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Thursday, December 9, 2021

| December 9, 2021

Talk Show Host Michael Berry is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. KTRH, Houston/independently syndicated radio talk show host Michael Berry is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Berry is heard live twice daily on Houston’s talk radio powerhouse KTRH. The first show airs between 8:00 am and 11:00 am and then he comes back between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. But, wait, that’s not all. An additional 25 formidable stations carry one or the other or both of these shows on an independent network that has grown out of his recognition as a break-out talent with a growing following of fans. This network stretches from upstate New York to Portland to Louisiana to Pensacola to Baton Rouge, Nashville, New Orleans, New Mexico and Alabama, with eight stations in Texas. Berry, the son of a maintenance worker for a chemical plant, is an attorney with two law degrees and an interesting history in politics. He began his often-controversial talk radio career in 2005 while still Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Houston. He’s married to the former Secretary of State of Texas, who is from India (and also a lawyer). They are parents of two adopted sons from Ethiopia – now teenagers. TALKERS research places him at number 15 on its most-listened-to radio talk show hosts list with a weekly audience of some 5 million people. He’s also ranked number 9 on the 2021 TALKERS Heavy Hundred list of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America. Harrison and Berry engage in a fascinating conversation about a number of topics including the impact of the COVID era on the psyche of American workers, the application of the phrase “politics makes strange bedfellows” to today’s news/talk discussion, the differences between live radio and podcasting, Berry’s evolution from “yeller” to storyteller, and the syndrome of conservative talk show hosts often being unjustly accused of being proponents of racism and hate. Don’t miss this! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

iHeartMedia Faces Unionization of Podcast Network. After a majority of iHeartPodcast Network staffers signed union cards to organize with the Writers Guild of America, East, the Guild is calling on iHeartMedia to voluntarily recognize the union. According to a press release from the WGAE, “The approximately 125-member iHeartPodcast Network Bargaining Committee includes producers, editors, researchers, writers, and hosts based in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York CIty. The iHeartPodcast Network includes hit series like ‘Stuff You Should Know,’ ‘Fake Doctors, Real Friends,’ ‘The Ron Burgundy Podcast,’ ‘Disgraceland,’ ‘Chelsea Handler: Life will be the Death of Me,’ ‘Noble Blood’ and ‘Committed,’ among many others.” In its “Why We’re Organizing” letter to iHM management, the organizing committee writes, in part: “We, the podcast producers, editors, researchers, writers, and hosts of iHeartMedia, are thrilled to announce that we are unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East. Months of discussion with our colleagues have clarified some things: First, we love the community we have created at iHeart. We work shoulder to shoulder with some of the most creative minds in the business, who have come to feel more like family. We are devoted and passionate storytellers who take pride in our ability to provide our listeners with entertaining, thought-provoking audio content and, most importantly, companionship. However, during difficult times, we are reminded that while the iHeart Digital Audio Group prides itself on its relative autonomy and ability to adapt to the shifting needs of the marketplace—much like a start-up—we work under the capacity constraints of a legacy broadcast conglomerate. Essentially, we have been encouraged to embrace the dynamism of start-up culture without any of the associated benefits. Throughout the unprecedented challenges of the last two years, we managed to seamlessly transition to remote work; our adaptability helped the company not just sustain but thrive during a period of economic uncertainty and social unrest. During team calls, town halls, and official email communications from leadership, we are frequently reminded of the financial gains that we helped make possible. Bob Pittman, CEO and chairman of iHeartMedia, reported during last month’s quarterly earnings call that Digital Audio revenue increased by 77 % compared to 2020. Our division’s significant growth was “driven primarily by continuing increases in demand for digital advertising and the continued growth of podcasting,” where revenue is up 184 % compared to 2020. Unfortunately, those gains have not reached the creators working round-the-clock to keep our audience of more than 30 million monthly listeners actively engaged. With hundreds of shows across all categories and genres, many of us are doing the work of multiple employees, and the huge volume of content we are responsible for is not met with equitable compensation. Furthermore, we lack transparency in workplace decision making, meaningful initiatives toward diversity and inclusion, fairness in managerial relationships, and clarity in divisions of labor. While we are proud to be an essential part of iHeartMedia’s success over the past few years, we are keenly aware of significant internal pay disparities between similarly positioned individuals within the company. And across the board, iHeartMedia’s overall compensation and benefits standards are wholly insufficient when compared to the greater podcast and scripted audio market. Due to these working conditions, the creators of iHeart’s podcasts have banded together in order to help determine the best path forward so that iHeart can remain competitive, retain existing talent, and attract new voices to the network, all while creating a more equitable, transparent, and democratic workplace.” Staffers are seeking: Appropriate compensation and benefits, accountability mechanisms regarding diversity and inclusion efforts, manageable workloads and appropriate staffing for shows, clear paths for advancement and standardized job descriptions, and job security. There’s been no official word from iHeartMedia yet.

Audacy Unveils Sports Betting Intensive ‘95.7 The Fan’ in Rochester. Rochester sports talk outlet WROC-AM adds FM translator W239BF to its broadcast and Audacy adjusts the programming to go sports betting intensive as “95.7 The Fan.” The station is using programming from the BetQL Network, CBS Sports Radio and keeps the local Buffalo Bills program “One Bills Live” in early afternoons as well as “The Sports Bar with Danger and Battaglia” (hosted by Mike Danger and Gene Battaglia) in PM drive. The station also continues to air as simulcasts of sister station WCMF’s flagship play-by-play coverage of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. Audacy Rochester SVP and market manager Sue Munn says, “In line with our company’s expansive position as leaders in sports audio, we’re delighted to enhance our sports content offering through the launch of ‘The Fan Rochester.’ Powered by widely recognizable BetQL and CBS Sports Radio programming, this station will give our local listeners more premier content from some of our brightest talent.”

KFI, Los Angeles Announces Record-Breaking 11th Annual Pastathon. Some of the staff of iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI are pictured above at a remote broadcast for this year’s 11th annual KFI Pastathon that raised a record-breaking $933,502 and 115,324 pounds of pasta and sauce to benefit Caterina’s Club, the local charity that provides more than 25,000 nutritious meals every week to children in need in Southern California. With the help of listeners, local businesses and the continued partnership with Barilla, this year’s event set a new fundraising record. Since 2010, KFI listeners have raised more than $4.5 million and over 700,000 pounds of pasta and sauce for children in need in the community. KFI program director Robin Bertolucci comments, “The KFI PastaThon is a full-station effort, and the biggest heroes are our listeners and partners. Every year, we reach new highs and that means more meals to feed more kids in Southern California. On behalf of the entire KFI team we thank the community for the remarkable generosity.”

Fargo’s ‘What’s on Your Mind?’ Radio Show Visits FOX Square in NYC. Pictured above are listeners to the “What’s on Your Mind?” show that airs on North Dakota stations KFYR, Bismarck; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga; and KLTC, Dickinson as they watch show host Scott Hennen (right) and FOX News Radio star Jimmy Failla (left) do a weather hit with FOX NewsJanice Dean (center). The group also was able to meet “FOX & Friends” co-star and FOX News Radio personality Brian Kilmeade and see the remnants of the now-famous burned Christmas tree.

Podcast Download Fall 2021: Big Three Expand Their Share. The just-released Fall 2021 edition of the Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights Podcast Download report focuses on how consumers access podcasts, what they want from a listening app, and attitudes and usage of the “big three” podcast publishers: Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and Spotify. As part of the study, Advertiser Perceptions surveyed 300 media agencies and marketers and found: 71% say they have discussed the potential of advertising in podcasts; An all-time high of 53% are likely to consider advertising in the next six months, up from 46% last year and 18% in 2015; Another all-time high of 44% indicate they are likely to actually advertise in podcasts in the next six months, up from 37% last year and 10% in 2015; and 45% report they are currently advertising in podcasts, an increase of three times from 2015 and a nine-point growth over 2020. In another aspect of the report, MARU/Matchbox conducted an in-depth study of 600 weekly podcast listeners in October 2021. In the MARU study, weekly podcast listeners were provided a list of podcast listening platforms and asked how often they listened to each. Since 2019, frequent Spotify use jumped from 30% to 36%. With podcasts showcased right in their app, Spotify has helped lure more music streamers into podcasting. Versus two years ago, YouTube is stable (33% to 34%) while Apple Podcasts dropped (from 38% to 27%). Frequent use of Google’s apps (Google Play/Google Podcasts) dropped from 19% in 2019 to 16% in 2021. See more about the study here.

TALKERS News Notes. Nationally syndicated talk radio host Mike Gallagher used the torching of the FOX News Christmas tree in Midtown Manhattan to spur his Salem Radio Network listeners to action for the network’s annual Angel Tree campaign that helps children of prisoners through the non-profit Prison Fellowship. Gallagher told his listeners, “Let’s show everyone that there’s more good than evil in America.” As a result, yesterday (12/8) more than 1,000 children of prisoners were sponsored and will be blessed with personalized Christmas gifts plus a note from their incarcerated mom or dad. Gallagher added, “We proved that a positive message can overcome any negative news when we all pull together.”…..The Carey Brothers are ending their media efforts after 35 years. Morris and James Carey announce they will wrap their radio program after the December 25 edition and the final “Tip of the Day” feature will air nationally on December 31. The Carey Brothers did their first radio show on January 2, 1987 at KCBS-AM, San Francisco. The program went national in 1992 and at its peak aired on more than 300 affiliate stations.

COVID-19 Omicron Variant/Rising Case Numbers/Mandate Repeal, Russia Threatens Ukraine, Biden’s Summit for Democracy, Evergrande Defaults, Violent Crime Spike, January 6 Investigation, Social Media/Instagram Testimony, and Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/8). The Omicron coronavirus variant, the rising case numbers in numerous U.S. states, and the Senate’s passing a repeal of Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate; Russia’s continuing military build-up at the Ukraine border; Russia and China criticize Joe Biden’s virtual Summit for Democracy taking place today and tomorrow; Chinese real estate giant Evergrande defaults causing concern of global investors; the violent crime spike in numerous American cities; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and Donald Trump loyalists’ refusal to cooperate; Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri testifies at a Senate hearing on social media and teen safety; and the prosecution rests its case in the trial of Jeffrey Epstein confidant Ghislaine Maxwell were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, May 1, 2017

| May 1, 2017

Fox News Channel Announces Bill Shine’s Exit.  After a weekend of escalating rumors that Fox News Channel would soon replace Bill Shine as co-president of the cable news channel, that came true today as parent company 21st Century Fox, via a statement by executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, accepted Bill Shine’s resignation, although he clearly was asked to resign.  He’s been accused by some of the women involved in recent sexual harassment allegations against FNC management and talent, of enabling Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly.  Earlier today, TALKERS reported that Rupert Murdoch and co-chairmen James and Lachlan Murdoch wanted to fill Shine’s position with a woman.  Today, Fox announces a number of promotions including the elevation of Suzanne Scott to president of programming, Jay Wallace as president of news, and Brian Jones to president Fox Business Network.  Rupert Murdoch is quoted saying, “This is a significant day for all at Fox News.  Bill has played a huge role in building Fox News to its present position as the nation’s biggest and most important cable channel in the history of the industry.  His contribution to our channel and our country will resonate for many years.”  Shine, like Scott and Wallace, have been with FNC since its launch in 1996.  Jack Abernethy, who served with Shine as co-president, remains in his position.  The company says it intends to fill Shine’s co-president position.

Ryan Seacrest to Join Kelly Ripa as Co-Host on ABC’s ‘Live.’  One of the busiest people in show business gets even busier as Ryan Seacrest will add co-host of ABC’s morning talk TV franchise ‘Live’ with Kelly Ripa.  According to a CNN report, Seacrest will not give up any of his other on-air gigs, including his KIIS, Los Angeles and Premiere Networks-syndicated morning radio show.  The story indicates Seacrest will re-locate from LA to New York and will host his radio show from there.  The decision to bring Seacrest aboard comes after about a year of live auditions of guest hosts to replace Michael Strahan.  Seacrest co-hosted with Ripa five times.  The show will now be called, “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”  CNN’s story is here.

Report: Cumulus Reduces Staff in Chicago.  According to a report by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, Cumulus Media has cut a number of positions in the Chicago cluster, including four on-air traffic reporters.  Feder reports that traffic reporters Jen DeSalvo, Christina Filiaggi, JoAnn Genette and Marti Jones have all been let go.  He notes that most of them served as contributing personalities on the shows in which they appeared.   Other cuts at the cluster include: WLS-AM sports reporter Rachel Brady and WLUP-FM evening host Jeremy Peterson, a.k.a. Pyke, and production Scott Dirks, who’d been with WLS-AM for almost 20 years.  Read Feder’s account here.

Is Hugh Hewitt Going to Get a TV Show on MSNBC?  According to a report in New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer column, the Salem Radio Network star and NBC correspondent is in talks with NBC to do a weekend evening program on MSNBC.  The bulk of the NYmag piece addresses how the possibility of Hewitt getting a show, the arrival of Greta Van Susteren from Fox News Channel, and the exit of African American personality Tamron Hall from “Today” is affecting morale among the liberal staff at MSNBC.  Read it here.

Entercom Charlotte Extends Bo Thompson.  Morning show host Bo Thompson and Entercom Charlotte agree to terms on a new contract for him to continue serving as host of the “Charlotte’s Morning News” program on news/talk WBT-AM/FM.  Entercom Charlotte vice president and market manager Matt Hanlon states, “Bo builds on the incredible reputation of WBT as we take our news content to the next level.  He represents the next generation of great broadcasters and we’re happy to continue to work with him as we move WBT into an audio everywhere, multi-platform experience for our listeners.”  Thompson began his career at WBT in 1990 and worked in a variety of roles in radio before returning to WBT as the morning host in 2012.  He comments, “Five years in, I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish with WBT’s ‘Morning News’ and I’m excited about where we are going.  I started my career here and look forward to building the reputation of this iconic institution.”

TALKERS News Notes. The WADK, Newport, Rhode Island-based John DePetro show adds a new affiliate for the daily 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm broadcast as WNRI, Woonsocket, Rhode Island begins airing the program.  DePetro says, “WNRI is a perfect match since WADK covers southern Rhode Island and into parts of Connecticut, and WNRI covers Northern Rhode Island and into parts of Massachusetts.  The show is three months old and we have our first affiliate, so we are moving in the right direction.”…..Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, whose daily talk show is heard on Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta “News 95.5 and AM750 WSB” is taking his show on the road on May 11 to Woodstock, Georgia where he’ll tape the program before a live audience by the Gazebo at The Park at City Center.  The event is free to attend and will include Cain’s popular “Rapid Fire” segment in which he takes questions and comments from the audience and says, “You get a minute…I get a minute.”…..WPHT, Philadelphia afternoon drive personality Rich Zeoli is pictured at right in a screen shot from his phone while broadcasting his show from Berkeley, California while covering the controversial issue of whether conservative author and commentator Ann Coulter should be allowed to speak at UC Berkeley.  Coulter appeared on Zeoli’s program and suggested he cover the issue from Berkeley, so Zeoli hosted his show from sister station KCBS-AM, San Francisco all last week.  Zeoli says he attended protests and grabbed audio cuts from protesters on both sides of the issue for the show.  He also kept his social media followers updated on his coverage via live video on Facebook and Twitter.

Dave Ramsey’s Smart Conference Rolls into Phoenix.  On Saturday (4/29), nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey hosted his Smart Conference before a packed crowd at Comerica Theatre in Phoenix.  The day-long conference included appearances by Rachel Cruze, Chris Hogan, Dr. Les Parrott, Dr. Meg Meeker, Dr. Henry Cloud, Christy Wright, Chris Brown and Anthony Oneal providing attendees with essential information on how to win with money, strengthen their marriages, build parenting skills and excel in their careers.  Local affiliate KTAR-FM “News 92.3 FM” helped promote the event.  Bonneville Phoenix VP of content and operations Ryan Hatch states, “We’re always thrilled when Dave and his team bring their world class events to Phoenix.  Not only does Dave’s radio show continue to draw large audiences on KTAR, his popularity in Phoenix is also evidenced by this year’s Smart Conference selling out in record time.  The Ramsey team is fantastic to work with and we’re proud to call them partners and friends.”  Ramsey is pictured here with some of the KTAR staff: (front row, l-r): Jim Sharpe, Ashley Mannion, Ilene Thompson, (back row): Steve Giunta, Becky Kaiser, Ele Heubner, Ramsey, Gennifer Cartwright, and Linda Black.

KFI, Los Angeles Morning Host Bill Handel Interviewed by Michael Harrison. Longtime KFI, Los Angeles morning drive host Bill Handel guests this week on PodcastOne’s award-winning program, “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison.” The two engage in a fast-paced conversation about political correctness, satire, news/talk radio, ego, social media, surrogate parenting and even Broadway musicals. According to Harrison, “Bill Handel is one of the quirkiest, original thinkers on the air in American radio today – a true, one-of-a-kind performer. His humor is so nuanced and subtle that it takes a keen ear to know when he is kidding and when he is serious – the two tracks run simultaneously. He often offends the people and the groups that he is actually defending. It’s amazing!” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Trump’s First 100 Days, Government Shutdown Threat, North Korean Threats, Trump Spending Bill, Deadly Tornadoes, French Election, and MLB, MBA and NHL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  Assessing the first 100 days of the Trump Administration; the threat of a government shutdown and the passage of a temporary spending bill; the threats against the U.S. by North Korea and the American Naval presence in the region; President Donald Trump’s proposed spending bill; the deadly tornadoes that tore through parts of the South; the French presidential race between National Front party leader Marine Le Pen and En Marche! candidate Emmanuel Macron; and MLB, NBA and NHL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Former WBEN-AM/FM, Buffalo Owner Larry Levite Dies at 77.  Longtime Buffalo station owner Larry Levite has died at the age of 77.  Levite owned Algonquin Broadcasting, the company that owned and operated WBEN-AM/FM in Buffalo in the 1980s and early 1990s.  Levite is credited with turning around the ratings of WBEN-AM when it was a music outlet and it was during his ownership that the station transitioned into a news/talk outlet.  Levite sold the stations to Keymarket Communications in 1994.

 

 

Music Radio News and Career Moves.  Morning show host Chadd Thomas is promoted to program director for Beasley Broadcast Group’s Tampa hot AC WPBB “b98.7”  He will continue in his role as co-host of the “Chadd & Kristi Morning Show.”  He states, “I’m thrilled to serve as program director for our family-fun morning show and our entirely new ‘b98.7!’  I’m looking forward to continue co-hosting with Kristi, my wife and morning show partner.”…..Blaine Thompson’s Indiana Radio Watch reports that music director and midday personality JD Cannon exits Emmis country WLHK, Indianapolis “Hank.”  Prior to joining WLHK, Cannon had spent 32 years at Cumulus Media’s crosstown country WFMS.  Cannon will remain with the station emceeing some “Hank” events and is serving as a fill-in…..At Bell Media’s alternative CIMX, Windsor/Detroit, after a recent exodus of station personalities comes news that 10-year staffer Mark McKenzie is named music director and morning host for the station.  The rest of the on-air staff includes J Stevens in middays, Phat Matt in PM drive and Zak for evenings…..Air personality Lola Montgomery exits Bend Radio Group’s country KSJJ, Bend, Oregon, wrapping a 29-year career in radio.  Montgomery says she and her husband have a number of projects lined up to keep them busy…..At Cox Media Group’s classic rock KHPT, Houston “The Eagle,” morning show team – Dean Myers and Roger Beaty – were honored on Friday, April 28 as it was declared “Dean & Rog Day” in Houston by Mayor Sylvester Turner.  CMG Houston VP and market manager Mark Krieschen comments, “Looking around the country, there are only a handful of major market morning shows with a 20-year track record in the same city.  What Dean and Rog have accomplished today is quite remarkable.”…..Gwendolyn Records country artist Trisha Yearwood appeared at the CBS Radio Culinary Kitchen in Chicago to do a cooking demonstration.  Yearwood is also a Food Network star.  The event was hosted by WUSN “US99” midday personality Drew Walker and took place in front of a live studio audience of approximately 30 guests who won tickets listening to Walker’s program.   From her new line of Williams Sonoma products, Yearwood made “unfried chicken” with her Unfried Chicken Season Kit and her family’s signature cocktail with the Summer in a Cup cocktail mix.  Yearwood and Walker are pictured here on the set of the CBS Radio Culinary Kitchen.

PPM Analysis: Classic Hits/Oldies.  Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of classic hits and oldies-formatted stations based on 6+ data from the March 2017 PPM survey by Nielsen Audio.  Although less than half of the qualifying stations saw their 6+ numbers go up from February to March, iHeartMedia’s WRIT, Milwaukee “95.7 BIG FM” bucks the trend with a whopping 2.5 share jump to an 11.2 share.  “Just about half the stations (49%) on our classic hits-oldies sample are down between February 2017 – March 2017 (6+) while 42.5% improve; the remaining 8.5% of the panel is flat (6+).”  WRIT also was ranked #1 in the market in the March survey, as were seven other classic hits/oldies stations.  See which ones they were in the full report here.