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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

| December 21, 2021

Salem Media Group’s Ed Atsinger Transitions to Executive Chairman; David Santrella Rises to CEO. Current Salem Media Group CEO Edward G. Atsinger III will transition to the newly created role of executive chairman of the board of directors, effective January 1, 2022 and David Santrella – currently president of broadcast media – will become chief executive officer. At the same time, David Evans – president of digital media and publishing – is promoted to chief operating officer. Salem Media Group’s current chairman, Stuart W. Epperson, will resign from Salem’s board of directors, transitioning to the position of chairman emeritus and Stuart W. Epperson, Jr. will join the board of directors, filling the vacancy created by Mr. Epperson Senior’s resignation. In the executive chairman role, Atsinger will be chairman of the board, assuming leadership of the board of directors while providing oversight and guidance to both the CEO and COO. Atsinger will continue to be engaged full-time and focus more of his attention on macro strategy and planning, M&A, external relationships, government affairs and leadership development. He comments, “I am pleased to serve as executive chairman and to oversee the succession to the next generation of leadership of our company. I am looking forward to working with the executive team to continue Salem’s vitally important mission of serving the media needs of the audiences interested in Christian content and public policy programming with a traditional conservative focus. With Salem well-positioned for continued growth into the future, now is the right time to take the next step in implementing our long-term leadership transition. We have a tremendously talented, deep and dedicated leadership team at Salem. David Santrella and David Evans each have played a critical role in developing and executing the strategy in place today, and I am confident they have the vision, skills, experience and capabilities necessary to provide continued leadership of Salem well into the future.” Speaking about his new role, David Santrella states, “I am deeply honored to have been appointed as Salem’s next CEO. I look forward to working in close partnership with David Evans to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that exist in today’s media landscape, to further the mission of our company and to grow our business. I am blessed that I will have Ed alongside me in my new role.”

WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago Names Cisco Cotto Morning Drive Anchor. Chicago all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM appoints Cisco Cotto the morning drive news anchor, taking over for Pat Cassidy, who recently announced his retirement. Audacy Chicago regional president and market manager Rachel Williamson comments, “We are excited to welcome Cisco into morning drive. He has proven to be a true professional and teammate for the last seven years both reporting and anchoring on WBBM. Not only does he bring a bright energy but is a great communicator and strong journalist – the perfect combination as Chicagoans wake up each morning.” About his new role, Cotto says, “Pat and Felicia [Middlebrooks] spent many years as voices Chicagoans trusted to wake them up with all of the most important stories to start their day. I’ll work hard to maintain what they built. Thanks to Ron Gleason, Greg Solk, and Rachel Williamson for trusting me with such an important show on this great station. I look forward to continuing to be a small part of the award-winning news team on WBBM for many years to come.” Assuming the midday and noon business hour anchoring position is Rob Hart, who has been with WBBM since 2016.

WGAC, Augusta and Talk Host Austin Rhodes Sued for Defamation. A suit has been filed in Gwinnett Superior Court in Georgia by James Faller II who says in the complaint that WGAC, Augusta talk host Austin Rhodes defamed him through “false, malicious and defamatory” statements. Faller appears to be representing himself as the complaint is not signed by an attorney representing him. Faller alleges that Rhodes called him a “fraud,” “weirdo,” and “felon” and says Rhodes spoke with local politicians and warned them about associating with Faller. A story in the Augusta Press indicates that Faller admits to having served two years in federal prison on a felony conviction but says that he’s actually a whistleblower and he went to prison due to a government conspiracy against him. Faller also alleges that Rhodes’ refusal to allow him to appear on his radio show violates his First Amendment rights. Beasey Media Group is also named in the suit and it’s expected the company will seek to have the suit dismissed.

KHTK-AM, Sacramento Announces On-Air Changes for the New Year. A series of talent moves at Bonneville’s Sacramento sports talk KHTK-AM will take place beginning January 4, 2022. Current afternoon drive host Jason Ross will move to mornings to join Carmichael Dave. At the same time, Justin Marshall will move away from the on-air portion of his role to solely focus on his duties as assistant program director and morning show producer. The afternoon drive show will be hosted by program director Nick Cattles who will be joined by a rotating cast of co-hosts each day from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

BIA Advisory Predicts Radio Ad Spend Will Rise 5.5% to $13.54 Billion in 2022. Looking ahead to 2022, BIA Advisory Services reveals it has increased its U.S. Local Advertising Forecast for the year to $173.3 billion from its earlier estimate of $161.5 billion issued in the late summer. The 2022 forecast indicates an 11.4% increase over 2021 due to faster than anticipated growth in digital advertising and a strong political year. Traditional media ad revenue still maintains a slight advantage over digital at 50.8% of the ad spend ($88 billion), while digital media will get 49.2% of the ad spend at $85 billion. Looking at the radio industry, BIA predicts that radio ad spend will be $13.54 billion, a 5.5% increase over 2021’s $12.79 billion. For 2021, radio’s ad spend on over-the-air will be $10.91 billion with $1.88 billion coming from digital (website, streaming and mobile apps). Next year, radio ad spend is forecast to be $11.37 billion for over-the-air and $2.17 billion for digital. BIA SVP and chief economist Mark Fratrik says, “2021 has been a year of fluctuations. The first two quarters of the year saw strong growth, with some stalling in Q3 once the Delta variant appeared late summer. We’ve taken pandemic concerns plus inflation and supply chain issues into account to prepare our local media estimates and, overall, we are bullish on ad revenue for 2022.”

WTOP-FM, Washington Was Top Radio Biller for 2020. As a sidebar to the previous story about BIA Advisory Services’ Local Advertising Forecast, the company has revealed the top radio billers for last year. The top-billing station for 2020 was Bonneville’s all-news WTOP-FM, Washington with $62 million. Rounding out the top 10 were: iHeartMedia’s KIIS-FM, Los Angeles and WLTW-FM, New York with $38.9 and $30.8, respectively; Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta was #4 with $30 million; Audacy’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago was #5 with $29.7 million; Beasley Media Group’s sports talk WBZ-FM, Boston was #6 with $29.6 million; iHeartMedia’s KBIG, Los Angeles and WHTZ, New York were #7 and #8 with $29.35 million and $29.3 million, respectively; Audacy’s all-news WINS-AM was #9 with $28.1 million and Audacy’s sports talk WFAN, New York was #10 with $28 million.

COVID-19, Build Back Better, 2022 Midterm Elections, Trump Sues NY AG, January Investigation, Russia’s Ukraine Aggression, and Potter/Maxwell Trials Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/20). The Omicron coronavirus variant sweeps across the U.S., the push for booster shots, and the pushback against mandates; Senator Joe Manchin’s blow to President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan; Republicans savoring early predictions of taking back Congress in the 2022 midterm elections; former President Donald Trump sues New York attorney general Letitia James to prevent investigation of his businesses; the investigation into the January attack on the Capitol; Russia’s ongoing military aggression at the Ukraine border; and the trials of former police officer Kim Potter in the shooting of Daunte Wright and Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

| August 18, 2020

Brian Davis Named OM for Cumulus Appleton-Oshkosh. Programming pro Brian Davis returns to Cumulus Media to take on the operations manager position for the company’s Appleton-Oshkosh, Wisconsin cluster that includes news/talk WOSH-AM, country WPKR-FM, classic hits WVBO-FM, alternative WWWX-FM, and nostalgia WNAM-AM. Davis served as a programmer in Cumulus’ Bloomington, Illinois cluster from 2011-2016. Most recently, he was a brand manager for Townsquare Media’s Dubuque, Iowa station group. Cumulus Appleton-Oshkosh VP and market manager John Rowe says, “This is a homecoming of sorts for Brian, having worked in the marketplace a few years ago. We’re thrilled to have Brian’s passion for radio and know he will make an immediate impact at a time when programming leadership is critical to the cluster’s continuing success.” Davis comments, “I am very excited to be rejoining Cumulus and returning to Northeast Wisconsin. We have an outstanding team and a great lineup of stations, and I know we’re going to do great things together!”

Entercom Names ‘D-Lo and KC’ Midday Show at ‘ESPN 1320’ in Sacramento. The new 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm show at Entercom’s KIFM-AM, Sacramento “ESPN 1320” is “D-Lo and KC,” hosted by Damien Barling (left) and Kenny Caraway (right). Entercom Sacramento Stacey Kauffman says, “Damien and Kenny are two incredibly talented, local personalities that bring passion, energy and enthusiasm to 1320. Damien’s market experience coupled with Kenny’s passion for Northern California sports make this a winning combination. I couldn’t be more excited to see what they’re able to accomplish right out of the gate on air and on our digital platforms.” Barling previously hosted on sister KHTK-AM’s “The Lo-Down.” Caraway is a content creator across multiple mediums, including podcasting, sports radio host, podcast and radio producer, as well as co-host for The Athletic’s Sacramento Kings podcast, “Throne Room Breakdown.”

‘New Jersey 101.5’ to Present Back to School Town Hall. This year’s “back-to-school” season is very different from past years due to COVID-19 and Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the latest in its Town Hall broadcast series to help New Jersey parents prepare for the start of the new school year. New Jersey has more than 600 school districts with each setting its own policies regarding how and where kids will begin school, leading to great confusion among parents. Station special projects director Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments in bringing health and education experts together to answer parents’ questions. He says, “Kids may be permitted to attend some in-class learning, but is it safe to do so? We will get parents the answers they need to make the best decisions possible for their children.” The program’s expert panel will feature: Marie Blistan, president, New Jersey Education Association; Patricia Wright, executive director, New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association; Dr. Margaret Fisher, world-renowned pediatric infectious disease specialist; and Dr. Steve Tobias, director, Center for Child and Family Development. Scott and his guests will answer live, call-in questions from listeners throughout the hour. The broadcast takes place Thursday (8/20) at 7:00 pm and is being streamed on Facebook Live and via the New Jersey 101.5 app.

‘97.1 The Fan’ in Columbus Unveils New Lineup. Columbus sports talk outlet WBNS-FM “97.1 The Fan” unveils its new program schedule, including its new morning drive show. The Tegna station puts ‘Fan’ personality Brandon Beam together with former Ohio State linebackers Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel for the “Morning Juice” from 6:00 am to 9:00 am. The station also creates a new midday show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. Station director of operations Matt Erhard says, “In addition to the energy and excitement of launching ‘Morning Juice,’ I’m excited to team up Anthony Rothman, who’s been covering sports in Central Ohio for 27 years, with Matty “Ice” Hayes, a born and raised Ohioan who brings fresh perspective and insight as he makes the move from producer to host. I’m extremely proud to see these next career steps for guys who have helped shape ‘The Fan’ into the sports powerhouse that it is today.” The station is making a move physically as well. Vice president and general manager Todd Markiewicz says, “I am also excited to announce that we are moving our radio studios from Front Street to the 10TV building on Twin Rivers with brand new, state of the art broadcasting facilities. Creating synergy between 97.1 The Fan’s sports lineup along with 10TV’s sports anchors allows us to create ‘The Best Damn Sports Team In The Land.’ With TV and radio’s sports personalities under the same roof, we will be able to provide the most thorough and entertaining sports information to fans in Columbus for years to come!”

Lisa Ann Bonk Joins JAM Media Solutions as National Sales Manager. Radio sales pro Lisa Ann Bonk is named national sales manager for JAM Media Solutions. The company operates seven radio stations – three music brands in Iowa, plus news/talk WZPR-FM, Nags Head, North Carolina and three music brands on the Outer Banks – as well as digital publication OBXToday.com and a New Jersey-based direct response ad agency. Bonk worked with new company COO Steve Borneman at WABC, New York and also served as a regional manager at Interep Radio. Borneman says, “I am happy to be reunited with Lisa! Lisa hired me many, many years ago at 77 WABC and I am looking forward to the contributions she will make at JAM. Lisa is one of the best sales leaders I’ve had the pleasure of working with and she’s an all-around wonderful person!”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a story at Crossing Broad, Beasley Media Group is going to lease the old WIP-AM – now WTEL-AM – to iHeartMedia and that company plans to flip the format. It’s currently airing sports as “610 ESPN Philadelphia.” Beasley acquired the signal in a swap with CBS RADIO…..Good Karma Brands’ “ESPN Cleveland” is launching a new daily podcast titled, “The Daily Grossi,” hosted by Cleveland Browns analyst Tony Grossi and Matt Fontana. “ESPN Cleveland” director of content Matt Fishman says, “Tony is the eyes and ears for the fans this year at training camp. ‘The Daily Grossi’ podcast provides fans an inside look at Kevin Stefanski’s first season as the Browns head coach as he tackles the additional challenges 2020 has provided.”…..FOX Sports Radio’s Colin Cowherd appeared on the August 14 edition of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” in which he talked about the possible impact of the college football season on the presidential election, how major sports leagues have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to salvage their seasons, and a variety of other sports topics. You can see it here.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections/College Outbreaks, USPS Funding/DeJoy Testimony, Presidential Race/DNC, Southwest Heatwave/California Power Woes, and Protests/Urban Violence Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/17). The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for more cases, and the outbreaks at some college campuses; the state of the U.S. Postal Service, its funding woes, and next week’s testimony before Congress by USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy; the November presidential election and last night’s opening of the Democratic National Convention; the record-setting heatwave in the Southwest and the rolling blackouts in California; and the Portland protests and urban violent crime increase in several cities were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

PPM Analysis: Adult Hits. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s July 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the adult hits format. In this report, you will find charts that show weekly 6+ AQH share movement compared to the June 2020 PPM survey, the July 2019 PPM survey, as well as market rank and market share. See the whole report here.

More Music Radio News and Career Moves. Notifying their listeners via social media, country WQMX, Akron program director and afternoon host Ken Steel and station music director Jody Svoboda Wheatley have been let go by owner Rubber City Radio Group. Noting that their departure is related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wheatley posts to Facebook: “Exactly two weeks ago I celebrated my 19th year working at WQMX, and it turns out that today is my last. Our company decided that I should be their first COVID casualty, along with my favorite co-worker, Ken Steel. I guess if I wasn’t going to leave the company on my own terms, at least I left in the next best possible way…at the top with the best ratings WQMX has ever had, and next to the best boss and co-worker/friend that I’ve made along the way. So I guess it only makes sense that we exit this ride together, even though we both don’t deserve it. It’s definitely their loss. Not sure what’s next for me, but I guess I’m ready to find out.”