Phil Valentine Update: Doctors Focusing on Lungs. The latest update on the status of WWTN-FM, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7” afternoon drive host Phil Valentine published by Newsweek indicates that doctors “are focusing on treating the lungs of conservative talk radio host Phil Valentine, in what his family has described as a ‘critical issue.’” Valentine contracted COVID-19 in mid-July and as the viral infection got worse, he was hospitalized and eventually put on a ventilator. Dan Mandis is the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm host on the station and has been communicating with Valentine’s listeners on behalf of his family. He wrote on Monday, “They are working on his lungs, that’s the critical issue right now. Other problems will come along but right now the focus is on his lungs. I’m hoping to have another update soon. #PrayForPhil.” The day before, Mandis posted, “Phil remains in critical condition this morning. There isn’t much new to report, but your continued prayers and support are appreciated. #PrayforPhil,” and later added that Valentine’s atrial fibrillation had improved, as well as his blood pressure. “The hope now is that his dependence on the vent will decrease and his lungs will improve.” The Newsweek piece also quotes Valentine’s longtime producer Johnny B saying, “I know I’d be emotional about this, but not to the point that I have. It’s been a very dark period, actually. I’ve really had to talk to myself, and my wife has helped me tremendously, my family’s helped me, and it’s not been easy. And my co-workers too have been very wonderful,” adding that Valentine is “just the nicest guy and loves to help people out.”
Round Two of July 2021 PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s July 2021 PPM survey 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 2021 survey period covered June 24 – July 21. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets. In Washington, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM remains ranked #11 after tacking on one-tenth for a 3.7 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) finish. Meanwhile, Hubbard Radio’s crosstown all-news WTOP-FM rises to #1 on the strength of a 1.1 share uptick and an 8.8 share finish. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston stays in the #9 position after dropping two-tenths and wrapping the survey with a 3.5 share. Sister all-news WBZ-AM is also steady at #5 after adding two-tenths for a 5.9 share finish. In Seattle, Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM takes over the #1 rank after climbing 1.9 shares to a 7.8 share while Sinclair Broadcast Group’s KOMO-AM/FM drops from #1 to #4 after falling two-tenths to a 6.3 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets (as well as the first round) here.
Nielsen’s Audio Today 2021 Study Says AM/FM Listening Hits Highest Level in Over a Year. The just released Audio Today 2021 study from Nielsen Audio – from June 2021 online survey data based on a weighted sample of 1,000 among persons 18-plus – indicates “nine in 10 now feel life is becoming more normal, and they’re resuming pre-pandemic activities, spending and listening.” The study also finds that, “among the employed, two thirds are now working outside the home, up more than 70% since the height of lock-down in the spring of 2020. As a result, the AM/FM radio audience just recorded its highest levels in over a year across Nielsen’s PPM markets.” Nielsen Audio managing director Brad Kelly adds, “Listening may have migrated into the home during the past year via smart speaker or mobile device, but now we’re tracking the audience shift back to pre-pandemic habits with in-car and out-of-home consumption increasing. All the while, radio’s value proposition for marketers hasn’t budged: it specializes in reaching consumers who are ready to spend right now, while they’re in the marketplace, and does so in a controlled environment which protects the advertiser’s reputation… Elsewhere in the audio universe, podcast usage — which flat-lined last year — is also growing again as millions of new listeners are engaging with the hottest new audio marketing opportunity. We’re approaching one million available podcasts, with something literally for everyone including radio broadcasters who are nimbly using on-demand audio as an extension of their on-air brands. The question now is how can advertisers reach the right audience in the right podcast?”
Gow Media’s SportsMap Radio Network Adds Three New Shows. The SportsMap Radio Network announces the launch of three new programs to its weekday lineup. They are: “Just Sayin It with Cole Thompson” (5:00 am to 7:00 am ET), “In My Opinion with Denton Day” (9:00 am to 11:00 am ET), and “High Frequency with Kevin Dziepak” (6:00 pm to 8:00 pm ET). Thompson, who covers the NFL and college football for Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation, says, “This is the start of something special. I just can’t thank the staff here at SportsMap enough for giving me the chance. Not everyone is lucky enough for this opportunity, but I will certainly make the most of it.” Day states, “I’m extremely thankful for the chance to host a weekday show. I started at the company nearly three years ago doing one live hour on Sunday mornings. Craig Larson and David Gow allowed me the creative freedom to grow and it’s very rewarding to have all that hard work lead to this exciting opportunity.” Dziepak, who spent the last eight years with WSCR, Chicago “670 The Score,” comments, “My goal is really simple: just have fun and try to provide an entertaining and enjoyable product for those listening. I want to widen the scope of the show beyond sports as well, integrating pop culture, TV, music and whatever else can spark conversation; sort of a cosmic gumbo.” Gow Media CEO David Gow states, “We have a number of partners who produce fabulous content for our network. I’m very excited about each of these new shows. The opportunity to produce original, informative and entertaining programs will always be an indispensable part of our core business model.”
Paul Mason to Lead Titans Radio for Cumulus Nashville. Programming pro Paul Mason is appointed to lead programming operations for Titans Radio for Cumulus Media Nashville. The company says that Mason will continue to serve as program director for sports talk WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” and Middle Tennessee sports audio. The appointment comes after Cumulus and the NFL club extended their multi-year partnership for WGFX to serve as the official radio broadcasting home of the Tennessee Titans and Titans Radio. Longtime executive producer Rhett Bryan remains in his role with Titans Radio. Cumulus Nashville vice president and market manager Allison Warren comments, “From the beginning, we were seeking a creative visionary with a passion for sports entertainment to lead ‘104.5 The Zone,’ the dominant sports destination in Middle Tennessee. Clearly, Paul has stepped into that role and done exceptional work. Adding programming operations oversight to Titans Radio is a natural next step for Paul and we are confident he’ll continue to deliver the best live and local sports content to fans on both WGFX and Titans Radio.” Mason states, “I am excited to work with this amazing group of broadcasters. Mike Keith, coach Dave McGinnis, executive producer Rhett Bryan, and the entire Titans Radio team are among the best in sports, and I’m humbled to be a part of it. I also want to thank Allison Warren and [VP of programming operations] Charlie Cook for their confidence in me.”
TALKERS News Notes. Electronic voting firm Dominion Voting Systems is suing conservative video platforms OAN and Newsmax for defamation, alleging that they “manufactured, endorsed, repeated, and broadcast a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies” about the company, relative to the presidential election of 2020. The complaint says they did so despite knowing the claims were false. Newsmax has issued the following statement regarding the suit: “While Newsmax has not reviewed the Dominion filing, in its coverage of the 2020 presidential elections, Newsmax simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the president, his advisors and members of Congress — Dominion’s action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press.”…..Focus360 announces that Forever Media is now a client as 29 Forever Media brands will be included in Focus360’s exclusive Jelli Plus networks including Jelli Male Plus, Jelli Female Plus and Jelli Music Plus. Focus360 CEO Phil Brown comments, “I’m elated to welcome such a storied media company to our Jelli Plus lineups. Forever Media covers some of the largest markets on the East Coast with incredible brands that super-serve their local audience. I’m honored that they have given us the opportunity to share that relationship with our advertising partners.”…..Edison Research unveils the results of its U.S. Top 50 Podcast chart for Q2 of 2021. The list ranks the 50 biggest podcasts by audience size, based on the Podcast Consumer Tracking Report (which Edison says is the only measurement based on actual listening, not downloads). The top three shows based on measurement from Q3 2020 – Q2 2021 are: “The Joe Rogan Experience,” “The Daily,” and “Crime Junkie.” You can see the rest of this Top 50 report here…..Public radio outlet WVXU, Cincinnati – operated by Cincinnati Public Radio – is dropping its music programming and will go all news/talk as of August 14, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. The organization says its goal is to “bring a wider diversity of voices to Cincinnati airwaves.” It will use NPR, American Public Media, and other programming to fill its schedule.
Longtime Public Radio Broadcaster Neal Conan Dies at 71. The NPR website has Neal Conan’s obituary here. Conan passed away in Hawaii after a battle with glioblastoma. He was host of NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” for 11 years, until NPR cancelled the show in 2013. During his lifelong public radio career, he served with WBAI, New York and with NPR in numerous capacities, including as executive producer of “All Things Considered” and as news director.
COVID-19 Delta Variant & Masks Controversy, Cuomo Resigns, Infrastructure Bill/Dems’ Budget Resolution, Senate GOP Blocks Voting Bill, Social Media Suspensions, Dominion Lawsuit, and Prince Andrew Sued Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/10). The rate of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. and the hotly debated mask policies for school children; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigns yet maintains innocence; the U.S. Senate passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution; Republicans in the Senate block Democrats’ attempts to revive the For the People voting act; Twitter suspends Marjorie Taylor Greene and YouTube suspends Rand Paul for “pandemic misinformation”; electronic voting firm Dominion sues OAN and Newsmax over “stolen election” broadcasts; and Britain’s Prince Andrew is sued by Virginia Giuffre for sexual abuse were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Lotus Communications to Acquire Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Seattle Radio Stations for $18 Million. The three Seattle radio stations – all-news KOMO-AM/FM, talk KVI-AM, and hot AC KPLZ-FM – are the only radio stations in Sinclair Broadcast Group’s portfolio. The company is better known for its television station holdings and its conservative editorial policy. Lotus Communications will acquire the three stations – pending FCC approval – for “an aggregate purchase price of approximately $18 million in cash and other consideration.” Lotus Communications first SVP Jim Kalmenson says, “We are excited to work with the amazing staff at KOMO, KPLZ, and KVI. These are legendary stations which share Lotus’s vision of producing local programming to serve the community, enhance local neighborhoods, and support our hometown businesses. Seattle is home to several excellent broadcasting companies who have made this a great radio market.” Lotus owns and operates 44 radio stations in the Western U.S. This deal was initiated by Richard A. Foreman Associates and acted as exclusive broker representing Sinclair.
George G. Beasley Passes at 89. The founder of Beasley Broadcasting – George G. Beasley – died yesterday in Naples, Florida at the age of 89. Beasley was also serving as executive chairman of the board for Beasley Broadcasting at the time of his death. The company says, “While best known for his many trailblazing achievements in the radio broadcasting industry, George will be most remembered for his humility, kindness, integrity, work-ethic and love of family and friends. Born on April 9, 1932, George grew up working in the tobacco fields in his hometown of Ararat, Virginia. His drive and determination led him to enlist in the army to pursue a degree in Education through the G.I. Bill. Upon completing his B.A. and M.A. from Appalachian State University, he taught in Virginia, before moving to North Carolina in the late 1950s to become a high school principal and coach. Inspired by a commitment to provide a voice for the voiceless in his local community, George built his very first station (WPYB-AM) in Benson, North Carolina in December of 1961. Over the next 60 years, his hard work and vision paved the way for what Beasley Media Group has become today – one of America’s premiere publicly traded media companies, consisting of 62 radio properties located in 15 large and medium-sized markets with digital offerings and an esports division.” Among his proudest professional accomplishments was receiving an honorary doctorate and the unveiling of the George G. Beasley Media Complex on campus to provide future generations of ASU students with the opportunity to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams in broadcasting. Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley says, “George’s unconditional love for our mother, Ann and our family, along with his passion for the radio industry, helped to guide him throughout his lifetime. A loving father, mentor, and friend, I will especially miss his incredible wisdom, keen insight and gentle smile.” A memorial service will take place for family and friends in Naples, Florida. Details will be forthcoming. A private burial service will be held for the family in Ararat, Virginia. In lieu of flowers, the Beasley family requests donations be made in his name to The Broadcasters Foundation of America, 125 West 55th Street, 4th Floor New York, New York 10019. Online donations may also be made at www.broadcastersfoundation.org.
Kim Komando Show: 86% of Those Surveyed No Longer Trust Big Tech. A national survey of 6,351 Americans conducted by “The Kim Komando Show” found that 86% of participants no longer trust Big Tech companies. Kim Komando says the poll underscores the growing concerns surrounding the power and influence Big Tech companies have on society and the little confidence Americans have in the tech power players. She says, “Americans are finally waking up to the fact that when a product is free, they are in fact the product.” Among the findings of the study: 1) 82.73% of those polled say they think smart speakers listen to what you say all of the time instead of only when you use the “wake” words. Kim recently explored how users can stop smart devices from listening to you and recording what you say; 2) Nearly 60% fear their smartphone is spying on their activity and have had advertisements populate for something they were just discussing. Thankfully, Kim explained in a recent “Daily Tech Update” episode that this phenomenon is likely dumb luck! 3) Participants surveyed believe Big Tech has too much influence on politics, with Facebook and Twitter each at 92%; 4) 67% of Facebook users would be willing to delete their account knowing that the social media platform tracks everything, sells data and cannot control what is posted on the site; and 5) 92% of people surveyed think Google knows too much information about their personal lives. To combat this, Kim has rounded up alternatives to Google that won’t track your information. She adds, “Since the onset of COVID-19, Big Tech companies have seen accelerated demand as the world has shifted to a more digitalized landscape. Across the board, the survey demonstrated that a majority of individuals worry that Big Tech has too much influence or knows too much about our personal information, yet nearly 4 billion people use social media worldwide and the numbers continue to grow. Interestingly, with the world becoming more digitalized and the news of Instagram for Kids, more than 84% of people surveyed said they would prefer their children to be over the age of 15 to use Instagram. Maybe we are starting to see the damage social media does to our adult lives and how it’s robbing children of a healthy, happy start to their own.” The national survey was disseminated to subscribers to “The Kim Komando Show” newsletters and 6,351 individuals across the United States participated.
Salem Brings Trish Regan into Podcast Network Fold. Conservative media figure Trish Regan is joining Salem Media Group’s Salem Podcast Network beginning June 15. Regan is most well known for her prime time show on the FOX Business Network. She was also a host on Bloomberg TV, CNBC, and CBS Television. The former Miss New Hampshire competed in the Miss America pageant in 1994 and is a graduate of Columbia University with a degree in U.S. history. Salem says,“‘The Trish Regan Podcast’ will be her unique take on the day’s news events. Trish will examine the trouble we have gotten into in this country, and how we can and must get out of it. Her understanding of Wall Street and the nation’s economy will be an added plus for her listeners.” Salem SVP spoken word Phil Boyce comments, “Trish is a superstar in conservative media. She adds class, personality, and wisdom to our lineup, and I have no doubt her millions of fans will follow her and find her here.” Regan adds, “I am thrilled to enter into partnership with Salem Media. Salem is an organization with real leadership and a management team that stands up for American values including—most importantly—our first amendment.”
Good Karma Brands Moving Milwaukee Stations to Downtown Location. The Milwaukee radio stations owned and operated by Good Karma Brands – as well as the company’s home offices – are moving from their longtime location on the northeast side of the city to new offices at The Avenue in downtown Milwaukee. GKB operates news/talk WTMJ, sports talk outlets WKTI-FM “94.5 ESPN” and WAUK “540 ESPN,” plus talk WGKB-AM/W269DL “101.7 The Truth” in the market. Company founder and CEO Craig Karmazin says, “It is incredibly important to us as a local operator of world class brands to be a part of the fabric of the local community and the cities in which we live and work. We couldn’t be happier with The Avenue and 3rd Street Market Hall as it is a symbol of the growth, investment and diversity present in downtown Milwaukee development, and aligns directly with our values as a locally owned company passionate about serving our local community.” Good Karma Brands’ home office and Milwaukee-based radio station operations will be located on the second floor of The Avenue, in a space designed and developed for the growing company. The radio station studios will be located on the first floor in the 3rd Street Market Hall as a featured activation within the space.
iHeartMedia Names Spencer Bynes Area President for Texas. Former iHeartMedia executive Spencer Bynes returns to the company as area president for the Texas area in which he’ll oversee the Beaumont, McAllen, Waco, Corpus Christi and Bryan markets, effective immediately. He will report to Nick Gnau, division president for iHeartMedia. Gnau says, “Spencer has been a proven leader throughout his career, his energy is contagious and his ability to develop teams and talent are unmatched. I am extremely excited for Spencer to lead these markets and expand our community efforts as well as our revenue and rating footprint in the great state of Texas.” Bynes joins iHeartMedia from Lee Hecht Harrison, where he most recently served as vice president of business development in the Southern Region. Prior to joining LHH, he was managing partner and co-founder of Accendo International Consulting. Bynes served with iHeartMedia from 2011 to 2016 as director of talent management and talent acquisition before leaving to launch his consulting business.
iHeartMedia Louisville Sets First Annual Community Voices Town Hall. Taking place on June 10 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm, iHeartMedia Louisville’s Community Voices Town Hall will “aim to address and bring awareness to the biggest issues in the Louisville community that have been identified by the iHeartMedia Louisville Local Advisory Board, including child abuse, racial equity and mental health. The town hall will feature subject-matter experts that will address and discuss these issues.” WHAS “NewsRadio 840” personality Terry Meiners and the Kentucky-Indiana Metro community engagement manager Gabriela Espino will host the event that will include a panel of local politicians, charity heads, experts, and activists. iHeartMedia Louisville metro president Earl Jones says, “I am thrilled we have a platform to bring key voices together to discuss the issues affecting our community. The in-kind media campaigns will support local programs that address these key issues. Through the power of iHeartMedia, we are committed to positively impacting our community.” iHeartMedia Louisville Local Advisory Board will help select eight 501(c)(3) organizations in the Louisville metro area who will receive a three-month in-kind media campaign addressing child abuse, racial equity or mental health. The in-kind media campaigns will be activated using the radio stations’ on-air, social media and digital platforms.
TALKERS News Notes. After nearly 40 years with the station, all-news KCBS-AM, San Francisco morning news anchor Stan Bunger is retiring on June 11. To commemorate his final day, the Audacy station will look back on his career and the major news events he’s covered – everything from 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, 1991 Oakland Hills Fire, 9/11 terrorist attack, championship parades for the Giants and Warriors, COVID-19, and his daily conversations with former Oakland Raiders head coach and NFL Hall of Famer John Madden. The final broadcast will also feature interviews with several of Stan’s past co-anchors and co-workers, including former news directors…..A new member joins the iHeartMedia, Inc. board of directors. Former Lala U.S. CEO and president Graciela Monteagudo takes her place on the board immediately. The company says Monteagudo is an internationally respected executive who, over her 30-year career, has held leadership roles at a variety of multinational Fortune 500 companies across the consumer products, healthcare and retail industries. iHM chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are extremely pleased that Graciela is bringing her expertise across strategic planning, digital marketing, mergers & acquisitions, international operations and the Hispanic and Latin American consumer audience, as well as her leadership in diversity, inclusion and cultural transformation, to the iHeart board. Her significant experience in North and Latin America – and her extensive background in global/digital marketing, e-commerce and consumer goods will provide valuable insights to our board as well as significant contributions to our company and our shareholders.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One – the official network radio partner of the NCAA will present live audio broadcasts of every game of the Women’s College World Series for the first time ever. The network, which has broadcast the Championship Series since 2011, will expand coverage to include all the preliminary games for the 2021 Series.
Taja Graham Joins MIW Board of Directors. Radio management pro Taja Graham is joining the board of directors of Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio, Inc. Graham serves as market president for Emmis CommunicationsIndianapolis. She is a proud graduate of the 2011 MIW Mildred Carter Mentoring Program, and in 2010 completed the Rising Through the Ranks Management Course for Women presented annually by Radio Advertising Bureau, Broadcast Music, Inc., and MIW. MIW board president Ruth Presslaff comments, “After decades of service, MIW founding member Mary Beth Garber transitioned off our board this year. We are ever grateful for her contributions. Today, with open arms, we welcome Taja Graham to fill her seat. From MIW mentee to board member, LSM to market president, Taja embodies the spirit and strength of the MIW’s beliefs and mission.”
COVID-19/Fauci Emails, the Economy/Employment, Trump ‘Reinstatement,’ 2020 Vote Audits, Israel Government, JBS Cyberattack, NFL’s Race-Norming Policy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/2). The fast-falling rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Joe Biden’s deal with Anheuser-Busch to offer a free beer to those who get vaccinated, and the flap over Dr. Tony Fauci’s emails on the pandemic; the state of the U.S. economy and employers’ complaints that they can’t find enough willing workers; the belief by some that former President Donald Trump will be “reinstated” as president; the audits of 2020 election votes in Arizona and New Hampshire; the fate of Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister of Israel and a coalition forms to oust him; the ransomware attack on meat giant JBS and concerns about future cyberattacks; and controversy over the NFL’s “race-norming” policy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.