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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

| November 4, 2020

POST-ELECTION DAY UNCERTAINTY: News/Talk Media Braces for Even Further Polarization.  As indicated yesterday in TALKERS, news/talk media programmers and on-air hosts are contemplating what life will be like after the election (see story below), weighing the impact various potential scenarios will have upon their positioning and preparing themselves for inevitable changes in the political landscape. In this era of targeting audiences based on their political predisposition, or what TALKERS founder Michael Harrison yesterday (11/3) described as “the daily dance of affirmation,” the results of this election could have a profound impact on the ideological stances of talk show hosts going forward. Now, a day later, at the time of the posting of this item, the final result of the election is still undetermined as the nation awaits accurate counts in several battleground states. Harrison, notes, “We now know one extremely important thing that wasn’t certain yesterday – there will be no blow out.  There will be no so-called blue or red wave.  There will be no clear-cut confirmation of a basic direction agreed upon by an obvious majority of Americans. That means more, not less, polarization and the further intensification of fear, anger, and political tribalism. One of the greatest obstacles to creating viable objective journalism and social healing in such an environment is the prevailing attitude, ‘if you are not with us, you are against us.’”

Saga Communications Q3 Revenue Rises Dramatically from Q2; Still Down 26% from Q3 in 2019. Reporting on its revenue for the third quarter of 2020, Saga Communications says, “Third quarter revenue and related net income continue to be materially impacted by disruptions to businesses and service providers activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From the net revenue low point in April the company’s revenue has significantly increased in each of the following months. The company continues to concentrate on new revenue strategies and enhanced engagement with its existing and new advertisers.” Saga’s net revenue for Q3 2020 was $24.1 million, a 43.1% increase over Q2 of 2020 but 26% lower than the $31.3 million reported in Q3 of 2019. Station operating income was $6.1 million for the quarter, a decrease of 42% from the same period in 2019. Station operating expense decreased $4 million to $19.6 million for the quarter compared to the same period last year. Operating income was $247,000 and Saga took a net loss of $950,000 for the quarter, compared to the gain of $3,3 million it reported in the third quarter of 2019. Among the publicly traded U.S. radio companies, Saga Communications is positioned well going forward as it has $49.8 million in cash on hand as of November 2, 2020. Its total bank debt is just $10 million as of the end of the quarter.

Country WCOL-FM, Columbus PM Jock Brandon Boxer Doubles Up to Host Mornings on News/Talk WTVN-AM. Columbus Business First reports that iHeartMedia has filled the morning show host role at news/talk WTVN-AM, Columbus with Brandon Boxer, currently the afternoon host and assistant program director at sister country station WCOL-FM. Boxer replaces Joel Riley, who along with producer Tom Schmid were laid off in this latest round of staff culling at the company. Boxer will continue in his roles with WCOL. He tweeted on Monday: “Today was a tough one for some of my colleagues & very sad. I feel very weird announcing this, but tomorrow I begin a new journey hosting mornings on [610 WTVN]. It’s extremely bittersweet & I’m scared to death, but here we go.”

Jason Lewis Comes Up Short in U.S. Senate Race. Former Minneapolis talk radio host Jason Lewis (also a former GOP congressman from Minnesota) was unsuccessful in his bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Tina Smith. She won the special election to fill the seat vacated by Al Franken in 2017 and was running against Lewis for her first full, six-year term. Lewis began his talk radio career as a weekend host on KOA-AM, Denver. He worked in the Twin Cities market as a talk host at KSTP and KTLK. His talk show was eventually syndicated by Premiere Networks and Genesis Communications Network. He’d also served as a talk host at WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte.

PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on sports talk. The transition from the September PPM survey to the October PPM survey was good for sports talk radio as 65% of sports talk stations were up (6+ weekly AQH share) compared to the 18% that were down and the 17% that were flat. Gainers were led by iHeartMedia’s KFXN-FM, Minneapolis “K-FAN” (+2.9); Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville “104.5 The Zone” (+2.4); and Cumulus’ KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas “The Ticket” (+2.1). However, a look at year-over-year numbers gives us a look at just how far many sports talk stations fell due to the COVID-related shutdown of live sports as 72% of sports talk stations in PPM markets were down compared to the October 2019 survey and just 22% improved. Those stations showing growth were led by KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas (+2.3); KFXN-FM, Minneapolis (+1.4); and Cumulus’ KNBR, San Francisco (+0.9). KFXN-FM was the only sports talk outlet to rank #1 in its market during the October 2020 PPM survey. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Election Day, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, the Economy & Financial Markets Activity, State Marijuana Votes/Oregon Decriminalizes Hard Drugs, IS-Inspired Terror Attacks, and China Halts Ant Group IPO Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/3). The presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, as well as the races for U.S. Senate and U.S. Rep seats; the U.S. economy and the election day activity in the world’s financial markets; several states vote to legalize marijuana and Oregon decriminalizes small amounts of hard drugs; the Islamic State-inspired terror attacks France, Vienna, and Kabul; and the Chinese government stops the IPO of Jack Ma’s Ant Group 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. Detroit radio personality Mark “Meltdown” Milligan is celebrating his 25thanniversary at Beasley Media Group’s rock WRIF-FM. “Meltdown” began his career with the station on November 1, 1995 as the overnight jock. He later moved to the evening show host role and in February of 2009, he replaced Detroit legend Arthur Penhallow as the afternoon drive personality. Beasley Media Group Detroit director of programming Scott Jameson says, “One of the reasons legendary brands become ‘legendary’ are personalities that over time, develop a true connection and deep bond with the audience. In the nearly 50-year history of WRIF there have been two afternoon drive jocks. ‘Meltdown’ continues the rich legacy of outstanding air talent on WRIF. Congratulations on your 25th!”…..Service Broadcasting Group is looking for a high-profile entertainer to join the cast of the KKDA, Dallas “K104”-based “DeDe in the Morning” show that is nationally syndicated via Compass Media Networks. Service Broadcasting Group head of content George “Geo” Cook and #TeamDeDe are launching a national talent search for an entertainer, influencer, and storyteller who can collaborate with host DeDe McGuire and lead co-host Lady Jade to add their own authentic personality and powerful point of view to “DeDe in the Morning.” Email your video expressing why you are our next big star, along with your resume package, including an audio demo (aircheck), social media links, and podcast audio clips to SBG HR manager Debbie Henry at debbie.henry@K104fm.com. EOE.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

| May 24, 2018

‘Sports Radio 610’ in Houston Adds New Talent to Lineup.  The Entercom sports talk station announces its new lineup that includes new voices Paul Gallant, Fred Davis, and Landry Locker.  Gallant joins the AM drive “Mad Radio” show with Mike Meltser and Seth Payne on KILT-AM.  Fred Davis and Landry Locker are co-hosting the midday “In the Loop” show with John Lopez.  The changes take effect on Tuesday (5/29).  Entercom Houston SVP and market manager Sarah Frazier says, “‘SportsRadio 610’ has long been the sports leader in Houston and part of remaining on top is continuing to evolve with the needs of our audience.  I’m excited about the energy that Paul will bring to mornings and Fred and Landry will bring to middays.”

PPM Analysis: MLB Flagships. As Garrett Morris’ fictional “Saturday Night Live” character Chico Escuela used to say, “Baseball been berry, berry good to me!” Stations that serve as flagships for MLB teams certainly hope that baseball will be good to them each season.  Today, TALKERS magazine editor Mike Kinosian presents the first PPM analysis of the 2018 baseball season that looks at 6+ numbers from Nielsen’s April PPM survey for those stations. Some of the stations that appear to have benefitted from the first month of the season compared to their March numbers include: Entercom’s news/talk KMOX, St. Louis (up 2.3 shares); Entercom’s KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh (up 2 shares); and Scripps’ WTMJ, Milwaukee (up 1.9 shares).  See Kinosian’s full report here.

Redberg Rises to VP of Sales for iHeartMedia Twin Cities. Sales pro Michelle Redberg is promoted to vice president of sales for iHeartMedia’s Minneapolis market that includes news/talk KTLK “Twin Cities News Talk,” sports talk KFXN-FM “K-Fan,” eight music brands, plus franchise partnerships with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, and University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football, basketball and hockey. Vice president of sales for the Western Great Lakes Region Greg Alexander states, “Michelle is one of the bright stars of our company.  She has a contemporary approach to leadership along with a compassion for our advertisers and an understanding of today’s marketing and business challenges.  Michelle’s passion, skills, energy and drive made her an obvious choice to help lead our strong Twin Cities brands.”

Michael Young Exits Entercom Pittsburgh Market Manager Position.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that market manager Michael Young has exited the position at Entercom’s four-station cluster there that includes news/talk KDKA-AM and sports talk KDKA-FM.  Young was manager of the cluster when it was owned by CBS RADIO and stayed in his position as Entercom assumed ownership.

iHeartMedia Appoints Mark Boudreaux New Orleans Market President.  New Orleans native Mark Boudreaux assumes the market president position at iHeartMedia New Orleans, effective June 11.   iHeartMedia operates news/talk WRNO-FM and sports talk WODT, plus six music formats in the market.  Boudreaux was most recently business development manager at South Central AV. iHM region president Eddie Martiny says, “Who better to run our iHeartMedia New Orleans market than a native New Orleanian?  Mark has a proven track record in the Crescent City as a seller, sales manager and vice president of sales.  We are excited to have Mark and his infectious personality leading iHeartMedia New Orleans.”

Saga Comminucations’ Warren Lada to Retire.  Longtime Saga Communications executive Warren Lada is retiring from the company and his position as chief operating officer at the end of next month.  Saga president and CEO Ed Christian comments, “Warren has been an integral part of Saga for the past 27 years and we will deeply miss his contributions to Saga and its radio stations across the US.” Prior to taking on the corporate role of COO, Lada was president and general manager for Saga’s WAQY-FM, Springfield “Rock 102.”

TALKERS News Notes. Nationally syndicated talk show “Free Talk Live” – led by principals Ian FreemanMark Edge, and Darryl W. Perry (pictured from l-r at right) — announces a number of new affiliates for the program.  WWMN-FM in Traverse City, Michigan and KUSG-AM in Guam add the program to their schedule and WTTN-AM, Columbus, Wisconsin joins the simulcast of existing progressive talk affiliate WRRD-AM, Waukesha…..Capitol Broadcasting’s WCMC-FM “Sports Radio 99.9 The Fan” and WDNC-AM “620 the Ticket” in Raleigh are broadcasting live, play-by-play for all games of this year’s ACC Baseball Championship series that runs through this Sunday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham.  Vice president of programming Dennis Glasgow says, “It is our pleasure to bring as much live content as possible over the next five days with our ACC Baseball coverage to everyone in The Triangle.  We have an excellent arsenal of announcers lined up to bring our listeners and baseball fans the very best play-by-play and analysis from the ACC Baseball Championship at DBAP.”…..cabana, the digital audio division of AdLarge Media, is expanding its podcast portfolio by adding the true crime genre with the podcast “Crime Junkie,” hosted by Ashley Flowers.  “Crime Junkie” launched in December and, according to AdLarge, has been averaging 40,000 downloads per episode…..Tag Station announces that the NextRadio smartphone app for listening to local FM stations is being launched for smartphone users in Mexico.  Tag Station president Paul Brenner comments, “We’re thrilled that NextRadio is now available for use on both iOS and Android devices in Mexico.  We want to empower all users to enjoy local FM radio without having their content restricted by geographic location or choice of device.”…..KXL, Portland news staffers Steve Leader and Rosemary Reynolds were recently honored with awards from the Associated Press.  Leader is AM drive anchor at the Alpha Media station and Reynolds is a reporter.  Leader received the Best Enterprise Reporting award for his series “Walk in the Hood,” a look at the way African American communities have changed in Portland through the eyes of two African Americans who grew up in Portland.  Reynolds received the Best Public Service award for her series “Wanted: Foster Parents,” that addressed the 11,000 children in Oregon in need of foster care…..Pictured below is FOX Sports Radio nationally syndicated talk show host JT “The Brick” emceeing the 11th annual Coaches vs. Cancer Las Vegas Golf Classic.  This was JT’s fifth year serving as emcee for the event that raised more than $1 million for the American Cancer Society.

Hobnobbing at The Gracies. Pictured above at the 43rd Annual Gracie Awards on Tuesday (5/22) at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles are: Sun Broadcast Group CEO Jason Bailey (left), Weiss Agency EVP and AWMF director Heather Cohen, and Kris Bailey.

Cool Job Opportunity for KNX Full Time Writer/Producer. Entercom’s all-news KNX, Los Angeles is looking for a fearless, aggressive, energetic, enthusiastic, and creative team player. The right candidate is a real show producer and not just a guest booker. Must have a strong rolodex, good news judgment and the ability to write quick, clear, compelling and concise scripts without the usual cliché’s or news speak. Must work and play well in a fast, high-pressure all-news environment. Intimate knowledge of socializing content in all platforms is a MUST. Prior major-market producing and news writing experience required. Strong multi-tasking and computer skills required. Familiarity with Southern California including politics, pop culture, lifestyle, etc. preferred. Must be available to work all hours, overnights, and weekends. Required to join the Writers Guild of America. For more information, please click here.

Trump-Russia Investigation, Status of North Korea Talks, U.S.-China Relations, New NFL Anthem Protest Rule, Parents Evict Son Case, Milwaukee Police Tase NBA Player, Iran Nuclear Deal, Primary Races, MLB Action, and NBA Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/23).  The Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; the uncertain status of scheduled talks between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un; the state of relations between the U.S. and China after the latter is uninvited from joint military exercises; the NFL bans sideline anthem protests; the court case of the New York couple evicting their 30-year-old son; the Milwaukee police apologize after Bucks player Sterling Brown is tased during a parking violation incident; the aftermath of the U.S. pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal; Tuesday’s primary races in Georgia, Texas, and Kentucky; Major League Baseball action; and the NBA playoffs 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. There’s news from Chicago as Windy City media maven Robert Feder writes today about legendary jock Dick Biondi’s official exit from Cumulus Media’s classic hits WLS-FM.  Feder says that at some point Biondi’s status changed from inactive employee – Biondi was hospitalized in April of 2017 for an ailment – to former employee.  Biondi had been hosting a weekend morning show on WLS-FM.  Cumulus Chicago VP and market manager Marv Nyren told him Biondi’s employment with the station ended “months ago.”…..Robert Feder also reports that Entercom is promoting weekend and fill-in jock Richard Milne to full-time afternoon drive (4:00 pm to 8:00 pm) personality on triple A WXRT.  The move bumps Jason Thomas to weekend and fill-in duties as well as host of Monday evening’s “The Big Beat” show…..Tomorrow (5.25), Entercom New York’s classic hits WCBS-FM 101.1, New York’s Greatest Hits is broadcasting the “Shannon in the Morning Summer Beach Blastoff” featuring “Scott Shannon & The Big Show” live from the boardwalk at Coney Island.  Hosting the event will be Scott Shannon with Patty Steele, Sue Aller, John Elliot and Brad Blanks, with special performances by Taylor Dayne and Smash Mouth.