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Cumulus Chief Memos Employees in Wake of WABC Sale. In tandem with yesterday’s surprise news that John Catsimatidis-led Red Apple Media is acquiring legendary New York station WABC for $12.5 million, Cumulus Media CEO Mary Berner issued a memo to employees that explains the company’s policy on sales. Specifically, Berner says the company has no plan to exit large markets. After the sale of WPLJ and now WABC, Cumulus has one station – urban music outlet WNBM – in the New York market, and she says the company will sell that station, as well. But staffers should not interpret the New York move as one destined for all large market holdings. She says the company will sell when it’s advantageous and buy when it’s a fit. “In New York’s case, we’ll be exiting a market that has been tough for us, and through these deals we will be able to realize significant value for the company – over and above what we could have generated from continued operations. And for anyone who is still listening to rumors out there, I will say again that there is absolutely no grand plan to exit our big markets.” She concludes, “Always remember that any actions we take to strengthen our company help to assure a brighter future for FORCE CUMULUS. So, let’s keep building on our strong momentum and being relentlessly HABU in all of our efforts and with every one of our assets. I am incredibly proud of our progress and look forward to continuing to deliver on our strategic goals.”
iHeartMedia Shares to Trade on NASDAQ Global Select Market. The Class A common stock in iHeartMedia has been approved for listing on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. It will trade under the ticker “IHRT.” The company says in a press release, “As previously announced, iHeart had been evaluating all paths to achieve a listing of its Class A common stock on a recognized U.S. stock exchange following emergence from its restructuring process. iHeartMedia has determined that a listing on the NASDAQ Global Select Market is the optimal strategy for iHeartMedia and all of the company’s stakeholders. As a result, the Company has requested the withdrawal of its previously filed registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. iHeartMedia’s management team will be meeting with investors the week of July 15 in advance of a listing date of July 18, 2019.” Company chairman and CEO Bob Pittman adds, “This is an exciting time for our company and an important step in the evolution of iHeartMedia. Our listing on the NASDAQ will provide greater liquidity for existing shareholders, allow us to diversify our investor base, and give us improved access to public capital markets in the future.”
New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap” for Week of June 24-28 Now Posted. The recently launched, one-hour weekend radio show, “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation,” analyzing the hot talk media topics of this past week (June 24-28) is now posted on the website of its flagship station, iHeartMedia‘s WONK-FM, Washington, DC. It currently airs on WONK-FM in the key position of Friday at 6:00 pm as a dynamic programming punctuation mark of the week’s conversation. Hosted by TALKERS magazine’s iconic publisher, this week’s installment (titled “Three Ring Circus!”) features a lineup of guests that includes TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey; radio talk show hosts Michael Savage of Westwood One; Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel/Premiere Networks; and Charles Freedman of KSCO, Santa Cruz; political strategist and pundit Ethan Bearman; social/political observer Victoria Jones of the DC Radio Company and John Catsimatidis, CEO, Gristedes Foods/Red Apple Group. The non-partisan-but-hard-hitting program explores multiple opinions along the spectrum of contemporary American political and social thought. According to TalkersRadio general manager David Bernstein, the program is now available on a market exclusive basis to news/talk stations around the nation. Bernstein says, “We began this show as an on-air extension of TALKERS magazine research to be played on TalkersRadio and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The show is nothing short of fantastic and provides a great image-setter for any news/talk outlet. iHeartMedia picked it up for its new WONK-FM in DC where it fits that station’s mission perfectly and a number of stations have inquired about its availability. We are in the process of figuring out where we want to go with it… whether we will put it into syndication or just make it available to a handful of stations.” For more information about the program, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413. To listen to it in its entirety, please click here.
Kantar Media: Radio to See 6.6% of $6 Billion Political Ad Spending. Media research and consulting firm Kantar Media has issued its projection for the ad spending during the 2019-2020 political cycle and believes $6 billion will be spread across cable TV, broadcast TV, digital, and radio. Radio’s share of the pie is predicted to be $400,000,000 – 6.6% of the total. Who gets the most? Broadcast television is predicted to get $3.2 billion of that. Cable TV and digital platforms are each to get $1.2 billion, according to Kantar’s estimates. See more here.
Beebe Promoted to Regional SVP of Sales for iHeartMedia. Sales pro Kristy Beebe is named regional SVP of sales for iHeartMedia’s Kentucky-Indiana region, effective August 1. Beebe has been serving as general sales manager for the company’s Louisville cluster for the past two years. She will remain based in Louisville. She says, “I am so thankful to the iHeartMedia team for the confidence that they have shown in me. My decades in radio have prepared me to contribute to the growth and success that has been building in these markets. Our legendary radio brands combined with our ever expanding digital and event offerings create an unmatched marketing portfolio! I can’t wait to dig in with our sales teams and use these amazing tools to drive success for our partners.”
Manetta Named Promotions Manager for Cumulus Des Moines. Moving from the company’s Topeka operations to its Des Moines cluster is Cassidy Manetta, who takes on the promotions manager position for the group that includes sports talk KBGG-AM “1700 The Champ” and four music-formatted stations. Cumulus Des Moines vice president and market manager Jack Taddeo says, “Cassidy impressed me with her creativity, experience, and enthusiasm for all the things radio needs to be doing in an increasingly competitive world. My thanks to Topeka VP/market manager Nic Merenda for graciously supporting this internal promotion to the benefit of Cumulus Des Moines.”
TALKERS News Notes. The Howie Carr Radio Network announces that Grace Curley is promoted from associate producer to executive producer of “The Howie Carr Show.” Curley – who, like Carr, is also a columnist at the Boston Herald – has been with the network since its 2014 launch. Howie Carr tells TALKERS, “Grace brings tremendous intelligence and communication skills to both our program and the Boston Herald and she does it with a fresh ‘millennial sensibility.’” HCRN president Kathy Carr says, “One of the most rewarding parts of my job is discovering new talent and seeing them grow. I’m very proud of Grace.”…..A new iHeartMedia Original Podcast launched yesterday (6/27) in partnership with Tenderfoot, titled “Monster Presents: Insomniac.” It looks at the story of true-crime researcher Scott Benjamin, the show’s host and protagonist, and his retelling of serial killings and how it started to affect his everyday life – from tormenting him and consuming him to eventually turning him into an insomniac…..Podcaster Jessica Cordova Kramer and best-selling author Stephanie Wittels Wachs join forces to form a new podcast network, Lemonada Media, in partnership with Westwood One. The network, launching in September, will “share an unfiltered version of the human experience, offering content that is raw and real, sorting through the ugliness, weirdness, awkwardness and darkness life can bring.” Westwood One will distribute, sell, and market the shows to build audiences across the Lemonada network…..SiriusXM is presenting comprehensive live coverage of The Championships, Wimbledon 2019 from the opening day of play on Monday, July 1, through the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles Finals on Saturday, July 13, and Sunday, July 14. The broadcasts will air courtesy of ESPN Audio, which is the exclusive live broadcaster of Wimbledon in the U.S., and The All England Lawn Tennis Club…..Pictured below is Westwood One News White House correspondent Bob Costantini in front of Air Force 1 in Osaka, Japan. Costantini is there covering President Trump’s participation in the G20 Summit.
Michael Savage Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. One of the most famous, successful, and controversial talk radio stars of the modern era, Westwood One syndicated personality Michael Savage, is this week’s special guest on the award-winning PodcastOne presentation, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Savage candidly discuss the recent story about him that ran in The New York Times by Jeremy Peters (6/18) – a piece that displeased Savage, including a specific quote attributed to Harrison with which he took particular issue. Harrison and Savage also take an unabashedly critical dive into the inner-workings and politics of talk radio that professional practitioners of the medium and listeners alike will find fascinating. Do not miss this podcast! 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 the TALKERS email newsletter and on every page of Talkers.com.
Immigration Reform/Southern Border Crisis Top News/Talk Story for Week of June 24-28. The Trump Administration’s immigration reform efforts and the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the 2020 presidential race and this week’s Democratic Party debates. Coming in at #3 was the G20 Summit and the various trade wars, followed by former special counsel Robert Mueller’s July 17 testimony before a House Judiciary subcommittee at #4. 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 entire chart here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. As had been rumored, Rickey Smiley is named the successor to legendary radio host Tom Joyner on the Reach Media nationally syndicated urban AC program. Joyner himself made the announcement on his “Tom Joyner Morning Show.” Joyner is retiring at the end of the year and Smiley will assume morning host duties in January of 2020 from the Dallas studios. Joyner says that Smiley has established himself as a trusted leader on-air and in the community with his current show, captivating audiences with his authentic humor but also his unique perspective on topics important to his audience. Smiley also announced that Eva Marcille and Gary Wit Da Tea would be among the on-air cast members joining Smiley next year…..Beasley Media Group makes changes at classic hits WROR, Boston as former WLTW, New York “106.7 Lite FM” morning host Bob Bronson takes over for Loren Owens, who has been hosting the “Loren & Wally” morning solo since the retirement of Wally Brine. Bronson starts Monday (7/1). Beasley Boston director of programming Cadillac Jack says, “I’ve known Bob for over a decade and am excited for the ROR audience to get to know him as well. He’s a battle-tested, hard-working winner who is a relatable storyteller and all-around wonderful person to be leading our talented morning team!”…..Across town at iHeartMedia Boston, the company re-brands urban AC WKAF-FM as “The New 97.7 The Beat of Boston.” The station says it will broadcast pop and rhythmic hits from the 80s, 90s and 2000s, including songs from artists like Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Prince, TLC, and The Notorious B.I.G. It plans to add new personalities to the station. Sister CHR WXKS-FM “Kiss 108” afternoon personality Romeo is also hosting middays on WKAF. KJ will host the afternoon show…..iHeartMedia announces Ashley Wilson is named director of country programming for the Kentucky-Indiana region, effective July 22. She was most recently program director for the company’s WNOE-FM, New Orleans. In this role, she’ll oversee the country programming for the region’s five country stations, including WAMZ-FM, Louisville and WBUL-FM, Lexington “98.1 The Bull.” Regional SVP of programming Michael Jordan says, “Ashley is becoming a leader in her field and we are fortunate to bring her to our region. She brings a lot to the table and will be a valuable asset to our team.”…..Meruelo Media announces that Cece Valencia is joining KDAY-FM/KDEY-FM, Los Angeles to co-host the “Cece and Romeo” morning show. She says, “KDAY is more than a home to me, it’s a dream come true. I’m so lucky to be able to play the music that I love on such an iconic station. Romeo is so talented and funny. Waking L.A. up every morning with Romeo is gonna be fun.”…..Air personality Emily Wild and Entercom part ways as Wild exits the morning show at alternative WLKK, Buffalo after a three-plus year relationship…..Albany radio pro Kevin Rush is leaving his home of almost 18 years – iHeartMedia’s hot AC WRVE “99.5 The River” next month to re-locate to Florida with his family. Rush’s co-host Tracy Villaume is expected to remain in mornings.
PodcastOne to Distribute CBS Evening News. Norm Pattiz-founded Lauchpad Digital Media’s new PodcastOne.com enters into an agreement with CBS to present the “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley” as a podcast available at the destination website. The PodcastOne.com site also features CBS products “CBS Weekend Roundup,” “Face the Nation” and “60 Minutes.” PodcastOne.com launched in February and the company says it is “home to over 200 popular podcasts including Adam Carolla, Dennis Miller, Ron Paul, Penn Jillette, Laura Ingraham, Maria Menounos, Tom Green, Dr. Drew and many more.” On the deal with CBS, Pattiz states, “Anytime we can work with CBS Radio News on anything, we jump at it. Our relationship with them at Westwood One goes back over two decades and we’re delighted to be working with them now in the on-demand digital world.” CBS Radio News vice president Harvey Nagler says, “We are excited to work with Launchpad in expanding CBS Radio News’ on-demand audio offerings and making our newscasts available for audiences to enjoy whenever, wherever and however they like.”
Radio One Awards Bonuses to Founder Cathy Hughes and CEO Alfred Liggins. In a filing with the Securities Exchange Commission, Radio One announces bonuses of $1.5 million for company CEO Alfred Liggins and $500,000 for founder Cathy Hughes. The company’s compensation committee decided that Hughes’ involvement in sales activities of its One Solution division “resulted in significant advertising commitments and revenue generation.” For Liggins, the bonus was based upon the radio division’s 2012 performance. The committee decided that “the radio division had met its EBITDA plan for the calendar year 2012.” The committee also noted that Liggins’ involvement in TV One – which saw revenue up 8% and the division’s EBITDA increased to approximately $40 million – was also reason for the bonus.
Salem Communications Signs New Contract with CEO Ed Atsinger. The new contract for CEO Ed Atsinger to continue in that role with Salem through 2016 takes effect after his current deal ends on June 30. For the next three years, Atsinger will make base salaries of $925,000 in 2013-14, $950,000 in 2014-15, and $975,000 in 2015-16. That contract will expire on June 30 of 2016. As is usually the case with chief executive officers, Atsinger will be eligible for bonuses at the discretion of the board of directors.
Radio Ad Spending Up 3% Says Kantar Media; Network Radio Up 16%. The figures for ad spending across all media according to research from Kantar Media were recently released and, according to the company, radio ad spending was up 4% in the fourth quarter of 2012 and up 3% for the whole of 2012. For the year, local radio spending was flat; national spot radio was up 3% and network radio – despite a down fourth quarter (-2%) – was up 16%. National spot radio spending enjoyed a very good Q4 – up 8%. Kantar Media North America chief research officer Jon Swallen comments on ad spending across all media. “The advertising market has grown for three consecutive years and in 2012 it added more than $4 billion in spend, with the Summer Olympics and political advertising contributing about one-half of the gain. Large advertisers also played a significant role. After reducing their media budgets in 2011 as a precaution against slowing economic growth, the top 100 marketers reversed course in 2012 and invested more.”
On the Nashville Talk Radio Scene, Premiere Networks Begs to Differ. Last week TALKERS ran an item from WWTN, Nashville-based talk host Phil Valentine in which he claims to have the highest-cuming talk show in the market based on the Arbitron Fall 2012 survey and beats Premiere Networks hosts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. Premiere tells TALKERS that, while technically that’s true, the claim is misleading. The company states, “Valentine has five more hours of programming per week than Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, and 10 more hours of programming than Glenn Beck — a key factor in Cume calculations; Rush has a larger Average Quarter Hour, Share and TSL; Valentine is on the FM dial during PM Drive in his home market; not only are they in different dayparts, but the Avg. Weekly Cume for the market is also greater during PM Drive than it is for 11:00 am to 2:00 pm; the PUR is also greater.”
Talk Host Michael Graham Announces Digital Initiatives. Talk radio personality Michael Graham – who spent the past seven years hosting a show at Greater Media’s former news/talk WTKK, Boston – announces a new digital component to his brand to coincide with his recently announced Massachusetts-wide show heard on three Bay State signals. Graham says his show is now able to be heard online and via smartphones through an app available at his site MichaelGraham.com. That’s also where he’s operating his blog.
Michael Harrison Talks Candidly About Radio and its Future on WNYM (970 The Answer), New York. In an interview conducted by weekend talk show host Frank Morano (morning host Curtis Sliwa‘s executive producer) this past Saturday morning (3/9), TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison discusses his views on the state and future of AM/FM radio. In it Harrison states that the longevity of what is increasingly being marginalized as “terrestrial radio” will be determined by its broadcasters themselves and their dedication to preserving its legacy and pertinence to life in the 21st century. Harrison offers his unfiltered remedy for radio’s problems and offers a simple-but-powerful formula for its continued relevance. To hear Frank Morano’s interview with Michael Harrison click here.
Dr. Daliah Wachs Becomes a Pawn Star! Las Vegas-based medical doctor and nationally syndicated talk show host Daliah Wachs appeared on the March 11 edition of History Channel’s super-successful “Pawn Stars” show. She’s pictured here with the show’s Rick Harrison during a break in the shoot. During the program Daliah brought in an old pair of dental pliers used for tooth extraction and sold it for $170. Members of the TALKERS editorial board who saw the show last night raved that Daliah was “articulate, charming, and her adorable self.”
Breaking Bad at KKOB. Stars of the AMC hit series “Breaking Bad” visited Cumulus Media’s KKOB, Albuquerque – the city in which the quirky and compelling series is set – to discuss the show’s final season and much more. Pictured here are (from l-r): actor Bryan Cranston, who plays protagonist Walter White; actor Steven Michael Quezada, who plays DEA agent Steven Gomez; KKOB morning show host Bob Clark; and morning show producer Jeniffer Davis.
North Korea Threats, New York Soda Ban Stayed, Unemployed and Job Seekers Down, Papal Conclave, Washington Sequester Battle and Funding of ObamaCare Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/11). North Korea’s nuclear threats and dismissal of 1953 truce; New York Mayor Bloomberg’s sugary drinks ban hits judicial roadblock; unemployment figures down along with numbers of unemployed still seeking work; the search for a new Pope; the ongoing battle in Washington over the sequester; and Republican funding attacks on the Affordable Care Act were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Media Ad Spending Flat in Q2; Radio Up 1.9%. According to data from Kantar Media, media ad spending in the U.S. was basically flat in the second quarter of 2012 with an increase of 0.9% compared to the same period a year ago. The first quarter had showed signs of improvement when ad spending grew 2.9%. Radio, on the back of a double-digit increase in network radio spending (21.4%), grew by 1.9% compared to the same quarter a year ago.
Charlie Bernstein Joins Sports Talk WHBO, Tampa for PM Drive. The Genesis Communications station announces Sports Media Interactive editor-in-chief is the new afternoon drive host at the Tampa sports talk outlet and Genesis’ Sports Talk Florida. Genesis VP of programming Len Weiner states, “Charlie promises to be a knowledgeable and entertaining show host. His NFL contacts will bring insight from a perspective not being offered in the local market.”
NPR Names Izzi Smith Director of Programming. The public radio content creator announces Israel “Izzi” Smith becomes director of programming with the organization effective in November. Smith, who will report to vice president of programming Eric Nuzum, has worked with NPR as a consultant over the past 15 years. Nuzum says Smith has been involved with such programs as “’Radiolab,’ PRX’s ‘The Moth Radio Hour,’ ‘State of the Re:Union with Al Letson,’ and ‘The Public Radio Talent Quest’ with PRX and CPB. Izzi is a true ‘connector,’ always trying to link good ideas, people, and stations to serve audiences in bigger, more inclusive ways.” Nuzum states Smith’s primary responsibilities will be “working with all of our ‘acquired’ programs (those programs carrying the NPR name, but produced by partners—such as ‘Fresh Air,’ ‘Snap Judgment,’ ‘On The Media,’ and ‘Car Talk’) as well as with our on-air fundraising and promotion teams to improve our ability to help you serve your local audiences. He’ll also prove invaluable to us as we continue to grow our program development efforts at NPR.”
Yahoo! Sports Radio Debuts New Evening Show with Bob Ryan and Marty Tirrell. The hour-long “Calling All Sports” program airs on the network from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm daily and features longtime Boston Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan – who recently retired from the venerable paper – and KBGG, Des Moines PM drive sports talk host Marty Tirrell.
Talk Radio Star Phil Hendrie Finding Success in Television. TRN-FM nationally syndicated talk host Phil Hendrie is having a successful 2012 with projects away from the radio mic as well as with his radio program. Hendrie, who has been involved in television and movies for more than a decade, is appearing in the new movie, “This Is 40,” which follows the characters created in the 2007 film “Knocked Up” for Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann by writer and director Judd Apatow. The movie hits theaters in December. Hendrie has also had a recurring role in the TV sitcom “New Girl,” he’s appeared in the movie “Last Call” and does voice work for the animated version of “Napoleon Dynamite.”
Obama Poll Bounce, Campaign Fundraising Influx, Health Care Reform and Chicago Teachers Strike Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/10). Poll numbers showing President Obama with a five-point lead over Mitt Romney; the cash being raised by the two presidential candidates; continued debate over health care reform; and the teachers strike in Chicago were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.