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Monday Memo: Humans’ Hubris. With “data now undeniable” about two super-human threats, media continue sending mixed messages instead of what consultant Holland Cooke calls “survival information.” And in this week’s column, he blames corporate cost cuts for confusion broadcasters are causing, and suggests how stations can “earn a reputation, get quoted, drive clicks, and sell sponsorships.” Read it here.
Pending Business: Inspect What You Expect. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa says that to “inspect what you expect” is “still one of the foundations of sales, sales management, and beyond. How about in your personal sales work? Do you inspect what you expect of yourself?” In today’s column, Lapa shares a quick study guide in how the “better-change-more” system works. Read it here.
Round Three of November PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s November 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 November 2021 sweep covered October 14 – November 10. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Rating Takeaways from this group of markets. In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM soars to the #2 rank after climbing 1.6 share for a 7.1 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) finish while iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talk KEX is flat at a 3.1 share but falls to the #16 rank. Radio One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte is up six-tenths for a 4.5 share finish and climbs to the #8 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK-AM/FM, Sacramento continues in the #1 rank after tacking on five-tenths for a 9.1 share finish. In Salt Lake City, Bonneville’s news/talk KSL-AM/FM remains in the #1 spot even though it shed 2.4 shares for a 7.5 share finish while iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talk KNRS-AM/FM added four-tenths for a 7.2 share good for the #2 rank. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets (as well as the first two rounds) here.
Amy Crossman to Lead ESPN Cleveland. Sales and management pro Amy Crossman is promoted to market manager for Good Karma Brands’ ESPN Cleveland, taking over for Sam Pines who rises to SVP within the organization. Crossman most recently served as director of sales & marketing. In this new role, Crossman will oversee all content, marketing, and sales strategy for ESPN Cleveland and The Land on Demand. She says, “I appreciate the trust Sam Pines and the Good Karma Brands’ leadership team has put in me to lead and continue to grow a legacy brand. ESPN Cleveland has a passionate fanbase, loyal advertising partners and a dedicated team that we will continue to build in 2021 and beyond.” Pines says, “Amy embodies Good Karm Brands’ core values and takes a marketing first approach for our fans, advertising partners and teammates. She directly impacted our growth during a difficult and unique two years. I am excited for the future of ESPN Cleveland and our continued growth with Amy as Market Manager.”
Third Annual Podcast Super Listener Study Results to Be Revealed. On December 15, the results of the third annual Super Listeners study will be revealed during a webinar from Edison Research, iHeartMedia and Ad Results Media. The press release states that “Super Listeners” listen to five or more hours of podcasts weekly and are the people most likely to hear podcasting ads, and to have an opinion about them. Attendees will get an exclusive look at those who spend the most time listening to podcasts, their attitudes towards podcast advertising, and how they view podcasting in the greater media landscape. This year’s in-depth analysis of podcast super listeners further explores the perceptions of podcast advertising with specific insights on how super listeners feel about the number of ads in podcasts and the length of ad breaks; attitudes about host-read ads versus pre-recorded ads versus sponsorships; how podcast advertising affects intent to purchase and other brand fit measures; and ad-skipping behavior. You can register for the webinar here.
NuVoodoo: Omicron Raises Concern About COVID. According to the results of a recent NuVoodoo Media Services Quick Turn Study on Americans’ initial perceptions of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19, among people 18-64, 65% report being at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19, with nearly 1 in 5 who also report having had a booster shot. Of those surveyed who are either undecided, intend to get jabbed but haven’t yet done so, or who have no plans to get the shot, more than one-third of the study sample are still not vaccinated. Geographically, NuVoodoo found that respondents from the U.S. Midwest and South lag the rest of the country in total levels of inoculation but lead with better than 1 in 5 who do not intend to get vaccinated. NuVoodoo president Carolyn Gilbert comments, “The massive Omicron media coverage over the past few days has led to an overall increase in concern about COVID. It’s one-in-four in our sample overall, but increased concern among the vaccinated (29%) nearly doubles the concern among those who have not received their shot (17%). It may not seem intuitive based on the regional breakouts shown earlier, but increased concern since news of Omicron broke is most pronounced in the less-vaccinated South (28%), eclipsing concerns even in the highly vaccinated Northeastern U.S. (25%).” You can see more here.
COVID-19 Omicron Variant, CNN Fires Chris Cuomo, SCOTUS Abortion Arguments, Michigan School Shooting Case, January 6 Investigation, Chinese Military Aggression, Russia-Ukraine Concerns, and Bob Dole Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the new Omicron variant; CNN fires Chris Cuomo as it investigates his role in protecting his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments in the challenge to Mississippi’s 2018 restrictive abortion law; the twists and turns in the deadly Michigan school shooting; the House investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and witnesses pleading “the Fifth”; China’s ongoing military build-up and aggression toward Taiwan; the concern over reports of Russian troops amassing at the Ukraine border; and former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole dies at 98 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Dan Bongino Returns to Westwood One Show. Nationally syndicated talk host Dan Bongino returned to his Westwood One radio program after missing the last seven shows due to his standoff with employer Cumulus Media over the company’s vaccine mandate. The Washington Examiner reports that Bongino said he chose to return to his show at the last minute and that required a few concessions on his part, but he told his listeners, “We’re at a stalemate here. We basically have guns to each other’s heads. We’ve been negotiating this for a long time.” In a Twitter post on Wednesday (11/3), Bongino addressed rumors that this is a ploy to get out of his contract – he says it’s not, he could leave any time if he wanted – and chastised other hosts who he says are using this issue to try to get their shows on the radio stations he’s currently on. Bongino is vaccinated and says he’s doing this to protect the rights of his fellow employees.
Cumulus Q3 Net Revenue Climbs 21%. Reporting its financial data from the third quarter of 2021, Cumulus Media says net revenue was $238 million, an increase of 21% over the same period in 2020. The company posted net income of $27.5 million in Q3 of 2021 compared to the net loss of $15.8 million it reported in the third quarter of 2020. Breaking the company’s revenue down by category, spot revenue was $122 million for the quarter – up 12.2% over the same period a year ago – while network revenue was $63.8 million, an increase of 21% over the third quarter of 2020. Digital revenue was $33.3 million, an increase of 67% over the $19.9 million figure reported in Q3 of 2020. Cumulus president and CEO Mary G. Berner says, “Our third quarter results exceeded expectations across the board, despite the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. This performance is yet another strong example of the continuing success of our evolution from a one-dimensional radio company to a multi-dimensional, audio-first media company. We see significant and continued upside potential and multiple drivers of shareholder value, which include additional radio market recovery, several fast-growing digital business lines, attractive free cash flow conversion, a strong balance sheet and liquidity profile, and substantial optionality regarding future capital allocation.”
Urban One Third Quarter Net Revenue Up 21.3%. The 2021 third quarter financial report for Urban One, Inc. reveals the company’s net revenue for the period was approximately $111.5 million, an increase of 21.3% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $49.1 million, an increase of 11.2% from the same period in 2020. The company reports operating income of approximately $34.5 million during Q3 of this year compared to approximately $4 million for the same period in 2020. Net income was approximately $13.9 million compared to the net loss of approximately $12.8 million the company posted in Q3 of 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins, III says, “We had another very strong quarter, driven by double-digit advertising revenue growth in core radio, digital and cable TV. Our digital and national syndication businesses are benefiting from continued high demand from major advertisers for our audience on a national level, and our core radio business, excluding political, increased by approximately 35% year-over-year. Our diversified mix of assets has helped us rebound to Adjusted EBITDA levels that exceed those of 2019, and I now feel comfortable increasing full year guidance to in the $140 to $145 million range, up from the mid $130s. Our Richmond, Virginia, One Casino and Resort project was narrowly defeated in the city referendum on November 2, which was both unexpected and disappointing given the substantial economic benefits we believe the project would have brought to the city. We are considering our next steps and will continue to pursue similar opportunities.”
Saga Communications Third Quarter Net Revenue Rises 17.7%. Net operating revenue for Saga Communications in the third quarter of 2021 was $28.8 million, an increase of 17.7% over the $24.1 million reported during the same period a year ago. Station operating income was $8.5 million for the quarter compared to $6.1 million for the third quarter last year. Saga posted net income of $3.5 million compared to the net loss of $950,000 reported during Q3 of 2020. Saga paid a quarterly dividend of $0.16 per share on October 22, 2021 and reports that it has paid more than $73 million in dividends to shareholders since the first special dividend was paid in 2012. The company’s balance sheet reflects $62.2 million in cash on hand as of September 30, 2021 and $53.5 million as of November 1, 2021. Saga paid off the remaining balance of $10 million in bank debt on October 27, 2021.
Cox Media Group Names Chris Eagan VP of Audience and Operations. Radio programming pro Chris Eagan is promoted to VP of audience and operations for Cox Media Group. In this new role, Eagan will lead the overarching programming strategy, audience development, and multiplatform distribution for CMG Radio. He will also lead the CMG Digital Content team and partnerships to drive innovation for CMG Radio. Eagan was most recently senior director of operations for CMG Atlanta Radio. Eagan has served with CMG since he joined as program director for WEZN, Bridgeport, Connecticut in 2008. CMG SVP-Head of Radio Rob Babin says, “There is nothing we love more than being able to promote internal talent to fill crucial roles such as this one. Chris is an excellent leader who has demonstrated continued success in every role he has held at CMG. He has the unique ability to combine strategic vision, team alignment, and operational execution leading to successful outcomes. His experience partnering across CMG divisions and partners will be a tremendous asset to our team.”
Round Three of October PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s October 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 October 2021 sweep covered September 16 – October 13. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Charlotte, Radio One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM drops eight-tenths for a 3.9 share (6+, weekly AQH share) and falls to the #11 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK-AM/FM, Sacramento remains ranked #1 despite dipping 1.2 shares and finishing with an 8.6 share while sister news/talk KSTE falls two-tenths for a 3.2 share finish and the #13 rank. In Salt Lake City, Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM posts a 9.9 share on the strength of a 1.7 share gain and holds the #1 rank while iHeartMedia’s KNRS-AM/FM adds half a share for a 6.8 share finish and climbs to the #2 rank. And in Columbus, Tegna’s sports talk WBNS-FM rises two full shares to wrap the survey with a 10.1 share and grabs the #1 rank. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (as well as the two previous groups) here.
Mayor Glenn Jacobs – Former WWE Champion – is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, Glenn Jacobs is this week’s colorful guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Elected in 2018, he is a first-term Republican mayor and a conservative with libertarian leanings who has played an active role in the heated national debate over COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates. But there’s a lot more to his background than just politics, vaccines and masks, although masks are nothing new to him. Perhaps you know him by his alter ego… as a MASKED 7-foot tall, demonic WWE world heavyweight champion professional wrestler with scary supernatural powers named Kane. Don’t miss this! To listen to the entire podcast, please click here.
TALKERS News Notes. The 2022 NAB Show is scheduled for April 23–27 and the organization says this convention will feature “distinct destinations focused on three main pillars associated with the content lifecycle. Designated ‘Create,’ ‘Connect’ and ‘Capitalize,’ and situated throughout the North Hall, Central Hall and new West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, each area offers renewed opportunities for learning, discovery and engagement.” The “Create” section “will focus on content creation from pre-production to post, including the latest tools and advanced workflow options to elevate storytelling.” The “Connect” section “will be a destination to explore content distribution and delivery, from cloud computing to new media infrastructure,” and the “Capitalize” section “will feature next-generation technologies creating new revenue streams and fueling the content economy.” NAB global connections and events EVP and managing director Chris Brown says, “We are reimagining NAB Show to more closely mirror today’s media, entertainment and technology ecosystem in a way that is intuitive and makes it easier for attendees to navigate the event. We are also thrilled to offer new curated experience zones designed to spotlight innovation, stimulate meaningful networking, inspire new ways of thinking and provide premium education, insights and a focus on real-world implementation.”…..The nationally syndicated Todd Starnes radio program adds affiliate stations in three new markets to raise its affiliate total to 120 stations. Now airing the daily Todd Starnes program are: iHeartMedia’s WRVA, Richmond; Delmarva Educational’s WTOD, Toledo; and Pan American Broadcasting’s KDAZ, Albuquerque…..Cumulus Media and Imperative Entertainment dropped the new, 12-part podcast series, “The Agent,” about the remarkable true story of Jack Barsky, the longest-surviving known member of the KGB illegals program operated during the height of the Cold War. Barsky hid in plain sight in America for 10 years, all the while leading dual lives on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. On one fateful day, he was confronted with an impossible choice…..Audacy’s C13Originals announces the launch of the investigative documentary franchise, “Gone South.” Season one is set in a rural and corruption-plagued parish outside New Orleans and explores the unsolved murder of a crusading sex crimes prosecutor named Margaret Coon who was killed in 1987 while jogging with her dog through an exclusive subdivision in St. Tammany Parish. Thirty-four years later, the crime remains unsolved, but not forgotten…..NASCAR will crown four champions this weekend (11/5-7) at Phoenix Raceway and Motor Racing Network will be there. MRN will produce 14 hours of championship quality coverage, including play-by-play for four races over the weekend. MRN president Chris Schwartz says, “The Motor Racing Network team has produced 300-plus hours of content over the 10-month NASCAR season and it’s time to crown a champion. Our producers and on-air talent will get a well-earned break over the next few months before we begin preparations for the 64th annual Daytona 500 in February of 2022.”
Election Results, Fed Eases Stimulus, Supply Chain/Inflation, COP26 Summit, COVID-19, China Military Aggression, and Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/3). The results of Tuesday’s elections that saw Republican Glenn Youngkin win the governor’s seat in Virginia and speculation about what it means for the 2022 mid-term elections; the Fed announces it will taper its stimulus program that’s been assisting Americans during the pandemic; the broken supply chain, the spate of thefts from stalled shipping containers and the inflationary effects on retail prices; the COP26 Summit in Glasgow and the debate over combating climate change; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccines for kids and mask & vaccine mandates; China’s military aggression toward Taiwan; and the trial of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Audacy Named Tim Clarke SVP, Digital Audio Content; Mike Thomas Returns to Boston to Lead Company’s Six Stations. Media executive Tim Clarke is promoted to the corporate senior vice president, digital audio content position with Audacy after serving as SVP and market manager for the company’s six Boston stations for the past six months. Taking over for Clarke at Audacy Boston is former WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub” programmer Mike Thomas. In Clarke’s new role, he’ll be responsible for audio content across the Audacy digital platform that includes the Audacy app, Audacy.com, and Audacy’s station websites. Clarke will drive strategy and execution for new exclusive and original content for the platform and will have oversight of Audacy’s new exclusive digital music stations. He will also be responsible for the digital audio experiences of Audacy’s portfolio of broadcast stations, local and national station affiliates, and podcast partners. Audacy chief digital officer J.D. Crowley comments, “Tim is a rising star in our industry, and we’re excited to add his talents and capabilities to our digital business. He brings rich experience leading content and consumer strategies that we trust will enable him to help us further elevate our mission of delivering dynamic digital audio content through a listener-friendly platform every day.” Clarke joined Audacy in March of this year after serving as vice president of content and audience for Cox Media Group. Mike Thomas joins Audacy Boston from his most recent position as market manager for sports talk WMVP-AM, Chicago “ESPN Chicago” that’s being operated by Good Karma Brands. Prior to that, he was brand manager for Beasley Media Group’s sports talk WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub.” In this new role, he’ll oversee Audacy’s six Boston stations that include sports talk WEEI-FM, WEEI-AM “ESPN Boston,” and WVEI-AM, Worcester and three music brands. Thomas says, “Boston evokes memories of great times and celebrations. When [regional president] Mark Hannon reached out about coming back and leading such a diverse group of stations, it was exhilarating! I can’t wait to reconnect with a lot of talented people, some which I spent over a dozen years working side-by-side with and celebrating many more victories.”
Curtis Sliwa is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Longtime WABC, New York talk show host, founder of the world-famous volunteer public safety organization the Guardian Angels, and GOP nominee for Mayor of the Big Apple, Curtis Sliwa, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Sliwa, who is on leave from his radio position while running for office, won the Republican primary by a landslide although he is considered an underdog in the forthcoming general election against Democrat Eric Adams. However, Michael Harrison says, “I wouldn’t count Curtis out. He was born to be the Mayor of New York City and has enormous ‘street-cred’ and appeal – especially when the major topics in this race are crime and homelessness. He’s a real-life Spider-Man.” Harrison and Sliwa discuss these issues as well as the candidate’s strong position on animal welfare and the colorful history of New York broadcasters such as the great Barry Farber running for mayor and other elective offices. Don’t miss this mega-cool conversation. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
Round Three of September 2021 PPM Ratings Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s September 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 September 2021 sweep covered August 19 – September 15. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from these markets. In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM adds six-tenths for a 5.8 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) but remains anchored in the #4 rank while iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talk KEX-AM adds seven-tenths for a 3.2 share finish and rises to the #15 rank. Radio One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte rises from #10 to #8 after tacking on seven-tenths for a 4.7 share. iHeartMedia’s KFBK-AM/FM, Sacramento is ranked #1 in the market after adding 1.1 shares for a 9.8 share finish while sister talk KSTE loses two-tenths for a 3.4 share finish and falls to the #12 rank. And in Salt Lake City, Bonneville’s news/talk KSL-AM/FM soars from #3 to #1 after adding 1.4 shares for an 8.4 share finish while iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talk KNRS-AM/FM shoots up from #7 to #4 after adding 1.3 shares for a 6.3 share finish. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets (as well as his reports on the first two rounds) here.
Buffalo Talk Host Tom Bauerle Back on Air After Breakthrough COVID Case. According to a story in The Buffalo News, WBEN-AM afternoon drive talk host Tom Bauerle returned to the air this Tuesday (10/5) after being off for a few weeks due to his getting a breakthrough case of COVID-19. Bauerle told his listeners that he was vaccinated with two doses of the Moderna shot and was tested daily while working as an extra on the set of the film Cabrini that’s being shot in Buffalo. Bauerle, who is against vaccine mandates because he thinks mandates are “un-American,” admitted to his listeners that while he was sick, he thought to himself, “Wow. I’m glad I got Moderna. How bad would it have been if I didn’t get Moderna?” He also said, “I’ll never know if the symptoms were mild because I got the shot. I’ll never know that.”
Salem Media Portland Names Sue Wilson Marketing/Promotions Director. Programming and marketing pro Sue Wilson returns to Salem Media Group as marketing/promotion director for the company’s Portland cluster that includes news/talk KPAM “AM 860 The Answer” and religious outlets KPDQ-AM/FM and KFIS-FM. Wilson was director of programming for the company’s Cleveland operations from 2001 through 2007. She served with Rubber City Radio as VP/operations for 12 years and launched Sue Wilson Creative in 2018. She says, “General Manager Dennis Hayes has built this amazing team in Portland that I’m so excited to be a part of. I’m grateful to him and [PD] Chris Kelly, and look forward to helping them create new, innovative ways to market and promote these incredible brands.” She begins her position later this month.
Audacy’s WEEI, Boston Renews Broadcast Deal with Red Sox. Boston sports talk outlet WEEI-FM and MLB’s Boston Red Sox announce a multiyear radio broadcast contract extension for the Audacy sports talk station to continue to serve as the Red Sox flagship radio station, as it has since 1995. Audacy Boston SVP and market manager Tim Clarke states, “Few things embody the city of Boston better than the Red Sox, and we’re delighted to extend our partnership with the team. The team has delivered some of the most memorable moments in baseball over the course of the last two decades and we’re proud to continue giving our audience a front row seat to everything surrounding the team.” As part of the partnership, WEEI will continue to air a weekly front office report with as part of “The Greg Hill Show,” featuring a rotation of interviews with Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and general manager Brian O’Halloran. Additionally, afternoon show “Merloni and Fauria” will welcome manager Alex Cora every week.
WABC, New York Honors Goya on Hispanic Heritage Day. New York City news/talk WABC presented an all-day event yesterday (10/6) honoring Hispanic Heritage Day by celebrating the numerous contributions the Hispanic community has made to New York City’s businesses, governmental communities, and culture. The celebration honored Goya, the largest and most successful Hispanic-owned food company in the United States, for donating over 40,000 pounds of food to victims of Hurricane Ida and over 4.5 million pounds of food since the start of the pandemic. Goya CEO Bob Unanue was presented the Humanitarian Award. Officials from the State of Louisiana called in via Zoom to thank Goya for supporting the residents during Hurricane Ida. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis said, “The Hispanic culture in New York City is among the most vibrant and fastest growing. As an immigrant myself, I understand what it means to take pride in your culture, your heritage, your ethnicity, and the path by which we all became ‘New Yorkers.’ We are proud of the contributions made by our Hispanic brothers and sisters, whether it is the thousands of Hispanic-owned businesses or the millions of New Yorkers of Hispanic heritage who work, live, play, and pray here in the greatest city on earth.” Pictured above are (from l-r): Red Apple and 77 WABC Radio president Chad Lopez, Unanue, and Margo and John Catsimatidis.
Debt Ceiling, Biden Infrastructure and Reconciliation Bills, COVID-19, Texas Abortion Bill, January 6 Investigation/Trump Election Denial, and China-Taiwan Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/6). The battle in Congress over the raising of the debt ceiling; the debate between Democratic factions over President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion Infrastructure bill and his $3.5 trillion Reconciliation Bill; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., booster shots, and mask & vaccine mandates; a federal judge blocks the highly restrictive and controversial Texas abortion law; the investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and former President Donald Trump’s continuing claim of the “stolen” election; and China’s aggressive military actions toward Taiwan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Cumulus Media Informs Employees of Fall Vaccine Mandate. Although the company is saying it is not commenting on yesterday’s message from CEO Mary G. Berner to its employees, Cumulus Media employees are confirming the story first reported by radio trade RadioInsight on 8/11 that all employees returning to their offices by the previously announced October 11 date must be fully vaccinated. The message states that all returning staffers must complete their vaccination by September 27 to be able to return by October 11. At this time, some Cumulus employees have been designated permanent remote and the mandate does not apply to them. The rationale for the policy is explained as follows: “Exceptions to the return to office plan will not be considered except as legally required. The decision to return to our offices was made with utmost consideration and reflects how we believe we can optimize our business efforts. Put simply, we believe that FORCE CUMULUS is at our best when we’re working together in offices. To do that as safely as we reasonably can, we’re requiring that everyone be vaccinated except those legally excepted. It would neither be fair, nor do we have the bandwidth to make exceptions based on individual preferences.”
Round Three of July PPM Ratings Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s July 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 July 2021 sweep covered June 24 – July 21. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM rises by seven-tenths for a 5.5 share (weekly 6+ AQH share) finish good for the #4 rank in the market. Radio One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte tacks on three-tenths for a 3.8 share and rises from #12 to #9 in the market. iHeartMedia’s WOAI, San Antonio adds eight-tenths for a 4.5 share finish to rise to the #10 rank. In Sacramento, iHeartMedia news/talk KFBK-AM/FM climbs by two-tenths to an 8.7 share – good enough to rise from #3 to #1. In the Salt Lake City news/talk battle, Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM adds eight-tenths for a 6.9 share and rises to the #3 rank while iHeartMedia’s crosstown KNRS-AM/FM falls one-tenth to a 5.0 share but remains at the #7 rank. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways for this round of markets (as well as the two previous rounds) here.
Dr. Daliah Wachs is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. One of talk radio’s leading medical practitioners, Dr. Daliah Wachs of the Genesis Communications Network is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Wachs take a deep-dive into the latest medical, social, and political implications of COVID-19. According to Harrison, “Dr. Wachs is a dependable go-to resource for all things having to do the pandemic without any partisan spin whatsoever. She’s also an extremely skilled radio personality and a talk media treasure.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
Grace Baker Named Executive Producer of Todd Starnes Show. Nationally syndicated talk radio host and Starnes Media Group chief Todd Starnes announces that Grace Baker is being promoted to executive producer of the “Todd Starnes Show.” Baker has been serving as news anchor for Starnes Media Group’s KWAM, Memphis and as a call screener for “The Todd Starnes Show.” Baker is a graduate of the University of Memphis and previously covered the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies for SB Nation as a game day editor. Starnes says, “Grace is beloved by our listeners. She’s got solid news judgment, a quick wit, and we are blessed to have her running the show.”
Jean Taylor to Lead America Public Media Group. After a rigorous national search, American Public Media Group’s Board of Trustees announces Jean Taylor is being named the next president and chief executive officer of the company. Taylor, who will be the first woman to lead the media organization, was most recently chair of the board of Star Tribune Media, where APMG says “she helped guide the organization through significant digital transformation. During her tenure as chair, Star Tribune has been lauded and seen as a leader in the industry for its commitment to high-quality public service journalism, its digital subscription growth, and its strong financial results.” Taylor says, “It is an exciting and critical time for public media, with tremendous opportunities to deliver quality journalism in new ways, connect with new audiences and more intentionally serve diverse communities. I am honored to lead this organization alongside the talented team at APMG.”
TALKERS News Notes. The finalists for this year’s 63rd annual Southern California Journalism Awards have been announced and Mo’Kelly and “The Mo’Kelly Show” are finalists in five different categories, including ‘Radio Journalist of the Year.’ Included in the acknowledgments are two of his nationally syndicated ‘2-Minute Warning’ commentaries for iHeartMedia’s BIN: The Black Information Network. Winners will be announced October 16 at the Biltmore in Los Angeles…..Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios launches “The 11th” – a monthly audio series designed to create a home for “intriguing stories that do not currently have a natural place in the podcast landscape, with content spanning original reporting, memoir, musicals, advice columns, fiction, and more from a continually evolving roster of contributors.” Pineapple Street co-founder Max Linsky says, “‘The 11th’ is a place for stories that might not otherwise be told, whether that’s because of format or length or perspective. There is not a singular personality as the voice of ‘The 11th’ and that’s a deliberate choice — the goal is to create something that will feature a range of voices, both from within Pineapple and beyond. The incredible team of producers and editors working on The 11th has described it as a mystery box, where you never know what you’ll get each month — I can’t wait to hear how this team and this show will surprise audiences.”…..Pictured below is Galaxy Media director of engineering Tim Backer (left) with Galaxy Media president and CEO Ed Levine (right) as Backer celebrates his 20-year anniversary (8/11) with the company. Levine says, “Many (if not most) broadcast stations don’t have engineers on site anymore. Galaxy not only has an engineer on site, but we have also had the SAME engineer for 20 years. Tim has and continues to be a huge part of the Galaxy Media team. We appreciate all his hard work and dedication to our local company. In recognition of his 20 years of service, Tim will receive a brand-new engineering vehicle of his choice for his 2:00 am drives to remote engineering sites during the Central New York winters!”
COVID-19 Infection Rate & Mask Mandates, Democrats’ Budget Resolution, Economy/Inflation, Dominion Lawsuits, Cryptocurrency Heist, Wildfires/Extreme Heat, Taliban Gains in Afghanistan Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/11). The rising rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the battles over mask mandates in numerous states; the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution; the state of the U.S. economy and the highest rate of inflation in 20 years; a judge rules Dominion Voting Systems’ suit against Rudy Giuliani, Sydney Powell, and Mike Lindell can proceed; the theft of $600 million worth of cryptocurrency; the western wildfires and the extreme heat in parts of the U.S. and Europe; and the Taliban’s gaining control over major Afghanistan cities were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the 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, “Hot Stuff,” looks back at this past week of July 12-16. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Michael Zwerling, talk show host/station owner, KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/physician; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The 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, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; 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; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; Pioneer 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.
Alpha Media Emerges from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. The company announces that it has successfully completed its financial restructuring and emerged from Chapter 11 with a significantly improved capital structure. In addition to substantially reducing its debt, Alpha Media says it “raised incremental capital to pursue growth opportunities and further enhance its position as a leading mid-market broadcaster across 44 local markets in the United States.” Alpha Media chairman and CEO Bob Proffitt adds, “This is an important achievement for Alpha Media as we strengthen our company’s ability to grow. Today Alpha Media begins its next chapter, with an improved financial foundation, new capital and enhanced competitive positioning. We have greater financial resources and flexibility, and we will continue to invest in new digital capabilities to better serve our advertisers and communities across our local markets. I am so proud of all that our teams at each of our radio stations have accomplished during this period. Our unique culture continues to be key to Alpha Media’s success, and I thank the entire Alpha Media family for their dedication and hard work. We are thrilled to continue our mission to deliver dynamic, diverse and exciting content to our communities.” The company adds that it has received all necessary court and regulatory, including FCC, approvals, and all customary conditions have been satisfied.
Round Three of June PPMs Released. The third or four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio 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 June 2021 sweep covered May 27 – June 23. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland remains ranked #5 after dropping three-tenths for a 4.8 share (6+ weekly AQH share). Radio One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte slips four-tenths to finish with a 3.5 share and falls to the #12 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOAI, San Antonio sheds nine-tenths and posts a 3.7 share as the station falls from the #10 rank to #13. In Sacramento, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK-AM/FM dips just one-tenth and posts an 8.5 share but the station still falls back to the #3 rank in the market. iHeartMedia’s WLW, Cincinnati shoots up 1.4 shares for a 12.5 share finish and the #1 rank in the market. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (as well as the first two groups) here.
WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Launches Podcast with Matt Doherty. Charlotte news/talk WBT-AM/FM announces the debut of “The Rebound Podcast with Coach Matt Doherty.” Doherty, the renowned former University of North Carolina basketball player and coach follows his best-selling book, Rebound: From Pain To Passion, Leadership Lessons Learned with “The Rebound Podcast,” a 10-episode series in which he speaks with highly successful individuals in the fields of business, entertainment, politics, sports and more that have had to rebound from failure. The station says, “After being forced to resign from his dream coaching job at UNC in a very public manner in 2003, Matt embarked on a personal leadership journey and was able to rebound by turning his pain to passion. Now in a straight-forward and authentic manner, Matt invites you to a front row seat inside the journey of special guests that faced adversity and worked to rebound from failure. Through engaging and riveting stories of these failures Matt drills down on personal and eye-opening experiences from his guests that everyone will find fascinating and inspiring.” Radio One Charlotte regional VP and market manager Marsha Landess adds, “Matt’s journey is truly inspiring. His insights, and those of his guests, are relatable no matter what field you’re in. We are thrilled to partner with him to bring his leadership skills to the Charlotte market and beyond, first through his appearances on WBT with ‘The Brett Winterble Show,’ and now through ‘The Rebound Podcast!’”
Nielsen Reveals Findings from Consumer Study. This data found in the Westwood One blog, was revealed by Nielsen at a client webinar this week comes from the company’s sixth COVID consumer-tracking study since the pandemic. 1,000 Americans 18+ were surveyed last month and Nielsen says its findings are validated by just-released June data from Apple Maps, GeoPath, Google Trends, and Moody’s Analytics. The blog outlines the very encouraging findings from the study and lists the five things advertisers need to know: 1) It is time to advertise: The three-month period from March 2021 to June 2021 saw an extraordinary jump in consumer confidence pointing to things getting back to normal. The “ready-to-go” segment only grew six points from June 2020 to March 2021. From March 2021 to June 2021, the optimistic “ready-to-go” consumer segment grew an astounding 29 points; 2) Brands need to capitalize on this positive consumer outlook: On the economy, more consumers feel things will improve versus get worse (48% improve versus 23% get worse). The story is the same for consumers and their household finances: 35% improve versus 13% get worse; 3) Americans are back in their cars and listening to AM/FM radio: The majority of workers are commuting. Families are driving their kids to school. Time spent listening to AM/FM radio is up; 4) Commuters are still leery about public transportation, a positive for AM/FM radio: 32% of consumers say they will spend less time on public transport versus 17% who will spend more time; and 5) Retailers need to continue to invest in ecommerce and ensure their AM/FM radio ads drive to web as shopping will be omni-channel: While stores are open, the convenience of hybrid shopping approaches remain: buy online and in-store or curbside pickup.
iHeartMedia Names Tony Yip SVP of Sales for Miami-Fort Lauderdale. Radio sales pro Tony Yip is promoted to senior vice president of sales for iHeartMedia’s Miami/Fort Lauderdale cluster, effective immediately. He’s been serving the cluster as VP of sales. In this new role, Yip will be responsible for overseeing advertising sales revenue for the market. He will report to market president Shari Gonzalez. She says, “I am thrilled to be able to promote Tony to this position. Tony has played an important role in leading our team and our two brands WMIA and WHYI over the past eight years and now takes on the entire cluster for Miami Ft. Lauderdale. I am very confident that Tony will lead our team with continued and even higher levels of success for years to come.” Yip launched his radio career at the age of 16 as an intern at WIOD-AM.
Radio News Pro Bob Costantini Relaunches Ear on the White House Service. Former Westwood One News correspondent Bob Costantini is relaunching his Ear on The White House news service. Using the slogan, “Context You Need, Right From the Scene,” Costantini says he can “give your news/talk station an upfront seat in the going’s on at The White House, with three decades of experience covering six presidents. If you want to dig deeper into the news of the day, Ear on The White House is your chance, including daily debriefs that can be sponsored locally.” Find out more by visiting EaronTheWhiteHouse.com.
TALKERS News Notes. On Monday (7/19), the USA Radio Networks-syndicated sports talk program “The Dan Sileo Show” will be added to the program schedule at JVC Broadcasting’s “Florida Man Radio” format heard on WDYZ-AM/W288CJ, Orlando and WZLB-FM, Fort Walton Beach. “The Dan Sileo Show” will air from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight…..The cast of the Westwood One nationally syndicated “BOB & TOM Show” kicked off the summer with a night of live comedy at the historic Irving Theater in Indianapolis, raising $10,000 in one night to send Indianapolis area children to summer camp. The benefit event featured performances by three stand-up comedians from the cast of “The BOB & TOM Show” and was co-hosted by the Hall of Fame morning show’s Tom Griswold and Chick McGee…..Superadio Networks and Reatro Ventures announce that the former is agreeing to use Reatro’s ARC Software as the primary affiliate research and automation tool for the network. ARC was developed by SBG founder and former CEO Jason Bailey. Reatro says the software is the media industry’s only SaaS that allows producers, affiliate sales, and network operations to connect digitally, streamlining the affiliation and reporting process…..Quu Inc. and Bonneville International announce a new deal in which all of Bonneville’s markets will use Quu’s patented software to publish synced programming and advertiser messages on vehicle dashboards. Dubbed “Visual Quus,” they are designed to boost station and advertiser branding, recall, and retention. Paired with on-air content, Visual Quus offer a better user experience and generate immediate incremental revenue by adding text, logos, and images to on-air advertisements. Bonneville president Darrell Brown comments, “We are pleased to be able to enhance the listening experience of our loyal audiences and to provide better branding for both Bonneville’s brands and those of its advertisers. This partnership with Quu across Bonneville’s markets positions us well to take advantage of new opportunities in the automobile and beyond.”
The COVID-19 Delta Variant, Vaccines, and Long COVID Top News/Talk Story for Week of July 12-16. The rise in the number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in the U.S. in several states, the stalling rate of vaccinations, and the cases of long COVID combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the publication of books about the Trump administration, including I Alone Can Fix It by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. Following at #3 was the House committee to investigate the January 6 Capitol attack, tied with last weekend’s CPAC and the controversy over Critical Race Theory. 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 complete chart here.