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Thursday, November 18, 2021

| November 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

| June 10, 2020

iHeartMedia Extends Furloughs for 90 Days. As first reported by Billboard, iHeartMedia announces to staffers that it is extending the companywide furloughs for another three months due to the coronavirus pandemic that has “had a significant impact on advertising revenue.” The company says it will be some time before radio station staffing levels will return to full status. This extended furlough for certain staffers will now last through September.

Pennsylvania Attorney Targets Townsquare Media with Investigation. Bensalem, Pennsylvania attorney Howard G. Smith announces an investigation “on behalf of Townsquare Media, Inc. investors concerning the Company and its officers’ possible violations of federal securities laws” in which he’s seeking qualified clients. This comes a day after the company filed a Form 8-K with the Securities Exchange Commission in which it disclosed that it had discovered an error in projected cash flows that were utilized in its valuation model. As a result, the company is reporting an impairment charge of approximately $39.4 million for its licenses and an impairment charge of approximately $69.0 million for its goodwill. It reported that certain financial statements for fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019 should no longer be relied upon and would be restated due to the error. Townsquare says it is “reassessing its previous conclusions regarding the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. Based on this assessment, the Company expects to report material weaknesses in the Company’s internal controls and therefore conclude that internal controls over financial reporting and disclosure controls are not effective.”  Smith says in a press release that “on this news, the Company’s share price fell $1.20, or nearly 19%, to close at $5.28 per share on June 9, 2020, thereby injuring investors.”

KXL, Portland Promotes Three, Adds On-Air Personality. At Alpha Media’s Portland news/talk KXL “FM News 101,” spoken word content director Bruce Collins announces the promotion of three news team members and the addition of another. Current morning and afternoon drive news and traffic reporter Brett Reckamp moves to the co-anchor chair on the station’s “Portland’s Morning News” program. He’s joined by co-anchor Veronica Carter. Previously, she’s served as West Coast regional news director for iHeartMedia and news anchor/reporter for Entercom’s WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM and Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM in Chicago. KXL assistant news director Jim Ferretti is promoted to news director and Jeremy Scott is promoted to full-time morning and afternoon drive traffic reporter. Collins says, “It’s awesome to have such a strong staff and be able to promote from within. With the addition of Veronica Carter and the promotion of key personnel, it puts KXL in an extremely strong position.”

WGN-AM, Chicago Adds ‘Sunday Standards with John Williams’ to Weekends. Chicago heritage news/talker WGN-AM adds a second music program to its weekend programming schedule beginning June 21 with the launch of “Sunday Standards with John Williams.” The Nexstar Media Group station says that following the success of “The Sinatra Hours with Dave Plier,” which ranked #2 with adults 25-54, it’s adding the new program hosted by midday talk personality and Great American Songbook aficionado John Williams to air from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm. The show will feature a wide range of artists, including Sammy Davis, Jr., Nat King Cole, and Burt Bacharach, along with more modern artists like Linda Ronstadt, Barry Manilow and Amy Winehouse covering those songs. Williams comments, “Some of the hits we play go back 85 years, others go back 15 years. The music is really nice to listen to, and that’s the idea. I think there’s something really big about WGN Radio, a 50,000-watt AM station, energizing this music all over again – and getting people something they need right now.” Left out of the new Sunday program schedule is “The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson” that’s been airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm weekly. WGN general manager Mary Boyle says, “The success of ‘The Sinatra Hours’ has proven there is an appetite for nostalgia. This music is hard to find, and certainly not on free, over-the-air radio. John Williams has a passion for this kind of music, so it’s a natural fit.”

Kevin Wall Takes Over Afternoons on KMZQ, Las Vegas. Talk show host Kevin Wall is joining Kemp Broadcasting’s KMZQ, Las Vegas to handle the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show. The station says that “together with morning drive host Heidi Harris, the addition of ‘Live and Local with Kevin Wall’ gives Las Vegas Valley radio listeners more local talk than any other Vegas radio station.” Wall – who has served with such talk outlets as KFI, Los Angeles and KSFO, San Francisco – was most recently hosting a talk show on Royce International Broadcasting’s KBET, Las Vegas. Prior to that he was the afternoon personality on Entercom’s crosstown KXNT. Kemp EVP Marty Basch says, “Now more than ever with what’s happening in our country and locally, KMZQ will have Las Vegas’ only live and local morning show with Heidi Harris, and now afternoons with Kevin Wall. It’s Las Vegas radio’s ‘Dream Team,’”

Bob Adams Exits Saga’s Portland Station Group. According to a story in the Portland Press Herald, Bob Adams has exited his general manager role at the Portland cluster of Saga Communications stations that includes news/talk WGAN-AM and seven music brands. The paper says that a memo sent to station staffers from SVP of operations Chris Forgy and Saga president and CEO Ed Christian indicated the reason for Adams’ departure was the need for a “more defined growth pattern” and that “a change was necessary.” The company expects to name a new general manager within the next few days. Adams’ exit comes after a number of high-profile air talent were recently laid off, including WGAN-AM talk host Ken Altshuler and music programmer and jock Randi Kirshbaum.

Round Two of May PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s May 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s May 2020 survey period covered April 23 – May 20. You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets and he reports that a number of all-news and news/talk stations that saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares go up in April as a result of coverage of the coronavirus pandemic are starting to see those numbers fall. Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM, Washington dropped seven-tenths to a 9.3 share but stays in the #1 position in the market. Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM, Washington adds three-tenths and climbs into the #2 spot. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston gives up a half share to finish May at a 4.8 share and the #6 rank. Sister all-news WBZ-AM also forfeits a half share for a 5.9 share finish and the #4 rank. Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle bucks the trend, adding three-tenths to wrap the May survey with a 7.2 share and the #1 rank. Meanwhile, Entercom’s all-news WWJ, Detroit drops seven-tenths to a 5.7 share and falls into the #2 rank in the Motor City. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

TALKERS News Notes. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that the status of ESPN Radio personality Trey Wingo is up in the air as the sports media giant mulls its options. He currently co-hosts the morning drive show with Mike Golic. Marchand says ESPN is “reshaping its radio and NFL presentations” and with Wingo’s contract up, it’s not clear what his status with ESPN is. He says the company would like Keyshawn Johnson – who’s currently heard on O&O KSPN, Los Angeles – and Max Kellerman on its national radio platform. Johnson’s contract is up at the end of the summer…..Cumulus Media’s sports talk KNBR-AM/FM, San Francisco announces it raised more than $100,000 for Bay Area hunger relief partnering with Giving in Motion for last week’s fund drive. The money raised will provide more than 6,500 family meals, plus 1,300 bags of school supplies and household essentials to Bay Area residents impacted by COVID-19. The KNBR staff will deliver the meals to people in need at specific locations in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Walnut Creek…..Cox Media Group Tulsa announces that it has helped its community partners raise more than $2 million in the first half of 2020. The cluster – including news/talk KRMG-FM, four music brands and three TV signals – says that figure does not include non-monetary fundraising efforts it has pushed through its channels. The cluster partnered with the Community Food Bank to collect more than 774 pounds of food for its annual Spread the Love campaign, collected 220 pints of blood through a drive with the Oklahoma Blood Institute, and diverted more than 93 tons of recyclable items from the dump through the inaugural Big Spring Clean. CMG Tulsa market VP Cathy Gunther says, “During times of great uncertainty, like now, people rely more than ever on the support of community partners to help them get through. This is why we have not only upheld our commitments to our current partners but have gone a step further and added a number of new events to try and help our partners jump-start donations to serve more people who are now reliant upon them.”

George Floyd Funeral/Protests, Police Reform, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Presidential Race, Georgia Election Problems, Russia Probe Review, Financial Markets Activity, MLB Negotiations/NFL Racism Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/9). The funeral of Minneapolis police violence victim George Floyd and the ongoing protests taking place across the country; the calls for the reforming and de-funding of police departments; the rising and falling of confirmed COVID-19 cases as states continue the re-opening process; the November presidential election; the troubles Georgia faced holding efficient voting on Tuesday; the review of the Russia probe being led by John Durham; the world’s financial markets react to the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. unrest; and the negotiations between the MLB’s players and the league and the state of racism in the NFL were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

NEED A GUEST? We’ve Got Some Good Ones for You at ‘Expert Guests.’ Talk media hosts, producers, and bookers are advised to check out the newly expanded “Expert Guests” section of TALKERS. It is updated on a weekly basis with outstanding experts and personalities available by telephone, Skype, or Zoom for booking on radio, TV, and online talk shows. This week you’ll find a wide array of guests that includes an expert on how to generate lost revenue due to COVID-19 via online marketing, an author who writes about Islamic matters, and an expert on finance who puts the race-oriented protests, demonstrations, and riots into perspective from an economic standpoint – plus a whole lot more. To visit “Expert Guests,” please click here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Seattle classic hits outlet KJR-FM “95.7 The Jet” announces the debut of its new morning show, “95.7 The Jet Mornings with Jodi & Bender.” The iHeartMedia station notes that Bender previously served as a morning host on its KBKS “106.1 KISS FM” where he “became one of the most impactful on-air personalities in the Seattle region.” Jodi has served with KJR-FM since 2011. iHeartMedia Seattle market president Robert Dove says, “Putting Jodi and Bender together gives ‘95.7 The Jet’ a dynamic morning show that will be entertaining and provide civic values to our great city of Seattle. Whether it’s Seafair or Seattle Children’s Hospital, Jodi, Bender, and KJR will be there to shine a light on the good things happening in the Emerald City.”…..iHeartMedia announces that Mark Manuel is the new program director for classic rock KCQQ, Quad Cities. He’s been serving the station as APD and webmaster. He says, “I’m really grateful for the opportunity. After chasing a morning host dream for two decades, I found that I really enjoyed the programming aspect of radio for the past five years. I especially want to thank iHeartMedia for believing in me and giving me this opportunity. I’m happy to continue to be part of the team for years to come.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

| March 31, 2020

iHeartMedia Institutes Furloughs; Pittman and Execs Take Pay Cuts. In a company-wide memo issued late Monday (3/30), iHeartMedia chairman & CEO Bob Pittman and COO & president Rich Bressler announced temporary changes in the company’s compensation policies in order to ameliorate the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic.  Here’s the email:

“Team, Our number one concern in this unprecedented time is the safety and well-being of our employees. In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our company continues to be a primarily work-from-home operation and we have also added some coronavirus-related resources and healthcare benefits if you should need to take advantage of them.

Last week we wrote to you about the economic downturn our country is facing as the result of the pandemic and the need to respond to it to preserve the health of our company. During this unsettled time, we also know the biggest economic concern among our employees is understandably about preserving jobs – and we want you to know that it’s our main concern as well.

Although we have had to make hard decisions to address the economic impact of the downturn, our management team has found ways to reduce our company’s expenses without resorting to permanent layoffs.

As the CEO of the company, Bob will voluntarily take no salary for the remainder of the year and has given up his annual incentive bonus, and Rich and our senior management team will take reductions ranging from 30% to over 70% of their total compensation for the remainder of the year.

In addition, we have implemented: Reduction of all expenses that can be postponed without impacting our service and commitment to our communities; Temporary suspension of the 401(k) match; No overtime without pre-approval; Temporary suspension of new raises; and Strict limitations on – or complete elimination of – Travel and Entertainment (T&E) expenses.

We believe all of these reductions give us more room to protect jobs.

Given our pullback from live events and our shift to a work-from-home model, there are a few jobs that are not essential until our business operations revert back to usual. This week we are taking the difficult step of implementing a 90-day furlough, or temporary unpaid leave of absence, for jobs affected by these changes. To be clear, while this will involve a small total number of employees, they are valued colleagues and we did not take this step lightly. We look forward to welcoming them back as soon as we can.

This is not a layoff or a reduction in force (RIF). With a furlough, while it is an unpaid leave of absence, the affected employees stay in our employ, allowing us to continue offering these employees full health benefits, and we want to make sure we take care of them as best we can during this time. And with state unemployment benefits, supplemented by the added special benefits that are part of the new federal stimulus legislation, hopefully these employees will not feel any significant financial impact during this limited period of time.

We’ve never lived through anything like this and, as managers, we’ve never had to make more difficult decisions. However, please know we are listening, studying and considering all options before we make the important decisions that affect you and the company. We may miss on some of these decisions – and we will pivot when we find better ones – but throughout it all, we truly appreciate your support for us, for your colleagues and for the company.  Please be safe and take care of your health and your families.  Bob and Rich”

Adams Radio Takes WGL-AM, Fort Wayne Dark. After shutting down the programming on sports talk WGL-AM, Fort Wayne “FOX Sports 1250 The Ticket,” Adams Radio Group files a Silent Special Temporary Authority license request with the FCC.  The filing states: “As an AM radio station, WGL has been unable to generate sufficient financial resources to sustain operations, a situation that has been made even more difficult as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  WGL must suspend operations to allow management time to review options for a resumption of service.”  Adams posted to the station’s website: “We regret to inform you that we will be discontinuing ‘FOX Sports’ on WGL AM 1250.  With the current situation, we must devote all of our efforts to our larger signal stations.  Thank you very much for listening.”

Sports Radio and the Coronavirus Pandemic – Now What? Consultant and radio programming pro Andy Bloom writes today in a piece for TALKERS magazine that in order for sports leagues and teams to “keep their brands pertinent” during the absence of live games, they should work with their local broadcast rights holders (that’s you, sports radio stations) to keep their brands relevant and create revenue opportunities. Bloom says that while eSports is still a niche appealing to a young demo, it could expand as eSports is a live competition that can be executed during mandatory social distancing.  If you are creative, the revenue opportunities are many.  Read his column here.

Podcasts by Federated Media Debuts. A new podcast division is launched by Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Federated Media called, Podcasts by Federated Media.  Director of digital content Krystal Vivian states, “Federated Media has a long history of producing world-class audio on the radio, which provided a great foundation when we started podcasting in 2016.  Since then, we’ve created several successful podcasts with hundreds of thousands of listens. Launching this division is our next step in continuing our mission of creating great audio that’s really fun to listen to.”  The company currently offers 46 podcasts – more than 20 are original, seven are branded shows, and the rest are culled from radio show content.  The division also provides program development and production assistance for businesses wishing to create branded podcasts.

Coronavirus Status in the U.S., Trump’s Handling of Pandemic, Projected U.S. Death Toll, Financial Markets Activity, the U.S. Economy, U.S.-China Relations, and Investigation of Senators Stock Sales Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/30). The numbers of confirmed U.S. cases and deaths from COVID-19; scrutiny of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic; the potential U.S. death toll from COVID-19 from White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx; the world’s financial markets respond to the pandemic; the state of the U.S. economy in the era of social distancing; U.S.-China relations as some American politicians seek to blame China for the pandemic; and the Justice Department investigates four U.S. Senators who executed massive stock sales prior to the market slide were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Entercom Communications Corp. changes its 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders from a physical, in-person meeting on May 5 to a virtual one, live via webcast, at 8:30 am ET on the same day…..Starting April 6, WGN-AM, Chicago late morning personality John Williams assumes the role of host for the “Wintrust Business Lunch,” the hour-long business news program heard weekdays at 12:00 noon on the Nexstar Media station.  Williams adds the noon hour onto his current 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program.  He takes over for current Wintrust host Ji Suk Yi, who assumes hosting duties for the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm program…..On-air pro Bill Morgan joins Alpha Media’s news/talk WHBC-AM, Canton, Ohio as host of the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show.  His show is being produced by Jon Bozelka, who will serve as co-host…..Cadence13 announces the debut of a new podcast hosted by entrepreneur and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang called, “Yang Speaks.”  Cadence13 says, “The show will air weekly and feature thought-leaders on a variety of topics, including technology, entertainment, policy, sports, pop-culture and anything on Yang’s mind, with a general outlook towards the future of our economy and society.”  Former Yang campaign manager and senior advisor to the podcast Zach Graumann says, “The ideas of our campaign have always deserved more airtime than a 60-second answer on a debate stage or a 3-to-5-minute TV hit.  We’re excited to launch ‘Yang Speaks’ and have in-depth longform conversations with some of the smartest and most interesting people in the world, and to discuss the ideas that can make our future and society a more human place for all of us.”…..Lemonada Media is launching “In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt,” a weekly podcast series featuring healthcare expert and former Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Andy Slavitt.  Cadence13 says Slavitt will broadcast from his own “bubble,” with production assistance from his teenage son, Zach, and will chat with important guests and friends, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for his premier episode.  Additional early guests will include Chelsea Clinton, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Beto O’Rourke, writer Tina Fey, former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, and former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy…..Nielsen Audio announces it is combining to diary markets in Connecticut.  Effective with this year’s Spring 2020 survey Bridgeport and Stamford-Norwalk markets will be combined into the new Metro Fairfield County market, ranked at #72…..SAG-AFTRA develops a program to provide dues relief for SAG-AFTRA members during the COVID-19 global pandemic.  Under the program, SAG-AFTRA members who are in a position to pay their dues in full are urged to do so upon receipt of their May semi-annual dues bill.  Members experiencing financial hardship resulting from work stoppages related to COVID-19 will be granted a due date extension and an installment plan for those payments.  As part of that relief, no late fees will be assessed and there will be no adverse impact on members’ work eligibility during this time.  SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said, “As working people, we know the great difficulties our members are facing.  In order to relieve some of the financial stress so many people are dealing with at this time, the finance committee worked to provide much needed relief.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At the Seattle station group of Hubbard Radio – country KNUC, CHR KQMV, adult contemporary WRWM, and talk KKNW – Alex Brewster is the new chief engineer, effective April 15.  He was most recently assistant chief engineer for Entercom Seattle and Portland.  Hubbard Seattle interim market manager Scott Mahalick comments, “It’s wonderful to have a world-class engineering leader join Hubbard Seattle and help make our engineering department shine.”…..Joining Townsquare Media’s classic rock KLTD, Killeen-Temple, Texas as afternoon drive personality and production director is Aaron Zytle.  He comes to Townsquare from his most recent position as morning host at iHeartMedia’s rock KBRQ, Waco…..Programming pro Steve Ardolina exits Townsquare Media where he was New Jersey regional operations manager and brand manager & director of programming for the Monmouth-Ocean stations.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

| March 19, 2020

WGN, Chicago Parts Company with Evening Personality Justin Kaufmann.  As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, evening talk host Justin Kaufmann leaves Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM after the company elected not to renew his contract.  Kaufmann joined WGN in 2015 after spending 21 years as a show producer at Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ-FM.  Feder says his sources expect Ji Suk Yi to move from her position as host of the “Wintrust Business Lunch” noontime program to host of the evening show.  Since Nexstar took over operation of the station from Tribune Media, on-air changes have included the exit of morning host Steve Cochran – replaced by Bob Sirott – and midday duo Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder – whose former daypart was filled with a combination of the move of John Williams’ show to late mornings and Anna Davlantes leaving the Roe Conn afternoon drive show to host her own early afternoon program.

WNIR-FM, Akron Host Jim Isabella Out with Coronavirus. According to a report at CantonRep.com, WNIR, Akron evening talk show host Jim Isabella is off the air after contracting COVID-19.  Isabella tells the news organization he had flu-like symptoms last week and was hospitalized for pneumonia.  It was there he was tested for coronavirus and two days later learned the test was positive. He’s quoted saying, “Obey what the people are telling you.  I don’t know where the hell I got it.  You have to be smart… this is not a drill.”  Isabella says he has a cough and a rattle in his chest that makes it hard to talk for very long.

The Coronavirus Pandemic, Financial Markets Activity/Recession Fears, Coronavirus Relief Package, and Democratic Primary/Presidential Race, Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/18).  The status of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S and across the globe; the world’s financial markets endure another sell-off on Wednesday and economists express fear of a global recession as a result of the coronavirus; the coronavirus relief package and potential stimulus packages being considered by the Trump administration; and Joe Biden’s growing lead over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary race were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Round Three of Nielsen’s February PPM’s Posted. The third of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2020 PPM survey is released for 12 markets, including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus.  The February PPM survey covered January 30 through February 26.  You can see all the weekly, 6+ AQH share numbers from subscribing stations here.  Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian posts his Ratings Takeaways from the second round.  Positive movement from these markets include: Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM, Washington adds four-tenths to finish the ratings period at a 7.3 share and the #3 rank in the market; Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington also added four tenths to wrap the month at a 7.8 share and tied for the #1 rank; Entercom’s all-news WWJ, Detroit tacks a half share onto January’s four-tenths to finish the February survey at a 4.8 share and the #6 rank; iHeartMedia’s conservative talk KDFD, Denver “Freedom 93.7” adds another three-tenths, posting a 3.6 share and the #13 rank; and Hearst’s WBAL, Baltimore puts another half share on top of seven consecutive ratings gains for a 4.4 share and the #8 rank in the market.  See all of Mike Kinosian’s Takeaways here.

New York Festivals Radio Awards Announces 2020 Finalists. The 2020 New York Festivals Radio Awards International Grand Jury has selected the finalists in this year’s competition.  All finalists move on to the medal round of judging.  New York Festivals Radio Awards will announce the 2020 award winners on Tuesday, April 21.  The Grand Jury selected the finalists based on the following criteria: production values, organization, presentation of information, creativity, and use of the medium. New York Festivals says prominent broadcasters that took the lead include: RTÉ Ireland, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBS News Radio, and Radio New Zealand. You can see the complete list of finalists here. Meanwhile, other U.S. broadcasters of note to make the medal round include: in the Podcast category – “30 for 30 Podcasts: Season 6,” ESPN Films, “Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith” Spotify; “Dolly Parton’s America,” OSM Audio/ WNYC Studios; and “Sleepwalkers,” iHeartMedia.  In the Breaking News, Feature and Investigative categories: “75th Anniversary of D-Day,” Westwood One; “Protests Grip Hong Kong,” Bloomberg LP; “CBS World News Roundup” and “Notre Dame,” CBS News Radio.

TALKERS News Notes. The New Jersey Broadcasters Association announces it is canceling this year’s Annual Conference & Gala, originally scheduled for June 16 and 17 in Atlantic City.  President and CEO Paul Rotella says, “That’s not something we wanted to do, because we enjoy that event and we were very much looking forward to it.  Like you, we treasure the opportunity to shine a spotlight on our magnificent industry, especially this year when we were going to celebrate the century of service provided by broadcasters.  But our number-one priority at this time is health and safety, and the CDC’s guidelines make clear that gatherings over 50 people should be avoided for at least the next eight weeks, and of course that makes our planning futile. (It was going to be great too!) But, the show will go on my friends, if not this year, then next year.”…..John FredericksDisruptor Media LLC buys WNTW-AM, Chester, Virginia and translator W224EB, Chester at 92.7 FM in the Richmond market from Nancy A. Epperson’s Delmarva Educational Association for $240,000.  This pair will become part of the John Fredericks Radio Network based at his WJFN-FM, Goochland, Virginia…..Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois-based Big Radio is creating an online directory connecting consumers with the innovative ways that local businesses are continuing to serve them during the COVID-19 emergency.  The directory provides information on local restaurants, retailers, and other businesses that are offering services while still complying with the health emergency directives.  Listings are updated on a regular basis and are being provided free of charge to businesses in the Big Radio family of stations coverage area.  Big Radio co-owner Ben Thompson says, “Local businesses are the biggest supporters of our community and we wanted to find a way to help them publicize changes in their operations so that community residents could lend a hand by continuing to shop local.”  Big Radio is the business brand of Scott and Ben Thompson who own 10 stations and other businesses throughout Wisconsin and Illinois.

KMZQ, Las Vegas Morning Host Heidi Harris Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  Although every corner of the nation and world have been hit hard by the coronavirus, Las Vegas has been particularly impacted due to the preponderance of hospitality and travel-oriented industries that make the market tick.  KMZQ, Las Vegas morning host Heidi Harris is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”  Harris, a 22-year veteran of Las Vegas broadcasting, and Harrison take a conversational deep dive into the coronavirus-era machinations of the “gig economy” as well as state of the convention, travel, hospitality, and gambling industries in a fascinating, fast-paced program with lots of takeaways.  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 of every page on Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In the New York market Mediaco Holdings appoints Jonathan Bates vice president of brand partnerships for hip hop WQHT “Hot 97” and urban contemporary WBLS.  Bates has been serving as executive vice president for The Shadow League, a “website dedicated to presenting journalistically sound sports coverage through the lens of culture.”  Mediaco SVP of revenue Victor Giacomelli says, “Jonathan is an exceptional digital sales and marketing leader whose 20 years of digital experience will enable us to accelerate opportunities for clients to benefit from the wide array of authentic ‘Hot 97’ digital content opportunities.  Jonathan is expected to recruit a team of multicultural digital marketing specialists to partner with clients on a variety of ‘Hot 97’ digital and social opportunities.”…..iHeartMedia’s WXKS-FM, Boston “Kiss 108” is presenting a Billie Eilish experience this evening to offer fans who would have attended Eilish’s canceled concert in town tonight (3/19).  At 7:30 pm, the station will play Eilish’s music, interview clips, and listeners sharing their Billie thoughts and stories.  Station PD Dylan Sprague states, “Since her show at the Garden has been postponed, it’s the best way for fans to join together in our love for Billie Eilish.  If we were at the show, we’d be all singing these songs together.  Why not belt ‘em out at home?”