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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

| August 17, 2021

Ramsey Solutions’ Film Borrowed Future Debuts on October 14. The first documentary film from Ramsey Solutions will premiere on digital platforms on October 14. Titled, “Borrowed Future: How Student Loan Debt Is Killing the American Dream,” and produced by Dave Ramsey, it “uncovers the dark side of the student loan industry, exposes how it’s built to work against the 45 million Americans currently in debt for their education, and shows that it’s possible to beat the student loan system.” The film is directed by David DiCicco and features experts such as Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, Seth Frotman, Kristina Ellis, Dr. John Delony and Anthony ONeal, as well as CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, Mike Rowe. The main subjects of the documentary are college graduates who owe between $9,000 and $1 million in student loan debt, a debt-free college graduate, and high schoolers who haven’t yet questioned the norm of student loans. DiCicco says, “This film is a warning for kids and teenagers who aren’t victims of the student loan industry yet. I want viewers to walk away from this film with eyes wide open to the true cost of student loans. Teens need to know that they can have the American Dream — they just shouldn’t listen to America on how to get it.” Dave Ramsey adds, “The student loan problem is out of control, and it’s messed up millions of lives. Smart young people got sucked into a false narrative about what success looks like, and it’s left them paralyzed. It’s time to call the student loan industry what it is: an epic failure.” See more about the film here.

Phil Valentine Update: Family Says He Remains in ‘Grave Condition.’ The status of WWTN-FM, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7” afternoon drive talk host Phil Valentine has not improved as his family provided an update last night (8/16) asking his fans to “pray for a miracle” as he remains in “grave condition.” Valentine contracted COVID-19 in mid-July and initially Valentine told his listeners that while he was pretty sick, he believed he was “on the other side of it.” His family revealed on July 22 that he’d been hospitalized and was eventually put on a ventilator due to his suffering from COVID pneumonia. Although Valentine had expressed concerns over the safety of the vaccines and disagreed with mask mandates, his family says he was never an “anti-vaxxer,” but he does regret not being more “pro-vaccine.” His family is urging his fans to get vaccinated.

Salem Media Group Promotes Jamie Cohen to SVP of Broadcast Digital. Digital media pro Jamie Cohen is promoted to senior vice president, broadcast digital for Salem Media Group. The company says that in his new role he’ll oversee all aspects of the digital operations for Salem’s local and national/network digital efforts. Salem Broadcast Media president David Santrella comments, “Jamie has done a tremendous job building Salem’s digital enterprise for our local stations. Overseeing all aspects of our digital operations, both locally and nationally, will open more channels of opportunity and unify our efforts in reaching our audiences through digital avenues and monetizing our digital assets.” Cohen says, “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and am bullish on our future. With the emergence of platforms like Salem Now, the Salem Podcast Network and other innovations, our audience has never been bigger. We have an amazing opportunity ahead of us and I can’t think of a better place to be.”

Phil Cianciola to Host Mornings on WOSH-AM, Oshkosh. Radio pro Phil Cianciola is named morning drive host for Cumulus Media’s WOSH-AM, Oshkosh, Wisconsin “NewsTalk 1490,” effective August 23. The station says, “It is important for WOSH that we retain a local voice in mornings and provide a show that will be uniquely Oshkosh. We wanted to find someone who would get what Oshkosh and the Valley are all about and would be able to entertain our listeners while also providing the news and community information that matters most. That’s a lot to ask of someone, but we’re confident that Phil fits our needs perfectly.” During his career Cianciola has served at Milwaukee news/talk outlets WISN and WTMJ. He comments, “I believe in LOCAL radio. The magic of radio is the relationships we build with listeners over the air. It’s all I’ve ever done. I guess you could say radio is in my blood.”

Brian Hauswirth Named News Director at KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri. News pro Brian Hauswirth joins Zimmer Communications to serve as news director for news/talk KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri “93.9 The Eagle.” In this role, he becomes the newest member of the “Wake Up Columbia” morning drive program. Zimmer Communications operations manager Jeremy Washington states, “We’re thrilled to have Brian Hauswirth be part of our Zimmer News Network. Brian shares our vision for excellence in broadcasting and will strongly enhance our award-winning local news coverage in Mid-Missouri.” Hauswirth most recently served with Missourinet where he was a senior capitol reporter, covering the Missouri statehouse in Jefferson City. His radio station experience includes time spent working at KMZU, Carrollton; KTRS, St. Louis; and KRES-KWIX, Moberly. In addition to his new role, Hauswirth will continue his 23rd season as a college football scoreboard host at Learfield, where he handles the updates for five major colleges across the nation, including Mizzou, Alabama, Texas Tech, Purdue, and Wyoming.

Audacy and Urban One Enter into Digital Platform Relationship. A content distribution partnership between Audacy and Urban One will put audio from the latter’s 57 stations in 13 markets onto the Audacy digital platform. Audacy VP of business development Corey Podolsky comments, “This partnership underscores our unwavering commitment to amplifying diverse voices and delivering premier audio content to the communities in which we serve. We’re delighted to unite with a power player in the audio space to expand and enhace our content offering and add dozens of dynamic brands to our library.”

iHeartMedia Launches Progressive Podcast Network Cool Zone Media. The launch of Cool Zone Media will highlight “vital voices often overlooked in today’s rapidly changing political landscape,” according to iHeartMedia. The progressive podcast network is being powered by investigative journalist and podcaster Robert Evans. The company says Cool Zone Media will provide an “in-depth look at topics including climate change, the Capitol insurrection, and uncovering QAnon – offering listeners a place unique from others in the political sphere by melding media and politics with storytelling.” The network debuts with the first episode of the new daily podcast, “It Could Happen Here,” that focuses on climate change and picks up where Evans’ 10-episode weekly podcast by the same name left off. Evans, who is serving as the head of content for Cool Zone Media, will be joined by the iHeartPodcast Network’s executive producer, Sophie Lichterman, who will become Cool Zone Media’s head of creative, to help curate and elevate other vital voices in today’s progressive political landscape for the network.

TALKERS News Notes. Canton radio stations WHBC-AM “News/Talk 1480” and WHBC-FM “Mix 94.1” wrapped their 14th Annual Aultcare Wish-a-thon to benefit Wishes Can Happen on Friday August 13 and the Alpha Media outlets helped raise a record $334,928. The charity grants wishes to children with severe and terminal illnesses in Northeast Ohio. The record number was an increase of almost $145,000 over last year’s event, thanks in large part to the many businesses, individuals and foundations who stepped up…..PodcastOne announces it has secured the exclusive sales and distribution rights for B-Real’s “Dr. Greenthumb” podcast and the sales rights to the show in its vodcast form. “Dr. Greenthumb” launched in January of 2020 as a program dedicated to all things entertainment, music, and cannabis and now has more than 300 recorded episodes to date that include guests such as Tommy Chong, George Lopez, Tony Hawk, Matt Barnes, John Sally and Ricky Williams. B-Real says, “PodcastOne has set the bar for what podcasts have become. With their amazing roster of shows, best-in-class distribution and advertising approach, there is no other platform for the ‘Dr. Greenthumb’ podcast. I am excited to partner with Norm Pattiz and the PodcastOne family.”…..Pictured below are staffers from the Audacy Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina operations celebrating their honors from the 2021 State Television and Radio (STAR) Awards presented by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association. News/talk WYRD-FM “106.3 WORD” was honored with four STAR Awards including: Radio Station of the Year, Radio Personality of the Year (Tara Servatius), Best News Talk Show (Tara Servatius), and Production PSA.

Benztown West Coast Commercial Production Director Jeff Kelly Dies at 50. The company announces the untimely death of Jeff Kelly, who had joined Benztown in January as West Coast Commercial Production Director. Kelly passed away unexpectedly on August 13 at the age of 50. He and his fiancé had recently moved to L.A. to work with the Benztown team in its Glendale studios. Benztown president Dave “Chachi” Denes says, “We are deeply saddened we were not able to spend more time with Jeff and we will miss him very much. Jeff was incredibly energized and excited about working for Benztown and his recent move to L.A. from Albuquerque, and his positive attitude and tremendous talents were inspiring. His production, writing and VO skills were among the very best in the business and I am incredibly grateful for his contributions to our company, the Commercial Production Department and YamanAir.”

Biden on Taliban in Afghanistan, COVID-19 Stats & Mandates, New Trump Book, Western Drought/Wildfires, and Newsom Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/16). President Joe Biden defends his Afghanistan pullout amidst the Taliban’s resurgence and the social chaos; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rate of vaccination, and mask mandates for schoolchildren; the new book from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa titled, Peril, that chronicles the final days of the Donald Trump administration; the drought and wildfires plaguing the U.S. West; and the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom heats up were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

| January 20, 2021

Nick Gale Named News Director at WLS-AM, Chicago. Award-winning journalist Nick Gale is promoted to the news director position at Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago. Gale is elevated into the role on the heels of the retirement of news director John Dempsey. Gale also serves as morning drive news anchor, a position in which he’ll continue. During his career, Gale has served as news director at a five-station radio group in LaSalle-Peru, Illinois, as a reporter and anchor at Cox Media Group’s WOKV-AM, Jacksonville, and a reporter with the Illinois Radio Network before joining WLS-AM full time in 2013. WLS program director Stephanie Tichenor says, “There’s a spot in Chicago, below Michigan Ave, where the sun rarely shines, and the conversation is always flowing. It’s the Billy Goat Tavern, a haven for the kings and queens of Chicago print and on-air journalism, and it’s where for the past eight years, Nick Gale has ordered a fried egg sandwich to go as he began the short walk to the NBC Tower to start his news shift at 890 WLS-AM. Nick, like the Billy Goat Tavern, is reliable, relatable, and fulfilling. That is why he’s the perfect person for the news director position at 890 WLS-AM. He is exactly what Chicago news needs right now and I look forward to working with him to enhance our news product for our listeners.” Gale comments, “I have big shoes to fill and look forward to working with our newsroom team in keeping the ‘Big 89’ a place where Chicago can turn to for all the news and information they need through the day. Thank you to Stephanie, Marv [Nyren] and the rest of the management team at Cumulus for the opportunity.”

Emmis Indianapolis Names Taja Graham to Take Over for Bob Richards as Radio Market Manager. Current vice president of sales for Emmis Communications’ Indianapolis radio stations Taja Graham is being promoted to market president effective on March 1. Until that date, Graham will be deputy market manager as she and current market president Bob Richards work together to make the transition. Emmis owns and operates news/talk WIBC-FM, sports talk WFNI-AM “The Fan,” adult contemporary WYXB, and country WLHK-FM. Emmis chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan says, “Bob approached us last year with this plan and strongly endorsed Taja to succeed him in the role. Taja has been a huge part of creating our winning culture at Emmis. Her commitment to building and developing great teams is directly correlated with our top-ranked position in the Indianapolis market. I’m thrilled to see our home-grown talent like Taja succeed and look forward to the impact she will have on our great brands in the years to come.” Richards has been with Emmis for 11 years, the past three-and-a-half years as market manager. Smulyan says of Richards, “I can’t thank Bob enough for his contributions over the past decade and in particular his leadership as market manager. His passion and desire to win have been hallmarks of his leadership and positioned our team for a great future. I wish Bob every success as he charts the course for his next career adventure and thank him for all he’s meant to Emmis.”

USA Radio and Todd Starnes Partner. Author and talk media personality Todd Starnes and USA Radio Networks enter into a partnership for the latter to syndicate Starnes’ eponymous talk radio program and his commentaries. USA Radio assumes this syndication role effective Monday, January 25.

Doug Schoen Joins Newsmax TV as Analyst. Democratic political strategist Doug Schoen is joining Newsmax TV as an analyst. In a press release, Newsmax says, “Schoen, a longtime Democrat who helped shape Bill Clinton’s successful 1996 campaign and who has worked on dozens of major senate and gubernatorial races, will be a regular on Newsmax TV giving vital analysis on the new Biden administration and the national political landscape.” Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy adds, “Doug is a Democrat who plays it fair and square and calls it as he sees it. Since our founding over two decades ago, Newsmax has striven to give our readers and viewers ‘both sides’ and we’re now lucky to have one of the very best joining our roster.” Schoen, who has served as a contributor to FOX News and has been a frequent columnist for Newsmax, comments, “In a short time, Newsmax TV has become one of America’s leading news networks, and I am glad to join such a strong group of news professionals.”

SAG-AFTRA Board Orders Disciplinary Hearing for Donald Trump. The union representing television and radio employees announces that its national board has voted to hold a disciplinary hearing for Donald J. Trump. SAG-AFTRA says that national board “voted overwhelmingly to find probable cause of a violation of SAG-AFTRA’s constitution by member Donald J. Trump and ordered the matter to be heard by SAG-AFTRA’s disciplinary committee as required by the SAG-AFTRA constitution. If found guilty by the committee, possible penalties include reprimand, censure, fines, suspension from the rights and privileges of membership, or expulsion from membership in SAG-AFTRA.” In a press release, SAG-AFTRA says the board acted on charges initiated by national executive director David White at the request of president Gabrielle Carteris. “The charges specifically cite Trump’s role in inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and in sustaining a reckless campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting and ultimately threatening the safety of journalists, many of whom are SAG-AFTRA members. The charges request the imposition of the most severe penalty available to SAG-AFTRA: expulsion from membership.” Carteris comments, “Donald Trump attacked the values that this union holds most sacred – democracy, truth, respect for our fellow Americans of all races and faiths, and the sanctity of the free press. There’s a straight line from his wanton disregard for the truth to the attacks on journalists perpetrated by his followers.”

Programming Changes at Sports Talk ‘Sports Talk 99.5’ in Mobile. Monday (1/25) will see a number of programming changes take place at iHeartMedia’s sports talk WRKH-HD2/W258AY, Mobile “Sports Talk 99.5.” AL.com reports the station’s current morning drive program, “The Randy Kennedy Show” – with co-host Creg Stephenson of AL.com – is moving to the afternoon drive daypart (3:00 pm to 6:00 pm) and debuting in morning drive will be “The Press Box,” hosted by broadcasters Mike Grace, Chris Stewart (the voice of Alabama Crimson Tide basketball and host of  the Nick Saban and Nate Oats TV shows), and J.D. Byars (the voice of the South Alabama Jaguars). Kennedy, who is also program director for the station, says, “We couldn’t be more excited about our new lineup and the opportunity to partner with three tremendously talented and entertaining broadcasters like Mike, Chris and J.D. Creg and I always thought our show was best suited for the afternoon. Now that we have a chance to introduce ‘The Press Box,’ we feel great about the chance to make the move without missing a beat during the morning drive time slot.”

John Skipper and Dan Le Batard Reveal New Firm is Meadowlark Media. According to a piece in The Hollywood Reporter, the new venture from former ESPN president John Skipper and longtime ESPN radio and television personality Dan Le Batard will be called Meadowlark Media. Financing for the new media brand comes from Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, the company behind the DAZN sports streaming service at which Skipper had served as chairman. Skipper tells THR that their first goal is to “to find Dan a new home for his wildly popular audio programs.” Le Batard is quoted in a statement saying, “We hear the term ‘free agency’ a lot, but our fans, as loyal and rabid as any in sports, just gave us the freedom to exert the agency. John Skipper is a visionary, an industry leader and also the most powerful person in sports across the decade when our show rocketed to national acclaim. I can’t wait to see what he builds, and what we build together.”

TALKERS News Notes. Production pro Jeff Kelly is named West Coast commercial production director for Benztown. Kelly was most recently production director for iHeartMedia’s Albuquerque station group where he was honored with nine New Mexico Broadcasters Association Awards over the course of four years…..ESPN Podcasts is launching a new weekly offering, “First Take, Her Take,” featuring three prominent female sports media figures – ESPN’s Charly Arnolt, Kimberley A. Martin, and Chiney Ogwumike. ESPN says the three will discuss “the biggest sports stories but also provide insight into their unique backgrounds and personalities as they delve into other topics about their lives and culture.” Additionally, Jalen Rose and David Jacoby are returning to their podcast roots with the relaunch of “Jalen & Jacoby” as a twice-weekly offering. This is in addition to the podcast version of their daily ESPN TV show…..The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in partnership with the AmerisourceBergen Foundation and iHeartMedia, are launching “Sharing Solutions: A Virtual Nationwide Tour” to drive business-led solutions to the opioid epidemic as more than 40 states report increases in opioid-related mortality amid COVID-19. As part of the campaign, the Foundation and its partners will convene 50 virtual events in 50 states to showcase innovative workforce solutions and support employers as they tackle growing substance misuse in their communities and in the post-COVID workplace. iHeartMedia vice president of strategic partnerships & government initiative Alexandra Cameron says, “As a co-founder of the National Opioid Action Coalition, iHeart has been committed to combating the opioid crisis affecting communities across America. By collaborating closely with the U.S. Chamber Foundation, we are bringing public and private sectors together in this mission, and including pop culture influencers who can bring attention to this important issue.”

Trump’s Final Day in Office/Pardons and Commutations, Trump Impeachment, Biden Inauguration Prep, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Capitol Attack Investigation, and Social Media & Free Speech Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/19). The final day in office for Donald Trump and his issuing of pardons and commutations; the impeachment of Donald Trump; the preparation and security process for today’s inauguration ceremonies for Joe Biden; the number of COVID cases in the U.S., the 400,000 death mark, and the rollout of vaccines; the ongoing investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; and the suspensions and bans of some by social media platforms and the issue of free speech were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.