By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — It’s talk radio FAQ #1. GMs – excuse me, “market managers,” overseeing more-stations-than-they-have-time-to-hear – are anxious, now forced to pay attention to 15 hours a week they’ve had on autopilot for decades.
Short answer: Nobody can
Thousands of our talk radio brothers and sisters will always owe him for leading the format that extended AM radio’s useful life. On my TV show I reminded Michael Harrison of a prediction he made at the TALKERS New York conference 20 years ago, that talk will eventually save FM, where music formats are now largely robotic and under assault from streaming and satellite competitors that users love. Many pay to subscribe.
By Mike Kinosian
Meanwhile though, it must never be forgotten that through it all, genuine heroes continue to surface and walk among us.
Precisely as in life itself, cream has a glorious tendency to rise to the top in the radio industry.
Round One of March PPM Data Released. The first of four rounds of data from Nielsen Audio’s March 2020 PPM survey have been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). The March survey covered February 27 through March 25. You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian provides his Ratings Takeaways from this batch of markets. The Covid-19 crisis began hitting the U.S. halfway through this survey – around March 13 – and the big gainers were the all-news stations. In New York, Entercom’s all-news stations WCBS-AM and WINS-AM were both up (weekly, 6+ AQH share) from the February survey – +0.5 and +1.1, respectively. iHeartMedia’s KFI, Los Angeles rose 0.4 shares for a 4.2 share and the #5 rank in the market. Nexstar Media’s news/talk WGN-AM, Chicago increased six-tenths for a 4.5 share and the #5 rank, while Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago spikes 1.9 shares – the biggest February to March jump in this group of 12 markets – to finish March with a 7.7 share and the #1 rank in Chicago. Entercom’s all-news KCBS-AM, San Francisco is up 1.2 shares for a 9.9 share and the #1 rank. Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta tacks on another 1.5 shares to finish March with a 12.9 share and its ninth straight #1 finish. Entercom’s KYW-AM, Philadelphia added 1.9 shares for a 6.6 share and a leap from #8 to #3. See Mike Kinosian’s Ratings Takeaways here.
KGO, San Francisco Brings John Rothmann Back for Evenings. Back in 2011, talk show host John Rothmann was let go from Cumulus Media’s news/talk KGO, San Francisco along with a number of other local air talent. Now, nine years later Rothmann is back on the air holding down the 6:00 pm to 9:00 program (5:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Saturdays). Rothmann is featured in a story in The Jewish News of Northern California and he tells the paper that being on the air during this pandemic comes at a time that people want to connect. “There is a huge hunger for KGO as a community forum, and I’m helping fill that role, and people are responding. My board is loaded from the time I come in until the time I head home.” He adds, “People crave contact with others, and because we no longer have the physical contact, talk radio is the most intimate, immediate medium, and KGO is the only live, local talk show.”
WABC Launches New Weekend Show. Dubbed, “The Right vs The Left,” the Sunday afternoon show on Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York “TALKRADIO 77 WABC” “pits a WABC air personality on the right vs. well-known political commentators and activists on the left to offer listeners opposing sides of a range of current issues.” This Sunday (4/19), WABC morning co-host Sid Rosenberg takes on left-leaning actor Michael Rapaport at 4:00 pm and WABC midday co-host Curtis Sliwa spars with “The Aggressive Progressive” Christopher Hahn at 5:00 pm. WABC program director Dave LaBrozzi says, “At WABC, our goal is to present both sides of the story so that our listeners can get to the truth of every issue. This special program does that in an entertaining joust between two strong, knowledgeable, opinionated-yet-open-minded personalities. The result is engaging talk radio that pulls in the audience and keeps them there.” The station says the program debuted last weekend with morning show co-host Bernard McGuirk going against Hahn and overwhelming response from listeners spurred it to set up the second and third matches, with the possibility of more right vs. left battles in the coming weeks.
President Trump Wanted to Host Daily Talk Radio Show; But Didn’t Want to Affect Rush Limbaugh’s Program. According to a piece in The New York Times, President Trump was eager to launch a daily, two-hour talk radio show in which he would take calls from Americans – without a call screener – to talk about the coronavirus pandemic. However, he balked because he didn’t want to compete with conservative media icon and supporter Rush Limbaugh. He would have wanted to do the program in afternoon, the time when Limbaugh’s Premiere Networks show airs live.
Coronavirus Statistics and Projections, WHO Funding, Trump vs Governors, Health Care System, China Under Scrutiny, and the November Election Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/15). The official tally of U.S. coronavirus cases and deaths and projections of future cases; the controversy over President Trump’s order to suspend funding to the World Health Organization for its deference to China; the question of the president’s power versus that of the states’ governors; the state of health care and the health of medical personnel in the cities where hospitals are being overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients; questions about China’s truthfulness about its handling of the outbreak in Wuhan; and how the November elections will be handled in the U.S. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
KTRS, St. Louis Longtime Morning Host and PD McGraw Milhaven Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The morning host and program director of independently owned and operated KTRS, AM 550 in St. Louis, McGraw Milhaven, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Milhaven, a perennial member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred, discuss what it’s like broadcasting from home during Covid-19 and President Trump’s handling of the crisis as well as the state of political news/talk radio in a timely conversation of interest to industry pros and listeners alike. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. A special, four-week tribute series hosted by Ryan Seacrest and streamed LIVE on iHeartRadio’s YouTube channel and broadcast across more than 90 iHeartMedia stations debuts this Friday. It’s called, “iHeartRadio’s First Responder Fridays with FirstNet, Built with AT&T,” and is designed to honor first responders and medical professionals on the front lines during the Covid-19 pandemic. Seacrest is asking listeners on air on iHeartRadio stations across the country, online and through social media to share stories of how their lives have been positively impacted by police, fire, EMS and hospital workers by using #iHeartFirstResponders on social media and calling 1-833-3FRIDAY. In honor and support of these first responders and medical professionals, AT&T is committing $5.5 million to provide much needed support in the form of nourishing meals through World Central Kitchen, Feeding America, Salvation Army, and Team Rubicon…..RCN Boston and iHeartMedia are partnering to honor local community heroes of the coronavirus pandemic. The partnership was developed to show appreciation during these uncertain times to the people who are working tirelessly to keep the community safe and comfortable. These heroes include medical professionals, first responders, delivery service workers, cleaning staff, cooks, teachers, stock clerks and others. RCN and iHeartMedia Boston are asking for nominations of individuals or organizations who are going above and beyond during these unprecedented times. Nominations will be accepted through Friday, April 24. Ten heroes will be selected to receive a $250 gift card to continue their amazing work for which they are being recognized…..On-air pro Bryan “B-Dub” Washington announces via Facebook that he’s leaving his afternoon personality and APD/MD roles at iHeartMedia’s country KWBL, Denver “106.7 The Bull.” He writes, “The last two years have been absolutely amazing. I’ve had some of the coolest experiences of my entire life here, and it’s so hard to say goodbye, but the time has come. I’ll have more to tell you, soon. It was by choice, and when I am able to, I’ll explain why.”…..The company’s cost-saving policy forces midday air personality Jodee Woods out of Midwest Communications’ country KVOX-FM, Fargo…..Condolences to the family and friends of All Pro Broadcasting owner Willie D. Davis, who passed away yesterday (4/15) at age 85 after a long illness. In addition to his career as a broadcaster and businessman, Davis was a Pro Football Hall of Famer who was a key defensive player on the 1960s-era Green Bay Packers. He won five NFL championships (including two Super Bowls) as a member of the team before retiring from the game in 1969. All Pro Broadcasting owns hot AC KHTI and adult contemporary KATY-FM in the Riverside-San Bernardino market. Davis also formed Milwaukee Radio Alliance LLC with Bill Lynett in 1996. It owns adult contemporary WLDB-FM, alternative WLUM-FM, and oldies WZTI-AM.
Cumulus Media Re-Vamps Mornings at KGO and KSFO in San Francisco. Station air personality Nikki Medoro is being promoted from her role on KGO’s Chip Franklin show in afternoons to host of her own “The Morning Show with Nikki Medoro” on KGO, effective March 2. Medoro will be joined by station news pro Bret Burkhart. The new show takes over for the KSTE, Sacramento-based, syndicated “Armstrong & Getty” program that is moving over to mornings at sister news/talker KSFO. That daypart at KFSO opened up when Brian Sussman chose to retire from the station last month. Cumulus San Francisco operations manager Lee Hammer says, “Nikki has done a tremendous job working with Chip Franklin in afternoon drive, and she’s earned this opportunity to host mornings on KGO. Nikki and Bret will bring a fresh approach to the day’s news, both locally and nationally. They’ll also invite the Bay Area’s listeners to join the conversation and share their opinions. I’m also excited that Armstrong and Getty will be staying in our station family, just moving down the dial to KSFO. Joe and Jack are fantastic entertainers, super knowledgeable and they’re not afraid to share their opinions. They’ll be a great addition to the KSFO lineup.”
Bonnie Lucas to Retire from WHO-AM, Des Moines Morning Show. After serving at iHeartMedia’s heritage news/talk WHO-AM, Des Moines for the past 25 years, Bonnie Lucas – one half of the “Van and Bonnie in the Morning” show – will retire after the March 6 program. Lucas told listeners to Wednesday’s program that she’s been thinking about retirement since last fall. She said she’s looking forward to spending time with her spouse, doing some traveling, and not getting up at 2:30 am on weekdays. Lucas joined co-host (and station PD) Van Harden in the early 1990s after Connie Murad left the morning show co-host role.
Presidential Race, Wuhan Coronavirus, Roger Stone Sentencing, Antarctic Iceberg/Global Warming, and Trump Budget/Growing Deficit Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/12). The aftermath of the New Hampshire Democratic primary; the status of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact; the controversy over the sentencing phase of Trump attorney Roger Stone’s trial; the report of a large iceberg breaking off Antarctica and the related ongoing climate change debate; and the Trump administration’s fiscal 2021 budget and the U.S.’s growing deficit were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Former Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer to Host Newsmax TV Show. The latest addition to the Newsmax TV program lineup is “Spicer & Co.” – hosted by former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. The program will debut on March 3 at 6:00 pm ET from broadcast studios near the White House. Newsmax Media says Spicer “will lead an ensemble of Washington insiders, experts, journalists, and power brokers to analyze the day’s top headlines from the Beltway and the key news from the U.S. and the world.” Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy says, “Sean has been on the inside of how decisions are made in a way so few have. He was a success as White House press secretary because he connected to ordinary Americans.” Ruddy notes that Spicer’s press conference ratings were “off the charts, a phenomenon that hasn’t happened before or since.” Spicer comments, “We are going to offer viewers a unique perspective and insights into what’s really happening – who is up, who’s down – and most importantly how it’s going to affect their lives. I’ve had a front row seat to how Washington works at the highest levels – in the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, and K Street. We are going to invite our viewers into a conversation that is totally unique. We will ask the questions and cover the topics that everyone in America is thinking about, but no one is asking or talking about.”
MIW Radio Group Releases Results of 20th Annual Gender Analysis Study. The Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio Group is releasing the results of its 20th annual MIW Gender Analysis Study that analyzes the number of women in radio broadcasting rising to management ranks. The data specifically tracks the progress of female professionals holding general manager, sales manager, and program director positions. The study reveals that 19.5% of 2,189 stations in the study had women holding the general manager position in 2019, an increase of almost a half of percentage point from 2018. This number continues to show consistent growth from 2004, when the percentage of female general managers was only 14.9%. MIW says the best management opportunities for women in radio continue to be in sales management as 33.1% of 3,715 stations had a woman sales manager in 2019. But, the study also concludes that the greatest challenge for women in radio management continues to be in the area of program director. Women currently program only 11.62% of 1,304 stations in the study versus 10.6% last year. However, on a positive note, this is the first time this number has grown in 14 years. MIW national spokeswoman Denyse Mesnik says, “The MIW Gender Analysis Study is the impetus for the MIW’s mentoring programs that serve female professionals in all aspects of the radio industry. When the numbers on our annual analysis rise, as they did slightly this year, we work even harder to encourage and mentor our female colleagues who are striving for, and/or have achieved, management positions in radio.”
Joe Pags Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. One of the hardest-working, fastest-rising stars in syndicated talk radio, Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Syndicated by Compass Media Networks and seen on Newsmax TV, “The Joe Pags Show,” broadcasts live weekdays 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET and is carried on more than 125 radio stations across America. Plus, his weekend show, “The Weekend with Joe Pags” is carried on more than 200 stations. Pags is ranked 14th on the TALKERS Heavy Hundred. In a free-wheeling conversation that sounds like a chat between two friends from Long Island, Pags – the grandson of immigrant Italian bricklayers – discusses his blue-collar roots and their impact on his view of today’s hot issues. Harrison and Pags talk about politics, polarization, and the president as well as music, pop culture, and social media in the digital era. In addition to being a world-class talker, Pags is also a professional saxophone player and musician – skills that are utilized in his broadcasts that include satirical song parodies and occasional appearances playing the national anthem at sporting events. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Stigall Billboards Adorn Philly Roadways. Commuters in the Philadelphia market are likely to see billboards like the one above for Chris Stigall’s new morning drive show on Salem Media Group’s WNTP-AM, Philadelphia “AM 990 The Answer.” Stigall tells TALKERS magazine, “At a time radio companies are scaling back, I’m so excited to work for Salem Media who thinks enough of their people and their products to tell the community at large about them! It’s a true investment – not just in me and my show – but in radio as a whole. What a statement! Salem believes in what they’re doing, and they put their money where their mouths are! In this case, where my mouth is.”
Lunching with TALKERS Convention Videographer Art Vuolo. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (l) had lunch with “radio’s best friend,” legendary videographer Art Vuolo (r) yesterday (2/12) in Jupiter, Florida to discuss plans for the forthcoming 23rd annual TALKERS Convention set for New York on Friday June 5. Vuolo will again be contracted to produce the video recordings of the event which is destined to be another historic industry milestone. Harrison states, “We are honored to have a radio-savvy artist of Mr. Vuolo’s caliber in charge of preserving the priceless content of this conference for posterity.” Talkers 2020: The Rise of the Media Station is only open to members of the broadcasting industry, related fields and communications students. It is again expected to be an advance sellout and non-refundable registrations can only be obtained via telephone with credit card. Full registration, including all functions, meals, and refreshments, costs $329 per person. To register or obtain sponsorship information, please call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.
TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media maven Robert Feder reports that Chicagoland radio personality Mark Zander is joining Good Karma Brands-operated sports talker WMVP-AM “ESPN 1000” as a part-time and weekend host. Zander was most recently program director at Mid-West Family Broadcasting’s rock WXRX-FM and sports talk WNTA-AM in Rockford…..On-air pro Rob Carson is auditioning for the late morning gig at WTZA-AM/W271CV, Atlanta all this week. Station co-operators Will Regan and Jamie Chapman are leasing the signals from K&Z Broadcasting. They have already launched the station with Shannon Burke and Kara Stockton in morning drive, Mike Brooks in early afternoon, and Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson in afternoon drive…..FOX Sports Radio says it set a “new benchmark in January, reaching more than 13 million podcast listens – an increase of +88% over the previous year.” It adds that “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” podcast was the strongest performer, up +59% year-over-year. The FSR stream also experienced its best month ever in January, increasing +25% year-over-year. FSR is a division of Premiere Sports Network…..Entercom sports talk KRLD-FM, Dallas “105.3 The Fan” and the MLS’ FC Dallas agree to a deal in which the station will assist in producing soccer shows for the 2020 season. KRLD-FM will host the “The Luchi Gonzalez Show,” on Thursdays at 1:30 pm during the 2020 MLS regular season, offering exclusive insight from the FC Dallas head coach…..Motor Racing Network is “throwing the Green Flag” on its 50th season of NASCAR coverage with almost 30 hours of programming originating from the “World Center of Racing,” Daytona International Speedway from February 8-16. Commonly known as Daytona Speedweeks, MRN announcers and production crew are producing six race broadcasts, three editions of the signature program “NASCAR LIVE,” five separate NASCAR Cup Series practices, and qualifying for the “Great American Race.” MRN Daytona programming culminates with the 62nd running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 16 that will be carried live on more than 400 radio station partners across the country.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Entercom’s hot AC KRSK-FM, Portland “105.1 The Buzz,” Liz Luda and Mike Vezzola join as morning show co-hosts. At the same time, Jamie Tanchyk comes aboard as assistant program director and afternoon drive host. Prior to joining Entercom, Luda served as a morning show co-host and promotions director for Flinn Broadcasting in Memphis. Vezzola was previously an on-air personality at WODS-FM, Boston; WTIC-FM, Hartford; and WZMX-FM, Hartford. Entercom Portland SVP and market manager Kim Martinez says, “Building a strong on-air team is why Entercom Portland is the platinum standard for our listeners and advertisers. Liz and Mike’s fun and energetic chemistry coupled with Jamie’s exuberant on-air style and programming prowess cements ‘105.1 The Buzz’ as the go-to for young, active listeners in Portland.”