly 4 billion people use social media worldwide and the numbers continue to grow. Interestingly, with the world becoming more digitalized and the news of Instagram for Kids, more than 84% of people surveyed said they would prefer their children to be over the age of 15 to use Instagram. Maybe we are starting to see the damage social media does to our adult lives and how it’s robbing children of a healthy, happy start to their own.” The national survey was disseminated to subscribers to “The Kim Komando Show” newsletters and 6,351 individuals across the United States participated.
Salem Brings Trish Regan into Podcast Network Fold. Conservative media figure Trish Regan is joining Salem Media Group’s Salem Podcast Network beginning June 15. Regan is most well known for her prime time show on the FOX Business Network. She was also a host on Bloomberg TV, CNBC, and CBS Television. The former Miss New Hampshire competed in the Miss America pageant in 1994 and is a graduate of Columbia University with a degree in U.S. history. Salem says,“‘The Trish Regan Podcast’ will be her unique take on the day’s news events. Trish will examine the trouble we have gotten into in this country, and how we can and must get out of it. Her understanding of Wall Street and the nation’s economy will be an added plus for her listeners.” Salem SVP spoken word Phil Boyce comments, “Trish is a superstar in conservative media. She adds class, personality, and wisdom to our lineup, and I have no doubt her millions of fans will follow her and find her here.” Regan adds, “I am thrilled to enter into partnership with Salem Media. Salem is an organization with real leadership and a management team that stands up for American values including—most importantly—our first amendment.”
Good Karma Brands Moving Milwaukee Stations to Downtown Location. The Milwaukee radio stations owned and operated by Good Karma Brands – as well as the company’s home offices – are moving from their longtime location on the northeast side of the city to new offices at The Avenue in downtown Milwaukee. GKB operates news/talk WTMJ, sports talk outlets WKTI-FM “94.5 ESPN” and WAUK “540 ESPN,” plus talk WGKB-AM/W269DL “101.7 The Truth” in the market. Company founder and CEO Craig Karmazin says, “It is incredibly important to us as a local operator of world class brands to be a part of the fabric of the local community and the cities in which we live and work. We couldn’t be happier with The Avenue and 3rd Street Market Hall as it is a symbol of the growth, investment and diversity present in downtown Milwaukee development, and aligns directly with our values as a locally owned company passionate about serving our local community.” Good Karma Brands’ home office and Milwaukee-based radio station operations will be located on the second floor of The Avenue, in a space designed and developed for the growing company. The radio station studios will be located on the first floor in the 3rd Street Market Hall as a featured activation within the space.
iHeartMedia Names Spencer Bynes Area President for Texas. Former iHeartMedia executive Spencer Bynes returns to the company as area president for the Texas area in which he’ll oversee the Beaumont, McAllen, Waco, Corpus Christi and Bryan markets, effective immediately. He will report to Nick Gnau, division president for iHeartMedia. Gnau says, “Spencer has been a proven leader throughout his career, his energy is contagious and his ability to develop teams and talent are unmatched. I am extremely excited for Spencer to lead these markets and expand our community efforts as well as our revenue and rating footprint in the great state of Texas.” Bynes joins iHeartMedia from Lee Hecht Harrison, where he most recently served as vice president of business development in the Southern Region. Prior to joining LHH, he was managing partner and co-founder of Accendo International Consulting. Bynes served with iHeartMedia from 2011 to 2016 as director of talent management and talent acquisition before leaving to launch his consulting business.
iHeartMedia Louisville Sets First Annual Community Voices Town Hall. Taking place on June 10 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm, iHeartMedia Louisville’s Community Voices Town Hall will “aim to address and bring awareness to the biggest issues in the Louisville community that have been identified by the iHeartMedia Louisville Local Advisory Board, including child abuse, racial equity and mental health. The town hall will feature subject-matter experts that will address and discuss these issues.” WHAS “NewsRadio 840” personality Terry Meiners and the Kentucky-Indiana Metro community engagement manager Gabriela Espino will host the event that will include a panel of local politicians, charity heads, experts, and activists. iHeartMedia Louisville metro president Earl Jones says, “I am thrilled we have a platform to bring key voices together to discuss the issues affecting our community. The in-kind media campaigns will support local programs that address these key issues. Through the power of iHeartMedia, we are committed to positively impacting our community.” iHeartMedia Louisville Local Advisory Board will help select eight 501(c)(3) organizations in the Louisville metro area who will receive a three-month in-kind media campaign addressing child abuse, racial equity or mental health. The in-kind media campaigns will be activated using the radio stations’ on-air, social media and digital platforms.
TALKERS News Notes. After nearly 40 years with the station, all-news KCBS-AM, San Francisco morning news anchor Stan Bunger is retiring on June 11. To commemorate his final day, the Audacy station will look back on his career and the major news events he’s covered – everything from 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, 1991 Oakland Hills Fire, 9/11 terrorist attack, championship parades for the Giants and Warriors, COVID-19, and his daily conversations with former Oakland Raiders head coach and NFL Hall of Famer John Madden. The final broadcast will also feature interviews with several of Stan’s past co-anchors and co-workers, including former news directors…..A new member joins the iHeartMedia, Inc. board of directors. Former Lala U.S. CEO and president Graciela Monteagudo takes her place on the board immediately. The company says Monteagudo is an internationally respected executive who, over her 30-year career, has held leadership roles at a variety of multinational Fortune 500 companies across the consumer products, healthcare and retail industries. iHM chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are extremely pleased that Graciela is bringing her expertise across strategic planning, digital marketing, mergers & acquisitions, international operations and the Hispanic and Latin American consumer audience, as well as her leadership in diversity, inclusion and cultural transformation, to the iHeart board. Her significant experience in North and Latin America – and her extensive background in global/digital marketing, e-commerce and consumer goods will provide valuable insights to our board as well as significant contributions to our company and our shareholders.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One – the official network radio partner of the NCAA will present live audio broadcasts of every game of the Women’s College World Series for the first time ever. The network, which has broadcast the Championship Series since 2011, will expand coverage to include all the preliminary games for the 2021 Series.
Taja Graham Joins MIW Board of Directors. Radio management pro Taja Graham is joining the board of directors of Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio, Inc. Graham serves as market president for Emmis CommunicationsIndianapolis. She is a proud graduate of the 2011 MIW Mildred Carter Mentoring Program, and in 2010 completed the Rising Through the Ranks Management Course for Women presented annually by Radio Advertising Bureau, Broadcast Music, Inc., and MIW. MIW board president Ruth Presslaff comments, “After decades of service, MIW founding member Mary Beth Garber transitioned off our board this year. We are ever grateful for her contributions. Today, with open arms, we welcome Taja Graham to fill her seat. From MIW mentee to board member, LSM to market president, Taja embodies the spirit and strength of the MIW’s beliefs and mission.”
COVID-19/Fauci Emails, the Economy/Employment, Trump ‘Reinstatement,’ 2020 Vote Audits, Israel Government, JBS Cyberattack, NFL’s Race-Norming Policy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/2). The fast-falling rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Joe Biden’s deal with Anheuser-Busch to offer a free beer to those who get vaccinated, and the flap over Dr. Tony Fauci’s emails on the pandemic; the state of the U.S. economy and employers’ complaints that they can’t find enough willing workers; the belief by some that former President Donald Trump will be “reinstated” as president; the audits of 2020 election votes in Arizona and New Hampshire; the fate of Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister of Israel and a coalition forms to oust him; the ransomware attack on meat giant JBS and concerns about future cyberattacks; and controversy over the NFL’s “race-norming” policy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Superadio Networks, Bloomberg Radio, and Key Networks Partner to Present ‘Bloomberg Black Business Beat’. A collaborative effort between Key Networks, Bloomberg Radio, and Superadio Networks LLC results in the syndication of the specialty feature “The Bloomberg Black Business Beat” to radio stations across the U.S. The program is hosted by Renita Young and presents a daily look at the intersection of culture and commerce affecting Black American audiences. Topics range from the latest trends in Black-owned businesses and profiles of Black entrepreneurs, to a continuing look at diversity in the workplace and an inside look at the business of entertainment. Superadio president Eric Faison says, “We’re excited to partner with Key Networks to bring ‘The Bloomberg Black Business Beat’ to an audience that is looking for information on business trends, consumer news and finance and deliver it in a compelling and fast-paced format.” Key Networks’ chief revenue officer Dennis Green says, “Key Networks is proud to partner with Superadio to bring ‘The Bloomberg Black Business Beat’ to listeners and advertisers across the country. The feature provides a wealth of information related to business and finance that is important to Black audiences. ‘The Bloomberg Black Business Beat’ will inform and educate listeners and provide affiliates with high-quality iHeart content.”
New Execs Appointed at iHeartMedia Salt Lake City. At its Salt Lake City operations, iHeartMedia promotes Judy Copier to market president and Joyce Wirthlin rises to SVP of sales. Copier has served with iHeartMedia Salt Lake City for 10 years, most recently as SVP of sales. Copier takes over for Stu Stanek, who has been with iHeartMedia for more than 20 years and is retiring as market president. Copier says, “I am very appreciative of the opportunity to take over the reins and lead this talented team in Salt Lake City. I feel very fortunate to have worked alongside Stu for several years and know his wisdom and insight have been invaluable in preparing me for this role. I’m also excited to promote Joyce to SVP of sales – the strength of her leadership will be a great asset. I’m proud to be part of the iHeartMedia family, one that recognizes that our organization is built on, and succeeds because of, the very talented people I get to work with every day.” In addition, to these changes, Jeff McCartney was appointed to the SVP of programming role in January of 2021, rounding out the market’s executive team.
‘LI News Radio’ Wins Eight Press Club Awards. Long Island news/talk WRCN, Riverhead “LI News Radio” took home eight Press Club of Long Island Media Awards at the organization’s May 28 ceremony. The JVC Media station’s “Breaking it Down with Frank MacKay” won in seven categories. JVC Media president and CEO John Caracciolo says, “The Press Club of Long Island is a professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. ‘Breaking it Down’ airs Monday through Friday at 2:00 pm on ‘LI News Radio’ and it is one of the leading celebrity radio talk shows in the nation with thousands of daily listeners on many of our JVC stations, as well as other affiliates and partners. The entire team at JVC is so proud of Frank. He brings a passion to this medium and has a fantastic interview and storytelling style that just makes his show appointment listening for all. I am very excited about the future of Frank MacKay and the ‘Breaking it Down’ program.”
WWO Blog: Targeting ‘Ready to Go’ Customers. This week’s Westwood One blog analyzes a recent Nielsen study that investigates which media audiences have the greatest purchase propensity as the nation continues to emerge from the pandemic. The group of people that considers itself “ready to go” is one that “perceives less risk, feels safer, and indicates their cities are emerging from crisis. The study indicates that in the “ready-to-go” group “advertisers can find a desirable consumer group that over-indexes in having children aged 2-11 (117), having an annual income of $100K+ (113), and working outside of the home (114). Compared to the average, the “ready-to-go” consumers are 5% more likely to listen to AM/FM radio in a typical day.” Data from the study shows that in the automobile category, “podcast listeners (+43%) and AM/FM radio listeners (+18%) are more likely to make an auto purchase in the next 12 months versus the average consumer and heavy TV viewers.” In the restaurant category, “heavy AM/FM radio listeners and podcast listeners are more likely to dine out: 63% of heavy AM/FM radio listeners intend to dine out at either a quick serve or sit-down restaurant within a month. More than half of podcast listeners also intend to dine out after COVID-19 restrictions ease.”
Meredith Tiger Joins Audacy as Director of Corporate Communications. PR pro Meredith Tiger joins Audacy as director of corporate communications and PR. In this role, Tiger will help drive overall communications strategy for the company, including leading communications support for key business initiatives, crisis communications, event communications, and talent relations, and will serve as a key company spokesperson, reporting to Ashok Sinha, SVP, head of corporate communications & PR. Tiger – most recently serving with HBO Max – will lead strategic communications for Audacy’s digital, research, podcasting, corporate social responsibility, diversity, equity and inclusion, and other divisions within Audacy’s portfolio, while also increasing industry awareness for the company through executive visibility and thought leadership programs, including key speaking engagements and press opportunities for Audacy’s executive leadership team. Additionally, she will spearhead consumer publicity for the company’s tentpole live events. In her role, Tiger will partner closely with employee communications, local market communications efforts and corporate social media. Tiger says, “It’s an exciting time in our industry and I am thrilled to have joined the team at Audacy. It’s clear that based on the leadership, this is a first-class operation and I’m looking forward to collaborating with some of the top creative and communications professionals in the field.”
TALKERS News Notes. In recognition of Pride Month, Audacy unveils a month-long multiplatform campaign called, “Celebrations in Pride,” presented by Stella Rosa Wines, that includes a series of on-air content heard on CHANNEL Q, the award-winning LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network, and select Audacy stations. “Celebrations in Pride” will also be available digitally via station streams on the Audacy platform and Audacy.com/Pride. Audacy SVP of programming and music initiatives Michael Martin says, “We’re delighted to leverage our national scale and local connection to celebrate Pride Month through this exciting and entertaining campaign. We look forward to connecting our audience to our industry’s biggest superstars and influential allies of the LGTBQ+ community and delivering powerful everyday content throughout the month.”…..The National Association of Broadcasters is hosting a special event on June 17 at 2:00 pm ET on NAB Amplify to announce and celebrate the 2021 recipients of the NAB Engineering Achievement Awards and Digital Leadership Award. The special session titled, “The Future of Media and NAB Technology Awards,” kicks off with a keynote conversation with Mike Chapman, a partner and Americas media lead at management consulting firm Kearney, who will discuss the future of media, including trends to watch, with Sam Matheny, executive vice president and chief technology officer of NAB…..In celebration of Black Music Month, Urban One announces the release of its new podcast series, “For the Culture, A History of Black Music.” The podcast features six episodes focused on the impact of several Black music genres on popular music today, including Gospel, Funk, Philly Soul, Trap and Hip Hop, Go Go, and Chopped and Screwed and present interviews with music makers from each genre. Reach Media syndicated radio host Angie Ange hosts the podcast and presents content designed to entertain and enlighten Reach Media’s national audience with real discussions and insights from pioneers and celebrities who have contributed to the national/global rise of locally originated sounds in hotbed music markets…..audiochuck network announces that the popular true-crime podcast, “Park Predators” is dropping a second season. Hosted by investigative journalist and accomplished podcaster Delia D’Ambra, “Park Predators” explores the evil hiding among the beautiful landscapes of the national parks and forests within North and Central America.” AdLarge handles ad sales for the podcast.
COVID-19, Worker Shortage, Tulsa Massacre Anniversary, Voting Rights, Vote Audits/Sydney Powell Claim, and JBS Hack Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/1). The fast-declining rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about vaccine hesitancy, and the simmering Wuhan lab leak theory; employers in the U.S. are complaining about the lack of available workers as the country fully re-opens; the anniversary of the Tulsa “Black Wall Street” massacre; President Joe Biden appeals to Americans to support voting rights and appoints Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the administration’s efforts to defend voting rights; the 2020 vote audits taking place in Arizona and New Hampshire and former Trump lawyer Sydney Powell’s claim Donald Trump could be “reinstated”; and the ransomware attack on meat giant JBS were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Premiere Networks to Syndicate “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” in Rush Limbaugh’s Old Daypart. A source at Premiere Networks confirms the story in today’s Wall Street Journal that reports Premiere will begin syndicating “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart, beginning June 21. Sexton, a former CIA officer and NYPD counter-terrorism expert currently hosts an eponymous 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET show for Premiere Networks and Clay Travis – founder of Outkick (which he just sold to FOX) – hosts the morning drive “Outkick the Coverage” show on FOX Sports Radio. Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott is quoted saying, “We’re not going to replace Rush Limbaugh, we’re going to have an evolution of the show with fresh voices — those that grew up on Rush and admired him.” Clay Travis writes a piece at Outkick today explaining that this has been in the works for months and he gives his rationale for leaving the morning sports show behind to work with Sexton on the new talk radio show.
‘News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis’ to Debut on July 4. The launch of Cumulus Media’s new talk station is set for July 4 and the company announces that WKIM-FM, “News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis” will be the official flagship radio station for the University of Memphis Tigers. As such, the deal with Tiger Sports Properties means the station will air every football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball game starting in August. The agreement also includes broadcasting of the weekly one-hour football and men’s basketball coaches’ shows with Ryan Silverfield and Penny Hardaway, respectively. Cumulus does not reveal the daily programming to be heard on the station outside of Westwood One’s newly launched “Dan Bongino Show.” Cumulus Memphis VP and market manager Morgan Bohannon says, “At Cumulus, we believe strongly that ‘what’s good for Memphis is good for us,’ and that commitment to our community drives all that we do. One of our most important priorities and responsibilities as a local broadcaster is to help make Memphis a better place. Becoming the flagship radio partner of Memphis Tiger Athletics, an entity that is so beloved by our city and its residents, is the opportunity of a lifetime. Cumulus Memphis has the largest live, local and homegrown team in the radio industry – all of whom are incredibly excited about becoming the radio home of the Memphis Tigers. We are thrilled to put the full power of four 100,000-watt stations behind the partnership. KIX-106, 98.1 The Max, 103.5 WRBO and the all-new ‘News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis’ will work in concert to raise the level of awareness and celebrate all that is Memphis Tiger Athletics. Rebranding ‘98.9 The Bridge’ and changing the format of the station is just one more step to showcase Tiger Athletics and all that it means to Memphis. We are excited and eager to begin a new and long-lasting partnership with the University of Memphis, Learfield IMG College and Tiger Sports Properties.”
Real Estate Powerhouse/Radio Talk Show Host Dottie Herman Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The CEO of Douglas Elliman, one of the nation’s oldest and largest real estate brokerage firms, Dottie Herman, is this week’s guest on the PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” She is also the host of a long-running talk show, “Eye On Real Estate” on WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer” that has evolved into a weekend radio institution in the Big Apple. Herman has received numerous high-level honors for both her executive and entrepreneurial leadership in the field of real estate and is on just about every prestigious magazine list of the most powerful women in American business. Michael Harrison says, “Dottie Herman is at the potentially explosive junction where real estate and talk radio meet. The topic is hot and getting hotter tying into all aspects of American life – politics, economics, business, education, and the entire menu of news/talk radio staples. Not to mention, it can attract advertisers from a wide array of industries from banks to home maintenance. Dottie Herman brings the ‘wise woman’ persona reminiscent of some of radio’s greatest talk performers and on-air advisors into a modern context. We discuss everything from her dramatic childhood to her dynamic self-made career as a real estate giant to her role in talk radio including the economy, her perspective on Donald Trump based on her relationship with him in the real estate business, and entrepreneurism in America.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
WVHU, Huntington, West Virginia’s Tom Roten Celebrates 20 Years. Talk radio personality Tom Roten, known to his listeners as “The Straight Shooter,” celebrates his 20th year hosting the morning show on iHeartMedia’s WVHU, Huntington “NewsRadio 800.” Roten began his career with WVHU in 1991 when he began his 15-year stint as the station’s sports play-by-play announcer. In June of 2001, when the station switched to news/talk, Roten became the morning drive host. Roten recalls how he transitioned to the morning show. “I was wrapping up a high school basketball broadcast when I saw a recently elected first-time member of Congress waiting with other parents for her son to come out of the locker room. I asked Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to join me for the postgame report. We talked about the game of course, but I also asked her about being sworn into the U.S. House just a month prior. I didn’t realize it at the time, but members of management were listening to the interview and had been looking for a local morning talk host to fill out the lineup of the station’s new talk format. We had Rush Limbaugh, but the rest of the lineup was still up in the air.” He was offered the morning gig and agreed to try it for a year. About his 20-year morning talk career, he says, “It’s hard to believe really. I’m blessed to have had this opportunity and I’m thankful the listeners and advertisers have stuck with me in my quest to deliver truth, opinion, and, hopefully, some entertainment. Talking about what’s going on in our region and in the nation from a local perspective has helped me bond with my listeners.”
Cumulus Media Moves to Pay Down $175 Million in Debt. The company announces it is taking steps to pay down $175 million of debt using cash on hand. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “As I noted on our recent earnings call, the continuing improvement in economic and public health conditions is fueling very encouraging momentum across all our businesses. Against that backdrop, we are accelerating debt repayments, which will de-lever the balance sheet more quickly, reduce interest expense, and further increase our free cash flow. Since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018, we have reduced our net debt by almost $600 million, despite the impact of a global pandemic. Looking ahead, our better leverage profile and more than $200 million of available liquidity will provide us meaningful financial flexibility as we continue along our strong rebound trajectory. Cumulus Media’s strong competitive position, proven track record of solid execution, numerous revenue growth drivers, and ability to consistently generate significant free cash flow give us multiple pathways along which to grow shareholder value in the short- and long-term.” On May 17, Cumulus completed a $60 million repayment of its ABL Revolver due 2025, which represented the entirety of the amount outstanding under the facility. Following the paydown, the ABL Revolver due 2025 is undrawn and available as liquidity for general corporate purposes. Cumulus was required by the terms of its debt agreements to make mandatory debt prepayments from the proceeds of its previously announced sale of land in Bethesda, MD, in June 2020 and sale of towers and related assets in September 2020, after giving effect to a right of reinvestment. On May 25, the company paid down approximately $89 million of its Term Loan Credit Facility due 2026 related to this mandatory prepayment obligation. Approximately $65 million of the prepayment related to the Land Sale, and approximately $23 million of the prepayment related to the Tower Sale. Additionally, pursuant to the terms of its 6.75% Senior Secured First Lien Notes due 2026, the company launched a tender offer for the Notes at par for approximately $26 million, which represents the pro rata amount required to be offered from the proceeds of the Tower Sale. Following the expiration of the tender offer, any amounts that remain untendered will be directed toward an additional prepayment of the Term Loan.
TALKERS News Notes. Former President Donald J. Trump has been making appearances on talk radio programs recently, including a guest spot on the USA Radio Network-syndicated “Wayne Allyn Root: Raw and Unfiltered.”…..Audacy’s Cadence13 announces the launch of a new, weekly podcast titled, “That Thing I Do,” starring Grammy-nominated bassist Este Haim and Emmy Award-winning actor Darren Criss on which the close friends will share their mutual love of music, pop culture, and more with special guests. “That Thing I Do” will be a “raucous deep-dive into the funny and strange quirks of those successful people, and an investigation of what it is about ‘that thing they do’ that makes them who they are.”…..On Tuesday, June 1 ABC News kicks off Pride Month with the two-episode premiere of its first LGBTQ+ issue-focused podcast, “Life Out Loud with LZ Granderson.” The ABC News contributor says, “We lost so many stories to the AIDS epidemic, violence, harassment and silence due to fear. I’m passionate about creating a space to capture these underreported stories and untold oral histories, while also celebrating the joys of living ‘life out loud’ and where we’re going as a community.”…..WGN-AM, Chicago host and contributor Dane Neal will broadcast live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday (5/30), 6:30 am to 10:00 am, leading up to WGN’s coverage of the 105th Indianapolis 500. IMS president J. Douglas Boles says, “We welcome Dane Neal and WGN back home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 105th Running of the Indy 500 for a live pre-race show followed by the live race broadcast. Chicago’s Very Own has such a rich tradition with the ‘500’ and the Speedway, as it was a broadcast pioneer by starting its coverage of the race nearly 100 years ago.”…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs” show is added to the program schedule at Ultimate Caps Inc’s KBFS-AM, Belle Fourche, South Dakota and KYDT-FM, Pine Haven, Wyoming.
San Jose Mass Shooting, COVID-19 Origin Controversy, January 6 Commission, Trump Org Grand Jury, Election Audits, Inflation Fears, Gaza Cease-Fire/Anti-Semitic Violence, Border Crisis, and Biden-Putin Meeting Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/26). The shooting deaths of 8 people at a rail yard in San Jose; the growing call for investigation into the origin of the coronavirus and China’s pushback over the lab leak theory; the GOP’s hesitation over creating a January 6 Commission to investigate the Capitol invasion; Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. convenes a grand jury to consider indictments in the criminal investigation of the Trump Organization; the 2020 election audits taking place in New Hampshire and Arizona; soaring consumer prices and fears of inflation; the cease-fire in Gaza and instances of violence against Jews in the U.S. and abroad; the crush of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border; and the planned meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Monday Memo: Boozy Bartenders. After interviewing local direct retail talk radio advertisers, consultant Holland Cooke cautions that programmers’ personal politics – “daily doom-N-gloom” – are at-odds-with listeners’ mindset, “upbeat as America re-opens.” Read his column here.
Pending Business: Next. Sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, says, “The days of passive audio engagement are rapidly ending. The days of appointment radio are waning as the listening consumer is in greater control of audio decisions.” For the news/talk seller this can be great news if sales management guides them properly. See his column here.
COVID-19 Vaccines & Stats, Wuhan Lab Outbreak Report, Biden’s Infrastructure Plan, Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire/Attacks on Jews, Critical Race Theory, Belarus Plane ‘High-Jacking,’ Anti-Abortion Laws, and Cryptocurrency Slump Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The fast-declining rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and concerns about vaccine hesitancy; a report indicating several staffers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became infected with COVID in fall of 2019; President Joe Biden scales back his infrastructure plan to $1.7 trillion to woo Republicans; the cease-fire between the IDF and Hamas and increasing incidents of attacks on Jews in the U.S.; increased reports of parents fighting their school districts over the teaching of “critical race theory”; Belarus comes under pressure after forcing a Ryanair flight to return so it could arrest a journalist critical of President Alexander Lukashenko; the anti-abortion laws being passed in several states; and last week’s cryptocurrency slump were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
‘Voelker and Bahl’ New Afternoon Show at Sports Talk WTMM, Albany. Air talent changes are taking place at Townsquare Media’s Albany sports talk outlet WTMM “104.5 The Team.” Effective June 1, former UAlbany associate athletic director of external affairs Charlie Voelker – who also hosts WTMM’s “Sunday Sports Buzz” – is joining Dan Bahl as co-host of the new “Voelker and Bahl” afternoon drive show. Voelker takes over for Jeff Levack who is leaving his full-time role with the station to become head of media relations for Tech East Fire and Water Restoration. He’ll remain with WTMM for special on-air and online projects. About joining the station full time, Voelker says, “I am extremely excited to entertain Capital Region sports fans on ‘The Team’ every afternoon. It is an amazing opportunity to join Dan talking sports and all that implies! I want to congratulate my friend Levack on his new opportunity and I’ll fill those shoes proudly.” WTMM brand manager Dan Bahl adds, “I have loved working with Jeff both on and off-air. I am very excited to have Charlie join me on the afternoon show and look forward to us providing local sports fans with entertaining content on-air and online.”
iHeartMedia Sells Tampa Studio Facility for $3.8 Million. According to a story in the Tampa Bay Times, iHeartMedia has agreed to sell its Gandy Boulevard facility in Tampa to LBA LVF VII XII Company LLC for $3.8 million. The studios house news/talk WFLA and numerous music-formatted stations. iHeartMedia has made no announcements about its plans for relocating the radio stations and it’s not clear when the deal closes.
WNXX-FM, Baton Rouge Host Charles Hanagriff Leaves Full-Time Role. The Advocate of Baton Rouge reports that Charles Hanagriff is leaving his full-time sports talk host gig with Guaranty Broadcasting’s sports talk WNXX-FM, Baton Rouge. Hanagriff is exiting the midday host role to take a position with Match Point. He will continue to serve with the station in a part-time sitting in with Jimmy Ott on his evening “Gametime” program and will anchor the LSU football post-game show during football season.
WFAS-AM, White Plains Goes All-Digital Today. Today (5/24) is the day that Cumulus Media’s talk outlet WFAS-AM, White Plains, New York transitions to broadcasting solely in a digital format. Cumulus received permission from the FCC to make the change last month. That came in the wake of the FCC’s October 2020 ruling that allows AM radio stations to operate using all-digital broadcast signals. As of today, only radios equipped with HD radio technology will be able to receive and play the station programming. Cumulus says, “The HD Radio signal offers improved sound quality and clear reception to an expanded listening area. The new digital signal now reaches beyond Westchester County, NY and into large portions of New York City (Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan), the north shore of Long Island, northern New Jersey, and Fairfield County, CT. Listeners can access AM1230Digital’s signal through an HD Radio receiver, available in most newer car models, or by streaming either online, with a mobile app, or with a smart speaker.”
Binnie Media Radiothon Raises $200K for Veterans Charity. Pictured above (center) is “Good Morning NH” host Jack Heath on May 19, the day of Binnie Media’s 7th Annual “Make 12 Hours Count” Radiothon that benefitted Easter Seals NH Military & Veterans Services and Veterans Count. With Heath are (from l-r): Trooper Chris Elphick of the NH Major Crime Unit, Navy Seal Dave Rogers (retired), Heath, Trooper First Class Joshua Beauchemin, and Lieutenant Sean Haggerty. The radiothon raised more than $200,000 this year. It was simulcast across Binnie Media’s “Pulse of NH” stations WTPL-FM, WTSN-FM, and WEMJ-FM, and received support from the company’s music stations. Over the past seven years, the radiothon has raised more than $1.1 million.
Michael Harrison “Animal Tour” Enters Fourth Week. “I Know You’re Real” is a Hit on YouTube with over 31,000 Views. TALKERS founder Michael Harrison is entering the fourth week of his virtual “Animal Tour” – a series of talk media interviews on radio, TV, and in print in support of his new music album with the historic rock band Gunhill Road, What Year Is This! and the animal welfare anthem, “I Know You’re Real.” This past week, Harrison has appeared on Doug Stephan’s “DJV” morning show as well as his “American Family Farmer” and “Your Hidden Powers” programs. He also appeared on Kevin McCullough’s “Radio Night LIVE” syndicated show and John Batchelor’s “CBS Eye on the World” podcast. To listen to the conversation between Batchelor and Harrison, please click here. Harrison has already appeared on the Jim Bohannon Show (Westwood One), the Harry Hurley Show (WPG, Atlantic City), “Sterling on Sunday” with Walter Sterling and “The Big Picture” with Holland Cooke on RT America. To view the music video version of “I Know You’re Real (spoken version)” featuring Harrison reciting the lyrics he wrote, please click here. Harrison will continue the tour into the summer. To book him on a talk show, please call Barbara Kurland at TALKERS at 413-565-5413.