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Thursday, May 20, 2021

| May 20, 2021

Round Three of April PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s April 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen’s April 2021 sweep covered April 1 – 28. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM dips four-tenths for a 5.3 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) but hangs on to the #4 rank while iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talk KEX-AM adds eight-tenths to finish with a 3.5 share and rises to the #12 rank. Radio One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte sheds six-tenths for a 4.4 share and drops to the #8 rank. In Sacramento, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK tacks on five-tenths for an 8.7 share finish good enough to climb to the #1 rank. Similarly, in Salt Lake City, Bonneville’s KSL-FM jumps by 1.5 shares for an 8.3 share finish and leaps from #3 to #1. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (as well as the first two rounds of markets) here.

Nielsen: Radio Listening Continues to Rebound. Fourteen months after the coronavirus pandemic began and dramatically affected the amount of time people were spending in their vehicles commuting to work, the country is steadily reopening and Nielsen Audio reports that radio listening is growing again. Nielsen says, “The April 2021 PPM survey revealed new gains in radio listening across the aggregate of markets for the second month in a row. As America continues to reopen, consumers are returning to radio in numbers not seen in over half a year. Radio’s weekly reach is now at its highest levels (121 million weekly consumers) since March 2020 when COVID-19’s impact began to take hold. Since the beginning of 2021, radio has added more than 5 million new weekly listeners. Radio’s Average Quarter-Hour (AQH) audience in April 2021 hit its highest levels since the fourth quarter of 2020, prior to this winter’s virus surges and associated restrictions. What’s more, AQH audience levels have jumped 10% in the past two months as vaccinations and a gradual return to pre-pandemic routines have proliferated.”

Rudy Giuliani Visits News/Talk WEEO-FM. Pictured above is former New York City Mayor, former Donald Trump attorney, and current WABC, New York personality Rudy Giuliani (center) at Magnum Broadcasting’s WEEO-FM, Chambersburg, PA/Hagerstown, MD “News Talk 1037FM.” Giuliani was the guest of PA State Senator Colonel Doug Mastriano and spent about 45 minutes on the radio sharing stories and answering questions about topics from the FBI to NYC. He’s pictured with station GM Patrick Ryan (left) and political analyst Michele Jansen (right).

Report: Audacy in Negotiations to Fill Rush Daypart with Dana Loesch Across Company News/Talkers. According to Bobby Burack’s report at Outkick, Audacy is in negotiations with Radio America to have “The Dana Show” starring Dana Loesch fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart formerly occupied by Rush Limbaugh on many of its news/talk stations. Burack says his sources say it’s in the “advanced stages” but not a done deal just yet. The story also says that video platform The First – which simulcasts video of Loesch’s radio program as well as that of other talk hosts such as Buck Sexton, Bill O’Reilly, and Jesse Kelly – is launching a daily TV-only, one-hour show hosted by Dana Loesch that will air at 6:00 pm ET.

Bonneville’s KTTH-AM, Seattle Adds Dan Bongino Show. Seattle news/talk KTTH-AM is adding Westwood One’s “Dan Bongino Show” to its program lineup, airing in the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart. The Bonneville station is programmed by Jason Antebi who says, “We’re excited to welcome Dan to the KTTH family. I can’t think of many people better suited to carry the torch in this daypart. This isn’t a ‘Rush replacement show’ because no one can replace Rush. He will always be the greatest broadcaster in history. KTTH, in part, has become what it is because of him. We’re now looking to grow on that with the help of Dan and we’re confident he can help us do that.” Bongino comments, “I’m honored KTTH decided to go with the show. All I can do is bring a high-quality product, put a ton of work into it and I promise, I will never waste the audience’s time. I don’t just tell you stories to tell you stories. People don’t want their time wasted. They want to know why the news matters.”

CBS Audio Offers Memorial Day Special. This year’s Memorial Day Holiday special from CBS Audio is being made available to non-affiliate stations on a market availability basis. The three-hour program is hosted by Gil Gross and guests and topics include author Malcom Gladwell about the longest night of World War II, Pulitzer nominee Max Boot looks at the forgotten wars of American History, the announced end of America’s longest war—Afghanistan, and the forgotten heroes of the war in Vietnam. It’s available via FTP on May 25 for airing Friday, May 28 through Memorial Day (May 31). Reach out to Melek Demir at: Demirm@cbsnews.com for availability in your market.

TALKERS News Notes. Next Tuesday (5/25), Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the first GOP gubernatorial primary debate between candidates Jack Ciattarelli and Hirsh Singh at 7:00 pm. The two will face off in the June 8 primary to determine which candidate will take on incumbent Governor Phil Murphy in November. “New Jersey 101.5” senior political director Eric Scott will moderate the one-hour live program and will take questions from on-air and online listeners. Scott says, “This format allows ordinary citizens a chance to talk directly to the candidates about what is important to them and you never know what they are going to ask.”…..Radio ad pros Jim and Dan Price – founders of Oink Ink – are launching a digital audio creative agency called Price Brothers. Dan Price says, “Digital audio technology exploded so quickly that it outpaced creative. That’s where we saw an opportunity. While the tech guys are developing new platforms and vehicles to support ads, we wanted to get out in front and put energy into making great creative to make the most of that technology.” He adds that “with digital, the consumption is different than with ‘traditional’ radio; the patterns are different, the usage is different… so the creative should be different.”

January 6 Commission, COVID-19, AZ 2020 Vote Audit, Israel-Hamas Violence, Texas Abortion Law, Trump Org Investigation, and U.S.-Russia Relations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/19). The U.S. House moves to create January 6 Commission to investigate Capitol invasion and Mitch McConnell’s opposition to it; the declining rate of COVID cases in much of the U.S. and concerns about vaccine hesitancy; the 2020 election vote audit taking place in Arizona and Republicans’ desire to audit Georgia’s election results; the ongoing rocket attacks between Israel and Hamas; Texas passes a new law banning abortions after six weeks; the New York attorney general’s expansion of the Trump Organization into a criminal probe; and U.S. and Russian officials meet in Iceland were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

| April 22, 2021

KFAB, Omaha Fires Chris Baker After Tweeting of Racist Image. A day after tweeting an image of Black natives in loincloths and holding spears with the caption “Guilty!” in the immediate aftermath of the Derek Chauvin verdict, iHeartMedia has fired KFAB, Omaha afternoon drive talk host Chris Baker, according to a piece in the Lincoln Journal Star.  iHeartMedia area president for Nebraska C. Taylor Walet III said in a statement the tweet was “completely inappropriate and unacceptable. Please know that this does not represent our viewpoint or our values, and we take this situation very seriously. Accordingly, Chris Baker’s employment with our company has been terminated.” Baker told the Journal Star that although he doesn’t expect people to believe his explanation, he says he was multi-tasking and searching for an image of “people celebrating” and inadvertently posted the image that he did. He added, “That’s not me, that’s not who I really am. There’s a difference between being intentional and being a fat-fingered boomer on Twitter. I don’t look at Black people that way.” On Wednesday, “Producer Josh” Odson and “Bird,” a.k.a. Meghan Bird, hosted the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm program on KFAB.

Premiere Networks and EIB Network Launch ‘Rush Limbaugh: The Man Behind the Golden EIB Microphone’ Podcast Series. This 12-episode podcast is narrated by Rush Limbaugh’s longtime call-screener and “official show observer” James Golden, a.k.a., Bo Snerdley. Premiere Networks says, “The 12-episode series will detail legendary radio host Rush Limbaugh’s award-winning, 30-plus year career in radio that revitalized the spoken-word format and provided a platform for him to develop and lead modern conservatism in America. Featuring Limbaugh’s own words and never-before-heard stories shared by colleagues, friends and family, the series will give listeners a guided tour of the five-time Marconi Award winner’s historic journey from Cape Girardeau, Mo., to becoming the No. 1 talk radio host in America. The series will also highlight Limbaugh’s lasting legacy, which includes ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’s’ continued dominance as the most-listened-to talk radio program in the U.S.” Golden says, “The only blessing greater than working with Rush was knowing the man that he truly was. It is not only my honor, but also my duty, to help ensure his legacy is properly acknowledged. I want to thank Premiere Networks and the EIB Network for allowing me this profound opportunity.” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott adds, “We look forward to sharing this incredible series with millions of Rush Limbaugh fans. Those who knew Rush best will provide an insider’s look at his life and career, providing a true celebration and tribute to the greatest talk radio host of all time.” You can hear a trailer for the series that launches on May 12 here.

Audacy’s WILK-AM/FM, Wilkes-Barre Announces New Lineup; Local Hosts Nikki Stone and Bob Cordaro Join Air Staff. Northeastern Pennsylvania news/talk brand “WILK News Radio” – WILK-AM/FM, Wilkes-Barre; WODS-AM, West Hazleton; WAAF-AM, Scranton – adds two personalities to its re-tooled daily lineup. Market radio pro Nikki Stone joins the station as host of the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and former Lackawanna County commissioner Bob Cordaro is the new 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm talk host. Jason Barsky co-hosts the morning show “The Morning News with Nancy and Jason” alongside Nancy Kman and Frank Andrews continues to be heard from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Audacy SVP and market manager Ryan Flynn states, “We’re really excited to introduce this enhanced slate of programming to our listeners as we focus on the issues that matter most to Northeast PA. Nikki brings a breadth of experience in this market which we think will quickly build a sense of trust between her and our audience. Bob Cordaro, also someone with deep local roots, is an expert on the area, the people, and local politics. I trust his candor and connection with our audience will quickly translate to a successful afternoon show.” Stone has been a traffic reporter and host on the station since 2017. She says, “Northeast PA has always been home to me. I’m excited about this chance to open up conversation, talk about the issues that matter, and have a little fun with the people I consider neighbors and friends.” Cordaro comments, “I am incredibly honored to become part of the team at WILK and Audacy. While it is a daunting task to replace the great Rush Limbaugh in Northeast PA, I feel privileged to be able to do so. I want to thank our management team here in Scranton Wilkes-Barre as well as everyone at Audacy for giving me this opportunity. We are going to have a lot of fun promoting a conservative commonsense agenda that works for the people of this area and our country.”

Round Three of March PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s March 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen’s March 2021 sweep covered March 4 – March 31. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland slips three-tenths to a 5.7 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and falls from the #2 rank to #4. In Charlotte, Radio One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM loses a half share, finishing the March survey with a 5.0 share good for the #5 rank in the market. iHeartMedia’s San Antonio news/talk WOAI-AM falls from the #2 rank to #7 after dropping 1.7 shares for a 5.0 share finish. In Salt Lake City, Bonneville’s KSL-FM sheds two-tenths to wrap the survey with a 6.8 share putting it in the #3 rank while iHeartMedia’s crosstown KNRS-AM/FM loses a half share and finishes with a 6.5 share and the #4 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways report for this group of markets (as well and the first two rounds) here.

Radio’s Rob Carson Hosting ‘The Newsmax Daily’ for Newsmax Media. Radio pro Rob Carson has been working with Newsmax for some time now, but now the company officially launches the podcast “The Newsmax Daily with Rob Carson.” Newsmax says, “With ‘The Newsmax Daily’ you’ll get the latest top news with Rob Carson’s wit and wisdom to help you understand the events shaping our lives. Rob holds little back – and tries to find the humor in even the most frightening of news developments – especially when they emanate from the Biden-Harris White House!” Carson also hosts the TV program, “Rob Carson’s What in the World?” which airs Saturdays on Newsmax TV. Carson’s talk radio career includes stops in markets including: Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Dallas, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Nashville, Phoenix, Minneapolis, New York City, and Baltimore.

Cumulus Media Re-Brands Westwood One Podcast Network. Effective May 6, the Westwood One Podcast Network becomes the CUMULUS PODCAST NETWORK. Cumulus says the move “consolidates the Company’s national and local podcasts into one entity, capturing the full breadth and diversity of the portfolio and providing advertisers with a comprehensive offering of podcasts, in addition to streaming, mobile, social and display.” Suzanne Grimes, executive vice president corporate marketing and president, Westwood One, will retain responsibility for the Company’s podcast sales network. She says, “Placing our podcasts under the Cumulus umbrella allows us to offer our advertising partners easy access to the company’s full arsenal of digital products. This exciting expansion takes our fast-growing podcast network to the next level, as well as simplifies the buying process for agencies and brands, allowing our partners to seamlessly tap into the full power of our premium on-demand audio content.”

Nielsen: March PPM Data Reveals Big Audience Gains. According to data from Nielsen Audio’s March 2021 PPM survey radio has achieved significant gains in radio listening across the aggregate of markets, to the tune of an 8% increase month-over-month in total AQH audience. This marks the largest single-month increase in average audience since June of last year. These gains were driven by increases in both weekly reach (adding nearly 4 million consumers in March – a 3% increase versus February) as well as time spent listening (gaining by over 20 minutes – on average –a 5% increase compared with last month). Nielsen adds that the year-over-year comparison between the March 2020 and March 2021 PPM stands at a 96 index for weekly reach and a 93 index for AQH. This means that from a weekly reach perspective, the radio audience in March 2021 is 96% the size of the same month from one year ago, while for AQH the number is 93%. This uptick in radio usage mirrors the positive changes in consumer sentiment and habits observed during Nielsen’s latest radio consumer study conducted during the March survey. Six in 10 Americans are now ‘ready to go’ and feeling life is becoming more normal in their city or town. Those working outside the home have increased nearly 70% since last April, while consumers spending more than an hour each day in a vehicle has more than doubled in that time. Heavy radio listeners, because they are more mobile and ‘ready to go’, are also more likely to engage in top activities including shopping for groceries, driving longer distances, ordering take-out, and getting together in-person with friends and family, particularly among those who are vaccinated.

Gene “Bean” Baxter Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Former KROQ, Los Angeles radio superstar Gene Baxter is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Known to his legion of fans by the nickname, “Bean,” he co-hosted (with Kevin Ryder) a wildly popular morning show called “Kevin & Bean” that ran on the legendary alt rock station for three decades and landed both performers in the Radio Hall of Fame. Then he announced his retirement from the show and moved to England (where he was born and raised as a young child) to get away from the pressures of the LA radio industry and his openly expressed distaste for the tone and direction of American politics. At present, now back in Great Britain, he co-hosts a show on Podcast Radio in London with another former KROQ broadcaster from his Kevin & Bean days – Allie Mac Kay – titled, “A Cup of Tea and a Chat with Allie & Bean.” Harrison and Bean take a deep dive into the worlds of the radio industry’s quirky culture and the increasingly harsh politics of modern times. Radio enthusiasts should not miss this! 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.

Chauvin Verdict Aftermath/Ohio Police Shooting, COVID-19, Biden’s Climate Summit, Florida’s ‘Anti-Riot’ Law, Border Crisis/Immigration Reform, and Putin Threatens West Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/21). The aftermath of the Derek Chauvin verdict and the case of the fatal shooting of knife-wielding teen Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio; the disparate rate of COVID-19 cases in various U.S. states, the rollout of vaccines, and the exploding cases in India; President Joe Biden’s climate summit and commitment to halving U.S. greenhouse emissions by 2030; the controversy surrounding Florida’s new “anti-riot” law that allows motorists to hit people blocking public roads; the migrant crush at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; and Vladimir Putin’s vague threat against the West were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

| April 14, 2021

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte’s Pat McCrory Leaving Radio Show to Run for U.S. Senate. Yesterday (4/13), former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory told his WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte listeners that he is leaving his radio gig to run for the U.S. Senate seat that Senator Richard Burr will give up in 2022. McCrory co-hosts the mid-morning program on the Radio One station with morning drive personality Bo Thompson from 8:00 am to 10:00 am. The 64-year-old McCrory was mayor of Charlotte from 1995 to 2009. He served as governor from 2013 through 2016 when he lost a re-election bid to Democrat Roy Cooper.

SRN’s Sebastian Gorka Interviews Donald Trump. Pictured above is a screen shot of Salem Radio Network’s Dr. Sebastian Gorka hosting his nationally syndicated program “America First with Sebastian Gorka” yesterday (4/13) during his exclusive 40-minute interview with former President Donald Trump. SRN says the two discussed a wide range of topics including “the COVID-19 pandemic, deteriorating foreign policy situations with Russia and China, and the crisis on America’s border with Mexico brought on by Joe Biden’s immigration overhaul.” Gorka served as White House national security strategist in the Trump Administration prior to joining SRN.

NAB Announces 2021 Crystal Award Winners. The National Association of Broadcasters announces the 10 winners of the 34th annual NAB Crystal Radio Awards. Since 1987, the NAB Crystal Radio Awards have recognized radio stations for their year-round commitment to community service. The winners were selected from 50 finalists and honored during NAB Show Premiere, available exclusively on NAB Amplify. The winners of the 2021 Crystal Radio Awards are: KSL-FM, Salt Lake City; KRSP-FM, Salt Lake City; KSTP-FM, Saint Paul; WBAP-AM, Dallas; WDRV-FM, Chicago; WFXE-FM, Columbus, Georgia; WJJY-FM, Brainerd, Minnesota; WMMR-FM, Philadelphia; WSB-FM, Atlanta; and WWRM-FM Tampa. Five-time NAB Crystal Radio Award winning station WHUR-FM, Washington, D.C. also received the Crystal Heritage Award during the special event. Only nine other stations have received this honor.

Cleveland Media Figure Bob Becker Dies After Long Battle with Dementia. Cleveland radio and television personality Bob Becker died on Monday (4/12) at the age of 67 after an almost 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Becker, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at age 58, worked at numerous Cleveland radio stations during his career, including: WGAR, WWWE, WTAM, WERE, WHK, WMMS, M105, WNCR, WKYC, and WVIZ. He was a host with the Ohio Lottery for more than two decades and accumulated Emmy, Telly, and Silver Apple awards, as well as repeated recognition from the Cleveland Press Club and Cleveland Radio-TV Council. His obituary posted at WTAM’s website here says Becker “was definitely a class act. In an often-cutthroat industry, he followed a different approach that valued integrity, humor, civility, and a genuine care for others. Bob was respected and liked by colleagues and listeners alike.”

KYW, Philadelphia to Air District Attorney Debate. With the current spike in violent crime and “a public reckoning over law enforcement and criminal justice reform,” Audacy’s all-news KYW-AM/WPHI-FM, Philadelphia is joining television outlets WCAU-TV “NBC10” and WWSI-TV “Telemundo62” to present a debate between incumbent DA Larry Krasner and challenger, former homicide prosecutor Carlos Vega on May 5 at 7:00 pm. The debate will include a panel of reporters, including KYW Newsradio crime & justice reporter Kristen Johanson and community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg, plus NBC10 political reporter Lauren Mayk. NBC10 anchor Jacqueline London will serve as moderator. The event will also be streamed live on each station’s digital platforms, including the Audacy app and KYWNewsradio.com.

TALKERS News Notes. The change in streaming policy by Major League Baseball is allowing SiriusXM to expand its agreement with the league, allowing SiriusXM subscribers with a streaming-only subscription to now have access to live play-by-play broadcasts of every MLB game…..Fort Myers Florida Weekly reports that former WBUR, Boston station manager Corey Lewis is named general manager of Florida Gulf Coast University’s public media outlet WGCU, Fort Myers. Lewis served as station manager for Boston University’s WBUR for 15 years. He says, “I knew that WGCU and Florida Gulf Coast University was the place for me when I learned more about the tremendous impact that the institution has on Southwest Florida. The region is red and blue, old and new, yet WGCU is among the strongest NPR and PBS services in the nation. This success tells me that the entire country has the potential to celebrate our common ground and our differences in the same way as WGCU engages Southwest Florida.”…..Educational Media Foundation closes on its acquisition of Twin Cities radio stations KZGO-FM, St. Paul and KQGO-FM, Edina. The non-profit religious broadcaster bought the signals from Pohlad Companies for $2.45 million.

COVID-19, Minneapolis Police Protests/Derek Chauvin Trial, Border Crisis/Immigration Policy, U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan, and Matt Gaetz Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/13). The “pause” being put on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reports of blood clots, the rollout of vaccines, and the high numbers of COVID cases in some parts of the U.S.; protestors’ clashes with police in Minneapolis and several other cities after the shooting death of Daunte Wright and the ongoing trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the large numbers of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; President Joe Biden’s move to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by September 11; and the investigation into allegations U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz paid for sex with minors were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

| November 5, 2020

Cumulus Media’s Q3 Financial Report Reveals Net Revenue Down 30.1%. Reporting its earnings for the third quarter of 2020, Cumulus Media says net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 30.1% from the same period in 2019. The company also reports a net loss of $15.8 million compared to the $16.3 net income reported for the third quarter of 2019. Same station net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 29.4% from Q3 of 2019. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “In the third quarter, the company continued to focus on maximizing revenue performance, executing meaningful expense reductions, protecting cash through efficient working capital management and strengthening our balance sheet. Despite the extraordinary challenges of operating through a pandemic, we have reduced debt by $269 million and increased cash by $316 million since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018 (a net debt reduction of more than $585 million or 46%.) We believe that these actions, along with record-setting political revenues, will allow us to navigate through and emerge from the COVID-19 crisis with considerable ability to support our growth initiatives and capitalize on strategic and operating opportunities in 2021 and beyond.”

Bakersfield Talk Radio Personality Inga Barks Dies. According to a report by KERO-TV, Bakersfield, former market talk radio personality Inga Barks has died unexpectedly at age 53. At this point details are few, but it appears Barks passed away on November 4. KERO-TV quotes Barks’ friend Cindy Andrews – who worked with Barks at American General Media news/talk outlet KERN-AM – saying, “I am deeply saddened over the death of my former coworker and friend, Inga Barks. Not only was she a talented talk show host, but she was also very devoted to her family. We shared many laughs and unique experiences as female broadcasters for American General Media. She will be missed by many.” You can see KERO-TV’s report that includes tributes from former co-workers – including KMJ, Fresno’s Blake Taylorhere.

WTIC-AM, Hartford Morning Co-Host Joe D’Ambrosio to Leave Station in June. According to an account in the Hartford Courant, WTIC-AM, Hartford morning drive co-host Joe D’Ambrosio says he’s frustrated with his “inability to speak his mind on the air and will leave his position when his contract expires in June.” The paper reports that D’Ambrosio told co-host Ray Dunaway, “At this radio station at this time, I’m not allowed to let my opinions be known. I’ve told management, when my contract is up in June, my time with WTIC will be over.”  It’s not clear if D’Ambrosio is upset with a directive from management or just with the general tenor of host and caller opinions. Reporter Susan Dunne says that when reached later, D’Ambrosio declined to elaborate on his comments.

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the news/talk format. Over the last eight PPM surveys going back to March, the global pandemic, racial tensions/protests, and the election year have provided the news/talk format with ample hot-button issues to discuss and the format’s performance has improved over the same period in 2019, based on Nielsen’s 6+ weekly AQH share data. In the October 2020 survey, 61% of news/talk stations were up over the September 2020 survey with gainers being led buy iHeartMedia’s KFYI, Phoenix (+1.4) and Bonneville’s KSL-FM, Salt Lake City (+1.3). Comparing year-over-year data, 68% of news/talk stations were up in October 2020 compared to October 2019 with gainers being led by iHeartMedia’s WISN, Milwaukee (+6.2), KNRS-FM, Salt Lake City (+4.4), and WCBM Inc’s WCBM, Baltimore (+3.7). In the October 2020 survey, seven news/talk stations ranked #1 (6+) in their respective markets. Find out which stations were ranked #1 by reading Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Mid-West Family Madison Donates $900k in Advertising. The Madison, Wisconsin station group of Mid-West Family Broadcasting gave $900,000 in free advertising (more than 31,000 commercials) to hundreds of local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic between March 21 and July 21 through its “NOW OPEN” program. Mid-West Family Madison president Tom Walker says, “Our company was formed in Madison, we’ve been here for 91 years, and our commitment to the community and local businesses is our top priority. ‘NOW OPEN’ gave us the chance to connect businesses with consumers when they needed it most.”

Report: ESPN to Lay Off 300. According to a report by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, sports giant ESPN is laying off 300 staffers and will not fill some 200 positions that had been open. This comes as parent company ABC/Disney deals with the effects of the pandemic and the changes in media consumption behavior. Marchand’s report indicates that the cuts will be “spread across the network” but will largely spare on-air personalities. Marchand adds, “As is the case across Disney, ESPN is trying to shift more of its business to direct-to-consumer. It has created ESPN+. It had reported 8.5 million subscribers as of this summer. The pandemic has also created new ways to deliver programming with less people.”

The Road to 270 Electoral Votes/Promised Legal Challenges, Portland Violence, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, European Lockdowns, New Islamic Terror Threats, U.S. Exits Paris Climate Accord, Prop 22 Passes in California, Watch on Hurricane Eta Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/4). The counting continues as Donald Trump and Joe Biden each hope to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to claim victory and the gearing up of legal challenges to some states’ vote totals; the National Guard is called in to Portland, Oregon after a riot is declared; the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for the fall/winter seasons; the lockdowns being ordered in numerous European nations to combat the rising number of COVID cases; concerns about new terror attacks by actors sympathetic to the Islamic State; the United States officially exits the Paris Climate Accord; California passes Proposition 22 which allows Uber and Lyft to treat drives as contractors and not employees; and the possibility that Hurricane Eta will gain steam and head for Florida were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and iHeartMedia are teaming up for an exclusive podcast partnership for the series “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Vault” that will debut Friday (11/6), the day before the 35th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony airing on November 7 on HBO. The series covers iconic induction speeches and will debut with The Beatles inducted by Mick Jagger, N.W.A inducted by Kendrick Lamar, The Eagles inducted by Jimmy Buffet, and Stevie Nicks inducted by Harry Styles. New episodes will premiere every Friday through the end of the year and a second season will premiere in early 2021. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “Over the past 35 years, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies have become renowned for their impassioned and sometimes outrageous acceptance speeches. We’re thrilled to bring the most iconic moments of past and present music infamy to fans around the world and continue to share what’s made the event special in the past and for years to come.”

Thursday, October 29, 2020

| October 29, 2020

Carton and Roberts Show to Launch on WFAN on November 9. One day after WFAN, New York personality Joe Benigno announced he’s retiring from the afternoon drive show after his November 6 program (see story below), Entercom unveils the new Craig Carton and Evan Roberts program to launch on November 9, confirming months of speculation about the return of Carton after his conviction and one-year prison sentence on fraud charges. Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says in a statement, “Craig Carton was part of the fabric of WFAN for a decade, both on and off the air, engaging and entertaining audiences with his one-of-a-kind personality and talent. We all hope that this next step on his road back will not only be beneficial to Craig, but also for his audience as he shares his story and looks to make an impact through the power of his voice. WFAN welcomes him back and is excited to have him join Evan Roberts in afternoon drive.” Carton says, “I am grateful to Entercom for the chance to return home to WFAN. I have dreamt about this moment every minute of every day for the last three years. I know I have work to do to regain the trust of my colleagues, listeners, and advertisers and am committed to doing just that. I can’t wait to get started with Evan Roberts on November 9th.”

WFAN, New York Officially Announces Joe Benigno’s Retirement. A week from tomorrow will be the final regular broadcast for New York sports talk host Joe Benigno. As has been speculated in the New York media and media trade publications, Benigno is leaving the station after a 26-year career. Entercom says that Benigno will continue to be heard on the station “in select roles beginning in 2021.” Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Joe Benigno is the quintessential New York sports fan, broadcasting his trademark straight-from-the-heart perspective on the city’s sports scene every day for nearly three decades. Though Joe first came to prominence as ‘Joe from Saddle River,’ he departs as one of the most successful and enduring hosts in the long and iconic history of WFAN. It is comforting to know that he remains a part of the ‘FAN’ family and will still be keeping a close eye on his beloved Jets, Mets, Knicks and Rangers.” Benigno joined WFAN in 1995 after winning the station’s Fan Appreciation Day contest, where the prize was to host on WFAN. After a stint at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting and a small New Jersey radio station, Benigno was hired as the overnight host at WFAN in 2004. He served as the station’s midday show co-host from 2003 to 2019 before moving to afternoons in 2020.

Round Three of October PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s October PPM survey is released for 12 markets, including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen’s October 2020 survey period covered September 10 – October 7. You can see all the 6+, weekly AQH share data from subscribing stations here. Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from these markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland adds a full share and finishes the survey with a 7.0 share to remain ranked #3. In Charlotte, Entercom’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM tacks on nine-tenths for a 6.9 share and rises from #4 to #3. iHeartMedia’s KNRS-FM, Salt Lake City adds three-tenths – completing a four-survey spike of 2.3 shares – to finish with a 7.6 share and jumps to the #1 spot for the first time in the PPM era. Across town at Bonneville’s KSL-FM, it rockets up 1.3 shares for a 7.4 share and finishes the October survey at #2. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets – as well as the first two rounds – here.

Entercom and FanDuel Announce Strategic Partnership. The six-year partnership designating FanDuel as the official sportsbook partner of Entercom across its sports broadcast stations and RADIO.COM will give listeners unique access to FanDuel odds, insight, and promotion via Entercom on-air stations and personalities. Entercom and FanDuel will also “collaborate on in-depth integrations and co-produce content that will pioneer the industry with all-new formats.” Under the agreement, FanDuel will be the official sportsbook of Entercom, and receive preferred and increased category access to all Entercom talent in every market where Entercom and FanDuel both operate. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “We believe this is the largest advertising commitment ever made within the radio industry. We are focused on delivering the best sports betting experience for our audiences in markets where legalized sports betting will be pervasive. The marketplace is growing exponentially and FanDuel is an ideal partner to take full advantage of the influence and reach of Entercom’s robust sports platforms to deliver an even better, audio sports experience to our listeners.”

TALKERS News Notes. A reminder that this evening (10/29) is the 2020 Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony taking place from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET on both the iHeartRadio app and via SiriusXM’s Triumph Channel. Being inducted are: Mark & Brian, Donnie Simpson, Angie Martinez, Cokie Roberts, Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, & DJ Envy, Sway Calloway, and Glenn Beck. You can listen here…..ABC News Radio is presenting live anchored coverage on election night beginning at 7:00 pm ET, running through at least 2:00 am ET. Correspondents Aaron Katersky and Karen Travers will anchor coverage. It will also feature reporting from correspondents on-location with the candidates and in crucial swing states. ABC News Radio will offer four one-minute Status Reports each hour throughout the evening. ABC News’ flagship daily podcast “Start Here,” hosted by Brad Mielke, will have special coverage throughout the week, including special editions on Election Day, November 4, and as news warrants…..Sun Broadcast Group announces two new hires in marketing. Lindsay Carr joins as director of marketing and Megan Hermensky is named assistant marketing manager. SBG vice president of business operations Laura Orkin says, “As we expand our ad sales team to meet the growing needs of our advertisers and partners, we are building our marketing support to develop new promotions, social media extensions, and more. Lindsay and Megan have the marketing expertise to bring new concepts and fresh designs to Sun. I’m delighted to welcome them both to our team.”

The Presidential Election, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Financial Markets Activity, Philadelphia Racial Tensions, Hunter Biden Emails, Big Tech Before Congress, France Terror Attack, and Tropical Storm Zeta Hits Gulf Coast Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/28). Next Tuesday’s presidential election and the last-minute campaigning by Donald Trump and Joe Biden; the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad and projections for the fall and winter seasons; the world’s financial markets sink on fears of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic; racial tensions in Philadelphia in the aftermath of the police shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr; the allegations that Hunter Biden’s emails indicate he improperly benefitted from Joe Biden’s vice presidency; CEO’s of Facebook, Twitter, and Google appear before a Senate Commerce Subcommittee to answer questions about censorship; a terrorist kills three in a church in Nice, France; and Tropical Storm Zeta dumps more rain on Louisiana were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Presents 2020 Election Preview Featuring Bill O’Reilly. Pictured above are WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte talk show host Bo Thompson (top left), North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (top right) with special guest, Key Networks nationally syndicated talk show host Bill O’Reilly (bottom). The production was dubbed “WBT’s TALKTOBERFEST 2020” and you can see it here. Station brand manager Mike Schaefer tells TALKERS magazine that O’Reilly appeared during the first talk hour of the program. Also on the program were WBT-AM/FM personalities Vince Coakley, Brett Winterble, Mark Garrison, Brett Jensen, and Joe Gillespie. It was broadcast Tuesday evening (10/27) live on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

Former Westwood One News Radio White House Correspondent Bob Costantini Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Journalism in America is going through a challenging transition. The technology, sociology, and economics of the times have conspired to shrink newsrooms, shut down news organizations, and put a critically large number of journalists out of work. This pinch is certainly being experienced in radio as most recently evidenced in the discontinuation of a news department by syndication giant Westwood One. Former Westwood One White House correspondent and veteran radio/TV journalist Bob Costantini is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Costantini was a high-profile casualty of the Westwood One news shutdown, but he wasn’t a victim, having wasted no time before launching his own boutique news agency, Ear on the White House, specializing in providing radio stations across America with customized reports and coverage of the White House and ongoing presidential developments. The fact that Costantini has already signed up several client stations out of the gate is a strong indication he’s off and running in the right direction with this new venture. With the presidential election dominating the national conversation, the White House has become the central focus of the nation and its concerns and promises to remain so in the months and years ahead. Costantini, a 30-plus year veteran of the field, has covered the White House for such news organizations as FOX News Channel, CNN and CNN Radio, NBC News Radio and most recently Westwood One. He’s a graduate of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. Harrison and Costantini talk about what it’s like inside the White House press corps, how the White House Correspondents’ Association operates, differences between the administrations he’s covered from George H.W. Bush to Donald Trump, and the current election, as well as the state and future of journalism. Don’t miss this illuminating deep-dive conversation about the nuts and bolts of covering the executive branch on radio. 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. Rock radio pro Wade Linder is promoted to vice president, classic rock for Cumulus Media. The company says that in this new role, Linder will serve on Cumulus’ content leadership team as a key resource for the company’s 34 classic rock radio stations and will report to Troy Hanson, VP/corporate programming, rock formats. Linder will continue in his current role as PD for WLS-FM, Chicago. Linder says, “I’m grateful to be entrusted with this new appointment from Brian Philips and Troy Hanson. It’s a privilege to work with the programming brains and pure personalities in classic rock at Cumulus, with so much brand knowledge already present. Add to that the daily grounding and inspiration I receive from my closest radio family here at 94.7 WLS-FM in Chicago, where Marv Nyren shows us how to win and be kind at the same time. I want to also thank Dave Milner, John Dimick, and Doug Hamand.”…..Premiere Networks and Bobby Bones, VP/creative director of iHeartCountry, announce the launch of a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast, “Talk to Chuck” with Chuck Wicks, distributed by Bones’ Nashville Podcast Network. “Talk to Chuck” features the singer and songwriter as he shares his unique perspective on what’s happening in the world of country music. With behind-the-scenes access to the biggest stars, he’ll welcome music artists, celebrities, athletes, and others who share a love for country music. Listeners and country fans will also join the conversation as Wicks and his guests discuss the hottest topics of the week…..Beasley Media Group announces classic rock outlet WCSX-FM, Detroit, in conjunction with the Mayor of Royal Oak, Michigan, will proclaim Friday, November 6, 2020 as ‘Glenn Frey Day’ in honor of the late Eagles co-founder and Michigan native. Station morning show personality Jim O’Brien from “Big Jim’s House Morning Show” will broadcast live on Glenn Frey Drive in commemoration of the late singer/songwriter’s birthday. In addition, O’Brien will join Mayor Mike Fournier in officially proclaiming “Glenn Frey Day” as well as share stories about the late Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee from Detroit legends Bob Seger, Alice Cooper and others.