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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

| January 26, 2022

Darren Moore Named Vice President/General Manager for Cox Media Group Ohio. Television sales executive Darren Moore is named vice president and general manager for Cox Media Group Ohio that includes heritage news/talk WHIO-AM/FM, two music formatted stations and WHIO-TV. Moore will oversee all operations at the outlets including news, programming, sales, digital, engineering, production and community affairs. Moore joined CMG 26 years ago as an intern for WPXI-TV, Pittsburgh. He served with WAXN-TV, Charlotte before returning to CMG Pittsburgh where he served in various sales management roles.  CMG EVP of Television Paul Curran says, “Darren’s passion for people, the broadcasting industry and CMG is infectious and inspiring. His strong track record of forging internal and external relationships will make a positive impact on our Dayton operations and in the Dayton community. I look forward to watching him excel in this new role as our approach to broadcasting in Dayton continues to evolve.” Moore comments, “I am honored to join the outstanding broadcasters at CMG Ohio, home to some of the most iconic TV and radio brands in the entire industry. I can’t wait to start working with the Dayton team, further enhancing our award-winning brands, serving our customers and viewers, and partnering with the local Miami Valley community.”

Steve Moore Promoted to OM for Audacy St. Louis. Programming pro Steve Moore is promoted to operations manager for Audacy St. Louis. In this role, Moore will oversee the markets’ six brands, including heritage news/talk KMOX-AM and news/talk KFTK-FM and its four music formatted sister stations. Audacy St. Louis VP and market manager Becky Domyan says, “I am beyond delighted to have Steve ascend into this new role. He has been so instrumental in building operational alignment, collaboration, and synergy across our St. Louis footprint. I am looking forward to Steve helping us continue to grow our incredible brands.” Moore comments, “I couldn’t be more excited for this new opportunity. I appreciate the trust that Becky Domyan and Audacy have shown me and I’m looking forward to working more closely with Derrick, Leo and the talented broadcasters on these incredible music stations.”

FOXNews.com Tops in Multiplatform Minutes in 2021. According to data from Comscore, FOX News Media’s FOXNews.com finished 2021 as “the top-performing news brand in the competitive set, delivering 38 billion total multiplatform minutes… FOXNews.com also toppled nearly every news organization in the competitive set, outpacing NYTimes.com and WashingtonPost.com in all categories for the entire year.” In its head-to-head battle with CNN.com, FOXNews.com had 37.8 billion multiplatform total minutes compared to CNN.com’s 35.5 billion. CNN.com topped FOXNews.com in the multiplatform total views metric (20.3 billion versus 18.4 billion) and in the average monthly multiplatform unique visitors metric (139 million versus 86 million). FOX News says 2021 marked its highest non-election year on record in social engagement. The digital network hit a new high in Instagram interactions, reaching over 286 million, its best year to date. 2021 also was a record year for the highest amount of video views ever for FOX News, driving nearly 4 billion video views across YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. The network saw increases of nearly 10% in YouTube Video Views versus the prior year, driving slightly over 3 billion views.

Round One of Holiday PPMs Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 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 Holiday 2021 sweep covered December 9 – January 5. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Nielsen’s annual Holiday PPM survey is traditionally not good to spoken word radio stations as so much listening is attributed to music outlets playing Christmas music. Bucking the trend, both of Audacy’s New York all-news stations were up compared to the December survey. WINS added six-tenths to finish with a 4.4 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and rose to the #5 rank while WCBS-AM added four-tenths for a 2.6 share finish good for the #13 rank. In Dallas, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WBAP-AM tacked on two-tenths for a 3.0 share but remained in the #14 rank. Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta dipped eight-tenths to a 5.8 share and sliding to the #5 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets here.

Wendy Bell Gets Weekend Show on Newsmax. Longtime Pittsburgh television and radio personality Wendy Bell is joining Newsmax for a weekend program titled “Wendy Bell Common Sense.” The program will debut this Saturday (1/29) at 4:30 pm ET and “will examine the news of the day with a lively approach to national issues.” (It will air again on Sundays at 3:30 PM ET.) Bell says, “People are hungry for common sense in this country, and that’s what this new program is about. Telling the truth, having great conversations, talking about what really matters. It’s going to be outstanding.” Bell also hosts a syndicated talk radio program that airs live from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET. Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy comments, “Wendy Bell has had a remarkable career as a television journalist and radio host, and throughout it all has been an advocate of common sense and American values. We are glad to have her on the Newsmax team.”

Salem Media Group Names Ron DeSantis ‘Culture Warrior of the Year.’ Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is named “2021 Salem Culture Warrior of the Year” by Salem Media Group. The honor is the result of voting by Salem listeners and DeSantis received 52% of the vote among the six finalists. Salem listeners were given the chance to nominate anyone who fits the category. Salem SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce says, “Governor DeSantis is well deserving of this honor, and it proves how strong he is not only in Florida, but also across the country. Last year this award was given to Candace Owens, so both honorees are well deserving of the respect and admiration of the Salem audience across the country.”

MIW Offers ‘Understanding Broadcast Law’ Program. The Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio organization – dedicated to the advancement of female leadership in radio broadcasting – announces a new career enhancing program titled, “Understanding Broadcast Law,” sponsored by Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth Law, PLC.  The “Understanding Broadcast Law” program is built to clarify the numerous legal issues inherent to the radio business. In addition to underwriting the program, which runs throughout 2022, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth partners Frank Montero and Kathleen Victory and their team will host a series of free and on-demand videos dedicated to answering questions and providing practical and applicable information as it pertains to radio law. From EEO to FCC license renewals and contracts, to conversations with corporate lawyers, each unique and informative video will be easily accessible on a variety of platforms. MIW board president Ruth Presslaff says, “Knowledge is power, and the opportunity to empower more women by demystifying legal issues is huge. We are beyond grateful for Fletcher, Heald and Hildreth’s sponsorship of this important series. Frank and his team are providing an invaluable opportunity to the MIW community and the industry.” To ensure that these instructive videos focus on areas of highest need and priority, MIW is asking for feedback from interested participants. They have created a survey that you can take here.

WhyHunger ‘Hungerthon’ Raises $920,000 from Holiday Campaign. The 36th annual Hungerthon campaign raised more than $920,000 “to support true solutions to hunger and build social justice for all.” The organization WhyHunger partnered with Audacy New York, iHeartMedia New York and SiriusXM to engage listeners and raise funds. Celebrity supporters like vitafusion Gummy Vitamins ambassador Tiffany Haddish, Yoko Ono Lennon and Bruce Springsteen lent their voices to the issue. The radio partners hosted live broadcasts featuring exclusive interviews on topics such as hunger and health, the root causes of hunger, women in food justice and COVID-19’s impact on hunger, while raising funds through auction items, donation drives and social media engagement. The Audacy New York stations – including sports talk WFAN, all-newsers WINS and WCBS-AM – hosted a radiothon on November 23 raising more than $400,000. Items donated for auction included a Bruce Springsteen autographed guitar, a Bob Weir autographed guitar, a chance to sit in on WFAN’s “Boomer & Gio” show, and more.

Broadcasters Foundation of America Receives Top Score from Charity Navigator. The Broadcasters Foundation of America proudly announces it has achieved a rating of 100 from Charity Navigator, the world’s largest and most trusted nonprofit evaluator. The evaluation process takes place over a seven-year period and uses Charity Navigator’s Encompass Rating System. The Broadcasters Foundation received a score of 100 in finance & accountability, reflecting its solid financial health (stability, efficiency, and sustainability) and commitment to governance practices and policies. In addition, the Broadcasters Foundation also received full credit at 72% for its Program Expense Ratio, which measures the percent of total expenses spent on the programs and services it exists to deliver. BFoA co-president Jim Thompson says, “We are very proud to receive this high level of accreditation from Charity Navigator. We have worked diligently to maximize our budget to provide the aid that so many in our industry desperately need. Life-altering illness or accident can devastate a family’s financial situation, and the Broadcasters Foundation is committed to easing that strain for our colleagues who qualify.” For more information, visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org.

Ukraine Tensions, COVID-19, Financial Markets/Inflation/Crypto Plunge, Urban Violent Crime Spike, Midterms/Trump & GOP, Boris Johnson Troubles, the Beijing Olympics, and Baseball Hall of Fame Snubs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/25). The global tensions over Russia’s military build-up at the Ukraine border; COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad plus legal battles over mask & vaccine mandates; the skittish world financial markets, high retail and oil prices & the plunge in cryptocurrency; the spike in violent crime in America’s large cities; the battle for control of Congress in the November midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the ropes for violating his own COVID regulations; the drama surrounding the Beijing Olympics; and the Baseball Hall of Fame doesn’t admit Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds on their final ballots were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

| November 18, 2021

KHTK Ropes In Cattles As PD. Three-year WVSP “ESPN Radio 94.1” afternoon drive personality Nick Cattles is leaving the Max Media Norfolk sports station to join Bonneville Sacramento’s similarly-formatted KHTK “Sports 1140” as program director. In addition to his PD duties which begin next month (12/13), Cattles will host KHTK’s PM drive show. Bonneville Sacramento senior vice president/market manager Steve Cottingim remarks, “Now that we have extended our relationship with the [NBA’s] Sacramento Kings, we couldn’t be more excited to add someone to the KHTK team who has the passion and experience that Nick does.” Bonneville Sacramento group director of programming Chad Rufer notes, “The sports programming team at Bonneville International has had our eye on Nick for a while. We couldn’t be more excited that he will be joining our team in Sacramento to lead KHTK.” Cattles adds, “I couldn’t be happier or more excited to join a brand with such a rich tradition. I look forward to this challenge and doing whatever I can to make sure KHTK remains the king of sports talk in Sacramento.” He succeeds Jason Ross, who remains with the station. Cattles’ final show on WVSP will be next Wednesday (11/24).

Radio Mercury Awards Winners Announced. Those scoring top honors in the 30th anniversary Radio Mercury Awards were disclosed last night (Wednesday, 11/17) in a Radio Advertising Bureau-produced virtual ceremony. BBDO Atlanta chief judge/chief creative officer Robin Fitzgerald comments, “This year, it took us two days to fully deliberate, as this year’s winners really impressed the jury with their overall approach to messaging and storytelling. The winning work shone through, made us laugh, feel inspired and even made us a little hungry for soup dumplings.” RAB president/chief executive officer/Radio Creative Fund chair Erica Farber notes, “The 30th anniversary awards presentation once again reflected the power of radio creative and its ability to grow brands and deliver for advertisers. The Radio Mercury Awards continue to advance the medium forward by showcasing innovative, creative and effective radio and audio commercial work.” The following is the list of winning spots. Creative Radio Campaign, Agency/Production Company/Advertiser/Radio Station or Group: “Barbershop Quartet,” Progressive Insurance, Arnold Worldwide; Motel 6 “2020 Radio Campaign,” Motel 6, The Richards Group. Creative Radio Spot for a Cause, Agency/Production Company/Advertiser: “How to Play Soccer,” The Aspen Institute’s Project Play, Arnold Worldwide. Creative Radio Spot, Agency/Production Company/Advertiser: Snickers “Commercial Free,” Mars Chocolate North America, BBDO New York; “Car Dealership,” Postmates, Mother LA. Creative Radio Spot, Insightful Voice: “Meemaw,” Motel 6, Barkley. Creative Radio Spot, Radio Station or Group: “Disco Colonoscopy,” Kansas Medical Clinic, Alpha Media; “Ballwash.Com Valentine’s Day 2020,” Ballsy, Cumulus Media Atlanta. Creative Spot for a Cause, Radio Station or Group: “Black Voices of Humboldt County #2,” In-House PSA, Lost Coast Communications. Creative Use of Non-broadcast Audio: “Bedtime Stories,” Walmart, FCB Chicago; “Radio Recliner,” Bridge Senior Living, Luckie. Creative Use of Songs/Music (Original or Repurposed): “Chinchilla,” Absolute Roofing, The Studio at iHeartMedia. Integrated Brand Campaign with Radio/Audio: “When All You Can Food Is Think About,” Postmates, Mother LA. Purpose-Driven Spot or Campaign, Agency/Production Company/Advertiser/Radio Station or Group: “Bingo Recovery,” Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance, Preston Spire. Radio Station or Group Promotional Spot or Campaign: “Black Excellence,” In-House Campaign, iHeartMedia. It was announced during the awards that Campbell Ewald Detroit/New York executive creative director Alejandro Ortiz will be chief judge for the 2022 Radio Mercury Awards.

Katz Media Group Adds Another $45,000 For BFA. During its eleventh annual company-wide membership drive, Katz Media Group has raised $45,000 for The Broadcasters Foundation of America, bringing the total amount to nearly $400,000 since the drive’s inception. All money garnered during Katz’s annual two-week campaign goes toward the Stu Olds Memorial Fund that commemorates Katz’s former chief executive officer and supports the Foundation’s mission to provide support to broadcast professionals in dire need. Katz Media Group chief executive officer Mark Gray comments, “As a longstanding board member, I have seen first-hand how the money raised helps broadcasters in need. I’m incredibly proud of the continued generosity of the Katz team to continue this tradition to honor Stu’s legacy and give back to our industry.” Broadcasters Foundation of America co-president Jim Thompson states, “We are grateful to the entire team at Katz for their continued support of our charitable cause. Our purpose at the Foundation is to provide aid to those in our industry who need it most, whether it be monthly assistance from life-altering circumstances or a one-time emergency grant to help victims of natural disasters. With the help from our friends and colleagues at Katz, we can help more broadcasters in need across the country.” For over 70 years, the Broadcasters Foundation has provided aid ranging from medical care to financial assistance to broadcasters and their families across the United States. This year, the Foundation will give away more than $1.8 million in monthly and emergency grants, including victims of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires.

WGN To Team Dent And Bertrand In PM Drive. Effective 1/3 (2022), Nexstar Chicago news/talk WGN will elevate part-timer Lisa Dent to afternoon drive (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm) where she will team with Steve Bertrand. Anna Davlantes segues from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm duty to investigative correspondent. WGN Radio vice president/general manager Mary Sandberg Boyle remarks, “Lisa Dent has long been a significant and well-known presence in Chicago radio. Her vibrant personality and warmth, understanding of the city and an ability to authentically connect on a personal level with listeners makes her a natural fit for afternoon drive on WGN as we embark on our 100th  year of being the voice of Chicagoland. Anna Davlantes’ impeccable resume includes decades of award-winning investigative reporting. Few rival Anna’s commitment to serving the public in anticipating, exposing, and breaking important stories. We are fortunate to have her expertise at WGN Radio.” A fill-in host on WGN since January, Rockford (Illinois) native Dent began her radio career in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin in 1981. She has worked in Houston, Seattle, Minneapolis, and San Diego before returning to Chicago in 2002. A 2016 Country Radio Hall of Fame inductee, Dent previously hosted at Chicago country outlets (Audacy-owned) WUSN “US-99” and iHeartMedia’s WEBG “Big 99.5.” Beginning January 3, WGN’s revised lineup will include: WGN-TV simulcast (4:00 am – 6:00 am); Bob Sirrott (6:00 am – 10:00 am); John Williams (10:00 am – 2:00 pm); “Chicago’s Afternoon News with Lisa Dent and Steve Bertrand” (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm); “WGN Radio’s Money Matters” (6:00 pm – 7:00 pm, airing early-2022); and John Landecker (7:00 pm -10:00 pm).

VICE World News Seeks Archival Conservative News/Talk Radio Airchecks for Forthcoming Documentary. The TV arm of VICE World News is producing a four-part documentary series on the history of talk radio, from the 1980s through present day. This series utilizes a combination of original footage with archival materials. The production is currently seeking archival recordings of conservative talk radio programs, particularly from 1989 – 1995, including material that is on tape and not digitized. If you have any archival audio recordings that meet this description, please contact archival producer Elijah Stevens at elijah.stevens@vice.com.

COVID-19, Inflation/Supply Chain, January 6 Investigation, Infrastructure Bill, Ahmaud Arbery Case and Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/17). According to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine, some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday (11/17) included: The increased rate of COVID-19 cases in some parts of the country, boosters, and mask & vaccine mandates; soaring retail and fuel prices and the supply chain slowdown; the House investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol; President Biden signing his $1.2 trillion Infrastructure package into law; the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial taking place in Georgia; and the jury deliberates in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha.

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Links With iHM For Weekly Podcast. The 15-minute/52-episode “Amazing Wildlife” podcast series will post each Friday, beginning tomorrow (11/19). Highlights include unique wildlife stories from around the world, as well as conservation efforts happening on site at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. iHeartPodcast Network chief operating officer Will Pearson remarks, “With ‘Amazing Wildlife,’ we are excited to expand iHeart’s educational and entertaining podcast offerings for families and kids of all ages. We have so much to learn around wildlife and conservation efforts, especially when it comes to how we can all be helpful in ways big and small. We’re excited to work alongside the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance to continue to provide these educational resources.” San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA) chief marketing officer David Miller states, “San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has been doing amazing conservation work for decades, and this podcast is the latest opportunity for us to share the impact this organization has had on conserving wildlife and wild spaces. The family-friendly nature of the show is yet another way we’re working to inspire the next generation of conservationists.” Co-hosting the podcast are wildlife care specialist/San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance ambassador Rick Schwartz and SDZWA senior editor Ebone Monet. According to Schwartz, “We’re fortunate to work with iHeartMedia on this podcast. My hope is to inspire younger generations to be active in conservation efforts. I’m honored to be hosting the podcast alongside Ebone Monet and to share my passion for what I’ve learned throughout my years working at the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.” The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is an international nonprofit conservation organization that oversees the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Three Board Members Added To NAB Leadership Foundation. Among those elected to the National Association of Broadcasters Leadership Foundation are Black Information Network president/iHeartMedia Division president of metro markets Tony Coles. Joining Coles are Cox Media Group executive vice president Paul J. Curran Jr. and Allen Media Group executive vice president of global human resources Melody Smalls. NAB Leadership Foundation chair/Bonneville International KSL Broadcast Group president Darrell Brown comments, “We are grateful for our board’s guidance as we work to develop leaders, advance diversity, and highlight the community service initiatives of our industry.” NAB Leadership Foundation president Michelle Duke notes, “We want to thank the new members for their willingness to serve and look forward to their insights as we continue to expand our programs and prepare the next generation of industry leaders.” Coles joined iHeartMedia in 2004 and has held various on-air, programming and management positions. Most recently, he was executive vice president/programming for the company’s west region. Prior to his current position, Curran served as Cox Media Group’s market vice president for Orlando, which included WDBO-AM “Orlando’s News Talk;” country WWKA “K-92.3”; classic rock WMMO; urban AC WCFB “Star 94.5”; rhythmic CHR WPYO “Power 95.3”; and Spanish contemporary WOEX “Solo Exitos.” Smalls oversees global human resources strategy for all Allen Media Group divisions, including Allen Media Broadcasting, Entertainment Studios Networks, Local Now and The Weather Channel. She previously worked as The Weather Channel’s chief human resources and compliance officer.

TALKERS News Notes. In a special edition of ABC Audio’s “Start Here” podcast (today, 11/18), host Brad Mielke interviews former U.S. Attorney John Brownlee along with Danny Strong, the creator of Hulu’s “Dopesick,” about the explosion of OxyContin that resulted in millions of addicted Americans … College basketball analyst Greg “Hoops” Peterson hosts iHeart Podcast Network’s “Coast To Coast Hoops,” a daily show offering betting analysis on top ten teams and other games … A commercial-free version of ESPN Radio has been added to TuneIn Premium. This partnership adds to TuneIn’s premium lineup of commercial-free stations which includes MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News Radio. TuneIn chief executive officer Richard Stern notes, “Millions of people around the world trust ESPN to provide them with the latest and greatest in sports coverage and commentary. TuneIn is committed to meeting our listeners’ demand for timely and uninterrupted sports talk. As longtime partners with ESPN, we are incredibly excited to bring ESPN Radio commercial-free to TuneIn Premium, and give our listeners even more sports to consume.” Current TuneIn Premium subscribers can access commercial-free ESPN Radio immediately. Access to the existing ad-supported ESPN Radio remains available to non-subscribers … The Big 12 Conference has banned Texas Tech football radio play-by-play voice Brian Jensen and analyst John Harris from calling this Saturday’s game (11/20) against Oklahoma State for criticizing officials and the conference commissioner during last Saturday’s victory against Iowa State. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby notes, “I understand the roles of the play-by-play [announcer] and color analyst. However, as University representatives, they have an obligation to adhere to Conference policy regarding comments about game officials. Comments by the Red Raider Radio Network booth announcers were contrary to expected levels of respect and professionalism. Questioning the integrity of Conference officials is well beyond appropriate and permissible behavior.” Jensen and Harris suggested that one official acted as though he had sustained a concussion and that the officials did not want Iowa State to lose.

Futuri Debuts TopicPulse SportsEdge. According to Futuri chief executive officer Daniel Anstandig, “Sports betting advertising is one of the fastest-growing revenue streams for broadcasters.” He claims the eSports market is “predicted to grow to $3 billion by 2023.” With that in mind, Futuri introduces TopicPulse SportsEdge, a version of its real-time, AI-powered story discovery and social content system customized for eSports, betting, VR and fantasy content. The service provides 24/7 access to insights on sports-related stories and hot topics, as well as what’s losing traction. Anstandig comments, “Given the explosive growth of this space, TopicPulse SportsEdge is right in line with Futuri’s mission to help media companies grow their content, grow their audience, and grow their revenue.” TopicPulse SportsEdge’s “IdeaStarters” delivers pre-written copy points on the day’s top stories for use in blogs, social posts and on-air copy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

| November 10, 2020

iHeartMedia Third Quarter Revenue Down 22%. The earnings report from iHeartMedia for the third quarter of 2020 shows the media company in a slightly better situation than some of its similar-sized competitors as revenue was $744 million, a decrease of 22% over the same period in 2019. (Cumulus Media and Entercom were both down 30% and Beasley was down 25%.) iHeartMedia says that its third quarter revenue was up “53% sequentially, moving from down 47% [year-over-year] in Q2 to down 22% [year-over-year] in Q3. The company adds that October revenue increased 2%, benefitting from significant political advertising and digital revenue increased 17% [year-over-year]. Breaking the report down by segment, broadcast revenue declined 29% from $573 million in Q3 2019 to $404 million this year but increased 66% quarter-over-quarter. Networks revenue declined 26% from $160 million to $119 million but increased 24% quarter-over-quarter. Digital revenue increased 17%, from $97 million to $113 million, led by a 74% increase in podcasting revenue. iHeartMedia posted a loss of $32 million in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the net income of $12 million in Q3 of 2019.

iHM’s Pittman: Podcasting Already Profitable for Us. During yesterday’s investors conference call, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman explained the success of its podcasting segment. He said, “Podcasting continues to be our strongest performing business line, reflecting the fact that we built iHeart into the number one commercial podcast publisher in America, with 252 million downloads a month as of September, which is up 71% year-over-year. In Q3, as measured by Podtrac, we were number one in downloads each month. Our audience continues to be more than twice the size of the next largest commercial podcaster. And we extend that our lead over all other ranked podcasters. Let me share with you our model. We partner with the best content creators in the world – some of whom are our very own radio talent – distribute their content to the largest audience possible without a paywall, and use the unparalleled scale of our broadcast radio business as a built-in marketing machine to drive engagement with our podcast shows. We feel this is an important part of our secret sauce. It’s how we continue to build hit podcast after hit podcast, and how we continue to grow our leadership position. According to Podtrac’s latest data, not only are we number one overall, but we currently have the most shows featured across all categories, and we have ranked shows featured in all 19 possible categories, the most among all publishers. Let me be clear, podcasting is already a profitable business for us, and has an EBITDA margin that is higher than the overall company margin. Our podcast business is advertiser supported, it’s not subscription based, and it’s not behind a paywall, which enables our creators to share their passion with the widest audience possible, as we distribute their podcast not only on the iHeartRadio app, but across as many other distribution platforms as possible.”

Entercom Closes on $32 Million Acquisition of QL Gaming Group. According to a press release, Entercom Communications’ acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group will give Entercom “unrivaled data, analytics, and insight-driven content to Entercom’s best-in-class sports broadcast stations, influential podcasts, and RADIO.COM.” The QLGG technology portfolio includes sports betting data and analytical capabilities (BetQL), daily fantasy sports (RotoQL), simulation-based sports outcome predictions and game forecasting (AccuScore), and comprehensive analytical coverage of the ATP and WTA Tours (TennisInsight.com), each with respective subscriber base and licensing opportunities. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “As the sports betting marketplace continues to grow exponentially, the acquisition of QL Gaming Group is a perfect fit for our unrivaled sports audio platform. Integrating QL’s analytics and content with our sports brands enables us to deliver unparalleled experiences for sports fans. The acquisition builds on our track record of digital growth and further enhances our direct-to-consumer technology portfolio with data and analytics capabilities, while also adding an innovative new subscription offering to our platform.” Justin Park, QLGG co-founder and CEO, will continue to lead the business reporting to Entercom president of sports Mike Dee and Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley. Entercom adds that in 2021, under the company’s first full year of ownership, QL Gaming Group is expected to generate approximately $12 million in revenue with an EBITDA margin in the high 20s.

Flag Family Media Partners with Forum Communications to Operate WDAY-AM, Fargo. A deal between Flag Family Media and Forum Communications will give the former “an extensive role in WDAY-AM’s day-to-day operations and provides an eventual path to ownership.” Flag Family Media owns news/talk outlets WZFG, Fargo “AM 1100 The Flag” KTGO, Tioga, North Dakota “AM 1090 The Flag.” Both of Flag Family Media’s principals – Steve Hallstrom and Scott Hennen – have worked at WDAY-AM in the past. Forum president and CEO Bill Marcil, Jr says, “This partnership allows us to focus our attention on our in-depth TV, digital, and print news operations while still sustaining a strong local radio presence in the region. We know Flag Family Media will honor the legacy of WDAY-AM and are looking forward to seeing how they transform our region’s radio experience.” Scott Hennen adds, “This is an extremely significant day for our company, and we look forward to learning from, and working with, some great professionals at WDAY Radio. Steve and I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and bring some energy and creativity to this legendary radio station.”

WOR, New York’s Michael Riedel Publishes New Broadway Book. WOR, New York morning drive co-host Michael Riedel has released his second book, Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, 2020), that chronicles “a transformative decade on Broadway, featuring gripping behind-the-scenes accounts of shows such as Rent, Angels in America, Chicago, The Lion King, and The Producers. In this book, Riedel presents the drama behind every mega-hit or shocking flop, bringing readers into high-stakes premieres, fraught rehearsals, tough contract negotiations, intense Tony Award battles, and more. From the bitter feuds to the surprising collaborations, all the intrigue of a revolutionary era in the Theater District is packed into Singular Sensation. Broadway has triumphs and disasters, but the show always goes on. Riedel, who co-hosts the WOR morning show with Len Berman, says, “I’m a newspaper guy who’s become a radio guy. It’s been my great pleasure to host the morning show with Len Berman on WOR for nearly three years. Len spent his life in sports. I spent mine on Broadway. We certainly talk a lot about politics and current events, but variety is the spice of life, so sports and Broadway are always in the mix. Broadway’s going through a tough time right now, but my book, recounts a better time – the 1990s. I have no doubt that Broadway will be back one day, and Len and I will be there to cheer it on.”

TALKERS News Notes. As eyes and ears shift to Georgia for the January 5 runoff elections to decide that state’s two U.S. Senate races, Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher’s syndicated late morning talk show will “parachute into Georgia in December” as he launches a “Save The Senate” initiative. Gallagher will use Salem’s WGKA-AM, Atlanta “AM920 The ANSWER” as his December base to follow what promises to be the most expensive runoff election in U.S. history. Gallagher says, “This pair of runoff elections in Georgia will be enormously consequential for America. I’m eager to originate my show from the studios of ‘AM 920 The ANSWER’ in Atlanta for a number of days in December, highlighting the dramatic differences between the Republicans and the Democrats in the race. It is all-hands-on-deck for Georgia!”…..The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Cincinnati Public Radio’s WVXU-FM had to shut down its operations after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the station is without much local content until further notice. It posted to its website: “Our programming is being provided through a national feed with limited local information. We apologize for this inconvenience and are doing everything possible to maintain the service you expect. We will return to normal operations as quickly as it is safe to do so.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is presenting the 2020 Masters Tournament with exclusive hole-by-hole coverage beginning Thursday (11/12) through Sunday (11/15). The 84th Masters Tournament from Augusta National Golf Club is being played in November for the first time…..San Francisco public news/talk personality Michael Krasny is retiring from his position with KQED-FM where he’s been host of the late morning “Forum” program for almost 30 years. His last program will be on February 15, 2021. He says, “I want to thank all of the listeners, guests and exceptional colleagues I’ve had the great fortune to encounter over the years as host of Forum. I’ve been unusually fortunate to sustain such a long career serving the Bay Area in a role that allows me to participate in such rich and thoughtful conversations about the topics of our times.”

Biden Transition Process/Trump Refuses to Concede, Barr Orders ‘Irregularities’ Investigations, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Pfizer Vaccine, SCOTUS Obamacare Case, Trump Fires Esper, and Georgia Runoff Elections Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/9). President-Elect Joe Biden proceeds with the transition process while President Trump refuses to concede the election; Attorney General Bill Barr orders Justice Department election crimes office to investigate voter “irregularities”; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and in Europe and projections for fall and winter cases; Pfizer announces its COVID vaccine is 90% effective; the Supreme Court begins hearing arguments on the Affordable Care Act; President Trump fires Defense Secretary Mark Esper and appoints Christopher Miller acting secretary; and the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats 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. Country radio on-air pro Brooke Taylor is named midday host at iHeartMedia’s WSIX-FM, Nashville “The BIG 98.” Taylor was most recently with the company’s Chicago country station “BIG 95.5” until that station’s recent flip to a rock format. Taylor will continue to host the night show for iHeartMedia Denver’s “107.7 The Bull” and broadcast on several iHeartCountry stations across the country. She says, “When I set out to work in country music, one of the first things I prayed for was to be in Nashville one day, and the fact that this is becoming a reality is honestly a dream come true. I can’t wait to join an already incredible team at ‘The BIG 98’ and to represent the iHeartCountry brand.”…..Alpha Media Lincoln names Joe Dobbins, a.k.a. JDub, content director for CHR KFRX. JDub comes to Lincoln from Alpha’s CHR WDJX, Louisville where he was content director and afternoon show host. Alpha Media Lincoln operations manager Rob Kelley comments, “Joe is an outstanding programmer with outstanding vision. He is the perfect leader for our staff and for the brand of a great heritage CHR like KFRX.”…..iHeartMedia’s nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” announces that its fourth annual #Change4Change broadcast will feature a day of giving to help listeners in need. Traditionally a radiothon, this year’s event will grant wishes to listeners experiencing hardship. #Change4Change will broadcast on Thursday, November 19, 2020 on hip hop WWPR, New York “Power 105.1” and across more than 77 affiliates of “The Breakfast Club.”…..WXKB, Fort Myers “B103.9FM” morning personality and Army veteran Jason “Big Mama” Jones, in conjunction with ABC 7, raising awareness and support for Home Base Southwest Florida Veteran and Family Care on Veterans Day (11/11). Jones also hosts Beasley Media Group’s “Bravery Network,” a weekend program dedicated to shining a light on important issues and services available for veterans and their families. He says, “I am very excited about this partnership. Being able to use the power of radio and television to help raise awareness and money for the veterans of Southwest Florida. I am planning some ‘star’-studded guest for the day that will not only make show informative but very entertaining as well.”…..The CHR evening show “Party LiveLine!” partners with Sun Broadcast Group effective immediately. The program was created by John Garabedian and his hosted by Mason Kelter. SBG chief development officer Rich O’Brien says, “Broadcasters are worried about the loss of TSL among 18-34-year-olds, who spend extraordinary amounts of time with streaming services on their mobile devices. Add to this the negative effects which RIFs and voicetracking have had on the ratings of Top 40 stations, and until now there were no good alternatives. That’s why we are so excited to be offering this breakthrough Top 40 night show which is 100% live and interactive.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

| August 12, 2020

Sumner Redstone Has Died. According to a statement from ViacomCBS, its chair emeritus and chief executive officer of controlling shareholder National Amusements, Sumner Redstone, has died. Redstone served as Viacom CEO from 1996 – 2005, and was executive chair of the Viacom and CBS boards from 2005 – 2016. He since was chair emeritus for both companies. A statement reads, “Sumner Redstone was a brilliant visionary, operator, and dealmaker, who single-handedly transformed a family-owned drive-in theater company into a global media portfolio. He was a force of nature and fierce competitor, who leaves behind a profound legacy in both business and philanthropy. ViacomCBS will remember Sumner for his unparalleled passion to win, his endless intellectual curiosity, and his complete dedication to the company. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Redstone family today.” Sumner Redstone was 97 years old.

Beasley Study: Boston Consumers Optimistic. Results of Beasley Media Group Boston-commissioned/ Strategic Solutions Research-conducted polling indicate the majority of Boston-area consumers remain optimistic even during the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, a large percentage feel their spending is – or will soon be – back to normal. Beasley Media Group Boston vice president/market manager Mary Menna comments, “The company’s study is meant to help guide marketing partners on how to craft the most effective messaging with their advertising and give Boston area businesses critical data as to local consumers’ current state-of-mind and planned future behaviors. It was important for us to conduct this research to get a pulse on Boston consumers for our clients. People in Boston are optimistic that we will make it through the pandemic. That optimism shows true ‘Boston Strong’ grit and determination. They also understand the seriousness of the situation: The great majority of listeners – nine of ten – support wearing a mask, and they expect others to do so as well.” Strategic Solutions Research partner Hal Rood notes that, while shopping patterns have had to shift online, “It does not spell the end of brick-and-mortar establishments. The overwhelming majority of listeners still plan on making in-person shopping part of their mix, and that includes people under 35.” The survey was conducted July 6 – 16 among 1,532 listeners of Beasley Media Group Boston’s five radio stations: sports talk WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub”; classic hits-oldies WROR “105.7 ’80s & More”; WKLB “Country 102.5”; WBOS “Boston’s Rock 92.9”; and rhythmic hot AC WBQT “Hot 96.9.”

Local Ad Revenue Estimates Lowered. Continuing economic fallout owing to the coronavirus crisis has led BIA Advisory Services to adjust its estimate for 2020’s total local advertising market to $140.4 billion, which is down from April’s $144.3 billion. Albeit with this year’s anticipated strong political advertising, BIA’s updated forecast estimate represents a 6.1% decline from 2019. BIA’s senior vice president/chief economist Mark Fratrik explains that, “To update our post-COVID forecast from April, we analyzed the continuing impact on local advertising by the weakened economy, continuing job loss reports, and the downturn in some key business verticals. We believe a realistic view of the economy overall and the advertising marketplace is that, after a dramatic decrease in the second-quarter and a bumpy start to the third, the remainder of the year will turn positive, but end up with an overall decline in local advertising for the year.” As political campaigns continue to drift to online rallies and events, presidential and down-ballot candidates are spending significant dollars in local broadcast and digital advertising. Ever since its April prediction, BIA increased the expected political ad spend from $7.1 billion to $7.3 billion. Distributed share to different media includes $5 million to terrestrial radio; $138 million to over-the-air TV; $40 million to cable TV; and $26 million to online/digital.

COVID-19 Concerns Cause BFA Golf Tourney Cancellation. Owing to coronavirus-related safety fears, the Broadcasters Foundation of America has scrubbed its celebrity golf tournament fundraiser. Another big BFA money driver – the Philip J. Lombardo Golf Tournament traditionally held in conjunction with the NAB Show in Las Vegas – was cancelled as well a few months ago. Broadcasters Foundation chair Scott Herman remarks, “Our colleagues who find themselves in acute need due to a debilitating illness or accident need our help. This year, we are helping more broadcasters than ever before, and it’s imperative that we continue to do so. We cannot turn our backs on our colleagues.” Broadcasters Foundation president Jim Thompson adds, “We have three major fundraisers a year, and the golf tournaments are two of them. Our grant recipients worked in radio or television stations in markets across America.” The two golf fundraisers, along with smaller events, generate over $450,000 a year. In hopes of negating the losses, the Broadcasters Foundation is launching a plea for donations. Personal contributions can be made to the Foundation’s Guardian Fund. Corporate offerings are accepted through the Angel Initiative, while bequests can be made through the Foundation’s Legacy Society.

Mr. Master Marks Milestone: Million Spots Per Week. The company behind Automation Import Manager (AIM) – Mr. Master – has processed and provided compliance for one million network spots per week nationwide. This coincides with Mr. Master announcing new AIM agreements with Neuhoff Communications (five markets/20 stations) and Forever Communications (three markets/26 stations). It has AIM renewal contracts with Entercom (44 markets/453 stations); Alpha Media (46 markets/226 stations); SummitMedia (nine markets/51 stations); and Forever Media (16 markets/63 stations). Mr. Master president Stu Jacobs states, “We are very proud that AIM has become such a widely accepted, and useful tool that helps networks, stations, and advertisers to quickly get the accurate information they need, whether they are working in-office or remotely. One million national network spots a week – 52 million spots a year – is a huge milestone for our company. We couldn’t have done it without our first-class team and the amazing clients who trust us with their accountability.”

Albuquerque’s KQTM Aligns With Cage Side Seat MMA Media. The multi-layered broadcast relationship between Team Broadcasting Albuquerque sports talk KQTM “ESPN 101.7 The Team” and Cage Side Seat MMA Media includes weekly Jim “Gries” Grieshaber-hosted longform programming; daily UFC/MMA commentaries/features; and weekly guest appearances on live programming. KQTM president Joe O’Neill comments, “It’s great to work with Jim. He’s a national-level talent connected to the pulse of UFC/MMA. We look forward to bringing “Gries” to New Mexico.” Grieshaber adds, “We’re so pumped to partner with our friends at ‘The Team’ and the great MMA fans of Albuquerque. Albuquerque is hallowed ground in our sport. It is home of the mecca of MMA gyms Jackson-Wink MMA, the GOAT Jon Jones, and legends like Holly Holm, Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez, ‘The Karate Hottie’ Michelle Waterson, and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. We’re coming strong with the best in MMA/UFC sports talk programming.”

Key Networks And Virtual Jock Partnering. In the barter basis arrangement, New Generation Radio product Virtual Jock will provide syndication company Key Networks access to its on-air talent and programming services. Virtual Jock founder/president/chief executive officer Jason Kidd explains that right before launching Virtual Jock five years ago, “Many stations were downsizing and losing strong local talent in the process. Fast forward to now and the need is greater than ever before. Teaming up with Key Networks will allow us to take things to an even higher level, expanding and offering our major market talent roster to radio stations across all formats. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with them.” Key Networks president and chief operating officer Jim Higgins comments, “The ongoing disruption from COVID-19 has severely impacted every radio company. All have eliminated some on-air positions and daypart shifts as cost-cutting moves in order to retain financial stability. Virtual Jock can now assist these groups and others by offering a no-cost barter option to fill some of these numerous holes and to also reconnect with those disenfranchised listeners. We want to work closely with stations to fill this void as radio is beginning to rebound.” Chief revenue officer Dennis Green notes, “Jason [Kidd] and his team have developed a concept that offers stations a chance to bring top-notch talent across all formats to markets from coast-to-coast. Key Networks is delighted to partner with Virtual Jock to provide a marketing opportunity that is cost-effective for stations both large and small to have dynamic and proven talent on their air.” In addition to 24/7 formats, Virtual Jock currently offers 40 full-time/in-house voice talents, as well as fully-produced audio programs and imaging. New York and Orlando-based Key Networks is a Sun & Fun Media-affiliated company.

Shondaland Audio, iHeartMedia Release Original Podcasts. As part of an arrangement between iHeartRadio and Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland Audio, three podcasts will debut this month: “You Down?”; “Criminalia”; and “Go Ask Ali.” Future podcasts will include “#Matter,” “American Coup,” and “Black Girl Lost.” According to iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne, “Shonda Rhimes is an absolute creative powerhouse. Developing these first few shows together has indicated what a strong partnership iHeartMedia and Shondaland have formed with Shondaland Audio. The breadth and depth of content that’s in progress as part of this partnership is unparalleled. We’re thrilled to work beside the Shondaland team to bring Shonda’s unique storytelling magic to podcast listeners everywhere.” Shondaland Audio chief design and digital media officer Sandie Bailey states, “Podcasts allow for innovative and intimate storytelling and that’s exactly what this slate offers – deeply human stories through a range of genres and formats aimed to engage the varied and ever- growing podcast listenership. iHeartMedia has been an incredible partner in forming Shondaland Audio. I’m thrilled that audiences will soon hear more from our collaboration with this new offering of shows.” Rhimes oversees development of the slate; Bailey manages day-to-day operations. Previously launched “Katie’s Crib,” a bi-weekly podcast following “Scandal” and “Waitress” actress Katie Lowes joined the slate three months ago. It releases a new episode tomorrow (Thursday, 8/13) that features actress Gabrielle Union.

Veritone One Signs On With Nielsen’s Podcast Buying Power Service. Audio advertising and media agency Veritone One is now subscribing to Nielsen’s Podcast Buying Power Service. Veritone One senior vice president of strategy and investment Conor Doyle comments, “As one of the largest podcast advertising agencies serving over 100 active clients across 15,000 podcasts, Nielsen’s research will help us refine our current placements and unlock market opportunities for new advertisers wanting to enter the medium. Access to consumption and audience data will attract brand advertisers who have been previously hesitant to enter the largely direct-to-consumer space. Integrating Nielsen’s unique insights along with our proprietary AI-based analytics and decades of experience will enable us to set a new industry standard in podcast advertising.” Nielsen Global Media executive vice president/managing director David Hohman notes, “Veritone One is an agency that is on the cutting-edge of advertising. We are excited to empower them as they turn their data into actionable intelligence with real-time campaign optimization. With more brand advertisers coming into the podcast medium, and Nielsen’s ability to analyze over 150 podcasts, Veritone One will be able to reach even greater success as an innovative industry leader.”

TALKERS News Notes. “Women To Watch” joins the lineup of Red Apple Media New York’s WABC “Talk Radio 77” this Saturday (8/15) at 8:30 am. It will commence as a 30-minute show, expanding to 60 minutes three weeks later (9/5) at a yet-to-be-determined time. The show’s founder/host Susan Rocco remarks, “I always wanted ‘Women to Watch’ to be the go-to media network for all stories related to women’s leadership and success. We are building a woman-owned, women-run media company to amplify the voices of women who are leading across all industries.” WABC’s senior vice president of programming Dave LaBrozzi notes his station, “is proud to support strong women by bringing this lively and inspiring weekly show to the NYC market.” The first guest featured on WABC will be The Weiss Agency executive vice president Heather Cohen, who comments, “‘Women To Watch’ is the place to go to hear inspiring stories by inspiring women. Susan [Rocco] is the consummate professional and her interviews are spot-on.  I’m honored to be the first guest in the NY market.” Rocco states, “Heather Cohen is an exciting first guest for our new market. She’s a New Yorker, has worked in the industry and was recently elected chair of The Alliance For Women in Media.” Originated and still heard on Entercom Philadelphia’s WPHT “Talk Radio 1210,” Women To Watch has expanded to a national podcast and digital platform … Separate from his duties as 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm host on Cox Media Group Atlanta news/talk WSB-AM & WSBB-FM, Erick Erickson today (Wednesday, 8/12) celebrates the one-year anniversary of doing self-syndication. His first affiliate was in Athens, Georgia (WGAU). Twelve months later, Erickson is on more than a dozen Georgia news/talk outlets. A one-man band, he does affiliate relations, and ad sales. Describing the experience as rewarding, Erickson explains, “Georgia’s swing state status makes a statewide program focused on the state a unique selling point. I try to be upfront, though, that I want to stretch outside the state after the election and keep growing nationwide.”  … As noted yesterday (TALKERS, 8/11), president Trump chatted on-air with Salem Media Networks host Hugh Hewitt. That wasn’t yesterday’s only radio stop for the chief executive though as he visited with Fox Sports Radio’s (6:00 am – 9:00 am, ET) “Outkick The Coverage” host Clay Travis. Regarding college football and the coronavirus, Trump told Travis, “People don’t realize it’s a tiny percentage of people that get sick and they’re old. It just attacks old people, especially old people with bad hearts, diabetes, some kind of a physical problem or a weight problem. These football players are very young, strong people. Physically, they’re in extraordinary shape, so they’re not going to have a problem. You’re not going to see people dying. You can’t have empty seats. I’m not sure college football can do it, but we’ll have to see.” On the return of the NFL and the NBA, he commented, “Well, they want to open and they want to open badly and they’ve been working with government. I would say this – if they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open. Other than that, I’d love to see them open and we’re doing everything possible to get them open. They can protest in other ways. I don’t think they should protest our flag or our country. Basketball ratings are down to very, very low numbers. People are angry about it. They have enough politics with guys like me. They don’t need more as they’re going up for the shot. There was a nastiness about the NBA and the way it was done. I think the NBA’s in big trouble — bigger trouble than they understand.” … Taking the place of annual in-person tours that SiriusXM’s “NFL Radio” channel usually conducts, it will present 32 virtual NFL training camp shows – one for each NFL franchise. Starting today (Wednesday, 8/12), “NFL Radio” channel hosts will interview players, coaches, and team executives via video conferencing. SiriusXM senior vice president of sports programming Steve Cohen states, “Like all NFL fans, we look excitedly ahead to the 2020 NFL season. Even amid these very unique circumstances in which teams are reporting to camp, we remain dedicated to giving our listeners the most in-depth and comprehensive preseason preview of their favorite teams. Our experts include some of the most knowledgeable and well-connected people covering the game today. They will deliver a level of analysis on teams and players that you can’t get anywhere else.” …  Numerous lineup changes next Monday (8/17) at Disney-owned/Good Karma Brands-operated sports talk WMVP will find “ESPN 1000 Chicago” airing two hours (5:00 am – 7:00 am) of ESPN Radio’s new national morning show with Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Zubin Mehenti. Shifting from 6:00 am – 9:00 am to 7:00 am – 10:00 am is David Kaplan. He will partner with Jonathan  Hood, who segues from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Meanwhile, Carmen DeFalco and John Jurkovic transition from 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm to 10:00 am – 12:00 noon, as ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg-hosted “Greeny” takes over the vacated 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm slot. Weekend hosts Chris Bleck and Adam Abdalla advance to 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, while Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman remain in afternoon drive (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm) … Citing pandemic-caused budget issues, Team Broadcasting Albuquerque sports talk KQTM “ESPN 101.7 The Team” parts ways with morning host Jim Villanucci and producer/host Sam Hauser. The station’s afternoon program – “Team Talk” – is being handled by a revolving set of hosts. Formerly an on-air talent at Cumulus Media Albuquerque news/talk KKOB-AM, Villanucci joined KQTM two years ago. He previously worked at news/talk stations in Portland (KXL) and Las Vegas (KXNT). Before coming to “The Team” last year, Hauser served as sports director in Austin, Minnesota at KAUS and was a producer/board op in Miami at sports talk WAXY “790 The Ticket.”

Kamala Harris Receives VP Nod, Mail-In Voting Debate, School Opening Struggles, and Chicago Unrest Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/11).  The selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as Joe Biden’s running-mate topped the TALKERS list of most-discussed stories on news/talk radio across America yesterday (8/11).  It was followed by the debates over mail-in voting and the opening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Other major topics included Chicago unrest, Russia’s vaccine, stimulus relief, and the cancellation of Big 10 and Pac-12 college football according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. With Ryan Seacrest’s television partner Kelly Ripa taking yesterday (Tuesday, 8/10) and today (Wednesday, 8/11) off, his “Live With Kelly & Ryan” co-host those two days is Sisanie, his radio partner. The two work together  on Premiere Networks’ “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” heard around the country from iHeartMedia Los Angeles CHR flagship KIIS “102.7 Kiss-FM.” Sisanie has filled in for Ripa several times the past few years … Last summer, Westwood One’s “Bob & Tom Show” asked David Rush, the world’s fastest juggler and breaker of over 150 Guinness World Records, to attempt shattering the record for most balloons popped in one minute using chopsticks. Rush established that mark in 2018 with 28 balloons, but that feat was subsequently broken. Rush set out to regain the title this past Sunday (8/9) – this time using hand pump-inflated, COVID-free balloon targets bearing “The Bob & Tom Show” logo. Halfway into the attempt, Rush recounts that he was “just barely on pace to beat the record,” but began throwing the chopsticks a little faster to pop 40 balloons in 60 seconds – a new world record. A big promoter of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, Rush dedicates all his world records to that cause … WBVX “Classic Rock 92.1” names Dennis “Dead Air” Dillon program director/afternoon personality of the LM Communications Lexington (Kentucky) outlet. LM Communications owner/president Lynn Martin remarks, “We are pleased to welcome Dennis Dillon, who has a long history of presenting the very best classic rock music and now can present it to the best classic rock audience in Lexington. By introducing him to our locally-owned and operated radio group, we once again show that being a local voice rather than just a cog in a national wheel lets us provide something truly unique to the classic rock audience in Lexington. Dillon notes, “In a time when big corporations are moving away from local DJ’s in the community, I’m ecstatic to have found a home in the city I love with a locally-owned and operated company. I’ve always loved this genre and I’m already discovering that the ‘Classic Rock 92.1’ fans share that same passion.” Dillon previously worked in Cincinnati, Louisville, and Chattanooga … Former MusicMaster vice president of sales Jerry Butler joins Marc Radio Gainesville-Ocala as local sales manager for a cluster that includes alternative WHHZ “100.5 The Buzz”; country WPLL; rhythmic CHR WTGM “Magic 101.3”; classic hits-oldies WXJZ; and contemporary Christian WTMN & WRZN. Marc Radio general manager Dave Cobb comments, “Jerry brings the perfect mix of leadership, marketing, on-air personality, and programming savvy. He knows the radio industry inside and out. He is great at advising clients and introducing them to new products. He’s a great asset to our team.” Butler adds, “Our goal is to guide the local advertising community on how best to earn impressive returns on their investments in any, or all, of our radio station formats.” … After stunting by playing a weekend of all-Christmas music, Zimmer Midwest Communications Springfield, Missouri flips sports talk KWTO “The Jock” to adult contemporary “98.7 The Dove.” ZMC co-owner John Zimmer remarks, “It’s a great day for our company to enter the greater Springfield market with stations featuring the most powerful signals and largest coverage areas to serve the Ozark region. The greater Springfield region has been a great driver of growth in Missouri – we are proud to be of part of the expansion. We look forward to making a positive impact and difference for the community and businesses with our local solutions and stations to promote the economy of the Springfield region.” Kevin Howard and Liz Delany (“Kevin & Liz”) debut in morning drive next Monday (8/17). Core artists on “Lite Rock Favorites The Dove” include Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Billy Joel, and Sting.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

| March 12, 2019

Townsquare Media Reports Q4 2018 Net Revenue Up 12%; Net Revenue Rises 4.7% for Full Year of 2018.  Note that those figures are not pro forma – they include the revenue from Townsquare Media’s July 2018 closing on three Trenton stations that didn’t exist for the company in 2017 – and they also include political advertising.  Pro forma net revenue for the fourth quarter was $109 million – up 9.7% over the same period in 2017.  Excluding political revenue, the figure was $103.3 million, an increase of 5.2%.  For all of 2018, net revenue was $430.6 million.  That’s up 4.7% from all of 2017.  The pro forma figure for the whole of 2018 was $434.2 million, up 3.7%.  Excluding political revenue, the yearly figure was $420.6 million, an increase of 2.8% over 2017.  For all of 2018, Townsquare reports a pro forma net loss of $30.6 million, as compared to $8.2 million in the same period in 2017.  The company says the decline in net income was driven by an increase in non-cash impairment charges in 2018, due in part to the revision of certain assumptions in the company’s annual testing for intangible impairment as a result of the company’s depressed stock price and market capitalization as compared to the prior year, among other factors.  Net income was also impacted by a $9 million decline in income tax benefit, primarily related to the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act.  Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson states, “In 2018, we delivered net revenue growth of approximately 5% and Adjusted EBITDA growth of over 7%, driven by the impressive growth of our digital businesses, which now total $120 million in annual net revenue and thus nearly 30% of our total net revenue.  Further, we beat our previously issued 2018 revenue guidance.  The fourth quarter delivered the strongest year over year growth in 2018, with net revenue growth of 12%, and we saw sequential improvement in our advertising business throughout the year.”

Saga Communications’ Fourth Quarter Net Revenue Rises 4.7%. Reporting on both the fourth quarter and the full year of 2018, Saga Communications indicates net revenue was $32.9 million – up 4.7% — in the fourth quarter, compared to the same period in 2017.  Income from continuing operations before tax increased $2.3 million to $6 million compared to $3.7 million last year.   Operating income increased $2.1 million to $6 million and station operating expense increased $523 thousand to $23.8 million for the quarter.  During the fourth quarter of 2017 Saga recognized an income tax benefit of $11.2 million compared to an income tax expense of $1.7 million for the same period in 2018. The income tax benefit in 2017 was primarily due to an $11.5 million reduction in our deferred tax liability as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  Looking at the full-year 2018 report, net revenue increased 5.7% to $124.8 million.  Income from continuing operations before tax increased $3.1 million to $19.4 million compared to $16.3 million last year.  Operating income increased $2.5 million to $19.7 million and station operating expense increased $6 million to $93.7 million for the twelve-month period.  On a same station basis for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 net revenue increased 1.1% to $116.5 million. Operating income increased $2.6 million to $19.4 million and station operating expense increased $642 thousand to $86 million.  Saga Communications reports total bank debt of $20 million as of December 31, 2018 and had $40.7 million cash in hand as of March 11, 2019.

Erika Beasley Moves to Corporate Digital Content Director Role. Most recently, Erika Beasley has been serving as vice president and market manager for Beasley Media Group’s Fayetteville, North Carolina cluster.  Now, she takes on the Tampa-based position corporate digital content director for local markets, reporting to chief digital content officer Lori Burgess.  In this role she’ll be responsible for leading the company’s digital content expansion at the local level as well as working in tandem with digital program directors, programming teams, and talent on locally relevant content development and marketing initiatives.  Burgess says, “Erika brings a positive, can-do attitude, and locally-centric focus to our digital initiatives.  She was quick to embrace the company’s content transformation this past fall and expanded Fayetteville’s digital presence and audience growth for both WKML and WZFX.  We fully expect Erika to leverage her experience to further our live and local mission in an effort to grow digital value for consumers and advertisers alike.”

Beasley Promotes Kent Dunn to RVP for Augusta and Fayetteville. Radio management pro Kent Dunn has been leading Beasley Media Group’s Augusta, Georgia station group that includes news/talk WGAC-AM/FM and sports talk WRDW since December of 2017.  Now, he takes on leadership of the company’s Fayetteville, North Carolina cluster as Erika Beasley moves into a corporate position (see story above).  Prior to returning Augusta, Dunn served as vice president and market manager of the company’s Tampa cluster.  Beasley EVP and COO Brian Beasley states, “It is a privilege to promote Kent to the position of Regional Vice President within the company.  His vast experience and leadership continue to raise the bar within the organization.  We look forward to him continuing to lead Augusta and now Fayetteville into the future.”

Cumulus Star Larry O’ Connor Joins the Washington Examiner as Podcaster and Columnist.  Bi-coastal, local talk radio host Larry O’ Connor, who is heard in mid-mornings on KABC, Los Angeles and in afternoon drive on WMAL-AM/FM, Washington, DC, is expanding his media footprint to the Washington Examiner news organization where he will be launching a regular print column and audio podcast.  O’ Connor will also be helping spearhead a new Washington Examiner podcast channel that is currently on the drawing board.

Jennifer Keiper Lands at All-News WBBM in Chicago.  Just a day after reporting news pro Jennifer Keiper had exited Cumulus Media’s crosstown news/talk WLS-AM, Windy City media writer Robert Feder reports that Keiper has signed with Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM as a news anchor and reporter.  Keiper served with WBBM in the past as a traffic reporter and part-time anchor/reporter. The Chicagoland native had done two stints with WLS-AM as well as having served as a Midwest correspondent for FOX News Radio.

WJR, Detroit Grabs Numerous Honors at MAB Broadcast Excellence Awards. Detroit news/talker WJR was honored with the Radio Station of the Year honor from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters at last week’s Great Lakes Media Show in Lansing.  The Cumulus Media station has won the award three out of the last four years.  WJR also took home nine other Best awards – including for Best Breaking News Story, Best Morning Show Broadcast (Frank Beckman), and Best Weekday Broadcast, Personality or Team (Mitch Albom) – as well as seven Merit awards. Cumulus Detroit VP and market manager Steve Finateri says, “We here at Cumulus Detroit couldn’t be prouder of our WJR team.  The level of creativity and professionalism at all levels rivals that of any station in the country.

Sook Honored at 2019 Golden Mike Award Gala. Pictured above is honoree Perry Sook – the founder, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Nexstar Media Group – at the Broadcasters Foundation of America’s 2019 Golden Mike Award gala at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.  The event raised more than $450,000, a record-breaker, including a $100,000 personal donation from Sook and his wife, Dr. Sandy Sook.  The evening was hosted by NBC News’ Craig Melvin and featured a performance by country superstar duo Sugarland. Pictured above are (from l-r): BFoA chairman Dan Mason, Melvin, BFoA president Jim Thompson, Perry Sook, and his wife Dr. Sandy Sook.

Comrex Announces Firmware Updates. Users of Comrex’s ACCESS and BRIC-Link codecs should know that the company is releasing firmware version 4.3-p6 that includes an experimental version of a new HTML5-based user interface along with bug fixes and improvements.  The company says that given that Adobe has announced the end of Flash support, and because most browsers disable Flash by default, it is providing an alternative to the Flash-based GUI with this new, fresh, more user-friendly interface.  All current Comrex IP audio codecs by default still use the Flash interface, as well as Toolbox, Codec Commander, and Fleet Commander.  Users who try the new HTML5 interface are encouraged to send a note to techies@comrex.com if they notice potential bugs not listed in the “known issues” section of the 4.3-p6 Changelog.  Firmware version 4.3-p6 also includes Comrex’s new HotSwap feature that lets users back up studio-to-transmitter links (STL) or other dedicated links with a wireless modem.  ACCESS NX Rack and ACCESS MultiRack will both have the new HTML5 user interface, and will be featured at NAB 2019.

Trump Budget Request/Border Wall Funds, Sanders Press Briefing, Pelosi Impeachment Comment, 2020 Democratic Hopefuls/Young Dems Socialist Movement, Boeing 737 Max 8 Worries, Brexit Vote, Carlson-MMA Flap, Venezuela Blackout, and NBA/NCAA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/11).  The 2020 budget proposal from President Trump and the inclusion of funds for the U.S.-Mexico border wall; yesterday’s contentious press briefing from White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement declining to consider impeachment of President Trump; the group of Democrats vying for the 2020 nomination and the related socialist movement of younger Democrats; Boeing’s troubles with the new 737 Max 8; today’s Brexit vote and concerns Britain’s exit from the EU may never actually happen; FOX News Channel star Tucker Carlson’s spat with Media Matters over past radio show comments; the blackout in Venezuela continues as the U.S. recalls diplomatic staff; and NBA and NCAA basketball action 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. At Thursday night’s iHeartRadio Music Awards, the Backstreet Boys, Ella Mai, lovelytheband, and Marshmello with special guest Lauv will perform.  Additionally, Travis Barker and Yungblud will join Halsey as special guest performers.  The awards show takes place at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and is being broadcast live on FOX Television and iHeartMediastations across the country…..Syracuse radio personality Scott “dXn” Dixon was inducted into the Syracuse Area Music Awards (SAMMYS) Hall of Fame on Thursday, March 7.  Dixon is afternoon personality, APD/MD, and “Locals Only” show host at Cumulus Media’s alternative WAQX “95X.” Dixon has been covering and supporting the local music scene in Syracuse for the past 20 years…..Programming pro Chris Patyk is leading the curation of alternative and rock stations for TuneIn. He was most recently with Entercom in the San Diego market programming alternative KBZT “ALT 94.9” then-CHR KEGY “Energy 97.3” and adult contemporary KYXY…..Cox Media Group names David Abel vice president/market manager of its six San Antonio music-formatted radio stations.  Abel joins the CMG San Antonio team from his most recent position as vice president of radio with Tulsa-based Griffin Communications…..LARadio.com is reporting the death of former KMET-FM, Los Angeles program director Richard Kimball.  He was believed to have been 82.  Programmed KMET and KWST “K-West” in the mid-1970s.  He managed music acts including Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and David Cassidy before returning to radio with Westwood One in 1980.  He later founded Artist Acquisitions Service Kompany…..Pictured below you can see the WWPR, New York-based, Premiere Networks-syndicated “The Breakfast Club” show as guests on FOX News Channel’s “FOX News @ Night” with anchor Shannon Bream.  The trio of (from l-r) DJ Envy, Angela Yee & Charlamagne Tha God talked about their role hosting presidential candidates on their influential radio program.