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Monday, February 1, 2021

| February 1, 2021

Mark Chernoff to Retire from WFAN, New York. An internal memo from Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero reveals that longtime WFAN program director Mark Chernoff will retire from his position with the station this year. Oliviero’s memo states: “After nearly 30 years of unmatched success, our colleague and industry programming icon, Mark Chernoff, will step down from day-to-day oversight of WFAN and CBS SPORTS RADIO later in 2021 after a worthy successor has been identified – which trust me will be no easy task. Since no one knows the job better, Mark will be a member of the search committee for the next sports content lead for both brands and, until that time, will remain fully responsible for all operations. Also, Mark will continue on as an advisor to WFAN after the search and transition is complete. I was lucky enough to first meet Mark in 1998 in his windowless sub-sub-basement office out at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens. I was a college grad groveling for part-time board op shifts at WFAN. That began a relationship that has evolved into one of the most rewarding, important and genuine friendships of my entire life. One that I have and always will cherish. When people think of WFAN, names like Imus, ‘Mike & The Mad Dog’ or Boomer often come to mind, but no name has been more responsible for the consistent excellence of ‘The  Fan’ than ‘Chernoff.’”

Monday Memo: Cancel Culture Canceled! “Cooperstown controversy! Social media malpractice! First Amendment flap! COVID contagion! Giddy over GameStop!” Anxious alliteration aside, this week’s column from Holland Cooke forewarns fake news fabricators. Read it here.

COVID-19/Vaccine Rollout, Trump Impeachment, GOP Election Deniers/‘Country First’ Drive, GameStop Trading/Financial Markets Activity, Putin Protests, and Myanmar Military Coup Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll and the complications affecting the rollout of the vaccines; the impeachment case against Donald Trump; Republican members of congress still implying that Donald Trump won the 2020 election, led by Georgia’s MarjorieTaylor Greene, and the “Country First” drive to “save the GOP” being launched by U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger; the GameStop trading saga and the global financial markets activity; the protests in Russia over Vladimir Putin’s detention of critic Alexei Navalny; and the military detains Myanmar’s leaders were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: All Impressions Are Not Created Equal. Radio sellers are hawking impressions to potential buyers. But, as sales and management pro Steve Lapa says in today’s column, all impressions are not created equal. Just as your body uses the same amount of calories from an apple and a processed snack differently, the various “products” your station offers have different impression values. Read more here.

Holiday 2020 PPM Ratings Takeaways. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from the first round of Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2020 PPM survey that covered the period of December 3 – January 6. The annual Holiday PPM survey is usually not kind to the all-news and news/talk formats due in part to holiday music listening and the changes in listeners’ daily lifestyles because of the holiday season. However, this year was a little different because of the historical aftermath of the November elections. In New York, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOR dipped only slightly from a 2.8 share in the December survey to a 2.4 share in the Holiday survey. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI adds one-tenth to finish with a 4.7 share and the #3 rank in the market. While Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM was flat at a 6.8 share and the #3 rank, Nexstar Media Group’s news/talk WGN-AM was up nine-tenths for a 3.7 share finish at the #7 rank. Meanwhile, Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta remained the #1 ranked station while dipping seven-tenths to a 9.0 share. Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle also stayed in the #1 position while flat with a 7.2 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Remembering the King. Pictured above are TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (right) and media consultant and host of RT America’s “The Big Picture,” Holland Cooke, as they discuss the talk media career of Larry King, who died at age 87 last weekend. During Harrison’s appearance, they also talked about Rush Limbaugh and the nature of today’s media. See it here.

‘ESPN Charlotte’ Expands Local Afternoon Drive Show. “The Afternoon Rush” program on 2G Media’s sports talk WZGV-AM/W248CO, Charlotte expands as program director and co-host Bobby Rosinski (left) moves morning personality Molly Cotten (center) to the afternoon show alongside himself and co-host Mark Yarbro (right). Cotten had been co-hosting the morning program with Walker Mehl. The station begins airing ESPN Radio’s “Keyshawn, JWill, and Zubin” in morning drive with Mehl continuing to host the morning edition of “SportsCenter CLT” as well as an evening edition of the program airing at 6:00 pm.

Colin Cowherd and iHeartMedia to Launch New Podcast Network. A collaborative effort between Colin Cowherd and iHeartMedia is producing another podcast network, this one called “The Volume.” The two partners have already created “The Herd Podcast Network.” Colin Cowherd says, “There has never been a more exciting time to develop new sports content. Podcasts have totally changed the game, and the expanded use of sports gambling makes this the perfect moment to launch this endeavor. I’m thrilled to work with iHeartRadio and this dynamic group of talent to start building ‘The Volume.’” FanDuel has signed on as a primary sponsor. Five new podcasts will appear on the network that debuts today (2/1): A new “Colin Cowherd Podcast”; an NBA-themed show called “The Jenkins & Jonez Podcast” starring LaJethro Jenkins and Dragonfly Jonez; “Moneyline Monaco” hosted by comedian and sports gambling fanatic Alex Monaco; “Oral Sessions with Renée Paquette” focusing on combat sports; and “Catchin’ Fades With Aqib Talib,” an NFL show hosted by Aqib Talib.

TALKERS News Notes. PhillyVoice.com reports that longtime Philadelphia sports talk personality Marc Farzetta is starting his own streaming sports talk show via YouTube called, “The Farzy Show with Marc Farzetta.” Farzetta was let go by Beasley Media’s WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic” in early December. Prior to his two years with WPEN, he served with Entercom’s crosstown WIP for 13 years. The new program streams from 6:00 am to 7:00 am daily. Former Philadelphia Eagles star Hugh Douglas (a former co-host of Farzetta’s) will be a recurring guest on the program…..Nationally syndicated talk host Thom Hartmann publishes his latest book this week. The Hidden History of American Oligarchy — Reclaiming our Democracy from The Ruling Class (2021, Berrett-Koehler Publishers). The publisher says that in this book Hartmann “lays out the ways in which inequality in America has shifted over the last 50 years and identifies a handful of sensical, powerful solutions that address these issues at different levels, such as getting money out of politics, addressing social despair and economic inequality, strengthening democratic institutions of governance, and fighting fear.”…..Radio One’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte helped raise $255,000 for three charities in the Charlotte area. In partnership with Moments of Hope Church, WBT was able to donate $85,000 each to The Charlotte Rescue Mission, Kings Kitchen, and Camino Community Center. The awarding of the funds took place on “The Pat McCrory Show with Bo Thompson,” along with Moments of Hope Church pastor David Chadwick (who hosts a Sunday morning show on WBT) present. The live broadcast resulted in an additional $5,000 being donated, which was matched by Moments of Hope and rounded up so that the final total was $270,000, with each charity receiving $90,000…..GCN nationally syndicated talk host Dr. Daliah Wachs is pictured at left getting her first COVID-19 shot from Pfizer. She says, “It was painless going in, but the next day or two I had some muscle aches, fatigue, and nausea. Thirty hours later, however, I felt great. I know the vaccine scares a lot of people and new variants keep popping up, but I feel we need to protect and plan for the here and now, with expectations that booster shots will be required for the newer strains. The vaccination is not without its risks but COVID illness is much riskier.”

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

| January 13, 2021

Detroit Talk Radio Legend Frank Beckmann to Retire. Detroit radio personality Frank Beckmann will retire from Cumulus Media’s WJR-AM on March 26, wrapping a 48-year career with the heritage Motor City station. Beckmann has hosted the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program on WJR for the past 18 years. During his career, he’s broadcast play-by-play for all four of Detroit’s professional sports teams and is credited for creating the market’s first sports talk program, “Sportswrap,” in 1981. Beckmann joined WJR in 1972. In 1981, he succeeded Bob Ufer as the University of Michigan football play-by-play announcer, a position he held for 33 seasons. Beckmann says, “I will be forever grateful to WJR for helping all of my boyhood dreams to come true. As a youngster growing up on the east side of Detroit, I always imagined sitting behind a microphone, announcing Lions and Tigers games. It was surreal for me to actually have been able to do that, along with experiencing the other great opportunities this radio giant known as WJR provided me. I only hope I’ve met some of the expectations of me, and I thank every person I’ve worked for, or with, at WJR… My co-workers and our clients are not only my friends; they are my family. I’d like to thank them, along with our loyal audience. Without their support, I would not have had this run. Finally, I’d like to give thanks to my family: my wife, Karen, son Jon, and daughter Tori, for the selfless sacrifices they’ve made through the years. And now that my professional sunset beckons, and while I say so long to my job, I say thanks to all of you for making my career and life more complete. My best wishes to my WJR colleagues and listeners.”

CES2021: “Eat, Drink, Play, Pay – Will We Ever be the Same?” Like many other events, the Consumer Electronics Show has gone virtual. Confessing that he misses the perennial January in Las Vegas trek, consultant Holland Cooke writes, “This session alone would have been worth the trip!” In today’s column: Data from a recent Harris Poll/MasterCard joint study about the pandemic shutdown’s impact on commerce. Four trends that on-air content should address and our advertisers’ messages should exploit. Read it here.

SRN News and TOWNHALL News Providing Coverage of Impeachment Debate. When the U.S. House of Representatives begins debate today over the Democrats’ Article of Impeachment against President Donald Trump, Salem Radio Network News and TOWNHALL News will provide unanchored, live coverage. SRN News begins coverage at 9:00 am ET and that will continue for an undetermined amount of time. Salem Radio Network says this live coverage is part of the Salem Radio Network’s ongoing commitment to provide O&Os and affiliates with complete coverage of breaking news 24/7.

KFI, Los Angeles Produces New Documentary on Kobe Bryant. Los Angeles news/talk KFI and correspondent Steve Gregory are launching a new iHeartRadio Original News Documentary and Podcast, “The Death and Life of Kobe Bryant.” This two-hour documentary will air Sunday, January 24, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on KFI-AM 640 and will be syndicated across iHeartMedia’s 24/7 News radio affiliates. The limited, eight-episode companion podcast will also debut on January 24 and be distributed via the iHeartPodcast Network and can be heard on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are available. It includes interviews and audio excerpts from live news coverage surrounding the helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his daughter and several others and will explore the void Bryant’s death left in the business world and the Black community. Exclusive program content also includes the NTSB’s investigation and controversies surrounding the incident, including illegal photos taken at the crash site by law enforcement. “The Death and Life of Kobe Bryant” is produced and hosted by award-winning journalist Steve Gregory. The series is co-produced by the KFI-AM 640 news department, Jacob Gonzalez, and Eric Sklar.

Entercom Study: Audio Has Highest Consumer Engagement Level. A recent study by market research firm Alter Agents and neuroscience experts at Immersion, commissioned by Entercom, concludes that audio content connects and engages audiences at a much deeper level than other media types, forming emotional connections and capturing attention. Entercom is presenting the results of the study during a session at the virtual CES2021 show this week called “Amplified Audio Defining Engaged Impressions.” Entercom SVP, research and insights Idil Cakim says, “In an uncertain world, and a cluttered media environment, people are seeking new experiences and looking for mediums that provide trust and certainty. Our study found that audio not only captures attention and moves people on an emotional level, but also inspires action through a sense of community and belonging.” The study consisted of a survey of a nationally representative population of adults, coupled with a neuroscience study by Immersion of individuals from the major U.S markets of Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Alter Agents compiled the data to result in an examination of consumer experiences with audio versus various other mediums such as TV, video, social, and pureplay platforms. The primary metric tracked in the study was immersion, a scientific measure of emotional connection and attention. Audio was found to have the highest level of immersion among all the platforms with a score of 57 out of 100. Entercom says additional key findings included that consumers are listening to or watching seven different media platforms in a given week; one-third of broadcast over-the-air listeners have taken action after hearing an advertisement or a host recommendation as part of a commercial or an audio show; and local audio content and host trust are the largest influencers of listenership.

AWMF Announces New Categories and Extended Deadline for 2021 Gracie Awards. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation announces that the deadline to submit entries for the 46th Annual Gracie Awards at the regular rate has been extended until January 21. AWMF is also offering a further extended deadline of January 28 at an additional cost. The Gracie Awards, presented by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation, celebrate programming and individual achievement by, for and about women in television, radio and digital media. Submissions from all facets of media are encouraged. The AWMF says that because of the tireless work and bravery of journalists covering the unprecedented events in the first two weeks of 2021, it has added 10 new categories specifically dedicated to January 2021 Frontline Special Reports for on-air talent and programming in television, radio and digital media. See the categories here. AWMF executive director Becky Brooks comments, “We know the circumstances of the past year led to delivering content to audiences in ways we never expected, which is why we are more committed than ever to honoring the remarkable work that has been created by, for and about women. As our biggest fundraiser of the year, the Gracie Awards enable the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation to deliver on its promise of furthering the connection, education and recognition of women in media, even during turbulent times.” The Gracie Awards Gala, previously scheduled for May 2021, has been postponed to September 20, 2021, and the Gracie Awards Luncheon, previously scheduled for June 2021, has been postponed to July 21, 2021.

TALKERS News Notes. Fresno news/talker KMJ-AM/FM helped raise more than $30,000 to combat human trafficking on Monday (1/11) – Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the U.S. The Cumulus Media station partnered with local non-profit Breaking The Chains for the fundraising event. KMJ general manager Patty Hixson says, “Our loyal listeners always amaze me how they generously step up for great causes, especially one like human trafficking which has brought so much heartbreak and violence into our community. Well done! We will not stop fighting.”…..At next week’s NobleCon17 – Noble Capital Markets’ Seventeenth Annual Investor Conference taking place on Tuesday (1/19) – Townsquare Media chief executive officer Bill Wilson will deliver a presentation at approximately 4:30 pm ET. The conference is virtual, with no cost, obligation or restrictions to attend…..CUMULUS MEDIA’s Westwood One – the official network radio partner of the NCAA – unveils its 2020-2021 broadcast schedule for coverage of 20 regular season men’s basketball games that begins with tonight’s Texas Tech at Texas contest and ends with the Final Four and National Championship games on April 3 and 5, 2021…..Cadence13, a part of Entercom’s Podcast Network, announces a partnership with bestselling author Sarah Knight for a weekly podcast based on her No F*cks Given Guides self-help book series (The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, etc.). Her “No F*cks Given” podcast is a series of 30-minute episodes on topics ranging from getting organized and surviving the daily grind to making big life changes and improving your relationships with family and friends that debuts on January 26…..AdLarge Media makes its first foray into the international market in an agreement with The Podcast Exchange for exclusive Canadian ad sales representation of its cabana podcast portfolio. AdLarge co-CEO Cathy Czukas says, “Working closely with the team at TPX, we are opening the door to international revenue for cabana podcasts. We’re enthusiastic about the opportunities this brings to our podcast partners.”

Trump Impeachment/25th Amendment Push, Capitol Attack Investigation/Arrests, State Capitals Increase Security, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Social Media and “Free Speech,” and U.S. Executes Lisa Montgomery Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/12). The U.S. House plans to move forward with Articles of Impeachment against Donald Trump in the absence of invoking the 25th Amendment by Mike Pence; the federal investigation into the assault on the U.S. Capitol and the arrests of some of those involved; state capitals across the country prepare for possible future attacks; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of the vaccines; YouTube joins Twitter and Facebook in banning Donald Trump plus the battle between Parler and app stores as Americans debate the concept of “free speech”; and the U.S. executes Lisa Montgomery, the first woman to be executed in 70 years were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

| December 22, 2020

Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The woman who played bass guitar, sang, and was a songwriter for the legendary rock band The Go-Go’s is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Today, Kathy Valentine is a 62-year-old working musician, songwriter, and author who began her career more than 40 years ago in her hometown of Austin, Texas and made a huge name for herself as a member of an iconic band after moving to Los Angeles. That band, The Go-Go’s, is considered by rock historians to be the most successful all-female band of all time and made music history for writing and performing the first and only album by an all-female band to top the charts. It featured the hit songs “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed.” Valentine wrote or co-wrote some of The Go-Go’s most renowned tunes, including the hits “Vacation” and “Head Over Heels.” The record’s success brought the pressures of a relentless workload and schedule culminating in a wild, hazy, substance-fueled tour that took the band from the club circuit to arenas, where fans, promoters, and crew were more than ready to keep the party going. For Valentine, the band’s success was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream – but it’s only part of her story that she’s captured in a riveting book titled, All I Ever Wanted: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir (University of Texas Press, 2020). It traces the path that took her from her childhood in Texas — where she all but raised herself — to the height of rock ‘n’ roll stardom, devastation after the collapse of the band that had come to define her, and the quest to regain her sense of self after its end. Harrison and Valentine take a deep-dive into the history of The Go-Go’s, their common experiences in the supercharged rock and radio environment of Los Angeles in the early 1980s, and the current activities of both the artist and The Go-Go’s who are planning a national tour this coming summer (if the pandemic allows it). Don’t miss this fascinating, uplifting program. 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.

Good Karma Announces Debut of ‘The Truth’ in Milwaukee. According to a report in the Milwaukee Business Journal, Good Karma Brands LLC will debut its Black-targeted talk radio station on January 4. The company is acquiring WRRD-AM and translator W269DL from New WRRD LLC and will begin by operating the signals under an LMA. Milwaukee sales pro Cherie Harris has been hired to serve as general manager and Kyle Wallace is on board as the operations manager for the station being branded “The Truth 101.7.” The daily lineup includes Milwaukee Bucks broadcasters Joe Brown and Melanie Ricks in mornings from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. Sherwin Hughes will host the 10:00 am to 1:00 pm program. Tory Lowe hosts the 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm program, followed by Ken Harris in afternoon drive. Wallace says of the lineup, “Our goal when recruiting was to find talent who were unapologetically and authentically Milwaukee, and we are confident we chose outstanding leaders who have already made an impact on the city through their service, advocacy, and fight for justice and equality.”

Round One of December PPM Ratings Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s December 2020 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 December 2020 survey period covered November 5 – December 2. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this batch of markets and some moves of note include iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles tacking on one-tenth to finish the December survey with a 4.6 share and the #3 rank in the market. While maintaining its #1 rank, Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta sheds 1.8 shares to finish with a 9.7 share. Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago adds three-tenths to wrap the survey with a 6.8 share but dips to the #3 rank. You can see all of Mike Kinosian’s Ratings Takeaways from the news/talk, all-news, sports talk, and public radio news/talk stations in this survey here.

TALKERS News Notes. WPG, Atlantic City morning drive host Harry Hurley is launching his inaugural Hurley Awards in which he selects people “who represent the best and worst in our region and nation this year. For our inaugural reveal, I have attempted to painstakingly create a super-list that draws upon a variety of factors. I respectfully acknowledge that our list is subjective.” You can see winners (and losers!) in all 78 categories here…..Shondaland Audio and iHeartMedia announce the February debut of the weekly podcast from Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox. Shondaland Audio says the podcast “will feature intimate conversations with guests who provoke thought and potentially new outlooks. The show was created in hopes that it may foster perspectives that might inspire new behavior in each of us, to in turn get us closer to becoming the very best versions of ourselves, all the while inviting Laverne, guests, and listeners to undergo a spiritual makeover together.”…..iHeartMedia announces that with the planned retirement of EVP, general counsel and secretary Paul McNicol, Jordan Fasbender rises from his depurty general counsel post to executive vice president, general counsel and secretary, effective January 1. McNicol will remain with the company as Executive Vice President providing counsel to the company’s senior management and ensuring a seamless transition.

Trump Election Results Denial/Barr on Special Counsel, Congress Passes COVID Relief, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Variant, Vaccine Rollout, and Russian Hack of U.S. Government Networks Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/21). Reports of Donald Trump’s ongoing denial of election results, plans to continue challenging Joe Biden’s victory, and Attorney General William Barr’s seeing “no reason” to appoint a special counsel; Congress passes the COVID relief package; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for post-Christmas cases, and concerns about the U.K. variant; the rollout of the COVID vaccine in the U.S.; and the vulnerable U.S. government networks affected by the Russian hack were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TAKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Nationally syndicated evening personality Delilah is featured in The New York Times’ “The Daily” podcast in which she discusses her career in radio. The interview details the Premiere Networks’ personality’s journey from the small town of Reedsport, Oregon to becoming the “most-listened-to woman on radio.”…..The first all-digital CES will take place January 11-14 virtually and will feature an iHeartMedia conference session on how technology has enabled some of today’s hottest artists to continue to create and introduce new music and immersive experiences for their fans during the pandemic. The session is being moderated by nationally syndicated on-air host, TV personality, and producer Ryan Seacrest and will feature a fireside chat with singer and songwriter Dua Lipa and a special performance by Billie Eilish.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

| December 16, 2020

Grace Curley Show Adds Three-Station News/Talk Network in New Hampshire. The new Grace Curley Show is adding the three-station news/talk network consisting of WTSN-AM, Dover; WEMJ-AM, Laconia; and WTPL-FM, Hillsboro in New Hampshire operated by Binnie Media. The Grace Curley Show is being rolled out in syndication by The Howie Carr Radio Network and the Binnie stations join iHeartMedia’s WRKO, Boston which also begins airing the program on January 4. Binnie Media director of programming & operations Dave Andreesen says, “We are thrilled to offer our listeners The Grace Curley Show across our three news/talk stations in New Hampshire. The Howie Carr Show has been a popular mainstay in our lineup for years and I think Grace’s show will be the perfect addition to round out our weekday lineup. Anyone who has listened to Howie can tell you what a fine broadcaster and commentator Grace has evolved into. I’m looking forward to her fresh perspective on the issues everyone is talking about.” The Grace Curley Show will air live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET.

Beasley Media Group Promotes Five Programmers. In the programming department of Beasley Media Group, five current staffers have been promoted. WMMR-FM and WMGK-FM, Philadelphia program director Bill Weston is upped to vice president of talent development in which he’ll work directly with certain personalities to help improve their content as well as assist the company’s PDs with talent assessment and recruitment. Beasley Boston director of programming Cadillac Jack adds VP of strategy & analytics to his role with the company. Beasley Charlotte director of operations John Reynolds rises to VP of music & entertainment in which he’ll serve as the company’s record label liaison for multi-market artist opportunities and company events. Beasley Detroit director of programming Scott Jameson adds VP of national content to his duties. He’ll now also work to identify opportunities for content sharing and manage a national database of talent. Beasley Augusta and Fayetteville OM Tee Gentry adds VP of brand strategies to his responsibilities and he’s charged with working to seek out creative ideas for imaging, promotions, and sales integrations to share with stations across the company. Beasley Media Group Justin Chase comments, “It is such a pleasure to elevate these first-class programmers within our company. Each of them has already made a major positive impact to our company as well as the industry. It’s a privilege to have them on our team!”

TALKERS News Notes. Los Angeles news/talker KFI AM 640 announces that its 10th annual “KFI PastaThon” fundraiser that helps feed local children in need raised a record of more than $770,000 and 75,980 pounds of pasta and pasta sauce. The charitable organization Caterina’s Club – an organization that feeds more than 25,000 underprivileged children each week in over 30 cities throughout Southern California – was the beneficiary. Robin Bertolucci is program director for the iHeartMedia station, and she says, “We are in awe at the generosity of our listeners and so grateful for their support of this worthy cause. Over the past 10 years, they have helped us raise more than $3.5 million and over 586,000 pounds of pasta and pasta sauce in support of Chef Bruno Serato and his outstanding organization as they feed thousands of children in Southern California and help end the cycle of poverty.”…..Cumulus Media’s WBAP, Dallas “News Talk 820AM” raised more than $225,000 (and counting!) for the Denton State Supported Living Center from its “42nd Annual Christmas Is for Caring Radiothon” that took place from December 7-11. Station PD Kevin Graham comments, “This is a testament to the giving nature of our listeners to find it in their hearts in such a difficult year to donate to those that are in desperate need of the holiday spirit. Big thank you to our passionate staff and those at the Denton State Supported Living Center for allowing us to be a part of such a wonderful mission.”…..Also at Cumulus Dallas, news/talker KLIF partnered with Ed Wallace from KLIF’s Saturday morning show, “Wheels with Ed Wallace,” and Kwik Kar Industries for the “32nd Annual KLIF Kids Toy Drive.” Sponsors contributed $44,600, which the station will use to purchase toys for more than 800 underprivileged children attending two different schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area…..Among the numerous year-end features listeners will find on spoken-word radio stations across the country this time of year is the WNYC 2020 Time Capsule from the Brian Lehrer Show. WNYC says that the show “plans to end the year doing what public radio is uniquely able to do: to capture the oral history of this year through the voices of the people who lived through it all.” The WNYC 2020 Time Capsule “is a place for listeners to voice their grief – but also their hopes for the future. In mid-March, a year from when the pandemic took hold in the region – the Time Capsule will be stored atop the Empire State Building next to the WNYC transmitter, not to be opened until 2030.” It will contain the voices of New Yorkers; an Audio Timeline of 2020 that tells the story of the year stitched together from listener calls; a reading of the names of the over 1,900 New Yorkers that died from COVID-19; listener-submitted photographs that best capture the year; and select news stories from the WNYC and Gothamist newsrooms.

Hartmann: Democrats Can’t Win If They Don’t Play. In a piece published in The Nation, progressive talk radio host Thom Hartmann writes about the success Republicans have enjoyed winning political races with the help of the “roughly 1,500 right-wing talk-radio stations that saturate every corner, no matter how remote or rural, of America.” Hartmann says the takeaway from this is: Radio works. He adds, “Good talk show hosts know their job isn’t to find or interview ‘good guests’; it’s to build a trust relationship with their audience, cemented over years, caller after caller, day after day. Truly effective hosts like Limbaugh and Michael Savage talk to their listeners as if they’re close and trusted friends.” He notes that – aside from Bernie Sanders – most Democrats have avoided talk radio. And that, he says, needs to change. “If Democrats want to effectively counter the relentless spread of hard-right ideology in America, talk radio has to be part of that strategy.”

Ashok Sinha Joins Entercom as Head of Corporate Communications. Corporate communications pro Ashok Sinha is named SVP, head of corporate communications and PR for Entercom Communications. In this role, Sinha will lead the communications strategy and execution across Entercom’s entire portfolio of assets. He’ll have direct oversight of internal and external communications, media and press relations, corporate messaging, crisis communications and issues management, and executive thought leadership management. He will serve as a member of Entercom’s executive leadership team, reporting to Paul Suchman, chief marketing officer. Sinha says, “As a lifelong consumer of music and the spoken word, I believe in the power of audio and its ability to engage, entertain and inform the world. I’m delighted for this opportunity to join Entercom and its award-winning corporate communications team, and lead the charge as we tell the story of audio in this dynamic time for media.” Sinha was most recently VP, communications lead, technology at WarnerMedia.

iHeartMedia Names Gabe Fleet EVP of Business Affairs and Chief Music Licensing Counsel. Attorney Gabe Fleet joins iHeartMedia as EVP of business affairs and chief music licensing counsel, effective January 11. Fleet transitions to iHeartMedia from his role as a partner at Greenberg Traurig law firm. In his new role, Fleet will lead iHeartMedia’s business affairs team and focus on strategic deals and relationships with the company’s music and entertainment partners and be responsible for business and legal affairs across the company’s divisions, multiplatform assets and tentpole events. Fleet will also spearhead the company’s music licensing strategy, including maintaining and renewing all music industry licenses for iHeartRadio’s digital services and performance licenses through PRO agencies.

COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Vaccines, Economy & Shutdowns, Biden Transition/Nominations, Georgia Runoff Elections, Stimulus Negotiations, and U.S. Government Hack Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/15). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for post-holidays cases; the beginning of the distribution of COVID vaccines in the U.S.; the state of the U.S. economy, job losses, and mandated business shutdowns; the Joe Biden administration’s transition and cabinet nominations; January’s Georgia U.S. Senate runoff elections; the ongoing stimulus negotiations; and the Russian hack of U.S. government computer systems were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Details are few but WMC-TV, Memphis is reporting that Chris Jarman, morning drive co-host at Cumulus Media’s rock WXMX, Memphis “98.1 The Max” has died after a “tragic accident” at age 50. Jarman co-hosted theDanni & The Jar” morning show. The report cites Cumulus VP Morgan Bohannon saying that Jarman was transported to a hospital in Batesville, Arkansas because no ICU beds were available in Memphis…..AL.com reports that triple A WZEW-FM, Mobile air personality Lee Ann Camp has died after a short battle with cancer. Camp, who along with her husband Tim Camp, hosted radio shows on the .Com+ LLC-owned stations, was first diagnosed earlier this fall after experiencing back pain and subsequent tests revealed she had advanced cancer. The couple have two children, ages 12 and 15…..Hubbard Radio’s hot AC WTMX, Chicago “101.9fm THE MIX” announces that morning show cast member Melissa McGurren is declining a contract renewal with the station and will leave after a 22 years. Hubbard Chicago VP and market manager Jeff England says, “Our plans for the future of ‘Eric in the Morning’ definitely included Melissa. We were disappointed by her decision not to renew her contract, but also know that this year has led all of us to assess our lives in different ways. When she informed me of her decision, she described her time at the station as ‘a privilege’ and that feeling is completely mutual. We wish her the best.”…..Cumulus Media promotes Tish Boden to vice president and market manager for its six-station Shreveport, Louisiana cluster. She was previously director of sales…..Sun Broadcast Group is now exclusively representing the syndicated urban AC afternoon drive program “The Jeff Foxx Show with Keke Brown and Nina” for network sales. The program was formerly syndicated on Superadio.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

| December 15, 2020

Ramsey Solutions Forgives $10 million in Debt for 8,000 Americans. Through his company Ramsey Solutions, Dave Ramsey has taken on the debt of 8,000 people across the United States and totally forgiven a total of $10 million in debt. Ramsey Solutions has purchased $10 million of unpaid medical and car debt from two private debt collection companies in order to forgive it. Starting on November 9, Ramsey and his 950 team members made phone calls to let the recipients know their debt had been forgiven. Recipients will also be notified by a letter in the mail within the next five weeks. Ramsey says, “This year has been one of the worst financially for so many Americans. Thirty years ago, my wife Sharon, and I were on the heels of a financial catastrophe ourselves. We know firsthand the pain of having creditors calling at all hours of the night and wondering how we were going to keep the lights on. But we said never again to living with debt. We worked our way out of bankruptcy, turned our finances around, and now we can have the most fun with money that we ever have – giving.” You can read more about Ramsey Solutions’ $10 million debt payoff here.

Charlie James Named Afternoon Drive Host at WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg. The new afternoon drive talk host at Entercom’s WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg “106.3 WORD” is Charlie James, who joins the station from his most recent post as morning host for Cumulus Media’s news/talk WTMA-AM, Charleston, South Carolina. James – who starts on December 23 – succeeds Bob McLain, who is retiring from the station. Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi says, “Charlie is a well-respected and seasoned talk show host and his track record of success in South Carolina with his award-winning program makes him a perfect fit for ‘106.3 WORD.’ Charlie’s experience informing and entertaining listeners through his style, knowledge, and influential opinions on topics that matter most will be a welcomed addition to our station’s programming and will build on the afternoon audience that has been well served by Bob McLain.”​

WHO-AM, Des Moines Names Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet New Morning Drive Show. Current WHO-AM, Des Moines morning drive host Van Harden announced yesterday (12/14) to listeners that market radio pros Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet will take over hosting the morning drive show after he retires from the station early next month. Schaeffer comments, “The weight of what we have ahead of us is not lost on me.” Schaeffer and Sweet previously worked as morning drive co-hosts at Saga Communications’ crosstown classic hits KIOA-FM until exiting in May of 2018. Harden announced his retirement from WHO back in January of this year, giving iHeartMedia a full year to plan for the new morning show.

Ken Kohl Announces Retirement. Radio programming and management pro Ken Kohl announces that he’s winding down his 50-plus year broadcasting career that’s seen him program news and talk stations in markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Sacramento. Kohl has been serving for the past 12 years with DirecTV managing broadcast and sales operations, project and talent management for the radio and TV simulcasts of “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and “The Artie Lange Show.” Kohl says, “It’s been an amazing 50-year career. From overnight jock on Long Island’s WBLI-FM to program director of legendary WLIR-FM, rockin’ the Rockies at KBPI-FM, great runs programming KOMO-AM and KFBK-AM, launching talk on KFI in Los Angeles and San Francisco’s ‘Free FM’ to the award-winning, wall-to-wall coverage of the OJ trial, and two sports Emmy nominations and a Marconi with ‘The Dan Patrick Show.’ I’ve been blessed with fantastic staffs, amazing talk talent and exceptional ownership but there are a handful of folks who championed my career to whom I am eternally grateful: Michael Harrison, Monty Grau, Jim Donahoe, Jimmy de Castro, Chris Long, and the best of the best, Gerryann Agovino.” Kohl says he remains available for a limited number of consulting clients in between bites of fresh salmon and can be reached at kenkohl@acquaintmedia.com

Townsquare Media Issues Preliminary Fourth Quarter Financial Results. While the fourth quarter of 2020 doesn’t wrap until December 31, Townsquare Media is issuing “preliminary estimated financial results” for the period. Chief executive officer Bill Wilson says, “We are pleased to pre-announce very strong fourth quarter estimated results that outperformed the expectations we had previously outlined on our third quarter earnings call. At that time, I stated that our goal for fourth quarter net revenue was a year-over-year decline of 7.5%, approximately half of our third quarter net revenue decline of 15%, which had been a material improvement from Q2’s decline of 35%. Today, I am proud to share that we expect fourth quarter net revenue will be between $107 million and $109 million, which equates to a decline of approximately 2.7% to 4.5%, materially outperforming our goal. In addition, we expect Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA will be between $27 million and $28 million, representing between 8.3% and 12.3% growth year-over-year. This far exceeds our previously stated goal (by at least $2 million) that Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA would approach Q4 2019 Adjusted EBITDA of $24.9 million.”

i4 Media Ventures Launches with Debut Podcast ‘We Interrupt This Broadcast.’ The new firm i4 Media Ventures announces its plans to “bring podcast listeners vividly memorable stories from the history of American broadcasting.” The 12-episode podcast series “We Interrupt This Broadcast” – the first season of six seasons planned for release over the next three years – debuts in February. The series will feature first-hand accounts, little-told anecdotes and insights recorded over the course of decades with such icons of broadcast journalism as David BrinkleyTom BrokawWalter CronkiteSam Donaldson, Don HewittDan Rather, and Tim Russert, among many contemporary correspondents, and with numerous news directors and producers, as well as with guests connected to broadcast journalism’s rich history such as Casey MurrowEdward R. Murrow’s son. Advertising sales and sponsorship for the series will be represented by New York and Los Angeles-based Crossover Media Group Sales. The series is based on the 1998 New York Times bestselling multimedia book We Interrupt This Broadcast by author Joe Garner, a co-founder of i4 Media Ventures. Legendary longtime CBS journalist and A&E and NPR host Bill Kurtis, the original narrator for the multimedia book, will reprise his role by introducing each episode. The narrator for the series will be announced in coming weeks. Garner says, “It’s our intention with this series to celebrate broadcast journalism’s crucial role in our society and in history. And while our inaugural podcast series will feature major news events throughout broadcast history, these stories – such as the Rodney King beating and the presidential-election dispute of 2000 – all have relevance and offer lessons today.”

Joe Piscopo to Host Sinatra Show on WABC, New York. Well-known TV personality and radio talk show host Joe Piscopo is joining Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York to host “Ramsey Mazda’s Sunday Nights with Sinatra” program that airs from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The show is being simulcast on WLIR-FM on Long Island. Piscopo played Sinatra in a recurring role during his time as a cast member of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” in the early 1980s. He says, “It’s an honor to bring the music of the most legendary icon of our time, Frank Sinatra, back to the legendary WABC Radio. I am thrilled and excited, and it’s gonna’ be swingin’ baby!” Red Apple CEO John Catsimatidis comments, “Throughout history, there has been no more iconic name in music than Frank Sinatra, nor has there been a more iconic name in radio than WABC. Bringing these two together again on Sunday nights with celebrity host Joe Piscopo, a crooner himself, is a one-of-a-kind way to honor ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ and celebrate what would-be his 105th Birthday with this show’s debut.” Piscopo hosts the morning drive program on Salem Media Group‘s WNYM, New York “970 The Answer.”

ESPN’s ‘30 For 30 Podcasts’ Looks Back at Beginning of Pandemic. The next installment of ESPN’s “30 for 30 Podcasts” debuts on December 21, is titled, “March 11 2020,” and tells the story “of a day that started in one reality and ended with a new one — the day the NBA shut down and the pandemic became real — as told by those who lived it.” ESPN says the experiential podcast features a mix of audio clips from news stories of the day and interviews with key figures in the NBA as well as from Dr. Anthony Fauci. Senior editorial producer Julia Lowrie Henderson says, “This has been the strangest, longest, and most challenging of years. It’s hard to process all we’ve been through, but it’s actually quite simple to identify the turning point, the moment where it felt like everything changed: March 11. All of our lives were impacted by the events of that day. At the time we had no idea how deeply, or how long this might last, but we felt the seismic shift when the first professional athlete tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA suspended its season. If our mission at ‘30 For 30’ is to tell stories that explore how sports, competition, athleticism, and adventure affect our lives and our world, then it felt crucial to us to find a way to tell the story of that day.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a story at GVWire.com, KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno program director Blake Taylor says Twitter blocked access to the station’s account because of comments made by U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes on KMJ. During Nunes’ interview with KMJ talk host Ray Appleton, he said he “tested positive for the COVID antibodies” causing some confusion and concern that he had contracted the COVID-19 virus. GVWire.com reports that Taylor fielded requests from consumer media outlets seeking to clarify what Nunes had said so he did so on Twitter. Taylor says that immediately the station’s Twitter account was suspended. He reached out to Twitter but received no response. The blackout lasted 20 minutes…..Entercom’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia “SportsRadio 94WIP” announces special coverage of the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2020-21 season. WIP’s coverage of the team will include “Trust The Pregame,” hosted by Joe Giglio. The station will continue airing “Rights To Ricky Sanchez Radio,” a one-hour show named after the popular podcast. That show will be hosted by Joe Giglio and feature Spike Eskin, as well as Rights to Ricky Sanchez writers Adam Aaronson and Mike O’Connor. The station also announces a collection of additional contributors for the upcoming season, including  WIP’s Jon Johnson and Billy KingDerek Bodner of The AthleticKevin O’Connor of The Ringer, and Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice…..Digital products and services provider Vipology moves its ad sales representation exclusively to AdLarge Media. AdLarge co-founder and co CEO Cathy Csukas says, “Where most digital companies simply create and sell what’s needed at the time, Vipology gets ahead of the constantly evolving media landscape to develop solutions that allow radio to increase ratings and revenue. We’re very excited about representing their advertising inventory from more than 1,000 top radio stations across America to our advertisers.”…..Erick Siqueira joins Focus360 as business development & planning specialist. In this role, Siqueira will work with the Focus team to deliver new revenue and inventory opportunities for clients. He will also continue relationships with agencies and buyers with whom he’s worked for all Focus360 network products and the Focus360 Podcast Network

Electoral College Votes Biden Winner, COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive, COVID Stats & Projections, Barr to Resign, Georgia Runoff Elections, and Stimulus Negotiations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14). The Electoral College votes Joe Biden the 46th president; the first COVID-19 vaccines begin arriving at U.S. hospitals; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for post-holidays outbreaks, and Dr. Tony Fauci’s estimation the U.S. will achieve herd immunity by late spring or early summer; Attorney General William Barr announces he’ll resign next week; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; and negotiations on a new pandemic stimulus package were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. According to a report at NewscenterMaine, former Saga Communications air personality Randi Kirshbaum – who was a program director and jock at country WPOR and triple A WCLZ in Portland, Maine is filing an employment discrimination complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company after she was dismissed for refusing to return to the stations’ offices due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kirshbaum says her mother passed away from pulmonary fibrosis and that she is genetically predisposed to getting it. She adds the disease can be triggered by a respiratory virus. When Kirshbaum was laid off in May, Saga Portland SVP Chris Forgy said Kirshbaum violated her signed agreement that she could be called back to the office by management and would lose her job if she refused…..Condolences to the family and friends of radio pro Steve Cooper, a.k.a. James Carr, who died on Sunday (12/13) at age 71 after several years of battling multiple illnesses. Cooper worked in the Indianapolis market for 32 years, working at such signals as WNDE, WIFE, WFBQ, and WTPI. You can see a tribute video made by good friend Art Vuolo here.