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Monday, January 25, 2021

| January 25, 2021

INDUSTRY AND NATION MOURN: Talk Media Pioneer Larry King Dead at 87. According to a report on Facebook posted by the producers of his current syndicated television show, Ora Media, legendary star of talk radio and television, Larry King died this weekend at the age of 87. The statement says: “With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.” The statement continues, “For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.” The cause of death was not indicated, however King had been reportedly hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this month. King was a major player in the talk media world who ushered in the modern era of syndication in radio on the Mutual Broadcasting System and the cable news/talk show format on television at CNN. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison issued the following statement: “Larry King was not the greatest talk show host on radio or television in terms of skills, outrageous personality or direct and profound influence on public policy. He was, however, the most important pioneer who paved the way for today’s robust talk media presence on both radio and television. If there ever was a case of the right person at the right time, Larry King fit the bill and that’s all it took for him to be a mighty force. He was the modern era of talk radio’s first national celebrity born solely as a result of his work in the medium. And his contribution to today’s institutional cable news/talk TV format is undeniably fundamental to the medium’s current presence as America’s political and sociological meeting place. We have lost one of the greatest broadcasting presences of the first century of radio and television history as well as one of the quirkiest and most colorful individuals to ever sit behind a microphone.” Read TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian’s “Remembering Larry King” feature here.

Tributes to Larry King Pouring in from All Over the Industry.  TALKERS has received dozens of tributes, anecdotes, and comments from readers in all sectors of the broadcasting industry in reaction to the passing of Larry King on Saturday (1/23).  The following statements from people who knew him and worked with him reflect the basic sentiments expressed across the board. Westwood One legend Jim Bohannon rose to national prominence as Larry King’s fill-in host back in the early days of King’s career as the late-night “king of talk radio” on the Mutual Broadcasting System. Bohannon tells TALKERS, “Larry King was the first certified big shot for whom I’d ever worked, and I was all set for some screaming prima donna jerk. What I found was a funny, savvy, decent human being who was always very supportive of me. His best advice: Be yourself. My 11 years backing him up on the radio were always based on being a first-rate Jim rather than a second rate Larry.” This Friday (1/29) marks Bohannon’s 28th anniversary of hosting that very same show fulltime. Norm Pattiz, chairman of PodcastOne and founder of Westwood One, was instrumental in Larry King’s fabulous radio career. He tells TALKERS, “Larry King was a superstar on radio well before he became a talk show icon on television and his contribution in those media will never be duplicated. I first met Larry in 1985 when Westwood One Radio bought the Mutual Radio Network. Some said at the time that I bought the network just to get the ‘Larry King Show’ and I never corrected them. When CNN came calling, I was thrilled to share Larry with them and when his show became one of the most influential nightly talk shows in history it only confirmed what I had known all along. No one will ever match the style, compassion, and genuine love for a great interview that Larry had and the worlds of television, radio, and podcasting are worse today for his loss.” Tom Tradup, VP/news and talk programming, Salem Radio Network, tells TALKERS, “My favorite memory of Larry was when I was president/GM of WLS in Chicago and was meeting with Larry for lunch in the now-closed Cape Cod Room restaurant of Chicago’s Drake Hotel. Always upbeat and gregarious, Larry seemed just a little down. He revealed he was speaking to a business group that night and his hotel had lost his trademark suspenders. After lunch I ran over the Marshall Field’s on State Street and bought him a pair. Big smile from a broadcast legend whose talent endured for decades.” And media consultant, TALKERS columnist, and host of “The Big Picture” on RT America (which also carried Larry King’s syndicated TV show at the time of his death), Holland Cooke adds, “One year ago this week, Larry was my guest on the very first show produced at RT’s new Los Angeles studio. Larry’s gift was his curiosity; and his legacy to fellow talkers is the art of the short question. I remember him asking Bob Hope, ‘Who do YOU think is funny?’ And he asked David Duke, ‘Don’t you ever get tired of hating?’ Often, guests on book tours or who are otherwise timely are prepped with ‘safe’ answers, regardless of the questions asked. And they get away with it, because hosts ask verbose questions and don’t listen closely to responses. Larry’s short question would catch the guest off-guard – enough to yield an answer you wouldn’t hear elsewhere along the tour.

King and I: An Excerpt from Bernadette Duncan’s Landmark Book Yappy Days: Behind the Scenes with Newsers, Schmoozers, Boozers and Losers (Talkers Books, 2016).  I landed a part-time job with the Larry King Radio Show in 1986 because I was in the right place at the right time. My late shift at NBC Radio Networks where I produced the Neil Myers Show ended at 1:00 am and no other talk producer was on the premises. All that was required? Meet Mr. King in the lobby, escort him to the elevator, guide him down the hall to the nearest empty studio, check mics and audio, and then be prepared to do the same with the on-coming, big-name parade of guests scheduled for the night. Basically, I was a “handler” for an extra 75 bucks a shift. At the time, this pre-suspenders-wearing Larry King was one of the most successful radio talk show hosts in the industry who at the height of his show’s prominence had nearly 500 affiliate stations around the country. Just the year before, in 1985, he began hosting a nightly TV program on the new cable network called CNN (for Cable News Network) and “Larry King Live” was getting some buzz. In addition to television at 9:00 pm… then radio after midnight… he was in contract to write a book. Larry King’s career was hot. And it was this book deal with a New York-based publisher that brought him to the Big Apple four or five days a month to meet with his editor face-to-face. I became his New York producer/handler, working in coordination with his crew in Washington, DC. Little did I realize when I signed up with “the King of Talk,” I would dive into a world as quirky as what you’d find down Alice’s rabbit hole. To read the entire excerpt please click here.

Alpha Media Announces Pre-Arranged Chapter 11 Reorganization. The company says in a statement on its website that it has entered into a “restructuring agreement with certain of its lenders to reduce its debt, as well as raise incremental capital” to allow it “to successfully navigate current market conditions and pursue growth opportunities. The company expects no disruption to its broadcast operations, customers or employees. Management will remain in place and continue to maintain the company’s day-to-day operations.” Alpha Media says it has filed “a pre-arranged plan of re-organization, disclosure statement and voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. Certain of the company’s existing lenders have agreed to provide new capital in the form of committed debtor-in-possession and exit financing. These lenders, together with management, are expected to collectively own 100% of the equity of the re-organized company, subject to regulatory approvals from the Federal Communications Commission. The restructuring of the company’s balance sheet will require receipt of bankruptcy court approval and certain regulatory, including FCC, approvals and satisfaction of other customary conditions. The company expects to conclude the restructuring process in the first half of 2021.” Alpha chairman and CEO Bob Proffitt comments, “We have made significant progress in aggressively deleveraging our business in recent years. As we proceed with our financial restructuring to improve our capital structure and manage through the ongoing downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agreement we reached today will leave Alpha Media well positioned for a market recovery as a stronger and even more competitive company. Broadcast radio is the leading reach medium in the United States, with attractive ROIs for advertisers, and radio continues to be an indispensable communications platform nationwide. We believe the balance sheet restructuring will provide greater financial resources and flexibility to Alpha Media, enabling the Company to strengthen its position as a leading mid-market broadcaster in the United States, and invest in new digital capabilities to better serve our advertisers and communities. Our core business continues to perform well despite current market challenges. We will continue to invest in our talented teams to foster the unique culture that has been key to Alpha Media’s success in delivering dynamic, diverse and exciting content to our communities.”

Monday Memo: Time Management 2021. “Short version? Time will not be managed.” But in this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke explains how “tasks can,” and that’s gotten trickier in pandemic shutdown mode. He outlines solutions for recurring distractions. Read it here.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccine Rollout Troubles, Trump Impeachment, Capitol Attack Investigation, Trump Third Party Launch, Tacoma Protest/Deadly Indianapolis Shooting, and NFL Conference Championships Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the strategic troubles affecting the rollout of the vaccines; the Article of Impeachment against Donald Trump; the arrests being made during the investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol; the rumors that Donald Trump intends to launch a third political party; the Tacoma protest in which a police officer drove into a crowd and the shooting in Indianapolis in which five adults and an unborn child were killed; and Sunday’s NFL Conference Championship games were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Value. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says, “Presenting the value proposition is a never-ending challenge, especially for the broadcast seller. I’ve seen too many sellers get hung up on product features that are station-centric – important to management, talent, and the seller. The truth is the advertiser doesn’t see it the same way.” The past year has taught us that the value perception of your station’s product has changed. For more on this, read Lapa’s column here.

WCCO-AM, Minneapolis Program Director John Hanson Exits. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Entercom’s news/talk WCCO-AM, Minneapolis has let program director John Hanson go. Hanson had been serving as the station’s PD since the fall of 2018. Hanson is a native of the Twin Cities who worked on air as co-host of KSTP-TV’s “Twin Cities Live” afternoon talk show that launched in 2008. He joined Entercom in 2013 to program sports talk KCSP-AM, Kansas City. The reason for Hanson’s departure is not clear but the staff was alerted in a memo from market SVP Shannon Knoepke, who wrote on January 21, “Reaching out this afternoon to notify the staff that John Hanson is no longer with the company, effective today. More to come as we move forward and work to fill this position.”

WJBC, Bloomington-Normal Adds Michael Koolidge Show. The independently syndicated Michael Koolidge show is added to the program schedule at Cumulus Media’s WJBC-AM, Bloomington-Normal, Illinois in the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot. Koolidge says, “We couldn’t be more excited to join WJBC. I’ve been trying to break into the Bloomington-Normal market for years and I’m thrilled that Cumulus’ WJBC decided to pick up the show!” WJBC operations manager Dan Westhoff says, “We are very excited to be adding ‘The Michael Koolidge Show’ to our lineup. Michael’s been very successful throughout Illinois and the Midwest and we can’t wait to have him on WJBC.”

Marc Bernier Show Celebrates 30th Anniversary. Pictured above is WNDB, Daytona Beach talk host Marc Benier broadcasting live from DB Pickles restaurant in Ormond Beach, Florida celebrating his 30th year on air as a talk host. The celebration was also a benefit for Halifax Urban Ministries. January 21 was declared “Marc Bernier Show Day” with a flag flown over the state capitol and declarations declared honoring Bernier in the cities and county of Volusia. A number of local and state officials attended the broadcast.

WRHU Radio Hofstra University will Receive World Radio Day Award 2021.  In conjunction with World Radio Day coming up on February 13, the Academy of Radio Arts and Sciences of America has selected WRHU Radio of Hofstra University to receive the 2021 World Radio Day Award. The honor commemorates World Radio Day, established by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) and is celebrated annually on February 13. World Radio Day is intended to raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio. WRHU is the first student-run station to receive this honor.  WRHU Radio 88.7 FM is the campus radio station of Hofstra University, a private university located on Long Island in Hempstead, NY. The station has been the recipient of numerous regional, state, and national awards, including three prestigious Marconi Awards from the National Association of Broadcasters (2014, 2017, and 2019).  With studios housed in Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, the station has been committed to training the next generation of radio professionals for more than 60 years in a wide variety of radio genres including news, sports, public affairs, community programming, and music. For the past decade, WRHU has exclusively produced and distributed radio broadcasts of New York Islanders hockey games, the first and only college radio station to have such an agreement with a professional major-league sports team.  “We are immensely honored to receive this award of recognition,” said Mark Lukasiewicz, dean of the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication. “WRHU and its managers and staff deserve enormous credit for carrying on their work throughout the pandemic and providing vital information to the community.”  The annual World Radio Day Award honors a U.S. radio station that exemplifies the best attributes of the radio industry. Recipients may be large or small stations, commercial or noncommercial, located in any market, and broadcasting in any language. The award jury looks for stations that demonstrate ideals of localism, audience reach, community service, effective use of new digital platforms, diversity in program content and staffing, and financial and ratings success.  For this year’s award, the jury has highlighted the work done during the coronavirus pandemic, in light of UNESCO’s theme for the World Radio Day 2021 celebration, which is “New World, New Radio” in the sense that radio is a medium for resilience of our society. The jury of Academy is composed by eight highly qualified professionals of the broadcast industry (in alphabetical order): Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency; Michael Harrison, founder/publisher, TALKERSPaul McLane, editor in chief, Radio WorldMike McVay, president, McVay Media ConsultingFrancisco Montero, partner, Fletcher, Heald & HildrethChris Oliviero, SVP/MM, Entercom New York; Deborah Parenti, publisher, Radio Ink; and Paul Rotella, president of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association. WRHU was recognized for its efforts during the crisis, expanding its content as student and community staffers worked and broadcast from their homes during a New York state lockdown. Hofstra University has been cited on the Best College lists of U.S. News & World ReportThe Princeton ReviewFiskeWashington Monthly, Forbes, LinkedIn and Payscale.com. It is the only university chosen to host U.S. presidential debates in three consecutive election cycles (2008, 2012 and 2016). The World Radio Day Award was initially created by the Spanish Radio Academy to spread awareness of World Radio Day. The annual February 13 commemoration was endorsed by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly and accompanied by the creation of the International Radio Committee, which collaborates with UNESCO to promote World Radio Day each year. Last year, the award went to all-news station, WTOP, Washington DC.  The 2021 World Radio Day Award will be presented to WRHU at Hofstra University in early February. For more information, click here.

Townsquare Media to Repurchase 10 Million Shares. In a press release, Townsquare Media, Inc announces it has entered into an agreement to repurchase a minimum of 10 million of the 12.5 million shares of Class A common stock, shares of Class B common stock and warrants held by funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management L.P., for $6.40 per security, which reflects a 19% discount from the closing price of the Class A common stock on Friday, January 22, 2021. The repurchase was approved by the board of directors following the recommendation of a committee of independent and disinterested directors. The aggregate purchase price is expected to be at least $64 million, subject to the company’s ability to elect to purchase additional securities at closing of the repurchase. At closing, the repurchased securities will be retired and, subject to the company’s election to repurchase additional securities, the company’s outstanding securities will be reduced from approximately 28 million to approximately 18 million. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “We appreciate the opportunity to facilitate this significant transaction with Oaktree and are excited about this repurchase, which secures the exit of a very long-term private equity majority shareholder that current and potential shareholders have described to me consistently as being an obstacle to investing more, or establishing a position, in Townsquare given the significant overhang Oaktree’s holding represented. This repurchase is immediately accretive to shareholders and we thank our board of directors for their vote of confidence in our medium and long-term business plan to grow revenue and profits.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a report by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM, Chicago afternoon news anchor Kim Gordon has resigned from the Nexstar Media Group station after 15 years. It’s rumored that Gordon will be joining Cumulus Media’s crosstown news/talk WLS-AM to serve as the afternoon news anchor on the Big John Howell program. Back at WGN, Feder reports that Lauren Lapka will be the news anchor on the Steve Bertrand afternoon program…..iHeartMedia flips sports talk WFXJ-AM, Jacksonville “The Game” to Gospel as “Hallelujah AM930/93.3 HD2.”…..News and sports radio pro Mike Smith is leaving his gig with iHeartMedia’s WBEX-AM, Chillicothe, Ohio to pursue other career opportunities, The 43-year radio pro says, “Thanks to all the great listeners, which many, many of them became life-long friends, and I can say the same about my colleagues being life-long friends and that means more to me than any nice thing that anybody ever said about the job that I did.”

Friday, November 13, 2020

| November 13, 2020

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of 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. This new episode titled, “It’s Democracy Stupid!” looks back at this past week of November 9 – November 13, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, North Georgia; Chip Franklin, talk show host, KGO, San Francisco; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Blanquita Cullum, talk show host, WCGO, Chicago; and Paul Vandenburgh, talk show host / station owner, WGDJ, Albany, NY. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Salem Media Group Q3 Total Revenue Down 5.4%. Reporting its earnings for the third quarter of 2020, Salem Media Group says total revenue for the quarter was $60.6 million, down 5.4% from the same period in 2019. Operating income for the third quarter of 2020 was $4.8 million compared to the $14.5 million loss it posted in Q3 of 2019. Net income was $329,000 in Q3 of this year compared to the $20 million net loss it reported for the same period in 2019. Looking at Salem by division, net broadcast revenue was $45.4 million, down 4.8% from the same period in 2019, digital media revenue increased by 7.8% to $9.8 million, and publishing was down 25.3%. During Thursday’s investor conference call, Salem director and CEO Edward Atsinger said, “For the third quarter, broadcast revenue increased by 15% when compared to the second quarter but declined 4.8% when compared to the third quarter of last year. Despite that decline, those numbers compare favorably to the industry as a whole. According to Miller Kaplan, in the markets where we operate, the radio industry was down 30.2% compared to last year. And our performance, I think, highlights the difference in our business model with a foundation on national and local ministry block programming and our most recent investments in Salem Surround and SalemNow. Just as a reminder Salem Surround is our local digital multimedia advertising agency and SalemNow is the over-the-top streaming movie business that we launched in Q2… Turning to traditional radio advertising. Spot revenues continue to recover. Total spot was up 26.4% when compared to the second quarter of this year 2020. However, compared to last year, local spot revenue was down 25.8% while national spot revenue only declined 8.4%. Combined total spot revenue was down 21.7% in the third quarter compared to last year. Again, this was much better than the radio industry overall which, according to Miller Kaplan, total spot revenue declined 33.6% for the industry as a whole. Our syndicated network business remained strong and actually grew revenue 4.9% in the third quarter when compared to last year.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. Members can read the whole transcript here.

WILK, Wilkes-Barre’s John Webster to Retire Next Month. The Citizen’s Voice reports that John Webster will retire from the radio business and his current gig as morning drive co-host on Entercom’s news/talk WILK, Wilkes-Barre in mid-December. Webster has worked in local radio in Northeastern Pennsylvania for the past 40 years. He partnered with Jay Daniels to co-host “Daniels and Webster” on Times-Shamrock’s “Rock 107” for 25 years. Webster joined WILK in 2010 and currently hosts the morning show with Nancy Kman. Entercom Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market manager Ryan Flynn tells the paper that it is currently seeking Webster’s replacement and hopes to have that person in place by the New Year. About his career, Webster tells Citizen’s Voice, “It beats working for a living. As cliché as it sounds, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. What I used to get detention for in high school I ended up getting a paycheck for. I was having a good time, clowning around and fooling around and just enjoying myself. As it turned out, people seemed to enjoy listening to that and it all worked out.”

Roxanne Marati Named Market Manager for Entercom Kansas City. Sales and management pro Roxanne Marati is promoted to SVP and market manager for Entercom’s Kansas City station group that includes news/talk outlets KMBZ-FM and KMBZ-AM, KCSP “610 Sports Radio,” KWOD-AM “1660 The Score” and four music outlets. She comes to Kansas City from her most recent post as VP of sales for the company’s Denver station group. She takes over for Dave Alpert, who exited the company last month. Entercom regional president Doug Abernethy says, “It has been a pleasure to watch Roxanne grow and deliver results the last seven years as our vice president of sales. She is a dynamic leader and a great fit to lead our collection of assets in Kansas City and I am thrilled to continue to work alongside her in this new chapter in her career.”

Independent Broadcasters Association Assisting Job Hunters. In a partnership with Vipology, the Independent Broadcasters Association has created a rapid response opportunity for members of the radio community losing their positions. IBA president and executive director Ron Stone says, “We have been watching the trades for the past two weeks and have been heartbroken by the massive terminations announced daily in the trades in so many markets around the country. We are living in the most challenging economic times since the Great Depression 100 years ago, literally since radio began. To see so many broadcast professionals terminated during the worst of times is hard to digest. We shifted gears on our own website development, built and managed by Vipology, to provide opportunities for those impacted to ‘meet up’ with potential broadcasters that may either be searching for new talent or perhaps be interested in engaging these folks for tracking positions. We just cannot sit by and watch the continuation of more and more terminations without offering help. We are all in this together, and that includes keeping people employed so they can feed their families.” You can see the Talent Available page here. If you are out of work and wish to add your information, you can do that here.

TALKERS News Notes. Television marketing executive Ilana Susnow joins PodcastOne as its head of marketing and audience development. The New York-based Susnow – who will report to PodcastOne CEO Peter Morris – will oversee all marketing initiatives for PodcastOne and its numerous podcasts. Her responsibilities will include developing and executing marketing strategy and audience growth for PodcastOne, including launching new shows and managing the lifecycle of all programs in the PodcastOne network. In addition, Susnow will have oversight and management of all paid media marketing campaigns, trade deals, event planning and PR, as well as collaborating with the sales team on integrations and talent relations…..Pop star Kesha partners with iHeartMedia on a new podcast called, “Kesha And The Creepies,” in which she chats with an eclectic mix of guests about their supernatural experiences, the occult, unexplained mysteries, urban legends, psychedelic art, spirituality, astrology and more. Her first guest is rocker Alice Cooper. She says, “I’m existentially pleased and molecularly stoked to be premiering my new podcast ‘Kesha & the Creepies!!!’ I have had so many experiences in this incarnation that I just can’t ignore or explain, and I’ve always been fascinated by supernatural subjects, the unexplainable, and people exploring alternative thought and lifestyles.”…..ABC Audio announces Thanksgiving weekend programming for radio, including the news and news/talk-formatted show, “Celebrating the Arts,” hosted by ABC News correspondent Aaron Katersky. The three-hour special profiles artists, artisans, and creators “who nourish Americans through their work.” The program features interviews with a craftsman turning junk airplanes into pieces of art and one-of-a-kind furniture, a photographer capturing the first moments of connection after COVID-19 lockdowns, and a poet whose words bring comfort. “Celebrating the Arts” also takes listeners to Kansas City’s inimitable jazz scene, hits the streets with buskers, visits drive-in theater productions, and more.

Presidential Election Aftermath Top News/Talk Story for Week of November 9-13. The aftermath of the presidential election was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Georgia runoff elections and the recount of the presidential race. Coming in at #3 was the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, projections for winter cases, the race for an effective vaccine and the country’s hospital crisis, followed by the Supreme Court’s hearing arguments about the Affordable Care Act 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. The annual Westwood One Nashville country music special, “A Thanksgiving Weekend Celebration,” is available to stations for the coming holiday weekend. This year’s four-hour program is being hosted by reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year and multi-platinum artist Thomas Rhett. WWO says that Rhett and his friends will share their favorite dishes and traditions along with great country music. Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Luke Combs, and many more will join Rhett. Stations can air “A Thanksgiving Weekend Celebration” any time from November 26-29 from 6:00 am and 12:00 midnight.

Monday, December 17, 2018

| December 17, 2018

WLS-AM, Chicago Moves Big John Howell to PM Drive. Friday’s announcement by Cumulus Media solidifies the afternoon program schedule, but the question still remains who will end up hosting mornings on news/talk WLS-AM in the New Year.  Current morning drive personality Big John Howell is moving to the 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot – he’s following Westwood One syndicated talk host Ben Shapiro who’s on from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.  Howell’s co-host Ramblin’ Ray Stevens appears headed out the door.  Rumors in the Windy City are that Erich Mancow Muller is negotiating to be the station’s next morning show host. Cumulus Chicago vice president and market manager Marv Nyren says, “As part of the new lineup at WLS-AM 890, keeping an experienced Chicago talent like John Howell solidifies the lineup and will give our audience a reason to stay tuned throughout the entire day.  John has been entertaining Chicagoland for over 30 years and his program will be the perfect way to wrap up the day on your way home.”  Before joining WLS-AM four years ago, Howell served with Salem Media Group on news/talk WIND-AM.  Prior to that he spent 17 years as a jock on country WUSN-FM. He says, “I’m very excited about hosting the new afternoon show at WLS-AM 890.  I intend to present Chicago with a quick-paced, informative, honest, and intelligent summary of the day’s biggest stories – an afternoon wrap of the day’s biggest events featuring prominent newsmakers, reporters, experts, and stars.  Of course, our town’s most colorful characters will also be welcome.  In addition, I’m looking forward to (finally) golfing when the sun’s in the east.”

Media Action Center Targets Alex Jones Saying Radio Show Violates FCC’s Hoax Rules. The Media Action Center was founded by journalist and activist Sue Wilson.  She was instrumental in forcing Entercom to give up the license for KDND-FM, Sacramento in the wake of the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest.  Now, Wilson’s MAC is encouraging people who live in markets that carry the Alex Jones radio show to file a complaint with the local station and the FCC that accuses Jones of violating the FCC’s hoax rules by insisting that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax.  You can see the form letter here that outlines the FCC’s language: “Section 73.1217 of the Federal Communications Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 73.1217, prohibits broadcast licensees or permittees from broadcasting false information concerning a crime or a catastrophe if: (1) the licensee knows this information is false; (2) it is foreseeable that broadcast of the information will cause substantial public harm; and (3) broadcast of the information does in fact directly cause substantial public harm.”  Wilson cites the parents of some of the victims whose pain has been worsened by harassment they’ve suffered from Jones’ listeners, thus the public harm.  MAC notes the FCC rules would permit Jones’ comments if the stations airing the program aired a disclaimer before the program clearly characterizing it as fiction. See the MAC site here.

WQAM, Miami Names New Midday Show. Replacing Orlando “The Big O” Alzugaray (who exited early last month) in the midday slot at Entercom’s WQAM, Miami is the duo of Alex Donno (left) and Josh Friedman (right).  The “Donno & Friedo” show airs from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  Friedman moves over to WQAM from sister sports talker WAXY-AM where he was evening host.  Alex Donno has been hosting the evening program on WQAM.  Entercom South Florida SVP and market manager Keriann Worley states, “Alex and Josh both bring unique experiences that will lead to great content for this new show, which will touch on sports and beyond.  Their vast knowledge of Miami sports and high energy will undoubtedly resonate with South Florida listeners.”

Spector Upped to Program Director at Sports Talk KCSP, Kansas City. Rising from assistant program director and afternoon show producer to program director at Entercom’s KCSP-AM “610 Sports Radio” is Steven Spector.  Entercom Kansas City regional president and market manager Dave Alpert says, “I am very pleased to announce Steven Spector as the next program director of ‘610 Sports Radio.’  This is a well-deserved and well-earned promotion and I’m confident that Steven will continue to elevate ‘610 Sports Radio’ in the Kansas City market.”  Spector joined Entercom Kansas City in 2013 as a producer for 610 Sports Radio’s “Fescoe in the Morning.”  He began his radio career with WTEM, Washington in 2008.

Chuck Peterson Rises to Area President for iHeartMedia. Executive Chuck Peterson is promoted to area president for iHeartMedia’s Winchester, Harrisonburg, and Roanoke-Lynchburg, Virginia markets, effective immediately. The markets contain 16 news/talk, sports and music-formatted stations.  Peterson is promoted to area president after serving as market president for the Winchester and Harrisonburg markets.  He began his career at WFTR, Front Royal, Virginia and is a graduate of American University and William & Mary Law School.  He says, “iHeartMedia is the leader in the audio and mulit-platform space and I am thrilled to step into my new role in the Virginia/Carolina region. I am proud of our company’s commitment to growing our advertiser’s businesses and serving our communities.”

PPM Analysis: November’s Top-Ranked Stations. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian offers a tip of the hat to the stations that finished first and second (6+) in their respective markets in Nielsen Audio’s November 2018 survey.  In this report, you’ll find charts detailing the performances of the top two stations in each market, as well as a look at the top performers arranged by format.  Spoiler alert – adult contemporary stations comprised 22% of the #1 stations in the PPM markets while classic hits accounted for 22.9% of the #2-ranked stations. See the full report here.

TALKERS News Notes. Nationally-syndicated midday program “The Dana Show” with host Dana Loesch will air on Cumulus Media’s news/talk KLIF-AM, Dallas, beginning in the New Year.  KLIF-AM and WBAP program director Kevin Graham says, “We’re thrilled to bring Dana to 570 KLIF.  Dallas-Fort Worth listeners are really going to connect with her honest opinions and authenticity.  And the fact she lives here in the Metroplex will also allow our listeners to easily relate to her.”  “The Dana Show” is syndicated nationally via Radio America…..Premiere Networkssyndicated Buck Sexton show begins airing on WCBM, Baltimore in the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm daypart, effective January 1.  The show will be followed by the Westwood One-syndicated Mark Levin program in the 10:00 pm to 1:00 am slot.  The station currently airs Michael Savage in evenings and he departs the station after 16 years as his three-hour show is re-configured into a one-hour live show and a one-hour podcast. WCBM program director Sean Casey adds, “This is the next chapter in our endless pursuit to bring the most powerful names in talk to Baltimore.  We’re really pumped to add Buck, an up-and-coming star and to have Levin, a Hall of Famer anchor our evenings!  I’d like to thank Michael Savage for a great run and continued success in his new venture.”…..The unique town of Tangier Island, Virginia – population 460 and shrinking – is the subject of a five-part podcast series from Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP, Washington titled, “Going Under: The Story of Tangier Island.”  The series, hosted by WTOP’s Michelle Basch, takes an in-depth look at the “quirky, isolated place located smack dab in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay” that is gradually vanishing and could be uninhabitable in 25 years…..First Media Services closes on its purchase of two AMs and four FMs in the Bluefield, West Virginia market from Alpha Media for $1.8 million.  The stations are: news/talk WHIS-AM, hip hop WKEZ-AM, hot AC WHAJ-FM, country WHQX-FM, country WHKX-FM, and classic rock WKOY-FM.  First Media managing partner Bob Spencer says, “We feel extremely blessed and honored to have the torch passed to us from well-respected former owners, including Mike Shott and the Shott Family, and David Benjamin of Triad Broadcasting Company.  In my opinion, these stations have one of the best and most talented staffs in the region.  Many, of whom, have worked there for over two and even three decades.  It’s an amazing opportunity to continue great radio and first-class customer service throughout our corner of the Virginias.” Kalil & Co., Inc. was the exclusive broker for this transaction…..WNIC, Detroit morning personality Jay Towers and Capedwonder.com founder Jim Bowers are co-hosting a podcast series dedicated to all things Superman in “The Caped Wonder Superman Podcast.”  In the third podcast of the series, the hosts released never-before-heard audio of iconic Superman actor Christopher Reeve.

Trump-Russia Investigation, Border Wall-Government Shutdown, the Trumps vs the Media, ObamaCare Ruling, Financial Markets Activity/Recession Concerns, Aquaman Film, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; President Trump’s threat to allow the federal government to shut down if congress doesn’t fund the Mexico border wall; President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump’s complaints about the media’s treatment of them; a federal judge rules the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional; Friday’s Dow drops 400 points and talk about a recession in 2019; the new Aquaman film; and the weekend’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro Jay Cruze joins the morning show at Bonneville’s adult contemporary KOSI, Denver alongside current morning host Jenny D.  Program director Jim Lawson says, “Jay’s experience, energy, and authentic personality is exactly what we were looking for to create compelling content in the morning.  Jay has been on our part-time staff and has been a tremendous asset.  He’s a natural fit.”…..An apparent abundance of programmers in the Entercom Philadelphia cluster has forced the company’s hand and longtime hot AC WBEB “B101” PD Chuck Knight exits the station.  Entercom acquired the station from Jerry Lee Radio back in September…..KDGS-FM, Wichita APD, music director, and afternoon host “Rolls” Royce Stevenson re-ups with Entercom to continue his work at the rhythmic CHR outlet.