Tag: "Jim Polito"
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Shake Your Tree,” looks back at this past week of 12/20 – 12/24. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Jim Polito, talk show host, WXKS, Boston/WHJJ, Providence/WTAG, Worcester/WHYN, Springfield; Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network /physician; Rob Carson, talk show host, Newsmax TV-Radio; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; 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.
Jared Merves Named SVP of Digital for Cumulus Media. Digital media pro Jared Merves joins Cumulus Media as senior vice president, digital, effective January 18, 2022. Merves was most recently chief revenue officer of Distributed Media Lab, which had acquired Wundervue, a company he founded to support media companies and advertising agencies in their digital transformation, operations, product development, and growth opportunities. In his new role with Cumulus, Merves will “lead and further shape the company’s digital strategy with a focus on generating revenue across multiple Cumulus Media platforms and channels.” Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “Jared has been at the forefront of digital media throughout his career and has helped many companies propel their businesses forward through innovation. Digital has been a critical and successful pillar of our business strategy, and Jared brings the experience, creativity and technical expertise to build on that foundation and catapult us to the next level.”
HC Holiday Extra: Guest Hosting a Show Next Week? – Consultant Holland Cooke offers some advice to talk hosts sitting in for full-timers on vacation – what he calls “Talk Radio Audition Week.” But if you’re guest-hosting, this tends to be a perennially slow news week. In this column, HC suggests four call-in topics. Read more here.
Connoisseur Media’s EVP/CFO Driscoll to Step Down; Price Named New CFO. The company’s co-founder and current executive vice president and chief financial officer, Michael O. Driscoll, will step down from his CFO role on December 31. Driscoll has been CFO of Connoisseur Media since July 2004 and has been working with CEO and co-founder Jeffrey D. Warshaw for more than 25 years. Driscoll has been with Connoisseur and Warshaw since he was hired as CFO of Connoisseur Communications in 1996. He has handled financing, acquisitions, human resources and operational issues and has worked hand-in-hand with Warshaw in building the current company over the last 17 years. He remains at Connoisseur as EVP but will be stepping back from day-to-day management duties. Warshaw says, “Mike and I have worked together for a long time. In the years working with him, we have occasionally had different opinions, but never harsh words or arguments. I am glad in this new role he will get a chance to take some more time for travel and things he had wanted to do, but I look forward to still working together. He will always be my partner.” Assuming the SVP/CFO role on January 1 will be Oliver G. Price. He joined Connoisseur in 2012 and was most recently vice president of finance and accounting.
WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Announces Three Inductees into Hall of Fame. Heritage Charlotte news/talk station WBT-AM/FM announces that it will induct three personalities into the WBT Hall of Fame on April 9, 2022. John Stokes (left), Bob Lacey (center), and Jim Szoke (right) will be inducted as part of the Urban One station’s 100th Anniversary ceremony. John Stokes joined WBT in September of 1987 as the station’s news director. For over 30 years, Stokes anchored the news in morning drive on the station, covering everything from the PTL scandal to Hurricane Hugo to the September 11 terrorist attacks. The original announcement of Stokes’ induction into the WBT hall of Fame was made upon his retirement from the station in 2019, but the celebration was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bob Lacey began his career at WBT in 1972 as one of the youngest regular on-air personalities ever on the station. Soon after, he began hosting the groundbreaking nighttime talk show, “Lacey Listens.” Three years later, he was promoted to host mornings, where he and partner Harold Johnson brought an edgy, modern sound to start the station’s daily lineup. His top-rated show continued until 1980 when he moved on to television. Lacey ultimately returned to radio as part of the nationally syndicated “Bob & Sheri Show.” Arriving at WBT in 1986, Jim Szoke later became the station’s sports director during a time of major growth for the region’s sports market, including the launches of Charlotte’s NBA and NFL franchises. In 1993, he helped secure the flagship station broadcast rights for WBT and two years later, he was named to the first-ever Carolina Panthers Radio Network crew, a role he still holds today. He has gone on to broadcast more games for the Panthers than any voice in the team’s history.
TALKERS News Notes. If you’re still looking for some holiday programming, CBS News Radio is offering a radio version of “It’s a Wonderful Life!” – produced by the National Press Club and American Heritage magazine. CBS manager, affiliate services Amy Bolton says there are no network spots. If you’re interested, reach out to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org…..The Independent Broadcasters Association elects four new members to its board of directors. Tom Burns, owner, Technicom & Sauk Valley Broadcasting; Gary Berkowitz, president, Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting; Steve Clendenin, owner & general manager, WHGM-AM/FM; and Jim Jacobs, president, Radio Richmond, LLC are joining the board and begin their three-year terms on January 1. Executive director Ron Stone says, “The IBA is committed to having a board that is representative of its members and elected by the members. Every year, one-third of the board turns over to keep fresh ideas flowing. No existing Board member may serve more than one three-year term. This is our first election since the IBA was formed in April 2020, and we had over a dozen candidates that accepted nomination to fill the four open seats.”
Salem Central Arkansas Listener Wins Mortgage Payments for a Year. The four Salem Media Group stations in central Arkansas, including news/talk KXDE-FM “The Answer,” partnered with Sax Homes to give one person the chance to have their mortgage payments made for all of 2022. Pictured above is winner Skylar Oswalt of Benton, Arkansas who was randomly chosen from more than 1 million entries.
Economy/Build Back Better Top News/Talk Story for Week of December 20-24. The state of the U.S. economy and Senator Joe Manchin’s thumbs down to President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At this week was the raging COVID-19 Omicron variant, vaccines and mandates at #2, followed by the January 6 investigation at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during 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.
iHeartMedia Adds ‘Jim Polito Show’ to WXKS-AM, Boston. Boston news/talk outlet WXKS-AM “Talk 1200” is adding “The Jim Polito Show” to the morning drive daypart, replacing the FOX Sports Radio programming currently airing there. Jim Polito’s morning show launched on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTAG-AM, Worcester and was eventually rolled out to news/talk WHYN-AM, Springfield and news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence, replacing the local morning shows on those stations. iHeartMedia president of the New England area community markets Sean Davey says, “I am proud of Jim and his growth. More than anyone I know, Jim loves politics and the ‘give and take’ that goes with it. For him to be heard in Boston is so exciting and the natural next step in Jim’s growth.” Polito comments, “Boston is the next stop for making serious talk fun. I do battle with the political establishment and succeed where others fail by changing minds and waking people up on the ‘right’ side of the bed.”
John Batchelor Returns to New York Airwaves on WOR. Nationally syndicated nighttime radio personality John Batchelor returns to the New York City air on November 1 as iHeartMedia’s news/talk 710 WOR, The Voice of New York adds his program, “Eye on the World with John Batchelor,” to the schedule in the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight daypart. WOR program director Tom Cuddy says, “I have been a fan of John’s for almost two decades and the dedication he consistently displays in tracking down the details behind the important stories anywhere in the world and then sorting them out for listeners.” Batchelor says, “I am astounded to be invited to join the legendary WOR at this promising time, when the listeners of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut begin the hard work to recover from these last rough years. This is a privilege.” Batchelor’s program broadcasts nightly from New York and is syndicated by CBS Audio.
iHeartMedia Spends $64 Million to Repurchase All Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock. The company announces that it has – via its subsidiary iHeart Operations, Inc., repurchased and cancelled all of its 60,000 outstanding shares of Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock, paying for it with cash on hand. The cash repurchase price for each Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock is $1,000, plus a premium equal to the remaining dividends required to be paid through the optional redemption date of May 1, 2022 discounted at a negotiated rate. This results in an aggregate redemption amount of $64.35 million to be paid to the holders of the $60 million Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman comments, “We are pleased to have voluntarily repurchased the full balance of our $60 million preferred stock, demonstrating our commitment to strengthening our balance sheet and increasing free cash flow, while still maintaining ample liquidity. Repurchasing early allows us to realize interest savings, exit the most restrictive instrument on our balance sheet, and continue to reinforce iHeart’s commitment to improving our capital structure. This action continues to demonstrate our confidence in our business moving forward.”
Armstrong & Getty Are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. The long-running, highly successful, West Coast-based news/talk radio duo Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty are this week’s guests on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” They started out as DJs in music radio in the early 90s but transitioned to all-talk and landed a big-time slot in 1998 as the morning team on news/talk station KSTE in Sacramento, California where they developed a reputation throughout the radio industry for their freshness and youthful dynamics. They’ve remained a huge attraction on that station to this very day but their reputation and reach has spread and continues to grow far beyond the Golden State’s capital. They are now a morning powerhouse in California’s major cities including KABC, Los Angeles; KSFO, San Francisco; and KGB-AM, San Diego and are heard throughout the West as well as on an increasing number of stations spreading East via their own independent syndication. “When I first heard them years ago, they sounded to me more like the kind of talk show hosts one would expect to hear on a rock station than on a serious news outlet. They were funny and irreverent and surrounded with a cast of characters that gave their show more of the feeling of a morning zoo than a round table of stuffy panelists,” says TALKERS founder Michael Harrison. “But even though they were zany and played the goofball roll to a certain degree, their antics were offset by obvious intelligence, keen insight, excellent interviewing skills and a ton of information about what was happening in the news.” Today, this compelling act – though still first and foremost entertaining and full of engaging pop culture – has matured and is a perfect fit for news/talk stations looking to cover the news and maintain a conservative orientation, but without the pedantic posture that can sacrifice a more eclectic audience. Even more important,” says Harrison, “Jack and Joe remain irreverent and are not rigidly beholden to any singular ideology or political personality. They present their opinions issue by issue. As we approach 2022, the show is uniquely positioned to be a major element in the unfolding news/talk radio universe.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
iHeartMedia Swipes Green Bay Packers Football from Good Karma Brands. The business relationships between radio stations and sports franchises are not immune to change but iHeartMedia’s new deal with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers that moves play-by-play broadcast rights in the state’s largest market from Good Karma Brands’ news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee to its own crosstown sports talk WRNW-FM “97.3 The Game” beginning in 2022 is huge because WTMJ has enjoyed broadcasting Packers games since 1929. The team announced the news yesterday (10/27) and clarifies that this change only affects the Milwaukee affiliate as the team brought the Packers Radio Network in house in 2018. Packers VP of sales and business development Craig Benzel says, “iHeartMedia enthusiastically pursued the opportunity that being part of the network creates, and we are looking forward to how their innovative approach will appeal to Packers fans in southeastern Wisconsin. The Packers have greatly appreciated the partnership with WTMJ over the years and will always respect the history they have with the franchise.” The press release says, “‘97.3 The Game’ WRNW and iHeartMedia Milwaukee will offer an attractive demographic opportunity to reach new listeners with a growing sports talk radio segment and other programming formats in the Milwaukee area. Additionally, the partnership offers a variety of new platforms that will support key Packers initiatives, including iHeartMedia’s new audio partnership with the NFL which features podcast distribution.” The most recent Nielsen PPM numbers (6+, weekly AQH share) from the September 2021 survey show WTMJ ranked #1 in the market with a 9.1 share and WRNW-FM ranked #15 with a 1.3 share.
Charlie Sislen to Retire from Research Director; Karen Morriss Joins as Director of Client Services. Radio pro Charlie Sislen is retiring from his role at Research Director, Inc after 24 years with the company as a partner. His last day will be December 31, 2021. Sislen says, “It has been a pleasure being part of Research Director, Inc. for the past 24 years. I woke up every day excited not only about what would come next, but also more importantly the people I would interact with. I enjoyed every conversation with Research Director, Inc.’s amazing team, our tremendous clients, and everyone who makes our industry great. I want to especially thank my partner, Marc Greenspan, who had the vision to bring me into this company and partnered with me to build a truly remarkable organization. I am leaving a phenomenal team, whose hard work made my role as the face of the company easy. They made the difference for every one of our clients. Now is the time of my life where I must shift my focus from my career, which I love, to my family and my community. Research Director, Inc. and the radio industry will always be in my heart. My thanks to all who were such an integral part of this life‐changing journey.” As a part of the transition, Karen Morriss joins the team as the director of client services. She says, “I’m excited to be joining the Research Director, Inc. team. I’ve known Marc and Charlie for over 30 years and have great respect for both of them. I look forward to working with their wonderful clients.”
Triton Digital and Signal Hill Insights Collaborate to Create Demos+ Podcast Metrics Service. This collaborative effort between Triton Digital and audio research firm Signal Hill Insights results in the enhancement to Triton’s Podcast Metrics that provides audience demographic and socio-demographic data on podcast listeners and downloads in the United States. Triton Digital says the new Demos+ solution is “the first-ever integration of census and survey-based research podcast measurement methodologies. Through this collaboration, podcast publishers, advertisers, and agencies will be able to leverage podcast download metrics by person-level demographic, socio-demographic, media behavior and purchase intent propensities.” The two firms say they’ve “launched a large, year-round survey that is representative of the population of podcast listeners in the United States. Demos+ utilizes the Podcast Metrics measurement census-level data to identify listener overlap to scale the podcast survey-based insights. This unique approach enables Triton to project the audience composition for virtually all size podcasts – a capability previously hindered by podcast survey sample-size limitations. With this insight, podcasters will see a clear view of their audience, and marketers can more easily identify the podcasts which best reach their target audience.”
TALKERS News Notes. Promotions and marketing pro Sandy Corcoran joins Summit Media as promotions director for the company’s Omaha station group that includes sports talk KXSP “AM 590 ESPN” and four music brands. Corcoran served for 10 years with Audacy where she was the assistant director of marketing and promotions for the Phoenix cluster, including KOOL-FM, KALV-FM, and KMLE-FM. She says, “I’m excited for the opportunity to join SummitMedia and their heritage brands in Omaha. Radio and music are my biggest passions. I couldn’t be happier to oversee promotions and events for this cluster.”.…..Podcast firm PodcastOne extends its podcast production partnership with REELZ to launch “Sex, Lies & Murder,” the latest true crime podcast in a series of shows co-produced by the two media companies. “Sex, Lies & Murder” episodes feature the real stories of sex-driven crimes that have rocked communities. These are the stories of a suburban housewife who becomes a killer. A church pastor who has extramarital sex then his wife joins the dearly departed. It’s a soccer mom who is found dead and police uncover her double life as a midnight escort. PodcastOne president Kit Gray states, “We couldn’t be more thrilled to continue our long standing relationship with REELZ through our latest podcast “Sex, Lies & Murder.” Listeners and advertisers alike know that our REELZ-branded programming is edge-of-your-seat content that the podcast world is hungry for and we are excited to deliver.”…..ABC News is covering the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow with correspondent Karen Travers reporting from Glasgow. She’ll file regular reports for newscasts, “Perspective” and other audio platforms. ABC Audio will also release a five-part climate report series examining the consequences of climate change and issues the conference is planning to address. Additionally, ABC News’ flagship daily podcast “Start Here,” hosted by Brad Mielke, will dedicate multiple segments to the effects of climate change and how Americans are addressing the problem.
Biden’s Infrastructure and Social Spending Bills, COVID-19, Virginia Governor’s Race, Petroleum Industry Testimony/Climate Change, Supply Chain Woes/Inflation, Migrant Caravan/Immigration Policy, China’s Taiwan Aggression, and Rust Set Shooting Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/27). The state of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure and social spending bills as Democratic factions battle over where to spend; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine approved for kids, and mask & vaccine mandates; the tight race between Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin; today’s testimony before Congress from petroleum industry CEOs about climate change; the ongoing supply chain breakdown and soaring retail prices; a migrant caravan in Mexico approaches the U.S. border and the Biden administration’s border and immigration policies; China’s continuing military aggression toward Taiwan; and the investigation into the deadly shooting on the Santa Fe set of Alec Baldwin’s Rust film were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Monday Memo: Help Wanted, Local Host. “Radio’s best years were between network programming that ended at the end of the 1950s and syndicated longform that now dominates talk programming and robotic music formats that displaced local DJs.” And, in this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke suggests how that same business model can restore the local programming “which will always be broadcasters’ silver bullet against digital competitors.” Read it here.
Pending Business: Pack Your Bags. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says the demand for summer travel is very high and this category of advertiser is still adjusting to new protocols. “Consider the total packaging concept you can deliver. Many marketers in the travel industry look for strong inquiry and booking accountability. Be prepared with multiple options always considering easy access for your audience to respond. As categories regroup from pandemic business paralysis new opportunities will emerge. Adjust your thinking, planning and preparation now.” Read his column here.
KVI, Seattle Names Ari Hoffman Afternoon Drive Host. After joining Sinclair Broadcast Group’s news/talk KVI, Seattle earlier this year to fill in after Kirby Wilbur’s retirement, Ari Hoffman is officially named the permanent afternoon drive host, effective today (4/26). The station says Hoffman is a local businessman and civic activist who ran for Seattle city council in 2020 who has also appeared on FOX News, Newsmax, “The Dr. Drew Show,” “60 Minutes,” and the KOMO News documentary “Seattle is Dying.” He also reports regularly on Northwest issues in The Post Millennial. He says, “I am thrilled to be joining the amazing team at KVI. If I had known how much fun this gig would be, I would have started 20 years ago. I look forward to bringing common sense ideas and a fresh take on news, politics, and the culture wars to our listeners.” KVI program director Rick Van Cise says, “Our new afternoon host was right under our nose. What’s important to you is important to Ari. He has an engaging and entertaining perspective on local and world issues that’s enlightening and fun to hear!”
Rhode Island News/Talk Pro Ron St. Pierre Launches New Podcast. A story at RINewstoday.com highlights the new podcast being launched by Rhode Island talk radio pro Ron St. Pierre (right). The new program, “Ron and Jen’s Great Escape” – co-starring Jen Brien (left) – launches on May 3. St. Pierre was most recently hosting the morning drive show on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ, Providence until the company declined to renew his contract back in December and, in an effort to save money, put the WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based Jim Polito show in WHJJ’s morning drive slot. During his career, St. Pierre has also served with crosstown WPRO-AM and WABC, New York, among other media outlets. Of his new podcast, St. Pierre says, “Our goal is to provide an escape from the negativity that can overtake conversation about the day’s hot topics…an escape from the banal repetition all too often associated with talk radio. Our goal is a positive approach to news and lifestyle topics with an infusion of humor across the board.”
Westwood One’s Hoops Coverage Generates 19.2 Million Listeners. Citing an IPSOS national audience study conducted April 9-11, Cumulus Media’s Westwood One says its exclusive live coverage of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship generated 19.2 million listeners to the play-by-play action from all 66 men’s basketball games, including eight first-round and second-round games, plus regional semifinals and finals. WWO president Suzanne Grimes comments, “We are thrilled that audio audiences for our NCAA March Madness audio coverage returned so strongly. College basketball fans were excited to experience NCAA Men’s basketball and listened across our streaming, smart speaker, and broadcast platforms.” The IPSOS study also found that listening audiences were equally distributed across demographics with 31% of listeners aged 18-34, 41% 35-64 and 27% over the age of 65. Additionally, the coverage attracted a highly educated audience that was 6% more likely than average to be college graduates and 46% more likely to have an advanced degree. 56% of the audience was employed and nearly half (47%) had household incomes of $75,000 or more.
TALKERS News Notes. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden will deliver his first speech to a Joint Session of Congress marking his 100th day in office. Salem Radio Network News is covering the speech for affiliate stations. SRN coverage will be anchored by SRN News U.S. Senate correspondent Bob Agnew and he’ll be joined by TOWNHALL News Capitol Hill correspondent Bernie Bennett…..Coverage of this year’s NFL Draft begins this week and ESPN“SportsCenter” anchors Elle Duncan and Kevin Negandhi are kicking off the network’s coverage on their “Get Up” morning show on April 29 and 30. They will also lead ESPN Radio’s NFL Draft broadcasts alongside NFL Front Office Insider Mike Tannenbaum, ESPN Radio’s Bart Scott and reporter Ian Fitzsimmons. ESPN Radio’s coverage will continue Saturday, May 1, with host Jason Fitz, NFL Draft analyst and Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy, Tannenbaum and Fitzsimmons…..C13Originals, a division of Audacy’s Cadence13, has signed on critically acclaimed bestselling author Shawn Levy for “Glitter and Might,” a documentary podcast franchise about power and influence originating from Hollywood. Season One will explore the relationship between legendary Hollywood mogul Lew Wasserman, a young actor named Ronald Reagan, and notorious labor lawyer Sidney Korshak, and the story of how they came together, and rose to become, respectively, the most powerful executive in Hollywood, the most powerful man in the world, and the most powerful lawyer in the country, forever changing the entertainment industry and the country itself.….The Independent Broadcasters Association is supporting COVID Remembrance Day on May 25 as a day of honor and reflection for those who have been lost to the pandemic. A special IBA members-only webinar is set for 2:00 pm ET on Thursday, April 29 to provide how-to instructions and outline the tools and resources that will be available to participating radio stations. COVID Remembrance Day is being produced by Paige Nienaber and CPR Promotions, in conjunction with partners MannGroup Radio, Benztown and P1 Media Group. Nienaber, who will host the webinar, says, “On COVID Remembrance Day participating stations and their listeners can reflect on the events of the past year, honor and give tribute to the victims, heroes, and people in their communities who have stepped up and been a part of the response effort. We hope every radio station in America will join us.”
Free-Form Radio Pioneer Bob Fass Dies at 87. The New York Times has the obit for legendary free-form radio personality Bob Fass, who died on April 24 at his home in Monroe, North Carolina. Fass hosted the “Radio Unnameable” overnight program on WBAI, New York for more than 50 years. Fass’s program could include any program element – avant-garde music, political talk, calls from listeners, and drop-in guests. He would have guests such as Abbie Hoffman or a young, still-largely unknown Bob Dylan. He once told an interviewer, “I’d put anyone on, because the idea was if you didn’t like what I was doing, three minutes later I’d be doing something else.”
COVID-19, Biden’s First 100 Days, Chauvin Verdict Aftermath, Border Crisis, and Oscars Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the severe outbreak in India; President Joe Biden’s administration approaches its 100-day mark; the aftermath of the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict and the larger issue of race relations in the U.S.; the crush of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; and Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
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 Kerrigan–Tonya 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.”
WHYN, Springfield Cancels Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan AM Show. Listeners to iHeartMedia-owned news/talk outlet WHYN, Springfield, Massachusetts will be surprised on Monday morning when they hear the local Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan program has been replaced by the Jim Polito show from the company’s sister station WTAG, Worcester – about 50 miles away. Adam Wright, who replaced popular market personality Brad Shepard in 2014, tells MassLive.com that the ratings for the show were good and he chalks his firing up to the contemporary “nature of the radio business.” Sullivan had been with the station for more than 20 years. iHeartMedia has been trimming its employee roster gradually, market-by-market over the past month or so, in contrast to making large cuts at the end of the year, as it’s done in the past. Meanwhile, Jim Polito is no stranger to Springfield. He served as chief investigative reporter for WGGB-TV, Springfield for a number of years and worked at WFXT-TV, Boston, as well. It will be interesting to see if programming from Worcester will fly in Springfield. Meantime, the locally familiar Brad Shepard has launched a Springfield-based, online media station, Pioneer Valley Radio that carries, not only his own daily show, but a wide array of locally oriented, personality public affairs and news programs.
Nielsen Audio Releases Fourth Round of April 2016 PPM Data. The fourth and final round of April 2016 PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Providence, Raleigh, Norfolk, Nashville, Greensboro, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Memphis, and Hartford. The April 2016 survey period covered March 24 to April 20. You can find the complete 6+ ratings numbers from subscribing stations here. Additionally, TALKERS/RadioInfo managing editor Mike Kinosian provides his “Twelve Takeaways” from this group on the main page of our sister publication here.
The Presidential Race Top News Talk Story for Week of May 9-13. Once again, the activities of the candidates for president and Tuesday’s West Virginia and Nebraska primary elections were the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the ObamaCare funding court ruling. Coming in at #3 was the controversy over the Iran nuclear negotiations, followed by the allegations Facebook alters its trending topics away from conservative stories 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. View this week’s entire chart here.
Holland Cooke Inducted into the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame. The Ocean State is known for having a long, rich history of great radio and radio stars, including, of course, the late, legendary Walter “Salty” Brine. In a gala dinner at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI that included a veritable who’s who of radio industry notables from all over the country, the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame inducted its class of 2016. Among the inductees, noted talk radio consultant Holland Cooke of Holland Cooke Media. During his early career, Cooke was an air personality at WPRO and PD at WSNE. In 1984, Providence-based Outlet Broadcasting promoted him to operations manager of their then-owned all-news WTOP, Washington, DC – a position he held for the next seven years. From there Cooke went on to a stellar career of innovation and success in many branches of radio and communications including his role as special events correspondent and contributing columnist for TALKERS magazine and RadioInfo. Cooke will be a featured speaker at the forthcoming TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations convention next week on Friday, May 20 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. Other 2016 RI Radio Hall of Fame inductees include Bob DeCarlo, Bill George, Mike Gorman, Bruce Palmer and Debbie Rich. Special service awards were presented to Karen Kutniewski and Denise Laprise, and the Legacy Station of the Year was presented to JB105. Pictured at last night’s gala event celebrating with Holland Cooke (l-r): legendary programmer Jay Clark; TALKERS/RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison; “Good Day” host Doug Stephan; Entercom Boston VP/market manager Phil Zachary; Holland Cooke, “Money Pit” host Tom Kraeutler, CBS News Radio legend Joe Connolly; and retired RAB executive/radio marketing great, Dick Rakovan.
New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards Announces Finalists. The winners in all categories will be announced on June 20 at a ceremony at Manhattan Penthouse in New York City. This competition – since 1982 – has been honoring the World’s Best Radio Programs℠, receiving entries from radio stations, networks, and independent producers from around the globe. New York Festivals Radio Program Awards executive director Rose Anderson states, “This year’s entries are truly inspiring, they embody creativity, innovation and brilliant storytelling. These exceptional programs engage, entertain, inform, and transport the listener and are a testament to the power of the human voice.” NYF’s Grand Jury selected 296 Finalists from entries submitted from 29 countries worldwide. Entries were judged on production values, organization, presentation of information, creativity and use of the medium. Finalists from U.S. broadcasters include: ESPN’s “The Death of Lennon Lacy,” Best Investigative Reporting; Westwood One’s “America in the Morning,” Best News Magazine; SiriusXM’s Joe Madison, Best Regularly Scheduled Talk Program; CBS RADIO Boston’s “Too Many Memories: The Bruins-Canadiens Rivalry, Sports & Recreation; SiriusXM’s Opie Radio, Station Promotion; and PodcastOne/Goodphone Communications’ “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison,” Culture & The Arts.
New St. Louis Affiliate for ‘The Dana Show.’ The Radio America nationally syndicated “The Dana Show” with host Dana Loesch adds WDSZ, St. Louis “1260 AM The Answer” to its roster of affiliate stations. Loesch, who began her radio career on Emmis’ crosstown KFTK-FM, launches on the Salem Media Group-owned station on Monday (5/16) from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Station general manager Greg Lhamon says, “I’ve watched Dana’s radio show take off since the early days of her career eight years ago. This is an exciting addition to our lineup.”
Odds & Sods. WABC, New York recently presented some one-on-one interviews with two of the three remaining presidential candidates. Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump appeared on the “Imus in the Morning” program discussing his scheduled meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan and his comments about John McCain’s military service. On WABC Radio’s “Election Central with Rita Cosby,” Democrat Bernie Sanders stated Donald Trump should release his tax returns, he criticized New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s support of concealed carry permits in the state and said his focus is on winning a majority of the delegates and then working on the super delegates who favor Hillary Clinton…..Nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs collaborated with musician/producer Jacob Gossel to create a new chant song for UNLV’s football and basketball teams. The tune is called “Rebel Up.” Wachs – a 1993 grad of the school – says they are working closely with UNLV music professor and band director Tony LaBounty, who says, “‘Rebel Up’ says it all and will help us take it to the next level.” Hear a bit of the song here…..CBS RADIO St. Louis stations AC KEZK, news/talk KMOX, and hot AC KYKY are presenting “St. Louis Uncorked” on June 3-4 at the intersection of Market and Tucker in downtown St. Louis. In addition to music from Rachel Platten, Nick Fradiani, Ingrid Michaelson, and We the Kings, local support acts will perform. Attendees can sample an array of wines, beer, and spirits while tasting food from local vendors throughout the free weekend event.
KFBK, Sacramento Holds Mayoral Debate. Sacramento news/talker KFBK-AM/FM drew about 400 area voters to a mayoral debate on Wednesday (5/11), produced in cooperation with Inside Publications. The iHeartMedia-owned station’s Kitty O’Neal and John McGuinness hosted the debate along with moderator Bob Graswich at the Clunie Center in Sacramento. The event was live streamed on KFBK.com and video is available on the station’s website. Pictured above are (from l-r): McGinness, O’Neal, Graswich, and candidates Angelique Ashby, Darrell Steinberg and Tony Lopez.