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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

| May 18, 2021

Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM, Washington Names Larry O’Connor Morning Drive Host: Vince Coglianese Moves to PM Drive. Washington, DC news/talk WMAL-FM is revamping its lineup in the wake of the departure of morning drive personality Mary Walter and the February death of Rush Limbaugh. Effective Monday (5/24), WMAL-FM personality Larry O’Connor moves from afternoons to mornings to host the new “O’Connor & Company” program. Current morning drive host Vince Coglianese will move to afternoon drive and, as previously announced, Westwood One syndicated talk host Dan Bongino assumes the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. Cumulus Media VP of news/talk and WMAL program director Bill Hess says, “Having Larry and Vince in these new roles, along with the launch of ‘The Dan Bongino Show’ and the continued strength of Chris Plante, sets WMAL up perfectly for the next stage in the station’s success.” O’Connor comments, “I’m thrilled to return to mornings on WMAL in Washington, where my career began nine years ago. Four years after creating the first live and local afternoon drive program on the station since 2001, it truly feels like coming home and I can’t wait to be a part of the morning commute for families across the Mid-Atlantic and in the Nation’s Capital. I appreciate the confidence that Bill Hess and [Cumulus EVP of operations] Dave Milner have in me and I am thrilled to work together to continue Cumulus’ great success at this historic station.”

Round One of April PPM Ratings Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s April 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s April 2021 sweep covered April 1 – 28. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. iHeartMedia’s New York news/talk WOR-AM drops three-tenths to finish the survey with 2.0 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and the #19 rank while Audacy’s crosstown sports talk WFAN adds seven-tenths for a 3.1 share finish and the #12 rank. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI is steady with a 5.7 share and remains ranked #2. Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM, Chicago is basically flat, falling one-tenth to a 3.4 share and stays in the #9 rank. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways here.

Salem Media Group Partners Grant Stinchfield with Jenn Horn on SoCal Signals.  Media personality Grant Stinchfield is joining Salem Media Group’s Southern California news/talk stations as co-host of the “The Morning Answer” alongside Jennifer Horn. The company says that after an “extensive and exhilarating months-long search,” Stinchfield – who also hosts a daily program on Newsmax TV – will work with Horn on KRLA-AM, Los Angeles and KTIE, Riverside-San Bernardino beginning today (5/18). KRLA and KTIE director of programming Chuck Tyler says, “Good things come to those that wait. We put Jennifer Horn through the ringer, as we tried out numerous co-hosts for this plumb assignment, having a number of world-class talk radio candidates. It took us five months. The good news is Jennifer survived, and we found an amazing new partner for her!” Salem SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce adds, “Grant is a true gem. He is smart, funny, and knows his stuff. His chemistry with Jennifer makes the morning show sizzle. We are delighted to add him to the team.” Stinchfield says about his new gig, “It is an honor to be chosen to be an important voice for millions of Californians who cherish liberty and freedom in a state that is quickly being controlled by big bureaucracy and government. I can’t think of a more important area of the country that needs common sense straight talk than Southern California. My goal is to simply strengthen the tireless fight AM 870 and AM 590 are already waging against the enemies of freedom, capitalism, and democracy.”

NYPost: Boomer & Gio Ink New Deals with WFAN. According to a report in the New York Post, morning show hosts Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti have both signed new contracts with Audacy’s sports talk WFAN, New York. The story indicates that the deals run through 2023. The story also says – citing Nielsen Audio’s April PPM survey data – that Boomer & Gio “maintained their No. 1 overall spot in the market while ESPN [WEPN-FM] was tied for 9th (3.5).”

Bold Gold Broadcast and Media Foundation Sets November 19 for Annual Dinner Event. The 6th Annual Bold Gold Broadcast and Media Foundation Event & Dinner is taking place on November 19, 2021 at Mohegan Sun Pocono Grand Ballroom. Bold Gold Media founder and CEO Vince Benedetto tells his staff, “I’m thrilled to report that this year we will be having our 6th Annual Event on the evening of Friday, November 19 at our usual location in the Mohegan Sun Pocono Grand Ballroom! I am also extremely excited to report that I was able to secure an incredible speaker! Andrew Roberts, international best-selling author and Winston Churchill Scholar will be our keynote speaker. Andrew is author of the 2018 best seller, Winston Churchill:  Walking With Destiny.”

New Mask Guidance Controversy, COVID Vaccines, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, AZ Vote Audit, SCOTUS to Hear Abortion Case, and Matt Gaetz Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/17). The confusion over the CDC’s about-face on mask guidance for fully vaccinated Americans; the falling COVID cases in the U.S. and concerns about vaccine hesitancy; the battle between Israeli and Hamas forces in Gaza; the election audit in Maricopa County, Arizona and the Republicans continuing to promote the “stolen election” theory; the Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments over the Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks; and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz’s former friend Joel Greenberg pleads guilty to six felonies and agrees to cooperate with prosecutors were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

| April 22, 2021

KFAB, Omaha Fires Chris Baker After Tweeting of Racist Image. A day after tweeting an image of Black natives in loincloths and holding spears with the caption “Guilty!” in the immediate aftermath of the Derek Chauvin verdict, iHeartMedia has fired KFAB, Omaha afternoon drive talk host Chris Baker, according to a piece in the Lincoln Journal Star.  iHeartMedia area president for Nebraska C. Taylor Walet III said in a statement the tweet was “completely inappropriate and unacceptable. Please know that this does not represent our viewpoint or our values, and we take this situation very seriously. Accordingly, Chris Baker’s employment with our company has been terminated.” Baker told the Journal Star that although he doesn’t expect people to believe his explanation, he says he was multi-tasking and searching for an image of “people celebrating” and inadvertently posted the image that he did. He added, “That’s not me, that’s not who I really am. There’s a difference between being intentional and being a fat-fingered boomer on Twitter. I don’t look at Black people that way.” On Wednesday, “Producer Josh” Odson and “Bird,” a.k.a. Meghan Bird, hosted the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm program on KFAB.

Premiere Networks and EIB Network Launch ‘Rush Limbaugh: The Man Behind the Golden EIB Microphone’ Podcast Series. This 12-episode podcast is narrated by Rush Limbaugh’s longtime call-screener and “official show observer” James Golden, a.k.a., Bo Snerdley. Premiere Networks says, “The 12-episode series will detail legendary radio host Rush Limbaugh’s award-winning, 30-plus year career in radio that revitalized the spoken-word format and provided a platform for him to develop and lead modern conservatism in America. Featuring Limbaugh’s own words and never-before-heard stories shared by colleagues, friends and family, the series will give listeners a guided tour of the five-time Marconi Award winner’s historic journey from Cape Girardeau, Mo., to becoming the No. 1 talk radio host in America. The series will also highlight Limbaugh’s lasting legacy, which includes ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’s’ continued dominance as the most-listened-to talk radio program in the U.S.” Golden says, “The only blessing greater than working with Rush was knowing the man that he truly was. It is not only my honor, but also my duty, to help ensure his legacy is properly acknowledged. I want to thank Premiere Networks and the EIB Network for allowing me this profound opportunity.” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott adds, “We look forward to sharing this incredible series with millions of Rush Limbaugh fans. Those who knew Rush best will provide an insider’s look at his life and career, providing a true celebration and tribute to the greatest talk radio host of all time.” You can hear a trailer for the series that launches on May 12 here.

Audacy’s WILK-AM/FM, Wilkes-Barre Announces New Lineup; Local Hosts Nikki Stone and Bob Cordaro Join Air Staff. Northeastern Pennsylvania news/talk brand “WILK News Radio” – WILK-AM/FM, Wilkes-Barre; WODS-AM, West Hazleton; WAAF-AM, Scranton – adds two personalities to its re-tooled daily lineup. Market radio pro Nikki Stone joins the station as host of the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and former Lackawanna County commissioner Bob Cordaro is the new 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm talk host. Jason Barsky co-hosts the morning show “The Morning News with Nancy and Jason” alongside Nancy Kman and Frank Andrews continues to be heard from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Audacy SVP and market manager Ryan Flynn states, “We’re really excited to introduce this enhanced slate of programming to our listeners as we focus on the issues that matter most to Northeast PA. Nikki brings a breadth of experience in this market which we think will quickly build a sense of trust between her and our audience. Bob Cordaro, also someone with deep local roots, is an expert on the area, the people, and local politics. I trust his candor and connection with our audience will quickly translate to a successful afternoon show.” Stone has been a traffic reporter and host on the station since 2017. She says, “Northeast PA has always been home to me. I’m excited about this chance to open up conversation, talk about the issues that matter, and have a little fun with the people I consider neighbors and friends.” Cordaro comments, “I am incredibly honored to become part of the team at WILK and Audacy. While it is a daunting task to replace the great Rush Limbaugh in Northeast PA, I feel privileged to be able to do so. I want to thank our management team here in Scranton Wilkes-Barre as well as everyone at Audacy for giving me this opportunity. We are going to have a lot of fun promoting a conservative commonsense agenda that works for the people of this area and our country.”

Round Three of March PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s March 2021 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 March 2021 sweep covered March 4 – March 31. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland slips three-tenths to a 5.7 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and falls from the #2 rank to #4. In Charlotte, Radio One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM loses a half share, finishing the March survey with a 5.0 share good for the #5 rank in the market. iHeartMedia’s San Antonio news/talk WOAI-AM falls from the #2 rank to #7 after dropping 1.7 shares for a 5.0 share finish. In Salt Lake City, Bonneville’s KSL-FM sheds two-tenths to wrap the survey with a 6.8 share putting it in the #3 rank while iHeartMedia’s crosstown KNRS-AM/FM loses a half share and finishes with a 6.5 share and the #4 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways report for this group of markets (as well and the first two rounds) here.

Radio’s Rob Carson Hosting ‘The Newsmax Daily’ for Newsmax Media. Radio pro Rob Carson has been working with Newsmax for some time now, but now the company officially launches the podcast “The Newsmax Daily with Rob Carson.” Newsmax says, “With ‘The Newsmax Daily’ you’ll get the latest top news with Rob Carson’s wit and wisdom to help you understand the events shaping our lives. Rob holds little back – and tries to find the humor in even the most frightening of news developments – especially when they emanate from the Biden-Harris White House!” Carson also hosts the TV program, “Rob Carson’s What in the World?” which airs Saturdays on Newsmax TV. Carson’s talk radio career includes stops in markets including: Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Dallas, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Nashville, Phoenix, Minneapolis, New York City, and Baltimore.

Cumulus Media Re-Brands Westwood One Podcast Network. Effective May 6, the Westwood One Podcast Network becomes the CUMULUS PODCAST NETWORK. Cumulus says the move “consolidates the Company’s national and local podcasts into one entity, capturing the full breadth and diversity of the portfolio and providing advertisers with a comprehensive offering of podcasts, in addition to streaming, mobile, social and display.” Suzanne Grimes, executive vice president corporate marketing and president, Westwood One, will retain responsibility for the Company’s podcast sales network. She says, “Placing our podcasts under the Cumulus umbrella allows us to offer our advertising partners easy access to the company’s full arsenal of digital products. This exciting expansion takes our fast-growing podcast network to the next level, as well as simplifies the buying process for agencies and brands, allowing our partners to seamlessly tap into the full power of our premium on-demand audio content.”

Nielsen: March PPM Data Reveals Big Audience Gains. According to data from Nielsen Audio’s March 2021 PPM survey radio has achieved significant gains in radio listening across the aggregate of markets, to the tune of an 8% increase month-over-month in total AQH audience. This marks the largest single-month increase in average audience since June of last year. These gains were driven by increases in both weekly reach (adding nearly 4 million consumers in March – a 3% increase versus February) as well as time spent listening (gaining by over 20 minutes – on average –a 5% increase compared with last month). Nielsen adds that the year-over-year comparison between the March 2020 and March 2021 PPM stands at a 96 index for weekly reach and a 93 index for AQH. This means that from a weekly reach perspective, the radio audience in March 2021 is 96% the size of the same month from one year ago, while for AQH the number is 93%. This uptick in radio usage mirrors the positive changes in consumer sentiment and habits observed during Nielsen’s latest radio consumer study conducted during the March survey. Six in 10 Americans are now ‘ready to go’ and feeling life is becoming more normal in their city or town. Those working outside the home have increased nearly 70% since last April, while consumers spending more than an hour each day in a vehicle has more than doubled in that time. Heavy radio listeners, because they are more mobile and ‘ready to go’, are also more likely to engage in top activities including shopping for groceries, driving longer distances, ordering take-out, and getting together in-person with friends and family, particularly among those who are vaccinated.

Gene “Bean” Baxter Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Former KROQ, Los Angeles radio superstar Gene Baxter is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Known to his legion of fans by the nickname, “Bean,” he co-hosted (with Kevin Ryder) a wildly popular morning show called “Kevin & Bean” that ran on the legendary alt rock station for three decades and landed both performers in the Radio Hall of Fame. Then he announced his retirement from the show and moved to England (where he was born and raised as a young child) to get away from the pressures of the LA radio industry and his openly expressed distaste for the tone and direction of American politics. At present, now back in Great Britain, he co-hosts a show on Podcast Radio in London with another former KROQ broadcaster from his Kevin & Bean days – Allie Mac Kay – titled, “A Cup of Tea and a Chat with Allie & Bean.” Harrison and Bean take a deep dive into the worlds of the radio industry’s quirky culture and the increasingly harsh politics of modern times. Radio enthusiasts should not 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.

Chauvin Verdict Aftermath/Ohio Police Shooting, COVID-19, Biden’s Climate Summit, Florida’s ‘Anti-Riot’ Law, Border Crisis/Immigration Reform, and Putin Threatens West Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/21). The aftermath of the Derek Chauvin verdict and the case of the fatal shooting of knife-wielding teen Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio; the disparate rate of COVID-19 cases in various U.S. states, the rollout of vaccines, and the exploding cases in India; President Joe Biden’s climate summit and commitment to halving U.S. greenhouse emissions by 2030; the controversy surrounding Florida’s new “anti-riot” law that allows motorists to hit people blocking public roads; the migrant crush at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; and Vladimir Putin’s vague threat against the West were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

| April 21, 2021

Round Two of March PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s March 2021 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 March 2021 survey period covered March 4 – 31. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets and he reports that in the Washington, DC market Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM loses 2.1 shares from the February to March surveys and finishes with a 3.9 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) dropping from the #4 rank to #9, while Hubbard Radio’s crosstown all-news WTOP-FM remains ranked #2, although it shed nine-tenths for a 9.0 share finish. In Boston, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO stays in the #8 rank while posting a 4.4 share, a decline of eight-tenths while sister all-news WBZ-AM slips 1.1 shares to a 6.4 share and slides from the #1 rank to #4. Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle remains ranked #1 even though it lost nine-tenths and wrapped the survey with a 6.4 share. And Sinclair Broadcast Group’s all-news KOMO-AM/FM, Seattle lost just two-tenths and stayed in the #5 spot with a 5.0 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways report for this group of markets (and yesterday’s group of 12) here.

Tweet by KFAB, Omaha Talk Host Chris Baker Draws Criticism; Station ‘Reviewing it Internally.’ According to a story published by the Omaha World-Herald, KFAB-AM afternoon drive talk host Chris Baker is being criticized for posting an image of a small group of Black natives in loincloths and brandishing spears with the caption, “Guilty!” immediately following the verdict against Derek Chauvin. Although the tweet was removed, it was screen captured and iHeartMedia management was made aware of it. iHeartMedia area president C. Taylor Walet III, told the paper the situation is under review by the company. He stated, “We are aware of the completely inappropriate tweet that was posted late Tuesday afternoon. Please know that this does not represent our viewpoint or our values. We take this situation very seriously and are reviewing it internally in order to take appropriate action.”

Markley, Van Camp & Robbins Approach 100 Affiliate Stations Threshold. The Compass Media Networks-syndicated “Markley, Van Camp & Robbins” talk radio program is rapidly approaching the 100-affiliate station mark after adding some two dozen new affiliates including 17 live clears. The program – co-hosted by Jamie Markley, David Van Camp, and Scott Robbins – was recently added to stations in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot at stations such as: WLAD-AM, Danbury, Connecticut; KPNW-AM, Eugene, Oregon; KJNO-AM, Juneau, Alaska; KMED-AM, Medford, Oregon; WMBD-AM, Peoria, Illinois; WSGW-AM/FM, Saginaw, Michigan; and more. WSGW-AM/FM operations manager Dave Maurer comments, “The live ‘Markley, Van Camp and Robbins’ show is making a positive contribution to the programming of 100.5 & 790 Newsradio WSGW! The guys get on the hot topics of the day, but they also know when to take the off ramp and add some entertaining elements to the show. I’m confident they are bringing us a broader audience including younger listeners and more women.” Alpha Media EVP of content Phil Becker adds, “‘Markley, van Camp and Robbins’ have achieved the perfect blend of chemistry and humor. This is the show news/talk stations have been looking for.”

WFAS-AM to Broadcast with All-Digital Signal. White Plains, New York talk station WFAS-AM receives permission from the FCC to broadcasting its signal in a digital format and eliminate the analog broadcast format. The Cumulus Media station posted the following on its website: “In October 2020, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a new rule allowing AM radio stations to operate using all-digital broadcast signals. 1230 WFAS-AM, licensed to White Plains, New York, has notified the FCC of its intention to switch from its current analog operation to all digital beginning on May 24th, 2021. Once WFAS has switched to an all-digital operation, only radios equipped with HD radio technology will be able to receive and play the station programming. WFAS will no longer be available on analog-only AM radios. Broadcasting in digital will eliminate annoying static and interference, improve the sound quality to equal FM radio and streaming and extend the range for clear reception.”

Political Voices Network and Counterpoint Partner to Provide Multi-Platform Home for Political Humor. A new partnership between Political Voices Network – an audio-and-video destination for political talk from popular hosts such as Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmannand Counterpoint – a source for the latest political humor from top opinion cartoonists such as Pulitzer recipients Nick Anderson, Darrin Bell, Michael Ramirez as well as the Washington Post’s Michael de Adder – are joining forces to provide news junkies a twice-weekly side order of cartoon humor alongside their political-talk diets. Cartoons will be presented every Tuesday and Thursday with text-based commentary from the artists. New York- and Los Angeles-based Crossover Media Group Sales handles advertising and sponsorship sales for Political Voices Network. Political Voices Network co-founder Ron Hartenbaum says, “One of the most enduring and popular aspects of political opinion and commentary has been that great and especially American tradition of the political cartoon. The combined objective for Counterpoint and Political Voices Network is to expand both the audience for this top-flight creative content and fan sponsorship and support of this format. Thanks to this alliance we’ll be able to entertain fans with a service that blends seamlessly with our existing multiplatform offerings in a convenient destination for multi-format viewpoints on the day’s news.”

Three Award-Winning Content Creators Join New York Festivals Radio Awards Advisory Board. The New York Festivals Radio Awards announces the appointment of award-winning global storytellers Jennie Caltaldo, Helen Shaw, and Carole Zimmer to the Radio Awards Advisory Board. The 13-member Advisory Council provides NYF’s Radio Awards competition with ongoing knowledge of emerging trends and critical industry insights. Jennie Cataldo is an award-winning radio and podcast producer who serves as vice president of programming at BMP Audio in San Francisco. Helen Shaw is an award-winning producer/director who runs digital and broadcast storytelling agency Athena Media in Ireland. Carole Zimmer, reporter-at-large, is the host of the podcast “Now What?” about big life decisions, transitions and how you navigate all those curves in the road. The three also serve on the 2021 Radio Awards Grand Jury. This year is the eleventh year of NYF’s strategic partnership with NAB Show and all convention attendees will have access to the multi-day NAB event which is the world’s largest media entertainment marketplace and takes place in October 2021. The deadline to enter the 2021 Radio Awards competition is May 20. Find information about entering the competition here.

TALKERS News Notes. The Independent Broadcasters Association, Feeding America, and 375 radio stations partnered to hold the 2nd annual “Radio Cares – Feeding America Radiothon” on April 14 that raised $40,000 to provide 400,000 meals for individuals and families facing hunger in America. IBA president and Adams Radio Group CEO Ron Stone comments, “Hunger in America escalated because of the pandemic and there are families still struggling to put food on the table. I’m very proud of the stations that participated again. The work that Benztown, McVay Media, and Vipology put into this effort is unmatched – they truly define the word volunteerism!”…..The impactful mentoring message of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America will be highlighted on more than 850 live broadcast radio stations as the result of  a new partnership between the organization and iHeartMedia. iHM selected BBBSA for its Communities Spotlight Media Grant Program, the goal of which is to provide a platform for organizations to inspire, educate, and empower listeners to take a stand against systemic racism and promote social justice. Yesterday (4/20), a series of PSAs featuring voices of current youth (called “Littles”) began airing on iHeartRadio stations and the iHeartRadio app focusing on the need for Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors, and most especially Black men. The campaign runs through the end of the year…..The USA Radio Network-syndicated “Dan Sileo Radio Show” sports talk program is added to the lineup at KXEG-AM, Phoenix.

Delmarva Radio Personality Wayne Cannon Dies at 72. Longtime Salisbury-Ocean City, Maryland music radio personality and talk show host Wayne Cannon died on Monday (4/19) at the age of 72 after a battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis. After a stint in the Army, Cannon got his start in the early 70s at WETT-Ocean City, Maryland. He moved to WWTR, Bethany Beach, Delaware, then WSEA-AM, Georgetown, Delaware before returning to WETT. He joined WGMD, Rehoboth Beach in 1993 and served there for 20 years but continued to make contributions for another seven years.

Chauvin Guilty Verdict, COVID-19, Border Crisis/Immigration Policy, and EU Climate Deal/U.S. Climate Summit Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/20). The guilty verdict against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the exploding rate of COVID cases in several countries and the rollout of vaccines in the U.S.; Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s deploying of National Guard troops to the Mexican border to respond to the migrant crisis and the Joe Biden administration’s immigration policy; and the EU agrees to a climate deal ahead of Biden’s Thursday climate summit that will include China’s Xi Jinping were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Michael Harrison Pens Lyrics to Animal Welfare Anthem – Appears on New Gunhill Road Album and Video. TALKERS founder Michael Harrison has been an outspoken supporter of the animal welfare movement for most of his adult life. Now he has the opportunity to express his views on the subject through his lyrics and performance of a song titled, “I Know You’re Real,” on the latest album by the historic group, Gunhill Road, that has roots going back to the golden age of album rock. The album is titled, What Year Is This! and it was produced by the band with remote technology during the pandemic year of 2020. In the process, Harrison has become an official member as a vocalist and songwriter of the long-lived band that has been in existence since 1969. Harrison tells TALKERS, “I go all the way back to 1971 with this great NYC-based ensemble when I played them every day on my morning show on WNEW-FM. They had two albums in that era that received critical praise and lots of airplay on FM album rock stations. They also had a hit single on top 40 radio – ‘Back When My Hair Was Short’ – in the early 70s. They had the reputation in those days as being the ‘best opening act’ in the NYC album rock club scene and appeared on the bill with some of the biggest names in music at such historic venues as the Bitter End.” Since then, the members of the group kept its spirit (and fan base) alive by continuing to record, release new material and play occasional concerts. Their longevity was the subject of a documentary feature film about the group that made a splash on the film festival circuit and was carried on Amazon Prime. Although the founding members eventually went in different directions (and successful careers) in their private lives, they kept the spirit of Gunhill Road alive through the decades by remaining very close friends and appearing sporadically at special events and charity concerts. The lyrics of the song “I Know You’re Real,” written by Harrison and performed by him in a spoken-word presentation on the new album and video, take an emotionally uplifting view of the connection between humans, animals, and the entire universe. There are two versions of the song on the album and video. The other features band member Brian Koonin singing the lyrics. Both versions have been posted to YouTube. The version spoken by Harrison can be viewed below

Harrison says, “The song is a spiritually uplifting tribute to animal welfare… which has long been one of my main interests and guiding themes of my life. If you have love and respect for all of Earth’s sentient creatures, please take a look and listen to the song and share the link with friends who might enjoy and appreciate them as well.” Harrison is available to appear as a guest on talk media shows to discuss the subject of animal welfare (not to be confused with animal rights) as well as what it was like to record with a band via Zoom during the pandemic. To book Michael Harrison on a talk show please call Barbara Kurland at TALKERS, 413-565-5413. To read a feature story about Gunhill Road and this experience written by Harrison, please click here.

Monday, July 22, 2019

| July 22, 2019

Cumulus Makes $50 Million Debt Prepayment. This latest debt payment by Cumulus Media is in the amount of $50 million and was funded by the net proceeds from the previously announced sale of KLOS-FM, Los Angeles to Meruelo Media that closed last week (7/17), plus cash on hand.  Cumulus says, “With this prepayment, the Company has reduced its debt by approximately $250 million since emerging from Chapter 11 on June 4, 2018, bringing the Company’s total debt to approximately $1.05 billion.”

Monday Memo: Say What? Part Deux. Consultant Holland Cooke writes in this week’s Monday Memo about things you and your on-air talent should never say on the radio.  From expressions that are dated to common English-language snafus, HC lists some of the most-often-heard mistakes that broadcasters should never make.  See his column here.

WIBC-FM, Indianapolis Adds Another Hour to ‘Hammer and Nigel’ Show.  The Indianapolis Business Journal published a big piece on WIBC-FM, Indianapolis’s afternoon drive program, “Hammer and Nigel,” hosted by Jason Hammer and Nigel Laskowski revealing the Emmis Communications news/talk station is adding the 3:00 pm hour to the show’s current 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm air time.  The reason for adding the hour is the show’s outstanding success has created such a demand for local advertising that the station wants more inventory.  Quoted in the piece is Kristine Warski, a media director for the local ad agency MKR, who says, “‘The Hammer and Nigel Show’ is a bit different from your traditional news/talk show.  They’ve fused news and entertainment and, by doing so, are attracting a younger audience than news-talk has traditionally.”  See the IBJ piece here.

The New Yorker Piece Looks at Allegations by KABC’s Leeann Tweeden The Brought Down Al Franken. A lengthy story by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker takes an in-depth look at the case of former U.S. Senator — and one-time Air America talk radio host — Al Franken, who resigned his senate seat after a photo showing him pretending to grab the breasts of KABC-AM, Los Angeles talk host Leeann Tweeden appeared in the media.  Now, more than 18 months after Franken left the senate, he’s interviewed for the story that addresses due process, the #MeToo movement, and whether Franken should have resigned at all.  (Spoiler alert: Franken regrets resigning his position.)  See the story here.

Is Talk Radio Responsible for the Tone of Today’s National Conversation?  Former longtime talk radio host Tom Becka (KMBZ and KCMO, Kansas City; KFAB and KOIL, Omaha) expresses his feelings about his responsibility as part of the talk radio industry for the polarized state of public discourse in America.  Becka, in an op-ed on KPTM-TV, Omaha “FOX 42,” says, “ I don’t think I personally contributed to what is going on, but I worked for stations with syndicated shows that did – shows that stoked fears about Muslims, stoked fears about minorities, shows that stoked fears about liberals and others that were different than them.”  See his entire commentary here.

Talkers 2019: Telling the Story Videos Continue Posting Today with the Presentation of the Freedom of Speech Award to Brian Kilmeade.  TALKERS is continuing to post key speeches, presentations and sessions from the recent 22nd annual edition of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most-important national convention – Talkers 2019: Telling the Story.  Today’s (7/22) post features the presentation of the TALKERS Freedom of Speech award to Brian Kilmeade of Fox News Radio/Fox News Channel.  Posted Friday (7/19): discussion “Attracting Younger Demos to Talk Radio” featuring panelists (in alphabetical order) Mike “Bax” Baxendale, morning co-host, WAQY (Rock 102), Springfield, MA; Greg Foster, VP/programming and national news/talk brand coordinator, iHeart Media/PD, KOA, Denver; John T. Mullen, operations manager, WRHU, Hofstra UniversitySid Rosenberg, morning co-host, WABC, New York; and Rich Zeoli, host, WPHT, Philadelphia. The session is moderated by Kevin Casey, VP/executive editor, TALKERS.   Already posted: discussion “Talk Radio in the Era of Watch What You Say” featuring panelists (in alphabetical order) Michael Berry, host, Michael Berry Show; Grace Blazer, national brand coordinator of news/talk/sports programming and director of AM programming Miami/Fort Lauderdale, iHeart Media;  Karen Hunter, host SiriusXM Satellite RadioBrett Winterble, host KFMB, San Diego; Larry Young, host, WOLB, Baltimore; and Dan Yorke, host WPRO, Providence.  Also already posted: WPG, Atlantic City morning personality Harry Hurley saluting the Broadcasters Foundation of America and Vince Benedetto, CEO of Bold Gold Media Group receiving the Sharon L. Harrison Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Service by a Talk Radio Broadcaster (“Humanitarian of the Year”); a special luncheon address by former Trump Administration advisor Sebastian Gorka, now a personality syndicated by Salem Radio Network; panel discussion “Adding the Video Component to Talk Radio” featuring Howie Carr, host of the Howie Carr Show (Howie Carr Radio Network and Newsmax TV), Jared Hart, former PD, WPHT, Philadelphia, and  Art Vuolo, president, Vuolo Video.  The session was introduced and facilitated by Scott Lakefield, APD, WOR, New York.  Also already posted: special keynote address delivered by CBS Sports Radio syndicated host Jim Rome with an introduction from Yappy Days author/college professor Bernadette Duncan; the panel discussion, “Generating Talk Radio Revenue in 2019” featuring (in alphabetical order) Asa Andrew, host, AsaRx;  Vince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media Group;  Suzanne Grimes, EVP/marketing, Cumulus Media and president, Westwood One; and Dave Robinett, chief marketing officer, #250-America’s Mobile Speed Dial – moderated by Erica Farber, president and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) and introduced by renown independent station owner Michael Zwerling of KSCO/KOMY, Santa Cruz, CA; the special keynote address by Key Networks syndicated personality Bill O’Reilly; the one-on-one discussion, “Sports Talk Radio’s Role in Popular Culture” featuring a conversation between Mark Chernoff, senior VP/programming WFAN/Entercom, NY and captain/sports format, CBS Sports Radio and Mike Thomas, PD, WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub,” Boston and brand manager/spoken word, podcasts, esports, Beasley Broadcasting with  Kate Delaney, host, GCN and correspondent NBC Sports Radio, serving as facilitator; the panel discussion, “Broadcasting and Podcasting,” featuring (in alphabetical order) Greg Batusic, chief operating officer, PodcastOneSteven Goldstein, founder/CEO Amplifi MediaMichael Czarnecki, program director, WONK-FM, Washington, DC and iHeartRadio Podcast Channel; and Craig Schwalb, former program director WABC, New York and WPRO, Providence with moderation by Mike Kinosian, managing editor/West Coast bureau chief, TALKERS; the keynote “fireside chat” in which TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison interviews Premiere Networks/Fox News Channel star Sean Hannity in a casual one-on-one conversation introduced by DC Radio Company executive director Victoria Jones; the opening address titled, “Telling the Story,” delivered by Lee Habeeb, host and producer of the successful syndicated program, “Our American Stories;” RAB president/CEO Erica Farber receiving the Woman of the Year award and SiriusXM Satellite Radio star “Cousin” Bruce Morrow receiving the Lifetime Achievement award. The convention took place in New York City on Friday, June 7 and was one of the most positively received in the event’s colorful history.  TALKERS plans to add one or two videos per day to those posted until all the major events of the conference are posted here at Talkers.com where they will remain on view for the rest of the year.  To see the videos and convention video page, please click here.

Siegel: Talk Radio Can Impact Regime Change in Iran.  Nationally syndicated talk radio host Mike Siegel writes in a piece today about the efforts to foment regime change in Iran and what role talk radio hosts in America can play in helping achieve that goal.  Siegel says, “Now there is a real and tangible option being offered as a new government in Iran by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).  Led by Madame Maryam Rajavi, this organization has grown in stature and respect over the years and has offered an option of peaceful government living as a civilized neighbor to other countries in the Middle East.”  Read Siegel’s piece here.

WABC’s John Batchelor Broadcasts from Tokyo This Week.  WABC, New York’s late-night John Batchelor show is broadcasting live from the center of Tokyo all this week (7/22-26).  The broadcast is being sponsored by global digital technology company Scala Inc. in conjunction with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  All week long, Batchelor will travel widely to meet with and interview leaders from across Japanese culture, including: the Nippon Professional Baseball Association; the Japanese Space Agency’s Hayabusa2 asteroid probe program; the celebrated Cherry Association maintaining the pantheon of Japanese cherry trees; Toyota’s Autonomous Vehicle development; and the Central Japan Railway’s MAGLEV project.  Also scheduled to appear on the show is Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kano.

TALKERS News Notes. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports Saga Communications’ news/talk WHMP, Northampton, Massachusetts has named its studio the Barbara J. Kuschka WHMP studio in honor of station traffic manager Barbara Kuschka, who recently celebrated 50 years of service to the radio station.  The article says, “Since she began work in 1969, Kuschka has been a behind-the-scenes figure, who one person described as the glue that holds the station together in her work as traffic manager.”…..Entercom Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Athletics announce they’ve signed a new, multi-year extension of their broadcasting partnership.  As part of the deal, sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” will serve as flagship station for Panthers football and men’s basketball. Sister stations news/talk KDKA-AM “News Radio 1020,” hot AC WBZZ “100.7 Star,” and country WDSY “Y108” will provide coverage and promotional support.

Mueller Testimony, New Trump Impeachment Talk, 2020 Presidential Race, Iran Alleges CIA Arrests, Immigration Reform/Border Wall, and Summer Heatwave Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  This week’s testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller; House Judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler’s “high crimes and misdemeanors” charge against Trump; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; Iran’s claims it has arrested 17 CIA spies; the Trump Administration’s immigration reform efforts and the border wall status; and the weekend’s hot weather in much of the country 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. Programming pro Josh Wolff is named program director for iHeartMedia’s CHR WAEB “B104” and rock WZZO in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  This is an internal move for Wolff, who was most recently marketing director and APD at the company’s Phoenix station group for adult contemporary KKEZ and adult hits KYOT “95.5 The Mountain.”  Wolff takes over for Derrick Cole, who accepted a role with the company’s National Programming Group as contemporary hit radio program director…..At non-commercial triple A WYMS, Milwaukee “88Nine Radio Milwaukee,” morning personality Dori Zori is named assistant program director. WYMS PD Jordan Lee comments, “Dori’s 20-plus years in non-commercial radio make her the perfect fit for the role.  Dori will also lead some new and exciting programming plans that are in the works at ‘Radio Milwaukee.’”

Monday, March 11, 2019

| March 11, 2019

Monday Memo: Infinite Dial 2019. Consultant Holland Cooke writes in this week’s Monday Memo that if you missed the Edison Research/Triton Digital “Infinite Dial 2019” webinar last week, it’s well worth an hour to watch the video and flip through the slides.  If you’re thinking “an HOUR?” you may FIND an hour after reading his short version in this week’s column that you can read here.

FNC’s Tucker Carlson Unapologetic for Bubba the Love Sponge Appearances. Conservative media figure and FOX News Channel talk show host Tucker Carlson is not apologizing for comments made during his appearances on the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show between 2006 and 2011.  Variety reports that liberal media watchdog organization Media Matters for America dug up some recordings of Carlson – a regular guest on the show during that period – that include him making a “pejorative statement about Arianna Huffington, Britney Spears and Alexis Stewart, Martha Stewart’s daughter,” as well as downplaying the actions of “Warren Jeffs, the religious leader who had been placed on the FBI’s most-wanted fugitive list on charges he had arranged marriages between his adult male followers and underage girls.”  Last night, Carlson issued the following statement, “Media Matters caught me saying something naughty on a radio show more than a decade ago.  Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch.  Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”

‘Our American Stories’ Adds New Affiliates in Denver and Omaha. The nationally syndicated “Our American Stories” program from Lee Habeeb’s American Private Radio adds iHeartMedia’s KOA, Denver and KFAB, Omaha to its roster of affiliates.  The two-hour, daily magazine-style radio drama is also now being heard on Ashley Communications’ KVEL AM, Vernal, Utah; Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM, Saginaw, Michigan; and Tri-County Broadcastings’ WLVA FM, Lynchburg, Virginia.  Habeeb says he is humbled by the continued success of his non-political program that focuses on “what brings America together,” and adds “these partnerships confirm Americans do love well-produced radio programs that entertain and inform.”

John Batchelor Show Broadcasts from Azerbaijan This Week. The WABC, New York-based and Westwood One nationally syndicated John Batchelor show will broadcast live from the Republic of Azerbaijan this week (3/11-15) in conjunction with the Embassy of Azerbaijan and sponsored by multimedia software firm Scala Inc.  Batchelor is joined by colleagues Christopher Nixon Cox and Monica Crowley “traveling the old Silk Road of Marco Polo to the new Silk Road of energy, on the shore of the vast Caspian Sea Basin in the South Caucasus.” Batchelor says, “From Baku, the sparkling growing capital of Azerbaijan, I will head north to the Russian border at Dagestan.  This is the mountain pass route of the ancient Silk Road.  There is much to learn about how the region will prosper as the Silk Road is reawakened with highways, railroad beds and communication networks that link the savvy manufacturers of East Asia to the rich consumer markets of Asia Minor, Russia, and the European Union.  Returning to Baku, I will venture to the critical oil and gas hub at Sangechal, from where energy resources are sent through Georgia to Turkey and the Mediterranean Basin — and soon via the Southern Gas Corridor to Europe.  Importantly, I will be able to interview many private and public voices about the economic development of Azerbaijan and also the region.”

iHeartRadio’s ‘Bear and a Banjo’ Podcast Produced by Legendary Talent. A new, musical podcast will launch later this year on iHeartMedia’s iHeartRadio platform called “Bear and a Banjo.” iHM calls it a first-of-its-kind. It’s created by Jingle Jared, Dennis Quaid, and five-time Grammy winner Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd (“Despacito,” “Where Are You Now,” “I’m the One” and “Peaches and Cream”) with musical contributions from producer T Bone Burnett (“O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “Crazy Heart”) and original lyrical contribution from Bob Dylan.  Each episode of the eight-part series will tell a self-contained story about a character called Mister Bear.  Bear is a traveling musician who visits different towns across America and impacts people’s lives before vanishing again.  He is often preceded into town by J. Banjo, a charming huckster/card player/preacher/medicine salesman who acts as Bear’s promoter and hype man.  Quaid says, “This is the beginning of an entirely new era of podcasts. With ‘Bear and a Banjo,’ we are delving into a more sophisticated form of storytelling that brings the audience into a lush and rich world – not just through words, but music.”

Josh Rahmani Named SVP National and Network Sales for Radio One and Reach Media. Sales pro Josh Rahmani is promoted from his vice president, national sales for Radio One post to SVP, national and network sales for Radio One and Reach Media.   Company CEO David Kantor says, “Josh has led our national radio team for several years.  He was instrumental in developing and implementing our corporate sales and partnership effort.  Based on this success it made great sense to put our network team under his direction.  All our national sales efforts are now under his direction.  Josh’s commitment and passion for what we do at Radio One has been exhibited over the years, consistently delivering leadership throughout the company and maintaining great relationships with our partners in advertising and sponsorship.”  Rahmani has served with Radio One since 2005.

TALKERS News Notes. According to a report from Chicago media maven Robert Feder, WLS-AM, Chicago news reporter Jennifer Keiper resigns from the station where she’s been afternoon news anchor.  The station expects to announce the new afternoon anchor soon.  Meanwhile, Feder reports Keiper commenting, “WLS-AM has treated me well over the last four and a half years, but I felt I had done all I could do there and that it was time for a change.  I have left on very friendly terms and look forward to my next challenge.”…..The independently syndicated “Free Talk Live” show featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge adds new affiliate stations.  Freeman notes that in some instances his libertarian-minded show has taken over the dayparts formerly held by progressive talker Norman Goldman, who recently wrapped production of his program.  New affiliates for “Free Talk Live” include KBBR-AM, North Bend, Oregon. The program has also moved to air live on KABQ-AM, Albuquerque from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm…..CRN Digital Talk Radio adds “Feed Your Face with Merrill Shindler” to its network roster, effective today (3/11). CRN president and CEO Michael Horn says, “Merrill Shindler is the best culinary and travel expert in the country.  Merrill has been a guest on many of our programs and we are delighted to produce his show for national consumption.”

CORRECTION: Ronn Owens Report Continues on KGO.  The March 7 report in TALKERS about the new program schedule at Cumulus Media‘s KGO, San Francisco stated the longtime KGO personality Ronn Owens was gone from the program schedule.  That is incorrect and the 10-minute “Ronn Owens Report” continues to be heard three times daily as part of the revised programming schedule on KGO.  TALKERS regrets the error.

TalkersRadio in the Community.  Los Angeles media figure, community organizer and TalkersRadio personality Meg McDonald (r) – who was recently elected president of the Studio City Beautification Association – is pictured with California State Assembly member Adrin Nazarian (D) at the Studio City Residents Association appreciation dinner at Carla’s Café on the CBS Studio Center lot in Studio City on Saturday evening (3/9).  The appreciation dinner is an annual event to say thank you to SCRA volunteers, vendors, local businesses and officials who help enhance the quality of life in Studio City.   Nazarian represents the 46th Assembly District which encompasses the central-southern San Fernando Valley.  To listen to McDonald’s short-form feature “MEG!” please click here.  MEG! is now available for terrestrial radio clearances.  Interested stations can call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

U.S.-Mexico Border Wall, Trump-Russia Investigation, Democrats’ Omar Problem, 2020 Democratic Hopefuls/Socialism Debate, Ballooning U.S. Budget Deficit, Venezuela Blackout, Jaguar Attacks Selfie-Taker, Ethiopian Airlines Crash, and NBA/NCAA Hoops Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The state of illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border and President Trump’s budget request for $8.6 billion for a border wall; the status of the investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; the anti-Semitism accusations leveled against Rep. Ilhan Omar; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020 and the internal battle between younger, more socialist-leaning Democrats and the older ones; the report of the U.S. budget deficit rising 77% in the past year; Caracas, Venezuela deals with blackouts amidst Nicolas Maduro’s claim the U.S. sabotaged the substation; a zoo-goer in Phoenix is attacked by a jaguar after she jumped the boundary to take a selfie; the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash and the mass grounding of new Boeing 737 Max 8 airplanes; and NBA and NCAA basketball 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. Tampa market on-air pro Nick Van Cleve is retiring from Cox Media Group’s classic hits WXGL “107.3 The Eagle” at the end of this month.  In addition to his 15-year gig with WXGL, he’s also served with WXTB-FM, WYNF-FM and WFUS-FM in the Tampa market.  He tells the Tampa Bay Time retirement is “a logical stepping off point for me and my wife. We want to spend time in North Carolina and do some traveling.  I did some backpacking in Europe and got the travel bug.  And I’ve grown weary of getting up at 4:30 am.”…..Alpha Media adds programming responsibilities for rhythmic CHR KTFM, San Antonio “Energy 94.1” to national director/digital content Ernie Martinez’s role with the company.  Alpha VP of content Phil Becker states, “Working alongside Ernie in our corporate roles, I have witnessed time and time again his prowess as a programmer.  His desire to infuse both his digital expertise and proven track record as a programmer is exactly what KTFM needs.”…..Afternoon personality Rick Daniels is leaving Cumulus Media’s country KIZN, Boise after almost three years for a new, yet-to-be-announced position in a market closer to his children…..Emmis Communications flips triple A KGSR-FM, Austin to adult contemporary “Star 93.3.”   The signal had been a simulcast of the “Austin City Limits Radio” format that continues to air on the KGSR-HD2 and K246BD signals…..This morning, country artist Maren Morris dropped by the studios of the nationally syndicated Ty Bentli Show in Nashville to talk about the release of her highly anticipated sophomore album, GIRL.  Pictured below are (from l-r): TJ, Morris, and Bentli.