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.
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.
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 the “Danni & 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.