Lotus Communications Closes on Seattle Stations Acquisition. The only radio stations that Sinclair Broadcast Group owned are now part of the Lotus Communications portfolio as Lotus closes on the $18 million purchase of all-news KOMO-AM/FM, talk KVI-AM, and hot AC KPLZ-FM in Seattle that was announced in June. Lotus president Jim Kalmenson says in a statement, “Today begins an exciting era as we begin working with the amazing staff at these heritage radio stations KOMO, KPLZ, and KVI. These are legendary stations which share Lotus’s vision of producing local programming to serve the community and support our hometown businesses. Seattle is home to several excellent broadcasting companies who have made this a great radio market.” Sinclair Broadcast Group – a broadcast television company – picked up the radio stations as part of its acquisition of Fisher Communications’ TV assets in 2013.
WTKS-FM, Orlando’s Russ Rollins Hospitalized with COVID. The “Real Radio 104.1” website has the story of “Monsters in the Morning” host Russ Rollins’ battle with COVID-19. Rollins – who is fully vaccinated and has been an advocate for vaccinations and masks – was on an RV trip with his wife when he fell ill. They cut their trip short and returned home but on Monday (9/27), “things went from bad to worse” and “he was told by his doctor to go to the local emergency room.” Rollins texted that “fluid was filling up” and “this is not good,” adding this “is the worst I have ever felt.” For now, longtime member of “The Monsters in the Morning” Carlos Navarro is leading the show from his home with Angel Rivera and Ryan Holmes in separate rooms at the iHeartMedia studios in Orlando.
iHeartMedia’s Black Information Network Partners with Real Times Media. The deal between iHeartMedia’s BIN: Black Information Network and Detroit-based multi-media firm Real Times Media is described as “a strategic partnership to share and distribute news that is most important to the Black community.” BIN: Black Information Network is the company’s “national audio news network dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective” and Real Times Media publishes Black-targeted newspapers The Atlanta Daily World, Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, The Chicago Defender, The Michigan Chronicle, and The New Pittsburgh Courier. iHeartMedia says this new partnership expands upon the recent announcement that beginning in January 2022, BIN will expand their local news coverage in all 32 affiliate markets. Under this deal, iHeartMedia will source and distribute news stories from RTM publications across BIN radio stations and sites, and RTM will source and distribute BIN news, entertainment and sports stories and place BIN’s audio widget, a source of 24/7 audio coverage, on their digital properties. iHeartMedia will distribute RTM news on BINnews.com, BINnews.com/Atlanta and BINnews.com/Detroit. The deal also includes opportunities for iHeartMedia to convert RTM stories into audio reporting. BIN president Tony Coles says, “From the start, our goal at BIN has been to celebrate and invest in the Black community and shine a light on our most important stories. This exciting new partnership allows us to extend our commitment to expanding local journalism, benefitting Black communities all across the country.”
Elvin Fluellen Named VP and Market Manager for Cumulus Macon. Radio sales pro Elvin Fluellen is named vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media’s Macon, Georgia station group that includes news/talk WMAC-AM and four music brands. Fluellen rejoins Cumulus Macon from Cox Media Group Jacksonville where he was an account executive. Fluellen was previously general sales manager/digital sales manager for Cumulus Macon from 2016-2019. Fluellen has also held programming leadership and on-air positions during his 23-year radio career, including 13 years as operations manager/program director for iHeartMedia in Albany, Georgia. Cumulus regional vice president Mark Sullivan says, “It’s exciting to have Elvin rejoining the team in Macon as he did a wonderful job for us and made a lasting impact with the staff, advertisers and community. I’m very pleased to work alongside him again and look forward to many more successes together.”
Premiere Networks Launches Weekend Cryptocurrency Show Hosted by Mark Moss. This weekend Premiere Networks is debuting “The Mark Moss Show,” hosted by investor, entrepreneur, cryptocurrency expert, and host of the popular “Market Disruptors” podcast/YouTube series Mark Moss. The new three-hour weekend program is available for stations to air between 6:00 am and 12:00 midnight local time. It will also be available as a podcast. Premiere says, “Each week on ‘The Mark Moss Show,’ Moss will help audiences understand and navigate Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, as well as why they’re important, including the business, politics, financial markets, and more. He’ll share his knowledge for why this isn’t just a new technology, but a technological revolution with the biggest opportunity and potential ever seen.” He says, “We’re witnessing the most important technological revolution right now – it’s the greatest ‘asymmetric opportunity’ of our lifetime. But to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to have asymmetric information and you need to know what most others do not. That’s what I’m excited to share with listeners each and every week, so they can participate in this revolution today!” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott comments, “Mark is uniquely qualified to inform and educate audiences on how to make smart investments, grow their money, understand the financial markets and prepare for the future. He doesn’t just talk the talk; he walks the walk. We look forward to sharing Mark’s knowledge and expertise with listeners every weekend!”
Dan Kripke Named DOS for El Dorado Broadcasters. At El Dorado Broadcasters in Yuma, Arizona, Dan Kripke is named director of sales for the group that includes news/talk KBLU-AM, two music brands, plus Yumadailynews.com and its digital sales operations in the marketplace. Kripke was most recently director of sales for Curtis Media in Jacksonville, North Carolina. El Dorado Broadcasters executive president Chris Fleming says, “Dan Kripke is someone we identified as a match for our team as his style and approach are both complementary and unique. When we look for people to join our team, we actively search for people who have a passion for this business and the curiosity and enthusiasm to be innovative. In our conversations with Dan this year, we knew he is someone we want on our team.” Kripke comments, “I can see the potential for growth in the Yuma market and I am thrilled to be part of it. I knew this was a team I wanted to join when had my first conversation with El Dorado Broadcasters. I can’t wait to get started.”
TALKERS News Notes. Tomorrow evening (9/30) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” presents a Town Hall broadcast addressing the alarming rise in youth suicide in New Jersey. Station senior political director Eric Scott says, “The most alarming statistic is the sharp increase in suicide among children as young as 10. Our goal is to remove the stigma surrounding those struggling with thoughts of suicide and connect them with the help they need.” The program’s on-air panel will feature: Meredith Masin Blount, executive director of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness; Susan Tellone, clinical director of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide; anti-bullying expert Stuart Green; and Roselin Duenas, a youth suicide survivor and advocate for New Jersey’s LGBTQ+ community…..Cumulus Media’s KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno “NewsTalk 580/105.9” recently teamed with local agriculture company Gar Bennett to raise money for the Central California Food Bank through its 2021 “Feeding Families Fund Drive,” and listeners responded generously donating more than $250,000 to help their neighbors struggling with food insecurity and hunger. The annual one-day event was held on September 17 and has raised more than $3.5 million dollars and provided 18 million meals over the eight years the station has been presenting the fund drive…..Monticello Media’s WCHV-AM/FM, Charlottesville, Virginia recently picked up awards from the Virginia Association of Broadcasters for newscast (“Local News First”), sports coverage (Mac McDonald “Covid 19 and HS Sports”) and community events (“Save the C’ville Fireworks”)…..iHeartMedia announces that Charlamagne Tha God’s The Black Effect Podcast Network will celebrate its one-year anniversary of “uplifting and amplifying Black voices in the podcast space” with a live event on October 7 at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. The hybrid event (in-person and live-streamed) will highlight some of the network’s comedy podcasts and will be hosted by Flame Monroe, co-host of “Laugh and Learn.” The event will feature live recordings from “Whoreible Decisions” with Mandii B and WeezyWTF and “The 85 South Show” with DC Young Fly, Karlous Miller, and Chico Bean…..Audacy’s C13Originals drops the second season of its documentary series written and created by Vanity Fair’s Lili Anolik titled, “Once Upon a Time… at Bennington College.” This season explores the Bennington College Class of ‘86 and the cultural impact of three of its members, authors Bret Easton Ellis, Jonathan Lethem, and Donna Tartt.
Debt Ceiling Standoff, Biden Infrastructure-Spending Plans, Senate Afghanistan Testimony, COVID-19, Stephanie Grisham Book, and UK Fuel Shortage Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/28). The congressional stalemate over raising the U.S.’s debt ceiling to avoid default; the debate in congress over President Joe Biden’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan and his $3.5 trillion spending plan; Tuesday’s senate testimony from top generals indicating they counseled Biden not to exit Afghanistan and Gen. Mark Milley’s doubling down on his calls to Chinese military; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., boosters, and mask & vaccine mandates; fallout from former Donald Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham’s tell-all book; and the fuel crisis affecting Great Britain were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Scott James Matheson – Mayor and Radio Broadcaster – is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. It is not uncommon for longtime AM drive local radio personalities to be dubbed the “morning mayor” of the cities in which they broadcast. Scott James Matheson, the morning host at Talk 92.1 WDDQ, Valdosta, GA, actually is the mayor of the South Georgia city in which he is heard daily! In addition, he is the owner of WDDQ and its parent company, Smalltown Broadcasting, LLC. He is also this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Wrap.” Matheson was inaugurated mayor of the Deep South city of 60,000-plus residents in early 2020 and has a very interesting story to tell juggling both demanding jobs. Harrison and Matheson discuss small town America politics and the view of today’s national conversation from Valdosta’s key geographic perspective located right near the Florida-Georgia line. Don’t miss this! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
KFAQ-AM, Tulsa’s Flip to Sports Talk Happens Tuesday. Tulsa news/talk outlet KFAQ-AM will flip to sports talk on Tuesday (9/7), according to owner Griffin Communications. The company says it “is excited to announce ‘The Blitz 1170 AM’ – Tulsa’s new sports talk station covering Oklahoma and national sports by the folks who know sports best, the experts from Oklahoma’s Own.” Griffin VP of content Todd Spessard says, “We are so excited to bring the best local sports radio to Tulsa. From high school to college to professional – Tulsa has so many great sports stories to tell, and we can’t wait to bring them to Green Country. We’re putting together a local lineup of some of the best and well-known Tulsa voices and are ready to start talking sports!” The station will be live and local from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. Its lineup is as follows: University of Tulsa hoops play-by-play announcer Rick Couri from 6:00 am to 9:00 am; Dan Hawk from 9:00 am to 11:00 am; Big Al & Friends from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm; Jeremie “Pop” Poplin from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm; Colby Daniels from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm; and Barstool Sports from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Griffin says the station will also feature content from the KOTV-DT “News On 6 Sports” team led by veteran sports director John Holcomb and appearances by KWTV-TV “News 9” sportscaster Dean Blevins covering all things OU, OKC Thunder reporter Steve McGehee, and college football analyst Dusty Dvoracek. KFAQ director of programming Jeremie Poplin adds, “I am incredibly excited for this opportunity with The Blitz. A lot of hard work has gone into all the stages of planning for a station that will reach a variety of different fan bases. We will strive to present a product everyone can be proud of and help fill the local sports void in Tulsa.”
WOKY-AM, Milwaukee Pulls Bill Michaels Show After Audacy Cries Foul. According to a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Madison, Wisconsin-based sports talk host Bill Michaels’ program has been removed from the program schedule at iHeartMedia’s WOKY-AM after two days because Michaels’ former employer Audacy is claiming his being on WOKY violates his non-compete. Michaels’ show aired on Audacy’s crosstown WSSP-AM until January of this year when he was let go. His program is currently based at Mid-West Family Communications’ WOZN-AM/W244DR, Madison and it launched on WOKY on Monday (8/30) in the 11:00 am to 3:00 pm daypart. Michaels tells the paper, “Audacy sent a cease-and-desist to iHeart. What they’re claiming is that no station in Milwaukee can carry me.” He says the question is whether his contractual obligation to Audacy allows him to appear on a Milwaukee station as a syndicated talent versus as an employee. It’s not clear when the non-compete period expires.
El Dorado Broadcasters Unveils Hyperlocal News Platform in Yuma. The owner of news/talk KBLU-AM, Yuma, Arizona and two music outlets – El Dorado Broadcasters – announces the debut of a hyperlocal news website for Greater Yuma called Yumadailynews.com. The company is calling it a “new newsroom focused on the local happenings in southwest Arizona.” It will distribute its content via Yumadailynews.com, its radio stations, social media platforms and daily e-news headlines. El Dorado executive president Chris Fleming says, “We serve our local market with our broadcast stations, but this is a logical expansion of services for the market. It seems like an opportunity for our company to step into this space and make an immediate impact for the community we serve.” The newsroom is being managed by news director Andrew Caravella.
WLS-AM, Chicago Debuts Weekend Travel Show. A new travel show is launching on Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago. “Round Trip With Colleen Kelly” will air on Sunday (9/5) from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Kelly is a digital contributor to National Geographic and Travel + Leisure and is host, creator and executive producer of the Emmy-nominated PBS series, “Family Travel With Colleen Kelly.” She says, “I am thrilled to be working with the legendary WLS team and Cumulus Media, bringing audiences the latest in travel news, tips, and destinations on ‘Round Trip with Colleen Kelly.’ It is always an honor and a pleasure to work with and create work at the WLS-AM radio station. What a fantastic opportunity to connect with not only dedicated Chicago listeners but also listeners from across the U.S.”
New Lexington, Kentucky Sports Talker Launches. Flipping from country to sports talk, Clarity Communications’ WZNN-FM, Stamping Ground, Kentucky re-launches as “Sports 96.1 The Zone” using content from FOX Sports Radio. The station’s press release says, “The station will feature the only live and local afternoon drive show hosted by program director Terry Ford, Big Blue reports daily, extensive live pre- and post-game UK coverage before and after every Wildcat game, play-by-play of high school football and basketball, play-by-play of regional and national college football and basketball and play-by-play of the biggest NFL games every week. Clarity CEO Charlie Cohn says, “Clarity Communications is pleased to bring local sports talk to FM in Lexington. We will not only have the only local afternoon sports talk show in the market, but we plan to expand all our local coverage of the sports teams and topics that matter in Central Kentucky. Plus, we are pleased to bring Dan Patrick and Colin Cowherd back to Lexington. And our partnership with FOX Sports Radio means Lexington and the surrounding areas can expect the best sports coverage 24/7.”
TALKERS News Notes. A new program from ESPN Podcasts hosted by former NFL coach Rex Ryan and former NFL linebacker Bart Scott will debut on September 12. Titled, “Organized Chaos,” new episodes will drop each Monday and will “provide listeners with expert insight and analysis on everything happening around the league featuring trending stories from on and off the field.”…..SiriusXM is presenting a new 13-episode podcast series called, “9/11 & Sports: 20 Years Later.” It looks back at the impact of that day’s events on the world of sports and the reaction by leagues, players and fans in the hours, days, weeks and years that followed. SixiursXM SVP of sports programming & podcasts Steve Cohen says, “We’ve produced this series to tell the story of how the events of 9/11, one of the most tragic days in our history, reverberated through the world of sports through the days and months that followed the attacks, and in ways even now 20 years later. We remember lives heartbreakingly lost that day, the way our country responded, and the impact on citizens and public figures alike.”
KTBB-AM/FM, Tyler, Texas’ Paul Berry Dead at 52. Longtime KTBB-AM/FM, Tyler, Texas news and operations director Paul Berry died on Tuesday afternoon of an apparent heart attack at the age of 52. The station says, “Berry joined KTBB more than 20 years ago after having previously been the program director and morning air personality on KTBB’s then sister station, KDOK. In addition to overseeing the editorial operation of the KTBB newsroom, he also managed the day-to-day technical operations of KTBB 97.5 FM, 600 AM and 92.1 FM, The TEAM Sports Radio.” Station owner Paul Gleiser adds, “Paul and I really loved the radio business. We spent a lot of time talking about the work of the great broadcasters that we both admired, and we also spent a lot of time looking for just one more way to make this station better. Somewhere in all of that an employment relationship morphed into friendship. I’m going to miss him.”
Gen Media Partners Launches Multicultural Initiative. In an effort to “champion the power and influence of certified minority-owned and -targeted radio stations to advertisers and agencies,” Gen Media Partners announces the formation of a strategic task force that will “advocate on behalf of the largely overlooked multicultural-owned and -targeted radio stations across all market sizes, including non-metro, and demonstrate multicultural radio’s remarkable power to connect with audiences.” The company says that Ann-Marie Figueira, whose promotion to SVP of Hispanic platforms and multicultural initiatives was announced recently, will lead the initiative. Gen Media Partners CEO Kevin Garrity adds, “Our goal – our job – is to make sure advertisers and their agencies look beyond the large-scale companies and include independent, certified minority-owned and -targeted radio groups in their plans. We’re already seeing a receptiveness to learning more about these stations and their effectiveness at reaching multicultural audiences with content that is relevant to their specific lifestyles, tastes, and cultures.” The company says it represents 1,176 radio stations in 168 markets, either minority-owned or -targeted to Hispanic, African American, Asian, or Indigenous audiences and has one of the strongest multicultural platforms in radio, reaching 95% of the multicultural segment of the US population.
Afghanistan Withdrawal, COVID-19, Ida Devastation/Caldor Wildfire, Texas Abortion Law, Social Security Insolvency, January 6 Investigation, and Newsom Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/1). Criticism of President Joe Biden and Pentagon leaders over the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the stress on ICUs in several states, and the controversy over mask & vaccine mandates; the devastation in Louisiana from Hurricane Ida and the flooding in the Northeast & the battle to keep the Caldor wildfire from Lake Tahoe; the Supreme Court votes 5-4 not to block the restrictive Texas abortion law; the report that the U.S. social security system will be insolvent by 2034; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens telecom companies that might comply with the January 6 committee’s investigation for phone records; and the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.