Monday Memo: 1,000 True Fans. “Broadcasters know things podcasters don’t,” but consultant Holland Cooke explains that “podcasters have an opportunity to grow audience that broadcasters don’t.” And in this week’s column, HC points to a podcasting business strategy he’s recommended for years. Read it here.
COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Fourth of July Holiday, Trump Mt. Rushmore Rally/Presidential Race, BLM Movement/Confederate and Colonial-Era Monuments, U.S.-China Tensions, Ghislaine Maxwell Case, and Sports Leagues Plan Re-Openings Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The spiking of COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future infections; the Fourth of July holiday and concerns about large gatherings; President Trump’s rally at Mt. Rushmore and the November presidential election; the Black Lives Matter protests and the movement to remove Confederate and colonial-era monuments; the U.S. and Chinese military tensions in the South China Sea; Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged former madam Ghislaine Maxwell is indicted; and the plans to re-open pro sports leagues in the U.S. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Pending Business: Updating Your Unique Value. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column about the changing “unique” value that your news/talk radio station has. He says that since radio is no longer the preeminent free utility that it once was, salespeople should take time to re-evaluate what makes their station “unique.” Read it here.
iHeartMedia Gets KGB-AM Calls for San Diego News/Talker. The acquisition of San Diego news/talk outlet KFMB-AM by iHeartMedia from Local Media San Diego is complete and the station has received permission from the FCC to change the call letters to KGB-AM. As part of the deal in which Tegna sold KFMB-AM and KFMB-FM to Local Media San Diego for $5 million, Tegna required the stations give up the KFMB calls. LMSD in turn sold KFMB-AM to iHeartMedia for $1.2 million. iHeartMedia San Diego market president Melissa Forrest says, “The KGB call letters are legendary in San Diego and we’re excited to make them a part of AM 760’s next chapter as San Diego’s talk station.” iHeartMedia has kept the program lineup largely intact with local hosts Mark Larson (10:00 am to 12:00 noon) and Mike Slater (12:00 noon to 3:00 pm) in the mix among syndicated programs. Former station talk host Brett Winterble exited the station earlier this year and is now afternoon drive host at Entercom’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte.
‘New Jersey 101.5’ Presents Next Event in Town Hall Series. On Wednesday (7/8) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the next in its series of Town Hall broadcasts to help New Jersey residents and businesses dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The station says that according to a survey by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, nearly 40% of New Jersey business owners are depleting their personal savings to survive pandemic closures. New Jersey 101.5 VP and head of news and digital content Eric Scott adds, “Businesses are still hurting, and we will connect them with the help they need. But we also want to celebrate their unique innovations that are allowing them to operate in these challenging times.” Experts on this week’s panel include: Michele Siekerka, president & CEO, New Jersey Business & Industry Association; Marilou Halvorsen, president & CEO, New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association; Kristin Fitzgerald, communications manager, Six Flags Great Adventure; and Dr. Ronald Nahass, epidemiologist, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Scott and his guests will answer live, call-in questions from listeners throughout the hour.
Herman Cain Being Treated for COVID-19. Former WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta talk host Herman Cain announces via Twitter that he’s been diagnosed with COVID-19 and that symptoms were severe enough that he’s been hospitalized. The message notes that Cain has not been put on a respirator. It also says there is no way of knowing how or where Cain contracted the illness. It’s being noted in numerous reports that Cain was hospitalized on July 1, the same day he sent a tweet saying masks will not be required at Donald Trump’s Mt. Rushmore rally and that “people are fed up.” Cain was present at Trump’s Tulsa rally and had traveled before and after that event, including to current hot spot Arizona. Cain hosts a talk show on his website and hosts a weekend talk program on Newsmax TV.
WPHT, Philadelphia Presented Major Homegrown Two-Hour Independence Day Weekend Special. Located in the birthplace of America, it was only apt for news/talk giant WPHT, Philadelphia to present a homegrown two-hour holiday special celebrating the 244th birthday of the nation that aired twice over the weekend. The program titled “Independence Day 2020: Hope and Inspiration for America at the Halfway Point of a Very Tough Year” focused on American heroes – local as well as national officials and military figures – telling their stories and talking about the comeback of our great nation. The special was written and hosted by WPHT mid-morning personality Dom Giordano who tells TALKERS, “We got a great response from our listeners and sponsors who enjoyed the information and ‘feel good’ aspect of the program that although recognizing the difficulty of these tough times, approached the issues in a much-needed uplifting and inspirational manner.”
AJ Punjabi Named Market President for iHeartMedia’s Charleston, SC Cluster. Media sales pro AJ Punjabi is named market president for iHeartMedia’s Charleston, South Carolina station group that includes news/talk WSC “News Radio 94.3” and five music brands. He was most recently general sales manager for Cox Media Group in Miami. iHeartMedia Carolina’s area president Ron Hill says, “We’re excited to have AJ join iHeartMedia as our market president in Charleston. He’s a dynamic leader with a proven track record of building strong relationships and success for his company and their clients. AJ’s experience and leadership skills make him one of the best executives in our business, and he’ll be an excellent addition to our team serving the Low Country.”
‘myTalk 107.1’ Twin Cities Raises Almost $150,000 for Neighborhood Rebuilding Fund. The Hubbard Radio talk station says that “in an effort to lift up and rebuild minority-owned businesses on Lake Street and on the Northside of Minneapolis, as well as in St. Paul’s Midway and Frogtown neighborhoods, ‘myTalk 107.1’ [KTMY] on-air personalities poured out their hearts, sharing stories of the business owners whose lives were negatively impacted with their thousands of listeners.” In partnership with the Neighborhood Development Center, the two-week awareness and fundraising campaign “myTalk Neighborhood Rebuilding Fund” raised $149,515. The station says that its four programs – Jason & Alexis, Donna & Steve, Colleen & Bradley, and Lori & Julia – encouraged their listeners to contribute to the Neighborhood Rebuilding Fund. The Jason & Alexis morning show featured “10 stories in 10 days” – allowing an entrepreneur whose business was destroyed or negatively impacted during the unrest to share their story with ‘myTalk’ listeners. KTMY program director Amy Daniels says, “This is what community looks like in the Twin Cities. ‘myTalk 107.1’ listeners and 20 of our advertising partners joined together to rebuild our neighborhoods, uplift businesses, and bring hope. The Neighborhood Development Center was the perfect partner to tell small business stories and distribute the money to all who need it.”
TALKERS News Notes. Sales pro Jessica Schwartz is named director of sales for Townsquare Media’s WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” and WPST-FM, Princeton. She was most recently VP of sales & marketing at iPlay America. She begins her new role on August 10. She says, “I am beyond excited to join the team at Townsquare Media. With a strong and diverse portfolio of broadcast and digital solutions, positive work environment, and the best team in the market, I know we will continue to grow these two fantastic stations.”…..BIA Advisory Services is presenting a webinar on July 14 at 11:00 am ET called “U.S. Local Radio: State of the Industry Now and in 2021.” BIA estimates U.S. local radio advertising will be $12.8 billion in 2020, comprised of $11.4 billion for over-the-air revenue and $1.4 billion for digital revenue. Although this estimate is lower than its earlier expectations, BIA says there are bright spots for the industry and opportunities for a strong rebound from the effects of this pandemic. Register for the webinar here…..NuVoodoo Media Services is offering a free webinar on Wednesday (7/8) at 1:00 pm ET called “Marketing in the New Abnormal.” The company will share the latest findings of its Ratings Prospects Study XVI and “important insights for marketing radio brands during uncertain times.” You can register here…..The Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame board of directors announces it is postponing its 9th Annual Induction Ceremony scheduled for Saturday, August 8. For now, the organization is hoping to reschedule this year and says tickets for the August 8 date will be honored for the new date…..Former longtime producer of the Neil Rogers show, Jorge Rodriguez has died at the age of 55. A post on the Neil Rogers Tribute Facebook page by former cast member Boca Britany (formerly Boca Brian) lauds Rodriguez but offers no cause of death. Rodriguez produced the Neil Rogers show during its time airing on WIOD and WQAM in Miami. He leaves behind two daughters, Sabrina and Arabella.
Blanquita Cullum Named to The Texas Radio Hall of Fame and Awarded Prestigious Sammy Award. Legendary talk radio personality and broadcast industry figure Blanquita Cullum has been named to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2020 and is the recipient of this year’s Sammy Award. The Sammy Award is presented each year to a “trailblazing” female broadcaster. In a statement made at the presentation, Josh Holstead, operations manager of the Texas Hall of Fame said, “Each year, the Texas Radio Hall of Fame recognizes the outstanding contributions and achievements of a trailblazing female broadcaster. Named for legendary female personality Mary “Sam” Stoddard, this year our Board of Directors bestow this honor on San Antonio’s Blanquita Cullum. From humble beginnings as a copywriter at K-BUC, Blanquita became one of the most recognized and respected women in Alamo City radio, and eventually a nationally recognized figure after taking her talents to Washington, DC. It gives me great pride to see a person so deserving receive this accolade.” Cullum achieved success with her program “The BQ View” in national syndication on the Radio America network in the 1990s and as a pioneer of the modern era of talk radio while serving as the executive director of the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts. She also received a presidential appointment by George W. Bush to United States Broadcasting Board of Governors (now the US Agency for Global Media) where she served from 2002 to 2010. She was also the founder of the Young American Broadcasters Program which helped identify upcoming radio talent and provided them with scholarships. She is a veteran of San Antonio radio stations KITE, KTSA, and KSJL, as well as KENS-TV. She served as White House liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and executive assistant to the deputy director of FEMA during President George H.W. Bush’s administration. Commenting on Cullum receiving the Sammy Award, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison stated, “Ms. Cullum’s contributions to the growth of talk radio’s modern era both on air and behind the scenes are indeed worthy of this great honor.” At present, Cullum hosts a daily program “The Hard Question” on WCGO, Chicago which is syndicated on the SmartTalk Radio Network.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Dave Hill joins Cumulus Media’s classic rock KCFX, Kansas City “101 The Fox” as program director. Hill was most recently with iHeartMedia Indianapolis where he was SVP of programming. Cumulus EVP of content & audience Brian Philips says, “Dave Hill impressed us with his pure programming creativity and vivid imagination. ‘The Fox’ rules classic rock in KC, but we don’t take our legacy for granted. Dave’s fresh perspective and rich experience will help keep us on top.”…..iHeartMedia flips WAKZ, Youngstown, Ohio from CHR to hip hop as “Real 95.9.” It will feature Premiere Networks’ “The Breakfast Club” in morning drive. iHeartMedia market president and VP of programming Keith Kennedy says, “Top 40 has evolved and ‘Real 95.9’ is the only station you’ll hear everywhere in The Mahoning Valley, playing today’s biggest hip hop and R&B hit songs.”
Memo: Copy Copy Like This. While listeners – whom your advertisers want to meet – have been disrupted, NOTHING resonates like empathy, succinctly conveyed. For this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke has collected examples instructive to commercial copy we craft for local retailers, and station imaging. Read it here.
Re-Opening Across America, Memorial Day Holiday, Michigan Protests, COVID-19 Tests/Vaccine Research, Presidential Race, Brazil Travel Ban, and ‘The Match’ Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. States across the country begin cautiously re-opening their economies; the Memorial Day holiday takes place without the usual parades and observances; Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s battle against lockdown protesters; the number of COVID-19 tests being done in the U.S. and the global work being done to create a vaccine; the November presidential election; President Trump puts a ban on flights from Brazil as the coronavirus sweeps through the South American nation; and “The Match” featuring Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady playing golf were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Pending Business: What’s All the Fuss About? Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that great sellers have always been built to work remotely. He draws a sports analogy. “High-performing athletes are regularly well-coached and prepared. Then, on their own, away from the head coach – remotely – often with private coaches, they practice. When they return for the next session they are better… the takeaway here is the individual commitment to practicing ‘remotely.’” Read his column here.
PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s April PPM survey, today focusing on news/talk formatted stations. It appears that radio listeners shifted from wanting straight news about the pandemic in March – when all-news outlets saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares shoot up – to wanting to hear analysis and discussion about the COVID-19 pandemic in April. Seventy-eight percent of news/talk stations saw their AQH shares go up during the April survey, led by big gainers such as iHeartMedia’s WISN-AM, Milwaukee (+3.5, 9.3 share), Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City (+2.8, 8.8 share), and Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM, Providence (+2.3, 6.1 share). It’s important to note that radio cume was down across the board in April and that dramatic increases in time spent listening are driving these AQH spikes. With that said, some impressive year-over year AQH increases happened in April. Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta was up 7.3 shares over April 2019 (13.9 share, #1), iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento shot up 5.6 shares (11.6 share, #1), and Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis was up 5.1 shares (10.3 share, #1). Also, in April there were 11 news/talk outlets that ranked #1 in their respective markets. See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.
Erick Erickson Interviews Mike Pence in Sanitized Space at Waffle House HQ. Pictured above is Georgia talk radio host Erick Erickson (left) conducting an in-person interview with Vice President Mike Pence (right) on Friday (5/22) at Waffle House corporate headquarters in Norcross, Georgia. The interview aired on Erickson’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta afternoon drive show on Friday and on his statewide syndicated late morning show today (5/26). Erickson says of preparing for the interview, “I didn’t have to wear a mask. The Secret Service took my temperature, made me set up all my equipment, then made me leave the room so they could sanitize everything themselves. I was not allowed back to my equipment until the interview. It was a new twist on these sorts of interviews.” The two discussed the progress being made in re-opening Georgia, the what-ifs of a potential flare-up of coronavirus cases, and what might be expected for college football this year.
KOIL, Omaha Launches New ‘Local 1290’ Program. Omaha news/talk KOIL “News Talk 1290” says it is debuting a new, daily two-hour program “focusing on the local community as our friends, neighbors and businesses begin to face the new normal.” The live program is being hosted by Neil Nelkin and will focus on everything “local” in Omaha, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa as businesses start to re-open and figure out how to go forward. Other NRG Media on-air talent will join the program as co-hosts, including Nikki and Laura from KQKQ-FM “Sweet 98.5,” Mike’l Severe and Damon Benning from KOZN-AM “1620 The Zone,” and Matt Tompkins from KOOO-FM “101.9 The Keg.” Neil Nelkin comments, “Finally a positive show about our listeners, our community and businesses within the Omaha and Council Bluffs area. We want to highlight the local business and hear their stories about how they are doing and re-opening. It’s a community feel good, as we are all in this together.”
TALKERS News Notes. The global pandemic can’t keep Stephanie Miller’s “Sexy Liberal Tour” down. Miller’s SM Radio Productions says, “Until it’s safe to travel and gather in large groups again, the hysterically funny ‘Sexy Liberal Tour’ is now set to come into fans’ homes with ‘Stephanie Miller’s Sexy Liberal Virtual Tour.’” It will debut virtually on Saturday, June 6 at 9:00 pm ET / 6:00 pm PT and will feature Stephanie Miller, John Fugelsang, Hal Sparks, Frances Callier, and Angela V. Shelton…..Nationally syndicated talk host Buck Sexton interviewed President Trump in the Oval Office for a conversation that aired on his Premiere Networks-syndicated show. Among the topics discussed were the president’s thoughts on the intelligence community, the judiciary, the “deep state,” “Russiagate,” Michael Flynn, and more. The president also told Sexton the country will “never do this again” and will deal with the coronavirus issue by employing the country’s “best resources” to put out any fires as they emerge…..The Times-Union of San Diego reports that Mexican signal XEPRS-AM, Tijuana could be back on the air as “The Mightier 1090” around July 4, to coincide with the return of Major League Baseball. As has been reported, Flagstaff, Arizona-based marketing executive Bill Hagen is leasing the former sports talk outlet and plans to build a lifestyle and sports talk station around afternoon personality – and former longtime “Mighty 1090” personality – Scott Kaplan. The sports talk format on XEPRS ended 13 months ago when Broadcasting Company of the Americas lost its lease on the signal…..GCN-syndicated host Kate Delaney is honored with a 2020 Communicator Award for Excellence from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts. Her DelaneyMediaGroup won in the Commercial Campaign category for “Her Story.” Delaney tells TALKERS magazine the feature airs on 70 stations and Amazon’s Echo…..Last Friday (5/22), WTKS-FM, Orlando’s “The News Junkie” radio show – hosted by Shawn Wasson, Sabrina Ambra, and Chris “C-lane” Lane – held “the World’s First Live Radio Broadcast With Social Distancing.” Pictured below is the trio at their broadcast booth. They say that fans arrived at staggered times to prevent a large crowd outside and those feeling sick were urged not to attend. Each table was limited to only a few guests and hand sanitizer and optional masks were available for all guests. Wasson says, “The show featured plenty of drinks, plenty of fun and games. What we didn’t do is have people shaking hands and hanging all over each other. We showed that with enough planning and preparation you can juggle being safe and having a blast.”
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Last week’s WKQX, Chicago radiothon supporting the Chicago Independent Venue League netted $34,000 for the association and its live music venues. The morning show trio of Brian, Ali, and Justin were on air for 34 hours and interviewed artists including Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day, Grouplove, Silversun Pickups, Cage The Elephant, Local H, KFlay, All Time Low, Powfu, Chip Z’Nuff, and Jerry from JBTV. The event was sponsored by Goose Island Beer Company, supporting Chicago music venues since 1988…..iHeartMedia flips classic hits WJDX, Jackson, Mississippi to hip hop as “The New Real 105.1.” The station’s lineup includes “The Breakfast Club,” with DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne Tha God in morning drive. iHeartMedia Jackson market president Mike Comfort says, “We are excited to launch ‘The New Real 105.1’ in Jackson and bring another choice for hip hop and R&B to the market. Based on our research, we know not only is this going to connect with our market’s audience, but this format is also going to produce a strong listener base for our advertisers – things just got real!”…..iHeartMedia Philadelphia re-brands alternative WRFF as “ALT 104.5.” Station PD and midday personality Amber Miller says, “Who doesn’t love the big reveal at the end of a makeover show. Well, ta-da! Philly’s Alternative Rock station is now sounding bigger and better than ever, combining the music and personalities our listeners love with this fresh, energetic new aesthetic. The station offers listeners the same music and entertainment they crave, just with a fresh new coat of paint.”
CLARIFICATION: WABC, New York Adds Bannon’s ‘War Room: Pandemic’ Show TFN; Local Expert Guests Throughout Week. Clearing up some confusion from an earlier press release sent out by Red Apple Media, news/talk WABC, New York announces it is adding Stephen K. Bannon’s “War Room: Pandemic” syndicated program to its daily lineup at 5:00 pm until further notice. The station is also bringing in a series of expert guests for special local coronavirus programs between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm. On Monday (3/23), former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani hosted with Tony Carbonetti for an hour. Today (3/24), famed attorney Arthur Aidala hosts at 3:00 pm and Bill O’Reilly does a customized hour for WABC at 4:00 pm. Tomorrow (3/25), “Curtis & Juliet” extend their show until 4:00 pm, when FOX News’ Brian Kilmeade hosts a customized hour for WABC. Thursday, its former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm and New York Governor George Pataki hosts from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
iHeartMedia Announces KFMB-AM, San Diego Lineup. Six days after taking over operation of San Diego news/talk KFMB-AM under an LMA from Local Media San Diego, iHeartMedia announces the lineup for the talk station that it intends to buy for $1.2 million. Local talk hosts Mark Larson and Mike Slater have been hired to continue their programs on the station as the station retains most of its programming. The KSTE, Sacramento-based “Armstrong & Getty” show will hold down morning drive, followed by Larson from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, Slater from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, Premiere Networks’ Buck Sexton in PM drive, followed by Westwood One’s Mark Levin in evenings, “Red Eye Radio” in overnights, and “America in the Morning” in early mornings. Local host Brett Winterble left KFMB-AM and recently was named afternoon personality at Entercom’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte. iHeartMedia San Diego market president Melissa Forrest states, “We are proud to add this iconic talk station to iHeartMedia San Diego’s portfolio of market-leading brands. We look forward to working with AM 760’s talented, well-respected hosts and their listeners.”
WTZA, Atlanta Talk Station Folds Under Weight of Coronavirus Pandemic. According to a report by Rodney Ho in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, entrepreneur Will Regan has ended the talk format on WTZA-AM/W271CV, Atlanta “Talk of Atlanta” because interested investors pulled out due to the coronavirus and advertisers putting a halt to campaigns. Regan was building the station around afternoon drive host Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson – formerly with Cumulus’ crosstown WYAY-FM – prior to its sale to Educational Media Foundation – and a longtime host at iHeartMedia’s WGST – now airing all syndicated programming. Also let go from WTZA are Peterson’s co-host Pete Davis, Mike Brooks, Shannon Burke, and Kara Stockton.
TALKERS News Notes. WABC, New York personality and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa is front and center in a New York Post piece about the work the Guardian Angels are doing to assist the city’s homeless. The story says that Guardian Angels have been working at Penn Station and in the subways giving the homeless care packages that include a sandwich, fruit snacks, peanut butter crackers, and hand wipes. Sliwa is quoted saying that the homeless population is especially at risk because they are not following the advisories. “It’s the only way you are going to get them to follow the guidelines and no one is doing it. The city acts like they don’t exist, the homeless and emotionally disturbed.”…..Hulk Hogan, a.k.a. Terry Bollea, has agreed to a settlement with Cox Media Group’s WHPT-FM, Tampa and various individuals involved in the release of a sex tape that shows Bollea having sex with Bubba The Love Sponge’s then-wife Heather Clem. The settlement terms have not been disclosed. Bollea first sued digital gossip sheet Gawker and won a $141 million judgement (he settled for $31 million) that put Gawker out of business. This most recent suit named defendants: Cox Media Group, WHPT morning host Mike Calta, former Bubba the Love Sponge cast member Matt “Spice Boy” Loyd, Loyd’s ex-wife Tasha Nicole Caraga, Lori Burbridge, Don Buchwald and Associates, Buchwald agent Tony Burton, and attorney Keith Davidson…..Entercom announces that as part of its annual, yearlong “I’m Listening” mental health awareness initiative it is presenting, “I’m Listening: Stay Connected,” a multiplatform, live daily show focused on mental health in the midst of the global health pandemic. The program is hosted by licensed therapist Dr. Chris Donaghue, who will offer resources and tips and answer questions from listeners to keep overwhelm at bay. It airs Monday through Thursday from 8:00 pm to 8:30 pm ET.
Coronavirus Status, Stimulus Package Debate, Trump Considers ‘Reopening’ Economy Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/23). The spread of the coronavirus, the death toll, and predictions about overwhelmed emergency rooms; the debate in congress over the components of an economic stimulus package; and President Trump’s concerns about the “cure” being worse than the virus and his considering “reopening the economy” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Mayo Clinic and Radio America Offer COVID-19 Info. As syndication partner for Mayo Clinic, Radio America is helping the health organization responding to the coronavirus pandemic clinically and with the latest public information by adding resources for stations. Mayo Clinic’s News Network is providing free information that stations are welcome to use. Find it here. Mayo Clinic offers a daily radio feature called “Mayo Clinic Radio Health Minutes,” as well as an hour-long weekend radio show, both of these are available from Radio America Network. Stations interested in interviewing a Mayo physician about COVID-19 can request an interview with Dr. Tom Shives (host of Mayo Clinic Radio) by reaching out to Radio America at email@example.com.
RAB Launches “Business Unusual.” The Radio Advertising Bureau announces a new section on its RAB.com website to assist radio salespeople during the coronavirus pandemic. Titled, “Business Unusual: Best Practices for When It’s Not Business As Usual,” the section “includes a newly released white paper titled ‘Advertising During Difficult Times,’ pertinent articles and blogs, Radio It’s On social media campaign, relevant research studies, creative resources, and other marketing and training tools that RAB members can use and share with their advertising clients.” The section is being updated regularly with new materials posted for RAB members as they become available. The RAB is also offering a professional development webinar series called Business Unusual featuring three distinct webinars free to RAB members. The three in the series are: Business Unusual Requires Exceptional Communication – How To Talk To Your Advertisers Now; How To Craft Your Messaging In Times of Uncertainty; and Work From Home (WFH) Strategies To Maximize Productivity In Your New Office.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In order to help entertain and soothe Americans whose daily lives have been upended by COVID-19, Entercom’s RADIO.COM is launching “RADIO.COM Live: And the Beat Goes On,” a new 24/7 channel that will stream and broadcast live epic events for 30 straight days, including new and never-before-seen archived performances from some of the biggest artists in the world. RADIO.COM SVP and general manager Pam Russo states, “As we practice social distancing, music fans everywhere can stay connected with ‘RADIO.COM Live: And the Beat Goes On’ for live, exclusive performances right in their homes. We have opened up our archives from a variety of genres and also partnered with new artists to bring fans some of our biggest shows all in one place. We hope everyone enjoys a nightly couch tour with us.” Entercom regional president Jeff Federman says, “Music soothes the soul and as we navigate these unchartered waters our souls have never needed to be soothed more. Our stations nationwide have partnered with incredible artists for one-of-a-kind performances. We have always wanted to dig deep into our archive and this seems like the absolute best time to do so.”
iHeartMedia to Operate KFMB-AM, San Diego in Aftermath of Tegna-Local Media San Diego Deal. The sale of San Diego stations adult hits KFMB-FM and news/talk KFMB-FM from Tegna to Local Media San Diego for $5 million closed yesterday (3/17). Immediately, LMSD and iHeartMedia revealed a deal in which the latter will operate KFMB-AM under a local marketing agreement. The station began airing a simulcast of iHeartMedia’s news/talk KOGO-AM, San Diego. iHeartMedia expects to file an asset purchase agreement with the FCC this week and new programming should launch on the signal this week as well. Tegna acquired the two radio stations as part of its acquisition of KFMB-TV and KFMB-D2 from Midwest Television in 2018. That deal was for $325 million. Tegna continues to operate sports talk WBNS-AM/FM, Columbus as its only radio properties.
TALKERS TIP: The Communist Chinese Connection to the Coronavirus Story Will Remain and Grow as a Major News/Talk Media Issue Going Forward. Although public and media attention is now focused on the immediate and practical challenges being presented by the coronavirus crisis – the breaking story about U.S. journalists from The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal being ousted from reporting on China from within its mainland borders underscores the consistent repression of news by the Communist government in Beijing. Those who follow U.S.-China relations know this has been the case for many years. Since entering into a relationship with The Epoch Times last spring co-producing a series of Talk Media Forums on U.S.-China Relations, TALKERS has found the unique news agency to be an excellent source of truthful information pertaining to issues having to do with China… in this case, the origins and historic context of Covid-19. The Epoch Times was founded in the United States in 2000 in response to communist repression and censorship in China. Its founders, Chinese-Americans who themselves had fled communism, sought to create an independent media to bring the world uncensored and truthful information to overcome the propagandistic untruths flowing from Beijing including the imprisonment and torture of journalists reporting narratives counter to their official party line and the horrific persecution of those seeking religious freedom such as the hundreds of thousands of Chinese practicing the meditation-oriented spiritual movement, Falun Gong (portrayed by the CCP as a dangerous “cult”). Since its founding, The Epoch Times has received numerous awards for its reporting and design from the New York Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Society for News Design, and more. The Epoch Times media network currently covers 21 languages and 33 countries. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “It is sadly ironic that most of the world’s information about China comes from the official narrative being put forth by the CCP and not a free and open press and includes hit pieces on publications and news agencies such as The Epoch Times that dare to stand up to their distortions. The Epoch Times has proven to be a critical resource for news/talk media hosts seeking to obtain truthful insights into all things China – which covers a wide range of material in today’s dialogue. Their investigative reporters are compelling and informative guests who are truly plugged into the front-line sources. The Epoch Times is proving to be a gift to talk show hosts seeking to stay ahead of the curve on U.S.-China relations and related domestic and international issues.” Right now, at TALKERS’ suggestion, The Epoch Times is granting full access to its website and firewalls to talk show hosts and news reporters. To sign up, please click here. To book timely guests from The Epoch Times to discuss the coronavirus and the Communist Chinese connection to politics and American interests, call Victoria Jones at the DC Radio Company at 202-227-7067.
WFNZ-AM, Charlotte PD Tony DiGiacomo Exits. Sports talk radio programmer Tony DiGiacomo exited his role as program director at Entercom’s WFNZ-AM, Charlotte last week after his contract was not renewed. DiGiacomo tells TALKERS magazine that the station had experienced recent ratings growth in both the Men 18-34 and Men 25-54 demos. The company is handing WFNZ PD duties to operations manager Darrin Ariens. DiGiacomo says, “It was an honor to be part of WFNZ, working with some of the best talent in the business, and help the station become an important part of the Charlotte sports community. I want to thank Matt Hanlon, Darrin Ariens, and Entercom for the privilege of programming the radio station the past three years. I wish them and my former teammates all the best moving forward and look forward to the next chapter in my sports media career.” DiGiacomo has spent the last 23 years in the sports radio industry, the last 10-plus with WFNZ. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Two Rounds of Nielsen Audio’s February PPM Ratings Released. The first two rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s February PPM survey have been released for 24 markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Long Island (Nassau-Suffolk), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey), Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. The February 2020 survey period was January 30 through February 26. See all the weekly, 6+ AQH share numbers from subscribing stations here. Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Takeaways from the first round of 12 markets. Some positive ratings moves of note: iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles adds a half share to finish the month with a 3.8 share and the #7 rank in the market; Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago adds four-tenths to wrap the survey period with a 5.8 share and the #1 rank; and Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta adds 1.4 shares to post an 11.4 share for its eighth straight #1 finish. See all of Mike Kinosian’s Takeaways here.
SRN’s Mike Gallagher Broadcasts from Home. Pictured above is Salem Radio Network talk show host Mike Gallagher broadcasting from the (extremely clean) kitchen of his Florida condo. Noting that NBC TV’s “TODAY Show” host Savannah Guthrie is broadcasting from her basement, Gallagher tells TALKERS, “Following guidelines and directives from President Trump, I’m happy to hunker down in my kitchen for the foreseeable future. Today’s radio technology makes it so easy it seems like a no-brainer for all of us in talk radio.”
Working from Home Made Easier. Nationally syndicated talk show host Walter Sterling (pictured above in his home “studio”) offers some tips for broadcasting from home. With so many who may never have done it before now in the position of doing their radio shows from home, you might take a few tips from someone who’s been doing it for the past seven years. The good news is you don’t need to spend a ton of cash to get a “studio sound” from some remote corner of your house. Walter himself prefers the laundry room. Read his advice here.
Bridgett Knupp to Lead iHeartMedia in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Sales pro Bridgett Knupp is promoted from senior vice president of sales for the iHeartMedia Harrisonburg operations to market president. The cluster includes news/talk WKCY-AM and five music brands. Area president for iHeartMedia Virginia community markets Chuck Peterson says, “I am excited to have Bridgett begin her new role as the leader of our Harrisonburg and Staunton group of station brands. She is already known and respected in the local business community through her previous roles with iHeartMedia Harrisonburg. She has a proven track record of sales leadership and is outstanding in the area of digital advertising.” Knupp began her career with iHeartMedia as an account executive in 2001.
The Coronavirus Pandemic, Trump Seeks Stimulus, Markets Activity/Recession Fears, Democratic Primaries/Presidential Race, China to Expel U.S. Journalists, Putin Power Grab Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/17). The status of the COVID-19 pandemic; President Trump’s plan for a fiscal stimulus package including cash for all Americans; the activity in the world’s financial markets and economists fears of a global recession; Joe Biden’s Tuesday victories over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary; China’s move to expel U.S. journalists in retaliation for Trump’s limit on Chinese state journalists; and Vladimir Putin’s move to alter the Russian constitution to allow him to remain in power were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder wonders in today’s “Robservations” column, “What’s up with the new echo effect on WGN 720-AM?” Feder says the Nexstar Media Group news/talk station has added a reverb to its audio chain like you’d hear on a classic oldies station, as well as some retro station jingles. WGN general manager Mary Sandberg Boyle tells him, “As a stand-alone on the AM dial, we are committed to delivering the best audio quality. The use of reverb showcases our 24/7 local content in an enhanced, dynamic way to our listeners.”…..In an effort to provide some relief to basketball fans suffering from the cancellation of this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Westwood One is re-airing 15 classic games from tournament history. The three-week run of games begins tomorrow night (3/19) at 8:00 pm ET with the 1979 NCAA championship game between Michigan State and Indiana State, which featured Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. At halftime, Westwood One will air an interview with Johnson and Bird discussing the game and their long rivalry. The special series will conclude with an encore presentation of last year’s NCAA championship game between Virginia and Texas Tech on Monday, April 6 at 8:00 pm ET…..Public news/talk WGBH, Boston is launching a new, nightly news program titled “In It Together,” hosted by executive editor and host Arun Rath and dedicated to the news of the day about the COVID-019 pandemic. WGBH general manager Phil Redo says, “In a time of great uncertainty, we want to offer listeners the information and analysis they need to navigate a rapidly changing world. We know that our programs provide regularity to the upended lives of our audiences. We’re hoping this new offering builds a sense of community as we face the challenges of this pandemic.”
Music Radio News and Career Moves. A major move takes place in Los Angeles as Entercom fires the “Kevin in the Morning” show on alternative KROQ and replaces it with afternoon duo Stryker (below, left) and Kevin Klein (below, right). Megan Holiday moves from evenings to afternoons and the station is searching for a new night personality. Entercom regional president Jeff Federman says, “We thank Kevin [Ryder] for his many years of dedication, comedy, and entertainment, alongside Bean, that helped build KROQ into the iconic station it is today. ‘Stryker and Klein’ have an engaged and loyal fanbase and we look forward to ushering in the future of mornings with them on the ‘World Famous KROQ.’” Also let go by the station are morning co-hosts Allie MacKay and Jensen Karp…..Max Media announces that programmer Eddie Haskell is joining its Norfolk-Virginia Beach stations as vice president of operations and programming. In this position, he’ll also serve as brand manager and afternoon drive personality at country WGH “97.3 The Eagle.” Haskell was most recently SVP of programming for iHeartMedia Fort Collins…..Townsquare Media announces that adult hits WSHK, Portsmouth, New Hampshire “The Shark” brand manager Sarah Sullivan is promoted to operations manager for the cluster. She’ll retain her WSHK duties. Also, sister country WOKQ midday personality and assistant brand manager Jess Tyler is upped to PD for the station. Senior vice president of programming Kurt Johnson says, “We love to recognize and elevate great local performers and these are two of the best. Sarah and Jess have delivered outstanding results in their positions and are more than qualified and deserving of these promotions.”…..Due to public health and safety concerns, and in accordance with The University of Pennsylvania guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Philadelphia public triple A WXPN-FM has postponed its “NON-COMMvention 2020,” the annual gathering of triple A radio and music professionals that was scheduled to take place May 12-15, 2020 at WXPN and World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. No decision has yet been made regarding a new schedule.
Talk Hosts Cover Trump’s Wildwood Rally. Talk radio hosts from the Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York areas were in attendance at last night’s Trump rally at the Wildwoods Convention Center at the Jersey Shore. Above at left is WPGG, Atlantic City morning host Harry Hurley with a front row view as President Trump speaks. At top right is WPHT, Philadelphia morning drive host Rich Zeoli (right) talking with the first person in line to get a ticket for admission, Duke (left). At bottom right is WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer” afternoon personality Kevin McCullough (right) with Republican National Committee spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany (left). Rally organizers say some 175,000 tickets were requested for the event although the venue holds 7,000. McCullough tells TALKERS magazine campaign officials are considering another rally at a future date in Northern New Jersey at the Meadowlands Sports Complex.
Staffs of News/Talk KFMB-AM and Adult Hits KFMB-FM in San Diego Given Notice. Some 45 staffers at Tegna’s two radio stations in San Diego have been given their two-week notice in advance of the stations’ transfer of ownership to Local Media San Diego after February 7. The San Diego Reader reports that the staffers were told that new owner LMSD is keeping four salespeople and one commercial production person. Tegna says that it’s now up to LMSD to decide if it wants to hire any of the dismissed employees back. From news/talk KFMB-AM, local talk personalities Brent Winterble, Mike Slater, and Mark Larson are among the casualties. It’s unclear at this time what LMSD’s format plans are for the two stations. The hosts are still working through February 7 at which time all employees will receive their severance packages. Tegna acquired the radio stations in 2018 along with two television stations from Midwest Television for $325 million.
PodcastOne Partners with Spotify for Podcast Distribution. Podcasts by such stars as basketball icon Shaquille O’Neal, WWE legend Steve Austin, bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe, and comedian Adam Carolla will soon be available worldwide via Spotify. Spotify’s Lauren Jarvis says, “We are thrilled to bring PodcastOne’s 400-plus hours of fresh, weekly content to Spotify’s global listeners. From longtime-running favorites like ‘The Adam Carolla Show,’ ‘Ladygang,’ and Kaitlyn Bristowe’s ‘Off the Vine,’ to shows from superstars like Shaquille O’Neal and T.I., we know that we are adding podcasts for diverse listener tastes to Spotify’s catalogue.” Spotify listeners worldwide will be able to enjoy each of PodcastOne’s 300-plus programs, including original content produced by PodcastOne Global. Eventually, Australian fans will be able to stream PodcastOne’s content as well, with the addition of PodcastOne Australia content in partnership with Southern Cross Austereo. PodcastOne CEO Peter Morris comments, “PodcastOne is thrilled to make our extensive catalogue available to the Spotify audience. Combining the power, talent, and reach of the leading ad-supported podcast network, PodcastOne, with Spotify’s best-in-class technology, and listening and user experience is a can’t miss. This partnership creates new cross-promotional opportunities for us both and increases the accessibility of PodcastOne’s hundreds of programs for our listeners. It’s been great to work with Lauren Jarvis and the Spotify team, as we launch our new partnership.”
Erika Beasley Promoted to VP of Digital Content for Beasley Media Group. At Beasley Media Group, Erika Beasley rises from her corporate digital content director position to vice president of digital content. In this new role, she’ll be responsible for overseeing content creation on the company’s many digital platforms. Beasley Media Group chief content officer Justin Chase says, “Erika’s outstanding work throughout the years, in a variety of different roles, speaks for itself. Her many contributions to the company’s digital transformation has moved us forward in profound ways. I look forward to Erika partnering with our vice president of digital market, Jennifer Williams, and the company’s highly talented digital content team to further expand our digital footprint.”
Impeachment, Trump Wildwood Rally, Presidential Race, Coronavirus, and Trump’s Middle East Plan Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/28). The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump; the large crowd gathered at last night’s Trump rally in Wildwood, New Jersey; the Democrats battling to challenge President Trump in November; concerns about a global epidemic of the Wuhan coronavirus; and the Trump Administration’s unveiling of its Middle East peace plan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
TALKERS News Notes. Cable news/talk outlet FOX News Channel is celebrating its ratings success. In an internal memo, FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and president and executive editor Jay Wallace say, “We passed CNN at the end of January 2002 in viewership in the key 25-54 demo in both Today Day and Primetime and never looked back. There is no other network in cable that can lay claim to this level of consistent dominance with one of the most loyal and passionate audiences in the country.”…..WSCR, Chicago morning drive personality David Haugh has exited his gig with the Chicago Tribune where he was a sports columnist. Haugh, who co-hosts the “Mully & Haugh” show with Mike Mulligan, spent 17 years with the Tribune – the last 10 as a sports columnist – according to Chicago media writer Robert Feder…..Trenton, New Jersey-based Penn National Gaming is acquiring a 36% interest in the sports media firm Barstool Sports for $163 million – $135 million in cash and $28 million in non-voting convertible preferred stock. Kennedy Rose has the story in the Philadelphia Business Journal. In addition to its digital content that enjoys 66 million unique visitors per month, Barstool broadcasts radio shows via its own channel on SiriusXM…..Pictured below is KQTM-FM, Albuquerque “101.7 The Team” afternoon drive personality Jim Villanucci (right) with KQTM personality Sam Hauser (left) and Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Zach Gentry (center). Gentry — a star high school football player in Albuquerque and a big fan of the station — stopped by the studios to say hello. “101.7 The Team” airs a regular slate of high school football games during the season.
Legendary Jock Harry Harrison Dies at 89. Top 40-era New York radio legend Harry Harrison died yesterday (1/28) after complications from numerous health issues. Harrison worked on air at WMCA – one of the WMCA Good Guys – and at WABC, as well as later at WCBS-FM. He retired from the latter in 2003. He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame last fall. Photo: Art Vuolo Jr.
More Music Radio News and Career Moves. An administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Stephens Media Group violated labor laws when it let a number of air personalities go from its Watertown and Massena, New York stations in 2018. Judge Charles J. Muhl ruled that not only must Stephens hire the fired staffers back but must compensate the affected workers for financial losses and tax consequences. Stephens tells NNY360 that it plans to appeal certain aspects of the ruling…..The entire staff – both on-air and off – of adult hits KFMB-FM, San Diego was given its two-week notice as owner Tegna prepares to close on the sale of the station (and sister news/talk KFMB-AM) to Local Media San Diego. Out of work are Chris Cantore, Meryl Klemow, Cha Cha Harlow, Robin Roth, and Rick Lawrence. They are working through February 7, at which point they will receive their severance packages. It’s not clear what LMSD’s plans are for the station, which as part of the sale contract, must give up the KFMB-FM call letters…..In Duluth, Minnesota, Patti Banner joins J.D. Justice as co-host of the morning show on Midwest Communications’ country KTCO-FM “Kat Country 98.9.” She was most recently with Cherry Creek Radio’s adult contemporary KONA, Tri-Cities, Washington as morning drive co-host. She takes over for Brookie the Rookie, who leaves for a gig outside the radio business…..This year’s iHeartCountry Festival taking place on May 2 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin will feature the following acts: Dierks Bentley, Sam Hunt, Lady Antebellum, Dustin Lynch, Kelsea Ballerini, Kane Brown, Jon Pardi and Chase Rice, plus Hot Country Knights, Bobby Bones and more.