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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

| July 20, 2021

iHeartMedia Voluntarily Prepays $250 Million Loan. The company announces that its indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary, iHeartCommunications, Inc., has successfully completed the previously announced voluntary prepayment of a portion of both its $2,070 million Term Loan and its $446 million Incremental Term Loan, utilizing cash on hand, while concurrently repricing the Incremental Term Loan at a new rate of LIBOR + 3.25%. The prepayment was applied to the Term Loan and the Incremental Term Loan on a pro-rata basis, resulting in $206 million being used to prepay the Term Loan and $44 million to prepay the Incremental Term Loan. The interest rate on the remaining $402 million balance of the Incremental Term Loan was lowered by 100 basis points, including the impact of a 25-basis points LIBOR floor reduction. The prepayment and the new rate are expected to save iHeartMedia approximately $13 million in interest expense on an annualized basis.

Emmis to Cease Broadcasting on WFNI-AM After Agreeing to Transmitter Site Deal. According to a report by Alex Brown at Inside Indiana Business, Emmis Communications will shut down the 1070 AM signal of sports talk WFNI, Indianapolis “The Fan” after August 1 because it has sold a part of the transmitter site. The company will continue to broadcast “The Fan” on WIBC-HD2 and FM translators W228CX at 93.5 and W298BB at 107.5. Emmis founder and chairman Jeff Smulyan says, “As long-time owners of 1070, we are working diligently on finding the next great use for the signal. We were offered a wonderful opportunity to monetize the property and felt it was our obligation to explore that. Ultimately, it made the most sense.” Emmis tells IIB that “it had the tower site rezoned for mixed-use commercial, office, and residential developments more than a year ago. The entire site covers 70 acres on Perry Worth Road near I-65 in Whitestown and additional parcels are currently listed for sale.”

Music Radio Royalty Update: Are Labels Hastening ‘The Day The (free) Music Died?’ — Battle lines are drawn over performance payments FMs fear. And dueling congressional actions demonstrate Washington-speak 101: “Fairness” vs. “Freedom.” On his TV show “The Big Picture,” consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke (above, center) discusses with Talkers Radio GM David Bernstein (left) and Texas station owner Paul Gleiser (right). And for Talk stations, how’s Life-after-Limbaugh? Panelists react to a clip from Michael Harrison’s Fireside Chat with Bill O’Reilly at the June 11 TALKERS 2021 Conference at Hofstra University. Watch it here.

SRN’s Eric Metaxas Interviews Mike Pompeo at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit. Pictured above is Salem Radio Network host Eric Metaxas (left) with former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during their live broadcast interview from Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit in Tampa yesterday (7/19). This year’s event attracted more than 3,000 high school and college activists and included speakers such as Pompeo, Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Salem Radio Network host Dr. Sebastian Gorka, and Turning Point USA founder and SRN talk host Charlie Kirk.

TALKERS News Notes. Denver talk radio host Steffan Tubbs was interviewed recently by KCNC-TV, Denver about his bout with COVID-19. Tubbs is afternoon drive personality on Salem Media Group’s news/talk KNUS, Denver and he told KCNC-TV that he was not vaccinated, spent a week in the hospital and missed 51 days of work. While he says he’ll not tell others to get vaccinated, he did say, “To those who think COVID is a hoax, you’re crazy”…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Aisha Jefferson is promoted from her part-time digital content producer role at Audacy’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM to full-time producer. She joined the station in 2019. WBBM brand manager Ron Gleason writes in a memo to staffers, “Aisha has been with us for a couple years and has patiently awaited this well-deserved opportunity.”…..SiriusXM announces a week-long tribute to legendary comedienne Joan Rivers. The SiriusXM Comedy Greats channel will play exclusive, never-before-released recordings from the final 20 years of Rivers’ career. SiriusXM says that now, for the first time ever, each day throughout the week fans will get to hear some of Rivers’ best stand-up moments. The special will include material from Rivers’ performances in London, Boston, West Palm Beach and more…..The “Motley Fool Money” show starring host Chris Hill adds Midwest Communications‘ WHTC-AM/W259CO, Holland, Michigan as its newest affiliate station.

PodcastOne to Launch New Show ‘Cheating: When Love Lies.’ The new podcast from PodcastOne is called “Cheating: When Love Lies” and his hosted by Jillian Hamilton. PodcastOne says it’s a “deep dive into the complex emotions surrounding these secret unions.” Creator and host Hamilton delves into the taboo topic of cheating and asks the hard questions about affairs: how common are they, who’s having them, and why? These questions illicit unexpected answers that reveal both men and women as people actively seeking something – validation, escape, understanding, vengeance, thrill, love, sex, and romance – outside of committed partnerships. “Cheating: When Love Lies” resists the condemnation of affairs as uniquely wrong or bad and instead considers their usefulness in learning as much about relationships as we learn about ourselves.

Audacy Debuts New Podcast Starring Carmelo Anthony. Top-10 all-time NBA scorer, 10-time NBA All-Star, and three-time Olympic gold medalist Carmelo Anthony today announced that he and his multi-platform content company Creative 7 are partnering with Audacy’s Cadence13 to launch his viral, wine-focused YouTube series, “What’s In Your Glass?” On the podcast, Anthony invites listeners to sit in on intimate chats with leading guests from the worlds of sports, wine, business, entertainment, music, politics, and more over a glass (or two) of wine. Notable guests include Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, songstress Andra Day, Oscar-winning filmmaker Shaka King, rapper T-Pain, NBA star JJ Redick, and more.

COVID-19, Twitter Suspends Marjorie Taylor Greene, U.S. Blames China for Microsoft Hack, Voting Legislation/Texas Dems Case, Biden Infrastructure Bill, Urban Crime Wave, January 6 Investigation, Western Heat and Wildfires, Bezos Space Trip Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/19). The rising rate of COVID-19 cases in all 50 states and the stalled rate of vaccinations; Twitter temporarily suspends Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene for spreading COVID misinformation; the Joe Biden administration publicly blames China for the recent hack of Microsoft’s exchange email server; the numerous state laws toughening voting requirements and the Texas Democrats who fled the station to avoid voting on that state’s bill; this week’s debate on the $1 trillion Biden infrastructure bill; the soaring rate of violent crime in many of America’s big cities; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the sentencing of the first to be prosecuted; the heatwave and wildfires plaguing the U.S. West; and billionaire Jeff Bezos’ trip into space were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Salem Media Group Seeks Talk Host for Christian Talk KKLA-FM, Los Angeles. Salem Media Los Angeles is looking for the next host for its live daily talk show on Christian formatted 99.5 KKLA. The company says: “This is talk radio with a difference. It’s a Christian perspective on news of the day. The average length of time hosts have held this position is eight-plus years, and our current host is moving on to other ministry work. Affinity for and understanding of the target audience of Christians, or spiritual ‘seekers’ is necessary. Impacting the culture and lives can be deeply satisfying, so much more so than many typical ‘shows.’ If you are still reading this posting, tired of less meaningful hosting, if you are ready for a change, if you are intrigued by this opportunity, pray about it and don’t hesitate to get in touch for more details. This show can tend to be off the radar of ‘general market’ talk radio, so in case you are wondering, this is a legit afternoon drive talk show, topics, guests, listener calls. Salem is a public company, we are not a church, we are a commercial radio station. Most of us here have a background in competitive ‘general market’ radio. And we have been attracted to working for Salem because of the difference it makes in our own lives, and the lives of our audience base and communities. The show is heard in both Los Angeles and San Diego during afternoon drive each weekday. It’s a huge opportunity for the right person. We would enjoy speaking with you if you have any questions.” Contact KKLA program director Rodney Miller at: Rodney.miller@salemla.com.

KNBR, San Francisco Seeking Full-Time Writer/Web Producer. San Francisco sports talker KNBR is seeking a full-time writer and web producer. The station says: “As a member of the San Francisco Cumulus digital team, the writer and web producer will be responsible for covering Bay Area sports as a writer, reporter and content creator, while also supporting the KNBR digital team’s efforts in creating digital content related to the KNBR radio station. The job will include but is not limited to writing, on-site reporting, interviewing, editing, headline writing, social media skills, going on-air or on-camera, collaborating on digital content both within the department and with other departments such as programing, sales and promotions.” See more information about the position and apply here.

Monday, July 19, 2021

| July 19, 2021

Monday Memo: Selling The Sorehead Show. Because “we live in a divided America” in which many use talk radio to validate grievance, consultant Holland Cooke sees sales opportunity: “Affinity = entre.” In this week’s column, HC suggests an approach to kindred prospects, and recommends four packages and specific copy points for improving results from endorsement spots. Read it here.

Pending Business: Wobbles. Sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, writes in today’s column about the challenges of selling when the ratings wobble. He says, “After over a year of COVID craziness, the last thing you want to deal with is game planning for more negativity. Business should be accelerating, yet here we are looking at many large market news/talk radio stations down trending after lineup changes designed to improve audience levels have been slow to show upticks. Maybe a little too soon to judge, maybe sampling wobbles, maybe work-life patterns shifting, maybe we should start dealing with what we can control – our game plan.” Read more here.

Round Four of June PPM Ratings Released. The fourth of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s June 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen’s June 2021 sweep covered May 27 – June 23. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from these markets. In Austin, Waterloo Media’s news/talk KLBJ-AM loses nine-tenths for a 4.0 share (6+ weekly AQH share) finish and the #9 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTKK-FM, Raleigh rises six-tenths, finishing with a 5.8 share good for the #6 rank in the market. In Indianapolis, Emmis Communications’ news/talk WIBC-FM tacks on one-tenths for a 7.0 share and rises from #3 to #2 in the market. In the Milwaukee market, Good Karma Brands’ news/talk WTMJ remains in the #1 rank even though it lost three-tenths. It finished with an 8.9 share on the strength of Brewers baseball and Bucks basketball and easily topped iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talk WISN, which lost one-tenth and finished with a 6.5 share and the #4 rank. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (and the first three groups) here.

FAIR’s Hold Their Feet to the Fire Event Sets Record Attendance. The 14th annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row event is taking place this year on September 29 and 30 at the Phoenix Hotel on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The annual event in which talk radio hosts from around the nation gather to broadcast from Washington and discuss the issues surrounding American immigration policy with legislators and experts is almost completely booked. FAIR executive director Bob Dane says, “Thanks to Biden’s border crisis – and apparently the itch to just get out after a year of being isolated – this year’s 14th Hold Their Feet to the Fire radio row has set record attendance with 70 hosts now confirmed to broadcast September 29 and 30. After 14 years of doing this, I guess next year, we’ll need a bigger boat!” Inquiries can be made to Matt Tragesser at mtragesser@fairus.org

California Recall Controversy as Larry Elder Left Off Official List of Candidates. The official list of candidates in California’s recall election of Governor Gavin Newsom was released Saturday and Salem Radio Network host Larry Elder – who’s taking a leave from his nationally syndicated talk radio program in order to run – was not on the list. KCRA-TV reports that state officials say Elder’s filing did not include complete tax returns for the past five years, which are required to run. The report does not explain what was missing from Elder’s filing. In response, Elder tweeted the following: “Politicians know I’m the only candidate who will beat Gavin Newsom — and that’s why they don’t want me on the ballot. They’re using shenanigans that they invented to block the doors to the Governor’s Office and make sure they stay in power.”

WPTF, Raleigh’s Tom Kearney Retires. Longtime evening talk radio host Tom Kearney has retired from Curtis Media Group’s news/talk WPTF, Raleigh after almost 40 years with the station. Kearney joined the station in 1982 and in 1988 he began his full-time role as evening talk host. The Raleigh Observer says Kearney didn’t copy political hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, but “chose a folksier path: garden chats, computer repair tips, stamp collecting, Friday night trivia. He picked guests who could pass on something useful: the astronomer who explained Pluto’s non-planetary status, or the assistant attorney general who offered advice on fighting elder fraud.” WPTF VP of content Rick Martinez is quoted saying, “Whether he’s talking to a political leader or an auto mechanic. Tom always seems to know what questions the listeners want answered. Tom has always put the listener first.”

iHeartMedia Miami Promotes Mark McKenzie to Sales Manager. Radio sales pro Mark McKenzie is promoted from account executive to sales manager for iHeartMedia’s Miami station group in which he’ll be responsible for overseeing all sales operations for “103.5 The Beat,” “Throwback 105.5 Miami” and Miami’s BIN 880 WZAB “Black Information Network.” iHeartMedia Miami market president Shari Gonzalez says, “Since joining iHeartMedia, Mark has led our team in multiple capacities. It is wonderful to make it official. As sales manager, I am confident that Mark will take this brand and team to new heights.”

Opinion: Mama, Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be Sportscasters. Author Michael Levin writes an opinion piece after reading Julie DeCaro’s new book, Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America, which he says, “details what a slime pit the world of sports broadcasting really is.” He says, “DeCaro is an attorney turned sports talk radio host who, in her book, decries the piggish nature of virtually all men in the world of sports, from the male broadcasters to the executives who run teams and broadcast outlets, to many of the players, and certainly to the fans.” But, Levin says, DeCaro is guilty of the legal concept called, “coming to the nuisance.” Read his piece here.

TALKERS News Notes. WSGW, Saginaw operations manager Dave Maurer is being inducted into the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Maurer has also served as the host of news/talk WSGW’s morning show for the past 42 years. The station lists Maurer’s accomplishments during his time with the station: Maurer and his news team were named AP Station of the Year for 25 consecutive years; in 2005, he received the Michigan AP Lifetime Achievement Award; and in 2016, he was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International for his coverage and contributions to humanitarian causes in Northeast Michigan. Under his leadership, WSGW was awarded the 2020 NAB Crystal Award for Community Service and the 2020 NAB Service to America Award for the Sharing Hope Radiothon…..NuVoodoo Media Services, is revealing findings from its recently completed Ratings Prospects Study 18 that indicates more than 40% of those 14-54 year-old radio listeners most likely to participate in ratings say that they have gotten out of the habit of listening to local morning radio shows. NuVoodoo will be presenting results from the study in a series of webinars beginning on Wednesday July 21. Interested attendees can sign up for free at NuVoodoo.com/webinars…..Triton Digital, the global technology and services provider to the digital audio and podcast industry, announced today the release of the latest U.S. Podcast Report for the June 2021 reporting period (May 31 – June 27, 2021), as measured by Triton’s Podcast Metrics measurement service. The Top Network Reports are ranked by Average Weekly Downloads and Average Weekly Users, in accordance with v2.1 of the IAB Podcast Technical Measurement Guidelines. In this reporting period, Stitcher Media remained in the #1 spot with 31M Average Weekly Downloads and 9M Average Weekly Users, followed by NPR with 30M Average Weekly Downloads and 7M Average Weekly Users. The Audacy Podcast Network ranked #3 with 16M Average Weekly Downloads and 6M Average Weekly Users. See the whole report here.

COVID-19, Facebook Anti-Vax Charges, January 6 Investigation/Sentencing, Critical Race Theory, the Economy/Inflation, Trump and the GOP, Voting Bills, European Floods, and Western Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rising rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about the Delta variant, and the debate over restrictions; Facebook is called out by President Joe Biden who says it is “killing people” by allowing anti-vax posts; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the sentencing of those who’ve pled guilty; the furor over the teaching of “critical race theory” in public schools; the state of the U.S. economy, the shortage of workers, and concerns about inflation; the relationship between former President Donald Trump and the GOP; the various voting laws recently passed and the controversy over Texas Democrats leaving the state to avoid voting on that state’s bill; the devastating floods in Europe; and the wildfires in the U.S. West were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

| June 22, 2021

Round Four of May PPM Survey Results Released. The fourth and final round of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM sweep has been released for 12 markets: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Mike Kinosian presents his “Ratings Takeaways” from these markets. After ballooning by more than four full-shares in April 2021 (5.6 – 9.7, +4.1, 6+), the highest (6+) gain by any station in all 48 PPM markets (March 2021 – April 2021), Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ relinquishes one-half share to 9.2 (6+). Even so, “Wisconsin’s Radio Station” is the solitary mainstream news/talker from these 12 metros to achieve #1 status (May 2021, 6+). Cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WISN “News Talk 1130” forfeits eight-tenths (7.4 – 6.6, fourth to third, 6+). In other head-to-head news/talk battles, iHeartMedia Raleigh’s WTKK “106.1 FM Talk” improves by two-tenths (5.0 – 5.2, seventh to sixth, 6+), while Curtis Media Group-owned WPTF “News Radio 680” gains three-tenths (1.8 – 2.1, #16 to #14, 6+). Nashville’s format share dips a combined seven-tenths: Cumulus Media’s WWTN “Super Talk 99.7” (7.1 – 6.7, third to fourth, 6+) and iHeartMedia-owned WLAC “Talk Radio 1510” 2.2 – 1.9, flat at #17, 6+) drop four-tenths and three-tenths, respectively. At the same that Cumulus Media Providence’s WPRO-AM & WEAN “News Talk 630 AM & 99.7 FM” sheds two-tenths (4.8 – 4.6, sixth to seventh, 6+), cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WHJJ “News Radio 920” improves by that margin (.7 – .9, #21 to #19, 6+). West Palm Beach is a completely mixed bag: iHeartMedia’s WJNO “News Radio 1290” is up one-half share (3.0 – 3.5, ninth to seventh, 6+); cluster-mate WZZR “92.1 Real Radio” surrenders eight-tenths (2.0 – 1.2, #13 to #17, 6+); and Hubbard Broadcasting-owned WFTL “News Talk 850” is flat at 2.0 (steady at #13, 6+). Three Hartford news/talk facilities populate the top 20: Audacy’s WTIC-AM “News Talk 1080” (5.1 – 4.7, -.4, flat at #8, 6+); Red Wolf Broadcasting-owned WDRC-AM “The Talk of Connecticut” (1.0 – .8, -.2, stays at #15); and iHeartMedia’s WPOP “News Radio 1410 AM & 100.9 FM” (unchanged at .2, #18 to #17, 6+).  Read Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (and the three previous market groups) here.

Saga Communications Declares A Quarterly Cash Dividend Of $.16 per share. The dividend will be paid in about four weeks (7/16) to shareholders of record on June 30, 2021. It will be funded by cash on the company’s balance sheet. Including this dividend, Saga Communications will have paid over $72 million in dividends to shareholders since the first special dividend nine years ago (2012). Saga currently intends to pay regular quarterly cash dividends as declared by the board of directors. Going forward, the board may also consider declaring special cash dividends, stock dividends, and stock buybacks.

Media Consultant (and TALKERS columnist) Holland Cooke Ties-the-Knot.  Moments after filing this week’s TALKERS Monday Memo column, noted media consultant and TV talk show host Holland Cooke was married to his longtime friend, Sarah Collins. The happy couple is pictured at their private ceremony in Key West, Florida. Ms. Collins is a financial analyst and fellow New Englander.

Audacy Expands Crooked Media Partnership. It does so by carrying “Lovett or Leave It” across Audacy original station Channel Q and the LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network. The podcast will be heard each Monday from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm on Channel Q stations in 32 markets and via the Audacy app, effective next week (6/28). “Lovett or Leave It” is hosted by former President Barack Obama’s speechwriter Jon Lovett and features guests that include comedians, actors, journalists, activists, and politicians. Audacy executive vice president of programming Jeff Sottolano remarks, “The show’s quick and witty flair for discussing the most relevant topics surrounding today’s political and pop culture landscapes is what differentiates itself; we look forward to welcoming the show to the Channel Q family.” Crooked Media senior vice president of programming Sandy Girard states the podcast is “where Jon Lovett talks about everything from the most pressing political and social issues to what everyone is bingeing on TV, to the latest trends in scientific advancement – all with his incredibly intelligent and hilarious point of view. We’re so excited to expand our partnership with Audacy to bring ‘Lovett or Leave It’ to even more listeners around the country and to kick it off with our special Pride episode ‘Out of The Closets and Into the Streets.’” Popular “Lovett or Leave It” segments include “The Rant Wheel,” where each guest delivers a prepared rant to a hot cultural topic, and “The High Notes,” where listeners share personal anecdotes about finding optimism in these challenging times. Lovett co-founded progressive media company Crooked Media with Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor in 2017. He co-created the NBC-TV comedy “1600 Penn” and wrote speeches for former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Newsmax Adds Ellis, Gidley. Former senior legal adviser/personal counsel to Donald Trump Jenna Ellis – and onetime top official in the Trump White House – J. Hogan Gidley – join Newsmax as on-air television contributors. Newsmax chief executive officer Christopher Ruddy comments, “Jenna Ellis brings a sharp mind and pointed legal commentary and constitutional analysis to the workings of our court system as it works to defend our liberties and freedoms. She is a strong addition to our growing lineup. Few know the media, Washington and the future of the GOP better than Hogan Gidley – we’re glad to have him on Newsmax to offer our viewers his valuable insights.” Ellis opines, “Newsmax consistently gives viewers an independent perspective on the news of the day. I look forward to continuing to be part of their coverage and bringing the truth as Americans strive to have their voices heard.” Gidley adds, “I’m extremely grateful to Mr. Ruddy and Newsmax for this new and exciting opportunity. I will draw from my experiences in public service to provide Newsmax viewers my detailed analysis and unvarnished opinion regarding so many difficult issues facing the American people.” Ellis is special counsel with the Thomas More Society and allied attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom. Once the deputy district attorney in Colorado’s Weld County, she hosts a daily podcast, “Just The Truth.” Gidley was deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy White House press secretary in the Trump Administration. In 2020, he joined the Trump re-election campaign as national press secretary. He previously was communications director to Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, senators Elizabeth Dole and Rick Santorum; and was executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party.

Komando To Deliver More Tech Insider Tips. Stemming from an increase in listener demand, Kim Komando will debut a one-minute “Komando Digital Life Tech Tip” in three weeks (7/21). The daily vignette will be offered to stations and streaming services without charge and will carry a 60-second commercial. Komando’s digital insider tips will reportedly include: how to stop robocalls by changing one smartphone setting; ransomware prevention secrets; and the best parental control smartphone apps. Talent management firm Sound Mind’s founder/president Kraig Kitchin comments that Komando – who writes a column for “USA Today” – is “entertaining and helpful; Kim continues to make great radio.” In addition to her weekend three-hour call-in “Kim Komando Show,” which airs on 420 stations (and the American Forces Radio Network) to an estimated 6.5 million listeners, she hosts “Daily Tech Update” seven mornings a week on 389 stations.

TALKERS News Notes: A three-hour CBS Audio Independence Day Special will be available for airing July 2 – 5. Among the topics/guests on the Gil Gross-hosted celebration of America’s Birthday are: Family-safe alternatives to DIY fireworks; behind the scenes of the Capitol Fourth of July Concert with the National Symphony; “The Men Who Lost America” author Andrew O’Shaughnessy on how Great Britain’s bad decision-making helped us win The Revolutionary War; Broadway/TV star Betty Buckley shares her thoughts about “1776, The Musical” reopening with an all-female cast; and  Polish General Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s role in winning the war and his attempt to buy Thomas Jefferson’s slaves in order to set them free … Meanwhile, one of three ABC Audio specials to affiliates for use over the July 4th weekend includes ABC News Radio entertainment correspondent Jason Nathanson-hosted “Press Play.” The three-hour special deals with ways  Americans are having fun this summer as the country begins to reopen. It explores how people are entertaining themselves through the shows they’re watching, the music they’re listening to, and the activities they’re doing. In addition, “Press Play” highlights America’s most rapidly growing sport—Pickleball—and introduces listeners to some of its biggest fans.

Facebook Establishes Live Audio Rooms. Next steps were revealed yesterday (Monday, 6/21) as Facebook pushes into the social audio and podcasting spaces, taking aim at (among others) Clubhouse, iHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter Spaces. Per an Adweek report, the social media platform is “rolling out Live Audio Rooms on iOS for public figures and select Facebook groups in the United States, as well as making select podcasts available to U.S. listeners.” Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms offer a standard set of features. Event hosts appear in profile icons at the top of the screen; listeners appear in the bottom half as smaller icons. There is no limit on the number of listeners allowed in and as many as 50 people are able to speak at once. In addition to live captions, notifications are made when friends or followers join a room. Facebook will use automated technology and human reviewers to moderate content in Live Audio Rooms. According to CNET, “Users who repeatedly violate Facebook’s rules won’t be allowed to create or speak in a Live Audio Room.” Facebook is building new audio tools for creators to develop and launch “Soundbites,” or short-form audio clips that will launch later this year.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

| June 17, 2021

Weekly Reach, Average Audience Post Highest Levels In 14 Months. As the nation continues to reopen and returns to pre-pandemic routines, the industry experiences another month of radio listening gains. According to results from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM survey period, radio’s weekly reach is at its highest level since March 2020 and has grown each of the past four months. In the latest sweep (May 2021), radio’s reach surpassed 122 million weekly listeners, which is within two million of where it was before lockdown precautions took effect last year. In May 2021, radio’s Average Quarter-Hour (AQH) audience also scored its highest level since March 2020. Coinciding with vaccination rollouts and more normal commutes, AQH audience levels have increased 11% since January. PPM’s year-over-year (May 2020 – May 2021) weekly reach and AQH comparisons stand at a 108 index and 120 index, respectively. From a weekly reach perspective, May 2021’s radio audience is 8% larger than this time last year, while the AQH audience is 20% larger versus May 2020. May 2021 listening gains were widespread, with all major dayparts at or near AQH peaks since COVID-19 began. Weekday morning drive and weekends hit their highest audience levels in 15 months. May 2021’s weekend AQH (6.6 million) is 300,00 higher than March 2020’s 6.3 million, before the peak of the lockdown. Even though news/talk is lower than in prior months (12.6% in May 2021, compared to May 2020’s 13.6%), it does remain the most-listened to format in PPM markets. Registering its third gain in a row (4.1% – 4.2% – 4.4% – 4.6%), sports talk posts its highest AQH share since COVID-19 began, surpassing October’s high point (4.5%) when football season was in full swing.

Round One of May 2021 PPM Ratings Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). In presenting his “Ratings Takeaways” from this round of markets, Mike Kinosian notes that, while it erodes by one full-share from April 2021 (9.6 – 8.6, 6+), Cox Media Group Atlanta’s WSB-AM & WSBB is the only mainstream news/talk outlet to reach #1 (24th consecutive month, 6+). Meanwhile, the lone news/talk stations from the aforementioned metros that finished in the top 20 (6+) and posted an April 2021 – May 2021 increase are Cumulus Media’s WBAP, Dallas (3.2 – 3.4, 6+) and Townsquare Media-owned WKXW, Middlesex (3.8 – 4.1, +.3, 6+). Off one-half share and three-tenths, respectively are Audacy NYC news siblings WINS (3.2 – 2.7, #11 to #14, 6+) and Mets key station WCBS-AM (2.7 – 2.4, #15 to #16, 6+). Cumulus Media San Francisco sports talk KNBR (Giants) improves by eight-tenths (4.3 – 5.1, 6+) to progress from fourth to third. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete “Ratings Takeaways” here.

IBA/Vipology Technology Contest Creates Nearly $1 Million In Local Sponsorships. During an eight-week “Key Word Contest” (April 19 – June 11), participating Independent Broadcasters Association (IBA) member stations collectively generated approximately one million dollars of revenue from local sponsors. IBA president/Adams Radio Group chief executive officer Ron Stone notes, “Hundreds of our member stations were able to generate new revenue from our group contesting. “Vipology’s technology, member execution/management, and data follow-up was nothing short of spectacular. We are planning a second contest for the fall; many participating groups have already indicated their interest in participating again.” Vipology CEO Chris Peaslee adds, “From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Pittsburg, Kansas, I’m proud of our team for building the technology and supporting hundreds of stations across the country in their effort to sound big on-air and powerful in their markets.” Participating stations’ on-air personalities gave three key words throughout the day. Listeners were then encouraged to enter the words on the IBA “contest widget” on that station’s website. Listeners correctly identifying the day’s ‘Winning Key Word” became eligible for that day’s random drawing to win $1,000.

Shattuck Set To Join WTIC-AM. Formerly the senior editor of Lowell Massachusetts’ “The Lowell Sun,” Tom Shattuck will become the mid-day host (10:00 am – 2:00 pm) on news/talk WTIC-AM “1080 News Talk” next Monday (6/21). The Audacy Hartford outlet will feature all-local programming from 5:00 am to 6:00 pm. Audacy Hartford senior vice president/market manager Stephanie Perl opines, “Radio is best when it is local, when we can discuss and look at the local issues affecting our listeners. Being able to expand our local weekday programming further separates WTIC-AM from other radio stations in the state and we look forward to unveiling this new slate of content to our audience.” According to Shattuck, “[WTIC-AM] has been serving the people of Connecticut for almost 100 years. I’m truly honored to be given the opportunity to contribute to the legacy of this great station. These are extraordinary times and I look forward to talking about our politics and culture with the thoughtful, astute WTIC-AM audience.” Shattuck previously was editorial page editor of The Boston Herald and executive producer of Boston Herald Radio. In addition, he spent four years at Boston’s WTKK as executive producer of the afternoon drive show and was a content manager, web designer, and executive producer at cross-town news/talk WRKO. In other WTIC-AM changes, morning show co-host Brian Shactman will add “Extra Time with Brian.” As of next Monday (6/21), the station’s revised 5:00 am – 6:00 pm lineup will be: “WTIC Sunrise Special” (5:00 am – 5:30 am); “Mornings with Ray and Brian” (5:30 am – 9:00 am); “Extra Time with Brian” (9:00 am – 10:00 am); “The Tom Shattuck Show” (10:00 am – 2:00 pm); and “The Todd Feinburg Show” (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm).

TALKERS 2021 Was a Success! The 24th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important conference, the Talkers Convention, took place last Friday (6/11) on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. The event was a presentation of TALKERS in association with Hofstra’s multi-award-winning radio station, WRHU. More than 50 industry leaders from talk radio and cable news/talk TV spoke during a non-stop day of presentations and panel sessions. Due to strict regulations adhering to COVID-19 protocols, attendance was limited to a sellout crowd of 175 people which was reached about a week prior to the event. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison comments, “We were delighted to be able to join forces again with our colleagues at Hofstra – the site of our very successful 2016 event – and be able to actually present a live conference in an extremely COVID-19 compliant environment which Hofstra was equipped to provide. The convention achieved its goal to boldly address key existential issues facing the talk radio and talk media industries at this dramatically critical juncture.” TALKERS will be posting extensive coverage of the event in the days to come including video documentation recorded under the direction of Art Vuolo covering every speech, presentation and panel discussion. Stay tuned for details.

TALKERS News Notes. After a five-year run at KNBR “The Sports Leader” and KTCT “KNBR 1050,” program director Jeremiah Crowe is set to depart the Cumulus Media sports talk facilities the middle of next month. A new assignment has not been announced for Crowe, who is reportedly relocating to Las Vegas … Starting next Wednesday (6/23) at 9:00 am, Audacy Chicago sports talk WSCR “670 The Score” will air a 24-hour “What About Chicago?” radiothon. In partnership with former Chicago Bears player Sam Acho, the radiothon will benefit Athletes For Justice and the Austin Harvest program. WSCR afternoon talent Danny Parkins comments, “I hate when people who don’t care about our city ask ‘What about Chicago?’ in bad faith. The name ‘What About Chicago’ is a defiant response and this radiothon will hopefully highlight what Chicago is really about: A Chicago radio station partnering with a Chicago charity with a mission to help improve the lives of Chicago kids in a Chicago neighborhood.” … In acknowledgement for its protest coverage following the death of George Floyd, Audacy San Francisco all-news KCBS-AM & KFRC has won a national Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Sigma Delta Chi award for “Best Radio Breaking News Reporting.” KCBS-AM & KFRC director of news & programming Jennifer Seelig comments, “I’m incredibly proud of my team’s thoughtful and compelling protest coverage. On behalf of everyone at KCBS-AM & KFRC, I’d like to thank SPJ for this prestigious honor. [We strive] to deliver comprehensive coverage of stories that resonate with our audience. This recognition underscores our unwavering commitment to our community.” KCBS-AM & KFRC was the only commercial station in the country to win in any category … Even though its officials have not released an official statement, Cox Media Group continues to rectify digital damage apparently caused by a ransomware attack. Those trying to stream a CMG station hear the following, “This stream is currently unavailable and we are working diligently to bring it back online. Our radio stations continue to broadcast 24/7; you can listen to us over the air – thanks for your patience.” Cox Media Group news/talk outlets include WSB-AM & WSBB, Atlanta; WHPT, Tampa, WDBO, Orlando; and WOKV-FM, Jacksonville.

Facebook Censors Harry Hurley’s “Heavy Hundred” Post.  A post regarding Townsquare Media Atlantic City news/talk WPGG “WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM & 1450 AM” morning host Harry Hurley being named to the TALKERS list of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America (“Heavy Hundred”) has been censored by Facebook. In an article posted this morning on the “WPG Talk Radio” website, Hurley (pictured with TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison at TALKERS 2021) says that his story about receiving the honor was taken down by the social media giant with the explanation that it does not meet Facebook’s community standards and that the URL to the feature is considered spam. To read the entire article, please click https://wpgtalkradio.com/facebook-censored-my-post-about-talkers-magazine-honor/. 

Now Saluting “Kentucky Colonel” Roten. WVHU “News Radio 800” morning talk host Tom Roten was recently presented a plaque commissioning him as a Kentucky Colonel, the highest honor awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions as Kentucky Colonels are presented for contributions to the community, state, or nation, and for special achievements of all kinds. The honor stunned Roten, who happened to be emceeing a grant award ceremony. Kentucky Colonels executive director Sherry Crose spoke of Roten’s commitment to the community and years of promoting charitable organizations and then made the surprise presentation. Having just marked his 20th anniversary at the iHeartMedia Huntington, West Virginia – Ashland, Kentucky station, Roten remarked, “This is such a tremendous honor – I am very grateful.” Roten has interviewed hundreds of guests from the region including many from the Commonwealth. He regularly talks to state and federal lawmakers from the Bluegrass State and speaks to representatives of many Kentucky charitable groups. For over 10 years, Roten served as public service director for iHeartRadio’s Huntington-Ashland cluster and has written/produced hundreds of PSAs for non-profit organizations. Approximately 30 Eastern Kentucky charities received a portion of $2.1 million in grants that the Kentucky Colonels will award this year. Kentucky Colonels are that state’s ambassadors of goodwill and fellowship around the world.

Total Subscribers To Paid Audio Services Double in Six Years. According to data from Edison Research’s “Share of Ear,” 47% of Americans 13+ now subscribe to at least one paid audio service. That’s just over double what it was in 2015, when 23% had a paid subscription. Edison Research president Larry Rosin comments, “While much of this doubling of the numbers is the redirection of money that was going to physical music formats to music streaming subscriptions, there is also the trend of more people paying to avoid commercials. I believe we’ll see more subscription efforts in the future, particularly from radio companies. Bauer Media in the U.K. recently launched a subscription radio service that offers commercial-free versions of their radio brands and other content. Such efforts are likely to be launched in the U.S. as well.” Growth has come across the board from SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Audible audiobook subscriptions to music streaming services such as Spotify Premium, Apple Music, and Pandora Premium or Plus.

KCUR Enlists Edgell As Midwest Newsroom Managing Editor. Effective July 6, public radio news/talk WFYI, Indianapolis project manager/assistant editor Holly Edgell will join University of Missouri-Kansas City’s similarly-programmed KCUR, Kansas City as managing editor of the Midwest Newsroom. KCUR general manager Sarah Morris states, “We are thrilled to have had such a strong pool of candidates and delighted that Holly will be joining the Midwest Newsroom as a KCUR employee. Holly has extensive leadership in working with newsrooms across the midwest and beyond. She will help form and create a highly functional and collaborative team for the hub.” NPR managing editor for collaborative journalism Kenya Young adds, “We’re excited to see Holly join our team of stellar managing editors leading the hub newsrooms across the country. Holly at the helm ensures our mission to plan shared coverage and create stories that reach local, regional, and national audiences. Holly will be an agent of change in the midwest region; I look forward to seeing how she shapes collaborative journalism within our network.” KCUR is lead partner in the NPR-formed Midwest Newsroom, a collaborative among Nebraska Public Media; Iowa Public Radio; St. Louis Public Radio; and NPR.

iHeartPodcast Network Adds Three True Crime Mysteries. The new entries include: “Missing On 9/11”; “After The Uprising: The Death Of Danye Dion Hones”; and “Algorithm.” From the producers of “Missing In Alaska,” “Missing On 9/11” traces the whereabouts of a woman living near the World Trade Center who disappeared on that horrific day. John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski-hosted “After The Uprising” is an 11-part series that examines the truth behind the hanging death of a St. Louis Black Lives Matter activist. From iHeartMedia and Tenderfoot TV, Ben Kuebrich-hosted “Algorithm” is an examination of a reporter’s algorithm he claims can detect serial killers.

Friday, May 21, 2021

| May 21, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour, weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled,“Rebranding the Unidentifiable,” looks back at this past week of May 17-21, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Harry Hurley, talk show host, WPG, Atlantic City; Steve Weisman, law professor, Bentley University, Boston / founder, Scamicide.com; Dr. Renee Kohanski, forensic psychiatrist / commentator, MDedge Psychcast; Alan Stock, talk show host / commentator, KXNT, Las Vegas; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company.  The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Round Four of April PPM Survey Released. The fourth and final round of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s April 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen’s April 2021 sweep covered April 1 – 28. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. Waterloo Media’s news/talk KLBJ-AM, Austin adds six-tenths to finish the April survey with a 5.7 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and remains ranked #4 in the market. In Indianapolis, Emmis’ WIBC-FM falls from #3 to #4 after dropping six-tenths and posting a 6.6 share. The start of the baseball season helps Good Karma Brands’ news/talk WTMJ-AM (Milwaukee Brewers flagship) add 4.1 shares for a 9.7 share finish that rockets the station from #5 to #1 while iHeartMedia’s crosstown WISN-AM sheds six-tenths and falls from #2 to #4. Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville stays ranked #3 after dropping just one-tenth to a 7.8 share. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (and the three previous market groups) here.

45 Joins the Joe Pags Show. Pictured above is Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated talk show host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo (left) in a video still from his radio program in which he interviewed former President Donald Trump. Pags conducted the interview and spread it out over two days of his program. He’s also made it available at his joepags.com site.

FEATURE STORY: Creesh, We Hardly Knew Ye… Longtime radio personality and talk show host Mark Wainwright – most recently morning host at WSYR, Syracuse – authors this fascinating tale of a late-night television show that might have put the name Don “Creesh” Hornsby into the same ranks as American entertainers Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and Johnny Carson, yet it didn’t. Wainwright was inspired to research and write this story by the CNN series “The Story of Late Night” that he says, “overlooked both ‘Broadway Open House’ and the brilliant young comedian/host who was stricken by tragedy on the eve of his network television debut.” Hornsby was that California-based comic tapped by NBC in 1950 to host a new late-night variety show that never took off as planned. Read Wainwright’s feature story about what went wrong here.

Westwood One’s Dan Bongino Show to Launch on Monday. On Monday (5/24), Cumulus Media’s Westwood One launches the nationally syndicated “Dan Bongino Show” in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart. The former Secret Service agent has risen to the status of conservative media star based on the success of his eponymous podcast and his appearances on FOX News Channel. The new show is being carried on most of Cumulus Media’s news/talk stations that used to carry “The Rush Limbaugh Show.” Some of the 115 affiliate stations at the launch will include: KABC-AM, Los Angeles; WLS-AM, Chicago; WBAP-AM, Dallas; KSFO-AM, San Francisco; KSEV-AM, Houston; WMAL-FM, Washington, DC; KTTH-AM, Seattle; and WJR-AM, Detroit. During the second hour of this show on Monday, Bongino will interview former President Donald Trump

Westwood One Wins Deadline Club Award for ‘New York City Protests’ Report. The news report “New York City Protests” by correspondent Steve Kastenbaum has won a Deadline Club Award in the Radio or Audio Spot News Reporting category for Cumulus Media’s Westwood One. The story aired as part of America in the Morning’s extensive reporting on the unrest in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. The Deadline Club is the New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The Deadline Club’s journalism competition began in 1957. In announcing the award to Westwood One, the judges noted, “Steve Kastenbaum’s reporting on the civil rights protests in New York City over this past summer demonstrated strong, as well as balanced, reporting. The ‘day-of’ reporting was comprehensive and superb, but the follow-up reporting on peaceful protesters diffusing tensions with police was equally crucial, painting a fuller picture and therefore rendering the story in all the complexity it entailed.”

COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy and Mask Controversy Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 17-21. The hesitancy among some Americans to get the COVID vaccine and the confusion surrounding the CDC’s mask guidelines combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, followed by the January 6 Commission debate and the criminal investigation into the Trump Organization tied at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.