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Thursday, December 9, 2021

| December 9, 2021

Talk Show Host Michael Berry is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. KTRH, Houston/independently syndicated radio talk show host Michael Berry is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Berry is heard live twice daily on Houston’s talk radio powerhouse KTRH. The first show airs between 8:00 am and 11:00 am and then he comes back between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. But, wait, that’s not all. An additional 25 formidable stations carry one or the other or both of these shows on an independent network that has grown out of his recognition as a break-out talent with a growing following of fans. This network stretches from upstate New York to Portland to Louisiana to Pensacola to Baton Rouge, Nashville, New Orleans, New Mexico and Alabama, with eight stations in Texas. Berry, the son of a maintenance worker for a chemical plant, is an attorney with two law degrees and an interesting history in politics. He began his often-controversial talk radio career in 2005 while still Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Houston. He’s married to the former Secretary of State of Texas, who is from India (and also a lawyer). They are parents of two adopted sons from Ethiopia – now teenagers. TALKERS research places him at number 15 on its most-listened-to radio talk show hosts list with a weekly audience of some 5 million people. He’s also ranked number 9 on the 2021 TALKERS Heavy Hundred list of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America. Harrison and Berry engage in a fascinating conversation about a number of topics including the impact of the COVID era on the psyche of American workers, the application of the phrase “politics makes strange bedfellows” to today’s news/talk discussion, the differences between live radio and podcasting, Berry’s evolution from “yeller” to storyteller, and the syndrome of conservative talk show hosts often being unjustly accused of being proponents of racism and hate. Don’t miss this! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

iHeartMedia Faces Unionization of Podcast Network. After a majority of iHeartPodcast Network staffers signed union cards to organize with the Writers Guild of America, East, the Guild is calling on iHeartMedia to voluntarily recognize the union. According to a press release from the WGAE, “The approximately 125-member iHeartPodcast Network Bargaining Committee includes producers, editors, researchers, writers, and hosts based in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York CIty. The iHeartPodcast Network includes hit series like ‘Stuff You Should Know,’ ‘Fake Doctors, Real Friends,’ ‘The Ron Burgundy Podcast,’ ‘Disgraceland,’ ‘Chelsea Handler: Life will be the Death of Me,’ ‘Noble Blood’ and ‘Committed,’ among many others.” In its “Why We’re Organizing” letter to iHM management, the organizing committee writes, in part: “We, the podcast producers, editors, researchers, writers, and hosts of iHeartMedia, are thrilled to announce that we are unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East. Months of discussion with our colleagues have clarified some things: First, we love the community we have created at iHeart. We work shoulder to shoulder with some of the most creative minds in the business, who have come to feel more like family. We are devoted and passionate storytellers who take pride in our ability to provide our listeners with entertaining, thought-provoking audio content and, most importantly, companionship. However, during difficult times, we are reminded that while the iHeart Digital Audio Group prides itself on its relative autonomy and ability to adapt to the shifting needs of the marketplace—much like a start-up—we work under the capacity constraints of a legacy broadcast conglomerate. Essentially, we have been encouraged to embrace the dynamism of start-up culture without any of the associated benefits. Throughout the unprecedented challenges of the last two years, we managed to seamlessly transition to remote work; our adaptability helped the company not just sustain but thrive during a period of economic uncertainty and social unrest. During team calls, town halls, and official email communications from leadership, we are frequently reminded of the financial gains that we helped make possible. Bob Pittman, CEO and chairman of iHeartMedia, reported during last month’s quarterly earnings call that Digital Audio revenue increased by 77 % compared to 2020. Our division’s significant growth was “driven primarily by continuing increases in demand for digital advertising and the continued growth of podcasting,” where revenue is up 184 % compared to 2020. Unfortunately, those gains have not reached the creators working round-the-clock to keep our audience of more than 30 million monthly listeners actively engaged. With hundreds of shows across all categories and genres, many of us are doing the work of multiple employees, and the huge volume of content we are responsible for is not met with equitable compensation. Furthermore, we lack transparency in workplace decision making, meaningful initiatives toward diversity and inclusion, fairness in managerial relationships, and clarity in divisions of labor. While we are proud to be an essential part of iHeartMedia’s success over the past few years, we are keenly aware of significant internal pay disparities between similarly positioned individuals within the company. And across the board, iHeartMedia’s overall compensation and benefits standards are wholly insufficient when compared to the greater podcast and scripted audio market. Due to these working conditions, the creators of iHeart’s podcasts have banded together in order to help determine the best path forward so that iHeart can remain competitive, retain existing talent, and attract new voices to the network, all while creating a more equitable, transparent, and democratic workplace.” Staffers are seeking: Appropriate compensation and benefits, accountability mechanisms regarding diversity and inclusion efforts, manageable workloads and appropriate staffing for shows, clear paths for advancement and standardized job descriptions, and job security. There’s been no official word from iHeartMedia yet.

Audacy Unveils Sports Betting Intensive ‘95.7 The Fan’ in Rochester. Rochester sports talk outlet WROC-AM adds FM translator W239BF to its broadcast and Audacy adjusts the programming to go sports betting intensive as “95.7 The Fan.” The station is using programming from the BetQL Network, CBS Sports Radio and keeps the local Buffalo Bills program “One Bills Live” in early afternoons as well as “The Sports Bar with Danger and Battaglia” (hosted by Mike Danger and Gene Battaglia) in PM drive. The station also continues to air as simulcasts of sister station WCMF’s flagship play-by-play coverage of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. Audacy Rochester SVP and market manager Sue Munn says, “In line with our company’s expansive position as leaders in sports audio, we’re delighted to enhance our sports content offering through the launch of ‘The Fan Rochester.’ Powered by widely recognizable BetQL and CBS Sports Radio programming, this station will give our local listeners more premier content from some of our brightest talent.”

KFI, Los Angeles Announces Record-Breaking 11th Annual Pastathon. Some of the staff of iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI are pictured above at a remote broadcast for this year’s 11th annual KFI Pastathon that raised a record-breaking $933,502 and 115,324 pounds of pasta and sauce to benefit Caterina’s Club, the local charity that provides more than 25,000 nutritious meals every week to children in need in Southern California. With the help of listeners, local businesses and the continued partnership with Barilla, this year’s event set a new fundraising record. Since 2010, KFI listeners have raised more than $4.5 million and over 700,000 pounds of pasta and sauce for children in need in the community. KFI program director Robin Bertolucci comments, “The KFI PastaThon is a full-station effort, and the biggest heroes are our listeners and partners. Every year, we reach new highs and that means more meals to feed more kids in Southern California. On behalf of the entire KFI team we thank the community for the remarkable generosity.”

Fargo’s ‘What’s on Your Mind?’ Radio Show Visits FOX Square in NYC. Pictured above are listeners to the “What’s on Your Mind?” show that airs on North Dakota stations KFYR, Bismarck; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga; and KLTC, Dickinson as they watch show host Scott Hennen (right) and FOX News Radio star Jimmy Failla (left) do a weather hit with FOX NewsJanice Dean (center). The group also was able to meet “FOX & Friends” co-star and FOX News Radio personality Brian Kilmeade and see the remnants of the now-famous burned Christmas tree.

Podcast Download Fall 2021: Big Three Expand Their Share. The just-released Fall 2021 edition of the Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights Podcast Download report focuses on how consumers access podcasts, what they want from a listening app, and attitudes and usage of the “big three” podcast publishers: Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and Spotify. As part of the study, Advertiser Perceptions surveyed 300 media agencies and marketers and found: 71% say they have discussed the potential of advertising in podcasts; An all-time high of 53% are likely to consider advertising in the next six months, up from 46% last year and 18% in 2015; Another all-time high of 44% indicate they are likely to actually advertise in podcasts in the next six months, up from 37% last year and 10% in 2015; and 45% report they are currently advertising in podcasts, an increase of three times from 2015 and a nine-point growth over 2020. In another aspect of the report, MARU/Matchbox conducted an in-depth study of 600 weekly podcast listeners in October 2021. In the MARU study, weekly podcast listeners were provided a list of podcast listening platforms and asked how often they listened to each. Since 2019, frequent Spotify use jumped from 30% to 36%. With podcasts showcased right in their app, Spotify has helped lure more music streamers into podcasting. Versus two years ago, YouTube is stable (33% to 34%) while Apple Podcasts dropped (from 38% to 27%). Frequent use of Google’s apps (Google Play/Google Podcasts) dropped from 19% in 2019 to 16% in 2021. See more about the study here.

TALKERS News Notes. Nationally syndicated talk radio host Mike Gallagher used the torching of the FOX News Christmas tree in Midtown Manhattan to spur his Salem Radio Network listeners to action for the network’s annual Angel Tree campaign that helps children of prisoners through the non-profit Prison Fellowship. Gallagher told his listeners, “Let’s show everyone that there’s more good than evil in America.” As a result, yesterday (12/8) more than 1,000 children of prisoners were sponsored and will be blessed with personalized Christmas gifts plus a note from their incarcerated mom or dad. Gallagher added, “We proved that a positive message can overcome any negative news when we all pull together.”…..The Carey Brothers are ending their media efforts after 35 years. Morris and James Carey announce they will wrap their radio program after the December 25 edition and the final “Tip of the Day” feature will air nationally on December 31. The Carey Brothers did their first radio show on January 2, 1987 at KCBS-AM, San Francisco. The program went national in 1992 and at its peak aired on more than 300 affiliate stations.

COVID-19 Omicron Variant/Rising Case Numbers/Mandate Repeal, Russia Threatens Ukraine, Biden’s Summit for Democracy, Evergrande Defaults, Violent Crime Spike, January 6 Investigation, Social Media/Instagram Testimony, and Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/8). The Omicron coronavirus variant, the rising case numbers in numerous U.S. states, and the Senate’s passing a repeal of Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate; Russia’s continuing military build-up at the Ukraine border; Russia and China criticize Joe Biden’s virtual Summit for Democracy taking place today and tomorrow; Chinese real estate giant Evergrande defaults causing concern of global investors; the violent crime spike in numerous American cities; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and Donald Trump loyalists’ refusal to cooperate; Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri testifies at a Senate hearing on social media and teen safety; and the prosecution rests its case in the trial of Jeffrey Epstein confidant Ghislaine Maxwell were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

| November 18, 2021

KHTK Ropes In Cattles As PD. Three-year WVSP “ESPN Radio 94.1” afternoon drive personality Nick Cattles is leaving the Max Media Norfolk sports station to join Bonneville Sacramento’s similarly-formatted KHTK “Sports 1140” as program director. In addition to his PD duties which begin next month (12/13), Cattles will host KHTK’s PM drive show. Bonneville Sacramento senior vice president/market manager Steve Cottingim remarks, “Now that we have extended our relationship with the [NBA’s] Sacramento Kings, we couldn’t be more excited to add someone to the KHTK team who has the passion and experience that Nick does.” Bonneville Sacramento group director of programming Chad Rufer notes, “The sports programming team at Bonneville International has had our eye on Nick for a while. We couldn’t be more excited that he will be joining our team in Sacramento to lead KHTK.” Cattles adds, “I couldn’t be happier or more excited to join a brand with such a rich tradition. I look forward to this challenge and doing whatever I can to make sure KHTK remains the king of sports talk in Sacramento.” He succeeds Jason Ross, who remains with the station. Cattles’ final show on WVSP will be next Wednesday (11/24).

Radio Mercury Awards Winners Announced. Those scoring top honors in the 30th anniversary Radio Mercury Awards were disclosed last night (Wednesday, 11/17) in a Radio Advertising Bureau-produced virtual ceremony. BBDO Atlanta chief judge/chief creative officer Robin Fitzgerald comments, “This year, it took us two days to fully deliberate, as this year’s winners really impressed the jury with their overall approach to messaging and storytelling. The winning work shone through, made us laugh, feel inspired and even made us a little hungry for soup dumplings.” RAB president/chief executive officer/Radio Creative Fund chair Erica Farber notes, “The 30th anniversary awards presentation once again reflected the power of radio creative and its ability to grow brands and deliver for advertisers. The Radio Mercury Awards continue to advance the medium forward by showcasing innovative, creative and effective radio and audio commercial work.” The following is the list of winning spots. Creative Radio Campaign, Agency/Production Company/Advertiser/Radio Station or Group: “Barbershop Quartet,” Progressive Insurance, Arnold Worldwide; Motel 6 “2020 Radio Campaign,” Motel 6, The Richards Group. Creative Radio Spot for a Cause, Agency/Production Company/Advertiser: “How to Play Soccer,” The Aspen Institute’s Project Play, Arnold Worldwide. Creative Radio Spot, Agency/Production Company/Advertiser: Snickers “Commercial Free,” Mars Chocolate North America, BBDO New York; “Car Dealership,” Postmates, Mother LA. Creative Radio Spot, Insightful Voice: “Meemaw,” Motel 6, Barkley. Creative Radio Spot, Radio Station or Group: “Disco Colonoscopy,” Kansas Medical Clinic, Alpha Media; “Ballwash.Com Valentine’s Day 2020,” Ballsy, Cumulus Media Atlanta. Creative Spot for a Cause, Radio Station or Group: “Black Voices of Humboldt County #2,” In-House PSA, Lost Coast Communications. Creative Use of Non-broadcast Audio: “Bedtime Stories,” Walmart, FCB Chicago; “Radio Recliner,” Bridge Senior Living, Luckie. Creative Use of Songs/Music (Original or Repurposed): “Chinchilla,” Absolute Roofing, The Studio at iHeartMedia. Integrated Brand Campaign with Radio/Audio: “When All You Can Food Is Think About,” Postmates, Mother LA. Purpose-Driven Spot or Campaign, Agency/Production Company/Advertiser/Radio Station or Group: “Bingo Recovery,” Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance, Preston Spire. Radio Station or Group Promotional Spot or Campaign: “Black Excellence,” In-House Campaign, iHeartMedia. It was announced during the awards that Campbell Ewald Detroit/New York executive creative director Alejandro Ortiz will be chief judge for the 2022 Radio Mercury Awards.

Katz Media Group Adds Another $45,000 For BFA. During its eleventh annual company-wide membership drive, Katz Media Group has raised $45,000 for The Broadcasters Foundation of America, bringing the total amount to nearly $400,000 since the drive’s inception. All money garnered during Katz’s annual two-week campaign goes toward the Stu Olds Memorial Fund that commemorates Katz’s former chief executive officer and supports the Foundation’s mission to provide support to broadcast professionals in dire need. Katz Media Group chief executive officer Mark Gray comments, “As a longstanding board member, I have seen first-hand how the money raised helps broadcasters in need. I’m incredibly proud of the continued generosity of the Katz team to continue this tradition to honor Stu’s legacy and give back to our industry.” Broadcasters Foundation of America co-president Jim Thompson states, “We are grateful to the entire team at Katz for their continued support of our charitable cause. Our purpose at the Foundation is to provide aid to those in our industry who need it most, whether it be monthly assistance from life-altering circumstances or a one-time emergency grant to help victims of natural disasters. With the help from our friends and colleagues at Katz, we can help more broadcasters in need across the country.” For over 70 years, the Broadcasters Foundation has provided aid ranging from medical care to financial assistance to broadcasters and their families across the United States. This year, the Foundation will give away more than $1.8 million in monthly and emergency grants, including victims of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires.

WGN To Team Dent And Bertrand In PM Drive. Effective 1/3 (2022), Nexstar Chicago news/talk WGN will elevate part-timer Lisa Dent to afternoon drive (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm) where she will team with Steve Bertrand. Anna Davlantes segues from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm duty to investigative correspondent. WGN Radio vice president/general manager Mary Sandberg Boyle remarks, “Lisa Dent has long been a significant and well-known presence in Chicago radio. Her vibrant personality and warmth, understanding of the city and an ability to authentically connect on a personal level with listeners makes her a natural fit for afternoon drive on WGN as we embark on our 100th  year of being the voice of Chicagoland. Anna Davlantes’ impeccable resume includes decades of award-winning investigative reporting. Few rival Anna’s commitment to serving the public in anticipating, exposing, and breaking important stories. We are fortunate to have her expertise at WGN Radio.” A fill-in host on WGN since January, Rockford (Illinois) native Dent began her radio career in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin in 1981. She has worked in Houston, Seattle, Minneapolis, and San Diego before returning to Chicago in 2002. A 2016 Country Radio Hall of Fame inductee, Dent previously hosted at Chicago country outlets (Audacy-owned) WUSN “US-99” and iHeartMedia’s WEBG “Big 99.5.” Beginning January 3, WGN’s revised lineup will include: WGN-TV simulcast (4:00 am – 6:00 am); Bob Sirrott (6:00 am – 10:00 am); John Williams (10:00 am – 2:00 pm); “Chicago’s Afternoon News with Lisa Dent and Steve Bertrand” (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm); “WGN Radio’s Money Matters” (6:00 pm – 7:00 pm, airing early-2022); and John Landecker (7:00 pm -10:00 pm).

VICE World News Seeks Archival Conservative News/Talk Radio Airchecks for Forthcoming Documentary. The TV arm of VICE World News is producing a four-part documentary series on the history of talk radio, from the 1980s through present day. This series utilizes a combination of original footage with archival materials. The production is currently seeking archival recordings of conservative talk radio programs, particularly from 1989 – 1995, including material that is on tape and not digitized. If you have any archival audio recordings that meet this description, please contact archival producer Elijah Stevens at elijah.stevens@vice.com.

COVID-19, Inflation/Supply Chain, January 6 Investigation, Infrastructure Bill, Ahmaud Arbery Case and Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/17). According to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine, some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday (11/17) included: The increased rate of COVID-19 cases in some parts of the country, boosters, and mask & vaccine mandates; soaring retail and fuel prices and the supply chain slowdown; the House investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol; President Biden signing his $1.2 trillion Infrastructure package into law; the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial taking place in Georgia; and the jury deliberates in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha.

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Links With iHM For Weekly Podcast. The 15-minute/52-episode “Amazing Wildlife” podcast series will post each Friday, beginning tomorrow (11/19). Highlights include unique wildlife stories from around the world, as well as conservation efforts happening on site at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. iHeartPodcast Network chief operating officer Will Pearson remarks, “With ‘Amazing Wildlife,’ we are excited to expand iHeart’s educational and entertaining podcast offerings for families and kids of all ages. We have so much to learn around wildlife and conservation efforts, especially when it comes to how we can all be helpful in ways big and small. We’re excited to work alongside the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance to continue to provide these educational resources.” San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA) chief marketing officer David Miller states, “San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has been doing amazing conservation work for decades, and this podcast is the latest opportunity for us to share the impact this organization has had on conserving wildlife and wild spaces. The family-friendly nature of the show is yet another way we’re working to inspire the next generation of conservationists.” Co-hosting the podcast are wildlife care specialist/San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance ambassador Rick Schwartz and SDZWA senior editor Ebone Monet. According to Schwartz, “We’re fortunate to work with iHeartMedia on this podcast. My hope is to inspire younger generations to be active in conservation efforts. I’m honored to be hosting the podcast alongside Ebone Monet and to share my passion for what I’ve learned throughout my years working at the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.” The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is an international nonprofit conservation organization that oversees the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Three Board Members Added To NAB Leadership Foundation. Among those elected to the National Association of Broadcasters Leadership Foundation are Black Information Network president/iHeartMedia Division president of metro markets Tony Coles. Joining Coles are Cox Media Group executive vice president Paul J. Curran Jr. and Allen Media Group executive vice president of global human resources Melody Smalls. NAB Leadership Foundation chair/Bonneville International KSL Broadcast Group president Darrell Brown comments, “We are grateful for our board’s guidance as we work to develop leaders, advance diversity, and highlight the community service initiatives of our industry.” NAB Leadership Foundation president Michelle Duke notes, “We want to thank the new members for their willingness to serve and look forward to their insights as we continue to expand our programs and prepare the next generation of industry leaders.” Coles joined iHeartMedia in 2004 and has held various on-air, programming and management positions. Most recently, he was executive vice president/programming for the company’s west region. Prior to his current position, Curran served as Cox Media Group’s market vice president for Orlando, which included WDBO-AM “Orlando’s News Talk;” country WWKA “K-92.3”; classic rock WMMO; urban AC WCFB “Star 94.5”; rhythmic CHR WPYO “Power 95.3”; and Spanish contemporary WOEX “Solo Exitos.” Smalls oversees global human resources strategy for all Allen Media Group divisions, including Allen Media Broadcasting, Entertainment Studios Networks, Local Now and The Weather Channel. She previously worked as The Weather Channel’s chief human resources and compliance officer.

TALKERS News Notes. In a special edition of ABC Audio’s “Start Here” podcast (today, 11/18), host Brad Mielke interviews former U.S. Attorney John Brownlee along with Danny Strong, the creator of Hulu’s “Dopesick,” about the explosion of OxyContin that resulted in millions of addicted Americans … College basketball analyst Greg “Hoops” Peterson hosts iHeart Podcast Network’s “Coast To Coast Hoops,” a daily show offering betting analysis on top ten teams and other games … A commercial-free version of ESPN Radio has been added to TuneIn Premium. This partnership adds to TuneIn’s premium lineup of commercial-free stations which includes MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News Radio. TuneIn chief executive officer Richard Stern notes, “Millions of people around the world trust ESPN to provide them with the latest and greatest in sports coverage and commentary. TuneIn is committed to meeting our listeners’ demand for timely and uninterrupted sports talk. As longtime partners with ESPN, we are incredibly excited to bring ESPN Radio commercial-free to TuneIn Premium, and give our listeners even more sports to consume.” Current TuneIn Premium subscribers can access commercial-free ESPN Radio immediately. Access to the existing ad-supported ESPN Radio remains available to non-subscribers … The Big 12 Conference has banned Texas Tech football radio play-by-play voice Brian Jensen and analyst John Harris from calling this Saturday’s game (11/20) against Oklahoma State for criticizing officials and the conference commissioner during last Saturday’s victory against Iowa State. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby notes, “I understand the roles of the play-by-play [announcer] and color analyst. However, as University representatives, they have an obligation to adhere to Conference policy regarding comments about game officials. Comments by the Red Raider Radio Network booth announcers were contrary to expected levels of respect and professionalism. Questioning the integrity of Conference officials is well beyond appropriate and permissible behavior.” Jensen and Harris suggested that one official acted as though he had sustained a concussion and that the officials did not want Iowa State to lose.

Futuri Debuts TopicPulse SportsEdge. According to Futuri chief executive officer Daniel Anstandig, “Sports betting advertising is one of the fastest-growing revenue streams for broadcasters.” He claims the eSports market is “predicted to grow to $3 billion by 2023.” With that in mind, Futuri introduces TopicPulse SportsEdge, a version of its real-time, AI-powered story discovery and social content system customized for eSports, betting, VR and fantasy content. The service provides 24/7 access to insights on sports-related stories and hot topics, as well as what’s losing traction. Anstandig comments, “Given the explosive growth of this space, TopicPulse SportsEdge is right in line with Futuri’s mission to help media companies grow their content, grow their audience, and grow their revenue.” TopicPulse SportsEdge’s “IdeaStarters” delivers pre-written copy points on the day’s top stories for use in blogs, social posts and on-air copy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

| August 25, 2021

ESPN Radio Unveils New Weekday Programming; Max Kellerman Joins Morning Drive Show with Keyshawn Johnson and Jay Williams. The rumored move of ESPN personality Max Kellerman from the “First Take” TV program to the morning drive radio show becomes a reality as ESPN Radio unveils its new fall weekday lineup. Kellerman will become part of the new “Keyshawn, JWill & Max” show (6:00 am to 10:00 am ET) with Keyshawn Johnson and Jay Williams on September 7. ESPN says Kellerman will host a new ESPN television series with details on that to come soon. He’ll also continue to host his weekly boxing show, “Max on Boxing,” on ESPN2. The midday “Bart & Hahn” show hosted by Bart Scott and Alan Hahn adds an hour expanding to 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET. The afternoon drive show loses WNBA star and co-host Chiney Ogwumike whose ESPN duties will change to roles including college and professional basketball analysis on various platforms such as “SportsCenter,” “First Take,” “Get Up,” and more. Joining Mike Golic Jr. on the ESPN Radio afternoon show is Chris Canty for the “Canty & Golic Jr.” show that expands by an hour to 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET. The rest of the ESPN Radio lineup remains the same. ESPN SVP, production David Roberts says, “We are excited about these next steps as we continue to build upon the impactful lineup we debuted last year. These enhancements create even more cross-platform chances for hosts to better engage with fans throughout the day, while delivering timely, compelling content.”

Dan Patrick and iHeartMedia Announce 2nd Annual ‘The Next Great Podcast’ Contest. This year’s “The Next Great Podcast” contest is open for submissions through September 17. iHeartMedia and sports broadcasting legend Dan Patrick are again partnering on the contest that will give the winner the opportunity to produce a new podcast series of any genre – from comedy to true crime, sports to pop culture – and to work with the iHeartPodcast Network and Patrick to launch the new series. Last year’s contest – in collaboration with content creation platform Tongal – received nearly 1,800 submissions from creators of all ages from Albania to Zimbabwe and all geographies between. The 2020 winners were creators Lianna Holston and Siena Jeakle’s “Tossed Popcorn,” a new movie review podcast from a pair of friends who “don’t really like movies,” which debuted earlier this month. Dan Patrick says, “Our first year of ‘The Next Great Podcast’ exceeded my wildest expectations. What I most love from our contest is the incredible diversity of voices and range of stories that our amazing fans submitted from across the planet. I know that our second year is going to be just as incredible as the first. The Danettes and I can’t wait to hear them.” Creators are 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 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. iHeartPodcast Network COO Will Pearson comments, “Podcasting as a creative medium and launch pad for new talent continues to thrive. After the impressive results from last year that brought us ‘Tossed Popcorn’s’ fresh approach on movie reviews, we are excited to collaborate for a second year with Tongal to reach their impressive community of creatives as we search for 2021’s next great podcast.”

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago sports talker WMVP-AM “ESPN 1000, Chicago’s Home for Sports” announces a new multi-year agreement with Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana as the new naming rights sponsor of the White Sox Radio Network. ESPN Chicago market manager Mike Thomas states, “Partnering with the Chicago White Sox late last year was monumental for ESPN Chicago! Now, to partner with Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana to present the naming rights of the White Sox Network to White Sox fans throughout Illinois, Indiana and Iowa is remarkable. I want to thank Matt Schuffert and Joe Branchik and the Hard Rock team! I can’t wait to hear Len Kasper say: ‘The ESPN 1000 Hard Rock Casino White Sox Network’ each game for years to come.”…..Digital audio boutique Price Brothers announces that it has been tapped for creative and production services by voice dialogue platform Instreamatic. Price Brothers, a spinoff of longtime radio ad shop Oink Ink, was formed to meet the need for creative solutions for brands growing increasingly interested in new digital tools such as interactive audio. Co-founder Dan Price comments, “We’d been developing campaigns in the digital space for four years now and decided to carve-off a new entity that would focus solely on initiatives like dynamic audio and interactive, as well as podcasting. We wanted to position ourselves as the guys already doing great creative by the time brands would eventually become comfortable implementing the new technologies.”…..Motor Racing Network adds two content producers to its production team. Julian Council comes to the Concord, North Carolina studios of the Motor Racing Network from nearby Charlotte where he was an on-air host and producer at Audacy’s WFNZ “Sports Radio 610 and 102.5.” Trey Downey joins the MRN production team from Tampa Bay Buccaneers flagship radio station WDAE, Tampa where he was an executive producer, reporter, and host. The first race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs is the “Cook Out Southern 500” Sunday, September 5 from historic Darlington Raceway and will be carried live by approximately 350 radio station partners across the United States.

Larry Elder Campaign Gets Support from Street Artist Sabo. The boxing match-themed poster pictured above was recently published by Breitbart in a piece about the support Salem Radio Network talk host Larry Elder is getting from street artist Sabo in his campaign for governor in the recall election of Gavin Newsom. The posters have been spotted in numerous places around Los Angeles.

Afghanistan, COVID-19, SCOTUS Keeps ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy, Dems Pass Voting Act, Herschel Walker Senate Run, Kamala Harris Vietnam Trip, Western Wildfires, and Charlie Watts Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/24). President Joe Biden sticks to the August 31 date for withdrawal of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan as critics charge him with leaving Afghan allies behind; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Pfizer’s vaccine gets FDA approval, & mask and vaccine mandates; the Supreme Court refuses to block the Trump administration policy requiring amnesty seekers to remain in Mexico during their application period; House Democrats pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act; former NFL star Herschel Walker announces bid for Georgia Senate seat as a Republican; Vice President Kamala Harris criticizes China’s “bullying tactics” during trip to Vietnam; the wildfires scorching parts of California; and Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dies at 80 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

| July 29, 2021

Audacy Chicago Assigns VP Stripes To Solk. Four-year Audacy Chicago triple A WXRT “93 XRT” operations manager/program director Greg Solk is elevated to vice president of programming & operations for the company’s Windy City cluster. The promotion takes effect this Sunday (8/1) and will give Solk programming/operations strategy oversight for all-news WBBM-AM & WCFS “News Radio 780 AM & 105.9 FM” and sports talk WSCR “670 The Score,” as well as CHR WBBM-FM “B-96”; country WUSN “US-99”; urban-rhythmic oldies WBMX “104.3 Jams”; and WXRT. Audacy Chicago regional president/market manager Rachel Williamson remarks, “Greg has been an invaluable partner who is respected and appreciated by his team at WXRT; across Audacy; and throughout the industry. He has been influential in the success of many of the biggest brands in Chicago. I could not be more excited to promote him into this enhanced role overseeing our Chicago programming strategy.” Solk states, “These past years at WXRT have been among the most rewarding of my career – especially the opportunity to work alongside legendary talents. Along with so many others behind the scenes, this team returned WXRT to the top echelon of our great city’s broadcast properties. I now look forward to continuing to work with Rachel and our group’s superb brand/programming leaders. Together we will do our best to continue enlightening, entertaining and delighting the millions we serve on our airwaves and through our growing digital channels.” A then-21-year-old Solk began his programming career in 1983 at Chicago’s WLUP-FM “The Loop” and programmed comedy/talk WLUP-AM three years later. His resume also includes a tenure as Bonneville’s senior vice president of programming and the same title at Hubbard Broadcasting. Solk previously programmed Chicago sports talk WMVP and San Francisco triple A KFOG. Audacy Chicago is conducting an immediate search for Solk’s replacement at WXRT.

iHeartMedia Teams With NBA For Podcast Slate. The multi-year partnership between iHeartMedia and the National Basketball Association will feature more than 20 co-produced podcasts. The first one is set to debut this fall and will be distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network. According to iHeartMedia Sports president Kevin LeGrett, “The NBA is one of the toughest leagues in the world. These are relentless athletes with a grueling schedule at the absolute height of their game. Their stories are the stuff of legend and deserve mass-reach audiences and top-tier brand partners – iHeart alone can deliver that.” NBA senior vice president/national & local network partnerships David Denenberg comments, “We are excited to expand the league’s audio offerings to fans by teaming up with iHeartMedia to deliver NBA content and storytelling to the iHeartPodcast Network. We look forward to reaching more fans with content about our teams, players and history through this partnership.” Along with a mix of the latest league news; player commentary; and insider analysis, the podcasts will be produced using a wide variety of content from the NBA archives to tell backstories of some of the greatest moments in sports history.

Audacy’s NFL Training Camp Programming Kicks Off Tomorrow. “Training Camp Live” will be an in-depth look at National Football League training camp and preseason storylines. It debuts tomorrow (Friday, 7/30) and continues each Monday and Friday through September 3. Audacy vice president of sports Matt Volk remarks, “Training camp is the perfect time to capture pro football fans who are excited about the start of the season. By identifying insiders throughout our markets, this exclusive digital content will give fans a front row seat to all of the training camp and preseason storylines surrounding their favorite team.” Available on Audacy’s digital platform, “Training Camp Live” will be produced by these nine Audacy-owned sports talk properties: WFAN “Sports Radio 101.9 FM & 66 AM,” New York; WSCR “670 The Score,” Chicago; KGMZ “95.7 The Game,” San Francisco; KRLD-FM “105.3 The Fan,” Dallas; WJFK-FM “106.7 The Fan,” Washington, DC; WIP “Sports Radio 94,” Philadelphia; WEEI-FM “93.7 Boston’s Sports Station,” Boston; KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan,” Pittsburgh; and KCSP “610 Sports Radio,” Kansas City.” Local Audacy NFL experts will provide twice weekly insights into all of the market’s team’s training camp news. Shows will be hosted by various on-air personalities from each station; episodes will be repurposed into time-shifted podcasts.

New York Festivals Announces Its 2021 Finalists. The 2021 Radio Awards Grand Jury of creative media professionals and content creators from around the world selected finalists based on production values, writing, creativity, direction, achievement of purpose, and audience suitability. Entries achieving “finalist” status will advance to the next round to determine gold, silver, and bronze trophies. New York Festivals Radio Awards vice president/executive director Rose Anderson notes, “Once again, this year’s finalists – in addition to appealing to their own listeners – also impressed the Grand Jury with their mastery of the audio medium. Across all genres, they proved that radio, the original social medium, is robust and thriving. From podcasts and audiobooks to sound art and breaking news, these talented storytellers bring the world together and engage in real time.” Global broadcasters led the way including Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the 2020 NYF “Broadcaster of the Year,” and RTÉ Ireland, 2019’s “Broadcaster of the Year.” Additional prominent broadcasters moving onto the medal round include: BBC, Bloomberg, CBS News Radio, ESPN, National Radio of Argentina, Radio New Zealand, SiriusXM, and Westwood One. New categories were unveiled across all genres to shine the spotlight on “Social Justice.” The Radio Awards receives entries from radio stations, networks, and independent producers from over 30 countries. The mission of the competition is to honor the achievements of the men and women who make up the global audio storytelling community. The 2021 NYF Radio Award winners will be announced October 12th at the annual Storytellers gala taking place at NAB in Las Vegas. This is the 11th year of NYF’s strategic partnership with the NAB Show. View the complete list of the New York Festivals Radio Awards finalists by clicking here.

WOR, New York Personality Mark Simone is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Longtime Big Apple radio star Mark Simone, who hosts the daily 10:00 am – 12:00 noon show on WOR, New York, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Simone, described by Harrison as the “ultimate embodiment of the expression ‘man-about-town’” for his numerous speaking engagements as a toastmaster and emcee has been a radio mainstay for decades in the nation’s number one market having performed on the rosters of such legendary outlets as WABC, WNEW, WMCA and WPIX, prior to joining WOR. For two years, he was the co-host of a three-hour daily comedy show with the legendary Steve Allen on the NBC Radio Network. He co-hosted a two-hour nightly talk show with Tom Snyder on the CBS Radio Network. In addition to discussing local and national politics, Simone is a music and entertainment historian who has hosted over 250 PBS entertainment specials and he has lectured at Hofstra University on the career and cultural legacy of Frank Sinatra. A regular guest on national cable TV, Simone and newspaper columnist Linda Stasi have co-hosted their “What a Week” segments for over 18 years on New York 1 TV, the highly-watched, all-news channel in NYC. Harrison and Simone discuss radio, politics, music, and technology in a fast-paced conversation that will engage both professional practitioners and dedicated fans of today’s cross-platform media environment. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

Cumulus Media Nashville Extends Multi-Year Titans’ Agreement. Continuing as flagship of the National Football League’s Tennessee Titans through the 2025 NFL season is Cumulus Media Nashville sports talk WGFX “104.5 The Zone.” Cumulus Media Nashville vice president/market manager Allison Warren comments, “As the predominant sports voice in Middle Tennessee, we’re proud to extend our partnership with the Tennessee Titans. We are committed to bringing ‘104.5 The Zone’ listeners and Titans fans the compelling sports content they seek.” WGFX “104.5 The Zone” and Titans Radio Network operations manager/program director Paul Mason contends, “The Tennessee Titans and WGFX are among the best marriages in the NFL. We are excited to continue as the flagship station for Titans Radio. I am thrilled that our listeners will hear [the Titans] on ‘The Zone’ and Titans Radio for years to come.” Tennessee Titans senior vice president/chief marketing & revenue officer Gil Beverly adds, “The Tennessee Titans and ‘104.5 The Zone’ have had a long-standing partnership. We are excited to continue with a brand that shares our vision for the Titans. ‘The Zone’ has established itself as the preeminent Middle Tennessee sports leader and the Titans Radio Network will continue to create an incredible offering for passionate fans across the state.” WGFX will again have broadcasting rights for gameday play-by-play with Mike Keith and color analyst Dave “Coach Mac” McGinnis, as well as pre- and post-game programming. Also included are weekly shows such as “The Mike Vrabel Show,” “Titans Tonight,” and “Mac Talk.” Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer Keith and former NFL head coach McGinnis are entering their fifth season together on Titans Radio.

COVID-19, January 6 Committee, Voting Legislation, Infrastructure Bill, and Crime Were the Top News/Talk Stories on Wednesday. The rising rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the Delta variant being the dominant strain, and vaccine hesitancy in many parts of the U.S. combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio yesterday (7/28). That was followed closely by the dramatic January 6 Committee Hearings featuring the testimony of the police officers involved, the Economy and Crime and Violence in the nation’s urban centers. 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 updated and published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

TALKERS News Notes. Through his partnership with the iHeart Podcast Network, “Lore” creator Aaron Mahnke has fashioned supernatural podcast “Bridgewater.” The Lauren Shippen-written mystery is about folklore professor Jeremy Bradshaw, who is pulled into the mysterious 1980 disappearance of his police officer father, Thomas. “Along the way, he’s helped by some unlikely partners who challenge everything he believes in and ultimately tries to answer the question: Can the past actually be rewritten? Jeremy must chase the clues that will tell him whether his father really did fall victim to a satanic cult in the Bridgewater Triangle – or something much more dark and unexplainable.” The first two episodes of a ten-episode first season will be posted next Friday (8/6). A second season of 12 episodes has been approved for fall 2022. Among those in the “Bridgewater” cast are Nathan Fillion, Will Wheaton, Lori Alan, Hilarie Burton Morgan, Melissa Ponzio, and Misha Collins.

Timely Guest Alert! Attorney/author/commentator Wayne Avrashow has penned an insightful article about the California Recall, Larry Elder’s Bid, and celebrity candidacies. The article deals with the potential impact of talk show host Larry Elder’s bid to replace California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom in the Golden State’s forthcoming recall election. In addition, Avrashow sheds light on the growing trend toward celebrity political candidacies across the nation. The article appears in today’s installment (Thursday, 7/29) of RealClearPolitics – Following in The Donald’s Celebrity Footsteps | RealClearPolitics. Attorney, college law professor and author, Avrashow is a respected non-partisan expert on the subject of California politics and is available for interviews. He has an extensive background in West Coast politics; served on two government commissions; was chair of a Los Angeles County ballot proposition; and co-authored ballot arguments. He began as a campaign manager for two victorious Los Angeles City Councilmembers and later served as a chief of staff. He can be contacted at 818-995-1100 or walaw@sbcglobal.net.

 

 

Audacy Greenville-Spartanburg news/talk WYRD “106.3 WORD” has an opening for a full-time, aggressive, curious reporter/anchor to add to our award-winning news staff. Candidates must demonstrate creative instincts in finding local stories. He or she must have efficient and effective writing skills and the ability to react to breaking news. The successful candidate should be familiar with news gathering tools and be comfortable with social network postings and usage, including video for digital assets. Experience writing, producing, and reporting news is required. If you are passionate about reporting news and creating compelling, story-telling news features for on-air and digital platforms, show us you have what it takes. Please submit your resume, cover letter, and work sample. https://careers-audacy.icims.com/jobs/2164/news-reporter/job.

The Sons of Liberty and Bradlee Dean are looking for an affiliate relations person to take over the current line-up. With 153 affiliates nationwide – as well as broadcasting in over 53 countries – The Sons of Liberty and Bradlee Dean rank as the #1 and # 2 show on the Genesis Communications Network (out of 65 show hosts); they seek to build even more. If interested please call 1-866-233-0747;  www.sonsoflibertymedia.com.

Monday, July 26, 2021

| July 26, 2021

Monday Memo: Is Your On-Air Product Old-School? Podcasting delivers on consumers’ expectation for on-demand EVERYTHING and consultant Holland Cooke calls it “an opportunity to let retailers sponsor pertinent special interest topics.” But, in this week’s column, he cautions that “these are still digital dimes, compared to the analog dollars solid live programming and painstakingly-crafted commercials will earn us.” To read what makes your station special, please click here.

Pending Business: Going Up.  In this week’s “Pending Business” column, radio sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, discusses the state of your “elevator pitch.” Will it work in less than the 60 seconds it takes to go to the eighth floor? Try this: Create one sentence that describes what your station does better than any of your competitors. Ask yourself is there a payoff for the advertiser in that one sentence or is it all product information?  Are you connecting a #1 with an advertiser benefit?  Have you taken the time to update your elevator pitch to put a more contemporary feel to the language? Lapa discusses these important points and more in an article that touches on the very basics of cutting right to the chase in presenting your station in a clear and positive light to a potential advertiser when time is of the essence.  To read more, please click here.

Davis Sets Departure From iHeartMedia. Nashville-based iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group chief operating officer Darren Davis will exit at the end of this year, but will continue with the company as an advisor. In a memo to the staff, iHeartMedia chair/chief executive officer Bob Pittman and iHM president/chief operating officer/chief financial officer Rich Bressler write, “Darren has a deep love for iHeart and a true passion for our business and our success. [He] has grown up through our organization continually taking on new roles and more responsibility, becoming a critically important contributor as part of our senior team. After almost 30 years with iHeart, Darren is looking forward to spending more time on a variety of other projects he’s passionate about, including real estate development; local community projects; and traveling with his family. Although his day-to-day operating expertise will be missed, we appreciate all he’s done for our company and are very pleased that he will continue his association with us, albeit on a more limited basis. Darren will be working closely with Digital Audio Group CEO Conal Byrne through the balance of 2021 to continue our momentum and to effectively organize the Digital Audio Group for the future.” Davis has been with iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) since 1992 when he joined adult contemporary WASH, Washington, DC as a programming intern.

iHM, Sports Illustrated, and SI Studios Partner For Multi-Year, Audio Content Deal. The agreement includes eight co-produced Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated Studios, and iHeartRadio podcasts, as well as distribution of Sports Illustrated’s existing podcasts through the iHeartPodcast Network. Mutual marketing and promotion commitments will apply to all joint projects; two of the eight original podcasts are scheduled to launch by the first quarter of next year. iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group chief executive officer Conal Byrne comments, “We are thrilled to partner with Sports Illustrated to introduce a brand-new slate of sports podcasts – limited series and ongoing shows alike. It’s an iconic brand that sports fans instantly trust, knowing that they will get the most credible and in-depth industry coverage. We look forward to expanding that footprint into the audio space where we uniquely have the reach and scale to bring Sports Illustrated the audience and monetization they deserve.” According to Sports Illustrated & Maven chief executive officer Ross Levinsohn, “Storytelling is at the core of what SI stands for. The opportunity to partner with iHeartMedia to create and distribute dynamic stories and shows featuring our incredible voices further expands our footprint.” Chief operating officer of 101 Studios, David Hutkin, adds, “While traditionally sports are very visually focused, this venture allows us to introduce audiences to the most memorable events in sports history in unexpected ways. With this new partnership, we have the unique opportunity to tell these historic, remarkable stories to audiences globally.” Set to debut later this year, “Sports Illustrated Weekly” will feature the best of Sports Illustrated’s journalism in an audio magazine. Each 45-minute episode will feature deep-dive segments on the biggest news of the week and the most compelling personalities, trends and themes in sports. Developed by SI Studios, “Lateral Damage” will offer an innovative take on the true-crime genre. Publishing early next year, the podcast tells the story of University of California, Berkeley football player Mariet Ford, who was convicted of viciously murdering his young son and pregnant wife; Ford has maintained his innocence for almost 25 years. The podcast will explore the indelible effect the murder has had on the core group of people in Ford’s sphere.

Local Journalism Sustainability Act Has NAB Support. Introduced by Democratic Senators Maria Cantwell (Washington State); Mark Kelly (Arizona); and Ron Wyden (Oregon), the Local Journalism Sustainability Act of 2021 would aid local news organizations through tax credits to incentivize hiring more journalists, subscriptions and advertising from local small businesses. In a prepared statement, National Association of Broadcasters president/chief executive officer Gordon Smith notes, “At a time when misinformation and disinformation plague online platforms, broadcast radio and television continue to serve as reliable beacons of news that keep local communities informed and connected. We urge congressional passage of this legislation.” According to Senator Cantwell, “The COVID-19 pandemic made it crystal clear that local reporters and newsrooms are essential to keeping the public informed and safe, but their importance spans well beyond health emergencies. At its core, local news is about holding the powerful accountable. The strength of our democracy is based in truth and transparency. Local newsrooms are on the ground in our communities asking the critical questions, countering misinformation, and telling our stories. We have to protect these vital parts of our communities – once they’re gone, they’re gone.” Senator Kelly comments, “Local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations are pillars of our community, bringing trusted local news [and] information about community events and the latest on public health updates in their area. The pandemic made an already difficult financial situation for these news providers even harder, which is why I support the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. By providing tax credits for individuals to support local news outlets, they can continue to provide important coverage for readers, listeners, and viewers.” Senator Wyden adds, “The decline of local news has had devastating effects on our communities. Local news has often been the only window into the city council or mayor’s office. Without these outlets, these important institutions in our communities go uncovered. Further, the decline of local news has only fueled the growth of misinformation as Americans lose their most trusted sources of information. As the son of a journalist, these developments trouble me greatly. Our bill would provide financial support to local news at this critical time for our democracy.”

WMVP To Repeat A $50,000 Ad Giveaway. It’s part of an ongoing “Supporting Small Business” campaign by Good Karma Brands Chicago sports talk outlet WMVP “ESPN 1000” and First Midwest Bank. Good Karma Brands Chicago market manager Mike Thomas comments, “We’re excited to continue our partnership with First Midwest Bank to help a local small business see success. Supporting local businesses in our community is central to both ‘ESPN 1000’ and First Midwest Bank. This is a great way for us to introduce the passionate sports fans in our area to a small business.” First Midwest Bank chief marketing and communications officer Jim Stadler adds, “This past year has reminded us of the importance of small businesses and the role they play in creating employment opportunities and momentum for economic growth in their local neighborhoods. We are proud to partner with ‘ESPN Chicago’ for the second year to bring valuable and well-deserved public exposure to these important businesses.” Last year’s “Supporting Small Business” award benefitted Breaking Bread Catering & Deli.

TALKERS News Notes. Former 13-year Tampa Bay Lightning director of broadcasting & programming Matt Sammon is appointed manager/business development & strategy for Skyview Networks. Sammon joined Skyview last September as an executive producer overseeing Notre Dame sports broadcasts and spent two years freelancing with Sammonsez, LLC … After reporting part-time for NPR the past several months, David Gura will join the network next Monday (8/2) as business correspondent. Most recently the host of MSNBC’s weekend morning show “Up With David Gura,” he previously was a Bloomberg anchor. Gura began his career as an intern at University of North Carolina news/talk WUNC, Raleigh … The next installment of the “Gracie Interview Series – Virtual Gatherings” will be this Thursday (7/29) at 2:00 pm (ET). “The Breakfast Club” co-host/“Angela Yee’s Lip Service” host Angela Yee moderates the interview of Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott. Registration is free at https://allwomeninmedia.org/events/gracie-interview-series-virtual-gatherings/  … iHeartMedia Des Moines news/talk WHO “News Radio 1040” afternoon drive talent Simon Conway took his show on the road to Groton, Connecticut for several broadcasts aboard the USS Nautilus. Conway received a tour of the USS Iowa (pictured), guided by captain James Quintin. According to Conway, “The two shows we did from our submarine base at Groton were very exciting. All my questions were answered and the feedback from my audience has been incredible.” In addition to WHO, Conway’s afternoon drive show is heard on iHeartMedia stations in Cedar Rapids (WMT) and Davenport (WOC) … Nexstar Media Group promotes Ron Romines to senior vice president and regional manager. Romines will oversee the company’s broadcast and digital operations in various markets and will report to Nexstar Media Group president of broadcasting Andrew Alford.

Top Talk Topics This Past Weekend Headed By COVID-19.  As has been the case in recent years, the news cycle no longer slows down on the weekends. The most-discussed topic on news/talk radio this past weekend has been COVID-19 with a focus on the Delta variant, vaccine hesitancy, controversy over mask mandates and the potential for more shutdowns.  This was followed by intense partisan bickering over the formulation of the January 6 committee, followed by climate change, 2020 election denial, and the Olympics.

Acción Adds Tampa and Jacksonville. Effective immediately, Star Over Orlando’s WRSO “Acción 97.9 – La Primera En Noticias” will be simulcast in Tampa on iHeartMedia-owned WHNZ which had been English-language news/talk; a West Tampa translator at 105.9 that was simulcasting English-language news/talk WFLA; and WMTX-HD2. In addition, it will be heard in Jacksonville on iHM’s WFXJ and WKSL-HD2. iHeartMedia senior VP/Hispanic Strategy Hector Marcano comments, “Acción represents a solution for the Hispanic audience eager for a Spanish-speaking newscast and companies that are looking for this fast-growing audience interested in developing a life in the USA.” Division president Linda Byrd notes, “I’m excited to expand the Acción brand to other important Hispanic markets in Florida. Getting the news and information to Florida’s growing Hispanic population in their native language will be very impactful.” Area president for iHeartMedia West Central Florida Chris Soechtig remarks, “We are very excited to deliver a first of its kind Spanish language news platform to the Tampa Bay Hispanic community. With the changing demographics in our area, this is a natural addition to our diverse portfolio.” iHeartMedia North Florida area president Paul Rogers contends, “No other media company can truly help our advertisers, brands, and community organizations reach the full spectrum of the First Coast’s diverse populations like iHeart. We are thrilled to [bring] the first full-service Hispanic news/talk station to Northeast Florida.” Acción – La Primera En Noticias launched in 2018 and news director Jesús Manuel Torres states, “For the past few years, we’ve worked as a team to keep our Hispanic community informed of the events that have changed history. This time, our commitment continues to grow, and our team is ready to continue bringing relevant information and analysis to each market.” Among persons 6+, WRSO is trending 1.0 – 1.3 – 1.8 (April – May – June) and ranks #16 (Nielsen Audio, June 2021). Star Over Orlando-owned WRSO is operated by iHeartMedia under an LMA.