NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the 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. This new episode titled “Biden Passed Gas” looks back at this past week of 11/15 – 11/19. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Dave Ramsey, talk show host/CEO, Ramsey Solutions; Lars Larson, talk show host, Compass Media Networks; Harry Hurley, talk show host, WPG, Atlantic City; and Sean Spicer, talk show host, NewsmaxTV. The 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 WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; 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; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; Pioneer Valley Radio, 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.
Salem Los Angeles Re-Ups Horn In AM Drive. A new contract agreement between Jennifer Horn and Salem Media Group will keep Horn as co-host of “The Morning Answer” on Los Angeles news/talk KRLA “AM 870 The Answer.” Horn and Grant Stinchfield co-host the 6:00 am – 9:00 am show, which is simulcast in the Inland Empire (Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario) on Salem’s KTIE “AM 590 The Answer.” Salem vice president of spoken word Phil Boyce remarks, “Waking up Los Angeles is one of the most important jobs in radio – Jen and Grant have figured out the formula. They always have a smile, but can deliver the day’s top news with a dose of reality. Salem is very proud to showcase these hosts.” KRLA & KTIE program director Chuck Tyler notes, “Jen and Grant are the most talented team I have ever had the privilege of working with. They have the rare ability to cover and comment on serious issues, while having some fun at the same time.” Horn adds, “Once in a career you get a golden opportunity and this is it. It has been the ultimate honor working with Salem and our local team to develop a morning show that is making incredible strides in the Los Angeles market. Grant Stinchfield is the ultimate professional. He brings a background in journalism, a unique perspective, and sense of humor. It’s been so much fun to partner and build chemistry with him.” Newsmax host Stinchfield came aboard to join Horn on KRLA & KTIE six months ago (5/18).
Lieberman Lands In The IE as iHM’s Senior VP/Sales. Three-year Townsquare Media Tri-Cities, Washington market president Ryan Lieberman is named senior vice president of sales for iHeartMedia’s five-station cluster in Southern California’s Inland Empire (Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario). Lieberman – whose appointment is effective immediately – spent almost two decades with CBS Radio (now Audacy) in both Los Angeles and Chicago. iHeartMedia San Diego, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario president Melissa Forrest states, “We look forward to having Ryan on board. His knowledge, leadership, and passion will be a tremendous addition to the region and to our team.” Lieberman adds, “I am thrilled to return to Southern California as part of the iHeartMedia family by joining the Riverside team. Having spent the better part of my career competing against iHeartMedia, and being envious of how their teams execute marketing solutions for their clients, I’m excited to lend my expertise to an already high-functioning team.” News/talk KFOO “1440 AM Black Information Network” and sports talk KPWK “AM 1350 Fox Sports” are among iHeartMedia’s Inland Empire outlets, as are rhythmic CHR KGGI; rock KTMQ; and alternative KMYT.
iHeart Pledges To Create 180 Jobs in Downtown Nashville. The iHeartMedia commitment would generate 180 jobs in downtown Nashville over the next five years. While the company’s “Music City” radio stations (news/talk WLAC “Talk Radio 98.3 & 1510”; Black Information Network affiliate WNRQ-HD2; classic rock WNRQ-FM; CHR WRVW; urban contemporary WUBT; and country WSIX) are housed in a separate Music Row facility, the new jobs will be based in the company’s 40,000 square-foot downtown facility, which opened last year. As first reported by the Nashville Business Journal, the Tennessee Funding Board, “unanimously approved a $1.25 million grant to iHeartMedia [yesterday, 11/18]. The company was finalizing a lease as the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early-2020.” At the time, iHM was billing the downtown location as a “second headquarters” for its digital division. The state grant reportedly equals 44% of the $2.85 million that iHeartMedia is spending on its Nashville expansion. Per the NBJ article and state records, “The grant will be used for building retrofit, fixture improvements, lease payments, and tenant improvements. A headcount did not become public until Wednesday’s meeting of the Funding Board.” State records indicate that the 180 jobs will pay an average of $51.82 an hour.
Report: WarnerMedia Planning An Audience-Measurement Data Operation. While this would be for television, Variety reports that WarnerMedia is directly targeting Nielsen Holdings, which – of course – has had a stranglehold on the TV ratings business for decades. According to Variety, WarnerMedia is talking to as many as 15 different measurement vendors with expectations it can test possibilities in next year’s first quarter. WarnerMedia data/research chief Andrea Zapata opines to Variety, “There has got to be a better alternative in measurement solutions.” At the same time though, she comments, “Nielsen is definitely a part of our business as usual and can earn a place in our future.” As the James Aycock-written Variety article mentions, “Nielsen has taken a number of hits from its media partners, particularly complaints of mismeasurement during the COVID-19 pandemic that culminated in losing its MRC accreditation.”
Today’s Homeowner Media Acquires On The House Media. After a 35-year home improvement media career, James and Morris Carey (The Carey Brothers, pictured at the right) are retiring to focus on their family remodeling business, and have sold their On The House Media to Today’s Homeowner Media. The final installment of “On The House with the Carey Brothers,” will air on its 100+ affiliates Christmas Day (12/25). Then one week later (1/1/2022), Today’s Homeowner Media will take ownership of On The House Media’s website, digital content, and social channels. Today’s Homeowner Media president/host Danny Lipford comments, “I’m both happy and sad about James and Morris’ decision to hang up their headphones and step down from their 35-year home improvement media career. They are legends in the business and will be missed. I’m glad they’ve enjoyed such a successful run, and grateful that I’m able to carry on their media tradition and legacy. Today’s Homeowner looks forward to featuring their articles, videos, and, hopefully, airing on the many radio stations they’ve earned during their career.” James Carey notes, “Morris and I have been moved by the tremendous outpouring that we have received since announcing our retirement. The positive comments, and expression of gratitude and support have been overwhelming and heartening.” Morris Carey adds, “Danny [Lipford] is a warm, pleasant and knowledgeable guy. I can’t think of anyone to whom I would rather pass on the torch.” Currently in its 13th year, the weekly, two-hour “Today’s Homeowner” is hosted by Lipford and author Joe Truini; it has 320 affiliates.
TALKERS News Notes. Recent Comscore data details continued growth of Newsmax’s online properties, including Newsmax.com. According to Comscore, Newsmax is now the #2 conservative news brand online, behind Fox News. Newsmax reports that its online increase mirrors “tremendous audience growth.” Meanwhile – per Nielsen – Newsmax TV is the fourth-highest-rated cable news channel … Syndicated host Erick Erickson’s annual three-hour “Erick Erickson Christmas Show” combines Erickson’s theological background; conversations about Christmas; and Christmas music. “Christmas is the perfect time to focus on the big picture and not the daily news headlines,” he comments. “[Our] Christmas show is designed so everyone can come together, exhale after a crazy year, and focus on the holidays.” Cox Media Group news/talk WSB-AM & WSBB-FM “Atlanta’s News & Talk” is the flagship for “The Erick Erickson Christmas Show,” which is available on a first come/first served basis. It can be broadcast anytime from 6:00 am -12:00 midnight on (Friday) December 24 and (Saturday) December 25 … The five-station Cox Media Group Tampa cluster – which includes news/talk WHPT “102.5 The Bone” – is teaming with Metropolitan Ministries today (Friday, 11/19) to host “Feed The Bay.” All five CMG Tampa outlets are encouraging listeners to donate food items to Metropolitan Ministries’ donation location. Cox Media Group Tampa vice president and market manager Keith Lawless notes, “This is the ninth consecutive year that Cox Media Group Tampa has been a partner with Metropolitan Ministries for the holidays. We are starting to get back to normal, but there is still a tremendous need to feed those in our community.”
U.S. Podcast Report. Top network reports are ranked by average weekly downloads and average weekly users in accordance with v2.1 of the IAB Podcast technical guidelines. They are measured by Triton’s Podcast Metrics and cover the reporting period of October 4 – October 31 (2021). Stitcher Media remained first on the top networks report with 39.5 million average weekly downloads/10.7 million average weekly users. It was followed by NPR with 32.3 million average weekly downloads/7.2 million average weekly users. Coming in third was Audacy with 31.8 million average weekly downloads/10.2 million average weekly users. Among the top twenty networks, new podcast network ViacomCBS ranked ninth in average weekly downloads/tenth in average weekly users. New shows debuting this period include “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah: Ears Edition” (ViacomCBS); “Over My Dead Body” (Wondery); “Fantasy Football Today” (Viacom CBS); and “The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe” (Audioboom). Full results of the U.S. Podcast Report can be seen at https://www.tritondigital.com/resources/podcast-reports.
IBA, Vipology Sign Multiyear Extension. The pact with the Independent Broadcasters Association retains Vipology as IBA’s exclusive digital consultant and partner. In its first year, Vipology created the IBA’s member site; scheduled/moderated over 60 info-webinars; and handled IBA’s national contesting. Independent Broadcasters Association chief executive officer Ron Stone comments, “There would be no IBA without Vipology’s vision, technology, and execution. I’m thrilled to continue to have Vipology on-board to advise and provide the best digital products and services.” Vipology chief executive officer Chris Peaslee notes, “We are thrilled to continue to work with the IBA; dedicated to the digital success of the IBA and its members; and offering the latest digital solutions at the industry’s lowest prices. We’re proud to be standing side-by-side with Ron [Stone] and IBA members.” The IBA was established last year (July 2020) to serve the needs of independent radio stations and groups across the country; it represents a membership base of 1,500 stations.
California Combo Rebrands From VPR To KVPR. As of this past Wednesday (11/17), Valley Public Radio (NPR affiliate) news/talk-classical KVPR, Fresno and KPRX, Bakersfield rebrands from “VPR” to “KVPR” and has a new logo. A driving force for the switch was a conflict with Vermont Public Radio, which uses the “VPR” name, as well. KVPR president and general manager Joe Moore states that, “Over the years, we’ve gone by so many different names – ‘KVPR,’ ‘FM-89,’ ‘VPR,’ ‘KPRX,’ ‘Valley Public Radio,’ and ‘NPR.’ It has led to clutter, and at times confusion. As more and more users access our content online, ‘FM-89’ has proven to be less than adequate as a name for the station. There are multiple ‘FM-89s’ across the country, and the term isn’t really relevant for non-broadcast content.” The rebranding includes a renaming of its Audiophile Magazine to the KVPR Magazine.
Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM, Washington Names Larry O’Connor Morning Drive Host: Vince Coglianese Moves to PM Drive. Washington, DC news/talk WMAL-FM is revamping its lineup in the wake of the departure of morning drive personality Mary Walter and the February death of Rush Limbaugh. Effective Monday (5/24), WMAL-FM personality Larry O’Connor moves from afternoons to mornings to host the new “O’Connor & Company” program. Current morning drive host Vince Coglianese will move to afternoon drive and, as previously announced, Westwood One syndicated talk host Dan Bongino assumes the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. Cumulus Media VP of news/talk and WMAL program director Bill Hess says, “Having Larry and Vince in these new roles, along with the launch of ‘The Dan Bongino Show’ and the continued strength of Chris Plante, sets WMAL up perfectly for the next stage in the station’s success.” O’Connor comments, “I’m thrilled to return to mornings on WMAL in Washington, where my career began nine years ago. Four years after creating the first live and local afternoon drive program on the station since 2001, it truly feels like coming home and I can’t wait to be a part of the morning commute for families across the Mid-Atlantic and in the Nation’s Capital. I appreciate the confidence that Bill Hess and [Cumulus EVP of operations] Dave Milner have in me and I am thrilled to work together to continue Cumulus’ great success at this historic station.”
Round One of April PPM Ratings Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s April 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s April 2021 sweep covered April 1 – 28. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. iHeartMedia’s New York news/talk WOR-AM drops three-tenths to finish the survey with 2.0 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and the #19 rank while Audacy’s crosstown sports talk WFAN adds seven-tenths for a 3.1 share finish and the #12 rank. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI is steady with a 5.7 share and remains ranked #2. Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM, Chicago is basically flat, falling one-tenth to a 3.4 share and stays in the #9 rank. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways here.
Salem Media Group Partners Grant Stinchfield with Jenn Horn on SoCal Signals. Media personality Grant Stinchfield is joining Salem Media Group’s Southern California news/talk stations as co-host of the “The Morning Answer” alongside Jennifer Horn. The company says that after an “extensive and exhilarating months-long search,” Stinchfield – who also hosts a daily program on Newsmax TV – will work with Horn on KRLA-AM, Los Angeles and KTIE, Riverside-San Bernardino beginning today (5/18). KRLA and KTIE director of programming Chuck Tyler says, “Good things come to those that wait. We put Jennifer Horn through the ringer, as we tried out numerous co-hosts for this plumb assignment, having a number of world-class talk radio candidates. It took us five months. The good news is Jennifer survived, and we found an amazing new partner for her!” Salem SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce adds, “Grant is a true gem. He is smart, funny, and knows his stuff. His chemistry with Jennifer makes the morning show sizzle. We are delighted to add him to the team.” Stinchfield says about his new gig, “It is an honor to be chosen to be an important voice for millions of Californians who cherish liberty and freedom in a state that is quickly being controlled by big bureaucracy and government. I can’t think of a more important area of the country that needs common sense straight talk than Southern California. My goal is to simply strengthen the tireless fight AM 870 and AM 590 are already waging against the enemies of freedom, capitalism, and democracy.”
NYPost: Boomer & Gio Ink New Deals with WFAN. According to a report in the New York Post, morning show hosts Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti have both signed new contracts with Audacy’s sports talk WFAN, New York. The story indicates that the deals run through 2023. The story also says – citing Nielsen Audio’s April PPM survey data – that Boomer & Gio “maintained their No. 1 overall spot in the market while ESPN [WEPN-FM] was tied for 9th (3.5).”
Bold Gold Broadcast and Media Foundation Sets November 19 for Annual Dinner Event. The 6th Annual Bold Gold Broadcast and Media Foundation Event & Dinner is taking place on November 19, 2021 at Mohegan Sun Pocono Grand Ballroom. Bold Gold Media founder and CEO Vince Benedetto tells his staff, “I’m thrilled to report that this year we will be having our 6th Annual Event on the evening of Friday, November 19 at our usual location in the Mohegan Sun Pocono Grand Ballroom! I am also extremely excited to report that I was able to secure an incredible speaker! Andrew Roberts, international best-selling author and Winston Churchill Scholar will be our keynote speaker. Andrew is author of the 2018 best seller, Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny.”
New Mask Guidance Controversy, COVID Vaccines, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, AZ Vote Audit, SCOTUS to Hear Abortion Case, and Matt Gaetz Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/17). The confusion over the CDC’s about-face on mask guidance for fully vaccinated Americans; the falling COVID cases in the U.S. and concerns about vaccine hesitancy; the battle between Israeli and Hamas forces in Gaza; the election audit in Maricopa County, Arizona and the Republicans continuing to promote the “stolen election” theory; the Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments over the Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks; and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz’s former friend Joel Greenberg pleads guilty to six felonies and agrees to cooperate with prosecutors were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Howard Stern Signs Renewal with SiriusXM for Five More Years. During previous investor conference calls, outgoing SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer said he believed Howard Stern and SiriusXM would come to terms on a new deal and today’s announcement bears that out. Under the new agreement, Stern will continue to produce and host “The Howard Stern Show” exclusively for SiriusXM for the next five years, and the Howard Stern archive of audio and video will continue to be licensed to SiriusXM for an additional seven years. Stern says, “Fifteen years ago, I joined SiriusXM, a fledgling group of broadcasters. I had been in a toxic relationship with terrestrial radio. And no matter how well I treated the medium, no matter how successful I made them, they abused me. Going to SiriusXM liberated me. I felt like Tina Turner freeing myself from Ike. And despite the naysayers and the ridicule, we have persevered, and are thriving. I’ve been proven right about satellite radio over and over again. With this contract renewal, I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be right about. Certainly, I have a lot more to say about Metamucil crackers and stepmom porn. Plus, now that I can work from home, I simply don’t have an excuse to quit.” Meyer says, “As the leading audio entertainment company, we couldn’t be happier to have Howard, the leading host in all of radio and audio, continue to make SiriusXM the home for his show, channels, and archives while at the peak of his broadcasting career. Howard’s home has been SiriusXM and it will remain that way, but we’ve expanded SiriusXM in recent years too, and we are excited about finding the right ways that select content from Howard can find audiences on additional platforms. May I add, I consider Howard a close friend and look forward to listening to him for years to come.”
Ron St. Pierre Out at iHeartMedia’s WHJJ, Providence; Jim Polito Takes Over Morning Show. Longtime Providence air personality and programmer Ron St. Pierre has exited iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence where he hosted the morning drive show. Filling the programming gap is WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based morning personality Jim Polito. In 2016, iHeartMedia dropped the local morning show hosted by Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan on WHYN-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts and began simulcasting Polito’s show there. The WHJJ move puts the Jim Polito show in three of iHeartMedia’s New England markets.
Salem’s KRLA and KTIE Cut Ties with Brian Whitman. Southern California radio pro Brian Whitman exits Salem Media Group’s morning drive show “The Morning Answer” that he co-hosted with Jennifer Horn that was simulcast on KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino. Whitman shared the news on his Facebook page on Friday (12/4). He wrote, “I was provided the following from folks at Salem/KRLA this morning. The announcement was sent by the general manager to their kind and hardworking staff, making this news public. I’ll have very personal thoughts to share with members of the ‘Morning Answer Listening Family’ (as I came to know and regard you over many years) very soon. It will be in this space at a time that is more appropriate and comfortable. With all of my love and with the warmest gratitude for every moment that we’ve shared together, I offer words that I know fall far short of my heart’s sentiment. Thank you, thank you, thank you guys.” The message from management was as follows: “After eight years hosting ‘The Morning Answer,’ Brian Whitman will no longer be with us. We wish Brian all the best in the future. Chuck [Tyler] and I echo Phil Boyce who said, “Brian has been a hard-working and extremely talented employee for us for many years. We will always cherish his friendship, and our opportunity to work together at KRLA and KTIE.” Whitman was the liberal counterpart to conservative Horn.
Hubbard Radio Drops Sports Talker Chris Rongey; Re-Aligns Host Lineup. According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar, afternoon drive sports talk personality Chris Rongey has been let go from Hubbard Radio’s WXOS-FM, St. Louis. Rongey had been part of “The Fast Lane” afternoon show since replacing D’Marco Farr in 2017. The station moves midday host Jamie Rivers into afternoons alongside Anthony Stalter and Brad Thompson and promotes Alex Farrario to the midday show co-hosting with Brandon Kiley.
Talk Radio Host Michael Berry’s Good Month Includes Raising $1.3 Million for PTSD Foundation. KRTH, Houston-based, nationally syndicated talk host Michael Berry had a very good month in which his program helped raise $1.3 million for Camp Hope, the residential treatment center run by the PTSD Foundation of America, of which Berry is the national spokesman. The organization was laying off staff, including the vital folks who counsel suicidal veterans who struggle with re-integration after war. Berry teamed up with sponsor Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture chain, to raise funds. During the whole of 2020, Berry’s efforts have raised $3 million for the organization, almost its entire budget. Additionally, Berry made national news on Monday (12/7) for his interview with Houston-based Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue, during which Unanue said he gave U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez the company’s “employee of the month” award. This came after Ocasio Cortez called for a boycott on Goya products because Unanue publicly praised President Trump. However, Unanue says the boycott call produced a counter-protest in which supporters flocked to buy Goya goods. On top of that, Berry has added new affiliates, WPNN, Pensacola, Florida, and KNUW, Silver City, New Mexico and hopes to roll out seven new affiliates before the New Year. In case you missed it, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian profiled Berry back in October. Read it here.
PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. The Nielsen Audio PPM ratings survey in the month prior to the November election (October 8 – November 4) was not as generous to sports talk radio stations as it was to news/talk, still TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian reports that 46% of sports talkers were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the October 2020 survey. Gainers from October to November were led by RadiOhio’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “97.1 The Fan” (+0.7, 6.2 share) and Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville (+0.7, 6.0 share). Due to the pandemic’s effect on live sports, year-over-year comparisons have not been kind to the sports talk format and November 2019 to November 2020 is not different. 68% of sports talk outlets in PPM markets were down. However, 23% of stations gained with Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas leading the pack (+1.6, 2.8 share). While no sports talkers claimed the #1 rank in their market during the November survey, iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis came close, posting a 7.6 share good for the #2 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.
WJR, Detroit News Director Dick Haefner to Retire. After a 51-year career in radio news, WJR, Detroit news director Dick Haefner is retiring. Haefner, an award-winning newscaster, reporter, and news director, has been WJR news director since 1989. Cumulus Media says that “his tenure is unmatched by any other Detroit broadcast news director. He is one of the most recognizable news voices in his hometown of Detroit, signing on to radio news in 1969 and signing off on December 11, 2020, Haefner’s last day on-air.” The company goes on to note that “under Haefner’s leadership, WJR News has been honored with nearly every national and local news award in the broadcast business, including: the Peabody Award, Associated Press national award for Best Broadcast Reporting, Edward R. Murrow Awards, and numerous state news awards… Some of Haefner’s projects have changed laws. A series on suburban toxic waste dumps resulted in tighter rules for handling waste. An investigation of fraud at gas stations brought about new regulations on service station inspections and fuel hauling, and even changed the way the IRS taxes the fuel hauling industry. Among the biggest stories Haefner has broken are Coleman Young’s baby, the Nancy Kerrigan–Tonya Harding incident heard around the world, and Detroit’s two side-by-side sports stadiums.” Haefner comments, “Anything I may have accomplished is because of other people, my wife Judy, and my family who allowed me to pursue adventures in broadcast news, and especially my co-workers. My most important job was to put them in position to do their best work. What they accomplished every day is my greatest reward. I have had the best job in Detroit radio news for almost 32 years. I’m the luckiest person I know.”
Susan O’Connell Retires from Compass Media Networks; Robert Blum Rises to Senior Manager of Affiliate Sales. Affiliate sales pro Susan O’Connell is retiring from her position as vice president of news/talk affiliate sales with Compass Media Networks, effective December 31. At the same time, the company announces that Robert Blum – a Compass Media staffer since 2011 – is being promoted to senior manager of affiliate sales for news/talk/sports. O’Connell has been in the news/talk affiliate sales business for the past 40 years, the last six with Compass Media. She previously served with the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, ABC Radio Networks, CBS News, and the Progressive Radio Network. She comments, “The best part of my job has always been working with great broadcasters. Thank you all for sharing your time, talent, and friendship over the years. Compass Media Networks was the perfect place to wind up. Representing our stellar news/talk lineup and being part of this team has been an honor and a privilege.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “Susan is a total superstar, friend, and treasured colleague. Through hard work, perseverance, and cunning, Susan established Compass Media Networks as a dominant player in news/talk programming with over 750 leading news/talk stations airing over a dozen hours of our daily, live, and original news-talk programming.”
COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Trump Challenges, Biden Transition, Stimulus Package, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pornhub Allegations, and Presidential Pardons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/7). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the pleas from authorities to follow mask and gathering mandates, and the status of vaccines; Donald Trump continues legal challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues his administration’s transition; the debate in Congress over a new stimulus package; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the allegations that porn giant Pornhub has promoted underage actors; and reports of Donald Trump’s pardon plans 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. On-air pro and urban media personality Charlamagne Tha God, a.k.a. Lenard McKelvey, and iHeartMedia renew and extend their relationship. The deal means the co-host of the WWPR, New York “Power 105.1”-based, nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” will continue to work with iHeartMedia for the next five years. He says, “I give my sincerest thanks to iHeart for empowering me over the past decade to be the best talent that I can be, and for honoring me as an owner and executive. I love the audio business and iHeart is the biggest and best audio company in the world. As co-founder and chief creative officer of the Black Effect Podcast Network and now senior creative officer of cultural content and programming at iHeart, all I want to do for the next five years is continue to move the culture of radio and podcasting forward by curating a new era of voices, programming, and events. GOD IS GREAT! Now, it’s time to get back to work.”
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.
Nielsen to Cut 3,500 Jobs in ‘Broad-Based Optimization Plan.’ Media ratings and consumer data giant Nielsen Holdings plc announces the implementation of a “broad-based optimization plan to drive permanent cost savings and operational efficiencies, as well as to position the company for greater profitability and growth.” The company says it is “prioritizing resources to focus on key strategic initiatives, higher margin products and services, and greater efficiency” and as a result will include a global reduction in force of approximately 3,500 employees. Nielsen CEO David Kenny says, “Across Nielsen Global Media [ratings segment] and Nielsen Global Connect [consumer data segment], we are making progress on increasing our operational and financial discipline, including zero-basing our cost structure as we move toward the planned separation of Nielsen Global Connect. As discussed on our earnings call in April, we have increased our focus on platform consolidations, further automation, optimizing our global footprint, and ensuring that our resource allocation aligns with high-margin essential services. Today’s plan encompasses, accelerates, and expands on those initiatives. These restructuring actions will further expedite our transformation to a more efficient, agile, and scalable organization and are designed to drive sustained margin expansion and increased cash generation. As part of the optimization plan, we have made the difficult decision to exit selected businesses and markets and permanently reduce our workforce. While these are important actions to take, I recognize the impact they have on our people, and I am grateful for the important contributions made by these talented associates during their time at Nielsen.” The company says cash payments for the severance costs will continue into late 2021.
WVON, Chicago Morning Show Exits Over ‘Censorship’ Issue. Chicago media writer Robert Feder has the story about the sudden departure of urban news/talk outlet WVON, Chicago’s morning program. Maze Jackson, co-host Todd Stroger, and producer Sonia Escobar resigned from the station last week after station management ordered the program to cease criticism of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Jackson tells Feder he was instructed not to talk about the mayor or allow callers to do so and he consequently resigned because he “could not accept the censorship.” The trio are now brokering the 6:00 am to 9:00 am slot on Gospel WBGX-AM. WVON is searching for a new morning show as Ernest B. Fenton handles the morning show on an interim basis.
Report: SiriusXM to Acquire Stitcher. According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, SiriusXM Satellite Radio is very close to a deal with E.W. Scripps to buy podcasting platform Stitcher for $300 million. Scripps paid $4.5 million for Stitcher in 2016. The piece notes that Stitcher owns podcast networks Earwolf and Stitcher Podcasts that comprise some 50 shows, including “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” and “Freakonomics Radio.” Stitcher also has deals with other podcast networks for distribution and sales via Scripps’ Midroll Media division that totals more than 250 programs.
TALKERS News Notes. Seattle news/talk KIRO-FM is producing a special version of its ongoing series “COVID-19: Seattle Podcast,” this one targeting children. The “COVID-19 Seattle: Kids Edition” was released on July 2. For this episode, Bonneville’s KIRO Radio asked young listeners to call in with questions about the coronavirus, in their own words. KIRO Radio hosts Dave Ross, Mike Lewis, Tom Tangney, John Curley, Rachel Belle, Dori Monson, Ursula Reutin, Gee Scott, Feliks Banel, and Colleen O’Brien answered these questions “with heart, humor, and the best information available.” Dr. Mollie Greves Grow from Seattle Children’s Hospital also contributed to this podcast as a local healthcare expert…..The BetR Network is partnering with Skyview Networks for network audio and affiliate sales and distribution and announces it has an affiliate agreement with Denver’s Mile High Sports. As a result, KDCO-AM/K284CI will bring sports betting programming to Denver, including select content from VSiN, The Sports Betting Network…..Public media’s KQED announces its long-running public affairs call-in radio program “Forum” is making the 10:00 am hour of the program available for public media stations across California starting July 13. The second hour of the 9:00 am to 11:00 am daily program will be hosted by Mina Kim, who shifts from her role as the Friday host of “Forum” and afternoon anchor for KQED news. Longtime host Michael Krasny continues to host the 9:00 am hour of the program. Kim says, “This is a moment of unprecedented change and people are hungry for meaningful dialogue about these issues. I couldn’t be more excited and honored to help bring ‘Forum’ to other communities across the state — and to bring in a wider range of voices to these conversations.”
Michael Kindhart Promoted at Premiere Networks. Affiliate sales pro Michael Kindhart is promoted from senior director of operations, affiliate sales at Premiere Networks to vice president of operations, affiliate sales. Nashville-based Kindhart will help develop strategic and operational initiatives to improve sales effectiveness and efficiency for nearly 200 of Premiere’s radio programs, services, and podcasts in this new position. Premiere EVP of affiliate sales Peter Tripi says, “Michael’s contributions to our affiliate sales division have been significant. He is constantly searching for ways to enhance our business through collaboration and by providing the best possible tools and resources to serve our affiliates and partners. This is a well-deserved promotion and I’m proud to have him on the team!”
COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Heightened Gun Violence, Presidential Race, John Bolton/Mary Trump Books, PPP Scrutiny, TikTok Ban, SCOTUS Electoral College Ruling, and Charlie Daniels Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/6). The spike in COVID-19 cases in Sun Belt states and projections for future cases; the spate of gun violence in some urban areas and the shooting death of an 8-year-old girl in Atlanta; the November presidential election; the book by former Trump national security adviser John Bolton and the soon-to-be released book by Mary Trump; the Trump administration releases the names of companies that benefitted from the Payroll Protection Plan; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the administration is considering banning the China-based TikTok app; the Supreme Court rules that states can bind presidential electors’ votes; and musician Charlie Daniels dies at 83 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 daughter of Reach Media nationally syndicated morning radio personality Rickey Smiley is recovering in a Houston hospital after being shot in that city late Sunday night. AL.com reports that Aaryn Smiley was driving to a Whataburger restaurant in Houston close to midnight and was stopped at a red light when shooting between several men erupted and she was hit at least twice. She is recovering from her wounds. Meanwhile, authorities are searching for the shooter.