Lotus Communications Closes on Seattle Stations Acquisition. The only radio stations that Sinclair Broadcast Group owned are now part of the Lotus Communications portfolio as Lotus closes on the $18 million purchase of all-news KOMO-AM/FM, talk KVI-AM, and hot AC KPLZ-FM in Seattle that was announced in June. Lotus president Jim Kalmenson says in a statement, “Today begins an exciting era as we begin working with the amazing staff at these heritage radio stations KOMO, KPLZ, and KVI. These are legendary stations which share Lotus’s vision of producing local programming to serve the community and support our hometown businesses. Seattle is home to several excellent broadcasting companies who have made this a great radio market.” Sinclair Broadcast Group – a broadcast television company – picked up the radio stations as part of its acquisition of Fisher Communications’ TV assets in 2013.
WTKS-FM, Orlando’s Russ Rollins Hospitalized with COVID. The “Real Radio 104.1” website has the story of “Monsters in the Morning” host Russ Rollins’ battle with COVID-19. Rollins – who is fully vaccinated and has been an advocate for vaccinations and masks – was on an RV trip with his wife when he fell ill. They cut their trip short and returned home but on Monday (9/27), “things went from bad to worse” and “he was told by his doctor to go to the local emergency room.” Rollins texted that “fluid was filling up” and “this is not good,” adding this “is the worst I have ever felt.” For now, longtime member of “The Monsters in the Morning” Carlos Navarro is leading the show from his home with Angel Rivera and Ryan Holmes in separate rooms at the iHeartMedia studios in Orlando.
iHeartMedia’s Black Information Network Partners with Real Times Media. The deal between iHeartMedia’s BIN: Black Information Network and Detroit-based multi-media firm Real Times Media is described as “a strategic partnership to share and distribute news that is most important to the Black community.” BIN: Black Information Network is the company’s “national audio news network dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective” and Real Times Media publishes Black-targeted newspapers The Atlanta Daily World, Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, The Chicago Defender, The Michigan Chronicle, and The New Pittsburgh Courier. iHeartMedia says this new partnership expands upon the recent announcement that beginning in January 2022, BIN will expand their local news coverage in all 32 affiliate markets. Under this deal, iHeartMedia will source and distribute news stories from RTM publications across BIN radio stations and sites, and RTM will source and distribute BIN news, entertainment and sports stories and place BIN’s audio widget, a source of 24/7 audio coverage, on their digital properties. iHeartMedia will distribute RTM news on BINnews.com, BINnews.com/Atlanta and BINnews.com/Detroit. The deal also includes opportunities for iHeartMedia to convert RTM stories into audio reporting. BIN president Tony Coles says, “From the start, our goal at BIN has been to celebrate and invest in the Black community and shine a light on our most important stories. This exciting new partnership allows us to extend our commitment to expanding local journalism, benefitting Black communities all across the country.”
Elvin Fluellen Named VP and Market Manager for Cumulus Macon. Radio sales pro Elvin Fluellen is named vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media’s Macon, Georgia station group that includes news/talk WMAC-AM and four music brands. Fluellen rejoins Cumulus Macon from Cox Media Group Jacksonville where he was an account executive. Fluellen was previously general sales manager/digital sales manager for Cumulus Macon from 2016-2019. Fluellen has also held programming leadership and on-air positions during his 23-year radio career, including 13 years as operations manager/program director for iHeartMedia in Albany, Georgia. Cumulus regional vice president Mark Sullivan says, “It’s exciting to have Elvin rejoining the team in Macon as he did a wonderful job for us and made a lasting impact with the staff, advertisers and community. I’m very pleased to work alongside him again and look forward to many more successes together.”
Premiere Networks Launches Weekend Cryptocurrency Show Hosted by Mark Moss. This weekend Premiere Networks is debuting “The Mark Moss Show,” hosted by investor, entrepreneur, cryptocurrency expert, and host of the popular “Market Disruptors” podcast/YouTube series Mark Moss. The new three-hour weekend program is available for stations to air between 6:00 am and 12:00 midnight local time. It will also be available as a podcast. Premiere says, “Each week on ‘The Mark Moss Show,’ Moss will help audiences understand and navigate Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, as well as why they’re important, including the business, politics, financial markets, and more. He’ll share his knowledge for why this isn’t just a new technology, but a technological revolution with the biggest opportunity and potential ever seen.” He says, “We’re witnessing the most important technological revolution right now – it’s the greatest ‘asymmetric opportunity’ of our lifetime. But to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to have asymmetric information and you need to know what most others do not. That’s what I’m excited to share with listeners each and every week, so they can participate in this revolution today!” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott comments, “Mark is uniquely qualified to inform and educate audiences on how to make smart investments, grow their money, understand the financial markets and prepare for the future. He doesn’t just talk the talk; he walks the walk. We look forward to sharing Mark’s knowledge and expertise with listeners every weekend!”
Dan Kripke Named DOS for El Dorado Broadcasters. At El Dorado Broadcasters in Yuma, Arizona, Dan Kripke is named director of sales for the group that includes news/talk KBLU-AM, two music brands, plus Yumadailynews.com and its digital sales operations in the marketplace. Kripke was most recently director of sales for Curtis Media in Jacksonville, North Carolina. El Dorado Broadcasters executive president Chris Fleming says, “Dan Kripke is someone we identified as a match for our team as his style and approach are both complementary and unique. When we look for people to join our team, we actively search for people who have a passion for this business and the curiosity and enthusiasm to be innovative. In our conversations with Dan this year, we knew he is someone we want on our team.” Kripke comments, “I can see the potential for growth in the Yuma market and I am thrilled to be part of it. I knew this was a team I wanted to join when had my first conversation with El Dorado Broadcasters. I can’t wait to get started.”
TALKERS News Notes. Tomorrow evening (9/30) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” presents a Town Hall broadcast addressing the alarming rise in youth suicide in New Jersey. Station senior political director Eric Scott says, “The most alarming statistic is the sharp increase in suicide among children as young as 10. Our goal is to remove the stigma surrounding those struggling with thoughts of suicide and connect them with the help they need.” The program’s on-air panel will feature: Meredith Masin Blount, executive director of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness; Susan Tellone, clinical director of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide; anti-bullying expert Stuart Green; and Roselin Duenas, a youth suicide survivor and advocate for New Jersey’s LGBTQ+ community…..Cumulus Media’s KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno “NewsTalk 580/105.9” recently teamed with local agriculture company Gar Bennett to raise money for the Central California Food Bank through its 2021 “Feeding Families Fund Drive,” and listeners responded generously donating more than $250,000 to help their neighbors struggling with food insecurity and hunger. The annual one-day event was held on September 17 and has raised more than $3.5 million dollars and provided 18 million meals over the eight years the station has been presenting the fund drive…..Monticello Media’s WCHV-AM/FM, Charlottesville, Virginia recently picked up awards from the Virginia Association of Broadcasters for newscast (“Local News First”), sports coverage (Mac McDonald “Covid 19 and HS Sports”) and community events (“Save the C’ville Fireworks”)…..iHeartMedia announces that Charlamagne Tha God’s The Black Effect Podcast Network will celebrate its one-year anniversary of “uplifting and amplifying Black voices in the podcast space” with a live event on October 7 at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. The hybrid event (in-person and live-streamed) will highlight some of the network’s comedy podcasts and will be hosted by Flame Monroe, co-host of “Laugh and Learn.” The event will feature live recordings from “Whoreible Decisions” with Mandii B and WeezyWTF and “The 85 South Show” with DC Young Fly, Karlous Miller, and Chico Bean…..Audacy’s C13Originals drops the second season of its documentary series written and created by Vanity Fair’s Lili Anolik titled, “Once Upon a Time… at Bennington College.” This season explores the Bennington College Class of ‘86 and the cultural impact of three of its members, authors Bret Easton Ellis, Jonathan Lethem, and Donna Tartt.
Debt Ceiling Standoff, Biden Infrastructure-Spending Plans, Senate Afghanistan Testimony, COVID-19, Stephanie Grisham Book, and UK Fuel Shortage Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/28). The congressional stalemate over raising the U.S.’s debt ceiling to avoid default; the debate in congress over President Joe Biden’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan and his $3.5 trillion spending plan; Tuesday’s senate testimony from top generals indicating they counseled Biden not to exit Afghanistan and Gen. Mark Milley’s doubling down on his calls to Chinese military; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., boosters, and mask & vaccine mandates; fallout from former Donald Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham’s tell-all book; and the fuel crisis affecting Great Britain were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
California Political Expert Wayne Avrashow is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Noted Los Angeles-based, attorney, law professor, author, columnist and political insider Wayne Avrashow is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Avrashow is a regular contributor to RealClearPolics.com and is described by Harrison as “a wonderful ‘go-to’ resource for solid, non-partisan insights about what’s happening in Los Angeles and the entire Golden State.” Harrison and Avrashow take a deep dive into the state’s gubernatorial recall special election, explaining how it works and assessing talk show host Larry Elder’s prospects of becoming California’s next governor. They also discuss the issues of crime, homelessness and exodus of businesses and workers to Arizona, Nevada, Texas and even Florida that are challenging the nation’s most populous state addressing the question, is California losing its mojo? According to Harrison, “Elder’s role in this key recall is of major interest to the talk radio industry because it illustrates the importance and influence of the platform as a staging ground for a political career of consequence – similar to what we witnessed years ago with the rise of Mike Pence.” To listen to this fascinating podcast in its entirety, please click here.
The Radio Agency Points to TALKERS Heavy Hundred as ‘Goldmine’ for Brands Seeking Marketing Leverage. A blog post by The Radio Agency CEO Mark Lipsky highlights an advertising strategy for businesses that he says can be leveraged to dramatic effect with the recent shift in the talk radio landscape. Lipsky points to TALKERS magazine’s 2021 “Heavy Hundred” list as a “potential goldmine for brands looking to get valuable marketing leverage from some of talk radio’s brightest luminaries.” Lipsky goes on to say, “The death of Rush Limbaugh left a vacuum in conservative talk radio with no shortage of would-be successors to entertain Rush’s audience. That creates opportunity for new talk radio advertisers to buy primetime airtime for less than the premium rates that Limbaugh once commanded.” While noting that securing a talk host’s endorsement is not a simple task and requires professional representation, Lipsky explains, “Every market has influential talk show hosts able to present the benefits of your product or service with the earnest credibility of a trusted next-door neighbor. The challenge is securing their endorsements at a fair price that will deliver incremental sales to cover or exceed the incremental cost of their services as spokesperson.” Read Lipsky’s complete blog post here.
WBAL, Baltimore Traffic Reporter Jim Russ Dies Unexpectedly at 57. Longtime Washington, DC and Baltimore radio traffic reporter Jim Russ died suddenly yesterday morning (8/18) at the age of 57. WBAL-AM and WIYY-FM VP and general manager Cary Pahigian writes in a memo to the Hearst Television staff: “Jim is the unquestioned Dean of Baltimore traffic reporting, keeping watch on the roads in the WBAL/98 Rock listening area for the past decade, with many more years of experience at WTOP in Washington and later the service we know today as the Total Traffic & Weather Network. Along the way he helped mentor a generation of traffic reporters in the DC/Baltimore area… NO ONE loved the job of reporting traffic more than Jim did. He saw it as his duty to keep people in Baltimore moving to their destinations as quickly as possible and attacked that responsibility with passion and dedication. The sterling reputation of WBAL as a news and information leader was strengthened throughout Jim’s tenure, and his departure leaves a void both professionally and personally for his colleagues who enjoyed his company and commitment to excellence.”
Cumulus/Westwood One’s Suzanne Grimes Talks About the Value of Radio to Advertisers with Forbes. In a piece by Brad Adgate for Forbes, Cumulus Media EVP of corporate marketing and president of Westwood One Suzanne Grimes answers six questions about the radio industry – from how the hosts who’ve filled the midday slot formerly occupied by Rush Limbaugh to how shifting a portion of media buys to radio provides a lift in return on investment. Addressing the latter, Grimes says, “The acquisition of Arbitron by Nielsen made the introduction of ROI and sales-effect studies possible for brands and marketers. For the first time, Nielsen’s credit card and grocery shopper card data can be matched to Portable People Meters to prove the impact of radio advertising. Across a large variety of categories, Nielsen found that for every dollar of radio advertising, ten dollars of incremental sales are generated. CPG and QSR return three to one. Retail sixteen to one.”
iHeartMedia Selling Portsmouth, New Hampshire Broadcast Facility. According to a story at InDepthNH.org, iHeartMedia is putting its Portsmouth, New Hampshire studios at 815 Lafayette Road on the market with a current asking price of $3.67 million. A number of the company’s Portsmouth stations are located in the building, including news/talk WQSO-FM “Newstalk 96.7.” The piece cites a “reliable source” indicating that the live and local broadcasts will emanate from the company’s Manchester, New Hampshire studios by the fall. The two cities are about 40 miles apart.
Report: Max Kellerman to Move to ESPN Radio Mornings. According to a story by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, Max Kellerman will be leaving the ESPN television show “First Take” that he currently co-hosts with Stephen A. Smith and is expected to join the ESPN Radio morning drive show with Keyshawn Johnson. He would replace Zubin Mehenti. The report also indicates that Kellerman could also get a one-hour show on the TV side in the 2:00 pm ET hour.
NAB Show to Require Proof of Vaccination. The National Association of Broadcasters EVP of global connections and events Chris Brown announces the organization’s policy regarding attending the 2021 NAB Show taking place in October in Las Vegas. He says, “While the enthusiasm is building, we are keenly aware of health and safety concerns tied to the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant and want to assure you that we are putting in place a comprehensive, data-driven plan that prioritizes safety and creates a productive environment at these events. We have worked for the past several weeks to finalize protocols that will maximize the experience and safety of all members of the NAB Show community. This process has involved extensive consultation with health and safety experts, gathering feedback from a range of exhibitors and attendees, and review of the safety measures recommended by national and local health authorities, including Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s important announcement this week regarding large events. Taking this all into account, we will require all attendees and participants to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. We think this is a positive step in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and will provide further details on implementation as well as other safety measures under consideration.”
TALKERS News Notes. A new podcast from Newsweek launches titled, “The Diplomat,” hosted by former Middle East envoy for the Trump administration, Jason Greenblatt. The show is inspired by Greenblatt’s work in foreign affairs with the intent of fostering candid conversations on a wide set of global and domestic issues. “The Diplomat” will release one or two new episodes every week, featuring one or more guests with first-hand experience in a specific arena sharing their stories and insights. The show’s first guests will be former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman…..SiriusXM announces the launch of the SXM original podcast “Huuuge Fan,” hosted by LaChina Robinson. The program features in-depth conversations with some of today’s biggest stars of stage and screen – famous actors, musicians and other celebs who are big sports fans – about their favorite team. Joining rabid sports fans Tracy Morgan, Ashley Judd, Nelly, Michael Bublé and Tim McGraw as guests on the show are Drew Carey, Monica, Adam Duritz, Michelle Williams, Anthony Ramos and many others…..Seven Bridges Radio’s sports talk WJXL-AM/FM, Jacksonville “Jax Sports Radio” inks a deal with VSiN, The Sports Betting Network to bring more than 50 hours of sports betting news, analysis and insights to Jacksonville and Northeast Florida each week. Station president and GM Steven Griffin says, “It’s important for us to be on the cutting edge of the sports betting media revolution and to serve our audience with this new focus on sports betting content. We’re excited to collaborate with VSiN to bring the best programming in the business to Jacksonville’s sports fans and betting enthusiasts. In addition, we’ll feature VSiN’s industry-leading on-air talent on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons, August through January, to offer insight and opinion on the biggest sporting events.”…..Good Karma Brands announces that it has struck a deal with Milwaukee Panther Sports Properties to broadcast University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers men’s basketball on WAUK-AM/W266DR “540 ESPN” beginning this fall. Scott Warras will continue to serve as play-by-play voice for the broadcasts.
Taliban Takes Afghanistan, Russia-Taliban Relationship, COVID-19 Stats & Mandates, Southern Border Crisis, Newsom Recall, Tropical Storms & Flooding, Western Drought & Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/18). The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and criticism of President Joe Biden’s execution of the withdrawal; Russia’s relationship with Taliban leaders; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and full ICU beds in several U.S. states and the battle over mask and vaccine mandates; the migrant crisis at the U.S. Mexico border and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey extends the National Guard border patrol for another year; the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom and talk host Larry Elder’s chances of winning; the tropical storms dumping rain on the Eastern U.S. and causing flooding; and the drought and wildfires affecting the Western U.S. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.