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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

| August 3, 2021

Townsquare Media 2021 Second Quarter Net Revenue Up 45%. The company releases financial data for the second quarter of 2021 and reports net revenue was $107.3 million, an increase of 45% over the same period in 2020. Townsquare Media says it achieved 99.4% of Q2 2019’s net revenue when excluding Live Events net revenue. Total digital revenue growth was up 36% year over year and contributed approximately 47% of the company’s total net revenue in the first six months of 2021. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “Over the next three years, we expect double-digit digital net revenue growth to continue, fueling the growth of our digital platform from $180 million of revenue (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of June 30, 2021) to $250 million. Most impressively, I am extremely proud to report that Townsquare’s second quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $30.3 million not only exceeded our expectations, our previously stated guidance, and 2019 levels (+1% vs. Q2 2019), but it was also the highest Adjusted EBITDA generated in any single quarter in Townsquare’s history. To accomplish this strong result only one year after the start of the pandemic is a testament to the strength of the Townsquare team, our digital platform and solutions for local businesses, and our careful expense management efforts.” Wilson adds, “As a Digital First Company, our digital revenue and profit growth has accelerated, driving the diversification of our business, total company growth and separation from our local competition. I am incredibly optimistic about Townsquare’s future, and very proud that we are on the path to achieving 2019’s Adjusted EBITDA in 2021, on the verge of a full revenue recovery in 2021, and plan on delivering strong revenue and profit growth in 2022.” Townsquare reports in three segments: Townsquare Interactive – its digital marketing solutions subscription business; Advertising – including broadcast and digital advertising products and solutions; and Live Events – including concerts, expositions and other experiential events. Advertising net revenue for Q2 of this year was $85.9 million, an increase of 50.4% over the same period in 2020. The company also reports net income of $10.1 million compared to the net loss of $28.9 million it posted during the same period a year ago. As of June 30, 2021, Townsquare had a total of $25.1 million of cash and cash equivalents and $550 million of outstanding indebtedness.

Jeff Rickard Named Brand Manager for WEEI, Boston; Ken Laird Promoted to Assistant Brand Manager. Boston sports talk outlet WEEI announces that Jeff Rickard is joining the station as brand manager, effective August 11. Audacy says that in this role, Rickard will oversee content operations for WEEI-FM and the WEEI radio network that spans the New England region. Rickard was most recently PD and morning host at Emmis Communications’ WFNI-AM, Indianapolis. During his career, Rickard spent almost 10 years in Bristol, Connecticut hosting ESPN Radio’s “Gamenight” program and served with Comcast as managing editor and anchor of the Boston-based “Out of Bounds Latenight” show. Rickard has also hosted shows regularly for numerous SiriusXM channels including: NFL Radio, ESPNU, MLB Network Radio, and Mad Dog Sports Radio. He has served as the host of NFL Radio’s “The Sunday Kickoff” during the NFL season for the past five years and is the host of “College Football Overtime” on ESPNU. He says, “Having worked in sports radio for virtually my entire career, I am thrilled to join the team at WEEI. Its rich history is well documented as is the unmatched passion of the Boston sports fan. I’m looking forward to pairing this talented team with fresh, new ideas to both reflect and match that passion.” At the same time, WEEI executive producer Ken Laird is being promoted to assistant brand manager. He’ll continue his role as update anchor and executive producer of the morning drive “Greg Hill Show.”

Ramsey Network Unveils New Podcast, ‘The Fine Print.’ The newest podcast from Ramsey Network is a show that shines a spotlight on the deceptive methods companies, marketers and scammers use to influence money decisions. ‘The Fine Print’ is hosted by Ramsey personality George Kamel and is “a bi-weekly show featuring interviews with experts and industry insiders about the money traps and trends keeping people broke.” Ramsey Solutions CEO and “The Ramsey Show” host Dave Ramsey says, “For 30 years, I’ve heard the pain in people’s voices when they call into the radio show because of a money trap that’s left them in a world of hurt. What if we could prevent that pain by empowering people to avoid the trap in the first place? That’s what ‘The Fine Print’ does. George educates listeners to recognize and steer clear of money minefields so they can be the heroes of their own stories.” Episodes of the podcast include: How TurboTax Is Screwing You; Could Bitcoin Be Your Ticket To Wealth?; The True Cost of Credit Card Rewards; The Dirty Truth Behind Your Credit Score; and How the Robinhood App Steals from the Rich AND the Poor. Find out more here.

LiveXLive and PodcastOne Announces Podcast Competition. This competition is called “Self Made Podcast Edition” and is “an audio competition to find the next big podcast star for PodcastOne.” The company says the competition will be driven by fans and PodcastOne’s panel of judges, as they listen to see who will take the top prize, a podcasting contract with PodcastOne and a total package worth over $100,000 including promotion across the network which features a roster of celebrity podcasters, including Adam Carolla, Kaitlyn Bristowe, Barbara Schroeder, Michael Irvin, and Jordan Harbinger.” The contest kicks off today (8/3) and is open to amateur podcasters only. The winner of “Self Made Podcast Edition” will be crowned on September 30, 2021 – International Podcast Day. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “There are so many wonderfully creative and innovative podcasters out there. We’re excited to be able to offer someone the opportunity to make their dreams of becoming a self-made podcast host come true.” Learn more here.

SiriusXM to Unveil Lucille Ball’s ‘Lost’ Radio Show on New Channel. The legendary comedienne is the star of the new SiriusXM channel called, “Let’s Talk to Lucy,” named after her 1960s CBS Radio program. SiriusXM says, “In between starring in four television series and more than 70 films, Lucy would frequently jump from set to set, tape recorder in hand, and talk about all aspects of life with some of the biggest names in Hollywood history, including Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Carol Burnett, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and dozens more. These recordings eventually made it onto air when CBS Radio broadcast them as ‘Let’s Talk to Lucy’ from 1964-1965. However, for the last 50-plus years they’ve never been heard publicly again – until now.” Ball’s daughter Lucy Arnaz says, “Although I have been care-taking these ancient tapes for over 30 years, I had never really listened to them all and had no idea how many remarkable people Mom had talked to on these radio shows. It’s a treasure trove of personal information from some of the greatest talents of American entertainment and my family and I can’t wait to share them with the rest of the planet.”

TALKERS News Notes. Tomorrow evening (8/4), a debate among a number of the candidates running to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom in the September 14 recall election will will take place and Salem Radio Network is distributing the event nationally. It’s taking place from 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm ET at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California. SRN host Hugh Hewitt – who serves as president of the Richard Nixon Foundation – will moderate the debate along with panelists Christine Devine and Elex Michaelson of KTTV-TV, Los Angeles “FOX 11 News” and former U.S. National Security Adviser Ambassador Robert C. O’Brien. Special radio coverage will be anchored by KRLA, Los Angeles morning host Jennifer Horn and KRLA news anchor Larry Marino. SRN host and candidate Larry Elder is declining to take part saying his goal is “defeating Gavin Newsom not appearing in a circular firing squad with other Republicans.”…..Westwood One is expanding the role of sports media pro Rich Eisen within the network to include pregame and halftime hosting duties for “Monday Night Football on Westwood One.” The Monday night schedule kicks off on September 13, when the Baltimore Ravens visit the Las Vegas Raiders and concludes on January 3, 2022, when the Cleveland Browns battle the Pittsburgh Steelers. Eisen says, “‘Monday Night Football on Westwood One’ is one of the greatest hosting gigs in broadcasting and I’m honored to have the seat. The fact that I can expand my partnership with Westwood One beyond my daily show and podcast platform by talking even more football thrills me to no end.”…..The application window for programming candidates interested in applying to the “Elevating Women in Audio: MIW & BDSradio Mentorship” is being extended through Tuesday, August 10.  The “Elevating Women in Audio: MIW & BDSradio Mentorship” program is a year-long experience for women in music programming, provided by Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio and MRC Data (formerly Nielsen Music). Personalized conversations with the best programming minds in the business are geared to help advance a career within the radio/audio industry. Additionally, the mentee receives a scholarship to attend Radio Show 2021 this October in Las Vegas. The mentorship is available to one female brand manager, content/program director, assistant program director, and/or music director from any U.S. based music format. To apply, click here…..The popular finance and investing podcast “Pennies: Going in Raw,” hosted by Hugh Henne and Dan, the Deity of Dips, is now a part of the iHeartPodcast Network. iHeartMedia says, “With more than 2.3 million downloads, the podcast takes an exciting and informative spin on stock market topics like day trading strategies, volume, price targets, penny stocks, accumulation, reverse splits and much more. The show also features a range of guests from young, successful traders to the leaders of multi-billion-dollar companies, such as Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph, and CEO and founder of HimsAndrew Dudman…..Today through Thursday, WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive talk host Simon Conway (left) is pulling double duty as he fills in for Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo (right) on his Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated program. Conway’s WHO show is also heard on iHeartMedia’s WMT, Cedar Rapids and WOC, Davenport, Iowa…..iHeartMedia Pittsburgh’s Steelers Radio Network announces changes to its broadcast team. As part of the changes, Craig Wolfley, a former Steelers offensive lineman who has served as a sideline analyst on the Steelers game day broadcast since 2002, will join play-by-play announcer Bill Hillgrove in the broadcast booth as color analyst. Wolfley takes over for Tunch Ilkin, who retired after 23 seasons in the booth. Former Steelers offensive lineman Max Starks is joining Missi Matthews for sideline reports. He recently served as a sideline reporter for Westwood One. Starks will also join Wolfley as co-host of “In The Locker Room, Presented By Neighborhood Ford Store,” a daily, in-season radio program airing on Steelers Nation Radio.

COVID-19 Delta Variant and Masks, Eviction Ban Expires, January 6 Investigation, Voting Rights, Southern Border Policy, Infrastructure Bill, and Olympics Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/2). The rising rate of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in the U.S. and abroad and the issue of mask mandates; the White House puts the onus on states as the federal ban on evictions expires; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the suicide of Capitol police officer Kyle DeFreytag; today’s planned DC rally supporting the For the People voting rights bill; the Biden administration continues the Trump administration policy of deporting illegal migrants; the $1 trillion bi-partisan infrastructure bill; and Simone Biles returns to the Olympics to win bronze in the balance beam were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

| May 18, 2021

Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM, Washington Names Larry O’Connor Morning Drive Host: Vince Coglianese Moves to PM Drive. Washington, DC news/talk WMAL-FM is revamping its lineup in the wake of the departure of morning drive personality Mary Walter and the February death of Rush Limbaugh. Effective Monday (5/24), WMAL-FM personality Larry O’Connor moves from afternoons to mornings to host the new “O’Connor & Company” program. Current morning drive host Vince Coglianese will move to afternoon drive and, as previously announced, Westwood One syndicated talk host Dan Bongino assumes the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. Cumulus Media VP of news/talk and WMAL program director Bill Hess says, “Having Larry and Vince in these new roles, along with the launch of ‘The Dan Bongino Show’ and the continued strength of Chris Plante, sets WMAL up perfectly for the next stage in the station’s success.” O’Connor comments, “I’m thrilled to return to mornings on WMAL in Washington, where my career began nine years ago. Four years after creating the first live and local afternoon drive program on the station since 2001, it truly feels like coming home and I can’t wait to be a part of the morning commute for families across the Mid-Atlantic and in the Nation’s Capital. I appreciate the confidence that Bill Hess and [Cumulus EVP of operations] Dave Milner have in me and I am thrilled to work together to continue Cumulus’ great success at this historic station.”

Round One of April PPM Ratings Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s April 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 April 2021 sweep covered April 1 – 28. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. iHeartMedia’s New York news/talk WOR-AM drops three-tenths to finish the survey with 2.0 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and the #19 rank while Audacy’s crosstown sports talk WFAN adds seven-tenths for a 3.1 share finish and the #12 rank. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI is steady with a 5.7 share and remains ranked #2. Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM, Chicago is basically flat, falling one-tenth to a 3.4 share and stays in the #9 rank. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways here.

Salem Media Group Partners Grant Stinchfield with Jenn Horn on SoCal Signals.  Media personality Grant Stinchfield is joining Salem Media Group’s Southern California news/talk stations as co-host of the “The Morning Answer” alongside Jennifer Horn. The company says that after an “extensive and exhilarating months-long search,” Stinchfield – who also hosts a daily program on Newsmax TV – will work with Horn on KRLA-AM, Los Angeles and KTIE, Riverside-San Bernardino beginning today (5/18). KRLA and KTIE director of programming Chuck Tyler says, “Good things come to those that wait. We put Jennifer Horn through the ringer, as we tried out numerous co-hosts for this plumb assignment, having a number of world-class talk radio candidates. It took us five months. The good news is Jennifer survived, and we found an amazing new partner for her!” Salem SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce adds, “Grant is a true gem. He is smart, funny, and knows his stuff. His chemistry with Jennifer makes the morning show sizzle. We are delighted to add him to the team.” Stinchfield says about his new gig, “It is an honor to be chosen to be an important voice for millions of Californians who cherish liberty and freedom in a state that is quickly being controlled by big bureaucracy and government. I can’t think of a more important area of the country that needs common sense straight talk than Southern California. My goal is to simply strengthen the tireless fight AM 870 and AM 590 are already waging against the enemies of freedom, capitalism, and democracy.”

NYPost: Boomer & Gio Ink New Deals with WFAN. According to a report in the New York Post, morning show hosts Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti have both signed new contracts with Audacy’s sports talk WFAN, New York. The story indicates that the deals run through 2023. The story also says – citing Nielsen Audio’s April PPM survey data – that Boomer & Gio “maintained their No. 1 overall spot in the market while ESPN [WEPN-FM] was tied for 9th (3.5).”

Bold Gold Broadcast and Media Foundation Sets November 19 for Annual Dinner Event. The 6th Annual Bold Gold Broadcast and Media Foundation Event & Dinner is taking place on November 19, 2021 at Mohegan Sun Pocono Grand Ballroom. Bold Gold Media founder and CEO Vince Benedetto tells his staff, “I’m thrilled to report that this year we will be having our 6th Annual Event on the evening of Friday, November 19 at our usual location in the Mohegan Sun Pocono Grand Ballroom! I am also extremely excited to report that I was able to secure an incredible speaker! Andrew Roberts, international best-selling author and Winston Churchill Scholar will be our keynote speaker. Andrew is author of the 2018 best seller, Winston Churchill:  Walking With Destiny.”

New Mask Guidance Controversy, COVID Vaccines, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, AZ Vote Audit, SCOTUS to Hear Abortion Case, and Matt Gaetz Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/17). The confusion over the CDC’s about-face on mask guidance for fully vaccinated Americans; the falling COVID cases in the U.S. and concerns about vaccine hesitancy; the battle between Israeli and Hamas forces in Gaza; the election audit in Maricopa County, Arizona and the Republicans continuing to promote the “stolen election” theory; the Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments over the Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks; and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz’s former friend Joel Greenberg pleads guilty to six felonies and agrees to cooperate with prosecutors were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

| December 8, 2020

Howard Stern Signs Renewal with SiriusXM for Five More Years. During previous investor conference calls, outgoing SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer said he believed Howard Stern and SiriusXM would come to terms on a new deal and today’s announcement bears that out. Under the new agreement, Stern will continue to produce and host “The Howard Stern Show” exclusively for SiriusXM for the next five years, and the Howard Stern archive of audio and video will continue to be licensed to SiriusXM for an additional seven years. Stern says, “Fifteen years ago, I joined SiriusXM, a fledgling group of broadcasters. I had been in a toxic relationship with terrestrial radio. And no matter how well I treated the medium, no matter how successful I made them, they abused me. Going to SiriusXM liberated me. I felt like Tina Turner freeing myself from Ike. And despite the naysayers and the ridicule, we have persevered, and are thriving. I’ve been proven right about satellite radio over and over again. With this contract renewal, I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be right about. Certainly, I have a lot more to say about Metamucil crackers and stepmom porn. Plus, now that I can work from home, I simply don’t have an excuse to quit.” Meyer says, “As the leading audio entertainment company, we couldn’t be happier to have Howard, the leading host in all of radio and audio, continue to make SiriusXM the home for his show, channels, and archives while at the peak of his broadcasting career. Howard’s home has been SiriusXM and it will remain that way, but we’ve expanded SiriusXM in recent years too, and we are excited about finding the right ways that select content from Howard can find audiences on additional platforms. May I add, I consider Howard a close friend and look forward to listening to him for years to come.”

Ron St. Pierre Out at iHeartMedia’s WHJJ, Providence; Jim Polito Takes Over Morning Show. Longtime Providence air personality and programmer Ron St. Pierre has exited iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence where he hosted the morning drive show. Filling the programming gap is WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based morning personality Jim Polito. In 2016, iHeartMedia dropped the local morning show hosted by Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan on WHYN-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts and began simulcasting Polito’s show there. The WHJJ move puts the Jim Polito show in three of iHeartMedia’s New England markets.

Salem’s KRLA and KTIE Cut Ties with Brian Whitman. Southern California radio pro Brian Whitman exits Salem Media Group’s morning drive show “The Morning Answer” that he co-hosted with Jennifer Horn that was simulcast on KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino. Whitman shared the news on his Facebook page on Friday (12/4). He wrote, “I was provided the following from folks at Salem/KRLA this morning. The announcement was sent by the general manager to their kind and hardworking staff, making this news public. I’ll have very personal thoughts to share with members of the ‘Morning Answer Listening Family’ (as I came to know and regard you over many years) very soon. It will be in this space at a time that is more appropriate and comfortable. With all of my love and with the warmest gratitude for every moment that we’ve shared together, I offer words that I know fall far short of my heart’s sentiment. Thank you, thank you, thank you guys.” The message from management was as follows: “After eight years hosting ‘The Morning Answer,’ Brian Whitman will no longer be with us. We wish Brian all the best in the future. Chuck [Tyler] and I echo Phil Boyce who said, “Brian has been a hard-working and extremely talented employee for us for many years. We will always cherish his friendship, and our opportunity to work together at KRLA and KTIE.” Whitman was the liberal counterpart to conservative Horn.

Hubbard Radio Drops Sports Talker Chris Rongey; Re-Aligns Host Lineup. According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar, afternoon drive sports talk personality Chris Rongey has been let go from Hubbard Radio’s WXOS-FM, St. Louis. Rongey had been part of “The Fast Lane” afternoon show since replacing D’Marco Farr in 2017. The station moves midday host Jamie Rivers into afternoons alongside Anthony Stalter and Brad Thompson and promotes Alex Farrario to the midday show co-hosting with Brandon Kiley.

Talk Radio Host Michael Berry’s Good Month Includes Raising $1.3 Million for PTSD Foundation. KRTH, Houston-based, nationally syndicated talk host Michael Berry had a very good month in which his program helped raise $1.3 million for Camp Hope, the residential treatment center run by the PTSD Foundation of America, of which Berry is the national spokesman. The organization was laying off staff, including the vital folks who counsel suicidal veterans who struggle with re-integration after war. Berry teamed up with sponsor Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture chain, to raise funds. During the whole of 2020, Berry’s efforts have raised $3 million for the organization, almost its entire budget. Additionally, Berry made national news on Monday (12/7) for his interview with Houston-based Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue, during which Unanue said he gave U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez the company’s “employee of the month” award. This came after Ocasio Cortez called for a boycott on Goya products because Unanue publicly praised President Trump. However, Unanue says the boycott call produced a counter-protest in which supporters flocked to buy Goya goods. On top of that, Berry has added new affiliates, WPNN, Pensacola, Florida, and KNUW, Silver City, New Mexico and hopes to roll out seven new affiliates before the New Year. In case you missed it, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian profiled Berry back in October. Read it here.

PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. The Nielsen Audio PPM ratings survey in the month prior to the November election (October 8 – November 4) was not as generous to sports talk radio stations as it was to news/talk, still TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian reports that 46% of sports talkers were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the October 2020 survey. Gainers from October to November were led by RadiOhio’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “97.1 The Fan” (+0.7, 6.2 share) and Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville (+0.7, 6.0 share). Due to the pandemic’s effect on live sports, year-over-year comparisons have not been kind to the sports talk format and November 2019 to November 2020 is not different. 68% of sports talk outlets in PPM markets were down. However, 23% of stations gained with Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas leading the pack (+1.6, 2.8 share). While no sports talkers claimed the #1 rank in their market during the November survey, iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis came close, posting a 7.6 share good for the #2 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

WJR, Detroit News Director Dick Haefner to Retire. After a 51-year career in radio news, WJR, Detroit news director Dick Haefner is retiring. Haefner, an award-winning newscaster, reporter, and news director, has been WJR news director since 1989. Cumulus Media says that “his tenure is unmatched by any other Detroit broadcast news director. He is one of the most recognizable news voices in his hometown of Detroit, signing on to radio news in 1969 and signing off on December 11, 2020, Haefner’s last day on-air.” The company goes on to note that “under Haefner’s leadership, WJR News has been honored with nearly every national and local news award in the broadcast business, including: the Peabody Award, Associated Press national award for Best Broadcast Reporting, Edward R. Murrow Awards, and numerous state news awards… Some of Haefner’s projects have changed laws. A series on suburban toxic waste dumps resulted in tighter rules for handling waste. An investigation of fraud at gas stations brought about new regulations on service station inspections and fuel hauling, and even changed the way the IRS taxes the fuel hauling industry. Among the biggest stories Haefner has broken are Coleman Young’s baby, the Nancy KerriganTonya Harding incident heard around the world, and Detroit’s two side-by-side sports stadiums.” Haefner comments, “Anything I may have accomplished is because of other people, my wife Judy, and my family who allowed me to pursue adventures in broadcast news, and especially my co-workers. My most important job was to put them in position to do their best work. What they accomplished every day is my greatest reward. I have had the best job in Detroit radio news for almost 32 years. I’m the luckiest person I know.”

Susan O’Connell Retires from Compass Media Networks; Robert Blum Rises to Senior Manager of Affiliate Sales. Affiliate sales pro Susan O’Connell is retiring from her position as vice president of news/talk affiliate sales with Compass Media Networks, effective December 31. At the same time, the company announces that Robert Blum – a Compass Media staffer since 2011 – is being promoted to senior manager of affiliate sales for news/talk/sports. O’Connell has been in the news/talk affiliate sales business for the past 40 years, the last six with Compass Media. She previously served with the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, ABC Radio Networks, CBS News, and the Progressive Radio Network. She comments, “The best part of my job has always been working with great broadcasters. Thank you all for sharing your time, talent, and friendship over the years. Compass Media Networks was the perfect place to wind up. Representing our stellar news/talk lineup and being part of this team has been an honor and a privilege.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “Susan is a total superstar, friend, and treasured colleague. Through hard work, perseverance, and cunning, Susan established Compass Media Networks as a dominant player in news/talk programming with over 750 leading news/talk stations airing over a dozen hours of our daily, live, and original news-talk programming.”

COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Trump Challenges, Biden Transition, Stimulus Package, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pornhub Allegations, and Presidential Pardons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/7). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the pleas from authorities to follow mask and gathering mandates, and the status of vaccines; Donald Trump continues legal challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues his administration’s transition; the debate in Congress over a new stimulus package; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the allegations that porn giant Pornhub has promoted underage actors; and reports of Donald Trump’s pardon plans were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro and urban media personality Charlamagne Tha God, a.k.a. Lenard McKelvey, and iHeartMedia renew and extend their relationship. The deal means the co-host of the WWPR, New York “Power 105.1”-based, nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” will continue to work with iHeartMedia for the next five years.  He says, “I give my sincerest thanks to iHeart for empowering me over the past decade to be the best talent that I can be, and for honoring me as an owner and executive. I love the audio business and iHeart is the biggest and best audio company in the world. As co-founder and chief creative officer of the Black Effect Podcast Network and now senior creative officer of cultural content and programming at iHeart, all I want to do for the next five years is continue to move the culture of radio and podcasting forward by curating a new era of voices, programming, and events. GOD IS GREAT! Now, it’s time to get back to work.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

| September 22, 2020

Interesting News from 77WABC on Both the Political and Musical Fronts.  New York City-based businessman and radio broadcaster John Catsimatidis, whose Red Apple Media acquired news/talk station WABC late last year, tells TALKERS that he is thinking about running for mayor of the Big Apple next year and that the heritage outlet is considering adding more musical programming to its weekend lineup to accompany the recent hiring of legendary disc jockey “Cousin” Bruce Morrow as host of a three-hour Saturday night program.  In an exclusive interview with both men conducted by TALKERS founder Michael Harrison this morning (9/22), Catsimatidis and Morrow were in agreement that weekends are a good time to take a break from the stress and negativity of politics in favor of enjoying the fun and escape of music and non-combative entertainment. Catsimatidis, who also hosts his own weekend political talk show, stated, “Saturday nights, Sunday nights and Friday nights are for relaxing – not for headaches. Politics has gotten too serious and everyone is at each other’s throats. That’s wrong! We’re going to be bringing in more people, subject to Cousin Brucie’s approval, to do more music on WABC – especially on weekends.” Catsimatidis, who ran for mayor of New York in 2013 as a moderate Republican, was the runner-up in that year’s GOP primary. He tells Harrison, “On my radio show I have liberals and I have conservative guests. I have Republicans and I have Democrats. Some of my best friends are Democrats and consider me a Democrat. If I decide to run for mayor next year, I will try to do it on the ‘fusion’ ticket and not necessarily on any party line.” The entire conversation between Harrison, Morrow, and Catsimatidis will be posted on next week’s installment of “The Michael Harrison Interview” podcast and portions of it will appear on this coming weekend’s edition of “The Michael Harrison Wrap” radio show.

Talker Chris Stigall Returns KCMO-AM, Kansas City to Host Late Morning Show. After being away from the Kansas City talk radio audience for 10 years, talk radio host Chris Stigall is returning to the air in the market on Cumulus Media’s KCMO-AM for the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot, beginning today (9/22). Stigall hosted the morning show on KCMO from 2006 through 2010, prior to joining WPHT, Philadelphia. Stigall has been the morning drive personality on Salem Media Group’s WNTP, Philadelphia “AM 990 The Answer” since last fall and he’ll continue in the role. Cumulus Kansas City regional vice president and market manager Donna Baker says, “[Program director and morning host] Pete Mundo has established ‘KCMO Mornings’ as the trusted local talk radio destination for daily issues that affect our Kansas City community. His idea to welcome Chris Stigall back to continue the local dialogue with KCMO listeners from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon is a brilliant addition to this iconic station.” Stigall comments, “You can move away from Kansas City, but anyone who’s born and raised here knows Kansas City is always in your heart. Most of my family and closest friends still call it home. It’s been a while, but like any good friend, the audience of KCMO Talk Radio and I go way back, and we’ll pick up right where we left off.”

Crossover Media Group Adds ‘Just Ask the Question’ to Podcast Portfolio. The podcast featuring White House reporter Brian Karem, “Just Ask the Question,” joins the growing podcast portfolio of cross-platform content-production and advertising-sales representation firm Crossover Media Group Sales. As you may recall, Karem – who writes for Playboy and has frequently appeared on CNN – rose to greater prominence recently when the Trump Administration attempted, unsuccessfully, to pull his White House press pass. Crossover Media Group will drive advertising sales and promote and increase distribution for the podcast, that features interviews with guests in the news and offers special insights to the news, with guests such as author Mary Trump; biotech executive and vaccine expert Dr. Stephen Hoffman; retired former Montgomery County, Maryland, police chief Tom Manger; intelligence analyst Naveed Jamali; various senators and representatives; and even comedians Kathy Griffin and Carl Reiner. Crossover Media Group Sales managing member Sue Freund says, “The idea of the podcast is to engage people about real issues on a substantive level. At the same time, we want to engage listeners and blow your mind. Brian is famously fearless in pushing for answers and facts and holding elected officials accountable. Adding ‘Just Ask the Question’ rounds out our growing roster of content in the news and political and issues talk arena which now includes ‘CBS News on the Hour,’ John Solomon’s ‘Just the News,’ David Shuster’s ‘Quick Hits’ and shows hosted by popular talk personalities Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann.

Hillary Clinton Podcast Series Announced by iHeartMedia. The former First Lady, Secretary of State, and U.S. Senator is hosting a 24-episode podcast series on the iHeartPodcast Network titled, “You and Me Both with Hillary Clinton,” that debuts on September 29. The program will feature candid interviews with guests from a wide range of backgrounds including: Sarah Cooper, Gloria Steinem, Stacey Abrams, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, Samin Nosrat, Patton Oswald, Tan France, and more. Clinton says, “I’m excited to bring these eye-opening, powerful, sometimes hilarious conversations to the forefront and open up new avenues of discussion with some of the people I find most fascinating. This podcast is a chance to talk about subjects that are too often overlooked and share the inspiration and education I’ve gotten from my guests.”

WFNZ, Charlotte Producer and APD Mark Seidel Passes at 37. News of the death of WFNZ, Charlotte producer and assistant program director Mark Seidel at age 37 from an apparent heart attack was shared by WFNZ staffer Travis Hancock who tweeted, “With much sadness I say RIP to our WFNZ brother Mark Seidel. I’m heartbroken. We were HS classmates. We crossed paths again when he got into radio in 07. He was a gentle soul who I have never heard a person say a bad word about. He deserved a long and happy life. We are crushed.”

SCOTUS Nominee Battle, the Presidential Race/Mail-In Voting, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/CDC Flip Flop, Back to School Woes, Western Wildfires, and Tropical Storm Beta Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/21). Republicans’ vow to move ahead with a Supreme Court nominee in the aftermath of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg; the November presidential election and the debate over the veracity of mail-in voting; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for future cases, and the controversy over the CDC’s flip-flopping on posting that transmission via aerosol is likely; the struggles families are facing returning to school and the related college outbreaks; the wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington; and Tropical Storm Beta flood threats were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. Dallas sports talk outlet KTCK-AM/FM “Sportsradio 96.7 and 1310 The Ticket” announces it helped raise more than $122,000 for Dallas-area children during its 2nd annual “Donnie’s DFW Domino Classic” held over the Labor Day weekend. The Cumulus Media station says all proceeds go to Dallas charitable organization, AT LAST! Boarding, which helps underprivileged children get a quality education. This year’s event was hosted by Donovan Lewis, co-host of The Ticket’s “The Norm and D Invasion” and included an online car raffle and virtual dominoes tournament…..Cadence13 and Entercom are partnering with Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author Tim Weiner, Jigsaw Productions and Prologue Projects for “Whirlwind” – a 10-part original documentary podcast franchise that tells the story of the 75-year battle between the US and Russia. The series builds off Weiner’s book, The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia, and Political Warfare: 1945-2020 (Henry Holt, 2020) and offers a deep-dive into a world of secrets, brought to life through focused, intimate interviews with people who have operated inside of it…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and Imperative Entertainment today premiere the first English and Spanish language podcasts, “The Red Note” and “La Nota Roja,” that is also to become a documentary feature film. The 10-episode podcast series are hosted by investigative journalist Lydia Cacho and examine the Juarez femicides that have taken the lives of thousands of women over the past 25 years…..KQED announces a new, five-part limited podcast series on the California housing crisis that will be hosted by KQED’s housing affordability reporters Molly Solomon and Erin Baldassari. “SOLD OUT: Rethinking Housing in America” reimagines what housing can be by examining California, the epicenter of the nation’s housing affordability crisis. KQED says, “Solomon and Baldassari introduce us to people experiencing homelessness and the activists pushing city leaders to de-commodify housing. They talk with builders hacking traditional construction methods to build more homes faster and policy experts who believe housing can be a form of reparations that gives Black Americans the same opportunity that white Americans have always had in this country.”…..SiriusXM extends its collaboration with superstar Kevin Hart and Laugh Out Loud. Under the new deal, Hart will host new regular and live programs on his SiriusXM channel, Laugh Out Loud Radio, while expanding SiriusXM’s relationship with LOL to include a slate of additional comedic programming spanning radio shows, podcasts, and on-demand video that will be distributed across the SiriusXM ecosystem…..Pictured below is new Salem Radio Network talk host Charlie Kirk (right) in the KRLA, Los Angeles studios with SRN videographer Ethan Tradup (left) as he records a series of marketing videos for his new SRN talk program “The Charlie Kirk Show.” Kirk is the founder of the conservative student group Turning Point USA. His program premieres on October 5. See a video here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Tulsa, programming pro Abby Jessen is named the new director of branding and programming for Cox Media Group’s hot AC KRAV-FM “Mix 96.5.” She comes to Tulsa from CMG’s Athens, Georgia operations where she held a similar position. CMG Tulsa market vice president Cathy Gunther says, “At CMG, we’ve always said that we win with our people and it’s led to the creation and longevity of our market-leading products. Bringing Abby onto our team will continue to give us an advantage over our competitors and help us further elevate our award-winning content.”…..iHeartMedia announces that the 2020 iHeartCountry Festival Presented by Capital One, originally scheduled for May 2 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, will now be a virtual streaming and on-air radio special on October 23. The seventh annual event will feature performances from Dierks Bentley, Lady A, Sam Hunt, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini, Dustin Lynch, Jon Pardi, Riley Green, Morgan Evans and Gabby Barrett and a guest appearance by Bobby Bones. The program is being  recorded live on one stage in Nashville and will stream exclusively on LiveXLive and be broadcast live across iHeartMedia’s country music radio stations in local markets and at iHeartRadio.com on October 23 at 7:00 pm CT…..Beasley Media Group’s classic rock WCSX, Detroit is producing a special, 12-week program titled, “Seger Saturdays” that will air Saturdays at 9:00 am beginning October 3. WCSX says the new program – hosted by morning show personality Big Jim O’Brien – will highlight the incredible legacy of Detroit’s iconic rocker, Bob Seger and will feature a full hour of music, interviews, special guests, and storytelling relating to Bob’s Hall of Fame career. Beasley Media Detroit director of programming Scott Jameson says, “Bob Seger is revered in Detroit, so we’re taking our listeners beyond the music, sharing stories about the people and events that shaped his legendary career. Listeners can expect to hear all the great Seger classics along with a behind-the-scenes view of Bob’s inner circle.”…..After six years of live concerts at Tysons Corner Center, the “WGTS 91.9 Summer Concert Series” from Atlantic Gateway Communications’ Christian contemporary WGTS moved to a virtual format.  The band Unspoken was to have performed from the mall but instead, WGTS morning show hosts Jerry Woods and Blanca Vega tossed it to Unspoken at the Sound Kitchen studios in Franklin, Tennessee for the show. Afternoon show hosts Johnny and Stacey Stone picked things up from the WGTS video studios interviewing Unspoken and taking live questions from listeners. Jerry Woods says, “This definitely was the next best thing to having them in person. Using the Streamyard video platform we were able to put live listener comments up on the screen and the band immediately reacted to listeners. This added a whole new dimension to the live broadcast.” More than 10,000 listeners from coast to coast and countries around the world viewed the webcast.

Friday, June 10, 2020

| July 10, 2020

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 on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM in Washington, DC.  This new episode titled, “Statues, Statutes, Face Masks and Facebook!” looks back at this past week of July 6 – July 10, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS;  Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Jim Bohannon, talk show host, Westwood OneJennifer Horn, talk show host, Salem Media Group / VP, CRN Digital TalkJamie Metzl, consultant, World Health Organization; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio 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 WRKO, Boston; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; 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; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio in 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.

Westwood One News to Cease Operations on August 30. TALKERS magazine has learned that Westwood One News affiliates have been notified that the company will cease operations of the Westwood One News service after the 11:30 pm newscast on Sunday, August 30 due to “extraordinary circumstances in the current marketplace.” In the memo, Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes states, “As you can imagine, this was an extraordinarily difficult decision not only given the strength and quality of our award-winning news product, but also the depth and experience of the impeccable Westwood One News team.” Westwood One EVP Bart Tessler adds, “Thank you to our 962 stations and the Westwood One affiliate sales team. It has been a pleasure leading this division of great broadcast journalists. In just 5 and ½ years, Westwood One News went from launch to winners of leading industry honors, including Edward R Murrow, Sigma Del Chi, National Headliner, New York Radio Festivals, and Golden Mike awards. We are very proud of the coverage and programming we provided, as well as your support and participation in our success.” The memo further adds that “Westwood One remains enthusiastically committed to our strong portfolio of talk personalities including Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro, Michael Savage, Jim Bohannon, Chris Plante, Dan Bongino, Clark Howard, and Red Eye Radio.”

Outer Banks Rocker WZPR-FM Flips to Talk. WZPR-FM, Nags Head, North Carolina will flip from classic rock to news/talk, effective July 13. Station owner Jam Media Solutions says the station will feature a live and local morning drive show called “The OBX Today” hosted by Sam Walker. He says, “I’m excited to be able to bring to the Outer Banks a news-oriented radio show every morning that will be able to expand on our coverage at OBXToday.com of what’s happening not only locally, but across all of North Carolina.” The rest of the lineup includes: FOX News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade, Westwood One’s Chris Plante and Ben Shapiro, The Dave Ramsey Show, Ramsey SolutionsKen Coleman, and WWO’s “Red Eye Radio.” Jam Media Solutions owner Jonathan Mason adds, “We are very excited to introduce the all-new, news/talk WZPR to the Outer Banks. We believe it is exactly what the market needs. Our on air lineup will be informative and engaging from the time you get up to the time you go to bed.”

Midway Broadcasting Announces Launch of VON-tv. The acquisition of an OTT digital streaming platform by Midway Broadcasting Corporation gives the company a video component when it launches VON-tv in August. Midway says VON-tv “will deliver culturally relevant content to its new television audience. With the launch of VON-tv, the company will conduct a nationwide search for a new morning host. The newly designed live morning show will originate from Chicago and will be simulcast on VON-tv and WVON Radio.” Midway chair and CEO Melody Spann Cooper comments, “We are excited to be in the digital space, originating from our hometown of Chicago. Having earned a reputation for cultivating nationally recognized programs and talent, Midway Broadcasting Company will continue to use its expanding platforms to showcase the many voices throughout Black America.”

Round Three of June PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s June 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen’s June 2020 survey period covered May 21 – June 17. You can see all the 6+ ratings info from subscribing stations here. Additionally, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ratings Takeaways” from this batch of markets. In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM inches up four-tenths to finish ranked #3 with a 6.4 share. Entercom’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte sheds three-tenths to finish with a 6.0 share and the #4 rank. iHeartMedia’s WOAI, San Antonio loses six-tenths to wrap June with a 6.5 share and the #2 rank in the market. Although dropping a half share for an 8.9 share finish, iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento remains ranked #1 in the market. As the result of Bonneville news/talk KSL-AM/FM’s half-share dip to a 5.5 share and #6 rank, there’s a close race between it and iHeartMedia’s KNRS-FM (5.3 share, #7 rank). See Mike Kinosian’s complete “Ratings Takeaways” here.

Talk Host Jay Severin Dead at 69. TheBlaze reports that longtime conservative talk radio personality and Republican operative Jay Severin has died at age 69 after a battle with cancer. After years of working as a Republican political consultant, Severin began his talk radio career in the mid-1990s filling in for Gene Burns on the WOR Radio Network, eventually becoming the afternoon drive host, calling himself the “rock ‘n’ roll Republican.” He briefly hosted evenings at WRKO, Boston before joining crosstown news/talk WTKK-FM, where he would work hosting afternoons until 2011. In 2012, he joined Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Radio Network where he would host a program until 2016.

TALKERS News Notes. After a 14-hour fundraiser for the families of a fallen officer and a second injured officer Cox Media Group Tulsa, the Tulsa Police Department, and the Tulsa Police Department Foundation announce they raised more than $515,000 dollars for the Johnson-Zarkeshan Family Fund. Cox Tulsa’s news/talk KRMG, its four music-formatted sister radio stations and sister TV station KOKI-TV “FOX23” broadcast live from LaFortune Park on Wednesday to encourage donations…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Midway Broadcasting Company has hired former KADN-TV, Lafayette, Louisiana reporter Hannah Neely as the new morning news anchor for news/talk WVON, Chicago. Neely is a Chicago native who is taking over for Annette Flournoy, who resigned from the position…..ABC Audio announces that in the aftermath of the arrest and charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for her alleged role in facilitating Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse, it is releasing a bonus episode of the podcast “Truth and Lies: Jeffrey Epstein,” featuring details about Maxwell’s arrest and charges. The podcast is hosted by ABC News’ Mark Remillard.

IBA Says It Will Be Active Within Two Weeks. Broadcasters spearheading the foundation of Independent Broadcasters Association say they will officially form the organization within the next two weeks. Adams Radio Group president Ron Stone has been leading the movement to form the IBA. He says that there will be a conference call scheduled for all members in the next few weeks with him and the initial board to discuss the mission and goals. Issues that have already been broached are revenue generation, digital services, shared resources, proprietary systems and services, and group employee benefits. Stone says, “We have 496 owners/operators representing just under 3,000 stations that have signed up supporting the idea of the organization. The next step is the actual formation of the IBA into a legal entity, forming an initial board and getting to work on all the elements we have been discussing that will benefit independent operators choosing to be members of the IBA.” Cromwell Group president Bud Walters says, “Independent broadcasters outside the major markets have a lot in common as we seem to be in a different business than large market broadcasters. There is good reason to explore this idea of working more closely together.” Interested owners/operators can sign up here.

COVID-19 Statistics and Projections Top News/Talk Story for Week of July 6-10. The spiking cases of COVID-19 in many states and projections for future infections remained the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was health care, the mask debate and the search for COVID-19 meds. Coming in at #3 was President Trump’s school opening order and the CDC’s guidelines, followed by the economy and the re-opening of America at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

NEED A GUEST? We’ve Got Some Good Ones for You at ‘Expert Guests.’ Talk media hosts, producers, and bookers are advised to check out the newly expanded “Expert Guests” section of TALKERS. It is updated on a regular basis with outstanding experts and personalities available by telephone, Skype, or Zoom for booking on radio, TV, and online talk shows. This week you’ll find a wide array of guests that includes experts on the Chinese Communist Party, police abuse, race relations, psychology, doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic and much more. To visit “Expert Guests,” please click here.