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Thursday, December 9, 2021

| December 9, 2021

Talk Show Host Michael Berry is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. KTRH, Houston/independently syndicated radio talk show host Michael Berry is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Berry is heard live twice daily on Houston’s talk radio powerhouse KTRH. The first show airs between 8:00 am and 11:00 am and then he comes back between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. But, wait, that’s not all. An additional 25 formidable stations carry one or the other or both of these shows on an independent network that has grown out of his recognition as a break-out talent with a growing following of fans. This network stretches from upstate New York to Portland to Louisiana to Pensacola to Baton Rouge, Nashville, New Orleans, New Mexico and Alabama, with eight stations in Texas. Berry, the son of a maintenance worker for a chemical plant, is an attorney with two law degrees and an interesting history in politics. He began his often-controversial talk radio career in 2005 while still Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Houston. He’s married to the former Secretary of State of Texas, who is from India (and also a lawyer). They are parents of two adopted sons from Ethiopia – now teenagers. TALKERS research places him at number 15 on its most-listened-to radio talk show hosts list with a weekly audience of some 5 million people. He’s also ranked number 9 on the 2021 TALKERS Heavy Hundred list of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America. Harrison and Berry engage in a fascinating conversation about a number of topics including the impact of the COVID era on the psyche of American workers, the application of the phrase “politics makes strange bedfellows” to today’s news/talk discussion, the differences between live radio and podcasting, Berry’s evolution from “yeller” to storyteller, and the syndrome of conservative talk show hosts often being unjustly accused of being proponents of racism and hate. Don’t miss this! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

iHeartMedia Faces Unionization of Podcast Network. After a majority of iHeartPodcast Network staffers signed union cards to organize with the Writers Guild of America, East, the Guild is calling on iHeartMedia to voluntarily recognize the union. According to a press release from the WGAE, “The approximately 125-member iHeartPodcast Network Bargaining Committee includes producers, editors, researchers, writers, and hosts based in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York CIty. The iHeartPodcast Network includes hit series like ‘Stuff You Should Know,’ ‘Fake Doctors, Real Friends,’ ‘The Ron Burgundy Podcast,’ ‘Disgraceland,’ ‘Chelsea Handler: Life will be the Death of Me,’ ‘Noble Blood’ and ‘Committed,’ among many others.” In its “Why We’re Organizing” letter to iHM management, the organizing committee writes, in part: “We, the podcast producers, editors, researchers, writers, and hosts of iHeartMedia, are thrilled to announce that we are unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East. Months of discussion with our colleagues have clarified some things: First, we love the community we have created at iHeart. We work shoulder to shoulder with some of the most creative minds in the business, who have come to feel more like family. We are devoted and passionate storytellers who take pride in our ability to provide our listeners with entertaining, thought-provoking audio content and, most importantly, companionship. However, during difficult times, we are reminded that while the iHeart Digital Audio Group prides itself on its relative autonomy and ability to adapt to the shifting needs of the marketplace—much like a start-up—we work under the capacity constraints of a legacy broadcast conglomerate. Essentially, we have been encouraged to embrace the dynamism of start-up culture without any of the associated benefits. Throughout the unprecedented challenges of the last two years, we managed to seamlessly transition to remote work; our adaptability helped the company not just sustain but thrive during a period of economic uncertainty and social unrest. During team calls, town halls, and official email communications from leadership, we are frequently reminded of the financial gains that we helped make possible. Bob Pittman, CEO and chairman of iHeartMedia, reported during last month’s quarterly earnings call that Digital Audio revenue increased by 77 % compared to 2020. Our division’s significant growth was “driven primarily by continuing increases in demand for digital advertising and the continued growth of podcasting,” where revenue is up 184 % compared to 2020. Unfortunately, those gains have not reached the creators working round-the-clock to keep our audience of more than 30 million monthly listeners actively engaged. With hundreds of shows across all categories and genres, many of us are doing the work of multiple employees, and the huge volume of content we are responsible for is not met with equitable compensation. Furthermore, we lack transparency in workplace decision making, meaningful initiatives toward diversity and inclusion, fairness in managerial relationships, and clarity in divisions of labor. While we are proud to be an essential part of iHeartMedia’s success over the past few years, we are keenly aware of significant internal pay disparities between similarly positioned individuals within the company. And across the board, iHeartMedia’s overall compensation and benefits standards are wholly insufficient when compared to the greater podcast and scripted audio market. Due to these working conditions, the creators of iHeart’s podcasts have banded together in order to help determine the best path forward so that iHeart can remain competitive, retain existing talent, and attract new voices to the network, all while creating a more equitable, transparent, and democratic workplace.” Staffers are seeking: Appropriate compensation and benefits, accountability mechanisms regarding diversity and inclusion efforts, manageable workloads and appropriate staffing for shows, clear paths for advancement and standardized job descriptions, and job security. There’s been no official word from iHeartMedia yet.

Audacy Unveils Sports Betting Intensive ‘95.7 The Fan’ in Rochester. Rochester sports talk outlet WROC-AM adds FM translator W239BF to its broadcast and Audacy adjusts the programming to go sports betting intensive as “95.7 The Fan.” The station is using programming from the BetQL Network, CBS Sports Radio and keeps the local Buffalo Bills program “One Bills Live” in early afternoons as well as “The Sports Bar with Danger and Battaglia” (hosted by Mike Danger and Gene Battaglia) in PM drive. The station also continues to air as simulcasts of sister station WCMF’s flagship play-by-play coverage of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. Audacy Rochester SVP and market manager Sue Munn says, “In line with our company’s expansive position as leaders in sports audio, we’re delighted to enhance our sports content offering through the launch of ‘The Fan Rochester.’ Powered by widely recognizable BetQL and CBS Sports Radio programming, this station will give our local listeners more premier content from some of our brightest talent.”

KFI, Los Angeles Announces Record-Breaking 11th Annual Pastathon. Some of the staff of iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI are pictured above at a remote broadcast for this year’s 11th annual KFI Pastathon that raised a record-breaking $933,502 and 115,324 pounds of pasta and sauce to benefit Caterina’s Club, the local charity that provides more than 25,000 nutritious meals every week to children in need in Southern California. With the help of listeners, local businesses and the continued partnership with Barilla, this year’s event set a new fundraising record. Since 2010, KFI listeners have raised more than $4.5 million and over 700,000 pounds of pasta and sauce for children in need in the community. KFI program director Robin Bertolucci comments, “The KFI PastaThon is a full-station effort, and the biggest heroes are our listeners and partners. Every year, we reach new highs and that means more meals to feed more kids in Southern California. On behalf of the entire KFI team we thank the community for the remarkable generosity.”

Fargo’s ‘What’s on Your Mind?’ Radio Show Visits FOX Square in NYC. Pictured above are listeners to the “What’s on Your Mind?” show that airs on North Dakota stations KFYR, Bismarck; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga; and KLTC, Dickinson as they watch show host Scott Hennen (right) and FOX News Radio star Jimmy Failla (left) do a weather hit with FOX NewsJanice Dean (center). The group also was able to meet “FOX & Friends” co-star and FOX News Radio personality Brian Kilmeade and see the remnants of the now-famous burned Christmas tree.

Podcast Download Fall 2021: Big Three Expand Their Share. The just-released Fall 2021 edition of the Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights Podcast Download report focuses on how consumers access podcasts, what they want from a listening app, and attitudes and usage of the “big three” podcast publishers: Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and Spotify. As part of the study, Advertiser Perceptions surveyed 300 media agencies and marketers and found: 71% say they have discussed the potential of advertising in podcasts; An all-time high of 53% are likely to consider advertising in the next six months, up from 46% last year and 18% in 2015; Another all-time high of 44% indicate they are likely to actually advertise in podcasts in the next six months, up from 37% last year and 10% in 2015; and 45% report they are currently advertising in podcasts, an increase of three times from 2015 and a nine-point growth over 2020. In another aspect of the report, MARU/Matchbox conducted an in-depth study of 600 weekly podcast listeners in October 2021. In the MARU study, weekly podcast listeners were provided a list of podcast listening platforms and asked how often they listened to each. Since 2019, frequent Spotify use jumped from 30% to 36%. With podcasts showcased right in their app, Spotify has helped lure more music streamers into podcasting. Versus two years ago, YouTube is stable (33% to 34%) while Apple Podcasts dropped (from 38% to 27%). Frequent use of Google’s apps (Google Play/Google Podcasts) dropped from 19% in 2019 to 16% in 2021. See more about the study here.

TALKERS News Notes. Nationally syndicated talk radio host Mike Gallagher used the torching of the FOX News Christmas tree in Midtown Manhattan to spur his Salem Radio Network listeners to action for the network’s annual Angel Tree campaign that helps children of prisoners through the non-profit Prison Fellowship. Gallagher told his listeners, “Let’s show everyone that there’s more good than evil in America.” As a result, yesterday (12/8) more than 1,000 children of prisoners were sponsored and will be blessed with personalized Christmas gifts plus a note from their incarcerated mom or dad. Gallagher added, “We proved that a positive message can overcome any negative news when we all pull together.”…..The Carey Brothers are ending their media efforts after 35 years. Morris and James Carey announce they will wrap their radio program after the December 25 edition and the final “Tip of the Day” feature will air nationally on December 31. The Carey Brothers did their first radio show on January 2, 1987 at KCBS-AM, San Francisco. The program went national in 1992 and at its peak aired on more than 300 affiliate stations.

COVID-19 Omicron Variant/Rising Case Numbers/Mandate Repeal, Russia Threatens Ukraine, Biden’s Summit for Democracy, Evergrande Defaults, Violent Crime Spike, January 6 Investigation, Social Media/Instagram Testimony, and Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/8). The Omicron coronavirus variant, the rising case numbers in numerous U.S. states, and the Senate’s passing a repeal of Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate; Russia’s continuing military build-up at the Ukraine border; Russia and China criticize Joe Biden’s virtual Summit for Democracy taking place today and tomorrow; Chinese real estate giant Evergrande defaults causing concern of global investors; the violent crime spike in numerous American cities; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and Donald Trump loyalists’ refusal to cooperate; Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri testifies at a Senate hearing on social media and teen safety; and the prosecution rests its case in the trial of Jeffrey Epstein confidant Ghislaine Maxwell were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

| October 6, 2011

iHeartRadio to Invade American Living Rooms.  In an innovative development that significantly bolsters traditional radio programming’s digital distribution potential, Clear Channel’s expanded deal with Microsoft to include its iHeartRadio in the Xbox LIVE service could put CC stations into the homes of millions of Americans.  Clear Channel says this is an expansion of its multi-year deal with Microsoft that integrates iHeartRadio on Windows Phone 7 and brought the recent two-day iHeartRadio music festival into homes exclusively on the Xbox 360.  Beginning this winter it will work this way: The New iHeartRadio will be available for free to Xbox LIVE Gold members.  Through this new agreement, Gold members who have Kinect for Xbox 360 can use the product’s revolutionary sensor to experience an entertainment first: the ability to control digital radio in their living room using their voice and body.  Gold members who have Xbox 360, but do not have Kinect, can operate the New iHeartRadio using their controller.  Regardless of whether they have Kinect or not, all Xbox 360 Gold members will have access to the New iHeartRadio’s features, including more than 800 of the nation’s most popular live broadcast and digital-only radio stations from 150 cities, plus custom stations with more songs, better music intelligence and more user control.  The deal will also give users access to social features through CC’s deal with Facebook.  Clear Channel CEO John Hogan tells TALKERS, “Clear Channel is committed to innovation and deep social integration.  We want to continually deliver new experiences that consumers have never seen before – like the recent launch of the New iHeartRadio, which combines broadcast and digital-only stations and user-created stations in one service for the first time.  The New iHeartRadio’s integration with the Xbox 360 enables Kinect users to control digital radio in their living room using just their voice and body.  There is nothing else like it on the market and it’s another example of how we are committed to being wherever our listeners are with the programming and services they want and expect.”

Financial Expert Charles Payne to Launch National Radio Show Via Sun Broadcast Group.  Charles Payne is well known to viewers of Fox Business Network and Fox News Channel as well as to KFI, Los Angeles where he’s hosted a Saturday afternoon program.  Now, Payne partners with Sun Broadcast Group to begin a nationally syndicated two-hour financial talk show airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm daily starting October 17.  “Payne Nation with Charles Payne” will emanate from Fox studios in New York.  Chad Wilkinson is named executive producer, Gabe Hobbs and Jim Robinson are aboard in a consulting capacity and the show will feature the voice talents of Edd Hall.  Sun CEO and founder Jay Bailey states, “We’re very excited to welcome Charles to the Sun Broadcast lineup.  We believe the industry is ready for an uplifting, positive financial show that will provide real answers for real people in this turbulent time in our nation.”  Payne says, “Everyone asks me how I am going to be different from other hosts out there, and I tell them that I am simply going to be real.  No scare tactics.  I’m not going to sugarcoat anything in fact I go right at the issues by digging beneath the surface, seeking facts, relying on history and connecting all the dots for real assessments and real solutions.”

Michigan Talk Host Michael Patrick Shiels Scores Exclusive Perspective of Airline Passenger Arrest.  WJIM, Lansing-based talk show host Michael Patrick Shiels happened to be returning from Amsterdam to Detroit when a man on the Delta plane began ranting about a hijacking.  The man was quickly restrained by air marshals.  Shiels tells TALKERS, “While observing from up close, I discreetly used the e-mail function of Delta’s in-flight entertainment system to send e-mails and texts to my producer and other media outlets.  The result was an exclusive story for my radio network and a press gaggle waiting for me when I emerged from the aircraft, resulting in national publicity on the major TV networks.”  Shiels says the man appeared to be American and in his 30s.  He says many passengers became agitated since it was an Amsterdam to Detroit flight that the infamous “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to blow up on Christmas Day 2009.

Paul Finebaum Gets Favorable Ruling in Legal Tussle with Cumulus.  Regionally syndicated and WJOX-FM, Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum was successful in getting his civil suit against Citadel – now Cumulus – returned to state court in Alabama.  Federal judge L. Scott Coogler ruled Cumulus was not able to prove the dispute went above the $75,000 threshold to make it a federal civil suit.  Legal experts say Finebaum stands a better chance in state court due to the legal standards.  Finebaum has two suits filed against Cumulus: one in which Citadel agreed to bankruptcy reorganization without his consent and the other that he was coerced into amending his contract and that Citadel violated its deal with him by manipulating revenue for his program away from him.

KNBR, San Francisco Host Ralph Barbieri Comes Out with Parkinson’s Diagnosis.  In a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, KNBR sports talk host Ralph Barbieri – co-host of “The Razor and Mr. T” alongside Tom Tolbert – confesses to having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2002 and telling no one except Tolbert until now.  Barbieri tells the paper he decided to reveal his diagnosis now since he is coming to the end of his contract and wanted to be honest as he and Cumulus negotiate a new deal.  He tells the paper, “If I am to continue at KNBR, I’d like to start with all our cards on the table, face-up.  I’ve gotten to know Lew Dickey a little bit, and my gut feeling was that he could deal with my situation at an honorable level, so I gave him a call and told him everything.  He let me know that KNBR wants me back.  He didn’t say on what terms, but the fact that he didn’t view the Parkinson’s as a red flag, that was a huge relief to me.”

Premiere Networks Scores Large Market Add for Glenn Beck: Phoenix.  Clear Channel’s KFYI, Phoenix agrees to add the Glenn Beck show to its daily program schedule in the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm time slot bumping Talk Radio Network’s Michael Savage from the slot.  Clear Channel Phoenix director of programming and operations Smokey Rivers states, “Glenn has a sizeable and loyal local following.   His unique and stimulating perspectives will be a welcome addition to the station.”

WROK, Rockford-Based Michael Koolidge Show Names New Producer.  Michael Koolidge’s regionally and independently syndicated talk show is based out of Cumulus-owned WROK, Rockford, Illinois and syndicated to WRHL, Rochelle, Illinois and WLBK, DeKalb, Illinois.  Koolidge announces he brings on Natalie Zee Fenwick as his program’s first full-time producer.  “Thanks specifically to our outstanding advertiser support over the last year, we can afford to officially create our first bona fide job.  Even though it’s just a single job, we’re proud to join the ranks of ‘job creators’ of America.  I’ve had a rotation of great part-time producers and interns over the years, but we’re finally in a position where we’re ready to hire a regular producer.  And we’re thrilled that we found Natalie.”  Koolidge’s business model – serving as an independent contractor to regional radio stations – is one the industry is likely to see more of as companies and stations seek quality local or regional talent without taking on the expenses of traditional employees.  Koolidge’s highly rated program is one industry watchers are keeping an eye on.

Talk Host Jim Walsh and KFYR, Bismarck Part Company.  It’s only been two weeks since talk personality Jim Walsh returned to Clear Channel’s KFYR, Bismarck – a station he worked at in 2003 and 2004 – to host the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm program formerly held by Scott Bachmeier.  Not sure what happened there but Walsh cryptically tells TALKERS, “I have stepped down from the afternoon talk show at KFYR, Bismarck by mutual consent.  I’m still there part-time, at least for the time being.  I’m currently exploring my options and can be reached at 701-226-8449.”  Bachmeier had exited the full-time shift to concentrate on non-radio work but the station lists him as host of the time slot – at least for now.

Occupy Wall Street, Steve Jobs Passes, 2012 GOP Candidates and Obama Jobs Plan Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/5).  The growing ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, the death of Apple innovator Steve Jobs, the Republican candidates for president in 2012 and President Obama’s job creation plan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

| September 13, 2011

Atlanta Drops Two Positions in Arbitron Market Rank to #9; Philly and DC Move Up.  Arbitron announced the Fall 2011 update of its market ranks based on populations changes compared to the Fall 2010 survey.  Atlanta’s loss of population drops it to #9 with Philadelphia and Washington, DC moving up one position to market numbers 7 and 8 respectively.  Other market moves of note include: San Antonio moves up three positions to market #28;  San Jose drops three positions to market #37; and Jacksonville loses four positions to end up at market #50.  Arbitron created a brand new metro called the Hudson Valley consisting of several counties just north of New York City that ranks #39.  It also added additional counties to a number of metros causing big jumps.  Markets benefitting from those additions (with their new rank) are: New Orleans, #47; Des Moines, #73; Portland, Maine, #90; Corpus Christi, #111; Fort Smith, Arkansas, #160; Amarillo, Texas, #169; Bryan-College Station, Texas, #198; Jonesboro, Arkansas, #229; and Albany, Georgia, #241.

More Local Sports Talk at WXOS-FM, St. Louis.  Hubbard Broadcasting’s 101 ESPN (WXOS-FM) moves “The Late Shift” with Cliff Saunders to an earlier 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm airing and debuts a new 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm program on October 3 featuring former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan and station Cardinal’s insider Brian Stull.  According to the station, the addition of the “Stully & Duncan” show means the station offers 13 consecutive hours of live and local sports talk programming.  The new program and the time change of “The Late Shift” bumps ESPN Radio’s Brian Kenny show from the program schedule.  Program director Kent Sterling says, “This is a dynamic pairing of a respected sports radio host/journalist Brian Stull and the former professional athlete Chris Duncan, who until six months ago was known only as a former Cardinal.  Now, Chris Duncan is a radio host who has become a valuable member of the 101 ESPN team.  His analysis of all sports – not just baseball – has been a boon for us over the past Cardinals season and he has demonstrated a work ethic and sense of fun that has been a great addition to the 101 ESPN brand.”

Troy Aikman Adds Radio Appearances to His Duties.  The Fox Sports NFL broadcaster and Hall of Fame player begins weekly appearances on three major market sports talk stations through Fox Sports Radio.  Aikman appears on CBS Radio’s WFAN, New York with Mike Francesa in the 5:00 pm hour each Friday; on CBS Radio’s WSCR, Chicago with Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley during the 8:00 am hour each Monday; and on Fox Sports Radio’s KLAC, Los Angeles-based Petros & Money program during the 5:00 pm hour each Tuesday.  Petros & Money is part of Fox Sports Radio’s lineup and is heard on some 245 affiliate stations across the country.

Harry Hurley Takes Morning Show to WENJ, Atlantic City.  Yes, WENJ is Townsquare Media’s ESPN-affiliated sports talk simulcast (WENJ-AM/FM) but Harry Hurley’s local news/talk show will air in morning drive on the AM side (1450) beginning in October after five years at crosstown WIBG.  Hurley tells The Press of Atlantic City, “The reasons I’m moving are because of the people I’ll be working with and the company I’ll be working for.”  Still, Hurley thanks WIBG owner Rick Brancadora for his time there and says, “I’ve learned to take nothing for granted.  You always earn it.  I’ve been lucky to have the most fiercely loyal listenership in radio. I’m confident they will move with me.”

Jim Walsh Returns to KFYR, Bismarck.  Walsh worked at the station in 2003 and 2004 and then went on to host programs at WILM, Wilmington and WASK, Lafayette, Indiana.  He takes over the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm program at the Clear Channel station full time beginning September 19.  He replaces Scott Bachmeier who leaves his full-time gig at the station to focus on non-radio work but maintains his syndicated “Dakota Prairie Outdoors” program as well as the Friday afternoon “Energy Matters” program on KFYR.

Obama Jobs Bill, 9/11 Anniversary, and 2012 GOP Candidates Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/12).  Criticism and analysis of President Obama’s jobs creation bill, the 9/11 anniversary and the 2012 GOP candidates for president – including anticipation of last night’s debate on CNN – were among the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.

Mohawk Valley Talk Host Publishes History Book.  This is not a boring treatise on the history of a region.  Instead, WVTL, Amsterdam, New York morning host Bob Cudmore has taken more than 40 of the most interesting and unusual stories about people and places in the Mohawk Valley he’s culled over the years for his weekly column in the Daily Gazette and put them together in this new book, Stories from the Mohawk Valley: The Painted Rocks, the Good Benedict Arnold and More (Nero Publishing 2011).  Cudmore’s book includes tales about psychedelic philosopher Benjamin Paul Blood, actor Kirk Douglas, Fonda’s Queen Libby, “The Daiquiris” bandleader Alex Torres, controversial Amsterdam mayor Theron Akin, singer Arlene Fontana, banker Pasquale DiMezza and the unofficial Polish mayor of Amsterdam Michael J. Wytrwal.  Cudmore has a book signing scheduled for this Saturday.  Check out his website http://www.bobcudmore.com/