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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

| June 10, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 30, 2020

| March 30, 2020

Monday Memo: Smart Advertisers Relate. While many radio sales reps are in pandemic panic mode, smart sellers are helping nimble advertisers do what radio does best: tell a lot of people something useful quickly.  In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke lists commercial copy points he’s hearing.  See them here.

Growing Coronavirus U.S. Death Toll, Trump Extends Social Distancing Through April, Criticism of Trump Administration, Financial Markets Activity, Celebs with COVID-19, Lawmakers’ Stock Trades Controversy, and Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The rising U.S. death toll from COVID-19; President Trump extends the nation’s social distancing policy through April 30; criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic; the pandemic’s effect on the world’s financial markets; celebrities who’ve tested positive for COVID-19; the investigation into U.S. lawmakers who sold stocks ahead of the global sell-off; and the November presidential election were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: The Vice President’s Lead List. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s Pending Business column that smart salespeople should take a cue from Vice President Mike Pence’s Presidential Task Force press conference last week in which he named the three biggest companies hiring – today.  Read Lapa’s tips for smart marketing in a new normal environment here.

Forever Media Cuts Staff at News/Talk WDEL, Wilmington and Elsewhere. The Wilmington News Journal reports that Forever Media has taken the drastic step of laying off “more than 10 people” from its radio properties as the result of a revenue hit from the coronavirus pandemic.  Included in the layoffs are WDEL talk personalities Allan Loudell and Robin Bryson.  Forever Media closed on its $18.5 million purchase of Delmarva Broadcasting’s 10-station radio portfolio last May.  Bryson is quoted telling the News Journal that the mandated closure of non-essential businesses hit business hard.  “That’s a good portion of who our advertisers are.  So, you know they’re not open, they can’t afford to advertise so they cancel their contracts and then we don’t have any commercials to run and we’re not getting any revenue.”

WGAN-AM, Portland Drops Morning Drive Co-Host Ken Altshuler. In Portland, Maine, Saga Communications drops morning drive co-host Ken Altshuler – the left-leaning half of the show – as part of a restructuring move.  Altshuler has been co-host of the morning show since 2002.  The change leaves conservative Matthew Gagnon hosting solo.  Altshuler tells the Portland Press Herald that over the past few months, the station has been moving to a single-host format in other dayparts.  Altshuler says he plans to continue in the media, either with another radio station or with a blog and podcast.  Sixty-seven-year-old Altshuler is a family law attorney who practices in Portland.

Ramsey’s ‘Message of Hope’ Becomes Regular Podcast. The Ramsey Solutions organization announces that a new podcast from the Ramsey Network called, “A Message of Hope” is launching.  The Ramsey Network says, “There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty in our country right now.  Let’s change that. Ramsey Network hosts Dave Ramsey, Ken Coleman, and Rachel Cruze share practical money and career advice through the ‘Message of Hope’ series.  This brand-new podcast also features episodes from Chris Hogan, Christy Wright, Anthony O’Neal, and Dr. John Deloney to encourage you in every area of life.”

‘Ark Midnight with John B. Wells’ Partners with Talk Media Network. The weekly, three-hour radio show “Ark Midnight with John B. Wells” is partnering with Talk Media Network for marketing and affiliate relations.  Talk Media Network CEO Josh Leng says, “John B. Wells is an expert in weaving stories, news, and interviews together with an artful thread and his instantly recognizable voice.  ‘Ark Midnight’ is a destination nighttime show.”  Wells comments, “It’s great to be working with Talk Media Network.  They understand the program and have added new affiliate stations before we could even make this announcement.”  The show recently was added to the program schedule at WNTW-AM Richmond and KLKS-FM in Brainerd, Minnesota and soon joins KYAH-AM in Delta, Utah and WIOS-AM, Tawas City, Michigan.

Tony Bruno to Reunite with Harry Mayes on SiriusXM. Sports talk pro Tony Bruno – via SiriusXM and JAKIB Media Partners – is returning to a daily sports talk radio show after five years away from the format.  He’s being joined on the new “Tony Bruno Show” by former WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “The Fanatic” partner Harry Mayes.  The show launches on SiriusXM’s Dan Patrick Radio channel on April 6.  Bruno says, “I want to thank all of my fans who have followed and supported me through the years.  I am grateful to everyone who has encouraged me to return and who still wants to hear my daily fun approach to sports and current affairs, which has been my forte’ for over four decades in broadcasting.  I can’t think of a better platform than SiriusXM and reuniting with my former ESPN colleague on the Dan Patrick Radio channel, and I am thrilled to be able to return to the airwaves with my good friend and co-host Harry Mayes.  There is no doubt that we will provide an exciting, fun, sports talk radio program that joins a sea of great content on SiriusXM.”

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on news/talk-formatted stations. Fifty-three percent of the news/talk stations on our panel were up (weekly, 6+ AQH share) over the January 2020 survey with just 27% seeing a ratings decline. Leaders in the improved column include Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta (+1.4) and iHeartMedia’s WISN, Milwaukee (+1.0). Comparing February 2019 to February 2020, WSB-AM/WSBB-FM is again the leader, posting an increase of 4.4 shares. iHeartMedia’s WTVN, Columbus adds 2.7 shares year-over-year, and Entercom’s KFTK-FM St. Louis is up 2.1 shares. Just two news/talk stations ranked #1 in their markets in February – CMG’s WSB, Atlanta (11.4 share) and iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento (8.4 share). However, five news/talk outlets ranked #2 in their respective markets.  Find out which ones, here.

TALKERS News Notes. The KSTE, Sacramento-based “Armstrong & Getty Show” starring Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty adds new affiliate WGOW-FM, Chattanooga, starting today (3/30).  Earlier this year, the program was added to other Cumulus Media talk stations including KABC-AM, Los Angeles and KSFO, San Francisco…..The nationally syndicated “Free Talk Live” program – led by show founders Ian Freeman and Mark Edge – adds new affiliate stations: KGGF-AM, Coffeyville, Kansas; WTSN-AM/FM, Dover, New Hampshire; WNTW-AM/FM, Richmond; WAIM-AM, Anderson, South Carolina; and WCSI-AM/FM, Columbus, Indiana to put its total affiliate roster at 209 stations…..ESPN’s “Paul Finebaum Show” makes its return to the cable TV SEC Network with an audio-only format at 3:00 pm ET.  Although Finebaum has been doing the show for ESPN Radio for the past two weeks, it has not aired on the SEC Network.  Finebaum comments, “Despite all of us adjusting to this new normal and distancing ourselves from each other, we’re probably more connected right now than we’ve been in a long time.  I’m really proud of the conversations and discussions we’ve had on the show, especially over these past few weeks, and look forward to returning to television and continuing to support and uplift one another during such an uncertain time.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Last night’s “FOX Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America” event aired on FOX Television as artists including host Elton John and guests Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Billie Eilish, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, Dave Grohl, H.E.R., Mariah Carey, Sam Smith,Tim McGraw and more performed from their own homes.  The program was also aired live on iHeartMedia radio stations and the iHeartRadio app.  Pictured below is Tim McGraw (upper left) singing “Something Like That” while three of his band members accompany him from their homes.  The event encouraged viewers and listeners to support charities Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation.