TALKERS 2021 Was a Success! The 24th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important conference, the Talkers Convention, took place this past Friday (6/11) on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The event was a presentation of TALKERS in association with Hofstra’s multi-award-winning radio station, WRHU. More than 50 industry leaders from talk radio and cable news/talk TV spoke during a non-stop day of presentations and panel sessions. Due to strict regulations adhering to COVID-19 protocols, attendance was limited to a sellout crowd of 175 people which was reached about a week prior to the event. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says, “We were delighted to be able to join forces again with our colleagues at Hofstra – the site of our very successful 2016 event – and be able to actually present a live conference in an extremely COVID-19 compliant environment which Hofstra was equipped to provide. The convention achieved its goal to boldly address key existential issues facing the talk radio and talk media industries at this dramatically critical juncture.” TALKERS will be posting extensive coverage of the event in the days to come including video documentation recorded under the direction of Art Vuolo covering every speech, presentation and panel discussion. Stay tuned for details.
FOX News Channel and FOX News Radio‘s Brian Kilmeade delivers the keynote address at TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11.
Key Networks nationally syndicated commentator Bill O’Reilly (right) is interviewed by TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison (left) at TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11.
McVay Media Consulting president Mike McVay (right) moderates the “Programming News/Talk Radio in the ’20s” panel at TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11. Panelists were (from l-r): Joe Thomas, program director/morning host, WCHV, Charlottesville, VA; Greg Stocker, WPHT, Philadelphia APD, executive producer for the Rich Zeoli show; Michael Czarnecki, program director WONK-FM, Washington, DC and the iHeartPodcast Channel; Josh Leng, CEO, Talk Media Network; Dave LaBrozzi, SVP of programming, Red Apple Media; and Phil Boyce, SVP/spoken word format, Salem Media Group, operations VP, New York region.
Westwood One nationally syndicated talk host Jim Bohannon (right) moderates the “Generating Talk Radio Revenue in a Noisy Digital World” panel at TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11. Panelists were (from l-r): Christine Travaglini, president Katz Radio Group/RAB; Marc Beaven, general manager, WCBM, Baltimore; Paul Gleiser, president/owner KTBB, Tyler, TX; Kathy Carr, president, Howie Carr Radio Network; Erik Hellum, COO, Townsquare Media/RAB; and Paul Vandenburgh, owner/morning host, WGDJ, Albany, NY.
WRHU Radio operations director John T. Mullen (right) moderates the “Attracting Younger Demos and Broadening the Base” panel at TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11. Panelists were (from l-r): Derek Hunter, talk host WCBM, Baltimore; Martha Zoller, talk host WDUN, Gainesville, GA; Sid Rosenberg, morning co-host, WABC, New York; Mike “Bax” Baxendale, morning co-host, WAQY-FM, Springfield, MA “Rock 102”; Brett Winterble, talk host, WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte; and Dr. Asa Andrew, talk host, Asa Rx.
Monday Memo: Dear Old Dad. There’s still time to make a fuss on his special day; and in this week’s column consultant Holland Cooke suggests a couple vintage radio hits worth dusting off, “regardless of your format.” Read the column here.
Biden’s European Trip/G7, Putin Summit, COVID-19, Minneapolis Protest Death, Harris Latin America Trip Criticism/Immigration Reform, Trevor Reed Case, Soaring Urban Crime, and Bennett Replaces Netanyahu Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. President Joe Biden’s European trip, the meeting of G7 leaders; Biden’s summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Wednesday; the fast-falling rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy, and speculation about the origin of the coronavirus; one person is killed as a car rams into protestors in Minneapolis; criticism of Vice President Kamala Harris’ Latin America trip and the subject of immigration reform; the case of former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed who’s been detained in Russia for two years; the soaring rates of urban crime in America’s large cities; and Naftali Bennett succeeds in ousting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERSmagazine.
Pending Business: Demand vs Frequency. Sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, writes in today’s column, “As you engage advertisers during this sales tailwind, what happens when rates and rotations are not even close to 2020 or Q1 of 2021? Does the sales banter go straight to demand? It happened to me. Your internal high-five is your advertiser flashing red light for high rates! Oops, you moved right to the easy part – demand is up so rates are up. Your advertiser should be compassionate, understanding that you made it through to the other side of the pandemic. Are your advertisers really saluting your demand curve? No.” Read more here.
Jim Fox Named Operations Manager for Cumulus Media Kansas City. Radio programming pro Jim Fox is named operations manager for CUMULUS MEDIA’s Kansas City cluster that includes news/talk KCMO-AM/K279BI and six music brands. Fox joins CUMULUS Kansas City following a 17-year career with Audacy, where he was vice president, programming, for the company’s four Dallas stations. CUMULUS Kansas City RVP and market manager Donna Baker says, “Record-high ratings delivery as the #1 cluster in KC is the result of our incredible programming talent delivering the highest level of audience engagement. Jim Fox is among the best programming minds in the business. His expertise growing strong brands that deliver results for our client partners is the ideal addition to our team in Kansas City.” Fox comments, “I’m extremely excited and fortunate to be joining this incredible team with an already proven track record of success. So many people who I respect helped to make this move possible. I’m energized by the idea of working closely with Donna Baker, Doug Hamand, Brian Philips, and the very impressive and talented staff in Kansas City.”
Dave Symonds Joins Summit Media Richmond as Director of Programming and Operations. The new director of programming and operations at SummitMedia, LLC’s Richmond cluster that includes WURV-HD2 “ESPN Richmond” and four music brands is Dave Symonds. The company says, “Symonds brings a solid track record of progressive leadership in multi-station, multiformat programming, management, and brand development, including start-ups and well-established stations and shows. He has been consistently successful in differentiating brands, communicating format values and achieving ratings successes.” Symonds adds, “After meeting with the Summit Richmond team, I was quickly swept up by their strength and creativity, as well as the opportunities and potential of these stations. I already respected market manager Bob Willoughby when we were competed a few years back. Now, I’m excited to partner with him. Plus, it’s Richmond. I’m thrilled!”
Zimmer Marketing Market Manager Chad Elliot Dies Unexpectedly at 47. The Joplin, Missouri station group of Zimmer Marketing reports the unexpected passing of its market manager, Chad Carroz, a.k.a. Chad Elliot, who died at his home on Saturday at the age of 47. Elliot was the longtime host of the “KZRG Morning NewsWatch” program on the news/talk station. He held that position for over a decade before moving into a full-time role in sales and management. Company owner James Zimmer says, “Chad will be missed by all who knew and loved him. He was part of our family for over 25 years. His passion for radio guided him from being a part-time air talent to market manager of Zimmer Marketing in Joplin. We will hold Chad forever in our hearts and look forward to seeing him in eternal life with Christ.” Elliot leaves behind his wife Monica – also a member of the Zimmer team – and the couple’s daughter, Mattie. In announcing her husband’s death via Facebook, Monica wrote, “Chad had two passions. Zimmer Radio and his dogs. He lived, breathed, and bled Zimmer. He wanted nothing more than to help local businesses succeed and grow. He fought for those success stories. I was given a rare gift to work alongside my husband almost seven years ago. At first, I thought it wouldn’t work. How can a couple be together 24/7? It had its challenges, but I wouldn’t trade one single minute of it for anything! 8-5 he was in charge. 5-8 I was in charge. It worked.” Details on funeral arrangements are pending.
Audacy Adds Two Shows to BetQL Network. The BetQL Network is adding two new weekday programs to its lineup. Audacy announces that as part of its multiplatform partnership with BetMGM, the network will launch “The Daily Tip,” featuring Michael Jenkins and Chelsea Messinger, and “BetMGM Tonight,” starring Ryan Horvat and Quinton Mayo, beginning June 21. The “BetQL Network,” is heard on KEZW-AM, Denver “The Bet 1430AM”; KCBS-HD2, Los Angeles; and WCFS-HD2, Chicago “The Bet 105.9.” Audacy president of sports Mike Dee says, “We are ecstatic to announce the next phase of our planned expansion of the ‘BetQL Network.’ Our partnership with BetMGM – who is co-developing these shows alongside our sports programming team led by Matt Volk [vice president of sports] – enables us to create this new content that will both entertain and inform our audience around daily sports betting activity. We aspire for the ‘BetQL Network’ to become the go-to destination for the sports betting community and we’ll continue to announce new content to this dynamic platform over the next few months.”
Two Researchers Promoted at Paragon Strategies. Two Paragon Media Strategies’ longtime researchers are being promoted. Sara Schueller rises to vice president/research and Simone Lowin is promoted to research services director. Paragon CEO Mike Henry notes, “Sara Schueller and Simone Lowin have been part of the Paragon backbone for two decades. During that time, Paragon has produced hundreds of research projects for our media and entertainment clients. Every one of those projects was guided by these incredible women who exhibit the highest capacity for integrity and professionalism. We’re incredibly fortunate to have them as part of the Paragon family.”
Good Karma Brands to Launch ‘101.7 The Truth’ Targeting Milwaukee’s Black Listeners. A new radio station dedicated to serving the Black community in Milwaukee is being launched by Good Karma Brands. The company says “101.7 The Truth” will debut this year and “will feature local shows with authentic conversations about news and current events, a celebration of Black culture, and information created by and for the Black community with an emphasis on empowerment, family, faith and community. Translator W269DL (at 101.7 FM) is licensed to New WRRD LLC and currently relays that company’s progressive talk outlet WRRD-AM. Good Karma tells TALKERS that it will operate WRRD-AM/W269DL under an LMA and will file to purchase the signals. Milwaukee market sales pro Cherie Harris is joining Good Karma to serve as general manager for the station and Kyle Wallace signs on as operations manager. Harris, who’s served with iHeartMedia as an AE at urban contemporary WKKV “V-100” and WITI-TV, says, “I am thrilled to join Good Karma Brands and build a new home for Milwaukee that has been sorely missing. We are going to put together a meeting place – a place for honest and real debate, as well as welcoming conversation, and a place for celebration and connection within the Black community.” Kyle Wallace adds, “We have already started the search for the voices that will make ‘101.7 The Truth’ a destination for the stories and experiences that are relevant to the Black community. We have the resources to make sure that our new station really is a local marketplace for ideas and commerce. This isn’t a nationally syndicated project, it’s home-grown.” Good Karma Brands CEO Craig Karmazin comments, “At Good Karma Brands, we believe every voice matters. But as the events of this past year unfolded we realized there were underrepresented voices that had so much to say and needed to be heard. We believe there is a unique opportunity for us in Milwaukee to launch a station that can make a real impact across the city, and within our company. I’m excited to see how the station grows and evolves and look forward to meeting the strong demand for compelling and targeted content for Milwaukee’s Black community.” The station is actively seeking staff for several positions, including talk hosts, producers, news reporters, as well as sales and marketing coordinators. See more about those positions here.
Pending Business: Your Next Sales Meeting. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes today about the important relationship between sales manager and seller, most specifically as it relates to what sellers take away from sales meetings. He says that is the responsibility of the manager to visualize the end – or what the seller will take away – and build the path to get there. Read his column here.
Profile: KFI, Los Angeles Keeping Listeners Engaged in Unusual Times. Los Angeles news/talk outlet KFI is the subject of today’s profile by TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian. Like most every radio station in the country, the iHeartMedia news/talker has had to do its job of informing and entertaining with most staffers working from home – a challenge for any station but an especially difficult one for a station dedicated to presenting a quality news product as well as an almost entirely live-and-local talk show lineup. And KFI has succeeded at this task under the guidance of program director Robin Bertolucci and assistant program director Neil Saavedra. KFI is the nation’s highest cuming news/talk station based on Nielsen Audio’s August PPM survey. Read more about how KFI is keeping Angelenos tuning in during this time of unprecedented disruption here.
Westwood One Renews ‘Chris Plante Show.’ The Washington, DC-based Chris Plante show and Cumulus Media’s Westwood One sign a new deal to continue their business relationship for several more years. The program airs live from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and is heard on 130 affiliate stations, including flagship WMAL-FM, Washington; WLS-AM, Chicago; KCMO-AM, Kansas City; and more. Cumulus Media EVP and Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes says, “WWO is excited to renew our partnership with Chris, as his unique perspective and strong journalistic background create an invaluable listening experience for his loyal fans. As we enter one of the most interesting and impactful elections of our time, it is more important than ever to provide the insights that inform a nation that is hungry for information.”
TALKERS News Notes. A new Pew Research Center study that looks at the news landscape on YouTube indicates that “about a quarter of all U.S. adults (26%) say they get news on YouTube.” PRC says it found “an ecosystem in which established news organizations and independent news creators thrive side by side – and, consequently, one where established news organizations no longer have full control over the news Americans watch.” About one-in-five YouTube news consumers (23%) say they often get news from YouTube channels affiliated with external news organizations, while an identical portion of consumers (23%) say they often get news from independent channels, defined in this study as “news channels that do not have a clear external affiliation.” See the study here…..Cumulus Media’s Dallas sports talker KTCK-AM/FM “The Ticket” helped raise $105,972 for the Dallas non-profit organization Cornerstone Clothes Closet through its 7th annual “Drop Your Pants Clothing Drive.” Afternoon personality Bob Sturm, who spearheads the effort, says, “Absolutely floored that our listeners got behind this in such a big way and helped us manage a virtual Drop Your Pants this year. I could not believe we broke $100,000 in donations after our initial goal of about $30,000. The listeners of this radio station never cease to amaze me with their generosity in supporting incredible causes in our community.”…..In Fresno, Cumulus Media’s KMJ-AM/FM “NewsTalk 580/105.9” recently teamed with local agriculture company Gar Bennett to raise money for The Central California Food Bank, and listeners came through with amazing generosity, donating $361,000. Gar Bennett Inc. matched every donation with 50 cents on the dollar to the tune of $180,500 for a grand total of $541,500. The funds will help the Central Valley’s less fortunate residents by providing more than 3.6 million meals…..Virtual News Center has adds by Statesville Family Radio Corporation’s country WAME-AM/W255BD to its roster of affiliate radio stations…..DWCommunications, LLC announces today that the national sports talk show “From the Press Box to Press Row” with host Donal Ware begins airing on SiriusXM’s ESPNU Radio on Friday, October 2. The program focuses on Historically Black College and University sports and will air each Friday at 7:00 pm ET. Ware says, “There are so many untold stories within the HBCU sports world and more known stories that need to be reemphasized and that’s what we plan to bring to the ESPNU Radio listening audience each week.”
The Presidential Race/Tonight’s Debate, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Trump Tax Story, Stimulus Negotiations, Amy Coney Barrett Nomination, BLM Movement/Protests, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/28). The November presidential election and tonight’s Donald Trump–Joe Biden debate in Cleveland; the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and concerns for the fall-winter seasons; the New York Times piece detailing Donald Trump’s tax history and personal financial situation; the negotiations between Nancy Pelosi and Steve Mnuchin over a new stimulus package; the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court; the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests in various U.S. cities; and the California wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Andy Winford is named program director for Cumulus Media’s KSKS-FM, Fresno “93.7 KISS Country.” He’s been serving as program director for KATM-FM, Stockton-Modesto “KAT Country 103” since 2016 and will continue in that role as well. Cumulus Fresno VP and market manager Patty Hixon says, “I am thrilled to have Andy join our team in Fresno. ‘KISS’ is a formidable brand in Central California and having Andy take on this new challenge along with programming ‘KAT Country’ in Modesto will provide a wonderful synergy never before seen in Central California. Two very historical brands will be super-serving our listeners during this most critical time in our lives. Andy has great knowledge of both markets and platforms. He’ll be a great asset to KISS!”…..The WHTZ, New York-based, Premiere Networks-syndicated “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show” is the new morning program on Evanov Communications’ CIRR-FM, Toronto “Proud-FM 103.9,” effective October 5. The addition marks the program’s first Canadian affiliate and is a result of Premiere’s partnership with Orbyt Media…..Cox Media Group Orlando today announces Spanish hits WOEX, Orlando brings Epi Colon and Bebo Adames aboard to host the “Epi & Bebo In The Morning on Exitos 96.5.”
Chris Stigall and Salem Agree to Two More Years. Talk radio host Chris Stigall and Salem Media Group’s WNTP, Philadelphia “AM 990 The Answer” agree to a contract extension for Stigall to continue hosting the morning program through October 1, 2022. Station general manager Lorenzo Caldara says, “Chris has become must-listen-to radio in Philadelphia during these difficult times. His wit and talent have been incredibly valuable in his first year on the air with us. We’re excited that our audience will be waking up to Chris Stigall for years to come.” Stigall joined WNTP in November of 2019. He’d been hosting his own daily podcast after parting with Entercom’s WPHT in March of 2019. He says, “I’ve never been more proud of what our new team at Philadelphia’s ‘AM 990 The Answer’ has built in our first year. The smartest audience in radio has been with me in Philly for over a decade and I’m excited to continue spending my mornings with them for years to come.” This announcement comes on the heels of the news of Stigall’s also joining Cumulus Media’s KCMO-AM, Kansas City to host a late morning talk program.
‘The Aggressive Progressive’ Chris Hahn Joins WABC for Weekends. New York City news/talk outlet “TALKRADIO 77 WABC” is adding KMG Networks’ “The Chris Hahn Show” to its weekend program schedule. It will air Sundays from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm on the Red Apple Media station. Hahn, who goes by the moniker “The Aggressive Progressive,” is a regular contributor to FOX News, a lawyer, author, and public speaker. He says, “I am excited to bring my Sunday show to WABC, the nation’s leading talk radio station. My show is part of the national conversation on the issues of our day and it thrills me to engage the WABC audience with a strong progressive voice.” WABC SVP of programming Dave LaBrozzi comments, “Having Chris as a part of the weekend lineup helps us deliver on our goal of presenting both sides of the story. Chris’s background, insight, and compelling conversation are now an integral part of our weekend programming.”
SCOTUS Justice Battle, Breonna Taylor Grand Jury/Protests, the Presidential Race, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccine, School Openings/College Outbreaks, Bolton Book Release Controversy, Senate Committee’s Hunter Biden Report, and Western Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/23). Senate president Mitch McConnell’s plan to vote on President Trump’s nominee to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat before the election; a Louisville grand jury declines to charge officers in the death of Breonna Taylor and the protests that ensued; the November presidential election; the U.S. surpasses 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, projections for future cases, and progress on a vaccine; the challenges facing students, parents, and teachers as schools open and the outbreaks of COVID-19 on college campuses; the controversy over an NSA reviewer’s claim that the White House intervened in the process for John Bolton’s book; a Senate subcommittee’s report on Hunter Biden’s sitting on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm; and the wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
TALKERS News Notes. More from the coming HBO documentary “Wild Card: The Downfall of a Radio Loudmouth” about the demise of former WFAN, New York morning host Craig Carton from the New York Post. Andrew Marchand reports that Carton teases he almost committed suicide a month before he was arrested on fraud charges that eventually got him 3 and ½ years (although he served less than a year in prison, the rest is to be served under house arrest). The film is to debut on October 7…..FOX News Radio announces that it welcomes 56 former Westwood One News affiliate stations to a growing affiliate base of more than 1,000 stations nationwide. New affiliates include Red Apple Media’s WABC-AM, New York and Cumulus Media’s WMAL-AM, Washington, DC and WBAP-AM, Dallas…..Former FOX News Channel personality Rob Schmitt begins hosting a nightly show on Newsmax TV this fall. Schmitt was an anchor for “FOX & Friends First” and “FOX Nation.” He says, “I’m extremely excited to join Newsmax, an independent news network on a strong growth trajectory, at this incredibly important time. News has never mattered more. This coming election will certainly be the most important in my lifetime.” Schmitt joins the lineup of evening shows on Newsmax TV that includes Sean Spicer and Lyndsay Keith, Greg Kelly, and Grant Stinchfield.
A STROLL DOWN COVID LANE: Two Talk Show Hosts Who’ve Survived COVID-19 Are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. There’s nothing like first-hand experience to give cred to a commentator in discussing a contemporary issue. Two TALKERS Heavy Hundred radio talk show hosts, Jennifer Horn and Heidi Harris, who’ve contracted and survived COVID-19 this past summer, are this week’s guests on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Jennifer Horn is the morning show co-host on the Salem Media Group’s two Southern California “The Answer” outlets – KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino – in addition to being the co-host of the nationally syndicated “DJV Show.” She is also VP/general manager of the CRN Digital Talk Radio Network, a company started years ago by her father, the legendary Mike Horn. Heidi Harris is a veteran Las Vegas radio talk show host, podcaster and author who currently helms the morning show on KMZQ. Both women, who are conservative and supporters of President Trump, engage in back-to-back candid conversations with Harrison about their experiences contracting, battling, and surviving the coronavirus. They discuss their symptoms, whom they spread it to, and how they now approach the topic on the air. Don’t miss this! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. WKYC-TV, Cleveland reports that the internet station oWOW radio will cease operations after this month due to pandemic-related financial problems. The station was launched in 2015 by former longtime WMMS programmer John Gorman. The station’s press statement says, “After much consideration and weighing several factors in our industry, we recognized that continued operation of oWOW radio is no longer viable in this negative business environment. Since we are not in a situation to influence the uncertainty of the future, we are unable to ride out the storm. Though this past summer’s online streaming ratings on oWOW were 20% above last summer’s numbers, the numerous business closures prevented us from converting those numbers in a stagnant advertising market. In previous years, the summer months accounted for over 50% of oWOW’s annual revenue.”…..Alternative WEQX, Manchester, Vermont program director and morning drive host Jeff Morad is being promoted to operations manager for the station. Mimi Brown is general manager for the Northfield Communications station. She says, “It is with great pleasure to announce that Mr. Morad has accepted the position of operations manager. Jeff is the hardest working human I have ever met and has been my right hand since he accepted the PD position.”
Interesting News from 77WABC on Both the Political and Musical Fronts. New York City-based businessman and radio broadcaster John Catsimatidis, whose Red Apple Media acquired news/talk station WABC late last year, tells TALKERS that he is thinking about running for mayor of the Big Apple next year and that the heritage outlet is considering adding more musical programming to its weekend lineup to accompany the recent hiring of legendary disc jockey “Cousin” Bruce Morrow as host of a three-hour Saturday night program. In an exclusive interview with both men conducted by TALKERS founder Michael Harrison this morning (9/22), Catsimatidis and Morrow were in agreement that weekends are a good time to take a break from the stress and negativity of politics in favor of enjoying the fun and escape of music and non-combative entertainment. Catsimatidis, who also hosts his own weekend political talk show, stated, “Saturday nights, Sunday nights and Friday nights are for relaxing – not for headaches. Politics has gotten too serious and everyone is at each other’s throats. That’s wrong! We’re going to be bringing in more people, subject to Cousin Brucie’s approval, to do more music on WABC – especially on weekends.” Catsimatidis, who ran for mayor of New York in 2013 as a moderate Republican, was the runner-up in that year’s GOP primary. He tells Harrison, “On my radio show I have liberals and I have conservative guests. I have Republicans and I have Democrats. Some of my best friends are Democrats and consider me a Democrat. If I decide to run for mayor next year, I will try to do it on the ‘fusion’ ticket and not necessarily on any party line.” The entire conversation between Harrison, Morrow, and Catsimatidis will be posted on next week’s installment of “The Michael Harrison Interview” podcast and portions of it will appear on this coming weekend’s edition of “The Michael Harrison Wrap” radio show.
Talker Chris Stigall Returns KCMO-AM, Kansas City to Host Late Morning Show. After being away from the Kansas City talk radio audience for 10 years, talk radio host Chris Stigall is returning to the air in the market on Cumulus Media’s KCMO-AM for the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot, beginning today (9/22). Stigall hosted the morning show on KCMO from 2006 through 2010, prior to joining WPHT, Philadelphia. Stigall has been the morning drive personality on Salem Media Group’s WNTP, Philadelphia “AM 990 The Answer” since last fall and he’ll continue in the role. Cumulus Kansas City regional vice president and market manager Donna Baker says, “[Program director and morning host] Pete Mundo has established ‘KCMO Mornings’ as the trusted local talk radio destination for daily issues that affect our Kansas City community. His idea to welcome Chris Stigall back to continue the local dialogue with KCMO listeners from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon is a brilliant addition to this iconic station.” Stigall comments, “You can move away from Kansas City, but anyone who’s born and raised here knows Kansas City is always in your heart. Most of my family and closest friends still call it home. It’s been a while, but like any good friend, the audience of KCMO Talk Radio and I go way back, and we’ll pick up right where we left off.”
Crossover Media Group Adds ‘Just Ask the Question’ to Podcast Portfolio. The podcast featuring White House reporter Brian Karem, “Just Ask the Question,” joins the growing podcast portfolio of cross-platform content-production and advertising-sales representation firm Crossover Media Group Sales. As you may recall, Karem – who writes for Playboy and has frequently appeared on CNN – rose to greater prominence recently when the Trump Administration attempted, unsuccessfully, to pull his White House press pass. Crossover Media Group will drive advertising sales and promote and increase distribution for the podcast, that features interviews with guests in the news and offers special insights to the news, with guests such as author Mary Trump; biotech executive and vaccine expert Dr. Stephen Hoffman; retired former Montgomery County, Maryland, police chief Tom Manger; intelligence analyst Naveed Jamali; various senators and representatives; and even comedians Kathy Griffin and Carl Reiner. Crossover Media Group Sales managing member Sue Freund says, “The idea of the podcast is to engage people about real issues on a substantive level. At the same time, we want to engage listeners and blow your mind. Brian is famously fearless in pushing for answers and facts and holding elected officials accountable. Adding ‘Just Ask the Question’ rounds out our growing roster of content in the news and political and issues talk arena which now includes ‘CBS News on the Hour,’ John Solomon’s ‘Just the News,’ David Shuster’s ‘Quick Hits’ and shows hosted by popular talk personalities Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann.
Hillary Clinton Podcast Series Announced by iHeartMedia. The former First Lady, Secretary of State, and U.S. Senator is hosting a 24-episode podcast series on the iHeartPodcast Network titled, “You and Me Both with Hillary Clinton,” that debuts on September 29. The program will feature candid interviews with guests from a wide range of backgrounds including: Sarah Cooper, Gloria Steinem, Stacey Abrams, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, Samin Nosrat, Patton Oswald, Tan France, and more. Clinton says, “I’m excited to bring these eye-opening, powerful, sometimes hilarious conversations to the forefront and open up new avenues of discussion with some of the people I find most fascinating. This podcast is a chance to talk about subjects that are too often overlooked and share the inspiration and education I’ve gotten from my guests.”
WFNZ, Charlotte Producer and APD Mark Seidel Passes at 37. News of the death of WFNZ, Charlotte producer and assistant program director Mark Seidel at age 37 from an apparent heart attack was shared by WFNZ staffer Travis Hancock who tweeted, “With much sadness I say RIP to our WFNZ brother Mark Seidel. I’m heartbroken. We were HS classmates. We crossed paths again when he got into radio in 07. He was a gentle soul who I have never heard a person say a bad word about. He deserved a long and happy life. We are crushed.”
SCOTUS Nominee Battle, the Presidential Race/Mail-In Voting, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/CDC Flip Flop, Back to School Woes, Western Wildfires, and Tropical Storm Beta Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/21). Republicans’ vow to move ahead with a Supreme Court nominee in the aftermath of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg; the November presidential election and the debate over the veracity of mail-in voting; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for future cases, and the controversy over the CDC’s flip-flopping on posting that transmission via aerosol is likely; the struggles families are facing returning to school and the related college outbreaks; the wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington; and Tropical Storm Beta flood threats were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
TALKERS News Notes. Dallas sports talk outlet KTCK-AM/FM “Sportsradio 96.7 and 1310 The Ticket” announces it helped raise more than $122,000 for Dallas-area children during its 2nd annual “Donnie’s DFW Domino Classic” held over the Labor Day weekend. The Cumulus Media station says all proceeds go to Dallas charitable organization, AT LAST! Boarding, which helps underprivileged children get a quality education. This year’s event was hosted by Donovan Lewis, co-host of The Ticket’s “The Norm and D Invasion” and included an online car raffle and virtual dominoes tournament…..Cadence13 and Entercom are partnering with Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author Tim Weiner, Jigsaw Productions and Prologue Projects for “Whirlwind” – a 10-part original documentary podcast franchise that tells the story of the 75-year battle between the US and Russia. The series builds off Weiner’s book, The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia, and Political Warfare: 1945-2020 (Henry Holt, 2020) and offers a deep-dive into a world of secrets, brought to life through focused, intimate interviews with people who have operated inside of it…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and Imperative Entertainment today premiere the first English and Spanish language podcasts, “The Red Note” and “La Nota Roja,” that is also to become a documentary feature film. The 10-episode podcast series are hosted by investigative journalist Lydia Cacho and examine the Juarez femicides that have taken the lives of thousands of women over the past 25 years…..KQED announces a new, five-part limited podcast series on the California housing crisis that will be hosted by KQED’s housing affordability reporters Molly Solomon and Erin Baldassari. “SOLD OUT: Rethinking Housing in America” reimagines what housing can be by examining California, the epicenter of the nation’s housing affordability crisis. KQED says, “Solomon and Baldassari introduce us to people experiencing homelessness and the activists pushing city leaders to de-commodify housing. They talk with builders hacking traditional construction methods to build more homes faster and policy experts who believe housing can be a form of reparations that gives Black Americans the same opportunity that white Americans have always had in this country.”…..SiriusXM extends its collaboration with superstar Kevin Hart and Laugh Out Loud. Under the new deal, Hart will host new regular and live programs on his SiriusXM channel, Laugh Out Loud Radio, while expanding SiriusXM’s relationship with LOL to include a slate of additional comedic programming spanning radio shows, podcasts, and on-demand video that will be distributed across the SiriusXM ecosystem…..Pictured below is new Salem Radio Network talk host Charlie Kirk (right) in the KRLA, Los Angeles studios with SRN videographer Ethan Tradup (left) as he records a series of marketing videos for his new SRN talk program “The Charlie Kirk Show.” Kirk is the founder of the conservative student group Turning Point USA. His program premieres on October 5. See a video here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Tulsa, programming pro Abby Jessen is named the new director of branding and programming for Cox Media Group’s hot AC KRAV-FM “Mix 96.5.” She comes to Tulsa from CMG’s Athens, Georgia operations where she held a similar position. CMG Tulsa market vice president Cathy Gunther says, “At CMG, we’ve always said that we win with our people and it’s led to the creation and longevity of our market-leading products. Bringing Abby onto our team will continue to give us an advantage over our competitors and help us further elevate our award-winning content.”…..iHeartMedia announces that the 2020 iHeartCountry Festival Presented by Capital One, originally scheduled for May 2 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, will now be a virtual streaming and on-air radio special on October 23. The seventh annual event will feature performances from Dierks Bentley, Lady A, Sam Hunt, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini, Dustin Lynch, Jon Pardi, Riley Green, Morgan Evans and Gabby Barrett and a guest appearance by Bobby Bones. The program is being recorded live on one stage in Nashville and will stream exclusively on LiveXLive and be broadcast live across iHeartMedia’s country music radio stations in local markets and at iHeartRadio.com on October 23 at 7:00 pm CT…..Beasley Media Group’s classic rock WCSX, Detroit is producing a special, 12-week program titled, “Seger Saturdays” that will air Saturdays at 9:00 am beginning October 3. WCSX says the new program – hosted by morning show personality Big Jim O’Brien – will highlight the incredible legacy of Detroit’s iconic rocker, Bob Seger and will feature a full hour of music, interviews, special guests, and storytelling relating to Bob’s Hall of Fame career. Beasley Media Detroit director of programming Scott Jameson says, “Bob Seger is revered in Detroit, so we’re taking our listeners beyond the music, sharing stories about the people and events that shaped his legendary career. Listeners can expect to hear all the great Seger classics along with a behind-the-scenes view of Bob’s inner circle.”…..After six years of live concerts at Tysons Corner Center, the “WGTS 91.9 Summer Concert Series” from Atlantic Gateway Communications’ Christian contemporary WGTS moved to a virtual format. The band Unspoken was to have performed from the mall but instead, WGTS morning show hosts Jerry Woods and Blanca Vega tossed it to Unspoken at the Sound Kitchen studios in Franklin, Tennessee for the show. Afternoon show hosts Johnny and Stacey Stone picked things up from the WGTS video studios interviewing Unspoken and taking live questions from listeners. Jerry Woods says, “This definitely was the next best thing to having them in person. Using the Streamyard video platform we were able to put live listener comments up on the screen and the band immediately reacted to listeners. This added a whole new dimension to the live broadcast.” More than 10,000 listeners from coast to coast and countries around the world viewed the webcast.
Pete Mundo Upped to Program Director for KCMO-AM. Programming and on-air pro Pete Mundo is promoted from APD to program director for Cumulus Media’s news/talk KCMO-AM/K279BI, Kansas City. Mundo is also host of the station’s morning show. Before joining Cumulus Kansas City, Mundo served as a host/anchor for FOX News Radio, CBS Sports Radio, Sports Illustrated’s daily platforms, and WFAN, New York. Cumulus Kansas City RVP and market manager Donna Baker says, “One of the most fulfilling rewards as a leader is seeing the impact that someone as talented as Pete can make in just two years. Growth of nearly 75% in audience since his arrival is the result of Pete’s daily focus, drive, passion, and hard work. This well-deserved promotion to program director is an opportunity to continue to expand the brand of KCMO Talk Radio for years to come.”
NOW POSTED: New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM, Washington, DC. The new episode titled “Billions and Billions!” looks back at this past week of February 17-21, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Wayne Allyn Root, talk show host, USA Radio Network/Newsmax TV; Howard Monroe, talk show host/owner, WKKX/WVLY, Wheeling, WV; Grace Curley, producer/co-host, the Howie Carr Show; Daliah Wachs, M.D., talk show host, Genesis Communications Network; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on WONK-FM, Washington, DC Friday evenings between 6:00 pm-7:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KFNX, Phoenix; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA as well as appearing on the iHeartRadio App. To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.
Zaslow Re-Ups with ‘AM 790 The Ticket’ in Miami. Sports talk host Jonathan Zaslow and Entercom’s WAXY-AM, Miami “AM 790 The Ticket” agree to a new, multiyear contract extension for him to remain host of the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm show, “Zaslow and Amber,” alongside Amber Wilson. Zaslow will also continue to serve as pregame and postgame host for Miami Heat gameday broadcasts, as part of the station’s flagship coverage. Zaslow joined “AM 790 The Ticket” in 2004 and has served as an on-air personality for the station for the last 13 years. This year marks Zaslow’s 10th as a part of the station’s Heat gameday broadcasts. Entercom South Florida SVP and market manager Keriann Worley says, “Jonathan Zaslow is a true Miami sports talent and an original employee of ‘790 The Ticket.’ We are thrilled to have him back for more passionate sports talk and lock him into our impressive weekday programming.”
Cumulus 2019 Q4 Net Revenue Down 7.7%; Same Station Net Revenue Dips 1.7%. Financial data for the full year and the fourth quarter of 2019 is reported by Cumulus Media. Net revenue in the fourth quarter of 2019 was $285.5 million, a decrease of 7.7% over the same period in 2018. However, on a same station basis, net revenue was down just 1.7%. For the full year of 2019, net revenue was $1.1 billion, down 2.4% from 2018. On a same station basis, net revenue – excluding political – of $1,103.2 million was up 1.4% from 2018. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner comments, “I am very proud of the company’s 2019 results. On a same station basis, our team has now delivered the second year in a row of revenue growth and, excluding the impact of political, the third year in a row of Adjusted EBITDA growth. This performance was driven in large part by the industry-leading growth of our digital businesses and active cost management across our platforms. Additionally, we made strong progress against our financial goals during the year, paying down $220 million of debt with cash from operations and highly accretive divestitures, reducing net leverage to 4.7x. This year’s results reflect the success of our consistent focus on key strategies to create value for our investors. Despite a choppy environment and an expected political headwind, fourth quarter revenue finished in-line with the pacing we shared during our last earnings call, and, with some slight favorability on expenses, we delivered Adjusted EBITDA that was somewhat better than we had indicated. As we move into the new year, we are further expanding our delivery of compelling audio experiences and digital offerings that connect and support our advertisers and listeners. And, we are optimistic about 2020 and our continuing ability to drive strong operating and financial performance while aggressively reducing net leverage to below 4.0x.”
Round Three of January PPM’s Released. The third of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s January 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen’s January 2020 survey period covered January 2 – 29. Some of the spoken-word stations that performed well in January (weekly, 6+ AQH share) coming off the challenging Holiday survey were: Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland, which racked up a half share increase to finish the January survey with a 5.1 share and the #5 market rank. Entercom’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte adds 1.4 shares to post a 4.9 share and the #8 rank. iHeartMedia’s WOAI, San Antonio adds four-tenths to finish the month at a 5.7 share and standing steady at the #3 rank. In Sacramento, iHeartMedia’s KFBK gains an amazing 2.7 shares to leap into a tie for the #1 rank in the market with an 8.6 share. Bonneville’s KSL-FM, Salt Lake City adds a full share to end the survey with a 5.0 share and the #7 rank in the market. You can see all of the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. Meanwhile, check out TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian’s Ratings Takeaways here.
Wednesday’s Democratic Debate and the Presidential Race Top News/Talk Stories for Week of February 17-21. The Democratic candidates debate in Las Vegas and the presidential race tied for the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was President Trump’s post-impeachment pardons and appointments. Coming in at #3 was the Department of Justice turmoil and the related Roger Stone sentencing, followed by the covid-19 pandemic, U.S.-China relations, and the deadly flu season tied at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discusses on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.
Diana Boyce Completes Disney Princess 5K. Pictured above left is Diana Boyce, wife of Salem Radio Network SVP of spoken word formats Phil Boyce, braving the chilly temps and drizzle in Orlando this morning (2/21) while finishing the annual Disney Princess 5K race. The race is part of Disney Half Marathon Weekend that benefits some 17 charities. Pictured at right is Salem Radio Network talk show host Mike Gallagher cheering Diana on.
AWM/F Announce 2020 Board. The Alliance for Women in Media and its Foundation (AWM/F) announce their 2020 National Board of Directors. Joining the AWM Board are: Katina Arnold, vice president, corporate communications, ESPN; Abby Auerbach, executive vice president, chief communications officer, TVB; Michelle Ray, executive director, The Walter Kaitz Foundation; Sandra Rice, senior vice president, outreach and strategic partnerships, Center for Talent Innovation; and Esther Mireya Tejeda, senior vice president, head of corporate communications & PR, Entercom. Officers of the board have been announced as Keisha Sutton-James, chair, vice president & CEO, Sutton Button Productions LLC, serving as chair; Heather Cohen, executive vice president, The Weiss Agency, serving as incoming chair; Christine Travaglini, president, Katz Radio Group, serving as immediate past chair; Josie Thomas, CBS, serving as treasurer; and Annie Howell, co-founder and managing partner, The Punch Point Group, serving as incoming treasurer. The following individuals will serve as Directors at Large of AWM: Joyce Fitch, legal consultant; Abby Greensfelder, founder & CEO, Everywoman Studios; Brenda Hetrick, chief revenue officer, Matrix Solutions; Jinny Laderer, co-founder & CEO, vCreative; Meg LaVigne, president, LaVIGNE MEDIA; Kelly Perdomo, vice president, content, sports, entertainment, and partnership marketing, SiriusXM; and Katherine Wolfgang, head of public relations, CBC. The following individuals will serve as Directors at Large of AWMF: Deborah Parenti, publisher, RadioInk, RBR and TVBR; Rob Stoddard, SVP program network policy, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association; and Kristen Welch, chief financial officer, Illustrative Mathematics. AWM executive director Becky Brooks says, “The role of the AWM and Foundation boards is to lead our organizations and industry as we recognize, connect and educate women in radio, television and interactive media. We have a true working board. This year’s new directors have voiced their dedication to donating time and resources to take these organizations to the next level. We are thrilled to have these talented, accomplished women joining our leadership for the next two years.”
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In the Columbia, South Carolina market, programming pro Chris Connors joins Cumulus Media’s urban contemporary WLXC-FM “Kiss 103.1” as program director. Connors was most recently with Alpha Media’s Columbia cluster as operations manager. He says, “We’ve already made ratings history in Columbia, and I’m very fortunate and extremely thankful to have the opportunity to do it again. Big thanks to John Dimick, Kenny Smoov, and Tammy O’Dell for entrusting me to lead the Columbia team. No need to pack or move; we’re ready on day one.”…..Nationally syndicated and WBLS-FM, New York afternoon drive host Deja Vu wraps up a month of celebration with the special, “The Deja Vu Show: Black History in Forward Motion,” being syndicated by ABC Audio. The commercial free, two-hour special celebrates the importance of African American representation in a variety of fields, including Broadway, film, TV and law. It features Deja Vu sitting down with iconic celebrities, artists, and influencers including: Will Packer, David Alan Grier, Celia Rose Gooding, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and Isaac Wright Jr…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One syndicated radio host Lon Helton was honored with the Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award at the Country Radio Seminar. This award – named for Tom Rivers, former WQYK PD and host of Westwood One holiday specials in the 1990s – recognizes an individual in the country radio industry who has given back to the community. Helton is one of the founders and advocates of the legendary country radiothon program, Country Cares For St. Jude Kids, that has raised almost $1 billion for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital…..iHeartMedia announces that country star Blake Shelton is joining the lineup for the 2020 iHeartCountry Festival Presented by Capital One on Saturday, May 2 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. The seventh annual event will also feature performances from Dierks Bentley, Sam Hunt, Lady Antebellum, Dustin Lynch, Kelsea Ballerini, Kane Brown, Jon Pardi, and Chase Rice, plus Hot Country Knights, Bobby Bones, and more. The event will livestream exclusively on livexlive.com and broadcast live across iHeartMedia’s country radio stations in their local markets and at iHeartRadio.com.