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.
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.