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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

| January 19, 2021

Brian Shactman Joins WTIC-AM, Hartford for Mornings. Television news personality Brian Shactman is named the new morning drive co-host at Entercom’s WTIC-AM, Hartford, joining Ray Dunaway for the “Mornings with Ray and Brian” program. Shactman assumes the role beside Dunaway left open after former morning co-host Joe D’Ambrosio and Entercom agreed to negotiate an early exit from his contract. Prior to joining WTIC, Shactman had been serving as an anchor for WBTS-TV, Boston NBC10 and New England Cable News. He most recently created and hosted “Primary Source,” a nightly political show focusing on the presidential primary and has also anchored weekend evenings on NBC10 Boston since the onset of the pandemic. Entercom Connecticut SVP and market manager Stephanie Perl says, “I’m excited to welcome Brian back to Connecticut to join our morning show program alongside Ray Dunaway. He has a proven track record of entertaining and capturing his audience, and his energy will be a great addition to our show.” Shactman comments, “I have been listening to Ray for years, and WTIC is always my first stop when I get in the car. To now be a part of the WTIC team is an absolute thrill. Connecticut – the whole state – is a community. WTIC is a huge part of that community, and I am excited to help people start their day in this great state.”

Townsquare Media Creates Texas Network Featuring Chad Hasty Show. Following the departure of the Robert Pratt-hosted “Pratt on Texas” program from Townsquare Media’s talk stations KFYO, Lubbock “Newstalk 790”; KYYW, Abilene; and KWFS-AM, Wichita Falls, the company is adding a two-hour version of “The Chad Hasty Show” (5:00 pm to 7:00 pm) to those stations’ program schedules. This move also marks the creation of the Texas Townsquare Media Network that will function on those three stations, with more affiliates expected to be announced later this year. Hasty is the first host to operate under this banner, with more programs anticipated to join it. Hasty has been hosting his eponymous 8:30 am to 11:00 am program on KFYO since the fall of 2012 and he’ll continue that Lubbock-focused program in addition to the new afternoon drive show.

Former Sports Talker Marty Tirrell to Be Sentenced Wednesday. The Des Moines Register reports that former Des Moines sports talk host Marty Tirrell will be sentenced in federal court tomorrow (1/20) after pleading guilty in December of 2019 to one count of mail fraud. Prosecutors are seeking a five-year sentence combined with an order to pay $1.46 million in restitution to American Express, Wells Fargo, Bank of the West and five individuals. Prosecutors say Tirrell defrauded investors of more than $1.5 million in a sporting events tickets resale venture. However, Tirrell didn’t acquire tickets and instead used the cash to “finance a lavish lifestyle and to spend on online gambling.” Prosecutors are seeking the five-year sentence because “the defendant has been defrauding businesses and individuals with his lies for years, with little to no consequences. Defendant continued to lie after he was under investigation in this matter, and the government is concerned he won’t ever stop lying.”

Salem Media Group’s Regnery to Publish Josh Hawley’s Book. After Simon & Schuster decided to cancel its publication of Senator Josh Hawley’s new book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, in the aftermath of the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, Hawley has found a new publisher in Salem Media Group’s Regnery Publishing. Simon & Schuster said in a statement, “We did not come to this decision lightly. As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: At the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.” The Salem press release says, “Despite Senator Hawley’s immediate and forceful condemnation of the violent incursion, social media teemed with calls for retribution for his objection to the certification of the electoral vote. The next day, citing his purported ‘role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom,’ Simon & Schuster announced that it was dropping Hawley’s book, scheduled for publication in June. Responding to the impulsive decision, Hawley stated on Twitter, ‘Simon & Schuster is canceling my contract because I was representing my constituents, leading a debate on the Senate floor on voter integrity, which they have now decided to redefine as sedition.’” The press release goes on to state: “Senator Hawley is an authority on the legal and constitutional implications of Big Tech’s growing power. While the attorney general of Missouri, he investigated how the most powerful company in the world – Google – uses citizens’ private information. In The Tyranny of Big Tech, he shows how Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and other digital giants have abused their enormous market power and political influence, silencing their competition. Explaining why current policies fail us, he identifies alternatives that will break Big Tech’s control over our liberties.”

High-Profile Guests to Take Part in 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards. On Thursday (1/21), the 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards will take place in a virtual format and is being recorded from multiple locations. Just-announced special guests will include: Aaron Mahnke, Hillary Clinton, Holly Frey, Laverne Cox, Questlove, Roy Wood Jr., Will Ferrell, and more. The awards span 30 categories and you can see all of the finalists here. The event will exclusively video stream on iHeartRadio’s YouTube and Facebook pages on Thursday at 9:00 pm ET and will broadcast across iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and on the iHeartRadio App at 9:00 pm local time.

Anny Mansfield Named Corporate Research Director for Gen Media Partners. The company says that in order to meet the growing demands of its expanding portfolio of radio rep firms and networks, Anny Mansfield has been appointed to the newly created position of corporate research director. Mansfield has been with Gen Media Partners since its inception and in this new role will build out a company-wide research department and work closely with the company’s sales departments to serve the needs of network and national advertisers. Gen Media Partners CEO Kevin Garrity says, “I am very pleased that we already had the right person on our team to lead research across Gen Media Partners. Anny is exceptional at finding the data to develop marketing strategies that help our account executives deliver compelling stories and solutions about the power of radio to advertisers and their agencies, especially for new business development.”

U.S. Agency for Global Media Names Board of Directors; Blanquita Cullum Appointed Chair. New boards of directors have been appointed for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks by CEO Michael Pack. The USAGM says the diverse boards “bring exceptional skill in the fields of journalism, language, technology, broadcasting, and diplomacy that are essential to the work of the three surrogate broadcast networks, which provide a lifeline of factual news for those living in places where a free press is denied to them by repressive government.” Blanquita Cullum — host, producer, and writer for “The Hard Question” — is named chairwoman of the three boards. She comments, “From my previous service on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, I understand the importance of delivering objective, accurate news about America and the world to combat our adversaries’ misinformation campaigns and to shine the light of truth into those dark corners where access to a free press is denied. The other board members and I will fight to ensure these networks and their journalists have the tools and support they need to perform their difficult but essential work, which itself is crucial for our national interest.” Serving on the board with Cullum as directors are: Jonathan Alexander, Amanda Milius, Roger Simon, and Christian Whiton.

TALKERS News Notes. This Thursday (1/21) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the latest in a series of Town Hall broadcasts to help New Jersey deal with the mental stresses of the pandemic. The station’s Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments in bringing mental health experts together to talk about these stressors and help residents access help. He says, “The toll this pandemic has taken on our overall mental wellness has been huge. This program seeks to de-stigmatize seeking help and connect our listeners to the many resources available.”…..Beasley Broadcast Group announces that subsidiary, Beasley Mezzanine Holdings, LLC intends to offer $280 million in aggregate principal amount of senior secured notes to persons reasonably believed to be qualified institutional buyers…..In Abilene, Texas, Cumulus Media drops the sports talk format on KTLT-FM and flips to rock as “98.1 The Phantom.”…..iHeartMedia New York’s iHeartRadio Broadway and D’Marie Productions announce that the LGBTQ+ comedy podcast “Slumber Party with Tim Murray” is joining the iHeartPodcast Network, beginning January 20…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs Show” adds new affiliates: WWPR-AM, Bradenton/Tampa; KNET, Palestine, Texas; WNRI ,Woonsocket, Rhode Island; WTBG-FM, Brownsville, Tennessee; and WVEL, Peoria, Illinois.

Trump’s Final Day/Pardons Commutations, Inauguration Prep, Capitol Attack Investigation and Arrests, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, China and WHO Failures, Social Media and Free Speech, New Migrant Caravan, and Australian Open Troubles Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/18). Today’s final day in office for President Donald Trump and the pardons and commutations expected to be issued; the preparation and security for Wednesday’s inauguration for Joe Biden; the ongoing investigation into the Capitol attack and related arrests; the fast-rising number of COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response report indicating China and the WHO failed to act quickly at the beginning of the pandemic; the move by social media platforms to suspend purveyors of extremist content; the caravan of Hondurans heading for the U.S.; and positive COVID tests hamper the Australian Open were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, January 4, 2021

| January 4, 2021

Monday Memo: Who Will Replace Rush? Consultant Holland Cooke says the short answer is, of course, nobody. However, he points out that affiliate stations may soon have to find a solution for those 15 hours per week that they didn’t have to worry about before. He also asks, “Who will replace Clark Howard?” Find out what he has to say here.

Pending Business: This Year in Review. Sales and marketing pro, and Lapcom Communications Corp president, Steve Lapa says that just many aspects of our daily lives changed after 9/11, so too has the pandemic changed much about our lives – including how we work and consume media. In today’s column, he offers some thoughts about how selling radio will be different this year. Read it here.

WTIC, Hartford’s Joe D’Ambrosio Exits Morning Show. After stating back in early November that he was disillusioned with management’s directives about political opinion on the air, WTIC-AM, Hartford, morning drive co-host Joe D’Ambrosio said he would leave the station when his contract was up in June of 2021 after 28 years with the Entercom station. However, he and management reached an agreement on an early buyout and D’Ambrosio’s last shift was December 31. D’Ambrosio co-hosted the morning drive show with Ray Dunaway. The Hartford Courant reports D’Ambrosio saying he never adapted to waking up for the program’s 5:30 am start and he found it difficult to work within station’s conservative political framework.

Chris Ryan Takes Over ‘New Hampshire Today’ Morning Show. New Hampshire radio pro Chris Ryan is named the new host of the “New Hampshire Today” program heard on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WGIR-AM, Manchester and WQSO-FM, Portsmouth. Ryan fills the role previously held by Jack Heath, who exited “NH Today” to join Binnie Media’s three-station simulcast in New Hampshire for the late morning daypart back in October. iHeartMedia says that Ryan is an award-winning talk show host and political commentator based in Concord who most recently served as general manager for New Hampshire Family Radio’s news/talk WKXL, Concord. iHeartMedia New Hampshire market president Joe Graham says, “It was of utmost importance that the new host of ‘NH Today’ would be a person of integrity and character, someone who would hold themselves to the highest professional standards. We are thrilled that Chris will be joining our iHeart NH team!” The “New Hampshire Today” program is also heard on WKXL.

Leila Rahimi Named Co-Host for WSCR, Chicago’s Late Morning Show. Radio and television sports personality Leila Rahimi is promoted to regular co-host of the late morning program alongside Dan Bernstein on Entercom’s WSCR, Chicago “670 The Score.” Entercom Chicago regional president and market manager Rachel Williamson says, “We are thrilled to be amplifying Lelia’s role at ‘The Score.’ She’s a seasoned professional with experience engaging with sports fans across multiple platforms and cities and has built a great reputation with Chicago’s sports fans. Adding her voice and perspective consistently creates a more dynamic midday lineup for ‘Score’ listeners.” She assumes the role left vacant when Entercom let co-host Connor McKnight go back in April. Rahimi has appeared on “670 The Score” both as a contributor to various shows on the station, and as a co-host since 2017. She’s also hosted, reported and anchored for NBC Sports Chicago. She was a rink-side reporter for NBC Sports’ coverage of the Women’s Hockey Tournament at the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018. She’s also served with NBC Sports Philadelphia, CSN Houston, the San Diego Padres, FOX Sports Southwest, and KLIF-AM and KTCK-FM/AM in Dallas.

Ian Beckles & Jay Recher New Afternoon Hosts on Sports Talk WDAE, Tampa. Sports talk WDAE, Tampa announces that Ian Beckles and Jay Recher are the new afternoon drive program co-hosts, taking over the daypart from retiring Tampa Bay radio icon Ron Diaz. WDAE program director John Mamola says, “We are thrilled to announce our new afternoon drive program featuring Ian Beckles and Jay Recher. Teaming Ian’s long-standing history in the market both as a player, entrepreneur, and radio personality with the knowledge and passion for Tampa Bay sports from Jay Recher will provide a dynamic program for sports fans in Tampa Bay to embrace. This announcement further enhances and strengthens WDAE’s standing as the voice for Tampa Bay sports fans.” Beckles was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles during his eight-year NFL career and he joined WDAE in 2002. Recher began his career at WDAE in 2014 and has served as executive producer of multiple programs including the previous “Ron and Ian Show.”

David Rubini Launches Conspiracy Radio Network. Former Art Bell and John B. Wells producer David Rubini is launching the Conspiracy Radio Network. Rubini officially leaves Dark Matter Digital Network and “Midnight In The Desert” to begin “his own unique vision” and take his “pioneering spirit to the all-new 24/7 digital streaming platform and subscription archive service in the new radio landscape of 2021.” Rubini is now hosting his own program titled “David Rubini After Midnight AM” that will broadcast “two to three live shows each week on alternating days from 1:00 am to 5:00 am ET with “The Best of David Rubini After Midnight AM” on all Rubini off days. He says, “Unlike what we did with Art, we will get political at CRN, that’s for sure. The political climate has drastically changed since we left ‘Dark Matter.’ And with the 2020 election confusion and rise of ‘fake news’ awareness and questioning, uncensored alternative news, info, and talk are more in-demand right now than any time in modern history. Our staff of professionals are convinced CRN will absolutely fill this void in the digital content delivery space.” Terrestrial radio affiliate relations expert Ted Edwards says, “What programmers have to realize is that variety in political talk is hot right now and the political landscape has never been more fascinating to discuss and to share opinions about both like-minded and dissenting talk radio voices. CRN should have remarkable growth over the next four to eight years. I love David Rubini’s pioneering vision and I plan to help see it all the way through to fruition, responsibly performed by Rubini on-air in terrestrial syndication.” Joining this new venture are: Jordan Maxwell, Dr. Richard Alan Miller, Flat Earther Math Powerland, and controversial and polarizing YouTube sensation, Russianvids, as well as former Art Bell Network News anchor Leo Ashcraft, Ross Mitchell, Dr. John Illias, Michael Decon, Blake Walley, and Joshua Chaires

TALKERS News Notes. At Starnes Media Group’s KWAM, Memphis, Brodee Scott joins to serve as operations director. Scott previously served at iHeartMedia in Memphis. He is a longtime Memphis radio pro having also served at Flinn Broadcasting and Rebel Radio in Oxford, Mississippi. In this new role, Scott will also oversee KWAM’s growing podcast and digital platforms. KWAM general manager Dalton Glasscock says, “Brodee was born and raised in Memphis and he understands how important it is to have a locally owned, locally run news/talk radio station.”…..Indianapolis talk radio personality Tony Katz shifts his syndicated “Tony Katz Today” program from the late morning daypart to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. Katz is host of the morning drive show at Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis. He says, “The numbers in Indianapolis have been incredible. The show has been doing great in its current setup, it was just in a weird place, bridging two standard time slots being 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. This move shows a lot of faith in the show from WIBC and opens up a lot of opportunity.”…..WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte afternoon drive talk host Brett Winterble achieved what he calls a career milestone on December 30 when he filled in for Rush Limbaugh. About sitting in for Limbaugh on his Premiere Networks syndicated show, Winterble says, “I am just overjoyed at the chance to connect with the greatest audience in all of talk radio. It is a homecoming. I have kept in close touch with everyone at the Rush Limbaugh show over these years and nothing could be more special than to sit in that legendary seat for a man I consider a friend and mentor.” Winterble started his career with Limbaugh’s original syndicator EIB/EFM Media in 1995 and was with the show until early 2006…..Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago is adds an hour to Big John Howell’s afternoon drive show. The program now airs from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Howell takes the 4:00 pm hour from Westwood One’s syndicated Ben Shapiro program that continues to air from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm…..iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston announces the new program schedule that takes effect with the new year that includes the addition of Grace Curley and Jesse Kelly. Curley’s program airs from 12:15 pm to 3:00 pm and Key Networks’ syndicated Jesse Kelly airs from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am (Kelly’s show will move to the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm daypart effective February 15. iHeartMedia Boston VP of news, talk, and sports Rob Sanchez says, “We’re excited about the addition of Grace and Jesse to WRKO’s lineup. Their talents complement the established success of Jeff Kuhner in the morning and the legendary Howie Carr in afternoons.”…..Cumulus Media promotes Jon Laing to vice president and market manager for its Cincinnati cluster. Laing rises from his previous role as vice president of sales for the station group. He takes the market leadership reins from Dave Crowl, who retired in December…..Salem Radio Network and TOWNHALL news White House correspondent Greg Clugston is traveling aboard Air Force One with President Trump today (1/4) to cover a campaign rally for the Republican U.S. Senate candidates ahead of tomorrow’s runoff elections. In addition to filing special reports for SRN News and TOWNHALL News, Clugston will also serve as White House pool reporter for all other national radio networks…..VSiN, The Sports Betting Network, expands its partnership with iHeartMedia by moving its dedicated streaming radio station to digital platform iHeartRadio. VSiN had previously broadcast its content via SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

Skyview Networks OM Andy Luberda Passes After COVID Battle. Condolences to the family, friends, and co-workers of Skyview Networks operations manager Andy Luberda, who died on December 29 of complications from COVID-19. Luberda joined Skyview Networks in the broadcast operations department as a board operator in 2012. In 2015, Luberda was promoted to operations manager in which he focused on managing one of the company’s largest clients, TuneIn. In 2016, Luberda’s son, Kade, joined Skyview’s operations team as a board operator. Aaron Mellis, Luberda’s longtime friend and manager shares, “We were fortunate to have Andy on the team, and as his role grew, it made a positive impact on our company and our clients. Andy’s warm heart and genuine care for his colleagues will continue to be a part of the Skyview Networks culture.” Skyview has set up a GoFundMe page for his family to help raise funds for medical and memorial costs and to provide financial support for Kade during this difficult time.

GOP Senators to Challenge Election Results/Trump Georgia Phone Call, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pelosi Keeps Speaker Post, and Texas Church Shooting Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The move by a group of GOP senators to challenge the election results and the recording of President Trumpasking the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” votes in his favor; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the Georgia runoff election for its two U.S. Senate seats; Nancy Pelosi retains her House Speaker position; and the fatal shooting at a Texas church were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

| November 5, 2020

Cumulus Media’s Q3 Financial Report Reveals Net Revenue Down 30.1%. Reporting its earnings for the third quarter of 2020, Cumulus Media says net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 30.1% from the same period in 2019. The company also reports a net loss of $15.8 million compared to the $16.3 net income reported for the third quarter of 2019. Same station net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 29.4% from Q3 of 2019. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “In the third quarter, the company continued to focus on maximizing revenue performance, executing meaningful expense reductions, protecting cash through efficient working capital management and strengthening our balance sheet. Despite the extraordinary challenges of operating through a pandemic, we have reduced debt by $269 million and increased cash by $316 million since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018 (a net debt reduction of more than $585 million or 46%.) We believe that these actions, along with record-setting political revenues, will allow us to navigate through and emerge from the COVID-19 crisis with considerable ability to support our growth initiatives and capitalize on strategic and operating opportunities in 2021 and beyond.”

Bakersfield Talk Radio Personality Inga Barks Dies. According to a report by KERO-TV, Bakersfield, former market talk radio personality Inga Barks has died unexpectedly at age 53. At this point details are few, but it appears Barks passed away on November 4. KERO-TV quotes Barks’ friend Cindy Andrews – who worked with Barks at American General Media news/talk outlet KERN-AM – saying, “I am deeply saddened over the death of my former coworker and friend, Inga Barks. Not only was she a talented talk show host, but she was also very devoted to her family. We shared many laughs and unique experiences as female broadcasters for American General Media. She will be missed by many.” You can see KERO-TV’s report that includes tributes from former co-workers – including KMJ, Fresno’s Blake Taylorhere.

WTIC-AM, Hartford Morning Co-Host Joe D’Ambrosio to Leave Station in June. According to an account in the Hartford Courant, WTIC-AM, Hartford morning drive co-host Joe D’Ambrosio says he’s frustrated with his “inability to speak his mind on the air and will leave his position when his contract expires in June.” The paper reports that D’Ambrosio told co-host Ray Dunaway, “At this radio station at this time, I’m not allowed to let my opinions be known. I’ve told management, when my contract is up in June, my time with WTIC will be over.”  It’s not clear if D’Ambrosio is upset with a directive from management or just with the general tenor of host and caller opinions. Reporter Susan Dunne says that when reached later, D’Ambrosio declined to elaborate on his comments.

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the news/talk format. Over the last eight PPM surveys going back to March, the global pandemic, racial tensions/protests, and the election year have provided the news/talk format with ample hot-button issues to discuss and the format’s performance has improved over the same period in 2019, based on Nielsen’s 6+ weekly AQH share data. In the October 2020 survey, 61% of news/talk stations were up over the September 2020 survey with gainers being led buy iHeartMedia’s KFYI, Phoenix (+1.4) and Bonneville’s KSL-FM, Salt Lake City (+1.3). Comparing year-over-year data, 68% of news/talk stations were up in October 2020 compared to October 2019 with gainers being led by iHeartMedia’s WISN, Milwaukee (+6.2), KNRS-FM, Salt Lake City (+4.4), and WCBM Inc’s WCBM, Baltimore (+3.7). In the October 2020 survey, seven news/talk stations ranked #1 (6+) in their respective markets. Find out which stations were ranked #1 by reading Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Mid-West Family Madison Donates $900k in Advertising. The Madison, Wisconsin station group of Mid-West Family Broadcasting gave $900,000 in free advertising (more than 31,000 commercials) to hundreds of local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic between March 21 and July 21 through its “NOW OPEN” program. Mid-West Family Madison president Tom Walker says, “Our company was formed in Madison, we’ve been here for 91 years, and our commitment to the community and local businesses is our top priority. ‘NOW OPEN’ gave us the chance to connect businesses with consumers when they needed it most.”

Report: ESPN to Lay Off 300. According to a report by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, sports giant ESPN is laying off 300 staffers and will not fill some 200 positions that had been open. This comes as parent company ABC/Disney deals with the effects of the pandemic and the changes in media consumption behavior. Marchand’s report indicates that the cuts will be “spread across the network” but will largely spare on-air personalities. Marchand adds, “As is the case across Disney, ESPN is trying to shift more of its business to direct-to-consumer. It has created ESPN+. It had reported 8.5 million subscribers as of this summer. The pandemic has also created new ways to deliver programming with less people.”

The Road to 270 Electoral Votes/Promised Legal Challenges, Portland Violence, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, European Lockdowns, New Islamic Terror Threats, U.S. Exits Paris Climate Accord, Prop 22 Passes in California, Watch on Hurricane Eta Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/4). The counting continues as Donald Trump and Joe Biden each hope to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to claim victory and the gearing up of legal challenges to some states’ vote totals; the National Guard is called in to Portland, Oregon after a riot is declared; the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for the fall/winter seasons; the lockdowns being ordered in numerous European nations to combat the rising number of COVID cases; concerns about new terror attacks by actors sympathetic to the Islamic State; the United States officially exits the Paris Climate Accord; California passes Proposition 22 which allows Uber and Lyft to treat drives as contractors and not employees; and the possibility that Hurricane Eta will gain steam and head for Florida 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. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and iHeartMedia are teaming up for an exclusive podcast partnership for the series “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Vault” that will debut Friday (11/6), the day before the 35th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony airing on November 7 on HBO. The series covers iconic induction speeches and will debut with The Beatles inducted by Mick Jagger, N.W.A inducted by Kendrick Lamar, The Eagles inducted by Jimmy Buffet, and Stevie Nicks inducted by Harry Styles. New episodes will premiere every Friday through the end of the year and a second season will premiere in early 2021. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “Over the past 35 years, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies have become renowned for their impassioned and sometimes outrageous acceptance speeches. We’re thrilled to bring the most iconic moments of past and present music infamy to fans around the world and continue to share what’s made the event special in the past and for years to come.”

Thursday, May 31, 2018

| May 31, 2018

Joe D’Ambrosio Joins WTIC, Hartford Morning Show. Connecticut sports media pro Joe D’Ambrosio begins his new role with Entercom’s news/talk WTIC-AM as part of the “Mornings with Ray Dunaway” program from 5:00 am to 9:00 am, effective today (5/31).  D’Ambrosio is an award-winning sportscaster who has been with WTIC for 27 years.  He has been recognized with the Sports Media Association’s “Connecticut Sportscaster of the Year Award” a record nine times and is the recipient of the 2018 “Dean of Sports Award.”  Entercom Hartford SVP and market manager Phil Zachary says, “Joe’s deep connection with and expertise of Connecticut’s sports landscape make him among the most respected voices in the field.  We are pleased to announce this next phase of our relationship with him.  Southern New England has known and respected Joe’s work for nearly three decades and we are looking forward to his full-time presence in WTIC’s masthead morning program.”

Video Game Manufacturer Looking to Partner with Talk Media Stations and Shows.  Video game manufacturer, Fowl Play Entertainment, Inc. announces the release of PIGEON HIT SQUAD, an intriguing news/talk media-friendly mobile game designed for Apple and Android devices.  It is a game in which players use pigeons to “fire” on a parade of annoying cartoon characters that passes underneath the birds.  Proprietary software allows players to paste onto the cartoon targets their own real-life photos of anyone from “frenemies” to politicians or celebrities.  The game is free to download and play.  Photos cost 99 cents to upload.  Broadcasters who wish to use the game as a promotion will receive an exclusive license for promotions within their market or coverage area at no charge. This license includes use of the game name, character likenesses, sfx, and original music tracks, all at no charge.  For more information contact ttanno@fowlplayentertainment.com.

NRHoF Public Voting Begins Monday. The general public will have two weeks to vote for their favorite radio personalities for induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame.  Beginning Monday (6/4) and running through June 18, consumers can vote in the Music Format On-Air Personality and Spoken Word Format On-Air Personality categories. Spoken Word nominees this year are: Mark Levin, Joe Madison, George Noory, and Jim Rome.  Music Format nominees are: Ellen K, Kid Kelly, Angie Martinez, and John Tesh.  NRHoF chairman Kraig T. Kitchin says, “Since reinstituting the nationwide public vote in 2015, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in listener participation which is a testament to the remarkable relationship each nominee has with his or her audience.”  Winners of the two categories will be announced June 25.

TALKERS News Notes. In Chicago, changes take place at Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM.  Windy City media writer Robert Feder reports that newscaster David Roe is retiring from the station where he was evening anchor after a 25-year career there.  The station announces that part-time anchor/reporter Mariam Sobh will take over anchoring that daypart.  At the same time, the station makes anchor/reporter Rob Hart a full-time staffer. Hart joined WBBM Newsradio two years ago after having served with Tribune’s crosstown WGN-AM…..Dan Mason tells SportsBroadcastJournal.com that he expects to make an announcement about a new sports-related venture “within the next few weeks.”  Since retiring from CBS RADIO in 2015, Mason has been dabbling in his passion for sports, calling games (this past year for Coppin State University) as well as serving with the Broadcasters Foundation of America. He tells the site that the new venture is “sports business related.”  Read the interview here.…..San Diego Padres radio play-by-play voice Ted Leitner is taking time off the team’s broadcasts after having been diagnosed with cancer.  ESPN is reporting that Leitner is having a kidney removed and that doctors say the cancer has not spread.  Tony Gwynn Jr. is filling in on game broadcasts…..AdLarge operated digital audio division cabana is declaring this “the summer of female voices,” and as such, has chosen its favorite female-hosted or female-focused podcasts from cabana’s 200 podcast catalogue and posted them in today’s medium post. cabana says the team of women to run the digital audio division based their choices on “lots of cool stats and emerging trends in audio.”…..Westwood One is reporting that the newly added podcast “83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff” – launched last month – has “rocketed to the top of the Apple Podcasts charts every week”  The show features wrestling legend Eric Bischoff and popular wrestling podcaster Conrad Thompson taking a deep dive into the highs and lows of Eric’s unparalleled success in the wrestling business.  Westwood One SVP of digital Tim Sabean says, “My goal is to build and acquire the Mount Rushmore of content here at the Westwood One Podcast Network.  ‘83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff’ fits that role as we strive to create the best in class of podcasting!”…..High 5 Media, parent company of Dallas-based YEA Networks, announces that it has acquired a majority interest in Spoke Media, a growing podcast company based in Dallas that specializes in branded content.  High 5 Media notes that Spoke Media was founded by Keith Reynolds, an award-winning audiobook director who has created audiobooks for Audible, Hachette, Harper CollinsPenguin Random House, and others.  Spoke Media says its mission is to “tell great stories and provide a microphone to those who often go unheard.”

‘Roseanne’ Cancellation Controversy, North Korea Summit, Trump-Russia Investigation, ‘Murdered’ Russian Journalist Case, Illegal Immigration/MS-13, Kardashian Visits Trump, MLB Action, and NBA Finals Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/30). The controversy surrounding ABC-TV’s cancellation of the “Roseanne” re-boot; the status of the possible talks between North Korea and the United States; the investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; the case of the Russian journalist whose death was faked by Ukrainian authorities in order to capture those planning his death; U.S. illegal immigration policy and the threat posed by the MS-13 gang; Kim Kardashian West visits the White House to talk prison reform; Major League Baseball action; and the NBA Finals were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Luck Be a Lady Tonight! Nationally syndicated talk radio host Mike Gallagher is pictured above in final rehearsals for the Lyric Stage’s production of “Guys & Dolls” at the Irving Arts Center in Irving, Texas.  The Salem Radio Network personality is cast in the role of Nicely-Nicely Johnson.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Longtime Boise radio personality Mike Kasper has exited Townsquare Media’s hot AC KCIX “MIX 106” where he’d been hosting the morning show for almost 16 years. Prior to that, he’d worked at crosstown hot AC KZMG “Magic 93.1.”…..Sad news from the Steve Harvey program orbit as Bryan Cooke – an assistant to program cast member Kier “Junior” Spates – passed away last Sunday in Atlanta.  He was reportedly found in his hotel room after Spates requested hotel staff check in on him…..SiriusXM is presenting broadcast performances and backstage interviews from this weekend’s Governors Ball Music Festival in New York.  The exclusive radio broadcast will include backstage interviews and live performances from not only Post Malone and Jack White, but also CHVRCHES, Manchester Orchestra, Margo Price, Vic Mensa, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and many more…..Pictured below is nationally syndicated morning host Rickey Smiley (right) with Birmingham, Alabama student Corey Patrick (left) standing in front of the graduating high school senior’s new car.  Patrick – who routinely got up at 4:00 am to catch a 5:00 am crosstown bus to his high school – became an Internet sensation after a bus driver taking Patrick to his graduation ceremony posted a story about the young man’s determination.  The Rickey Smiley Show heard about it and, with the help of R&B artist Tyrese and Summit Media’s WBHJ, Birmingham “95.7 JAMZ,” helped get him a new car from University Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Anniston.

Monday, April 27, 2015

| April 27, 2015

joedgreshWTIC-AM, Hartford Goes Sports Talk in PM Drive.  The CBS RADIO-owned news/talk station calls it a “game-changer” in afternoon drive as it will debut the “Joe D and Gresh” sports talk program this afternoon at 3:00 pm ET.  Joe D’Ambrosio is a New York sports fan and Andy Gresh favors the Boston teams.  D’Ambrosio – an award-winning sportscaster – has been with WTIC for 23 years, serving as the “voice” of the UConn Huskies.  Gresh most recently worked at the company’s WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” in middays.  WTIC-AM OM Steve Salhany says, “We are excited to begin this next chapter of afternoon drive on WTIC.  Sports has always been a huge part of WTIC Radio and now we are dedicating time every afternoon for sports fans, regardless of where their loyalties lie, to come together and talk about their teams.”  The station’s previous full-time afternoon host was former Connecticut Governor John Rowland recently sentenced for election law violations, his second federal conviction.

clarkjayClark Joins CÜR Media as CCO. Former executive vice president of programming for Sirius Satellite RadioJay Clark – is named CÜR Media‘s chief content officer. Founder and chief executive officer Tom Brophy comments, “We are excited to have Jay on the team in this important role, essentially as our chief curator. His vast experience in building content for disruptive technologies has helped shape the initial design work for CÜR Music. Now, as our chief content officer, we believe he will help us change the course of music streaming in the same way Sirius changed the course of radio. Jay has led several notable programming radio turnarounds in tier one markets, and has decades of major market programming successes with leading broadcast companies. His experience will be invaluable.” Clark remarks, “I am extremely excited to take on this important role at CÜR Media as they move toward the launch of this dynamic mobile and web musicCUR Media experience. Much like Sirius was for radio, CÜR Music is a truly disruptive streaming product that, when complemented with a line of unique programming, will offer a comprehensive music experience at a very compelling price point. I look forward to driving that development as we work toward our product launch later this year.” Clark has been consulting the company for roughly the past year (May 2014). Prior to Sirius, his past credits include being program director of Los Angeles talker KLSX (now CBS Radio CHR KAMP “Amp Radio”); WABC, New York; program director of Orlando FM talker WTKS; Comedy World‘s vice president and general manager of radio; and Winstar Communications’ vice president of radio.

ellerannelogoProfile: Anne Eller of WCRS, Greenwood, South Carolina.  These days, small-town radio operators know better than anyone how challenging it can be to keep the business going.  Today, TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian introduces readers to WCRS, Greenwood, South Carolina owner Anne Eller, who not only tells an interesting tale of how she got into the talk radio and radio ownership business, but also shares her programming philosophy for operating a standalone AM in a small rural market.  She says, “All the big shows are hitting the same issues but they are missing that there are so many good stories out there on the local level.  We are becoming too homogenized.  Every area is different and we have to hit on that.”  Read Mike Kinosian’s entire profile here.

2015 NYC 150Talk Talent to Discuss Strategies for Successful Career at Talkers New York 2015 on June 12.  A diverse panel of seven talk show hosts will discuss their careers in the talk radio business and their strategies for success in the current business climate.  Moderated by WMAL-AM/FM, Washington program director (and former successful air talent) Bill Hess, the session will explore the varied careers and employment situations the panelists bring to the table and get insights into their philosophies about the business and what it takes to be anhessbill effective host and valuable brand.  Taking part on the panel will be (in alphabetical order): KTRH, Houston-based syndicated host Michael Berry; WRKO, Boston-based syndicated host Howie Carr; Mandy Connell, KHOW, Denver/WHAS, Louisville; McGraw Milhaven, KTRS, St. Louis; Todd Schnitt, WOR, New York and Compass Media Networks; David Webb, SiriusXM; and Dan Yorke, WPRO, Providence.  TALKERS magazine VP/executive editor Kevin Casey says, “This panel of working talk hosts really brings the different ways in which a personality operates in today’s radio climate together in one room.  Michael Berry and Howie Carr enjoy similar syndication situations, Dan Yorke and McGraw Milhaven are locally focused hosts dedicated to one market.  Mandy Connell now works in two markets for the same company and brings the perspective of being a female in a male-dominated industry to the table.  Todd Schnitt is doing both a major market local morning show and a nationally syndicated afternoon program while David Webb works within the satellite radio business model.  Each of these broadcasters will have valuable experiences and stories to share with the attendees.”  Talkers New York 2015 is nearing a sellout.  For registration and sponsorship information, please click here.

conwaykasemWHO, Des Moines Host Simon Conway Helps Get Adult Visitation Law on Books in Iowa.  After meeting Casey Kasem’s daughter Kerri and hearing first-hand the details of her family’s struggle just to get the opportunity to visit Casey as his health declined, WHO, Des Moines afternoon personality Simon Conway promised her he would help her achieve her goal of getting adult visitation laws on the books in every state.  So he worked to get a bill moving through the system in Iowa and on Friday, April 24, Governor Terry Branstad signed it into law making Iowa the first state to have such a law.  After the signing, Kasem (left) joined Conway (right) in the WHO studios.  Conway tells TALKERS, “She was just so excited and a little tearful.  We all were.  Radio can get things done.  And a 50,000-watt blowtorch like WHO can perhaps get more things done.  Now we’ve helped change the law.”  Conway contacted state politicians from both aides of the aisle and soon a bill drafted.  Conway adds, “It was certainly fast.  Just under three months from start to finish.  Kerri came on my show and I found ways to remind various lawmakers that this was important.  I’m so proud to have played a role in getting this on the books in Iowa.”  The bill passed the Iowa Senate 50-0 and the Iowa House 97-0.

jonesbrian chicago‘Jones and Mike Show’ Added to WCGO, Chicago.  Two Chicago radio pros are hosting a new show that’s been added to the weekend schedule at Kovas Communications’ WCGO, Evanston, Illinoisnoonanmike (Chicago market).  Brian Jones and Mike Noonan tell TALKERS magazine their program was developed “to target 35 to 54-year-old listeners who like talk radio but have grown tired of strictly sports and political talk programming.”  Jones says the program, available in syndication on a barter basis, “is different because we don’t follow the template that talk radio has seemingly fallen into where there’s this angry, confrontational, even contrived feel to the show.  Who’s fighting and what for?”  Jones is a graduate of The Second City Conservatory and worked as a writer/producer/cast member of the A&E paranormal reality series, “Paranormal Cops,” and has worked as a producer at WLS-AM and WYLL.  Noonan has previously worked on air at WLUP-FM and in production at WUSN.  He is former president of Broadcast Barter Radio Networks.

genmediapartnersGen Media Partners with School Sports Media to Develop Potential of Prep Athletics.  In an effort to expand the potential value of high school sports for advertisers, Gen Media Partners is partnering with School Sports Media – a national school representation firm that delivers hyperlocal, community-based marketing solutions with cause-related benefits, hypertargeting mobile capabilities, and robust customization abilities.  Gen Media CEO Kevin Garrity states, “High school sports are embedded in the culture of America and ignite strong passion in local communities across the country.  The synergies with radio allow us to create unique local and regional advertising packages and draw revenue from promotional budgets that are earmarked for local sports marketing.  Our alliance with Schools Sports Media enriches the multi-level Gen Media national/regional/local approach to ad sales representation and gives us another opportunity to introduce radio to new advertisers that have not used the medium previously.”  School Sports Media creates customized brand engagement opportunities at high school and collegiate games, concerts, graduations, and other events with 65% of every sponsorship dollar going directly to the school, enhancing the brand’s connection with the passion of school sports’ fans.  School Sports Media president Dave Shamberger comments, “We are committed to keeping kids playing sports in schools and delivering community marketing that matters to each of our brand partners.  Aligning ourselves with Gen Med Partners will allow us to better serve schools across the entire country, while also expanding our local media platform capabilities.”

abcnewsWHCD15Compton Honored at White House Correspondents Dinner.  One of the features of the annual White House Correspondents Dinner is paying tribute to the journalists who’ve recently retired from the business of covering the White House.  Pictured here at last Saturday’s event is former ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton (second from left) standing alongside (from l-r) ABC News’ Steve Jones, Compton’s husband Dr. Bill Hughes and ABC News’ Andrew Kalb.