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Friday, December 4, 2020

| December 4, 2020

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Hazy Shade of Winter, looks back at this past week of November 30 – December 4, 2020. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Jim Bohannon, talk show host, Westwood OneHeidi Harris, talk show host, KMZQ, Las Vegas; Stephanie Miller, talk show host, WYD Media ManagementAmy Hao, talk show host, KSCO, Santa Cruz; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week ’s episode, please click 

      here
. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

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 November 2020 PPM survey (October 8 – November 4), today focusing on the news/talk format. This survey leading up to the November 3 presidential election was, in general, a boon to the news/talk format. In fact, 78% of news/talk stations in PPM markets saw their weekly, 6+ AQH share increase from the November of 2019 survey to this November 2020 survey. Comparing the October 2020 survey to the November survey, 68% of news/talk stations’ ratings were up, with gainers led by iHeartMedia’s WKRC, Cincinnati (+2.3), KNRS-FM, Salt Lake City (+1.9), KFYI, Phoenix (+1.7), and Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis (+1.7). Returning to year-over-year numbers, big gainers here included iHeartMedia’s WISN-AM, Milwaukee (+7.6), KFYI-AM, Phoenix (+5.0) and WIBC-FM, Indianapolis (+4.5). In what is a first, the top 10 news/talk stations by market rank were all #1 in their respective markets during the November 2020 survey. See which stations those were and a whole lot more in Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Dan Le Batard and ESPN Agree to Part Company. This is one of those separations that might have been termed a “shocker” simply because of the successful nature of the relationship between ESPN and Dan Le Batard. But as industry watchers are aware, the relationship has been contentious recently and Le Batard made no secret about his displeasure with ESPN’s directive during the summer to steer clear of politics. He was also not pleased that ESPN laid off his radio producer Chris Cote as part of its staff cutbacks (Le Batard brought Cote back by paying his salary out of his own pocket). Pile on top of that the fact that ESPN recently moved the video simulcast of his show from cable’s ESPNews to the subscription ESPN+ platform and reduced his radio show from three to two hours. Le Batard’s final programs will be on January 4. In a statement, ESPN EVP and executive editor Norby Williamson says, “It was mutually agreed that it was best for both sides to move on to new opportunities and we worked together closely to make that possible. We thank Dan for his many years and contributions to ESPN and wish him all the best going forward.” Le Batard’s official statement is as follows: “Gracias to ESPN for unleashing Papi and Stugotz upon an unsuspecting America, and for lending its substantive credibility to our careening clown car. Can’t believe Stugotz finally achieved his dream of becoming a high-priced free agent. I’m forever indebted to Erik Rydholm, Matt Kelliher and their vibrant team for providing a creative oasis across a decade, and for expanding the Le Batard family to include so many brilliant colleagues who have become forever friends, bonded eternally by laughter and love. Want to also extend my gratitude to Chuck Salituro, Jimmy Pitaro, Traug Keller, Marcia Keegan, Connor Schell, Juan Diaz, Mike Foss, Amanda Gifford, Liam Chapman, Megan Judge, Elizabeth Fierman, the Hialeah-soaked crew at Imagina …and when did this become a droning acceptance speech instead of a quick goodbye? In short, thank you, Disney and ESPN, for a quarter century of absurd blessings. To our loyal army of concerned fans, and to everyone who walked along and played an instrument in our Marching Band to Nowhere, know that it is a very exciting time for us, not a sad one. And that you’ll be hearing our laughter again soon enough.”

New ESPN Radio Schedule to Launch on January 5. With the departure of Dan Le Batard from the ESPN Radio and ESPN television schedules, ESPN announces the broadcast schedule for the radio network that begins effective on January 5. ESPN moves “Greeny,” with Mike Greenberg from the early afternoon slot to Le Batard’s current 10:00 am to 12:00 noon air time. It inserts the WEPN-FM, New York duo “Bart & Hahn” – Bart Scott and Alan Hahn – into the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm daypart. As for the television program “Highly Questionable,” it will continue with a “contributing team” consisting of Elle Duncan, Domonique Foxworth, Israel Gutierrez, Bomani Jones, Mina Kimes, Katie Nolan, Sarah Spain, Pablo Torre, and Clinton Yates.

Joe Madison to Be Honored by the National Black Radio Hall of Fame. Talk radio pro Joe Madison is being honored by the National Black Radio Hall of Fame as a 2021 inductee for the “National Satellite Talk Radio Award.” Organization president Bernard Hayes says, “We as a board decided that it would be only fitting to continue the honoring of our leaders in Black Radio despite the current climate in our country and have thereby decided to continue honoring the legacy of those who have done so much to support our communities at large. We will fulfill this task by using the services of the Zoom application.” The National Black Radio Hall of Fame, whose main facility is located at Harris Stowe State University, will have its program hosted by its National Board Members and the local Atlanta Chapter on Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 6:00 pm ET.

WDUN-AM, Gainesville, Georgia Talk Host Martha Zoller Recovering from Health Issue. Georgia talk radio host Martha Zoller is off of her regular talk show on Jacobs Media’s news/talk WDUN-AM, Gainesville, Georgia after having emergency surgery on a burst abscess on a lung that sent her to the hospital on November 21. She tells TALKERS magazine that she is recovering at home and will be away from her radio show for a couple of weeks and then expects to be hosting her program from home until she’s cleared to return to WDUN’s studios.

WAMU Staff Joins SAG-AFTRA. The content creation staff at American University’s public radio outlet WAMU-FM, Washington voted unanimously to recognize SAG-AFTRA as its union. The new bargaining unit will cover the public media professionals who create content for all areas of the station, including DCist.com, “The Kojo Nnamdi Show,” “1A,” “The Big Broadcast,” “Hot Jazz Saturday Night,” and the podcasts “Dish City,” “What’s With Washington,” and “Diane Rehm: On My Mind.” The newly formed bargaining unit will be made up of 80 employees, including hosts, reporters, producers, editors, and engineers who create content for the news, programming and digital units. WAMU “Morning Edition” host Esther Ciammachilli says, “WAMU’s content creators, as a collective bargaining unit represented by SAG-AFTRA, are thrilled to advance our shared beliefs in transparency, accountability, fairness and most importantly, the truth.”

Longtime Chicago Cubs TV Personality Len Kasper Joining WMVP Radio for White Sox Broadcasts. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, 16-year Chicago Cubs television play-by-play man Len Kasper is joining Good Karma Brands-operated sports talk outlet WMVP-AM as announcer for Chicago White Sox broadcasts. Feder says that Kasper – who replaces Andy Masur in the play-by-play role – will work alongside analyst Darrin Jackson.

COVID-19 Spike, Vaccines, and Prevention Tie for Top News/Talk Story of the Week. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the anticipated rollout of vaccines, and prescriptions for prevention of the disease tied for the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio for the week of November 30 to December 4, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Donald Trump’s continuing to claim election fraud. Coming in at #3 was the pardons granted by President Trump and the possibility he’ll grant pardons to his children and himself, followed by the Georgia Senate runoff elections at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Las Vegas adult contemporary outlet KSNE-FM “Sunny 106.5” and KLAS-TV “8 News Now” is presenting a special broadcast titled “A Very Sunny Christmas” to benefit Opportunity Village in Southern Nevada – a nonprofit organization serving adults in the Southern Nevada community with intellectual and related disabilities. Airing on the iHeartMedia radio station and KLAS-TV on December 18 and 25, it will feature Sunny 106.5 morning hosts AJ and Joanna plus performances by Nevada-based entertainers including Wayne Newton, Little Big Town, Debbie Gibson, Darius Rucker, Mat Franco, Brian Newman, Russell Dickerson, Shin Lim, Daniel Emmet, Piff The Magic Dragon, Xavier Mortimer, and many more. AJ says, “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous challenges to Opportunity Village and the people they serve, particularly with the upcoming event season as their normal holiday events like Magical Forest have been cancelled for the 2020 season.”

Thursday, November 5, 2020

| November 5, 2020

Cumulus Media’s Q3 Financial Report Reveals Net Revenue Down 30.1%. Reporting its earnings for the third quarter of 2020, Cumulus Media says net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 30.1% from the same period in 2019. The company also reports a net loss of $15.8 million compared to the $16.3 net income reported for the third quarter of 2019. Same station net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 29.4% from Q3 of 2019. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “In the third quarter, the company continued to focus on maximizing revenue performance, executing meaningful expense reductions, protecting cash through efficient working capital management and strengthening our balance sheet. Despite the extraordinary challenges of operating through a pandemic, we have reduced debt by $269 million and increased cash by $316 million since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018 (a net debt reduction of more than $585 million or 46%.) We believe that these actions, along with record-setting political revenues, will allow us to navigate through and emerge from the COVID-19 crisis with considerable ability to support our growth initiatives and capitalize on strategic and operating opportunities in 2021 and beyond.”

Bakersfield Talk Radio Personality Inga Barks Dies. According to a report by KERO-TV, Bakersfield, former market talk radio personality Inga Barks has died unexpectedly at age 53. At this point details are few, but it appears Barks passed away on November 4. KERO-TV quotes Barks’ friend Cindy Andrews – who worked with Barks at American General Media news/talk outlet KERN-AM – saying, “I am deeply saddened over the death of my former coworker and friend, Inga Barks. Not only was she a talented talk show host, but she was also very devoted to her family. We shared many laughs and unique experiences as female broadcasters for American General Media. She will be missed by many.” You can see KERO-TV’s report that includes tributes from former co-workers – including KMJ, Fresno’s Blake Taylorhere.

WTIC-AM, Hartford Morning Co-Host Joe D’Ambrosio to Leave Station in June. According to an account in the Hartford Courant, WTIC-AM, Hartford morning drive co-host Joe D’Ambrosio says he’s frustrated with his “inability to speak his mind on the air and will leave his position when his contract expires in June.” The paper reports that D’Ambrosio told co-host Ray Dunaway, “At this radio station at this time, I’m not allowed to let my opinions be known. I’ve told management, when my contract is up in June, my time with WTIC will be over.”  It’s not clear if D’Ambrosio is upset with a directive from management or just with the general tenor of host and caller opinions. Reporter Susan Dunne says that when reached later, D’Ambrosio declined to elaborate on his comments.

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 October 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the news/talk format. Over the last eight PPM surveys going back to March, the global pandemic, racial tensions/protests, and the election year have provided the news/talk format with ample hot-button issues to discuss and the format’s performance has improved over the same period in 2019, based on Nielsen’s 6+ weekly AQH share data. In the October 2020 survey, 61% of news/talk stations were up over the September 2020 survey with gainers being led buy iHeartMedia’s KFYI, Phoenix (+1.4) and Bonneville’s KSL-FM, Salt Lake City (+1.3). Comparing year-over-year data, 68% of news/talk stations were up in October 2020 compared to October 2019 with gainers being led by iHeartMedia’s WISN, Milwaukee (+6.2), KNRS-FM, Salt Lake City (+4.4), and WCBM Inc’s WCBM, Baltimore (+3.7). In the October 2020 survey, seven news/talk stations ranked #1 (6+) in their respective markets. Find out which stations were ranked #1 by reading Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Mid-West Family Madison Donates $900k in Advertising. The Madison, Wisconsin station group of Mid-West Family Broadcasting gave $900,000 in free advertising (more than 31,000 commercials) to hundreds of local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic between March 21 and July 21 through its “NOW OPEN” program. Mid-West Family Madison president Tom Walker says, “Our company was formed in Madison, we’ve been here for 91 years, and our commitment to the community and local businesses is our top priority. ‘NOW OPEN’ gave us the chance to connect businesses with consumers when they needed it most.”

Report: ESPN to Lay Off 300. According to a report by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, sports giant ESPN is laying off 300 staffers and will not fill some 200 positions that had been open. This comes as parent company ABC/Disney deals with the effects of the pandemic and the changes in media consumption behavior. Marchand’s report indicates that the cuts will be “spread across the network” but will largely spare on-air personalities. Marchand adds, “As is the case across Disney, ESPN is trying to shift more of its business to direct-to-consumer. It has created ESPN+. It had reported 8.5 million subscribers as of this summer. The pandemic has also created new ways to deliver programming with less people.”

The Road to 270 Electoral Votes/Promised Legal Challenges, Portland Violence, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, European Lockdowns, New Islamic Terror Threats, U.S. Exits Paris Climate Accord, Prop 22 Passes in California, Watch on Hurricane Eta Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/4). The counting continues as Donald Trump and Joe Biden each hope to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to claim victory and the gearing up of legal challenges to some states’ vote totals; the National Guard is called in to Portland, Oregon after a riot is declared; the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for the fall/winter seasons; the lockdowns being ordered in numerous European nations to combat the rising number of COVID cases; concerns about new terror attacks by actors sympathetic to the Islamic State; the United States officially exits the Paris Climate Accord; California passes Proposition 22 which allows Uber and Lyft to treat drives as contractors and not employees; and the possibility that Hurricane Eta will gain steam and head for Florida 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. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and iHeartMedia are teaming up for an exclusive podcast partnership for the series “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Vault” that will debut Friday (11/6), the day before the 35th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony airing on November 7 on HBO. The series covers iconic induction speeches and will debut with The Beatles inducted by Mick Jagger, N.W.A inducted by Kendrick Lamar, The Eagles inducted by Jimmy Buffet, and Stevie Nicks inducted by Harry Styles. New episodes will premiere every Friday through the end of the year and a second season will premiere in early 2021. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “Over the past 35 years, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies have become renowned for their impassioned and sometimes outrageous acceptance speeches. We’re thrilled to bring the most iconic moments of past and present music infamy to fans around the world and continue to share what’s made the event special in the past and for years to come.”

Wednesday, July 5, 2020

| August 5, 2020

Entercom Names VP of News; 10 Promoted to Executive Posts. In a memo to staff from Entercom president and CEO David Field, he announces that news pro Bill Smee is named to the newly created position, vice president of news. Smee has served with CNN, NBC News, and Slate during his career. Field says Smee “will spearhead our work to enhance and expand our news brands, building on their unparalleled position in our communities and adding new products and capabilities across our broadcast, digital, podcast, and smart speaker platforms. We are very excited about the future of our news and news/talk brands and the robust opportunities that lie ahead.” Field also announced the following promotion of 10 staffers to the following positions: Chris Ebbott, vice president, programming; Chad Fitzsimmons, senior vice president, promotions & experiences; Rose Isard, vice president, senior counsel; John Kennedy, senior vice president, engineering; Jennifer Morales, vice president, corporate communications & PR; Nancy Muir-Gaire, vice president, facilities management; Johnny Palumbo, vice president, senior counsel; Reggie Rouse, vice president, programming; Jeff Sottolano, executive vice president, programming; and Stephanie Taylor, vice president, benefits, compliance and talent acquisition.

David Field Positive About Entercom’s Future. In the same memo referenced above, David Field says he’s optimistic about the future for Entercom even though he says the road will “be bumpy and the continuing toll on our society tragic.” He says that since the nation’s economy bottomed out in April, things are improving. “Since then, our revenues have shown strong and steady improvement with each successive month getting progressively better. While there is still a long way to go, momentum is building as sports return. RADIO.COM remains the country’s fastest growing digital platform, our podcasting business continues to expand and thrive, and we are reactivating customers who shut down in the spring. In addition, advertising rates are rebounding as clients return and inventory tightens across all media during this intense political season. We are counting on our sales teams to be at their very best in the weeks ahead to help drive a speedy recovery.”

Saga Communications Q2 Revenue Down 47.6%. Reporting its second quarter 2020 financial data, Saga Communications’ net operating revenue for the period was $16.9 million, a decrease of 47.6% compared to the same period in 2019. During Q2 of 2019, the company reported net income of $4.7 million. In Q2 of this year, Saga is reporting a net loss of $4.9 million. Saga says, “Saga Communications, Inc. reported today that second quarter revenue and related net income (loss) was materially impacted by disruptions to businesses and service providers activities from closures and restrictive measures imposed by governmental authorities attributable to COVID-19 in the markets in which the company operates, and the nation as a whole. The inability for businesses and service providers to operate normally negatively impacted all broadcast and other media advertising. Initial industry estimates for radio broadcast revenue predicted a decrease in gross revenue of more than 50% for the month of April. This held true for the company as well. The company, however, did show monthly revenue improvements for each subsequent month, as the company concentrated on new revenue strategies and enhanced engagement with its existing and new advertisers. This trend has continued through Q2 and further revenue improvement has been noted in the beginning of Q3. From the company’s low point in April when its gross revenue was down 55% compared to the prior period, its revenue has continued to build.  The company’s July revenue was down 29% over the prior period. These amounts represent gross cash revenue. Trade and barter revenue are not included in these gross revenue numbers, because it only represents approximately 2% of the company’s revenue each month. From the start of Q2 to the end of the first month of Q3 there was a reduction in the decline in revenue by approximately 50%.”

Round Two of July PPMs Released. The second round of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s July 2020 PPM has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s July 2020 survey period covered June 18 – July 15. You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets. Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM, Washington adds two-tenths to finish with an 8.4 share and is #1 for the fourth straight survey. Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM, Washington tacks on one-tenth for a 7.7 share and the #2 rank. Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle is flat with a 7.1 share and continues at #1 for the fifth survey in a row. iHeartMedia’s KFYI, Phoenix adds three-tenths for a 4.4 share finish good for #6 in the market. Entercom’s KMOX, St. Louis picks up three-tenths, good for a 5.0 share and the #9 rank in the market. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Steve Borneman Named COO for JAM Media Solutions. Radio executive Steve Borneman joins JAM Media Solutions as chief operating officer. JAM owns and operates two music outlets and a digital publication in Muscatine, Iowa and news/talk WZPR “News/Talk 92.3,” three music outlets and the digital platform OBXToday on the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  Borneman, who most recently was COO of Pamal Broadcasting, will be based in North Carolina. JAM Media Solutions CEO Jonathan Mason says, “I am excited to work with Steve again. We worked together at 77 WABC in New York. Steve is one of the best operators in radio and an amazing human being! JAM Media Solutions is excited to welcome him to the family and we look forward to winning with him!” Prior to joining Pamal, Borneman served as president and general manager at Cumulus Media New York.

TALKERS News Notes. Radio pro Sammy Simpson tweets that he’s been hired as the new brand/content manager for Capitol Broadcasting Company’s Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina stations that include adult contemporary WRAL-FM, a trio of sports talk outlets – WCMC-FM, “The Buzz,” and WDNC – and “95.7 FM That Station.” He starts on September 8. In June, the company eliminated the sports content director post held by Dennis Glasgow…..Public news/talk outlet WAMU-FM, Washington is in turmoil over allegations of sexual harassment at the American University-owned property. It all came to a head after the WAMU-owned publication DCist ran a story by Rachel Kurzius that details allegations of harassment and improper behavior by former WAMU reporter Martin Di Caro. The Washingtonian reports that at an all-staff meeting, numerous employees were asking for station general manager J.J. Yore to resign, something he says he will not do at this time. Former WAMU chief content officer Andi McDaniel left the station last month to join Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ-FM, Chicago as president and CEO, effective in September. The DCist piece indicates she was well aware of Di Caro’s behavior, having signed off on a “Level III Final Written Warning for Serious Misconduct” given to Di Caro after “almost two years” of complaints.….Cox Media Group’s news/talk KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa is joining the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network and will air all games when the season begins. Cox Tulsa market VP Cathy Gunther says, “We know that Green Country football fans are eager for more ways to listen to their favorite teams and we are glad to add the Chiefs Radio Network to our programming. This has been a while in the making and we are very proud of what is about to hit the airwaves at KRMG.”…..Public media WGBH firm announces it has hired two journalists for its growing newsroom. Carrie Saldo joins WGBH as a reporter covering Worcester County and will be based in WGBH’s recently announced Worcester news bureau. Former Boston Globereporter Megan Woolhouse reports on education for the WGBH news K-12 education desk.

Former Radio Exec Norm Schrutt Dies at 87. Former former Capital Cities/ABC executive Norm Schrutt died in Atlanta Tuesday (8/4) at age 87. Salem Radio Network V.P. of News/Talk Tom Tradup tells TALKERS magazine he worked for Schrutt while serving as president and GM of WLS-AM, Chicago in the early 1990s. He says that in recent years, Schrutt led a talent agency in Atlanta representing broadcasters. “Norm was a larger-than-life personality in his own right, with a sarcastic, wry sense of humor. Once when his daughter was about to give birth to his first grandson, I asked him if he wanted to be called Grandpa or PaPa or some other nickname. He replied, “I’d like the kid to call me Mr. Schrutt.”

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Presidential Race/Tuesday Primaries, Trump Axios Interview, Portland Protests, TikTok Deal/U.S.-China Relations, Beirut Explosion, Tropical Storm Isaias, and Pro Sports Leagues’ Struggles Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/4). The rising number of COVID-19 cases in numerous U.S. states and projections for future cases; the November presidential election, the debate over vote-by-mail, and the results of Tuesday’s primary elections; the criticism of President Trump’s interview with Axios; the BLM protests taking place in Portland; the deal for Microsoft to acquire Chinese app TikTok and U.S.-Chinese relations; the explosion that rocked Beirut; the damage along the East Coast from Tropical Storm Isaias; and the positive COVID-19 cases affecting pro sports leagues 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. Non-commercial triple A WXPN, Philadelphia is airing a special series of broadcasts all next week, beginning on August 10. “Woodstock Week: Back to the Garden Again” will feature all 33 music sets from the 1969 Woodstock music festival. In August 2019, WXPN exclusively replayed every moment from the four-day Woodstock festival in commemoration of its 50th anniversary. Listeners from across the globe tuned in and WXPN’s special broadcast was picked as a “Who Won the Week?” winner on MSNBC. WXPN associate GM for programming Bruce Warren says, “Our four-day broadcast last year was a unique, one-time opportunity to bring the entire Woodstock festival to WXPN listeners in celebration of its 50th anniversary. This year, we’re looking forward to hearing the full music sets performed by all 33 Woodstock artists – from Joan Baez to Johnny Winter – that will really highlight what the music meant at that special point in music history.”

Monday, March 9, 2020

| March 9, 2020

Talk Radio Rises to Coronavirus Challenge. This past weekend seems to have marked a tipping point in America regarding public anxiety over COVID-19, still commonly referred to as the coronavirus.  Fears and near panic have infiltrated the beleaguered heath care systems of our communities, the stock market, and a number of inter-connected industries and public events.  Add to that discourse about the problem in our politically oriented media have included the “weaponization” of issues per the troubling practice of each side tending to seek victory at the expense of truth.  Most talk media broadcasters tell TALKERS that this crisis provides radio both the mission and calling to provide a significant degree of comfort and helpful information to the public – thus showcasing its pertinence as a vital medium in the 21st century.  Broadcasters who spoke to TALKERS about this include: Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM; Mike Salk, Bonneville Seattle; Chris Little, KFI, Los Angeles; Joyce Kaufman, WFTL, West Palm Beach; Ryan Wrecker, KMOX, St. Louis; Harry Hurley, WPG, Atlantic City; Doug Stephan, nationally syndicated “DJV Show”; Dr. Daliah Wachs, GCN-syndicated host; Heidi Harris, KMZQ, Las Vegas; Jim Bohannon, Westwood One-syndicated host; Bob Lawrence, Saga Communications; Michael Berry, KRTH, Houston and in syndication; and Richard Neer, WFAN, New York.  Read it here.

Monday Memo: Coronavirus Conundrum: It’s the story-of-the-week every week, and the public health sector is working overtime to keep it from becoming the story-of-a-lifetime.  In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke reckons that “If listeners don’t hear ‘Coronavirus’ on your air, you’re wallpaper.  If you are telling them something they haven’t yet heard elsewhere, they will listen more and tell others what they heard (and where).”  And he outlines specific tactics.  Read it here.

Coronavirus, Financial Markets Activity, Presidential Race, North Korea Fires Missiles, and Greece-Turkey Immigrant Violence Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The status of the coronavirus pandemic and public officials’ response to it; the world’s financial markets react to the coronavirus and the break of the Saudi-Russian oil pact that’s sent prices plummeting; the battle between Democrats Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders for the party’s nomination; North Korea fires more test missiles; and the violence over the refugee crisis at the Greece-Turkey border were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

KFYI, Phoenix Moves James T Harris to Mornings; Debuts ‘Russell & Hunter’ Afternoon Show. Phoenix news/talker KFYI moves “The Conservative Circus With James T Harris” from afternoon drive to mornings and launches the new afternoon drive show “Russell & Hunter.”  The iHeartMedia station says, “‘The Conservative Circus with James T. Harris’ is a highly entertaining look at the news of the day from an unapologetically conservative point of view.”  Station PD Aaron Trimmer adds, “James T. Harris is an unrivaled talent in the world of talk radio.  The success he has had hosting afternoon drive on 550 KFYI made him the obvious choice to now take over mornings.”  Previous morning drive host Mike Broomhead exited at the end of his contract in January.  He joined Bonneville’s crosstown news/talk KTAR-FM for mornings in February.  iHeartMedia says Mike Russell and Rob Hunter bring more than 25 years of combined experience in Phoenix talk radio to afternoon drive.  “Together, ‘Russell & Hunter’ will continue to serve Phoenix’s passionate conservative audience by being ardent defenders of small business, the 2nd Amendment and traditional American values.”

WABC, New York’s Curtis Sliwa Vows to Run for Mayor of New York. Longtime New York City talk radio host and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa tells the New York Post he intends to run for mayor of New York.  Sliwa has not filed any paperwork to officially join the race and he’s expected to continue co-hosting the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show with Juliet Huddy on Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York.  The piece notes that Sliwa left the Reform Party recently and registered as a Republican.  Sliwa points to six issues he says are the most important facing New Yorkers: crime in the streets, crime on the subways, the homeless, emotionally disturbed people, the New York City Housing Authority, and affordable housing.

Talent Changes Coming to Sports Talk ‘99.9 The Fan’ in Raleigh. The afternoon drive show at Capitol Broadcasting’s WCMC-FM, Raleigh is splitting up, with longtime hosts Adam Gold and Joe Ovies soon to be hosting separate programs.  Raleigh News & Observer sportswriter Joe Giglio is joining the radio station and will co-host the afternoon drive show with Ovies.  Gold will host his own sports talk show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. In a press release, station program director Dennis Glasgow comments, “It’s not often that you have the unique opportunity to get better when moving an air personality of Adam Gold’s stature to another timeslot and also add a sports reporting vet like Joe Giglio to an already established show, so we’re very fortunate.  In the end our listeners are the big winners.”  Gold’s new program will replace the regionally syndicated David Glenn show on WCMC-FM.

‘K-News 94.3 FM’ Palm Springs Host Bill Feingold Dies at 70. The Desert Sun reports KNWQ-AM/K232CX, Palm Springs talk radio host Bill Feingold died on Friday (3/6) at age 70.  Feingold, who co-hosted the morning show with Kevin Holmes on the Alpha Media station, was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer in August.  It had spread to his lungs and bones.  But Feingold underwent chemotherapy and returned to the radio program after showing improvement.  Eventually, the cancer worsened, and he was hospitalized.  During his time as radio host in Palm Springs, Feingold befriended such celebrity residents as Suzanne Somers and Gavin MacLeod.

Ed Wilson to Lead CMG’s CoxReps and Gamut. Sale executive Ed Wilson joins Cox Media Group to serve as executive chairman for its CoxReps and Gamut national ad platform businesses.  CMG president and CEO Kim Guthrie says, “I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Ed for years.  He is a business builder and a natural networker in both traditional and emerging media.  His experience and industry relationships will serve him well in this role.  We look forward to his perspective as we leverage our industry leading position to evolve these important businesses.”  Wilson has served in leadership roles at The Tribune Company, FOX Broadcasting, NBC, and CBS.  CoxReps’ chief operating officer Ann Hailer and Gamut SVP of client solutions Soo Jin Oh will continue in their current roles, reporting directly to Wilson.

Weekly ‘Day 1’ Show to Celebrate 75 Years on Radio. Every Sunday since April 1945, the weekly, half-hour Protestant religious program “Day 1” has aired on radio stations across the country.  Although originally titled, “The Protestant Hour,” the program from Alliance for Christian Media has never been a 60-minute show and when Reverend Peter Wallace started working on the show 19 years ago, it was decided the show’s name needed a change.  Wallace tells TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian, “We came up with the name ‘Day 1,’ which sounds good in the media environment.  We are on several news/talk stations [including Cox Media Group Atlanta flagship WSB-AM/WSBB-FM] so it fit into that milieu.  It refers to when the program generally airs – Sunday – the first day of the week.  It’s the day people generally go to church and has an inspirational, hopeful ‘first day’ of the rest of your life feel to it.”  Read the full feature here.

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports on two radio stories from the Windy City.  First, WGN-AM sports reporter and podcaster Adam Hoge is leaving the Nexstar Media Group news/talker to join cable’s NBC Sports Chicago where he’ll be a White Sox insider on the regional network.  Second, crosstown sports talker WMVP “ESPN Chicago” is adding a nightly baseball show hosted by Jonathan Hood, effective March 23.  The Good Karma Brands-operated station will air the show from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm…..According to a piece by Rob Tornoe at the Philadelphia Inquirer, WIP morning show producer Joe Weachter was released from a Florida hospital last Thursday morning after experiencing a health scare while on a flight from Philly to Tampa.  Weachter was on the plane, along with morning host Angelo Cataldi and WIP personality Ava Graham heading to Florida to cover Phillies spring training when lost consciousness shortly after leaving his seat to use the restroom.  Fortunately, Dr. Edward Dickinson – a professor of emergency medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania – was on the flight and, along with the assistance of an unnamed paramedic, treated Weachter who regained consciousness after about 10 minutes…..Seneca Women Podcast Network and iHeartMedia enter into a multi-year partnership to co-produce and distribute “a slate of high-quality, women-focused podcasts in the areas of women in business, leadership, current events, health and more, providing inspiring, purpose-driven and actionable content from a diverse range of women’s voices.”  As part of the deal, new and existing podcasts on the Seneca Women Podcast Network will join the iHeartPodcast Network.  iHeartMedia will now co-produce the hit podcast series “Seneca Women Conversations on Power and Purpose” hosted by Ambassador Melanne Verveer and Kim Azzarelli.  “Seneca Women Conversations on Power and Purpose” will debut March 9 on iHeartRadio with 19 episodes in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Popular Twin Cities radio personality Brian Zepp returns to Cumulus Media’s rock KQRS as part of the “KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard.  Zepp was an air personality on the station for 19 years before exiting for a position at Orion Media‘s classic rock KBZN-FM, Bozeman, Montana “The Eagle” three years ago.  He says, “After having been away from KQ for a couple of years, I’ve come to realize there is just no better experience in my profession than being a part of the ‘KQ Morning Show.’  It’s great to be reunited with Tom and the crew, but even sweeter being reunited with the KQ listeners.”…..In Dallas, Michelle Boros joins iHeartMedia’s hot AC KDMX, Dallas “102.9 NOW” as the new morning drive personality.  Boros was most recently an air personality and music director at Entercom’s CHR KAMP, Los Angeles “97.1 AMP Radio.”  Station program director Jay Shannon comments, “We’re excited to add Michelle to the ‘102.9 NOW’ morning lineup.  Her years of experience along with her DFW background and roots make her the perfect fit.”…..Radio pro Gary Saunders joins Tracy Johnson Media Group to work on TJMG’s Personality Magnet Show Prep Service.  Saunders has been serving as executive producer for the Compass Media Networks syndicated “DeDe In the Morning” program as well as APD for Service Broadcasting’s hip hop KKDA, Dallas…..Publicist Taryn Pray joins Nashville-based publicity firm Monarch Publicity.   During her more than 13 years in the publicity biz, she worked with UMG Nashville and Sony Music Nashville before starting her own independent publicity company in 2013.  Monarch Publicity’s clients include Chris Bandi, Chris Young, Craig Morgan, Laine Hardy, Matt Stell, Sara Evans, The Shires, Temecula Road, Tiffany Woys, and Music Health Alliance.

Monday, January 6, 2020

| January 6, 2020

Mike Broomhead exits KFYI, Phoenix.  In a social media post yesterday (1/5), morning drive talk show host Mike Broomhead told his listeners he will not return to the air after his holiday vacation and is leaving his talk host duties at iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFYI, Phoenix.  Broomhead had been KFYI before moving into the morning drive slot 10 years ago after Barry Young retired from the station where he’d been on air for decades.  Broomhead says in his post, “After 10 amazing years I have decided to leave KFYI.  As sure as I am that God put me there I am as sure that this is the right decision for me.  This is 100% my decision Thank all of you who have listened. I have some time to figure out what is next. Will keep you posted God Bless.”  AZCentral reports that news anchor and morning show staff member Rob Hunter appears to be handling the morning show duties for now.

Steve Cortes to Host Afternoons on WIND-AM, Chicago. According to a report by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, CNN political commentator Steve Cortes – also a member of Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council – is the new afternoon drive host at Salem Media Group’s WIND-AM, Chicago “AM 560 The Answer.”  The 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm show had been hosted by former U.S. Rep Joe Walsh (who also hosted the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight show on the Salem Radio Network) who left his post to run for president as a Republican.  In a statement, Salem Media Group RVP and general manager Jeff Reisman says, “The insight and political acumen that Steve will bring to our audience each day will be second to none.  As we enter this election year, Steve will provide an inside perspective on what’s happening on the campaign trail.”

WPGG Talk Radio Host Harry Hurley Signs Multi-Year Contract Extension to Remain with Townsquare MediaTALKERS magazine Heavy Hundred member Harry Hurley signs a multi-year contract extension with Townsquare Media to continue to host his long-running “Hurley in the Morning” program.  Hurley also serves as the senior programming consultant for WPGG.  Hurley, who has been with Townsquare Media since July of 1992, says, “I am pleased to have enjoyed such rare longevity with one company.  It’s a blessing that I have never taken for granted.  I love the people that I have the privilege to work with at all levels of the company for nearly three decades.  We are presently living history.  I appreciate the opportunity to continue to be a part of the vital spoken-word format in our country.” Hurley presently serves as one of the rotating hosts for the FOX News Radio nationally syndicated radio show, “FOX Across America,” that airs from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET and fills in on other FOX News Radio programs.

Mike Francesa’s ‘Mike’s On’ Show Debuts on RADIO.COM Today at 5:00 pm ET. We knew that New York sports talk radio star Mike Francesa was destined for Entercom’s RADIO.COM platform in addition to his half-hour show airing on WFAN.  Now, Entercom reveals that his “Mike’s On” show will stream live from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm daily, with the 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm portion also airing on WFAN.  Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley says, “Mike Francesa is a pillar in sports radio who has played an integral part in driving sports conversations in New York.  We’re excited to continue our partnership with Mike and offer the same unrivaled sports content our New York listeners love to a broader audience on RADIO.COM.”  Francesa says, “I’m looking forward to working with RADIO.COM in a variety of new ways and continuing my tenure on WFAN.  This new opportunity will allow me to connect with loyal listeners all over the country on both broadcast and digital and I’m looking forward to making this new show a success.”

Cumulus Flips Classic Country KBZU to FM Simulcast of KKOB-AM, Albuquerque. Albuquerque news/talk KKOB-AM already has a 50,000-watt “blowtorch” AM signal.  That signal is getting an FM partner as Cumulus Media drops the classic country format on KBZU-FM and adds the class C signal to the KKOB broadcast.  KKOB had been heard on FM translator K233CG at 94.5 FM.  Cumulus says the station “will cover all of Albuquerque, as well as Santa Fe and the adjacent suburbs.”  Cumulus Albuquerque VP and market manager Jeff Berry says, “KKOB is approaching its 100th year of serving New Mexico and what better way to celebrate than to expand our platform to a full-strength 100,000-watt FM signal?  The KKOB News Radio ‘blowtorch’ will be blasted on both AM and FM signals, giving New Mexicans easy access for news, information, UNM football and basketball, and the best on-air talent in the business.  This is a huge win for our listeners, advertisers, and partners.”  In addition to the new FM signal, KKOB is upping the news programming with a new, 30-minute morning newscast called, “The KKOB Morning Briefing,” at 5:00 am starting next Monday (1/13).  Spoken-word operations manager Jared Hart adds, “I feel fortunate to be a part of such an important moment for one of New Mexico’s biggest brands.  There are so many potential listeners who never sample AM stations, so we can now put our amazing programs in front of the largest possible audience.”

PPM Analysis: Sports TalkTALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s December 2019 PPM survey, today focusing on sports talk.  The period leading up to the holidays usually does not help spoken-word stations in the ratings battle and this year was no different, with 67% of sports stations in PPM markets faltering from the November survey to the December survey while just 20% improved.  Stations showing increased weekly 6+ AQH shares were linked to successful football campaigns. Entercom’s WJZ-FM, Baltimore (the NFL’s Ravens) was up by six-tenths; iHeartMedia’s KFXN, Minneapolis (the NFL’s Vikings) rose five-tenths; and Tegna’s WBNS-FM, Columbus (Ohio State Buckeyes) was also up five-tenths.  However, comparing year-over-year ratings, 65% of sports talkers improved, led by KFXN, Minneapolis (up 2.1 shares); Entercom’s KWFN, San Diego (up 1.5 shares); and Cumulus Media’s KNBR, San Francisco (up 1.1 shares).  KFXN was the only sports station to rank #1 in its market in December.  WBNS-FM ranked #2 and Entercom’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia ranked #3.  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

Monday Memo: Pay Attention (They don’t).  Broadcasters have never had more competition for listener mind-share.  In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke offers some NEWS Year’s Resolutions.  Read it here.

U.S.-Iran Tensions, Trump Impeachment, 2020 Presidential Race, Financial Markets and the Economy, Weinstein Trial, and 2020 Golden Globe Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The aftermath of the U.S.’ killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani; the impeachment articles against President Trump; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in November and the rise of Michael Bloomberg in the polls; financial markets activity and the state of the U.S. economy; today’s start of the trial of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein; and Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated Chad Benson show announces it is moving its live broadcast time to 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET, effective Monday. January 20.  Radio America says that a re-feed at 6:00 pm ET will continue.  Radio America says, “Since launching Chad into national syndication in 2015, the show has increased in popularity and audience growth and has been a major factor in building audience growth on its affiliates in the A25-54 demo.  As a result, many stations have requested the show’s live feed time be earlier in the day going into this important election year.”  Stations wishing to upgrade to the new time slot may contact Radio America at affiliates@radioamerica.com…..It appears as if President Trump tipped America that Rush Limbaugh and syndicator Premiere Networks have agreed to a new, four-year deal to continue the nationally syndicated “Rush Limbaugh Program.”  At his Miami rally, Trump told the crowd that Limbaugh had signed the new deal.  Premiere confirmed to CNN Business that there is a new contract but did not specify its length…..PodcastOne is announcing that three of its podcasts are reaching the 100-episode milestone.  Celebrity/influencer-headlined podcasts, “House of Kim” with Bravo star Kim Zolciak; “Make Speidi Famous Again” with the reality TV couple Spencer and Heidi Pratt; and “Cold Case Files,” in partnership with A&E, all hit the 100-episode mark this month.  PodcastOne founder and executive chairman Norm Pattiz says, “PodcastOne’s great strength has always been picking the hits and future hits while building our network and creating financial success for our partners.  Congrats to Kim, Spencer and Heidi, and A&E on this terrific achievement.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Philadelphia, Beasley Media Group names Matt Cord host of the midday show at classic rock WMGK, taking over for Debbi Calton, who retired last month after 26 years on the station.  Cord has been on air in Philly on rock WMMR-FM and WBEN-FM.  He says, “I’m so thrilled to continue Debbi Calton’s incredible legacy with the WMGK workplace audience.  I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work side-by-side with Philly radio legend John DeBella and longtime afternoon drive personality Andre Gardner!”…..Entercom ups Orphan Andrew to assistant program director and music director for CHR KUDL, Sacramento “106.5 The End.”  He’ll continue to host the station’s midday show.   Entercom Sacramento SVP and market manager Stacey Kauffman says, “Since joining ‘106.5 The End,’ Orphan Andrew has demonstrated his passion for the station and our listeners, and his promotion to APD and music director is a direct result of that.  His long-standing relationship with his audience and broad understanding of pop culture makes him the ideal candidate.  I’m excited to continue to see his positive energy and spirit in the hallways and hear what he can add to one of America’s most successful top 40 brands.”…..Cumulus Media announces a new air talent lineup at country KRMD, Shreveport, Louisiana that includes morning show “Melinda and Mason” – with Melinda Coyer and Mason Stanfield.  Stanfield joins Coyer and Cumulus Shreveport from Adams Radio Group in Las Cruces, New Mexico where he was afternoon personality and music director at country KGRT and morning host for classic rock KSNM.  Current morning co-host Mike Martindale is moving to afternoon drive on KRMD…..WSYR-TV, Syracuse news anchor Christie Casciano is providing news updates three times each morning on Galaxy Media’s adult contemporary WZUN, Syracuse “Sunny 102.”  Casciano will join morning host Rick Gary at 7:00 am, 7:30 am, and 8:00 am each day.  She says, “Even though I anchor the late-night news on television, I still have a passion for morning radio – which is where I got my start in this business, thanks to Rick.  Rick and I will be committed to delivering you up to date local news and events that touch our community, keeping you informed, and hopefully giving you a reason to smile on your way to work and school.”…..Reach Media launches the hip hop morning radio show, “The Morning Hustle,” now available in syndication.  Reach calls it “the freshest program in broadcasting with an entertaining, humorous, and informative take on urban pop culture from the Millennial and Generation Z point of view – meant to wake up its audience to the beat of today’s hip hop.  The talent lineup includes: HeadKrack, Angie Ange, “On-Air” Jordan, Lore’l, and Billy Sorrells.