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Friday, June 25, 2021

| June 25, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Bridges, Roads and Condos,” looks back at this past week of June 21-25, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Mandy Connell, talk show host, KOA, Denver; Harry Hurley, morning show host, WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; Vince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media GroupDr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkSid Rosenberg, talk show host, WABC, New York and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

WABC, New York Host and Former Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani Suspended from Practicing Law in New York. The New York State Appellate Division, First Department suspended the law license of former NYC mayor, former Donald Trump attorney, and current WABC, New York talk host Rudy Giuliani. The court ruled that Giuliani “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020.” It added that Giuliani’s conduct “immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law.” The fate of Giuliani’s New York law license hangs in the balance as the court added, “We find that there is evidence of continuing misconduct, the underlying offense is incredibly serious, and the uncontroverted misconduct in itself will likely result in substantial permanent sanctions at the conclusion of these disciplinary proceedings.”

Audacy Unveils Sports Podcast Studio Building 2400Sports. The new podcast studio for production of Audacy sports podcasts is being launched. 2400Sports houses Audacy Sports’ digital audio content, including both new and existing original podcasts. It is the latest addition to Audacy’s podcast portfolio, which contains premium podcast companies Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, as well as the recently acquired Podcorn. Audacy chairman, president and CEO David Field says, “We’re excited to launch a third major studio with a goal of building 2400Sports into the home of the country’s best sports podcasts. We look forward to developing elite partnerships, including our just-announced deal with MLB, to create truly special, riveting sports content.” In the new partnership with MLB, Audacy and the league will collaborate on the production and distribution of official podcast programming for the league and its clubs. The studio will launch with a new flagship podcast series in development that revisits baseball’s most dramatic and thrilling postseason campaigns. The first installment, coming this fall, will take a deep dive into the Chicago Cubs’ historic march to the 2016 World Series championship. Audacy will work with all 30 clubs to develop new podcast content. Also concurrent with the studio launch, Audacy announces a development deal with award-winning podcast producer Jody Avirgan’s Roulette Productions. Over the coming months, Avirgan will contribute to 2400Sports’ slate of programming by developing and creating new original shows across a range of sports and genres. From 2016-2020, Jody Avirgan was the executive producer and host of ESPN’s 30 for 30 podcasts.

KBLA, Los Angeles Adds Black Information Network News. The new talk station launched by Tavis Smiley – KBLA, Los Angeles “Talk 1580” – is adding BIN: Black Information Network’s national news service to its programming, according to Premiere Networks. KBLA will feature Black Information Network News’ :60 newscasts at the top and bottom of the hour, as well as breaking news, from experienced and award-winning Black journalists. Premiere says the news service is available on more than 40 stations nationwide and is “the first and only 24/7 comprehensive national audio Black News service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.” KBLA president and COO Elston Butler says, “We’re excited to partner with Black Information Network News. We knew it would deliver the trusted news and information that is valuable to our listeners. Other news sources offered KBLA a nice piece of the news pie, but with BIN, we felt we would receive the whole recipe that our listeners deserve.”

Cumulus Media Completes $175 Million Debt Paydown. The company completes a multi-step procedure it began in May of this year to pay down $175 million of debt using cash on hand. Here’s how it happened: On May 17, Cumulus Media completed a $60 million repayment of its ABL Revolver due 2025, which represented the entirety of the amount outstanding under the facility. Following the paydown, the ABL Revolver due 2025 is undrawn and available as liquidity for general corporate purposes. On May 25, it paid down approximately $89 million of its Term Loan Credit Facility due 2026 related to a mandatory prepayment obligation arising from the company’s previously announced sale of land in Bethesda, MD, in June 2020 and sale of towers and related assets in September 2020. Pursuant to the terms of its 6.75% Senior Secured First Lien Notes due 2026, on May 26, 2021, the company launched a tender offer to repurchase approximately $26 million of the Notes at par, which represents the pro rata amount required to be offered from the proceeds of the Tower Sale. As of the expiration of the Tender Offer, approximately $3 million of Notes were validly tendered, accepted for payment and subsequently cancelled. Giving effect to the impact of the Tender Offer, approximately $450 million principal amount of Notes remains outstanding. Finally, on June 24, Cumulus submitted an irrevocable paydown notice to the administrative agent of the Term Loan to effectuate a required paydown of $23 million, which represents the remainder of the initial amount of the Tender Offer that was not validly tendered prior to the expiration date. Cumulus EVP and CFO Francisco J. Lopez-Balboa says, “As the improvement in economic and public health conditions continues to drive momentum in business trends, we felt it appropriate to accelerate several debt repayments in order to expedite our balance sheet de-levering, reduce interest expense, and increase our free cash flow generation. We believe this better leverage and free cash flow profile, more than $200 million of available liquidity and solid rebound trajectory are significantly enhancing our financial flexibility. Given our strong competitive position, proven execution track record, and numerous revenue growth drivers, we are confident in our multiple pathways to grow shareholder value.”

The Score’s Danny Parkins Leads Fundraising of More Than $650,000 for Food Bank. The Athletes for Justice’s Austin Harvest food mart project was the beneficiary of WSCR, Chicago’s “What About Chicago Radiothon.” The Audacy sports talker helped raise more than $650,000 for the charity launched by former Chicago Bear Sam Acho and its mission to erase a food desert and build a permanent facility that can fully service the community and those in need. 670 The Score brand manager Mitch Rosen says, “What a tremendous 24 hours. ‘The Score’ asked and the audience delivered for Austin Harvest to build a permanent food mart. I can’t thank our dedicated listeners, our score team, Danny Parkins who led all of us, and Sam Acho enough. We’re so proud to help support a great cause. Thank you, Chicago.” Parkins adds, “That’s the Chicago that I know and love. We saw a problem and helped to solve. So, when people ask, ‘What about Chicago?’ I want people to tell them the story of Austin Harvest, Sam Acho and ‘670 The Score.’ Thank you to everyone who donated and helped us erase a food desert and fund the construction of a permanent facility for Austin Harvest.” Austin Harvest is in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago and was originally a pop–up food mart that was a converted liquor store. The mart addressed a food desert in the city and was staffed as an after-school program three days a week by local kids.

‘98.5 The Sports Hub’ Raises $27,000-plus for Boston Children’s Hospital. The Beasley Media Group sports talk station raised more than $27,000 to benefit the Pediatric Advanced Care Team (P.A.C.T.) Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital via the 10th Annual Who’s Your Caddy? Classic charity golf tournament. WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub” afternoon drive personality Tony Massarotti created the original event in memory of his nephew who was cared for by the P.A.C.T. Unit. Pictured above (from l-r) are: Massarotti, Chris L. and Erika O. from Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast and “The Sports Hub Golf Club” host Hardy.

Pompeo Speaks at National Religious Broadcasters Conference. Pictured above is former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) with Salem Radio Network VP/News & Talk Programming Tom Tradup (right) at the annual National Religious Broadcasters conference in Dallas. Pompeo warned the 3,500 attendees of the dangers posed by teaching Critical Race Theory in schools and applauded Christian broadcasters for “helping protect religious freedom and traditional American values in our nation.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass is hinting at a return to the talk radio business after taking a buyout from the paper that’s been acquired by hedge fund Alden Global Capital and launching his own media platform johnkassnews.com. He currently is hosting a podcast called “The Chicago Way with John Kass” on WGN-AM’s digital platform. In the past, he hosted a talk show on WLS-AM, first with co-host Jake Hartford, then with Lauren Cohn.  Kass tells Chicago media writer Robert Feder, “I’m in meetings now with various broadcast entities to continue talking to people in Chicago. I think they might want to hear what I have to say.”…..Audacy announces that Mike Hoss is the new play-by-play announcer for New Orleans Saints game day broadcasts on news/talk WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans. Hoss will work with color analyst and Saints all-time leading rusher Deuce McAllister in the booth. Audacy New Orleans SVP and market manager Kevin Cassidy says, “When we started our search for the new ‘Voice of the Saints,’ the goal was not only professional play-by-play, but also someone with a deep connection to the team, the Saints amazing fan base and our community. Mike checks all the boxes. His extensive experience covering the team both on and off the field has allowed him to paint a front-row picture for fans over the course of his career, and we trust his knowledge will enhance our coverage on game days.”…..The GCN nationally syndicated “America Tonight with Kate Delaney” adds new station KTLR, Oklahoma City to its roster of affiliates…..Colorado Springs-based Way Media announces the addition of Steven Thompson as vice president of technology. Thompson was most recently VP of technology for Hope Media Group and KSBJ, Houston. WayFM VP of broadcast operations Jim Marshall comments, “The addition of Steven to the WayFM roster puts us in a position to further solidify our operations. He played a key role in KSBJ’s expansion in South Texas and I’m thrilled that Steven has joined our leadership team. He has a heart for God and a desire to excel in the technical arena. I love that combination.”

Former ‘Talk 106.7’ Atlanta Host Mike Brooks Dies at 66. According to a story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution by Rodney Ho, former WYAY-FM, Atlanta “Talk 106.7” talk host Mike Brooks died unexpectedly Wednesday (6/23). Brooks was a former police officer who also had served as a correspondent for CNN, among numerous other career ventures that included hosting a talk radio show on Cumulus Media’s former news/talk station “Talk 106.7.”

COVID-19 Vaccines, Goals and Delta Variant Top News/Talk Story This Week. The controversy over the vaccinations against COVID-19, the Biden administration’s goals, and the Delta variant combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was a tie between the blocking of the For the People voting bill and race relations, followed by the economy and the compromise infrastructure bill at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

NEED A GREAT EXPERT GUEST? Newsom Recall Attracts National Talk Media Interest. The official word that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) will definitely face a recall election has sparked interest in the subject of California politics at talk media outlets across the nation. Attorney/author Wayne Avrashow is a reliable non-partisan expert on the subject of California politics and is available for interviews on the Newson development as well as all things Golden State. He is a frequent contributor to RealClearPolitics and a California political insider. He has an extensive background in California politics, served on two government commissions, was chair of a Los Angeles County ballot proposition, and co-authored ballot arguments. He began as a campaign manager for two victorious Los Angeles City Councilmembers and later served as chief of staff. As a lawyer and lobbyist, he represented clients before numerous California municipalities and in Nevada and Idaho. He has lectured at Southwestern University School of Law and was an adjunct professor at Woodbury University in Los Angeles. He authored numerous op-ed articles that appeared in daily newspapers and in legal, business, and real estate publications. He authored Success at Mediation: 10 Strategic Tools for Attorneys, a book used by law students at the University of Southern California School of Law. And he is the author of a current Amazon best-selling novel Center Stage: A Political Thriller (2021, RealClearPublishing) about a rock star who runs for the U.S. Senate. His experiences in politics, government and business, and as a practicing attorney provide unique insight into the machinations and characters that populate political campaigns. His website is www.wayneavrashow.com. He can be contacted directly at 818-995-1100 or walaw@sbcglobal.net

Monday, January 14, 2013

| January 14, 2013

wolfsoncarlCarl Wolfson Back in the Talk Media Business.  The former KPOJ, Portland morning drive host returns to the talk media game on Inauguration Day via the internet after raising $52,000 and counting via KickstarterCarl Wolfson was the morning host on Clear Channel’s former progressive talk outlet KPOJ, Portland before it flipped to sports talk in the New Year.  Wolfson decided to use Kickstarter to fund a new avenue to get his brand of talk to the public and the “Elect ‘Carl in the Morning’ to a Second Term” campaign raised more than $52,000.  So, beginning on January 21, Wolfson will stream live from 7:00 am to 8:30 am and make his show available via podcast.  Wolfson says the money will go to buy office space, utilities, equipment, server costs and more.  KPOJ was one of the country’s longest-running and more successful progressive talk stations and the news of its flip to sports talk that broke in November was disappointing to progressive talk fans in the market.  As morning drive anchor and the local host, Wolfson attracted a loyal following on KPOJ.  Now, he’ll get the chance to make a go of it in the digital realm.

hartfordjakeWLS-AM, Chicago’s Jake Hartford Dead at 63.  Chicago talk radio personality Jake Hartford (Jim Edwards) passed away after suffering a heart attack.  Hartford was a longtime weekender and fill-in host on WLS, beginning his career there in 1989.  Most recently he had been co-hosting the late morning show with John Kass from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.  His family, via the WLS-AM website, gives the following statement: “We’re currently mourning the loss of Jake Hartford, a husband, father, and friend.  This is devastating news for everyone in our family, and we greatly appreciate all of the kind words that have been offered to us during our struggle.  It’s truly incredible how many people he has affected positively through pursuing the work that he loved so dearly.  Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts as we do our best to ‘spring forward.’”

schnitttoddThe Todd Schnitt-Bubba the Love Sponge Case Goes to Trial Today.  Actually the jury selection process begins today in Hillsborough County, Florida.  The real interesting part will follow and is expected to last about three weeks.  Todd Schnitt – who then battled Bubba the Love Sponge in morning drive in Tampa – filed suit against Todd Clem (BTLS) in 2008 claiming “false, highly offensive and defamatory statements” made by Clem about Schnitt and his wife MichellebubbaSpecifically, Schnitt’s suit claims that Clem’s attacks on him and his wife – an assistant state attorney – went beyond name calling between public figures.  He alleges Clem accused him of illegal activities including rigging the Arbitron ratings and taking “plugola.”  Schnitt also claims Clem encouraged his listeners to physically attack him and his wife and that led to four encounters with Bubba listeners including being forced off the road by another car, being harassed at dinner and having their house egged.  Schnitt’s claims are going to be hard to prove.  First, he’ll have to show actual malice on the part of Clem plus he’ll have to prove some real harm came to himself and his wife.  But the cast of witnesses should prove interesting in and of itself.  The Tampa Bay Times reports Randy Michaels, Hulk Hogan, Cowhead, and other local media personalities are listed as possible witnesses.

cookehollandPlatform Plays Huge Influence on Public’s Perception of Content.  According to noted radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke, the stage upon which a production is delivered plays a significant role in shaping the potential audience’s expectation of its content and value.  Keeping this important piece of media theory in mind, FM and AM radio still have a tremendous advantage over podcasting and internet radio in giving its content instant gravitas simply because it is “on the radio.”  Of course, as time goes by, this psychological advantage will dissipate unless radio continues to deliver product worthy of high expectations.  Cooke illustrates this point by citing the fascinating story of the world-class concert violinist, Joshua Bell who performed as a non-descript street musician playing a $3.5 million Stradivarius in the Washington, DC subway system.  If you don’t know the story, you should — especially if you are a podcaster.  To read Holland Cooke’s piece, click here.

millerchrisTruth is More Effective than Hype in the Online Space.  According to noted radio digital consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, broadcasters should be mindful that the kind of hyperbole that marks the tone of on-air promotion doesn’t translate well on the internet.  Radio broadcasters should tone down the sizzle and hype when translating on- air messages to their websites. In an exclusive article for TALKERS, Miller writes, “For anyone old enough to tell truth from fiction when the internet first really got hot, there is still a stigma about online information.  It’s automatically suspect.  What you say online (especially on your site) needs not only be true; you also need to present it in a way that convinces your fans that you are telling the truth.  On the air, we like to add sizzle and excitement to what we promote, so we write promos and liners in call-to-action language and we gloss over important detail points.  That’s fine on the air.  When I was a PD, I would not have accepted a promo that was just a laundry list of rules for a particular promotion.  When you go online with that info, your tone needs to change.”  To read Chris Miller’s entire piece click here.

castnermichaelThe Wall Street Journal Radio Network to End “The Daily Wrap” Program.  Launched in the spring of 2011, the early evening program hosted by Michael Castner will end in 90 days as The Wall Street Journal Radio Network has decided to pull the plug on “The Daily Wrap.”  WSJRN brought Castner to the show from Clear Channel’s WRNO, New Orleans where he’d been hosting the morning drive program.  “The Daily Wrap” is a newsy look at the top stories of the day airing from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET.  Whether the end of the program is the result of intense competition in the syndicated talk radio marketplace or the inability to have it make financial sense at a time when ad sales in the news and talk radio realm are extremely challenging, either way the show’s departure from the landscape will leave one less well-produced, newsy product on the air.

langeartie

The DirecTV-Produced “Nick & Artie Show” Becomes “The Artie Lange Show.”  Affiliates of the “Nick & Artie Show” – featuring comedians Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange – will hear just Artie Lange when the DirecTV-produced late night talk show returns this evening.  On the show’s Facebook page, it simply states that Nick DiPaolo is pursuing “some great opportunities” and the show becomes the Artie Lange show immediately.  The program airs on DirecTV’s Audience Network channel and is distributed to radio affiliates via Premiere Networks.  The program has a handful of radio affiliates including Cox Media’s WHPT, Tampa “102.5 The Bone,” Beasley’s hot talk WRXK, Ft. Myers and Americom’s sports talk KBZZ, Reno “The Buzz.”

Americom Flips KBZZ, Reno to Sports.  The former hot talk outlet adopts the sports talk format using CBS Sports Radio Network.  It will continue to air the Don Geronimo morning program (imported from CBS Radio’s KHTK, Sacramento) and the local Panama show in middays.

dubayjeffHubbard Broadcasting Brings Jeff Dubay Back on KSTP, Minneapolis.  Twin Cities sports talk personality Jeff Dubay returns to the radio after an absence of more than four years due to a high profile drug bust and his rehabilitation.  Dubay worked at Clear Channel’s crosstown “KFAN” for 14 years before his dismissal in 2008.  Now, Dubay joins Judd Zulgad for the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program beginning today.  Dubay had been very open about his arrest and subsequent rehab for substance abuse.  He appeared on numerous Twin Cities media outlets over the past year or so to talk about his rise and fall.  KSTP makes other lineup changes set to take effect in February: Patrick Reusse and Phil Mackey move to 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm and Joe Soucheray’s “Garage Logic” slides to the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm slot.  Soucheray and Reusse continue to host the 3:00 pm hour together.

giordanodomWPHT, Philadelphia’s Dom Giordano Featured in Philly Magazine Piece.  Late morning WPHT, Philadelphia talk host Dom Giordano is the subject of a full-length feature piece by Sandy Hingston in Philly Magazine this month.  The piece is written with the November election as its backdrop and with a hint of admiration for Giordano by the writer who is clearly far to the left of Giordano on the political spectrum, but who finds his success and his story fascinating.  Read the piece here.

wgnlogoWGN, Chicago and Northwestern Agree to Three-Year Sports Extension.  Wildcats football and Men’s basketball will continue to air on Tribune’s WGN, Chicago through the 2015-16 season the two sides announce.  The Big Ten school’s football and Men’s basketball play-by-play have been heard on WGN since 1996.  The school’s vice president for athletics and recreation Jim Phillips states, “The Northwestern athletics brand has experienced substantial growth over the past several years due in part to the massive reach and presence of WGN radio.  We’ve been extremely proud to call the station home for 17 years, and to have a wonderful partner in telling the stories of our world-class student-athletes.”

rossdaveDave Ross to Host One Hour with Luke Burbank on KIRO-FM, Seattle.  In TALKERS magazine’s report about Seattle radio personality Dave Ross moving to the news-intensive morning drive daypart (1/11/13), we stated that Ross is giving up his talk show with midday host Luke Burbank on Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle.  That’s not exactly true.  Ross and Burbank will work on the air together for the 9:00 am to 10:00 am hour before Burbank goes solo from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.

zwerlingharrisonOn a Blustery Seaside California Day.  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison paid a visit last week to the Monterey Bay area of California and the good folks at Zwerling Broadcasting’s AM talk siblings KSCO/KOMY, Santa Cruz as part of a fact finding tour on the effectiveness, importance and future of local radio in America.  According to Harrison, “KSCO and KOMY are exceptional examples of the magic and special place that the good old-fashioned local radio station maintains in our culture.  I came away from my visit there invigorated and optimistic about the future of this industry.”  Pictured seated on what is affectionately referred to as the “corporate bench” overlooking Monterey Bay and the blue Pacific are (l-r) Michael Zwerling, owner and CEO, Zwerling Broadcasting; Harrison; and Rosemary Chalmers, PD of KSCO/KOMY and morning host of KSCO.