Interesting News from 77WABC on Both the Political and Musical Fronts. New York City-based businessman and radio broadcaster John Catsimatidis, whose Red Apple Media acquired news/talk station WABC late last year, tells TALKERS that he is thinking about running for mayor of the Big Apple next year and that the heritage outlet is considering adding more musical programming to its weekend lineup to accompany the recent hiring of legendary disc jockey “Cousin” Bruce Morrow as host of a three-hour Saturday night program. In an exclusive interview with both men conducted by TALKERS founder Michael Harrison this morning (9/22), Catsimatidis and Morrow were in agreement that weekends are a good time to take a break from the stress and negativity of politics in favor of enjoying the fun and escape of music and non-combative entertainment. Catsimatidis, who also hosts his own weekend political talk show, stated, “Saturday nights, Sunday nights and Friday nights are for relaxing – not for headaches. Politics has gotten too serious and everyone is at each other’s throats. That’s wrong! We’re going to be bringing in more people, subject to Cousin Brucie’s approval, to do more music on WABC – especially on weekends.” Catsimatidis, who ran for mayor of New York in 2013 as a moderate Republican, was the runner-up in that year’s GOP primary. He tells Harrison, “On my radio show I have liberals and I have conservative guests. I have Republicans and I have Democrats. Some of my best friends are Democrats and consider me a Democrat. If I decide to run for mayor next year, I will try to do it on the ‘fusion’ ticket and not necessarily on any party line.” The entire conversation between Harrison, Morrow, and Catsimatidis will be posted on next week’s installment of “The Michael Harrison Interview” podcast and portions of it will appear on this coming weekend’s edition of “The Michael Harrison Wrap” radio show.
Talker Chris Stigall Returns KCMO-AM, Kansas City to Host Late Morning Show. After being away from the Kansas City talk radio audience for 10 years, talk radio host Chris Stigall is returning to the air in the market on Cumulus Media’s KCMO-AM for the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot, beginning today (9/22). Stigall hosted the morning show on KCMO from 2006 through 2010, prior to joining WPHT, Philadelphia. Stigall has been the morning drive personality on Salem Media Group’s WNTP, Philadelphia “AM 990 The Answer” since last fall and he’ll continue in the role. Cumulus Kansas City regional vice president and market manager Donna Baker says, “[Program director and morning host] Pete Mundo has established ‘KCMO Mornings’ as the trusted local talk radio destination for daily issues that affect our Kansas City community. His idea to welcome Chris Stigall back to continue the local dialogue with KCMO listeners from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon is a brilliant addition to this iconic station.” Stigall comments, “You can move away from Kansas City, but anyone who’s born and raised here knows Kansas City is always in your heart. Most of my family and closest friends still call it home. It’s been a while, but like any good friend, the audience of KCMO Talk Radio and I go way back, and we’ll pick up right where we left off.”
Crossover Media Group Adds ‘Just Ask the Question’ to Podcast Portfolio. The podcast featuring White House reporter Brian Karem, “Just Ask the Question,” joins the growing podcast portfolio of cross-platform content-production and advertising-sales representation firm Crossover Media Group Sales. As you may recall, Karem – who writes for Playboy and has frequently appeared on CNN – rose to greater prominence recently when the Trump Administration attempted, unsuccessfully, to pull his White House press pass. Crossover Media Group will drive advertising sales and promote and increase distribution for the podcast, that features interviews with guests in the news and offers special insights to the news, with guests such as author Mary Trump; biotech executive and vaccine expert Dr. Stephen Hoffman; retired former Montgomery County, Maryland, police chief Tom Manger; intelligence analyst Naveed Jamali; various senators and representatives; and even comedians Kathy Griffin and Carl Reiner. Crossover Media Group Sales managing member Sue Freund says, “The idea of the podcast is to engage people about real issues on a substantive level. At the same time, we want to engage listeners and blow your mind. Brian is famously fearless in pushing for answers and facts and holding elected officials accountable. Adding ‘Just Ask the Question’ rounds out our growing roster of content in the news and political and issues talk arena which now includes ‘CBS News on the Hour,’ John Solomon’s ‘Just the News,’ David Shuster’s ‘Quick Hits’ and shows hosted by popular talk personalities Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann.
Hillary Clinton Podcast Series Announced by iHeartMedia. The former First Lady, Secretary of State, and U.S. Senator is hosting a 24-episode podcast series on the iHeartPodcast Network titled, “You and Me Both with Hillary Clinton,” that debuts on September 29. The program will feature candid interviews with guests from a wide range of backgrounds including: Sarah Cooper, Gloria Steinem, Stacey Abrams, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, Samin Nosrat, Patton Oswald, Tan France, and more. Clinton says, “I’m excited to bring these eye-opening, powerful, sometimes hilarious conversations to the forefront and open up new avenues of discussion with some of the people I find most fascinating. This podcast is a chance to talk about subjects that are too often overlooked and share the inspiration and education I’ve gotten from my guests.”
WFNZ, Charlotte Producer and APD Mark Seidel Passes at 37. News of the death of WFNZ, Charlotte producer and assistant program director Mark Seidel at age 37 from an apparent heart attack was shared by WFNZ staffer Travis Hancock who tweeted, “With much sadness I say RIP to our WFNZ brother Mark Seidel. I’m heartbroken. We were HS classmates. We crossed paths again when he got into radio in 07. He was a gentle soul who I have never heard a person say a bad word about. He deserved a long and happy life. We are crushed.”
SCOTUS Nominee Battle, the Presidential Race/Mail-In Voting, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/CDC Flip Flop, Back to School Woes, Western Wildfires, and Tropical Storm Beta Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/21). Republicans’ vow to move ahead with a Supreme Court nominee in the aftermath of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg; the November presidential election and the debate over the veracity of mail-in voting; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for future cases, and the controversy over the CDC’s flip-flopping on posting that transmission via aerosol is likely; the struggles families are facing returning to school and the related college outbreaks; the wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington; and Tropical Storm Beta flood threats were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
TALKERS News Notes. Dallas sports talk outlet KTCK-AM/FM “Sportsradio 96.7 and 1310 The Ticket” announces it helped raise more than $122,000 for Dallas-area children during its 2nd annual “Donnie’s DFW Domino Classic” held over the Labor Day weekend. The Cumulus Media station says all proceeds go to Dallas charitable organization, AT LAST! Boarding, which helps underprivileged children get a quality education. This year’s event was hosted by Donovan Lewis, co-host of The Ticket’s “The Norm and D Invasion” and included an online car raffle and virtual dominoes tournament…..Cadence13 and Entercom are partnering with Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author Tim Weiner, Jigsaw Productions and Prologue Projects for “Whirlwind” – a 10-part original documentary podcast franchise that tells the story of the 75-year battle between the US and Russia. The series builds off Weiner’s book, The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia, and Political Warfare: 1945-2020 (Henry Holt, 2020) and offers a deep-dive into a world of secrets, brought to life through focused, intimate interviews with people who have operated inside of it…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and Imperative Entertainment today premiere the first English and Spanish language podcasts, “The Red Note” and “La Nota Roja,” that is also to become a documentary feature film. The 10-episode podcast series are hosted by investigative journalist Lydia Cacho and examine the Juarez femicides that have taken the lives of thousands of women over the past 25 years…..KQED announces a new, five-part limited podcast series on the California housing crisis that will be hosted by KQED’s housing affordability reporters Molly Solomon and Erin Baldassari. “SOLD OUT: Rethinking Housing in America” reimagines what housing can be by examining California, the epicenter of the nation’s housing affordability crisis. KQED says, “Solomon and Baldassari introduce us to people experiencing homelessness and the activists pushing city leaders to de-commodify housing. They talk with builders hacking traditional construction methods to build more homes faster and policy experts who believe housing can be a form of reparations that gives Black Americans the same opportunity that white Americans have always had in this country.”…..SiriusXM extends its collaboration with superstar Kevin Hart and Laugh Out Loud. Under the new deal, Hart will host new regular and live programs on his SiriusXM channel, Laugh Out Loud Radio, while expanding SiriusXM’s relationship with LOL to include a slate of additional comedic programming spanning radio shows, podcasts, and on-demand video that will be distributed across the SiriusXM ecosystem…..Pictured below is new Salem Radio Network talk host Charlie Kirk (right) in the KRLA, Los Angeles studios with SRN videographer Ethan Tradup (left) as he records a series of marketing videos for his new SRN talk program “The Charlie Kirk Show.” Kirk is the founder of the conservative student group Turning Point USA. His program premieres on October 5. See a video here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Tulsa, programming pro Abby Jessen is named the new director of branding and programming for Cox Media Group’s hot AC KRAV-FM “Mix 96.5.” She comes to Tulsa from CMG’s Athens, Georgia operations where she held a similar position. CMG Tulsa market vice president Cathy Gunther says, “At CMG, we’ve always said that we win with our people and it’s led to the creation and longevity of our market-leading products. Bringing Abby onto our team will continue to give us an advantage over our competitors and help us further elevate our award-winning content.”…..iHeartMedia announces that the 2020 iHeartCountry Festival Presented by Capital One, originally scheduled for May 2 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, will now be a virtual streaming and on-air radio special on October 23. The seventh annual event will feature performances from Dierks Bentley, Lady A, Sam Hunt, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini, Dustin Lynch, Jon Pardi, Riley Green, Morgan Evans and Gabby Barrett and a guest appearance by Bobby Bones. The program is being recorded live on one stage in Nashville and will stream exclusively on LiveXLive and be broadcast live across iHeartMedia’s country music radio stations in local markets and at iHeartRadio.com on October 23 at 7:00 pm CT…..Beasley Media Group’s classic rock WCSX, Detroit is producing a special, 12-week program titled, “Seger Saturdays” that will air Saturdays at 9:00 am beginning October 3. WCSX says the new program – hosted by morning show personality Big Jim O’Brien – will highlight the incredible legacy of Detroit’s iconic rocker, Bob Seger and will feature a full hour of music, interviews, special guests, and storytelling relating to Bob’s Hall of Fame career. Beasley Media Detroit director of programming Scott Jameson says, “Bob Seger is revered in Detroit, so we’re taking our listeners beyond the music, sharing stories about the people and events that shaped his legendary career. Listeners can expect to hear all the great Seger classics along with a behind-the-scenes view of Bob’s inner circle.”…..After six years of live concerts at Tysons Corner Center, the “WGTS 91.9 Summer Concert Series” from Atlantic Gateway Communications’ Christian contemporary WGTS moved to a virtual format. The band Unspoken was to have performed from the mall but instead, WGTS morning show hosts Jerry Woods and Blanca Vega tossed it to Unspoken at the Sound Kitchen studios in Franklin, Tennessee for the show. Afternoon show hosts Johnny and Stacey Stone picked things up from the WGTS video studios interviewing Unspoken and taking live questions from listeners. Jerry Woods says, “This definitely was the next best thing to having them in person. Using the Streamyard video platform we were able to put live listener comments up on the screen and the band immediately reacted to listeners. This added a whole new dimension to the live broadcast.” More than 10,000 listeners from coast to coast and countries around the world viewed the webcast.
Pandemic-Related Layoffs At KQED. Twenty staff members at KQED Inc. San Francisco public radio news/talk KQED-FM and PBS affiliate KQED-TV have become layoff victims, owing to the coronavirus pandemic. That represents more than 5% of KQED’s workforce. Among those known to be affected are a full-time limited term journalist and two temporary members of the science team. In a communication to staffers, president/chief executive officer Michael Isip notes that some employees are having their hours reduced and those in leadership roles are taking a 12% slash in pay. Furthermore, “non-essential” staffers will be required to take four-day furloughs at the very end of this year and immediately after July 4th (in 2021). As of October 1, KQED will drop its employer match of 403(b) contributions; there won’t be any salary increases the rest of this calendar year. Laid-off employees though are welcome to apply for any future openings. Among persons 6+ in Nielsen Audio’s July 2020 sweep, KQED-FM ranks second in San Francisco (7.4, 6+) and second, as well, in San Jose (6.6, 6+).
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM in Washington, DC. This new episode titled “Momala Kamala!” looks back at this past week of August 10-14, 2020. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Erick Erickson, talk show host, WSB, Atlanta / independent Georgia statewide network; Michael Medved, talk show host, KTTH, Seattle / CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; Pat McCrory, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte / former Governor of North Carolina; Steve Weisman, founder, Scamicide.com / law professor, Bentley University; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more. To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.
Entercom, Good Karma Brands, Browns Extend Partnership. As part of the deal between Entercom Cleveland and the NFL’s Browns, sports talk WKRK “92.3 The Fan” and co-owned WNCX “98.5 Cleveland’s Classic Rock” will continue serving as FM radio flagships of the 26-station University Hospitals Cleveland Browns Radio Network. They have been in that capacity since 2013. The team’s AM key station is Good Karma Brands’ sports talk WKNR “850 ESPN Cleveland.” Entercom Cleveland senior vice president/market manager Tom Herschel comments, “With football season right around the corner, we’re excited to continue delivering premier coverage of the Browns to Cleveland’s biggest sports fans on two of our market-leading stations. We value our long-standing partnership with the Cleveland Browns and look forward to many more seasons as the flagship radio stations of the team.” Good Karma Brands vice president and Cleveland market manager Sam Pines states, “We are thrilled to extend our partnership with the Cleveland Browns and Entercom. The power of live sports, particularly Cleveland Browns football, is baked into the fabric of the city and ‘850 ESPN Cleveland.’ We look forward to supporting and being a partner of the Browns in the years ahead.” Cleveland Browns executive vice president and chief operating officer Dave Jenkins notes, “Through our partnership with Entercom and Good Karma Brands, we have incredible opportunities and resources to consistently provide our fans with compelling radio programming on game days and throughout the year. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Entercom and Good Karma Brands to bring our fans even closer to our players, coaches, and entire team. We are excited to continue to produce these shows with them in the years to come.” Over and above gameday coverage, WKRK morning show talent Ken Carman and former NFL player Je’Rod Cherry host a one-hour (7:00 pm – 8:00 pm) Wednesday night “Cleveland Browns Preview Show.” In addition, Browns senior media broadcaster Nathan Zegura and Beau Bishop will chat with Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski on “The Kevin Stefanski Show,” each Thursday evening (7:00 pm – 8:00 pm).
PPM Analysis: The News Format. In the first of a four-part series of extensive recaps of the July 2020 survey period, TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian highlights the performance of the all-news format. Right off the bat, there is a bit of a statistical oddity: Precisely mirroring June’s stats, 50% of stations in our sample experience month-to-month erosion; 44% improve; and 6% remain steady. While the percentages are identical in back-to-back sweeps, there were only a few duplications by station. Specifically, only iHeartMedia Boston news-talk hybrid WBZ-AM (+.7 and +.1, 6+) and Sinclair Broadcast Group Seattle’s KOMO (+.2 and +.3, 6+) notch increases both times. Regressing in June and July are Entercom-owned WINS in both New York (-.7 and -.4, 6+) and Long Island (-.1 and -.2, 6+); co-owned business news WDCH (Baltimore report, -.3 both times, 6+); and KCBS-AM (San Jose sweep, -.2 and -.9, 6+). A whopping 81% of all-news stations post July 2019 – July 2020 growth. Gaining +2.2 year-to-year are Entercom siblings KCBS-AM, San Francisco (6.1 – 8.3, second to first, 6+) and WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago (4.8 – 7.0, fourth to first, 6+). See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.
Audio Industry’s Unique Opportunity. In a presentation last week to Radio Advertising Bureau members, MediaVillage founder Jack Myers opined that radio broadcasters need to play up their local ties. According to Myers, “Radio has an opportunity to recreate unique marketing opportunities on localism and content and to rebuild its competitive position.” Many in the ad community may not be familiar with audio’s evolving story. The industry is a relatively new space for some of them, as according to The Myers Report data, 62% of media professionals have less than eight years’ industry experience and brand managers spend just 2% of their time on media. “As an industry, we have to take a stand for increasing the importance of media decisions and the medium is the message,” Myers notes. Audio sellers, he suggests, should communicate positive attributes. “At the top of the list is radio and digital audio’s trust and reliability. Audio is a brand-safe environment where companies know exactly where their ads will run and select the content or personalities they’ll be associated with. Radio and audio need to stump for a larger slice of ad budgets and creative spending. To do that, play up all the opportunities that radio can deliver, including both local over-the-air and digital audio, and to reach diverse audiences, including minorities and consumers 55-plus.” Forecasts from The Myers Report are suggesting that this year’s total ad spending will fall between 14% and 20%, compared to 2019 levels. Myers projects the ad market will not begin a meaningful recovery until 2022. Audio is suffering major revenue losses, with year-over-year spending down 20% to 25%. Those declines, however, are in line with local TV, cable, and broadcast networks. As ad markets slowly recover, Myers admonishes radio and audio companies to invest in education within their organizations and externally. “Companies that invest significantly in education and rethink their PR and promotional output in an educational context will be the next generation of leaders.”
TALKERS News Notes. Progressing from swing and weekends at Hearst Radio Baltimore news/talk WBAL “News Radio 1090 & FM 101.5” is Torrey Snow, who takes over afternoon drive duties (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm). WBAL president and general manager Cary Pahigian states, “Torrey’s deep knowledge of Baltimore, Maryland, and his thoughtful viewpoint on the current issues of importance are valuable additions to WBAL. Listeners can expect a spirited examination of topics from all angles, along with late-breaking news, weather and traffic.” Portugal-born/Boise, Idaho-raised Snow relocated to Maryland 14 years ago. The president of the Frederick Douglass Foundation of Maryland, Snow was named Anne Arundel County’s “Republican Man of the Year” in 2018. He was appointed to the Maryland Commission of African-American History and Culture and makes his WBAL PM drive debut today (Friday, 8/14) … Given that the coronavirus wiped up this year’s “March Madness,” Fox Sports Radio is countering with a “Basketball Bracket Challenge” focused on the NBA playoffs. The challenge debuts tonight (Friday, 8/14) after the final regular-season game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets. Listeners will compete against each other, as well as against FSR’s Colin Cowherd, Clay Travis, Doug Gottlieb, Chris Broussard, Rob Parker, R.J. Bell, Jason Smith, Mike Harmon, and Ben Maller. Up for grabs is the chance to win a Westinghouse 50” Roku TV. Fox Sports Radio vice president of sports programming Scott Shapiro declares, “We all have bracket envy since the tournament was robbed from us in March. So we thought why not give sports fans what they want – a way to compete against our hosts and fellow listeners in a basketball bracket.” Brackets must be submitted prior to tipoff of the first playoff game (next Monday, 8/17) at 12:59 pm (ET).
Kamala Harris/Mail-in Ballots/School Opening Challenges are the Top News/Talk Stories for this past week of August 10-14. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top 10 stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s entire chart here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Following a 28-year run at WHBC-FM “Mix 94.1,” Kayleigh Kriss exits the Alpha Media Canton (Ohio) hot AC – victim of coronavirus-related cutbacks. Alpha Media Canton general manager Larry Gawthrop comments, “While the effects of COVID-19 created some tough decisions for us, one thing is for certain: Kayleigh Kriss will forever be part of the legacy of WHBC-FM. For 28 years, she endured multiple owners, managers and musical directions; she played just about every song ever recorded. Kayleigh is a true professional and I have no doubt her career will continue to be a success no matter which side of the mic she’s on.” Kriss began in the station’s promotion department in 1992 and became a member of the on-air staff in 1997. She was furloughed four months ago and was officially let go earlier this month … Former director of sales/general sales manager for Radio One Charlotte, Michael Taylor, is named general manager /sales manager for cross-town Core Radio Group urban contemporary WGIV “Streetz 103.3 & 100.5.” Core Radio Group president/chief executive officer Steve Hegwood comments, “I am extremely pleased to have Michael Taylor lead our Charlotte team to victory. He brings the experience, relationships, and successful proven track record to our company.” Taylor notes, “I have been watching and paying attention to the growth of Core Radio Group and the ‘Streetz’ brand for many years. I am extremely impressed with their perseverance and success. Steve Hegwood is focused and determined – I am honored to join his team.” Taylor’s background includes account manager stops in Philadelphia (WPHI); Raleigh (WZZU and WQOK); and Charlotte (WPEG) … Tonight at 9:00 pm (Friday, 8/14), iHeartMedia Philadelphia CHR WIOQ “Q-102 Philly’s #1 Hit Music Station” and Verge Aero join forces to announce the annual “Q-102 102 Grand in the Sand” presented by Acme. “Q-102” listeners are encouraged to continue practicing social distancing while watching the drone light show from their windows and rooftops. The show will be live-streamed on WIOQ’s Instagram Live. In addition, the drone light show’s musical soundtrack will be broadcast live and synced on the station. To prevent gathering of any kind, the exact location of the drone light show will not be released to the public … Six-year Townsquare Media Albany (New York) operations manager Steve Richards exits. In addition to his OM duties, Richards was brand manager for adult contemporary WPBZ “103.9 The Breeze”; alternative WQSH “Alt 103.5”; and classic rock WQBK “Q-105.7.”