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Thursday, December 17, 2020

| December 17, 2020

Newsmax Media Founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The CEO of Newsmax Media – the conservative news organization that owns and operates Newsmax.com and Newsmax TV in addition to a number of other platforms and services in digital and print publishing – is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Veteran journalist, entrepreneur, and news executive Christopher Ruddy discusses the history and strategy that has led to Newsmax TV achieving enormous rating gains this year in its juggernaut campaign to provide FOX News Channel with formidable competition in the conservative news/talk cable TV ratings wars. In this revealing conversation, Ruddy tells Harrison his side of the recent story by media writer Ben Smith published inThe New York Times under the headline, “The King of Trump TV Thinks You’re Dumb Enough to Buy It.” He dispels the notion conveyed in that piece that Newsmax TV has strategically flanked FOX to its far right and is telling President Donald Trump’s most ardent loyalists whatever they want to hear regardless of the truth. Ruddy discusses the bigger picture of Newsmax content which also delivers stories and items that are unfavorable to Trump and collectively covers a broader segment of the spectrum best described as center-right, as opposed to far-right. Harrison and Ruddy take a deep-dive into talk media political “positioning” which lies at the very heart of modern competitive programming. They also speculate on the future of American politics and the talk media coverage thereof. True to his unpredictable and often contrarian approach to what many observers consider conventional wisdom, Ruddy states that it appears President-Elect Biden is not veering to the far left as many Republicans and Trump supporters fear he will as evidenced by many of his cabinet picks, and that the 46th president will be far more of a “centrist” than many in both parties are expecting. Ruddy also candidly discusses the balancing act required to maintain a long-standing “friendship” with Trump while not being afraid to criticize his policies on those occasions when he believes such criticism is warranted in addition to outlining his immediate plans to grow Newsmax as a full-service news organization in 2021. This podcast is a must-listen! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Floyd Reese Exiting ‘102.5 The Game’ in Nashville. According to a story in the Nashville Post, former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese is giving up his sports talk host gig at Cromwell Media’s WPRT-FM, Nashville “102.5 The Game.” Reese co-hosted the afternoon drive program “Jared & The GM” with Jared Stillman for the past five-plus years. Stillman will continue to host the afternoon show now billed as “Stillman & Company” as the station seeks out a new afternoon co-host. The Post cites a press release in which Reese states, “This is something I’ve been contemplating for a while and I feel it’s time for me to take a step back. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my tenure with ‘102.5 The Game’ and doing a show with Jared has been a terrific experience. He and I formed a unique partnership that allowed us to be teammates and friends. I’d also like to thank Cromwell Media owner Bud Walters and [program director] Ryan Porth for their non-stop support over the years. It’s been a good run.” Reese was general manager of the NFL’s old Houston Oilers from 1990-1999 and the Titans (after the Oilers moved from Houston to Nashville) from 1999-2006. He was a senior football advisor for the New England Patriots from 2009-2012. He joined “102.5 The Game” in 2015.

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Keeps The Bike Drive Alive. The annual holiday “Bikes for Kids” drive was launched by retired WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte talk host John Hancock 26 years ago. With Hancock’s retirement at the beginning of 2020, the fate of the charitable drive that had provided some 20,000 bikes (as well as gifts, food, clothing and more) to tens of thousands of needy Charlotte-area kids was up in the air. Ultimately, WBT staff, in partnership with the Carolina Panthers, WSOC-TV, Frito Lay, and some other local charitable organizations, worked to get 400 brand-new bikes collected during the “Bike Drive” that took place on Tuesday (12/15). Brett Winterble, who took over the afternoon drive show following Hancock’s retirement, says, “It was an amazing day for Hancock’s bikes for kids. This was my first opportunity since joining WBT in February to interface with this amazing audience in person. The generosity and good cheer of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday was truly awe inspiring. In gathering hundreds of bikes for well deserving children I forged new friendships with dedicated listeners to WBT. One man named Steve told me he was a 50-year listener of WBT and had attended every one of the bike drives Hancock led. It was an unbelievable show of generosity and good civic pride. I look forward to next year and can’t wait for this to continue to grow!”

Townsquare Media to Offer $550 Million in Senior Secured Notes. In a filing with the SEC, Townsquare Media reveals it has priced an offering of $550 million in aggregate principal amount of its 6.875% senior secured notes due 2026. These notes are being offered to institutional buyers and will be senior secured obligations of the company and will be guaranteed on a senior secured basis by certain of the company’s direct and indirect wholly owned subsidiaries. The closing of the offering is anticipated to take place on or about January 6, 2021. Townsquare says that it intends to use the net proceeds from the offering, together with cash on hand, to repay existing senior secured credit facilities, to redeem all of its outstanding 6.500% senior notes due 2023. It is also terminating its existing senior secured credit facilities, including its existing revolving credit facility.

Skyview Networks and MLB Radio Rightsholders Team Up for Annual Meeting. This year’s annual meeting of Major League Baseball radio rightsholders and Skyview Networks to discuss their broadcast operations and ad sales experiences from the previous season was done remotely. This year’s panels placed a heavy focus on fan engagement and advertising strategies with emphasis on maximizing digital assets under the restrictions of the pandemic. Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones says, “The MLB radio rightsholders play a significant role in their teams’ success through broadcast sponsorships. Radio and baseball have always put fans first and this season proved no different. Skyview played an important role in helping teams find creative solutions during the pandemic and we showcased those solutions to the whole league this week.” Skyview says many teams also leveraged the power of social media to engage with fans through promotions from their biggest sponsors, citing proactive communication as their key to success. Putting their followers’ interests at the forefront, these organizations hosted many virtual gatherings through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more to encourage listenership and interaction while the season was on a hiatus. Additional panel topics included software and strategies to streamline remote broadcasting, creating awareness for franchises’ ancillary digital content to increase broadcast listening and sponsorship extensions, and monetizing the evolving sports betting opportunities across a radio platform.

New Drive Time Shows on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. Channel in January. Starting on January 4, the new lineup on SiriusXM’s non-partisan P.O.T.U.S. channel will includeJulie Mason Mornings” (6:00 am to 9:00 am ET) and “The Laura Coates Show” (3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET). Veteran journalist Mason takes over for Tim Farley’s “The Morning Briefing” after Farley’s retirement at year’s end. Coates – a CNN senior legal analyst – moves to the P.O.T.U.S. channel from SiriusXM’s Urban View channel. Julie Mason has more than 30 years of experience covering local, state and national politics, including four presidential campaigns. In more than 10 years at the White House, she traveled internationally and reported from more than 30 different countries. She is a former elected board member of the White House Correspondents Association. In addition to her media work, Coates has served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law.

United Stations Radio Networks Names Jim Roberts Director of Affiliate Sales and Marketing for Sports. Sports radio pro Jim Roberts is named director of affiliate sales and marketing/sports content for United Stations Radio Networks. He comes to USRN after a 20-plus years career with Disney/ESPN in which he oversaw the inception and growth of the affiliate network of 500-plus stations for ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes while also managing Disney owned-and-operated stations in New York City and Dallas. United Stations recently announced a partnership with SportsGarten Network to provide stations with short-form, long-form and daily daypart options in sports and sports wagering content. In his new role, Roberts will market all USRN sports-related programs and services, including the Total Sports Prep service. USRN’s Stefan Jones comments, “At United Stations we are growing our programming, services, and partnerships in the sports and sports-wagering lane. As more and more states are legalizing sports wagering, we want to ensure our company delivers quality options.”

TALKERS News Notes. Sports media personality Rich Eisen and Westwood One reach an agreement for the latter to feature “The Rich Eisen Show” podcast on the Westwood One Podcast Network, beginning on January 4. The deal also calls for the development of a new podcast by Eisen called “Just Getting Started” (scheduled for a February debut) in which Eisen interviews the biggest names from news, entertainment, sports, and pop culture, discussing their career origins and mining their stories on how they got started, in a format where audiences can be inspired by their endeavors…..In Chicago, Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM, Chicago is handing the agribusiness beat over to Steve Alexander with the retirement of Orion Samuelson at the end of this month. Samuelson is putting the wrap on a radio career that spans 60 years. Alexander says, “When I’ve filled in for Orion over the past 12 years, I’ve often joked that he gave me the key to the tractor, and I was able to keep it out of the ditch until he returned. Come next month, I’ll try to keep the tractor upright and continue Orion’s efforts to explain how important agriculture is to all of us.”…..GCN-syndicated talk radio host Dr. Daliah Wachs’ program adds two new affiliate stations as WEOL, Elyria, Ohio and KPRL, Paso Robles, California pick up the show.

COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Vaccines, the Economy & Closings, Stimulus Talks, Ongoing Election Denial, Georgia Runoff Elections, Biden Transition, and Northeast Snowstorm Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for post-holidays cases; the beginning of vaccine distribution in the U.S.; the state of the U.S. economy and forced business closings; the congressional negotiations over a new stimulus package; the ongoing denial of the election results in the Donald Trump camp; January’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the Joe Biden administration’s transition and nominations; and a big snowstorm hits the Northeast 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. There’s a series of holiday programs being made available on Entercom’s RADIO.COM that’s airing from December 18-20. The shows are: “POP Goes Christmas,” featuring Why Don’t We and Ava Max; “Acoustic Christmas,” featuring Kelly Clarkson, Meghan Trainor, Dan + Shay, Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, Rob Thomas, Train, Matt Nathanson, Ava Max, and a special performance from Keith Urban; “Country Christmas,” with Keith Urban, Dan + Shay, Lady A, Runaway June, and Russell Dickerson; and “Not So Silent Night” starring Machine Gun Kelly, 24kGoldn, All Time Low, SHAED, and Wallows. Those four shows will culminate in the “RADIO.COM LIVE! Holiday Music Festival,” a free video stream of the concert performances on December 21 at 6:00 pm ET, available nationwide on the RADIO.COM app and website at RADIO.COM/Live. Portions of the show will also be available on Twitch and via RADIO.COM’s social media channels. The performances will be accessible on demand for 72 hours after the show on RADIO.COM and station websites…..SiriusXM announces the rollout of several new pop up channels, holiday specials, live programs for New Year’s Eve, exclusive video, podcasts and best-of live performances. “New Year’s Nation” will launch beginning December 29 as a pop-up channel on SiriusXM dedicated to the ultimate New Year’s celebration songs in pop, rhythm, dance, and hip-hop from across the nation featuring the hottest hits from Harry Styles, Dua Lipa, The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Drake, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Taylor Swift and more. New holiday pop-up channels include Top 100 Interviews of 2020, highlighting the top celebrity interviews from the past year. Hosted by SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle and Julia Cunningham, the pop-up channel will feature interviews from shows including “Andy Cohen Live,” “The Hoda Show” and “The Jess Cagle Show” with some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Ben Affleck, Hugh Jackman, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Laverne Cox, Lily Collins, Lizzo, Ramy Yousef, Sam Smith, Sean Penn, Spike Lee and dozens more.

Monday, August 13, 2012

| August 13, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Clear Channel to Buy Buckley Broadcasting’s WOR. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment and Buckley Radio announced today that Clear Channel is purchasing AM radio station WOR 710 from Buckley Broadcasting Corporation, pending FCC approval. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. “WOR is an iconic New York City brand with a rich history and an exciting future,” states John Hogan, chairman and CEO of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment.  “Clear Channel is excited to add WOR as a powerful, high potential complement to our New York brands.  We believe WOR makes our already incredible platform even more interesting for listeners, advertisers, and strategic partners and we look forward to the tremendous potential WOR adds to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment New York.”  Joseph Bilotta, president and CEO of Buckley Radio tells TALKERS, “For more than 23 years, Buckley Radio has been the steward of one of the most legendary radio stations in broadcasting history and I would like to sincerely thank all of the wonderful people who devoted their time, energy and efforts over the years to WOR Radio.”  He continues, “By passing the baton to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, WOR listeners, advertisers and employees will gain access to the unparalleled resources of a worldwide, multi-dimensional media and entertainment company.  We have had a great run with WOR and could not be more confident that it is poised for another great run as part of the Clear Channel Media and Entertainment team.”  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment currently owns five stations in the New York market including 103.5 KTU, Q104.3, Z100, 106.7 Lite fm and Power 105.1.

Speculation Abounds About the Implications of WOR/CC Deal.  Information about this deal was kept even more closely guarded than Romney’s plans to select Ryan as his VP choice. Insiders at the station report that the airstaff had no idea what was going to be announced at an emergency staff meeting called on Friday afternoon for this morning at 9:00 am.  Big news like this, however, travels fast once released in a small industry – the buzz being that Clear Channel has now gauranteed a number one market home for two of its major syndicated franchises, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity – currently cleared on Cumulus Media’s WABC.  All signs from Cumulus indicating its plan to take news/talk in a different direction lend credence to that speculation.  Stay tuned.

Romney’s VP Selection of Paul Ryan on a Saturday Reminds Programmers: Are You Prepared to Cover Breaking News?  How your news/talk station handles a breaking news event on any day of the week – either in your market or outside of it – often determines how the people in your market perceive your value as a source of news and even opinion.  TALKERS magazine managing editor Kevin Casey reports programmers and hosts across the nation who are dedicated to being the source of news, information and hosting that community “backyard fence” have very similar approaches to covering events such as the recent tragedy in Aurora.  It’s all about planning ahead, using the staff you have creatively and being that place where listeners can turn to talk when they need to vent.  Read Kevin Casey’s piece here.

Cumulus Rolling Out Geraldo Nationally Today.  After recent launches on its O&Os in New York (WABC) and Los Angeles (KABC), Cumulus Media’s syndication division goes national today with the Geraldo Rivera Show. Emanating from New York, the program, titled “Geraldo,” airs between 9:00 am and 12:00 noon ET.  Cumulus is banking on Rivera’s middle ground political stance to further underscore its apparent course to modify what some consider news/talk radio’s predominantly conservative and confrontational style.  This follows the company’s recent high-profile rollout of former Arkansas Governor/Republican Presidential candidate (and Fox News Channel host) Mike Huckabee’s “more conversational” brand of syndicated news/talk radio.  Rivera will reportedly debut on 45 stations including KLIF, Dallas and WCFO, Atlanta with another half dozen expected in coming weeks.  Rivera tells TALKERS, “I’m thrilled that just as the nation hurtles toward the highly charged and hard-fought 2012 presidential election, I’ll be coming on the air nationwide. Fasten your seat belts. With America divided along red/blue, right/left lines, I hope to occupy the militant middle and be a referee between ideologies. Everyone is welcome on the radio show, and the conversation is no holds barred.”

Rush Limbaugh Remains #1 on Top Talk Audiences Chart; Listening Dips Slightly in Spring 2012.  Premiere Networks nationally syndicated star Rush Limbaugh keeps his long-held spot atop the TALKERS survey of the top talk radio hosts – based on audience data – for the spring 2012 period of March, April and May.  Listenership to many news/talk stations and hosts dipped to a small degree during the period in question, although that conclusion cannot be construed to be one that applies to all news/talk stations across the board nor all hosts.  The imperfect science of rating radio in and of itself provides caution to those wishing to come to concrete conclusions about the numbers.  Reasons for the “spring dip” are being attributed by some media observers to be the result of “political burnout” as the frenzy of the presidential primary season passes, as well as the easing into the traditionally different mindset listeners get into as summer approaches and schedules begin to change.  Regardless, news/talk stations typically enjoy a big bounce from presidential election years in the fall ratings periods illustrating the natural ebb and flow of talk radio listenership.  To view the entire Top Talk Radio Audiences chart for the spring 2012 period, click here.

Michael Harrison Receives 2012 Ethical Media Award.  TALKERS founder and publisher Michael Harrison was honored Friday (8/10) by the California Coast Venture Forum with its 2012 “Ethical Media Award” at the organization’s Fourth Annual Clean Business Investment Summit on the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara.  The award was presented to Harrison by Christie Communications CEO Gillian Christie who praised Harrison as displaying outstanding leadership in his 45 year career as a broadcaster and trade publisher in protecting and defending the principles of free speech in America.  In accepting the award, Harrison told the audience of approximately 250 socially responsible entrepreneurs and investors from around California that the precious opportunity in America to start a business or invent a product that bucks the establishment is akin to the rights guaranteed to U.S. citizens by the First Amendment and should never be taken for granted.

KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh Debuts Weekend Car Show.  Using in-house talent Vinnie Richichi and Rob Pratte, the CBS Radio news/talk station brings “Drivetime” to the air  on KDKA-AM Saturday mornings at 7:00 am.  Richichi (pictured here at right) is a midday personality on the company’s sports talk KDKA-FM – 93.7 The Fan – and Pratte ( at left) is a 30-year veteran of KDKA-AM where he’s a sports reporter and host of “Weekend Magazine.”  The station states, “‘Drivetime’ will be a weekly mix of ‘guy next door’ car reviews, interviews with interesting and informative guests from the automotive world and interactive calls from listeners.  Topics will range from selling a car, how to get the most out of your automotive experience and even include discussions on the best drive-in movies in Pennsylvania.  Richichi and Pratte approach the show with humor and the passion both feel about their wheels.”  Richichi has been reviewing cars for more than 25 years and produces a “Drivetime” radio feature that airs across America and Canada.  He says, “It’s a show that gives people who are into cars a place to talk about what they love with two guys who get grease under their fingernails before every show.”

Sid Rosenberg Returns to Miami Airwaves Today.  Trouble-prone (but extremely talented) sports talk show host Sid Rosenberg returns to the airwaves today as morning drive host on WMEN 640, Royal Palm Beach, Florida after losing his job at WQAM 560, Miami shortly after being hit with a DUI charge in April.  According to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, that was only his most recent bout with drugs, alcohol and gambling, addictions that had sent him to rehab twice and cost him at least five jobs, by his count. “I don’t blame them. I fired myself. I’m accountable,” said Rosenberg, whose April case is pending. He said he hasn’t had a drink in four months and has attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings daily. He also attends Gamblers Anonymous meetings, going eight months since his last bet. (He lost $750 when Florida State didn’t cover the point spread in its 23-19 win over Miami on Nov. 12.) The report goes on to say that Rosenberg is “really trying” to be humble. That’s the first of AA’s 12 steps to a successful recovery.

Philadelphia Talk Host Dom Giordano Moderates Voter ID Law Panel.  WPHT, Philadelphia midday talk host Dom Giordano served as the moderator during yesterday’s “Winning in 2012: Maximizing the Vote and Minimizing the Fraud” panel discussion of Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law sponsored by the Independence Hall Tea Party Association and held on Independence Mall.  The program was headlined by American Spectator senior editor John Fund and included: political analyst and election law expert, Rich Zeoli; Linda Kerns, Esquire; a GOTV workshop conducted by Martin Gillespie, NE Regional Director of American Majority, and attorney Matt Rooney of SaveJersey.com.

Odds & Sods. Salem Radio Network morning drive host Bill Bennett has a special connection to newly-named Republican veep choice Rep. Paul Ryan.  Chairman Ryan once worked for Bennett years ago when he and Jack Kemp created the Washington think tank Empower America…..According to a report by The Press of Atlantic City the recent shooting death of New Jersey talk show host April Kauffman has sparked a marked increase in applications for gun permits in the city of Linwood.  Police there say the number of requests is on its way to doubling last year’s number – a trend they indicate has been prompted by the shooting. No arrests have been made in the case of 47-year-old Kauffman, a businesswoman and radio show host who was known widely as an advocate for military veterans.

Feliz Cumpleanos.  ESPN Deportes Dallas (KZMP-AM) celebrates its fifth anniversary as the first ESPN O&O to take the ESPN Deportes Spanish-language sports format.  To celebrate, the station broadcast live on August 9 from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm at Ojos Locos in Dallas.  Pictured here are: Back Row — fifth from the left (blue shirt) Pete Dits, VP/general manager, ESPN Dallas; sixth from left Rafa Ramos, host of Deportes’ Raza Deportiva;  seventh from left Tato Noriega, former Mexican National team player and ESPN Deportes TV personality.  Front Row – fourth from left (black shirt) Jim Roberts, senior director/Deportes Local Radio Group and ESPN Deportes Dallas station manager.

There’s No Business Like Show Business. Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher spent this past weekend appearing onstage in Los Angeles.  Gallagher, who—in addition to his daily SRN program and his duties as a regular contributor to the FOX News Channel—is a member of Actor’s Equity, was guest starring in the West Coast production of the Tony Award-winning “MEMPHIS: The Musical.”  As he was leaving his dressing room backstage at the historic Pantages Theatre, who walked up to greet Gallagher but legendary director and funnyman Mel Brooks. Brooks essayed the role of backstage theatre critic and gave Gallagher’s performance a big thumbs-up.

 

Coming Tomorrow.  Noted talk radio consultant Holland Cooke presents an informative and provocative piece exploring how you can tell a lot about a news/talk station from its weekend programming — or lack thereof.