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.
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.