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KKFN-FM, Denver’s Darren McKee Status Uncertain After Racist Twitter Typo. Denver alternative publication Westword reports that KKFN, Denver “104.3 The Fan” afternoon personality Darren “D-Mac” McKee was off the air yesterday (8/24) after Sunday’s tweet in which he posted the “N-word” instead of “Nuggets.” McKee quickly deleted the tweet and apologized. How the “N-word” got there instead of “Nuggets” is unclear but it comes a week after Charlotte Hornets announcer John Focke was suspended for the same instance – tweeting the “N-word” in place of “Nuggets.” It’s unknown when McKee will return to the air. Here’s what he said in the aftermath. “Last night while watching the Nuggets I sent out a tweet commenting on the game. I was horrified when it was brought to my attention that instead of Nuggets I had accidentally posted the N word. I instantly took it down. I despise this word. I find it abhorrent. I am stunned and devastated that I made this sickening mistake. I am deeply and profoundly sorry.” Station PD Raj Sharan tells Westword that Bonneville policy is not to discuss personnel issues publicly.
Bill Smee Named Vice President of News for Entercom. Back in early July, Entercom CEO David Field announced to staff that news pro Bill Smee is joining the company in the newly created position of vice president of news. Now, Entercom makes the announcement public. It says that in this position Smee will have strategic oversight of the company’s “best-in-class multiplatform local news brands, including eight all-news and 18 news/talk radio stations in 23 markets across the country, and nationwide via the RADIO.COM platform. Smee will spearhead linear audio, podcast and on-demand audio, written editorial, and video news content produced both centrally and at market level, while collaborating with digital product teams on the design of new features to serve news listeners.” Smee has led video strategy for multiple leading news outlets, including CNN, where he supervised editorial content and managed rapid deployment teams on breaking news specials as senior supervising producer for the outlet’s documentary unit “CNN Presents.” Smee also previously served as director of digital video for NBC News, where he launched, built and led a news team to produce original video for all digital platforms. He also served as an executive producer for Slate Magazine. Smee previously served as a strategic consultant for Entercom’s news radio, podcasting and digital platforms. Entercom EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano says, “Bill is a highly respected, award-winning news professional with over 30 years of experience leading and growing high-profile news brands. As the #1 local news platform, we remain committed to providing our audiences with quality local content via our collection of iconic news brands. Bill’s expertise will help us enhance and expand our position as an unparalleled leading news platform to better serve our communities.”
NRRC Recommends National Buys Be Based on Fall 2019 Ratings. On the heels of Nielsen’s statement that future media buying and planning decisions should not be made using COVID-19 impacted audience estimates (including the upcoming Spring 2020 Nationwide survey) the Network Radio Research Council is recommending that all network/national buying and selling be based on the Fall 2019 Nationwide survey – the latest data available prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NRRC says, “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented divergence of traditional patterns of media consumption, including AM/FM listening and the streaming of audio. Listening behaviors were significantly altered starting in mid-March 2020, as the public adjusted to remote work environments and shelter-at-home mandates across the United States. The broadcast month of April represents the first month of Nielsen’s Spring 2020 (April-May-June) Nationwide survey. Each month subsequent to April has demonstrated consistent increases in listening, and there is confidence listenership will continue to stabilize and approach pre-COVID-19 levels. It is, therefore, the NRRC’s position that the Fall 2019 Nationwide book represents the best solution for the upcoming 2021 network radio upfront and Q4 scatter buys.” The Network Radio Research Council was created in 2001 “to promote valid, reliable, and effective national radio audience measurement research.” Its current member roster includes: AdLarge Media, American Urban Radio Networks, Crystal Media Networks, Premiere Networks, Sun Broadcast Group, United Stations Radio Networks, and Westwood One.
PPM Analysis: Ongoing Coronavirus Impact. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian takes a deep dive into Nielsen Audio’s PPM ratings in this report. Although some people in portions of the country have returned to commuting, the coronavirus pandemic is still affecting radio listening patterns. In today’s report, you can see which markets put up the strongest PPM numbers for spoken-word stations; which markets gained the most weekly, 6+ AQH share for spoken-word stations (and which markets lost the most); as well as which stations gained the most shares and which lost the most. See it all here.
Presidential Election/Republican National Convention, Kellyanne Conway to Exit White House, BLM Movement/Wisconsin Riot, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, School Openings/College Flareups, Navalny Poisoning, California Wildfires, and Tropical Storms Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/24). The November presidential election and the first night of the Republican National Convention; Donald Trump’s White House adviser Kellyanne Conway announces she’ll leave her post at the end of the month; the Black Lives Matter movement and the riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin following the shooting of a Black man by police; the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the debate over opening schools and the outbreaks at several college campuses; officials in Germany say Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny was poisoned; the California wildfires; and Tropical Storms Laura and Marco were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
TALKERS News Notes. A piece in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Mac Engel looks at ESPN’s taking over of day-to-day operations of KESN-FM, Dallas on October 8. Cumulus Media has been operating the station since October of 2013. The two sides were unable to come to terms on a new deal and ESPN will resume operation of the station. It is expected that ESPN will air its entire lineup of national programs beginning in October…..Effective January 1, 2021, The Weather Channel and Skyview Networks, will begin a multi-year partnership in which Skyview will handle radio network sales and distribution for The Weather Channel. TWC president Tom O’Brien says, “As one of the top five most trusted brands in America, The Weather Channel radio network’s goal for this new partnership is to further expand our reach to provide more listeners with the world’s most accurate weather information to manage their daily lives. We’re thrilled to partner with Skyview Networks as we continue to grow our radio network’s reach and increase our brand awareness among listeners, radio stations and advertisers alike.”…..VSiN announces an expanded lineup, new shows and additional talent heading into “the most anticipated sports betting season in years.” Beginning this fall, the 24/7 sports betting network will begin broadcasting nearly 100 live linear hours each week, adding several new shows and new talent. VSiN is adding Tim Murray, former host of NBC Sports’ “The Daily Line,” former professional football player and sports broadcaster Mike Pritchard, journalist and $1 Million Super Contest winner James Salinas, and the NFL Network’s Danielle Alvari. VSiN founder and CEO Brian Musburger says, “VSiN has experienced incredible growth over the past 18 months, significantly expanding distribution, advertising sales, and industry partnerships, while enhancing our product across channels. We’re excited to build on that momentum by launching new shows and introducing new talent. This new programming will allow us to cover sportsbooks around the country and provide unique and valuable insights to our growing audience of sports bettors.”
Music Radio News and Career Moves. The WQHT, New York show “Ebro In the Morning with Laura Stylez and Rosenberg” is going into syndication via Superadio on September 8. The program features Ebro Darden and co-hostsLaura Stylez and Pete Rosenberg. Superadio Networks president Eric Faison says, “Ebro is the king of real talk and a reluctant influencer, but what you hear is what you get. We’re happy to be able to bring this show to the world via radio stations across the country.”…..Cumulus Media appoints Sal Palazzolo program director for classic rock WODE-FM, Allentown “99.9 The Hawk” Palazzolo previously programmed sister alternative WWYY-FM prior to it becoming a simulcast of country WCTO-FM. Cumulus Lehigh Valley VP and market manager Elizabeth Pembleton says, “It is exciting to welcome Sal to this new role with ‘99.9 The Hawk.’ The support from the entire Cumulus staff, especially WODE air talent and corporate programming, has been outstanding. This promotion is well deserved and earned through commitment and dedication. It is an honor to have an individual of Sal’s caliber guiding one of our flagships.” At the same time, the station promotes Glenn “Mitch” Mitchell from weekends to the afternoon drive position.
By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent
NASHVILLE – Day two of the Radio Show in Nashville included sessions about the connected car featuring Fred Jacobs; a conversation with FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn; and it culminated with the Marconi Awards reception. Here are some conversations that took place in the halls of the Omni Hotel, and four blocks away at the home of Cumulus Media, where I was treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the NASH America Morning Show.