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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

| March 23, 2021

Premiere Networks to Continue ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’; WBOB, Jacksonville First New Affiliate. The 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET broadcast of “The Rush Limbaugh Show” will continue with archival audio from Limbaugh’s 30-plus-year syndicated program augmented by familiar talk hosts. Chesapeake-Portsmouth Broadcasting Corporation’s WBOB-AM/W266CX is the first new affiliate station. In making the announcement, Premiere Networks says, “No one can replace Rush Limbaugh, and Premiere Networks will continue to provide millions of loyal listeners with the voice of Rush for the long term. We have a variety of familiar voices who are guiding the audio of Rush for all of the important issues of the day, including recent guest hosts Todd Herman, Ken Matthews, and Brett Winterble.” WBOB general manager Jonathan McClellan states, “Rush Limbaugh is a pioneering force in broadcasting. He redefined talk radio and shaped the conservative political message for our country. WBOB is excited to add Rush’s program to our lineup. We value the future of his legacy, and we believe his talented team will drive the momentum of the movement far into the future. We welcome this monumental voice.” Limbaugh’s program launched into national syndication on August 1, 1988, with 56 radio stations, was heard on more than 600 stations at the time of the icon’s passing at age 70 on February 17. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison comments on this breaking story, “What an interesting turn of events. This is a multiple win for many elements of the industry. The winners include: 1) The fill-in hosts who’ve become familiar to the show’s regular listeners because they’ll continue to play a role in the show without having to carry the burden of being the ‘guy that followed the guy’ but never could fill his shoes; 2) Premiere, because they’ll continue to productively exploit the greatest brand in talk radio programming history and even though it could never be as big as it would have been with Rush alive, it certainly will maintain value and possibly evolve into something of lasting currency; 3) Other syndicated shows, because they now have a shot at being cleared in the valuable 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm space and get a viable piece of the pie. There are plenty of listeners and revenue to be shared in that huge mine; 4) Local hosts and programming because you can be sure many stations will turn inward during middays now that this big piece of real estate has opened; 5) Local stations, because they now have the options to choose from all of the above; and 6) the legacy of Rush Limbaugh, which will continue to live as a viable part of the national talk radio community. Bravo!”

Dana Loesch Inks New Multi-Year Deal with Radio America. Talk radio star Dana Loesch signs a new, multi-year contract extension with Radio America to continue to host her daily 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm program “The Dana Show” that she’s hosted since 2014. Radio America says Loesch is “the most listened to female talk show host in the country” and has “attracted a large and loyal following in syndication, expanding the news/talk audience to include more men and women in their 30s and 40s, something the aging format desperately needs.” Radio America COO Mike Paradiso says, “We’re excited to continue the explosive growth that Dana’s show has enjoyed over the last few years. Dana has done what few hosts have been able to do, expand the talk format’s audience to make it younger, while still performing very well with the core talk demo. We think she’s uniquely qualified to lead the way during this transitional time in the format.”

Round One of February PPM Ratings Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s February 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). Nielsen’s February 2021 sweep covered February 4 – March 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets and reports that the unusual surge of listening to news and news/talk stations in January that was the result of the January 6 Capitol attack, its aftermath, and the beginning of the Joe Biden administration has leveled off. In New York, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOR was flat at a 2.5 share (weekly 6+ AQH share) and Red Apple Media’s WABC was up three-tenths to a 1.9 share. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia news/talk KFI was steady with a 5.0 share and the #3 rank while Entercom’s crosstown all-news KNX dipped four-tenths to a 2.9 share. Nexstar Media Group’s news/talk WGN-AM was flat with a 4.1 share but rises to the #6 rank and Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM lost two-tenths to finish with a 7.1 share but remains ranked #1. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaway for this group of markets here.

Report: WFAN’s Jastremski Leaving for The Ringer. According to a piece by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, WFAN, New York evening host John Jastremski is leaving the Entercom sports talk station to join Spotify’s The Ringer. As Marchard notes, Bill Simmons sold The Ringer to Spotify for a reported $200 million but continues to lead the platform. Jastremski’s deal with The Ringer will begin next month and will include him doing three to four podcasts per week.

WWO Blog: Podcasting Provides ‘Massive Head Start’ for New Radio Hosts. A study commissioned by Westwood One and conducted by Maru/Blue reveals “the extent to which Dan Bongino has used his podcast platform, social media presence, best-selling books, and TV appearances to build a strong brand among American talk radio listeners.” The study finds that a podcast star like Bongino enjoys a “massive head start and strong momentum” when launching an AM/FM radio show. It finds 64% of frequent news/talk radio listeners are aware of Dan Bongino and 78% of frequent news/talk radio listeners who are aware of Bongino rate him as excellent/good. Further the study finds, “An AM/FM radio show generates a new audience that is incremental to the podcast audience: the Maru/Blue study found that the Dan Bongino and Ben Shapiro audiences either listen to the podcast or the AM/FM radio show. Currently about 40% listen only to the podcast; 40% listen only to the Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino shows on AM/FM radio. About 20% indicate they have listened both to the podcast and the AM/FM radio show in the last month.” See the blog here.

TALKERS News Notes. The COVID stimulus is getting a radio sweepstakes treatment from iHeartMedia as the company presents the “Double Your Stimulus” contest in numerous participating markets. iHeartMedia is giving listeners the chance to win another $1,400 “stimulus check” that could result in up to six nationwide winners each weekday now through April 2. The company says that “given today’s challenging times due to the pandemic, iHeartMedia is seeing a nearly 20% higher response rate than any other cash contests in the past with winners benefiting from all across the nation.”…..USA Radio Network’s “Classic Radio Theater” adds three new affiliate stations for Wyatt Cox’s historical presentation of radio’s greatest programs of the 20th century. The show is now heard on WMIC, Sandusky, Michigan; KRVN-AM, Lexington, Nebraska; and KGUM-AM, Hagåtña, Guam. Cox says, “It’s a pleasure to give people a dose of history as it really happened – unsanitized and factual. While some stations may be pulling away from presentations of radio’s past, I view it as critical for understanding where we came from and how we got here today… our ‘Classic Radio Theater’ programs are not only great entertainment, but they are set in a background of history that puts all these programs in the context of the times.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One signs a deal with DCP Entertainment to distribute, market, and monetize the company’s new podcasts as well as its back catalogue. DCP Entertainment’s mission is to provide a platform for people of color, women, and LGBTQ communities, and to highlight stories around mental health, disability, and overcoming adversity. Current productions include “Say Their Name,” which was nominated for the 2021 Ambies Award “Podcast of the Year” and “Toure Show: The Central Park 5,” which was a 2020 Webby Award “Best Crime & Justice Episode” honoree.

‘The GRITIRON Show’ Starring Whitney Breaux Launches. The new podcast and YouTube show is being launched by former ESPN Baton Rouge radio host Jordy Culotta who expands his media network with the launch of “The GRITIRON Show” with Whitney Breaux – a show targeting women that premiered on International Women’s Day (3/8). The press release says “The GRITIRON Show” is a weekly podcast celebrating the perseverance, passion, and lifestyle of women on and off the football field. The show features Breaux and “a bevy of guests including women breaking the glass ceiling in sports from journalists, coaches, athletic administrators and sports executives to wives of players and coaches.” Breaux is a former Miss Teen Louisiana and global marketing executive. Culotta says, “We’re excited to add Whitney and ‘The GRITIRON Show’ to our network programming. I’m honestly shocked this is her first time behind a microphone. She’s a brilliant public speaker, her energy is infectious, and she’s always been passionate about sports.”

COVID-19/Spring Break, Border Troubles, Deadly Boulder Grocery Store Shooting, Biden Jobs & Infrastructure Proposal, Capitol Attack-Sedition Controversy, Cuomo on the Ropes, and Deshaun Watson Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/22). The rising number of COVID-19 cases in numerous states, worries about variants, the vaccine rollout, and the enormous spring break gatherings; the immigration problems at the U.S.-Mexico border; the mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado that’s left 10 dead; the Biden administration plans to introduce a $3 trillion jobs & infrastructure bill; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the report that sedition charges may be leveled at some; the allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; and the growing allegations of sexual impropriety by massage therapists against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

| March 16, 2021

Cox Media Group’s ‘95.5 WSB’ Names Erick Erickson Early Afternoon Host. At news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta, Cox Media Group announces that the daypart long occupied by the “Rush Limbaugh Show” will be hosted by the station’s Erick Erickson, beginning on Monday (3/22). Erickson will move from his current 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot and the station’s early evening host Mark Arum will take over the 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm program. WSB will air an hour of Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity program live at 3:00 pm and will air the rest of the show delayed from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. WSB director of branding & programming Drew Anderssen says, “With these lineup changes, 95.5 WSB will better serve Atlanta with more local programming. Erick Erickson and Mark Arum are both tremendous talents, and the move will continue to strengthen the extraordinary brand that is 95.5 WSB.” Erickson also hosts his own self-syndicated 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET talk radio show that has garnered almost 20 affiliate stations in its first year (although speculation has already begun that other syndication developments could be in the works that take into account the host’s new schedule).  Erickson says, “I would never have gotten into radio without encouragement from Rush Limbaugh who has been gracious over the years with a lot of great advice and guidance. It was an honor to fill in for him on his show, and it is overwhelming and humbling to move into the slot Rush occupied with such distinction for so long. I appreciate and intend to live up to the responsibility that comes with this time slot.” Mark Arum, who’s been with WSB since 1997, also serves as traffic anchor for WSB-TV’s “Channel 2 Action News This Morning.” Arum says, “When I was hired at 95.5 WSB over 23 years ago, I could never have envisioned that I would ever get the opportunity to host a drive time show on the best news and talk station in the nation. It’s a cliché, but this is truly a dream come true.”

WOKV-FM, Jacksonville Goes Local in the ‘Rush Daypart.’ As sister news/talk giant WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta is doing (see story above), Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville is filling the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart occupied by Rush Limbaugh for so many years with a local host, in this case current late morning personality Mark Kaye. CMG says that Kaye “has been growing his audience on 104.5 FM from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon for multiple years. Mark has gained a national following through multiple video streaming platforms, as well as a show on Newsmax TV.” Cox will fill Kaye’s current daypart with FOX News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade whose radio show will air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Kaye comments, “As a life-long fan of Rush Limbaugh, I am still adjusting to a world without his voice. Producing a daily show in ‘Rush’s timeslot’ is a daunting task for any broadcaster, but I am grateful to the leadership team at CMG and 104.5 WOKV for placing their trust in me. With the audience’s help I promise to do my best to keep Rush’s spirit, energy, and unique brand of conservative entertainment alive. This is an incredibly bittersweet opportunity.”

iHeartMedia Names Paul Rogers Area President for North Florida. Media executive Paul Rogers is named area president for iHeartMedia’s newly configured North Florida area that includes Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Panama City. Rogers takes over for Nicky Sparrow who was recently promoted to SVP of multicultural sales for iHeartMedia Markets Group. Rogers reports to division president Linda Byrd. She says, “I’ve worked with Paul for over 35 years, in many different roles. His integrity, judgment, professionalism, and competitiveness are what any manager would look for in a market leader. He is the perfect choice as a successor, and I have no doubt that he will take this area to the next level. I also want to thank Nicky for the great work she has done in getting Jacksonville to where we are today and congratulate her on this exciting new opportunity to expand her role in iHeartMedia.” Rogers has been serving iHeartMedia as market president for Tallahassee and Panama City since 2017.

Townsquare Media 2020 Q4 Net Revenue Down 3.2%; Full Year Revenue Declines 15%. Compared the second quarter of 2020 when Townsquare Media’s net revenue was down 35% compared to 2019, the fourth quarter’s decline of just 3.2% was a source of joy for CEO Bill Wilson. While Q4 net revenue was $108.5 million (down 3.2%), net revenue for the full year was $371.3 million, down 15% from the full year 2019 ($431.4 million). What has Wilson pumped is Townsquare’s digital assets. He says, “Townsquare Interactive, our digital monthly subscription business, excelled throughout the year, accelerating year-over-year net revenue growth in Q4 to +16% and generating over $70 million of revenue for the full year (+14% YoY) at a profit margin of approximately 30%. In total, digital net revenue increased +6% year over year, driven by both Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite (our digital programmatic advertising platform), which grew net revenue by +11% year over year.  With $162 million of 2020 digital net revenue, digital now accounts for approximately 44% of our total net revenue, further differentiating us in the local media marketplace.” Wilson says that the company is proud of its roots and DNA in local radio, “2020 was the year Townsquare became a ‘Digital First’ company.” He says, “I am also pleased to reaffirm our expectation that Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite will each generate $100 million in revenue in two to three years. 2020 served to accelerate Townsquare’s transformation into a premier local media and digital marketing solutions company proudly super-serving markets outside the top 50 markets.”

TALKERS News Notes. One of WFAN, New York afternoon co-host Craig Carton’s fraud victims is petitioning the court asking that Carton’s restitution order be rewritten because Carton has returned to the Entercom sports talk station in what petitioner Gerard LoDuka says “is almost surely an extremely lucrative job,” according to a piece in the New York Post. LoDuka claims that the restitution order requiring him to pay 15% of his yearly income toward the nearly $5 million he owes victims should be rewritten because of his new, high-profile job. But Carton’s attorney says Carton makes “a fraction” of his previous salary as morning drive co-host…..Cumulus Media announces that for the second year in a row, news/talk KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno’s “Morning News” takes home the Golden Mike Award for “Best Newscast under 15 minutes” (Division B) from the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California. KMJ news anchors Matt Otstot, Tony Manes, Liz Kern and Aaron Abeytia – along with sports anchor George Takata and weather anchor Kimberly Kolliner – teamed up for the winning newscast…..The National Association of Broadcasters is offering a new online training course for radio stations containing critical information and guidelines for complying with Federal Communications Commission regulations. The Radio Rules! A Guide to FCC Regulations for Radio Stations course is now available here. The scenario-based training course tests participants’ understanding of acceptable practices for FCC regulation compliance. The guide outlines compliance related to content, advertising, station operation and management, copyright, and public files and reporting in four learning activities.

Mildred Carter Mentoring Program Announces 2021 Participants. The Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group, a volunteer organization dedicated to developing management and leadership skills for women in radio broadcasting, introduces the MIW Group Mildred Carter Mentoring Program’s Class of 2021. They are (pictured above from left to right) The 2021 class is comprised of the following professionals, listed in alphabetical order: Lisa Kirkman, national accounts director, Ruby Radio, Northeastern Nevada; Jenna Miller, integrated sales manager, Cox Media Group, Tampa; Tonee Roper, on-air personality and promotions director, Neuhoff Media, Springfield, Illinois; and Ashley Wilson, director of country programming, iHeartMedia, Kentucky/Indiana Region. The program, now in its 20th year, matches up-and-coming women in radio with female professionals recognized as leaders in all aspects of the industry. vCreative is serving as the lead sponsor of this year’s program. The MIW Group Mildred Carter Mentoring Program is named in the memory of Mildred Carter who, along with her husband Andrew “Skip” Carter, founded the first African American-owned radio station in the U.S. in 1950, when they turned on KPRS, Kansas City.

Migrant Border Crisis, COVID-19, Cuomo Allegations, Stimulus Package, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Voting Bills, Georgia’s Trump Investigation, Gavin Newsom Recall Effort, North Korea Warns U.S., and the Grammy Awards/Oscar Nominations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/15). The Biden administration’s immigrant problem as thousands of parentless children amass at the U.S.-Mexico border; the number of COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, the removal of mask mandates in some states, and the rollout of vaccines; the sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the fellow Democrats calling for his resignation; Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package becomes law; the voting bills in various states critics say will make voting more difficult; the investigation into Donald Trump’s call to the Georgia Secretary of State asking for more votes; California Governor Gavin Newsom battles the recall effort against him; the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un warns the U.S. about military exercises with South Korea, and Sunday night’s Grammy awards and the unveiling of this year’s Oscar nominations were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

| February 23, 2021

Cumulus Media Reports 2020 Q4 Net Revenue Down 13.9%; Net Revenue for Full Year of 2020 Declines 26.7%. The second major radio company to report financial figures from the fourth quarter and the full year of 2020 (Beasley was first back on February 10), Cumulus Media reports net revenue of $245.8 million for the fourth quarter – a decline of 13.9% compared to the same period in 2019 – and full year 2020 net revenue of $816 million, down 26.7% from $1.1 billion reported in 2019. For Q4, Cumulus posted a loss of $249,000 a year after 2019’s Q4 income of $1.6 million. For the full year of 2019, the company posted a loss of $57.9 million compared to 2019’s full year income of $62.2 million. On the positive side, Cumulus reports that quarterly revenue improved sequentially from Q2 to Q4, both in total and excluding political; it achieved 9.4% year-over-year digital revenue growth (12.1% on a same station basis), driven by podcasting growth of nearly 40%; it generated $33.2 million of cash from operations for the full year; it completed two significant M&A transactions generating aggregate gross proceeds of $282 million; paid down $54.3 million of term loan and retired $47.2 million of senior notes; and finished the year with $271.8 million of cash on hand (an increase of $256.6 million compared with December 31, 2019). President and CEO Mary Berner comments, “Given 2020’s extenuating circumstances, I am extremely proud of the company’s performance and the efforts of the entire Cumulus team to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19. In the face of the pandemic, we maximized revenue performance, materially reduced expenses, generated cash through strong working capital management, and executed highly accretive divestitures that strengthened our balance sheet. As a result of these efforts and with a recovering economy, we believe that we are well-positioned to return our business to its pre-pandemic trajectory and to capitalize on strategic and financial options to best drive shareholder returns.”

Chad Benson Welcomes New Affiliate Stations. The Radio America-syndicated “Chad Benson Show” welcomes four new radio stations to its roster of affiliate stations: WP Broadcasting’s news/talk KRSY-AM, Alamogordo, New Mexico; WCED Rsdio’s news/talk WCED-AM, Du Bois, Pennsylvania; Fieldview Broadcasting’s news/talk KWBG-AM, Boone, Iowa; and VP Broadcasting’s news/talk WHOL-AM/W295CR Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Chad Benson Show is also heard on such signals as Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix; iHeartMedia’s KSTE-AM, Sacramento; and Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville. Radio America says, “Listeners love Chad’s explanation of the day’s hard news delivered in a thoughtful and entertaining way. And that explains why Chad is featured on some of the most highly rated talk stations in the country and delivers the demos that talk radio needs most.”

Entercom and Pro Sports Teams Cooperate on ‘Vaccinate Michigan’ Effort. The Entercom Detroit station cluster that includes sports talk WXYT-FM “97.1 The Ticket,” all-news WWJ-AM “Newsradio 950,” and three music brands are partnering with the Detroit Lions, the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Pistons to launch a new community initiative called “Vaccinate Michigan.” All five stations are airing state-approved public service announcements about the COVID-19 vaccination and its availability for Michigan residents. The “Vaccinate Michigan” announcements are voiced by various Entercom Detroit on-air personalities, show hosts, and news anchors, as well as some of the city’s key sports figures, including Tigers manager AJ Hinch, Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd, Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, Lions head coach Dan Campbell, and Pistons head coach Dwane Casey. Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “Our company and sports partners understand the importance of getting Michigan businesses open, as well as the need of our listeners and fans to get back to work and feel some sense of normalcy. Radio serves as a crucial lifeline for the communities it serves and we’re proud to lend our influential voice in the community and our citywide footprint to deliver the important message of COVID-19 vaccinations to our listeners and fans.”

SummitMedia Enters into Podcast Deal with CurtCo Media. This strategic partnership between SummitMedia and CurtCo Media is SummitMedia’s first formal alliance with a third-party content creator for the podcast audience. SummitMedia owns and operates 47 radio stations in nine states. Los Angeles-based CurtCo Media currently produces cutting-edge quality scripted and unscripted podcast programming. SummitMedia chairman and CEO Carl Parmer comments, “SummitMedia’s partnership with CurtCo Media provides us with an exciting opportunity to develop and explore the rapidly growing podcast medium. We’ve known and watched CurtCo create engaging and innovative content for years, and we value the integrity and quality they bring to the media industry.” CurtCo Media CEO Bill Curtis says, “Having a strategic alliance and investment from SummitMedia makes this partnership the most powerful moment to date in our business development. We’re so excited to work with Greg Kelly, Carl and their team to create new dynamic programming and combine Summit’s powerful radio platform with CurtCo Media in the fast-growing world of podcasting. We believe this strategic partnership will provide sustainable value for our business and expand our audience.”

TALKERS News Notes. Longtime radio and television consumer advocate Clark Howard will receive the 2021 “Andrew Ashwood Award” at the 12th annual Talk Show Boot Camp, presented by Don Anthony’s Talentmasters and Gabe Hobbs Media being held virtually this year on March 18 and 19.  Howard, who wrapped his nationally syndicated radio program after 23 years at the end of 2020, will be presented with the award by last year’s recipient, Greg Moceri. He says, “When I was given the privilege of selecting someone who exemplified the positivity that Andrew did for our industry, it took me two seconds to say Clark Howard. Having worked and associated with him for 30 years, he was an instant selection on how many ways he has demonstrated that positivity and has helped millions through the years. ‘In Clark we trust’ impacted his knowledge and authenticity in our industry for decades and it continues today. Clark was an instant choice to carry on this great tradition of honoring Andrew.”…..The 2nd Annual Radio Cares – Feeding America is off to a great start with new and returning partners signing on in support of the nationwide radio event that raises money to provide meals for individuals and families facing hunger in America. Radio Cares is presented by Feeding America and the Independent Broadcasters Association and takes place on April 14 on radio stations across the country. Last year, in its inaugural event, Radio Cares raised enough money to purchase 5 million meals.”…..The Philadelphia Phillies and Entercom announce a new, multi-year radio deal with the MLB’s Phillies to keep sports talk WIP-FM the flagship station for the club’s radio broadcasts. The play-by-play team of Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen will be joined by Kevin Frandsen this season. Entercom Philly SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We’re eagerly awaiting the return of Phillies baseball and are happy to announce a new broadcast extension with the club. As the undisputed voice of the Philadelphia sports fan, we look forward to putting listeners right in the middle of the action through premier game day coverage and keeping them caught up with their favorite team throughout the season.”

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, SCOTUS Trump Tax Returns Ruling, Capitol Riot Investigation, Cabinet Confirmation Hearings, Dominion Sues Mike Lindell, and Facebook Australia News Deal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/22). The United States passes the 500,000 COVID death mark and the rollout of vaccines continues; the Supreme Court rules New York prosecutors can have access to Donald Trump’s tax records; today’s first Senate hearing on the January 6 Capitol insurrection; Monday’s first confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland, and the coming hearings for embattled White House budget office nominee Neera Tanden and Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland; voting systems firm Dominion sues MyPillow chief Mike Lindell for $1.3 billion for defamation; and Facebook agrees to Australian news deal that will pay news organizations were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, February 12, 2021

| February 12, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, 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, “Shock President,” looks back at this past week of February 8-12, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Harry Hurley, talk show host, WPG, Atlantic City; Thom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD Media; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkSteve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder Scamicide.com; and Brittany Jennings, commentator, WONK-FM, Washington, DC.  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 (“Freedom 93.7”), 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; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio 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.

Mark Kaye Transitions to News/Talk WOKV-FM, Jacksonville Full Time. Jacksonville radio personality Mark Kaye is leaving his on-air role at Cox Media Group’s CHR WAPE-FM on “The Big Ape Morning Mess” to focus on his talk program on sister news/talk WOKV-FM. He’ll do his final show on WAPE with co-host Meghan Lane on February 19. Lane will continue to host the WAPE morning show solo while the search for a new co-host is mounted. Kaye began hosting a talk show on WOKV in December of 2017 and it was expanded to its current 10:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart on January of 2019. CMG VP audience & content Tim Clarke says, “Mark is one of the most creative and ambitious people I know and his continuous evolution as a media personality is truly impressive. I truly believe that the ‘Mark Kaye Show’ represents the future of the spoken word format – entertaining and informative with an aesthetic that resonates and appeals to all generations. This represents CMG’s continued investment in creating new and innovative content to serve our audiences and communities.”

Beasley Names Blaine Jackson Digital PD. At the Augusta, Georgia operations of Bealsey Media Group, Blaine Jackson is named digital program director for the six-station cluster that includes news/talk WGAC-AM/FM and five music brands. Jackson comes to Beasley from her most recent position as program director and afternoon drive host at iHeartMedia’s crosstown country outlet WLUB-FM. Beasley Media Group vice president of brand strategies and Augusta/Fayetteville regional operations manager Tee Gentry comments, “We are thrilled to have Blaine join our Augusta team. Her passion for radio and our digital direction make her the perfect fit for our stations.”

Bloomberg Radio Prepared to Present Special Programming This Weekend. The Bloomberg Radio Network announces that is has “an army of reporters, producers, and anchors standing by over the weekend” to produce special programming in the event that former President Donald Trump is convicted in his impeachment trial. The trial could conclude earlier than expected, with a vote among Senate jurors to acquit or convict taking place as soon as Saturday. Bloomberg Radio Network anchors Nathan Hager and Amy Morris would anchor special coverage. Reporter Kevin Cirilli is prepared to report from Washington, DC. In the meantime, Bloomberg’s team of Washington, DC reporters is being made available to its affiliates for two-ways. If you are interested in learning about becoming a Bloomberg Radio Network, contact Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green at: dennis@keynetworks.com.

Westwood One’s Jim Bohannon Adds Chicago and Seattle Affiliates. Nationally syndicated late-night talk radio legend Jim Bohannon is now heard in Chicago on Nextstar Media Group’s news/talk WGN-AM and in Seattle on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s all-news KOMO-AM/FM. The Westwood One program is now be heard on more than 275 stations. Bohannon, a member of the National Radio Hall of Fame, just marked his 28th anniversary as host of the Jim Bohannon Show on Westwood One. He comments, “I’m very gratified to be adding two legendary sets of call letters – WGN, Chicago and KOMO, Seattle—to the Jim Bohannon Show family of stations. What a perfect way to cap my recent 28th anniversary hosting this nationwide evening chat. Thanks to our wonderful affiliates coast to coast and our fine listeners, without whom I’d merely have an expensive hobby.”

iHeartMedia St. Louis Names John Beck Market President. Radio management pro John Beck is named market president for iHeartMedia’s St. Louis radio cluster that includes “Black Information Network BIN 103.7” and nine music brands. Beck was most recently with Emmis Communications as SVP of its St. Louis stations. iHeartMedia Markets Group division president Tony Coles says, “John is one of the most respected leaders in St. Louis. His track record of success, reputation for building a winning culture, and his deep roots in both the media and advertising communities are only a few of the many reasons we are thrilled to have John leading our team.”

WSCR-AM, Chicago Renews with Chicago Cubs. Chicago sports talk station WSCR-AM “670 The Score” and the Chicago Cubs have reached an agreement to continue their relationship with “The Score” serving as the team’s flagship radio station. As part of the deal, Entercom will manage the Cubs Radio Network that includes 30 stations across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Entercom Chicago regional president and market manager Rachel Williamson says, “I am beyond thrilled to be extending our partnership with the Cubs organization, establishing ‘670 The Score’ as home of Cubs baseball for years to come. We have never been more excited for baseball season and for Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer to bring the sights and sounds of Wrigley Field to life for Chicagoland listeners, who can hear all of the action on their radio and, for the first time, for free on the RADIO.com mobile app and via home smart speakers.”

Sports USA Inks NHL Deal. A new agreement between Sports USA and NBC Sports will allow the former to present live play-by-play coverage of the National Hockey League for the 2020-21 regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs. Sports USA’s first game broadcasts will be the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe at Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nevada. Sports USA founder and CEO Larry Kahn says, “We are excited to present the NHL to fans nationwide through this partnership with NBC Sports and are pleased that Sports USA continues to expand its overall sports coverage.”

TALKERS News Notes. Journalist Steve Kastenbaum is hosting the new podcast “New York Gritty,” a Blue Desk Productions program that looks at life in New York City during the pandemic. The show “explores the resiliency and hope of New Yorkers in a time of crisis. Will they find a way to bring their city back from the brink of economic disaster, or has New York been irreversibly changed?” The 10-episode series begins February 16 and is executive produced by broadcast and digital media executive Andrew Kalb. Kastenbaum says, “As a third generation native Brooklynite, I’ve watched New York bounce back from many crises. ‘’ve always been inspired by the tenacity and perseverance of my fellow New Yorkers as they’ve soldiered on, regardless of the challenge. I love telling the stories of the individual New Yorkers who make this the best city in the world.”…..Westwood One’s “The Stacking Benjamins Show” recently dropped its 1,000thepisode and to celebrate this milestone, host Joe Saul-Sehy and co-host Josh Bannerman are featuring many friends from the financial community and are sharing a monster list of their favorite books and resources. Since 2012, the program’s goal has been to use “the science of play to make finance more approachable, interesting, and fun. While some podcasts hope to be the final expert in the chain of money lessons, ‘The Stacking Benjamins Show’ aims to introduce listeners to the broad spectrum of fantastic ideas, concepts, and technologies available that can help lock in a better financial future.”…..The KIRO-FM, Seattle-produced podcast “Your Last Meal” – a James Beard Award finalist for Best Podcast – is celebrating 100 delicious episodes! Rachel Belle (right) hosts the program in which she interviews a celebrity about what they would choose to eat for their last meal and then digs into the history, science and culture of that dish with experts from around the globe. For this 100th episode, Belle welcomes three, 100-year-old women to the show to share their extraordinary lives, their favorite foods, and the secret to a long, happy life: red wine and “keeping your own teeth.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One drops “The Kurt Angle Show” on Sunday (2/14) hosted by with Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle and veteran podcast host Conrad Thompson. Angle says, “I’m so excited to be doing ‘The Kurt Angle Show’ podcast in partnership with Westwood One. I will be talking about my life, my career in Olympic and pro wrestling, and my struggles with addiction. Listeners will also hear fascinating stories firsthand from my guests. My hope is this podcast not only inspires but teaches others to not make the mistakes I’ve made and to go after their own goals and dreams. This is my opportunity to give back to my fans, the people who have stuck with me through good and bad times. Gonna be epic. It’s true.”

Nexstar Appoints Lori Tavoularis Chief Revenue Office for Digital Division. Sales pro Lori Tavoularis is promoted to chief revenue officer and EVP of revenue operations for the Digital Division of Nexstar Inc. In this newly created role, Tavoularis will oversee all revenue-related functions for Nexstar Inc.’s Digital Division, including national, local and programmatic sales and digital marketing services. She’s based in Chicago and reports to Digital Division president Karen Brophy. Concurrently, Nexstar’s Digital Division announces the appointment of Jennifer Scilabro as SVP, local digital sales, and the promotion of Wil Danielson to SVP, national digital sales, both reporting to Tavoularis.

Jim Jones and Focus 360 Partner. This deal between Focus360 and Jim JonesSound Solutions Media will allow the former to expand its affiliate relations team effective immediately. Jones and Sound Solutions Media will assist in the research and sale of all Focus360 radio solutions including Bridge Ratings and the Jelli platform which allows radio stations to monetize unsold inventory and eliminate network affidavits and scheduling. Jones says, “I am proud to join the Focus 360 team. Sound Solutions is uniquely qualified to collaborate with radio station executives and content producers to initiate mutually beneficial alliances. Focus 360 is positioned to provide the highest quality service to the radio industry. I look forward to creatively expanding its existing services and launching new business lines with like-minded radio partners.”

Senate Impeachment Trial Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 8-12. The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump in the U.S. Senate was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Capitol insurrection investigation, followed by the latest COVID-19 stats, deaths, and vaccine news 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 a result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

| February 4, 2021

Round Four of Holiday 2020 PPM Ratings Takeaways. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from the fourth and final round of Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2020 PPM survey that covered the period of December 3 – January 6. The 2020 election aftermath created news and controversy that largely kept news/talk listeners tuned to their favorite stations during the month of December, a period that typically reflects lower 6+ weekly AQH share for talk stations due to Christmas music listening and altered listening habits due to the holiday season. Although Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis lost more than two full shares from the December to the Holiday surveys (10.0 – 7.6), it still finished as the #2 station in the market. In Milwaukee, iHeartMedia’s WISN-AM finished in the #3 spot on the strength of an 8.2 share and Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ-AM wrapped the Holiday survey with a 6.0 share good for the #4 rank. Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence dipped just one-tenth to a 5.4 share but rises to the #4 spot. Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville slid from #1 to #2 after losing 1.6 shares to finish the month with an 8.4 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways report for this group of markets here.

Brian Mitchell and JP Finlay to Host Middays on WJFK-FM, Washington. On the heels of the promotion of Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier to the afternoon drive daypart, Entercom announces that Washington, DC sports media pros Brian Mitchell (right) and JP Finlay (left) are the new midday co-hosts. Mitchell – who played 10 of his 14 NFL seasons with the Washington Football Team – served for years as a host on Entercom’s recently acquired WTEM “980 The Team.” He also serves as an analyst on NBC Sports Washington’s Washington Football Team pre-game and post-game coverage. Finlay has been NBC Sports Washington’s Washington Football Team beat reporter since 2016, and created and hosted the “Washington Football Talk Podcast.” Entercom Washington SVP and market manager Ivy Savoy-Smith says, “Brian Mitchell and JP Finlay are two of the most high-profile, opinionated, and respected sports voices in the DC area. True friends off the air, ‘BMitch’ and JP’s show will feature natural chemistry, great sports information and opinion, and a lot of fun.”

New WTEM, Washington “980 The Team” Schedule Revealed. Concurrent with the story above regarding Brian Mitchell’s move to WJFK-FM, Entercom announces the new weekday program schedule for recently acquired sister sports talk station WTEM-AM “980 The Team” that goes into effect on Monday (2/8). Joining the station is Washington and Baltimore sports media pro Travis Thomas who will host the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program. Thomas most recently hosted “DC Sports Live” and “Wizards Extra” on NBC Sports Washington, as well as a Saturday afternoon radio show on “106.7 The Fan.” Reese Waters is the new host of the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm program. He hosted “Get Up DC” for WUSA-TV since 2017 before transitioning to a new nightly show this month. He was previously a correspondent for ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and a host on the Versus network. For afternoon drive, market pros Chris Russell and Pete Medhurst join together for the “Russell and Medhurst” program. Russell has appeared in a variety of roles for “106.7 The Fan” and “980 The Team” since 2009 and is Sports Illustrated’s Washington Football Team correspondent. Medhurst joined “106.7 The Fan” as an update anchor in 2009 and has been the station’s primary fill-in host, Nationals post-game show host and fill-in play-by-play talent. Longtime market pro Kevin Sheehan remains in morning drive joined by a rotating cast of contributors.

Cumulus Media San Francisco Exec Doug Harvill to Retire. Radio executive Doug Harvill announces that he will retire from his vice president and market manager position with Cumulus Media’s San Francisco cluster – news/talk KGO-AM, news/talk KSFO-AM, sports talk KNBR-AM/FM, and classic rock KSAN-FM – on May 14. Harvill’s 46-year radio career includes spending the past 24 leading station groups in San Francisco and Sacramento. Harvill comments, “I’m leaving a wonderful and satisfying career in an industry I’ve wanted to be a part of since I was a kid. Local radio has been and continues to be a tremendous and enriching experience, but I’ve achieved my goals and exceeded my dreams. Whoever steps into the market manager role at Cumulus San Francisco is going to inherit a tremendous team of professionals and lead some of the most legendary radio stations in broadcast history.” Cumulus Media EVP of operations Dave Milner states, “Doug Harvill has had an amazing career in our industry and I was lucky to have had the opportunity to work with him these past three years. His talents run deep and he has helped so many grow and flourish in radio over the years. Congratulations, Doug – we wish you the very best in the next chapter of your life!”

Emmis Promotes James Connor to VP of Sales for Indianapolis. Rising to the vice president of sales position at Emmis Communications’ Indianapolis cluster is James Connor. He takes over for Taja Graham, who was elevated to market president last month. Connor will oversee sales efforts for news/talk WIBC-FM, sports talk WFNI-AM “The Fan,” plus adult contemporary WYXB “B105,” country WLHK “Hank FM,” and Network Indiana. Graham says, “We are fortunate to have James’ expertise as a GM with a track record of maintaining positive cash flow and delivering creative client solutions. James’ focus on details has helped us in the restructuring of our sales force and optimizing of our inventory, which has resulted in higher market share. He is a well-known and a well-respected figure in Indiana radio, and I’m thrilled he will be leading our sales efforts.” Connor spent 20 years in Terre Haute, leading the former Emmis stations there first in sales and then as general manager, before returning to Indianapolis in 2017 to continue with Emmis when the Terre Haute Emmis cluster was sold. He has been serving as general sales manager of the Indianapolis cluster and as general manager of Network Indiana since early 2017. He will retain the title of general manager for Network Indiana. He comments, “I’m excited to lead the most dedicated, talented sales team in Indiana radio. I have tremendous respect for Taja, who has positioned us for enduring success, and I know the transition will be seamless as we continue to grow our market share despite the global challenges the pandemic presents.”

Roe Conn and Richard Roeper Partner for New Podcast. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, Roe Conn and Richard Roeper are getting back together to host a new podcast backed by the global digital agency AmericanEagle.com. That company recently built state-of-the-art studios at its world headquarters in suburban Des Plaines where the podcast will be recorded. The “Roe and Roeper” program will be produced twice weekly with new episodes on Tuesday and Thursday focusing on pop culture and current events. Feder quotes Roeper saying, “We’ll have new shows covering pop culture, movies, TV, streaming shows, sports, and interviews with major filmmakers and actors every Tuesday and Thursday, with the goal of expanding to a daily podcast later in 2021.” The two first teamed up together co-hosting afternoon drive at WLS-AM, Chicago in 2010. Conn recently exited Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM after a five-year stint. Roeper is a long-time film critic for the Sun-Times and contributes to WLS-TV. AmericanEagle.com CEO Tony Svanascini says, “It’s fitting a long-time client like Richard Roeper is part of the first podcast launched from AmericanEagle.com Studios. He and Roe Conn are true talents that will bring their unique sense of humor and wit to what I’m sure will be an extremely popular podcast.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas “The Ticket” personality Mike Rhyner is moving into the video streaming space via VOKAL Media Inc where he’ll host a program called “Your Dark Companion.” VOKAL says, “This weekly series features Rhyner’s musings and tales covering a wide range of topics and a variety of guests including Rangers general manager Chris Young and Dallas Morning News reporter David Moore, to name a few.” Rhyner says, “‘Your Dark Companion’ is a show I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. Streaming is the wave of the future, so when I saw the technology that VOKAL has developed I knew this is what I wanted to do. I look forward to engaging with my audience again and working with the great team at VOKAL.” The first episode premieres on February 11 at 5:00 pm CT…..iHeartMedia and the Clinton Foundation announce a new podcast hosted by President Bill Clinton titled, “Why Am I Telling You This? with Bill Clinton.” The first episode, “How Jazz Explains Democracy” with guest Wynton Marsalis, drops today (2/4). iHeartMedia says each episode will feature Clinton’s “wide range of interests and well-known intellectual curiosity through conversations and stories with some of the most interesting people he knows about the ideas and issues that shape our interconnected world.”…..ESPN is reporting that its podcasts experienced strong growth in 2020, with downloads growing 28% to nearly half a billion. ESPN senior director, digital audio programming Pete Gianesini says, “It was another big year for ESPN Podcasts, yet another with new records and offerings. As sports return to their customary place on the calendar, we expect our momentum to continue.”…..Condolences to the family and friends of longtime Cleveland sports media personality Les Levine, who passed away recently at the age of 74 after complications from diabetes and Parkinson’s Disease. Levine began his sports media work handling play-by-play at WHK, Akron. He later started hosting his own sports talk show on WTAM-AM (then WWWE) following Ohio State games and Indians ballgames. Later he developed the “More Sports & Les Levine” program that was heard on WERE and WHK. The program later moved to local television. Most recently, Levine was hosting his program on Cleveland.com and was handling fill-in work at Entercom’s sports talk WKRK-FM “92.3 The Fan.”

THE ABCs of GAMESTOP MADNESS: Cybercrime Expert Steve Weisman Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Law professor Steve Weisman of Bentley University in Boston, founder of the groundbreaking website Scamicide.com, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Weisman provide a basic overview of the situation that led up to the events last week that rocked Wall Street by exposing just how vulnerable the stock market is to the manipulation of bad actors on social media, shady rigging by the big players, and the stark shortcomings of algorithms that dominate the second-to-second decisions that drive prices up and down – often without any regard for the actual value of companies based on their actual merits. According to Weisman, this is a very dangerous set of circumstances that threatens to create a disastrous situation potentially worse than the events of 2008. Harrison states, “I am not an expert on the stock market, and I suspect by the way that this story is being covered in the media that most reporters, commentators, and talk show hosts aren’t either. Nor am I a big fan of investing in markets I don’t reasonably understand, and I am even more averse to the idea of gambling – which I suspect is the basis of much of today’s Wall Street trading on the part of small, individual investors. So I turned to one of my most valued resources and go-to guys in the media – respected attorney Steve Weisman – for a point-by-point explanation about just what the hell is going on regarding this story and its meaning to our nation’s wealth, economy, and financial stability… not to mention what it says about the state of our values and ethics.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Biden-GOP Stimulus Negotiations, Trump Impeachment, Capitol Insurrection Investigation, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, GOP on Cheney and Greene, Social Media and Censorship, Deadly Florida FBI Raid, Putin Jailing Critics/Navalny Sentenced, Morgan Wallen Dropped by Label & Radio Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/3). The negotiations between the Joe Biden administration and GOP leadership over a new stimulus package; the looming Donald Trump impeachment trial; the investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol; the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of the vaccines; Republican leadership in Congress deals with the attacks on Senator Liz Cheney and the conspiracy theories of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene; complaints from conservatives that they are being censored by Big Tech; the deaths of two FBI agents and wounding of three others in a Florida investigation into child porn; Vladimir Putin increases the arrests of his critics and Alexei Navalny is sentenced to two years in prison; and country artist Morgan Wallen is dropped by his record label and many U.S. radio stations for a racial slur incident were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.