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Friday, June 4, 2021

| June 4, 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, “Err, FORMER President Trump,” looks back at this past week of May 31 – June 4, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dr. Asa Andrew, talk show host, Asa Rx;  Phil Boyce, senior VP, Salem Radio Network/Salem Media GroupDom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Wayne Avrashow, attorney/columnist, Real Clear PoliticsFrank Morano, 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.

WINS, New York Reporter John Montone Retires. Longtime WINS, New York reporter John Montone announced to listeners yesterday (6/3) that he’s retiring from the Audacy all-news station. He told anchor Lee Harris, “It’s been almost 40 years that I’ve had the honor of working for what I call the world’s most important radio station in the world’s greatest city. And today, I hang them up for the fishing pole, the bicycle and the pickleball paddle. I am retiring.” Montone is famous in New York for his man-on-the-street interviews and his frontline reporting on the city’s biggest stories. On the WINS website, the station says, “On 9/11, John was caught in the middle of the chaos in lower Manhattan. For a time, we didn’t hear from him, and everyone was a wreck. You can imagine how relieved we were when Ben Mevorach, our brand manager and director of news and programming, spotted him on the street covered in ash. It turns out he had escaped death because a quick-thinking stranger pulled him inside a building as the first tower fell.” Mevorach wrote in a memo to the WINS staff, “No single person has been more identified with the WINS call letters than John. He is a masterful writer, an extraordinary storyteller, and – perhaps most incredibly – he creates an intimacy with the people he interviews…the result is some of the most memorable moments in the station’s history. This concrete jungle has been his playground. His stories are recited back to him by listeners… sometimes years after they first aired. That is the kind of impact that can never be overstated.”

Dan LeBatard to Kick Off New Venture with Today’s 24-Hour Broadcast. New company Meadowlark Media – launched by former ESPN personality Dan LeBatard and former ESPN chief John Skipper – and their new partner DraftKings are celebrating that relationship with today’s 24-hour broadcast on YouTube (beginning at 12:00 noon) live from South Beach, Florida titled, “FreeDumb.” After being warned by ESPN brass last fall to steer away from politics and stick with sports, LeBatard engineered his exit from ESPN late last year and then he and Skipper began plans to create a new company to present LeBatard’s content as well as eventually offer it to radio stations. DraftKings posted a story about today’s event saying, “For those of you unfamiliar with the Miami-based media startup, which spent a decade as the No. 1 sports talk radio show in South Florida before becoming a staple of afternoon drive and then mid-mornings on ESPN, the secret to the sauce is being a sports talk radio show making fun of a sports talk radio show. Clichés are mocked, as are final-score prediction radio and hosts that pontificate loudly with limited information. What is embraced is the awkward, Florida Marlins baseball players from the 90s, and the intersection of how sports, race, politics and media blend in the 21st century. Your average show ranges from thoughtful insight on Naomi Osaka stepping away from the French Open, to asking a world-renowned zoologist ‘who would win in a fight’ between a giraffe and four humans, one of whom is holding a steak knife. If you want to hear breakdowns of the Clippers pick-and-roll defense, we’d suggest looking elsewhere.”

TALKERS News Notes. Public radio news magazine “All Things Considered” is being inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Broadcasting Hall of Fame at the 2021 NAB Show taking place October 9–13 in Las Vegas. The NPR program debuted on May 3, 1971, on 90 public radio stations. The current hosts of the program are Ailsa Chang, Audie Cornish, Mary Louise Kelly, Ari Shapiro and on weekends by Michel Martin…..Weekend radio program “Cafe Mocha” and Compass Media Networks are expanding their relationship with Compass Media Networks taking over affiliation and marketing responsibilities in addition to advertising sales, effective immediately. This two-hour show is hosted by Emmy Award winner comedienne, actress, and co-host of ‘The REAL’ daytime show Loni Love, GRAMMY-nominated artist YoYo, and veteran broadcaster and producer Angelique Perrin. Miles Ahead Broadcasting CEO and “Café Mocha” creator and executive producer Sheila Eldridge comments, “All of us at ‘Café Mocha’ are excited to expand our partnership with Compass Media Networks to handle affiliate relations for the Café Mocha radio show. Over the past five years the Compass Media Networks team has helped us to firmly establish our platform of ‘radio from a woman’s perspective’ that speaks to ‘women of color’ from 25 to 54 that represent a combined buying power of more than $1.2 trillion.”…..SiriusXM and Sawdust Podcast Network have entered into an agreement that makes SiriusXM the distributor and ad representative for five popular Sawdust fantasy sports and gaming podcasts, including: “Fade the Noise with Brad Evans,” “Fantasy Fast Track,” “The Rant with Jeff Ratcliffe,” “Fantasy Alarm Presents: Ante Up with Howard Bender & Adam Ronis” and “Sticks and Stacks.” SXM Media will serve as the central representative for these Sawdust podcasts to plan, produce, manage, and measure effective digital audio advertising.

COVID-19 Vaccines, Politics & Stats Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 31- June 4. The rate of vaccinations, concerns about vaccine hesitancy, and the politics surrounding COVID-19 combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the notion former President Donald Trump could be “reinstated,” along with election fraud claims and theories, followed by voter legislation initiatives 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.

iHeartMedia’s KFAB, Omaha Looking for a Full-Time Talk Host. Omaha news/talk KFAB “NewsRadio 1110” has a rare opening for a full-time talk radio host. Program director Scott Voorhees says, “The right host/team will put ‘entertainment’ above ‘agenda,’ and be energized to connect with our community via radio, social media, live events, and turning clients into friends.” Interested talk radio personalities should contact Voorhees via email at: scott@kfab.com.

New York City Radio Sales Opportunity. The New York City radio stations owned and operated by Salem Media Group announce a sales opportunity. The company says, “NYC is REOPENING and sales are starting to boom – the hottest stations around belong to Salem Media Group’s NY cluster, come join us! If you were born to sell and want a great career with benefits and financial security, write directly to: Jerry Crowley, VP/GM at: Jcrowley@nycradio.com.

Morning Radio Opportunity at KFAQ, Tulsa. Thirteen-year KFAQ, Tulsa morning host Pat Campbell is not returning to his show in order to focus on health challenges. As a result, Griffin Communications is seeking his successor. Director of operations and programming Steve Hunter says, “We are looking for someone to fill his big shoes. We need someone that is plugged into current events, sports and community events. This is a rare opportunity to work for a locally owned company in brand-new, state-of-art studios in the heart of downtown Tulsa. Griffin Communications Tulsa Radio/Talk Radio 1170 is looking for an on-air talent that can do a daily morning show that speaks to our 35-54-year-old demo. Digital/Social Media skills are a must. We are seeking a great communicator and a fun storyteller with a keen sense of how to create excellent content that will be displayed across all our platforms. The perfect candidate is exceptional on the air, excellent digitally and has worked in various formats including talk radio, news radio or sports radio. This is a very active radio group, heavily involved in the community and requires someone who is fearless and willing to get out of the studio and meet listeners. If you are ready to work in a building full of incredible talent with a family atmosphere and a must-win attitude, we would love to hear from you. Must be willing to work a flexible schedule including nights, weekends and holidays. Qualified candidates can contact me or Talk Radio 1170 PD Jeremie Poplin at Jeremie.poplin@griffin.news.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

| April 28, 2021

Meadowlark Media and DraftKings Ink Big Deal for Content Distribution. The Miami Herald has the story about the new $40 million deal that Meadowlark Media – the company formed by former ESPN chief John Skipper and former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard – and DraftKings have entered into. According to the Herald, DraftKings is getting into the content distribution business and by June or early July will be responsible for getting Meadowlark’s flagship program “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” onto radio, television, podcast platforms, and social media. It will also serve as title sponsor. The paper reports that Meadowlark negotiated with several other companies including SiriusXM, NBC’s Peacock and iHeartMedia.  Le Batard told the Herald that didn’t want fans to have to climb a paywall for his show. “We didn’t want to do that to our listeners. The thing that I chose was freedom. Every time I’ve negotiated anywhere was for freedom, not money. This allows Meadowlark to be profitable from the start and have total freedom to do what we want. We can go forward and appear everywhere. We can make partnerships anywhere we want. We don’t have any corporate overlord. Our partner is our sponsor and what they are sponsoring is our freedom. The media landscape is changing very rapidly, and this shows how much power and value individuals can exert in breaking free from the corporate machine.” By summertime, Le Batard’s show – currently only available in podcast form – will be found in video formant on YouTube, Twitch, and DraftKings’ own nascent channel. The Herald adds that “the partnership will include DraftKings commissioning content projects and original programming that Meadowlark will develop and produce, including sports documentaries, as DraftKings broadens its sports entertainment footprint.”

Alpha Media Files Opposition to Larry Wilson’s Petition to Deny with FCC. As Alpha Media works to emerge from bankruptcy – approval for which it has received from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern Division of Virginia – it also needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission. But minority interest holders Larry Wilson and Paul Stone filed Petitions to Deny with the FCC, claiming that Alpha has failed to comply with FCC regulations regarding licensing of some of its stations and that the matter requires further review of foreign ownership interests, respectively. Alpha recently filed its opposition to the Petitions to Deny. In that filing’s summary, it says, “In short, when one peels away the bombast of Wilson’s Petition, it is clear that Wilson is inappropriately using the agency as a platform for rehashing his differences with certain members of the Company’s Board of Directors and management, and vainly attempting to shoehorn assessment of his personal grievances into the Commission’s processes under the guise of spurious claims that Alpha is unfit to hold its broadcast licenses. Moreover, his assertions are false. For Stone’s part, he simply criticizes the FCC’s well-established policy of promoting companies’ ability to promptly emerge from bankruptcy where further regulatory review of foreign ownership interests is required, a policy that is grounded in public interest considerations and comity with the bankruptcy laws. Neither Wilson nor Stone has standing as a party-in-interest. Any claims they had as holders of minority interests in Alpha pertaining to the Plan or to Alpha’s governance could and should have been presented to the Bankruptcy Court or the Delaware courts. While they inexplicably chose not to avail themselves of these alternative forums, they cannot now seek redress before the Commission. It has been black-letter law that the FCC does not adjudicate private contractual matters for far longer than the ‘more than 40 years’ that Wilson’s counsel has been ‘practic[ing] before the Commission,’ and the FCC has no reason to do so here.”

Westwood One Announces Executive Promotions. Three Westwood One staffers are promoted to new positions within the syndicator and sales firm’s programming and operations divisions. Twenty-eight-year Westwood One employee Susan Stephens is promoted to SVP and general manager, Westwood One programming. In this expanded role, Stephens will work to optimize programming and content opportunities and collaborations between news, talk, music, and entertainment. Tim Seymour rises to SVP, head of operations in which the 20-year WWO staffer assumes responsibility for the operations, partner relations, affiliate & sales operations, traffic & continuity, and research operations teams. Becky Bennett is elevated to VP, partner relations. Stephens and Seymour both report to Cumulus Media executive vice president of marketing and president of Westwood One Suzanne Grimes. Bennett will report to Seymour. Grimes says, “We have an enviable depth of talent within Westwood One with the unique experience to lead us forward. It is a privilege and a pleasure to announce these well-deserved promotions that will position us to succeed in 2021 and beyond.”

Edison’s Annual ‘Moms and Media’ Study Unveiled May 6. The results of the annual “Moms and Media” study from Edison Research will be revealed at a webinar being presented next Thursday (5/6) at 2:00 pm ET. Edison says, “This year’s ‘Moms and Media’ study provides insight on media usage, social media habits, and current outlook on tech by U.S. moms. Findings incorporate data from The Infinite Dial study from Edison Research and Triton Digital, as well as data from Edison Research’s new ongoing syndicated measurement of social media, The Social Habit. The 2021 report features data trends on devices, media engagement, and technology usage of U.S. moms. Highlights from this year’s study include: smart speaker ownership, podcast adoption, online audio listening, and social media engagement. In addition, the report will showcase brand new research centered on social media usage by U.S. moms and their children. You can register for the webinar here.

Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Harry Hamm Sentenced in Child Porn Case. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that former longtime KMOX, St. Louis air personality Harry Hamm was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. The 79-year-old former entertainment editor for the radio station admitted that FBI investigators found child porn on two of his cell phones and his laptop. Hamm is also facing charges of second-degree statutory sodomy, incest and possession of child pornography in St. Louis County. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. The Post-Dispatch story says the St. Louis County charges stem from allegations of sexual contact with a 16-year-old. Hamm began his career with the station in 1975.

TALKERS News Notes. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway is bringing two of the Navy SEALS who were on the mission that killed al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden to Des Moines for a fundraiser for the Puppy Jake Foundation that provides service dogs for combat-wounded veterans. Rob O’Neill – the SEAL who fired the shots that killed Bin Laden – and SEAL dog handler Will Chesney will take part in the June 18 event…..ABC News Radio is providing coverage of President Joe Biden’s address this evening and will begin with a one-hour special, “The Biden Presidency: The First 100 Days,” looking back at the start of the Biden administration. The program will air live on the radio network from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET anchored by correspondent Aaron Katersky. ABC News Radio will also provide live anchored coverage of President Biden’s speech, with reporting and analysis from ABC News’ team of correspondents and experts…..Public radio outlet WPLN, Nashville announces it has hired Caroline Eggers as the newsroom’s first environmental reporter. She starts her new position in June and will cover environmental issues with a focus on equity for WPLN News as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms across the U.S. to report on under-covered topics and communities. She comments, “WPLN News delivers essential stories with incredible intellect and empathy. I can’t wait to reflect these values while investigating Nashville’s climate action plan, air quality and infrastructure challenges.”

COVID-19, Biden’s 100 Days Address to Congress/$1.8 Trillion American Families Plan, Andrew Brown, Jr Protests/Police Violence, 2020 Census-House Seats, Critical Race Theory Controversy, John Kerry Iran Allegation, and Southern Border Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/27). The CDC’s new directives on mask wearing, the rollout of vaccines, and the high rate of cases in places like India and Brazil; this evening’s 100-day address to Congress by President Joe Biden and his $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the protests of the police shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. and other cases of police violence; the results of the 2020 census and its impact on U.S. Rep seats; the controversy over “critical race theory” and its use in public schools curricula; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Israeli air strikes with Iran’s foreign minister; and the overwhelming number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

| April 8, 2021

Cumulus Fires PD and Morning Hosts in Aftermath of Racist Bit at WGRF, Buffalo. As reported by WGRZ-TV, Buffalo, Cumulus Media has taken further action after the March 24 morning program radio bit by “The Morning Bull” personalities in which the three cast members discussed the color of Black female celebrities’ skin, comparing them to burnt toast. On that day, WGRF-FM, Buffalo “97 Rock” morning host Rob Lederman was fired and co-hosts Rich Gaenzler and Chris Klein were suspended. Now, the station has fired Gaenzler and Klein as well as program director John Hager. Cumulus issued the succinct statement: “Upon further consideration following the racist incident that occurred on ‘The Morning Bull Show,’ we decided to terminate the whole morning show in addition to the program director.” Rich Gaenzler also lost his gig as arena announcer for Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits games and as stadium announcer for University of Buffalo football.

Richard Baum Named Chief Revenue Officer for Sun Broadcast Group. Sales pro Richard Baum joins Sun Broadcast Group as chief revenue officer. SBG says that in this newly created position, Baum will lead partner strategy, revenue growth, and oversee the growing ad-sales team. SBG adds that Baum’s “proven success in sales planning, team management, revenue strategy, and business development blend seamlessly into his new role, as he will focus on leveraging both sales and ROI to drive growth for Sun Broadcast Group.” Sun Broadcast Group president Warren Friedland comments, “When looking for our new CRO we wanted to find an industry professional with vast knowledge of network radio, emerging tactics, an impeccable reputation as well as an eye for growth, and Baum fits all those characteristics. His knowledge will allow us to provide more comprehensive and competitive solutions for both clients and agencies, while maximizing revenue growth across all platforms.” Baum says, “In searching for my next opportunity, I was looking to join a team with a strong infrastructure, a solid foundation, and the available resources to grow aggressively. Warren and his team at Sun fit that criteria perfectly. I am excited to work with the crew at Sun and Gen Media Partners to continue to help build a best-in-class network audio company.”

Hillsdale Weekend Program Available Via Salem Radio Network. The “Radio Free Hillsdale Hour” program produced by Hillsdale College is being made available for radio stations via Salem Radio Network. The one-hour, weekend radio program is divided into four segments with each episode featuring multiple guests including Hillsdale faculty members, speakers who visit one of the College’s campuses, alumni, and others. WRHF, Hillsdale “Radio Free Hillsdale” general manager Scot Bertram is host of the program and he says, “We’re thrilled to be able to offer the program through Salem and give radio stations another option for airing the show. Talk radio listeners already know Hillsdale by reputation, but this is an opportunity to hear more directly from the college’s faculty, staff, alumni, and others. Our goal always has been to reach as many listeners as possible across the country. The ideas and arguments discussed here at Hillsdale are relevant to all citizens, and this radio program is one way to share them.” Stations that recently added the program to their lineups include: WIBX-AM, Utica, New York; WZUS-FM, Decatur, Illinois; and KTOE-AM, Mankato, Minnesota.

Westwood One Offers Barstool Sports’ ‘Picks Central’ to Radio Stations. In a deal between Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and Barstool Sports, the Barstool program “Picks Central” will be made available to radio stations live from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET or for delay broadcast.  The daily gambling and sports show is hosted by Brandon Walker with a rotation of Barstool personalities including Dave Portnoy and Dan “Big Cat” Katz, in which they “provide the scoop on the best gambling lines of the day. The crew discusses relevant sports topics, bad beats, moneylines, and over/unders. They also offer their thoughts on where to place winning bets for every sport under the moon.”

Hallerin Hilton Hill Named to Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame. Knoxville talk radio host Hallerin Hilton Hill – heard in afternoon drive on Cumulus Media’s WOKI-FM, “NewsTalk 98.7” – is being inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2021. Cumulus Knoxville market manager Ken Slayer says, “Our entire team is very proud of Hallerin and his career accomplishments. No one deserves this honor and statewide recognition more than he does. His commitment to broadcast excellence and service to our community are unsurpassed.” Hill also works as singer/songwriter, author, motivational speaker, and trainer. He wrote “Who Would Imagine a King” with Mervyn Warren which was recorded by Whitney Houston for the film, The Preacher’s Wife, and was included on the film’s Grammy-nominated soundtrack.

Gimlet Media and The Ringer Podcast Producers Unionize. The writers and producers at Gimlet Media and The Ringer – both owned by Spotify – ratified first collective bargaining agreements as members of the Writers Guild of America, East. The contracts affect 48 members at Gimlet Media and 65 members at The Ringer. Some of the key components of the union contracts provide for: Significant increases to salary minimums with The Ringer establishing $57,000 plus overtime as an entry-level floor and Gimlet Media beginning at $73,000 for associate producers; limitations on the use of contractors within bargaining unit positions; minimum of 2% guaranteed annual increases; minimum severance of 11 weeks for all employees, regardless of tenure; and more. Writers Guild of America, East executive director Lowell Peterson comments, “The collective bargaining agreements at Gimlet Media and The Ringer demonstrate that the people who make podcasts, from writers to producers to editors, bring enormous value to the major platforms for whom they create content. Collective bargaining ensures creative professionals have a seat at the table to address issues like inclusion and equity, intellectual property concerns, and sustainability of careers.”

Adnan Virk to Contribute to Meadowlark Media. According to a story in The Wrap, Adnan Virk is joining the talent stable at Meadowlark Media – the company launched by former ESPN chief John Skipper and sports talk personality Dan Le Batard. In addition to his work as a contributor, Virk’s “Cinephile” podcast will become part of the “Le Batard & Friends” network. Virk says, “I’ve had the amazing fortune to have John Skipper as my boss at ESPN, DAZN, and now Meadowlark. Clearly the third time is the charm and I’ve long enjoyed John’s ambition, erudition, and sense of humor. Skipper adds, “Adnan is a unique talent – the kind of broadcaster who can thrive in any sport and in any environment. We’re thrilled for the opportunity to welcome a friend who offers a diverse voice and shares our desire to create high-quality content that pushes beyond the boundaries of sports.”

WPHT USO Radiothon Raises More Than $95,000. The March 19 “Talk Radio 1210 WPHT USO Radiothon” raised more than $95,000 to benefit the United Service Organization of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey (Liberty USO). The 12-hour radiothon was hosted by WPHT, Philadelphia talk show hosts Rich Zeoli and Dom Giordano and included interviews and stories from USO staff and families, dignitaries and special guests such as actor Justin Melnick, WWE announcer Lillian Garcia, and Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen. Audacy Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We’re proud of another successful year raising funds and awareness for Liberty USO. These individuals have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and it’s our honor to band together with our listeners to support them and their families.”

COVID-19, Biden Gun Control Moves, Infrastructure/Tax Plan, Voting Legislation, Border Crisis, Derek Chauvin Trial, and Matt Gaetz Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S., status of variants, post-COVID effects, and vaccine rollout; President Joe Biden moves to ban ‘ghost guns’ and stabilizers; the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan and the proposed tax changes to pay for it; Georgia’s restrictive voting laws and Democrats’ plans for a national voting rights bill; the large number of unaccompanied minors amassed at the U.S.-Mexico border; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; and the investigation into allegations U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz had sexual relations with a minor were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, April 2, 2021

| April 2, 2021

The Michael Harrison Wrap Reaches 100 Installment Milestone.  This weekend’s installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap” marks the program’s 100th episode.  It is heard weekends on stations and regional networks coast to coast in the US and across the UK and is available on a market exclusive basis to stations in syndication by Talk Media Network (TMN).  For affiliate information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

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, “Trillions and Trillions,” looks back at this past week of March 29 – April 2. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkDerek Hunter, talk show host, WCBM, Baltimore; Joe Madison, talk show host, SiriusXM Satellite RadioVince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media GroupRichard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, 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 iHeartPodcast 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.

Supreme Court Unanimously Overturns 3rd Circuit Court’s Vacating of FCC’s Ownership Regulations. As most media watchers are aware, in 2017 – after what many radio operators say was a long time coming – the FCC concluded that three of its ownership rules no longer served the public interest and it repealed the Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule and the Radio/Television Cross-Ownership Rule and it modified the Local Television Ownership Rule. Shortly thereafter, a collection of public interest and advocacy groups known as the Prometheus Radio Project appealed the FCC’s ruling to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals which vacated the FCC’s reconsideration order holding that the record did not support the agency’s conclusion that the rule changes would have minimal effect on minority and female ownership. The FCC petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case and yesterday (4/1), it ruled that the FCC’s rule change was not “arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).” The unanimous ruling from the Supreme Court said, in part, “In challenging the FCC’s order, Prometheus argues that the Commission’s assessment of the likely impact of the rule changes on minority and female ownership rested on flawed data. But the FCC acknowledged the gaps in the data sets it relied on, and noted that, despite its repeated requests for additional data, it had received no countervailing evidence suggesting that changing the three ownership rules was likely to harm minority and female ownership. Prometheus also asserts that the FCC ignored two studies submitted by a commenter that purported to show that past relaxations of the ownership rules had led to decreases in minority and female ownership levels. But the record demonstrates that the FCC considered those studies and simply interpreted them differently. In assessing the effects of the rule changes on minority and female ownership, the FCC did not have perfect empirical or statistical data. But that is not unusual in day-to-day agency decision making within the Executive Branch. The APA imposes no general obligation on agencies to conduct or commission their own empirical or statistical studies. And nothing in the Telecommunications Act requires the FCC to conduct such studies before exercising its discretion under Section 202(h). In light of the sparse record on minority and female ownership and the FCC’s findings with respect to competition, localism, and viewpoint diversity, the Court cannot say that the agency’s decision to repeal or modify the ownership rules fell outside the zone of reasonableness for purposes of the APA.”

The NAB Comments on the Supreme Court’s Ruling. The National Association of Broadcasters issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s overturning the 3rd Circuit Court’s vacating the FCC’s ownership rule changes. NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “NAB commends today’s unanimous decision by the Supreme Court that the FCC’s recent and long-overdue modernization of its broadcast ownership regulations was lawful and appropriate. It is critical that the Commission continue to examine its media ownership rules to ensure that America’s broadcasters are able to compete and meet the needs of local communities across the nation in today’s media landscape. We look forward to working with the Commission on this effort given the essential role radio and television broadcasters play for all Americans.”

Meadowlark Media Secures $12.6 Million in Funding. According to a story in The Hollywood Reporter, Meadowlark Media – the company formed by former ESPN president John Skipper and former ESPN radio and cable personality Dan Le Batard – has raised $12.6 million in a “Series A funding round.” Investors include DAZN, DraftKings, Snap Inc. chairman Michael Lynton, EMJ Ventures, Verance Capital, Wasserman, and Carmen Busquets. The THR story says the money will be used for “key hires” and for the “first slate of projects.” Skipper says, “With the intense competition to retain audiences at established media and to attract customers to new streaming services, we and our investors see an exciting opportunity for Meadowlark to work with the industry’s best storytellers to add the highest quality sports-focused original programming to their existing entertainment offerings.”

Buffalo Association of Black Journalists Meets with Cumulus Buffalo in Aftermath of Rob Lederman Firing. According to a report by WKBW-TV, Buffalo, the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists has met with local management of Cumulus Media’s WGRF-FM “97 Rock” in the aftermath of the firing of morning host Rob Lederman and the suspension of morning show cast members Rich Gaenzler and Chris Klein. Cumulus took the punitive actions after the three engaged in a bit about color of famous black women’s skin. BABJ issued a statement noting that Cumulus has implemented steps to “accelerate diversity training in Buffalo” and has scheduled meetings with members of Buffalo’s Black community. The statement also says BABJ is pleased with the “progress being made at ‘97 Rock’ and Cumulus Media” and is advocating for increased diversity at the cluster.

Westwood One Presents Coverage of Men’s and Women’s NCAA Final Four and Championships. This weekend’s NCAA Men’s and Women’s Final Four games as well as both championship games are being presented by NCAA exclusive national audio partner Westwood One. The broadcast of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Final Four begins on Saturday with The Final Four Show at 3:30 pm ET leading up to the first game between the Houston Cougars and Baylor Bears, followed by coverage of the semifinal between the undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs and the UCLA Bruins. The NCAA Men’s Championship Game will tip off on Monday with the pre-game at 7:00 pm ET and the game following at 8:00 pm. Westwood One will also present coverage in Spanish, called by Rafael Hernández Brito, former Puerto Rican national team coach Carlos Morales, and Clemson Smith Muñiz. Westwood One’s presentation of the NCAA Women’s Final Four this afternoon at 5:45 pm ET, as South Carolina takes on Stanford, followed by Arizona versus Connecticut. Coverage of the Women’s National Championship Game will be on Sunday at 5:30 pm ET. The Westwood One broadcast crew for the Women’s Final Four will include Ryan Radtke on play-by-play and Debbie Antonelli as lead color analyst, her 18th time in that role and 25th year overall. Krista Blunk will serve as pregame, halftime, and postgame host.

TALKERS News Notes. The Genesis Communications Network nationally syndicated program “America Tonight” with host Kate Delaney is added to the program schedule at KROS Broadcasting’s KROS-AM, Clinton, Iowa…..The podcast network Ramble announces the launch of “Crazy Stupid Fangirls,” a new weekly podcast hosted by YouTube star Elle Mills and creator Michelle Platti. Ramble – a studio division of Audacy’s Cadence13 – says the podcast features the longtime friends and fellow fangirls diving into pop culture spanning decades from all angles, debating and dissecting their favorite movies, music, streaming shows, television, artists, creators, iconic moments and more. In addition to sharing their own fangirl picks and stories on the show, Elle and Michelle will be joined by a wide range of guests who will share their favorites.

COVID-19, Vaccines, Variants and Origins Tie for Top News/Talk Story This Week. The combination of COVID-19 stats, vaccines, concerns about variants, and questions about the origin of the coronavirus made up the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio for the week of March 29 – April 2. At #2 this week was the Derek Chauvin trial tied with race relations, and police reform. Following at #3 was the Joe Biden infrastructure stimulus initiative and the related U.S. economy. 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.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

| January 14, 2021

Key Networks Names Deidra Hoye to Lead Expanded Sales Team. Syndication firm Key Networks appoints network advertising sales executive Deidra Hoye to the senior vice president, ad sales position in which she’ll lead the company’s newly expanded sales team. Los Angeles-based Hoye will supervise the enhanced sales team of veteran network radio sales professionals that includes recent hires Maggie Sisco, vice president, Eastern sales; Brian Pollina, vice president, Midwest sales; and Michelle McLynn, supervisor of sales support & operations. Hoye previously served as vice president, network sales, for Premiere Networks. Sisco joins Key Networks from PodcastOne, where she was vice president/director of sales, Eastern region. Pollina comes to Key Networks from United Stations Radio Networks, where he was vice president of digital assets and Midwest sales. McLynn joins Key from Westwood One, where she was affiliate services manager. Key Networks and Sun & Fun Media CEO Rob Koblasz says, “We are delighted to welcome Deidra to the Key Networks team. Her wealth of experience in the network ad sales arena will allow us to serve our partners now and as we grow our network. Deidra’s leadership along with the breadth of experience of our team is a winning combination for our customers.” Key Networks syndicates “The O’Reilly Update,” starring Bill O’Reilly to almost 250 radio stations. It also manages all network advertising sales, affiliate sales, and marketing for Bloomberg Radio and distributes “Shawn Parr’s Across The Country,” as well as news/talk program “The Jesse Kelly Show,” alt rock morning program, “The Billy Madison Show,” and Virtual Jock programming services.

KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh News Anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas to Retire. Pittsburgh news anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas is retiring from her PM drive anchor post at Entercom’s news/talk KDKA-AM after 45years in the broadcasting business. Ryan-Douglas has been with KDKA-AM since 2002. She joined KDKA-AM after anchoring the morning news at crosstown (current classic hits outlet) WWSW “3WS” for almost 20 years. Entercom Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “Rose has been the ultimate news professional. Not only will we miss her on the air but her calming influence in the newsroom is irreplaceable. On behalf of all of us at KDKA Radio and our listeners we thank her for the tremendous work she has done over the years.” Her last shift will be Friday, February 26.

Seth Goldberg Exits ‘ESPN Syracuse’ for Gig with the NBA. Syracuse.com reports that WTLA-AM, Syracuse “ESPN Radio Syracuse” host and producer Seth Goldberg is leaving the radio station to take a position with the NBA. Goldberg began working at WTLA in 2015 producing “Upon Further Review” with hosts Chris McManus and Steve Neikam while still a student at Syracuse University. Joining WTLA full time after graduating in 2016, Goldberg has been co-host and producer for “Orange Nation” (co-hosted with Steve Infanti), and produces “On the Block,” a program with Syracuse.com’s Brent Axe. Both programs also are featured on the WTLA-SU Twitch streaming channel ‘Cuse Sports Talk.’ Galaxy Media CEO Ed Levine says Goldberg’s on-air role on “Orange Nation” will be filled in the interim by Paulie Scibilia.

Beasley Media Group’s Preliminary Q4 Net Revenue Down 5.8%-6.5%. Releasing preliminary financial data from the fourth quarter of 20201, Beasley Media Group says it expects net revenue for the period to be approximately $67.4 million to $67.9 million. Compared to the same period in 2019, the figures represent a decrease of between 5.8% and 6.5%. The company says the change reflects a year-over-year decrease in commercial advertising revenue due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, partially offset by growth in digital, esports, and political revenue. Other data points include: fourth quarter 2020 Station Operating Income increased by approximately 23.1% to 28.8% year-over-year to approximately $19.2 million to $20.1 million; and fourth quarter 2020 EBITDA increased by approximately 25.0% to 33.8% year-over-year to approximately $17.0 million to $18.2 million. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “We expect to report top-line revenue improvement in the second half of the year, with sequential quarter-over-quarter growth in both the third and fourth quarters of 2020. Our preliminary fourth quarter performance also demonstrates the significant operating benefits from the actions we took earlier this year to address the pandemic, including reducing station operating expenses and negotiating discounts with landlords, service providers, and partners. Although it is difficult to predict what the impact of COVID-19 will be in the coming months, we remain optimistic that the commercial advertising market will return to more normalized revenue levels as we move further into the year, following broad vaccine distribution.”

CES2021: Technology Is Merely the Plumbing. As the (virtual) convention that reporters are scolded for calling “the Consumer Electronics Show” wraps today, consultant Holland Cooke urges broadcasters to focus on product, not package. Read his analysis here.

First Detroit Sports Talk Show Hosted by Frank Beckmann? Not So Fast… Former longtime Detroit Free Press writer John Smyntek reaches out to TALKERS magazine to let us know that legendary Detroit radio personality Frank Beckmann – who announced his retirement from Cumulus Media’s WJR-AM on Wednesday (it takes effect at the end of March) – was not the first to host a sports talk program on Detroit radio as the press release from WJR claims. Smyntek says, “WXYZ-AM (1270, now WXYT-AM) had the late Dave Diles hosting a daily sports talk and caller dial-in show from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm weeknights starting, I think, in 1967 and running through 1969 or 1970. Then Ron Cameron had a sports call-in format on WXYT-AM under the Chuck Fritz regime for several years in the 1970s, long before Beckmann’s show started.” Smyntek – who retired from the Free Press in 2008 – says Beckmann’s “Sportstalk” program, launched in 1981, was indeed the first sports show to air on WJR-AM.

WSB, Atlanta Talk Star Erick Erickson Is This Week’s Guest on the Harrison Podcast.  One of the rising stars of talk radio, Erick Erickson of WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” He’s one of the most important talk radio figures in the Peach State where, for the past eight years, he’s been hosting “Atlanta’s Evening News with Erick Erickson,” a 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm program on the Cox Media Group heritage station. He also hosts a recently launched, daily three-hour show airing from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon on his own independent network of almost 20 stations stretching across Georgia that many industry observers say is ready to expand nationally. His background is fascinating. Born 45 years ago in Jackson, Louisiana, he was raised between the ages of five and 15 in Dubai where his father worked for Conoco Oil as a production foreman. Returning to the U.S., he received a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and a J.D. degree from Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. He practiced law for six years at a major legal firm in Georgia. He served four years as an elected city councilman in Macon. He was one of the founders of RedState.com which he managed as editor-in-chief for 10 years. He’s been a regular contributor to CNN and FOX News Channel over the years. He’s currently attending a seminary where he is working on earning a theological degree and he’s one of the talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh turns to when he needs someone to fill in. Erickson is a conservative who has not been reluctant to tell his audience the truths he thinks they need to know as opposed to engaging in the daily dance of affirmation and only telling them what they want to hear – especially when it comes to his opinions about President Donald Trump. Don’t miss this extremely timely conversation about the state of talk radio and politics in America today recorded the day after the Capitol insurrection. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Report: Dan Le Batard and Former ESPN Boss John Skipper to Form New Sports Media Company. According to a report by Michael McCarthy at Front Office Sports, former ESPN radio and TV personality Dan Le Batard and former ESPN chief John Skipper are partnering for a new “politically progressive sports media company” that is “described as the strategic opposite of Clay TravisOutkick.” The Le Batard-Skipper partnership was first reported by the Miami Herald. McCarthy’s piece says that Le Batard and Skipper are seeking talent including former ESPN talent Jemele Hill, Bomani Jones, and Kate Fagan. Hill tells FOS, “We’re trying to figure out the most productive way to work together. Both John and Dan know I have such a deep level of respect for them. So, me working with them again always felt like it was inevitable.” Skipper is currently executive chairman of sports streaming platform DAZN. Hill, in the aftermath of her departure from ESPN, formed her own production company that produces the Vice TV show “Stick to Sports,” and the “Jemele Hill is Unbothered” Spotify podcast.

TALKERS News Notes. Detroit talk station WFDF “910 AM Superstation” announces that former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, who served as mayor during the city’s water scandal, joins the station as a talk host. She’ll appear Monday-Friday in the 8:00 am to 9:00 am hour. Adell Radio Group CEO Kevin Adell says that with former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder being criminally charged with willful neglect in conjunction with the Flint water crisis, bringing Weaver aboard is timely. “Mayor Karen Weaver watched this disgraceful water episode unfold firsthand and will have much to talk about as Rick Snyder works his way through our legal system”…..The Armstrong & Getty Show – starring Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty – announces that QBS Broadcasting’s talk WBQO-FM, Brunswick, Georgia adds the program to its lineup. WBQO program director Paul Andresen says, “There’s a reason Armstrong & Getty’s reputation precedes them. So, when tasked with finding a replacement for Clark Howard, it was a no-brainer. A&G brings a much-needed change of perspective and influx of personality to not only 93.7 WBQO, but our market as a whole. The listeners’ response, from the first show onward, has been nothing short of fantastic and I couldn’t be prouder to have Armstrong & Getty in our on-air lineup.”…..The “RMWorldTravel with Robert & Mary Carey and Rudy Maxa” announces that it has added 23 new affiliate stations in 2021 so far, bringing its affiliate roster to more than 460 stations!

U.S. House Votes to Impeach Trump, Capitol Attack Investigation, States Prep for More Attacks, Social Media and Free Speech, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, WHO Investigating COVID Origin in China, and Powerball Jackpot Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/13). The U.S. House of Representatives votes to impeach Donald Trump; the investigation into last week’s attack on the Capitol; states across the nation move to protect their capitals from potential future attacks; the removal of Donald Trump and others from social media platforms and questions about free speech; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the WHO enters China to investigate the origin of the coronavirus; and the record Powerball jackpot were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.