And the (Topical) Hits Just Keep on Coming – Stay focused on China! Although the news itself can hardly be called “good,” news/talk radio continues to be the beneficiary of a non-stop tsunami of intensely compelling topics playing out on multiple tracks that has kept the format a major appointment destination for news junkies as well as people with a casual interest in current events. According to TALKERS research, yesterday’s (8/13) most-discussed topic remained the mysterious and controversial death of Jeffrey Epstein (which it has been all week) followed closely by the economic implications of the US-China trade war. The Hong Kong protests have generated enormous interest and people are still extremely engrossed in the Dayton/El Paso shootings which have spawned opinions and analysis of gun control legislation, violence in American entertainment and the nation’s handling of mental illness. According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “It appears that talk show hosts would be wise to stay focused on China and educate themselves to every aspect of its Communist government’s relentless strategy to compete with US interests on all fronts going forward from a position of unfair trade practices to outright hostility for what will likely be years to come.”
Arizona Coyotes Now Skating With KGME. As part of a multi-platform broadcast and streaming agreement between iHeartMedia Phoenix and the Arizona Coyotes, iHM sports talk KGME “Fox Sports 910” takes over as the NHL team’s principal radio outlet. Additionally, the Arizona Coyotes Audio Network will provide exclusive content via the iHeartRadio app (when the NHL season starts on October 3). Coyotes’ games were previously carried by Bonneville Phoenix-owned KMVP-FM “Arizona Sports 98.7.” According to iHeartMedia Phoenix market president Linda Little, “The entire team at iHeartMedia is excited to be the new home for the Arizona Coyotes, especially at such an exciting time for the team. Working together, we will build our all-in agreement between the Arizona Coyotes and ‘Fox Sports 910’ across our entire iHeartMedia platform of well-known audio brands in Phoenix and on our iHeartRadio app.” The Coyotes were recently acquired by California-based Meruelo Group, whose holdings include Meruelo Media. Coyotes president and chief executive officer Ahron Cohen comments, “We are thrilled to partner with ‘Fox Sports 910.’ As we strive to build and cultivate new Coyotes fans, this multi-dimensional partnership – including iHeartMedia’s multitude of media platforms – provides us with unparalleled touchpoints to a broad cross-section of the Valley’s population. Equally important is iHeart’s ability to deliver an exceptional fan entertainment experience for all of our robust Coyotes content that will enhance our fans’ connectivity to the team.” Play-by-play announcer Bob Heethuis will return for his 15th season with the team and Paul Bissonnette will be back as analyst. All 82 regular-season games will air on “Fox Sports 910” and simulcast on Tucson sibling KTZR “Fox Sports 1450 AM.”
KOZN Prepares Severe Homecoming. Host of “The Bottom Line” on SummitMedia-owned sports talk KXSP “AM 590 ESPN Omaha,” Mike’l Severe, returns to cross-town NRG Media’s similarly-formatted KOZN “1620 “The Zone” tomorrow (Thursday, 8/15) after a five-year absence. Severe and Damon Benning will form “Severe and Benning in the Morning” (6:00 am – 10:00 am). NRG Omaha market manager Mark Shecterle comments that University of Nebraska football national champion Benning and local radio/television sports personality Severe “will offer listeners a new blend of morning sports radio. They will be able to give listeners an intense focus on all local sports. We are excited to bring back Mike’l Severe to the NRG family.” Former morning show co-host Gary Sharp transitions to mid-days (10:00 am – 2:00 pm) replacing Nick Bahe. Shecterle notes that Sharp will have “the platform to fully exhibit his expertise in sports analysis and his legendary interviewing skills. Gary has deserved his own show for a while and we are thrilled that he will be anchoring our mid-day slot. By moving [Sharp] to mid-days, we truly believe we have a sports-talk line-up second to none.” John Bishop and Josh Peterson-hosted “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” continues in afternoon drive (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm), while Nebraska football post game show, “Big Red Over Reaction,” will be simulcast on KOZN’s classic rock cluster-mate KOOO “101.9 The Keg.”
iHM Wheeling/Parkersburg Boosts Bommer to MP. The onetime vice president of business operations for the Wheeling Nailers, Craig Bommer, is named market president for iHeartMedia’s West Virginia stations in Wheeling and Parkersburg. Region president for iHeartMedia Pittsburgh and West Virginia Tim McAleer states, “I am excited for Craig to lead and demonstrate his leadership capabilities as market president by helping to grow each market’s revenue.” Bommer remarks, “This opportunity is a new and exciting challenge in my career path. I look forward to working with everyone to help build upon the success each market has achieved.” The West Liberty University alum began his career at iHeartMedia in 2016 as senior vice president of sales for the company’s Wheeling and Parkersburg stations. Those outlets include: news/talk WWVA “News Radio 1170”; news/talk WLTP “News Radio 910”; sports talk WBBD “Fox Sports AM 1400 Wheeling”; WEGW “Eagle 107.5 The Rock Station”; adult contemporary WKWK “Mix 97.3”; WOVK “Country 98.7”; CHR WVKF “Kiss 95.7”; classic hits-oldies WDMX “Mix 100”; WNUS “Country 107”; and CHR WRVB “102 The River.”
TALKERS News Notes. After working at Premiere Networks the past 21 years, senior director of affiliate sales Tom Garrett departs. Garrett previously programmed in Rockford (Illinois) at WROK & WZOK. In addition he was responsible for non-traditional revenue event marketing for Connoisseur’s Rockford and Quad Cities (Illinois-Iowa) stations ….. The relationship between afternoon drive talent George Plaster and Ryman Hospitality Properties’ WSM-AM, Nashville has come to an end after one month. In a tweet sent out yesterday (Tuesday, 8/13), Plaster writes, “Sorry to pass this [a]long, but I have parted ways with WSM-AM. My intention is to begin a podcast with a target around Labor Day. Thanks to all of you who supported us.” Plaster hosted “Sports Night” shows in Nashville on sports talk stations WGFX “104.5 The Zone” and WPRT “102.5 The Game,” as well as WWTN “Super Talk 99.7.” He took a break from radio three years ago but joined WSM-AM in 2017 for a weekend program; Plaster’s weekday effort commenced July 15 ….. Brand manager/morning host of Townsquare Media Bangor (Maine) sports talk WEZQ “92.9 The Ticket,” Dale Duff, will segue to 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm, effective next Monday (8/19). Duff makes room for Wayne Harvey’s 6:00 am – 8:00 am “Morning Line.” Harvey has worked at Bangor stations WABI-TV and WZON-AM “The Zone.”
The Return of the Pitch Pod. For the second straight year, attendees of “Podcast Movement 2019” can venture inside CUMULUS MEDIA’s Westwood One “Pitch Pod” and tell their story for a chance to win consultative services from the Westwood One Podcast Network. This mini-studio is located in the main hallway of the conference. The Podcast Movement kicked off yesterday (Tuesday, 8/13) and runs through this Friday (8/16) in Orlando at Rosen Shingle Creek.
Urban One, Smith Slapped with Sexual Harassment Suit. On the same day “Hurricane” Dave Smith exited as Radio One Atlanta’s vice president of programming/operations, former urban contemporary WHTA “Hot 107.9” on-air personality Feleg Abraham (using the air name Shorty Mack) filed a lawsuit in the (Georgia) state court of Fulton County alleging multiple instances of sexual harassment by her then-boss (Smith). After working at “Hot 107.9” for 14 months, Abraham left in February 2018 and now does mid-days for Davis Broadcasting Columbus, Georgia urban contemporary WFXE “Foxie 105.” Radio One parent, Urban One regional vice president Timothy Davies last week declined to comment about Smith’s dismissal; however, in a published report last Monday (8/5), Smith claims he was terminated owing to “a misunderstanding.” Urban One executive vice president/chief administrative officer Karen Wishart states, “The allegations made by Feleg Abraham against Dave Smith, both former employees of Urban One, are unsettling. As a company founded by an African-American woman [Cathy Hughes] with a long history of empowering women in the workplace, Urban One takes these allegations very seriously. After Ms. Abraham left Urban One to take a new job, we were notified of her complaint and conducted a thorough, independent investigation. In light of the ongoing litigation, we cannot provide further comment on this matter.” Charges in Abraham’s lawsuit include intentional infliction of emotional distress by Smith; negligent infliction of emotional distress by Urban One; negligent hiring, retention, and supervision; assault and battery; and false imprisonment. The suit claims Smith made “unwanted sexual comments about Ms. Abraham’s body and would often ask her when he would be allowed to see her naked.” It references an incident that allegedly took place on May 22, 2017 in which Smith is said to have trapped Abraham in his office. As Rodney Ho reports in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, a statement regarding the lawsuit released yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, 8/13) by Smith reads, “This is an organized attempt by some former employees looking to capitalize on the #MeToo climate. I categorically deny these disgusting statements. I have no further comment.”
More Music Radio News and Career Moves. Music director and afternoon drive host of Entercom Miami classic hits-oldies WMXJ “102.7 The Beach,” DJ Holiday, adds even more responsibilities as assistant program director. Entercom South Florida senior vice president/market manager Keriann Worley explains, “This is a natural move for DJ Holiday and our station. DJ Holiday has grown up with this music and has an intimate knowledge of the market, having spent many nights spinning at Miami clubs. We’re thrilled to have him step up into the APD role and look forward to his increased contributions to the station’s success.” Holiday, who has been with “The Beach” since it debuted in 2016, opines, “There’s always something new to learn and room to grow professionally. I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my Entercom family for the opportunity to do so.” … KNDD “107.7 The End” mid-day talent “Alyssa” is promoted to music director at the Entercom Seattle alternative outlet. Program director Leslie Scott remarks that, “In her three years here, Alyssa has proven to be a huge music lover, a supporter of all things ‘107.7 The End,’ and a champion of the power of radio. I can think of no better team in alternative than ours and Alyssa’s new position reinforces that.” Alyssa notes, “It is an honor to be part of this incredible team. I’m looking forward to jumping into this role under the guidance of Leslie and [assistant program director/afternoon drive talent] Walt [Flakus].” … Effective this Friday (8/16), seven-month KXOJ “94.1 Tulsa’s Christian Music Station” evening show host Jeremiah St. James adds assistant program director duties at the Stephens Media Group contemporary Christian station. According to Stephens Media Group owner David Stephens, “Jeremiah is one of those rare talents whose potential seems limitless. He is forward-thinking and is more about where radio is going than where it has been.” SMG senior vice president of programming & technology/KXOJ program director Bob Thornton notes, “Jeremiah is a gifted imaging and branding specialist who is going to bring a tremendous amount of energy and new ideas to our building.” ….. Program director Caleb James exits NRG Media Omaha rhythmic CHR KOPW “Power 106.9” and hot AC KQKQ “Sweet 98.5.”
July 2019 PPM Data. July 2019 ratings information has been released for San Antonio, Sacramento, and Pittsburgh. Nielsen Audio’s July 2019 survey period covered June 20 – July 17. Managing editor Mike Kinosian (Kinosian@Talkers.com) provides his “Takeaways” from these three PPM-markets.
Spoken-Word Formats – The rollercoaster ride continues for iHeartMedia news/talk WOAI “News Radio 1200 – San Antonio’s News, Traffic, & Weather,” which was +1.1 in April (4.2 – 5.3, 6+); an equally divided -1.0 in May and June (5.3 – 4.8 – 4.3, 6+); and now +.7 in July (5.0, sixth to fifth, 6+). Up until April when it logged a 5.3, WOAI hadn’t reached the five-share level (6+) since August 2016’s 5.2. For the third month in a row, Alpha Media news/talk KTSA “Stay Connected” loses one-tenth (1.5 – 1.4 – 1.3 – 1.2 – 1.1, #22 to #24, 6+).
In June, KTSA’s sports talk sibling KZDC “ESPN San Antonio” and iHeartMedia’s KTKR “Ticket 760 – San Antonio’s Sports Station” were tied at #32. Both are flat at .3 (6+) and are again deadlocked – this time at #30.
This is the seventh report in a row Texas Public Radio news/talk KSTX (+.3, #16 to #12) logs a 6+-share between 3.3 – 3.7 (3.5 – 3.7 – 3.4 – 3.1 – 3.1 – 3.0 – 3.3, 6+).
San Antonio Music Formats – Roaring back from June’s one-half share loss with a July uptick of eight-tenths (3.8 – 4.6, 6+), Alpha Media adult hits KJXK “102.7 Jack-FM – Playing What We Want” returns to the top ten (#11 to #7). Prior to June – when it slipped to 3.8 – San Antonio’s version of “Jack” last fell below a four-share (6+) in “Holiday” 2018 (3.5). Enjoying a July 2019 jump of eight-tenths as well and zooming from #17 to #11 is iHeartMedia Spanish contemporary KZEP “104.5 Latino Hits,” which records its third bump in succession for a collective +1.4 (2.1 – 2.4 – 2.7 – 3.5, 6+). This (3.5) is the first time in exactly one year that “Latino Hits” hits a three-share (3.1, July 2018). Five successive negative or neutral trends resulted in a nearly 50% decline (-.6) of its 6+-stat (1.4 – 1.1 – 1.0 – .8 – .8 – .8, 6+), but iHeartMedia regional Mexican KQXT-HD3 answers with a gain of seven-tenths to 1.5 (#22, 6+). When Univision Radio rhythmic hot AC KVBH gained one-tenth in June (to 2.1, 6+), it suspended at four a consecutive string of negative or neutral moves that accounted for an overall -1.4 (3.4 – 3.1 – 3.1 – 2.9 – 2.0, 6+). “The Vibe” now adds another six-tenths to 2.7 (#20 to #16, 6+). In mid-April, Tejano KXTN transitioned to KVBH “The Vibe.” While Cox Media Group classic hits-oldies KONO-FM is the market pacesetter the fifth month in a row, “101.1 San Antonio’s Greatest Hits” erodes by -1.1 (8.2 – 7.1, 6+). Whereas May’s +1.1 took KONO-FM to 8.5, its highest 6+-stat since September 2018’s 8.8, July’s 7.1 is its lowest 6+-showing since 6.0 in “Holiday” 2018. “San Antonio’s Greatest Hits” had been in the runner-up slot five successive times before progressing to #1 in March. Significant alternating ups/down continue for Educational Media Foundation contemporary Christian KZLV. In the last four reports, San Antonio’s version of “Positive & Encouraging K-Love” has been +.5 (April); -1.0 (May); +1.5 (June); and now -1.2 in July (3.9 – 2.7, 6+). KZLV spirals from #10 to #16. Entering the July 2019 sweep, Alpha Media regional Mexican KSAH notched three straight positive or neutral trends netting nine-tenths (2.3 – 2.6 – 2.6 – 3.2, 6+). That entire increase drifts away with a -.9 to 2.3 (#13 to #19, 6+). June’s 3.2 was its best 6+-showing since November 2018 (3.3). Four consecutive up or flat trends by iHeartMedia CHR KXXM accounted for an overall gain of four-tenths (3.4 – 3.6 – 3.6 – 3.8 – 3.8, 6+) but “96.1 Now” (#11 to #14) falters by seven-tenths to 3.1, its lowest 6+-stat since December 2018 (3.1, as well). Within two-share range (6+) 19 sweeps in a row before dialing up a June gain of eight-tenths to 3.2 (6+), Univision Radio Spanish contemporary KMYO regresses by one-half share to 2.7 (#13 to #16, 6+). June’s 3.2 marked the first time since December 2017’s 3.0 that “Latino Mix 95.1” hit a three-share (6+). There’s just no separating Cox Media Group-owned KCYY “Y-100 San Antonio’s New Country Leader” and iHeartMedia’s KAJA “KJ-97 San Antonio’s #1 Country Station.” They both showed June decreases of two-tenths and now July losses of one-half share: KCYY is 7.2 – 6.9 – 6.4 (6+) and KAJA is 6.2 – 6.0 – 5.5 (6+). The country rivals are anchored at second and third, respectively. Recent shifts for “Y-100” include: -.8 (December); -1.1 (“Holiday” 2018); +1.8 (January 2019); +.6 (February); -.6 (March); +.6 (May); and -.5 (July). “KJ-97” has been +.5 (September 2018); -1.1 (October); +1.0 (December); -1.0 (“Holiday” 2018); +3.0 (January 2019); –1.9 (March); and -.5 (July).
Spoken-Word Formats – Immediately following an erosion of nine-tenths this time last month, iHeartMedia-owned news/talk KFBK “Sacramento’s News, Weather and Traffic Station” repeats its June 6+ AQH-share (5.2) and market rank (fifth). Co-owned KSTE “Talk 650” continues an alternating down/up pattern that commenced in December 2018 and includes July’s positive spike of seven-tenths (2.4 – 2.3 – 2.5 – 2.3 – 2.7 – 2.3 – 2.6 – 2.5 – 3.2 (#14 to #12, 6+).
In five consecutive sweeps without an increase, Bonneville’s KHTK lost exactly half (-.6) its 6+ AQH share (1.2 – 1.2 – .9 – .8 – .6 – .6, 6+), but “Sports 1140” ends the slide with a one-tenth gain to .7 (#26 to #23, 6+). It is now tied with Entercom’s KIFM-AM “ESPN Radio 1320,” which repeats June’s .7 (#24 to #23, 6+).
Albeit flat in seventh-place, Capital Public Radio news/talk KXJZ notches its third straight increase for an overall +1.5 (3.5 – 4.5 – 4.7 – 5.0, 6+); December 2018’s 6.9 is the highest 6+-stat in its PPM-history. Northern California Public Broadcasting’s KQEI has an October 2018 through July 2019 topline of .6 – .6 – .7 – .6 – .7 – .7 – .6 – .7 – .5 – .7 – .6 (#24 to #25, 6+).
Sacramento Music Formats – There is interesting June 2019 – July 2019 movement for Lotus Communications regional Mexican stations with the KVMX call letters. On the plus side, KVMX-FM – which notched a .3 (6+) in April, May, and June – hangs out a multiple of seven in July to 2.1 (+1.8, 6+) and pops in the top twenty at #15. On the other hand, KVMX-AM, which was trending .9 – 1.1 – 1.4 – 1.7 (6+) for a collective March 2019 through June 2019 gain of +.8, vanishes from print in July. After checking in with a 1.3 (#20, 6+) in June, Educational Media Foundation contemporary Christian KLVB disappears as well. Frozen on 4.2 (6+) in March, April, and May before slipping to 4.1 (6+) in June, iHeartMedia urban-rhythmic oldies KHYL adds six-tenths to 4.7 (6+) as “V-101” progresses from tenth to eighth. Notwithstanding it is #1 the sixth month in a row (including January’s first-place tie with iHeartMedia news/talk KFBK), Entercom-owned KSEG “96.9 The Eagle – Sacramento’s Classic Rock” falters -1.1 in June/July (8.9 – 8.3 – 7.8, 6+). “The Eagle” held the lead position ten consecutive survey periods before shifting to #2 in December. Seven of its recent fluctuations include -1.1 (November 2018); -.8 (“Holiday” 2018); +1.0 (February 2019); -.5 (April); +.9 (May); -.6 (June); and -.5 (July). In each of the last 16 survey periods, Entravision Communications’ KNTY notched a 6+-share between 2.0 – 2.5. That streak comes to an end as KNTY drops eight-tenths to 1.3 (#16 to #19, 6+). That’s not the only thing though that KNTY dropped during the July 2019 sweep: Country “101.9 The Wolf” became regional Mexican La Tricolor and is simulcasting KRCX (1.7 – 1.6, -.1, flat at #18). Returning all of June’s half-share increase and one-tenth more (2.3 – 1.7, -.6, 6+), Spanish adult hits sibling KXSE “104.3 La Suavecita” slips from #15 to #17; June’s 2.3 was its best 6+-stat since 2.4 in November 2018. Three straight downturns (5.6 – 5.0 – 4.2 – 3.7, 6+) by Entercom alternative KKDO produce a combined -1.9 and “Alt 94.7” exits the top ten (#9 to #11). This immediately follows April’s gain of nine-tenths. While it repeats at #2, iHeartMedia classic rocker KYRV “93.7 The River” surrenders three-tenths to 6.3 (6+), thus halting four consecutive upticks that netted a +1.4 (5.2 – 5.3 – 5.5 – 5.7 – 6.6, 6+). Adult contemporary stations hold this California market’s eighth and tenth slots in July 2019. Specifically, Entercom’s KYMX “Mix 96 – Today’s Hits/Yesterday’s Favorites,” without a gain the past three sweeps for a collective -1.6 (6.2 – 5.7 – 4.6 – 4.6, 6+), picks up one-tenth to 4.7 (#8, 6+). Meanwhile, iHeartMedia’s KBEB “92.5 The Breeze” is off two-tenths in June/July (4.1 – 4.1 – 3.9, 6+). “Mix” and “The Breeze” continue at eighth and tenth, respectively. June’s 4.6 was the weakest 6+-stat for “Mix” since September 2015’s 4.5. Formerly “92.5 The Bull – #1 for New Country,” KBEB transitioned to adult contemporary as “The Breeze” in early-November (2018). It netted a +2.1 in three straight positive spikes (2.4 – 3.1 – 3.7 – 4.5, 6+), in advance of March/April’s -.8 (4.5 – 4.3 – 3.7, 6+).
Spoken-Word Formats – As a result of six straight February 2019 through July 2019 decreases (5.1 – 4.6 – 4.3 – 4.1 – 3.7 – 3.3 – 3.2, 6+), Entercom’s KDKA-AM “News Radio 1020” is -1.9 and slips from #11 to #12.
Co-owned sports talk/Pirates flagship KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan,” which dropped seven-tenths in May (6.8 – 6.1, 6+), forfeits the two-tenths it picked up in June (6.1 – 6.3 – 6.1, 6+) but carries on in fourth-place. The ultra-consistent September 2018 through June 2019 topline for iHeartMedia sports talk WBGG 970 AM – ESPN Pittsburgh” is 2 – .2 – .2 – .3 – .2 – .2 – .2 – .2 – .3 – .2 – .2 – .2 (#23 to #17, 6+).
Bouncing back from June’s loss of six-tenths with a July increase of three-tenths, Essential Public Media news/talk WESA “90.5 Pittsburgh’s NPR Station” progresses from tenth to ninth and is trending 4.2 – 3.6 – 4.2 – 3.6 – 3.9 (6+).
Pittsburgh Music Formats – In four straight decreases, iHeartMedia alternative WXDX was an overall -1.8 (4.8 – 4.3 – 4.4 – 3.1 – 3.0, 6+); however, “105.9 The X” erases one-third of that deficit with a July uptick of six-tenths (3.6, #12 to #11, 6+). July 2019’s top three “Steel City” finishers are separated by one-half share. The combination of iHeartMedia classic hits-oldies WWSW “94.5 3WS” gaining four-tenths and co-owned rock WDVE sputtering by twice that margin (9.5 – 8.7, -.8, 6+) results in “3WS” progressing from third to first and WDVE segueing from first to second. WWSW is a combined +1.2 in June/July (7.7 – 8.5 – 8.9, 6+) with July’s 8.9 its best 6+-stat since 13.6 in “Holiday” 2018 when “94.5 3WS” was #1. The six most recent shifts for WDVE, which was #1 the past five reports, are: +.8 (February); +.8 again (March); -.9 (April); +.6 (May); +.6 again (June); and -.8 (July). In four straight upticks, Steel City Media adult hits WRRK was +2.3 (6.9 – 7.4 – 8.0 – 8.2 – 9.2, 6+), but “96.9 Bob FM” relinquishes eight-tenths in July to 8.4, sliding from second to third. In June, “Bob” reached the nine-share level (9.2, 6+) for the first time since December 2017’s 9.0. The just-concluded positive streak directly follows a -1.8 in three consecutive sweeps without an increase (8.7 – 7.7 – 7.7 – 6.9, 6+). As Steel City Media-owned hot AC WLTJ “Q-92.9” records its third straight boost for a net gain of nine-tenths (3.0 – 3.1 – 3.7 – 3.9, unchanged at #9, 6+), Entercom’s similarly-formatted WBZZ “Star 100.7” has its third consecutive down or flat report for an overall loss of nine-tenths (5.0 – 5.0 – 4.4 – 4.1, flat at #8, 6+). The +2.0 advantage WBZZ held over WLTJ in April is down to two-tenths. Apparently, it is that time again for Forever Media to pull its Nielsen Audio subscription as five Forever Media stations that have been listed in April, May, and June disappear from print, as they’ve done before. The five are: classic hits-oldies WKPL (1.7, June 2019, 6+); classic country WLYI (1.4, June 2019); country WOGI (.9, June 2019, 6+); country WOGG (.8, June 2019, 6+); and classic hits-oldies WPKL (.7, June 2019, 6+).
Skype Sessions Rub Some WH Journos the Wrong Way; Others Not Worried. Regular readers of TALKERS magazine are aware that the Trump White House has opened some of the press briefings to offsite news organizations and talk show hosts via Skype. Some in the White House press corps are reportedly irked by the intrusion of more media outlets vying for time with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer – some even more so allegedly because of the inclusion of radio talk show hosts. The first Skype Session (2/1) featured talk show hosts Lars Larson of KXL, Portland; Dale Jackson of WVNN, Huntsville, Alabama; Jeff Jobe of Kentucky-based Jobe Publishing; plus TV news staffers Kimberly Kalunian of WPRI-TV, Providence; and Natalie Herbick of WJW-TV, Cleveland. Tom Blumer writes in the conservative media outlet Newsbusters that some in major news organizations – especially at CNN – are upset with what feels like an intrusion. See his piece here. But CBS News reporter Major Garrett says in a story by CBS about the matter, “I cannot complain about more reporters asking questions. If the Skype questions are softballs everyone will see it. And if a White House gains a reputation for taking softball questions and avoiding tough questions, that will become obvious to the country.” Needless to say, talk hosts and local media outlets such as WPRI-TV and WJW-TV are thrilled to be able to connect with the White House press corps. As for the questions posed by the talk hosts, Lars Larson asked if the Trump Administration has considered its stance on what some in the U.S. West believe is the too-large amount of land that is federally owned. Dale Jackson asked if the administration has taken steps to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) immigration programs in light of the president’s tack on immigration policy.
Chris Rongey Joins WXOS, St. Louis. A third voice is added to the afternoon drive program “The Fast Lane” on Hubbard Radio’s WXOS, St. Louis “101 ESPN.” Joining Randy Karraker and Brad Thompson is Chris Rongey. He’d been with WSCR, Chicago for the past 14 years handling pre-game and post-game duties for White Sox games. He also served as an update anchor at the station and wrote for the suburban Daily Herald. WXOS program director Chris “Hoss” Neupert states, “We are excited to welcome Chris Rongey home. He is a tremendous talent and will be a great addition to the ‘101 ESPN’ team.”
Entercom Surrenders KDND, Sacramento License. The Federal Communications Commission had been taking the rare action of designating the 2013 renewal application of Entercom’s KDND, Sacramento for hearing, due to the death of station contest participant Jennifer Strange in the now infamous “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” promotion. Now, Entercom announces it is voluntarily giving up the station’s license. The company states, “After careful consideration, Entercom determined it is in the company’s best interests to voluntarily turn in the KDND license to facilitate the timely FCC approvals for the planned combination with CBS Radio.” At least partly responsible for the FCC’s actions was the Sue Wilson-led Media Action Center which had filed the petition to deny for the station’s license renewal. MAC had also attempted to get the Commission broaden its hearing to include the entire Entercom Sacramento cluster. As of today, Entercom is moving the CHR format heard on KDND to its current hot AC KUDL at 106.5 FM.
iHeartMedia Names Mike Saffer Tucson Market President. Moving from his most recent position as VP of sales for Clear Channel Outdoor in Tucson is Mike Saffer, who takes on the market president position at iHeartMedia Tucson. Its stations in that market include news/talk outlets KNST and KTZR, as well as CHr KRQQ, hot AC KMIY “My 92.9,” hip hop KOHT “HOT 98.3,” country KYWD “97.1 The Bull,” and Tejano KXEW-AM “Tejano 1600.” About his new gig, Saffer comments, “I am elated to make the transition into the iHeartMedia family here in Tucson. Being raised in Tucson, the talent at these stations has always played a major role in my life. I am excited to work with those same stations to build upon their legacy and strengthen our relationship with both advertisers and the community.”
Pollnow to Lead Cumulus Green Bay. The Green Bay cluster of Cumulus Media has a new vice president and market manager as Don Pollnow returns to Wisconsin to lead the company’s six-station group. Though Pollnow has most recently been serving with LM Communications in Lexington, Kentucky as national sales manager, he served as general manager for NRG Media’s Wausau-Steven Point station group in the past. Cumulus’ Green Bay stations include: sports talk simulcast WDUZ “The Fan,” country WPCK “NASH FM 104.9,” hot AC WQLH “ Star 98,” triple A WKRU, and classic hits WOGB.
TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicates “Free Talk Live” with Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is added to the program schedule at WRRD, Milwaukee in the evening slot nightly, and at WCCM, Salem, New Hampshire for weekends…..ICYMI, yesterday during Westwood One’s Super Bowl LI pre-game and halftime programming, host Jim Gray did a recorded, one-on-one interview with President Donald Trump. He told Gray he was rooting for the Patriots, spoke about his friendship with Tom Brady, and discussed topics including sports gambling, concussions in the NFL, use of medical marijuana by NFL players, and how his immigration policy might affect Los Angeles’ 2024 Olympics bid…..Boston University-owned pubcaster WBUR, Boston appoints Brian Hardzinski associate producer for the local talk show “On Point with Tom Ashbrook.” Hardzinski served to the past 11 years at the University of Oklahoma’s KGOU, Norman.
Travel Order Court Battle, U.S.-Russia Relations, Yiannopoulos Berkeley Speech Protests, Iran Missile Test, Marine Le Pen’s Campaign for President, Gorsuch SCOTUS Nomination and Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The ongoing controversy over President Donald Trump’s travel order targeting seven predominantly Muslim nations and federal judge James Robart’s temporary restraining order staying the order; the relations between the U.S. and Russia and Trump’s comments to Bill O’Reilly about Vladimir Putin; last Thursday’s canceled speech by Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos at UC-Berkeley after violent protests; U.S. response to Iran over its test of a missile last week; the nationalist campaign of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen; the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court justice; and Sunday night’s Super Bowl LI between the Patriots and Falcons were some of the most-talked-about news/talk stories this past weekend.
Chase Murphy to Program ‘Mix 96.5’ in Houston. Programming pro Chase Murphy joins CBS Radio as program director for hot AC KHMX, Houston “Mix 96.5.” SVP and market manager Sarah Frazier comments, “Chase is a leader, a team builder, a talent coach and a builder of brands. He is the perfect fit for KHMX, a big brand with great heritage in the Houston market.” Murphy previously served with iHeartMedia as an operations manager and regional program director. He also worked with Entercom in the Greenville market.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Boston, “The Morning Wake UP” with co-hosts KJ Carson and Kesha Monk debuts today on the new urban AC WKAF “97.7 FM, Boston’s #1 For R&B.” Entercom split the simulcast of rock WAAF and WKAF back in early January and today is launching the new morning show. Chris Malone is programming the station…..Mapleton Communications promotes Tommy Del Rio from his regional program director post to vice president of top 40 programming. Del Rio is in charge of the programming for all seven of Mapleton’s CHR-formatted stations…..In the Yakima market, Brian Henderson and Todd E. Lyons Esq. are being paired up for mornings on Townsquare Media’s active rock KATS. Henderson previously served as PD for Radio Yakima’s crosstown classic rocker KRSE “105.7 The Hawk.” In addition to morning show duties, Henderson is handling the brand manager position at KATS…..Brazos Valley Communications appoints Shalayna Valencia regional director of events & digital for its stations in both the Odessa-Midland and Bryan-College Station markets. Valencia was previously market president for Townsquare Media’s Odessa-Midland operations…..Radio pro Sari Zalesin joins the marketing division at mobile app developer jacapps. At the same time, the company promotes Alex Burnstein to the new position, director of marketing.
PPM Analysis: AC and the 2016 Holiday Survey. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a detailed breakdown of the (6+) performances of adult contemporary outlets based on data from the 2016 Holiday PPM survey from Nielsen Audio. See which stations benefitted the most from the infusion of Christmas music, as well as how AC-formatted stations performed compared to the 2015 Holiday survey, plus more. See it all here.
Kim Guthrie Named to Replace Retiring Bill Hoffman as President of Cox Media Group. After 38 years with Cox, Bill Hoffman is retiring from his Cox Media Group president post at the end of the year. Taking over in January will be current executive vice president of national ad platforms and president of Cox Reps, Kim Guthrie. Cox Enterprises president and CEO John Dyer says, “Kim has been with Cox for nearly 20 years and is an inspirational leader who has helped our media properties transform. She played a key role in the successful creation of Cox Media Group in 2008 and has been recognized as one of the media industry’s most influential leaders. She is a natural fit to ensure Cox Media Group continues to deliver innovative products and compelling news content.”
Report: CBS RADIO to Take on $1.5 Billion in Debt. This report from Reuters, says that sources are telling it that CBS RADIO is preparing to take on as much as $1.5 billion in debt ahead of its initial public offering that’s expected to take place but still has no firm time frame. According the report, the bulk of the proceeds would be paid back to parent CBS Corp. with the rest to be used by CBS RADIO for “general corporate purposes.” In its report, Reuters notes that “a radio company IPO may be a tough sale as new digital competitors have emerged and depressed advertising sales for the medium for years.” Read the Reuters story here.
Lew Dickey Pens Book on Changing Media Landscape. The book is published by Tourbillion International – a subsidiary of the Dickey family-owned Modern Luxury Media – and is titled, The New Modern Media – Remaking Media for a Mobile Culture. We now know what Lew Dickey has been doing since he was ousted from the Cumulus CEO role last year. The book is described as “an indispensable guide to the profound and disruptive changes rocking the media industry. It examines the implications of a new, mobile culture and challenges the widely held belief that most media companies’ true source of profits is their content. It makes the case for the importance of distribution as a key driver of firm value in the legacy media business model, be it a newspaper, magazine, record label, television network, local broadcast television or radio station.” In the book Dickey makes the case for why traditional “radio broadcasters will be unlikely to benefit from subscription revenue for their core service, leaving them highly exposed to the ad markets.” iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman is quoted reviewing the book, “I’ve spent my entire professional life in the media business, and today technology is enabling media to evolve at an ever-faster pace to meet consumers’ changing needs. Lew’s book is a timely resource for anyone working or investing in the media industry – shedding an important light on some of the critical challenges and opportunities inherent in today’s vibrant and complex media landscape.” Pittman’s iHeartRadio just announced a two-tier subscription service last week – clearly another step in the grand plan to transform iHeartMedia from a legacy radio company to a competitor in the digital entertainment industry. But getting back to Lew’s book, it’s a safe bet this will be the talk of the radio business this week.
Mike Gallagher Broadcasts from Hofstra University. In advance of tonight’s first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Salem Radio Networks syndicated personality Mike Gallagher broadcast his program from Hofstra University on Long Island, the site of tonight’s debate. Gallagher’s guests included pollster Pat Caddell, Republican National Committee communications director Sean Spicer, Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis, and, via telephone, vice presidential candidate Mike Pence. Gallagher says, “I’ve bird-dogged these candidates through the primaries and caucuses and both national conventions. So, it is a thrill to bring my audience into the final hours of preparation for this historic debate which is expected to draw 100 million or more via radio and TV.”
iHeartMedia Launches New Tucson Talk Station. This will be a sister talk station to iHeartMedia’s existing news/talk KNST and consists primarily of syndicated fare. KTZR flipped from Spanish music to talk this morning (9/26) as “The Talk of Tucson.” The programming lineup is: Premiere’s Glenn Beck in morning drive, followed by USA Radio’s “Trending Today USA with Rusty Humphries,” Westwood One’s “The Savage Nation,” KTRH, Houston-based, syndicated personality Michael Berry, local personality Rob Hunter, Premiere’s “AMERICA Now with Meghan McCain,” “Ground Zero,” “AMERICA Now Rewind,” and GCN’s Alex Jones.
Alan Henry Memoir Published. One of the progenitors of modern day talk radio and the all-news formats has written his memoir. Alan Henry’s new book is titled, A Man And His Medium: An Indelible Signature on Radio Television Cable. It was a young Alan Henry – charged with turning around Metromedia’s poorly rated KLAC, Los Angeles – who hired raconteur Joe Pyne to host the evening program. Pyne had just been fired by crosstown KABC. Henry and programmer Jim Lightfoot gave Pyne control over his show content and the program took off, eventually being syndicated to more than 250 radio stations. Henry’s influence continued when, after leaving KLAC, he joined Westinghouse in New York and proposed a new all-news format for WINS. He was named sales manager of the station and, although it took a while to bring advertisers around, history reveals its eventual success.
The Presidential Race/First Debate, Police Shootings of Blacks, Syrian Civil War/U.S.-Russian Military Tensions, George Bush-Michelle Obama Photo, Growing National Anthem Protests, MLB Playoff Push and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The activities of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and the buildup to this evening’s debate; the aftermath of the recent Tulsa and Charlotte shooting deaths of black men by police; the Syrian civil war and Russia’s role in the bombing of Aleppo and air convoys; Saturday’s dedication of the African American History Museum in Washington and chatter about the widely published photo of Michelle Obama hugging George W. Bush; National Anthem protests spread to the college football ranks; the playoff push in Major League Baseball, and Sunday’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Odds & Sods. There are changes in the air talent lineup at ESPN-owned/Cumulus operated KESN-FM, Dallas. Matt Mosley leaves the station and his afternoon drive partner Tim Cowlishaw. Midday personality Mark Friedman also exits the station where he co-hosted with Steve Dennis. There are rumors in the market that Dennis will join Cowlishaw in afternoons and Jean-Jacques Taylor and Will Chambers will take over the midday show…..Radiohio-owned sports talker WBNS, Columbus “Sports Radio 97.1 The Fan” extends its relationship with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets for another three seasons. WBNS’ partner – Southeastern Ohio Broadcasting System’s alternative WWCD “CD102.5” – will serve as the secondary signals for the team’s games…..GatesAir announces three important wins in Vietnam that signify the over-the-air TV and radio transformation taking shape across the Asia-Pacific region. Vietnam Television recently placed two orders for transmitter network expansions. On the radio side, Vietnam is investing in existing FM infrastructure with improvement and expansion projects. Voice of Vietnam, the national radio broadcaster, recently ordered five Flexiva air-cooled solid-state transmitters — two 5kW and three 10kW models — for VOV4, which serves as the broadcaster’s Ethnic Languages Channel.
The Yappy Tour Rolls On. Prolific radio talk show producer turned author Bernadette Duncan recently brought her “Yappy Tour” to the television viewers of Western Massachusetts by appearing as a guest on the WGGB-TV (ABC-40) “Western Mass News” to discuss her buzz-worthy book, Yappy Days; Behind the Scenes with Newsers, Schmoozers, Boozers and Losers (AuthorHouse/Talkers Books, 2016). The book recounts Duncan’s 26-year career as a producer of radio talk shows working with such big-name talents as Larry King, Sally Jessy Raphael, Lou Dobbs, Tom Snyder, Gil Gross, Charles Osgood and many more during modern talk radio’s pre- and post-9/11 “golden era.” Plus, she tells stories about behind-the-scenes encounters with hundreds of guests from the worlds of show business, politics, media, business and literature. Above, Duncan (left) is pictured with newsman/show host Chris Pisano (right) on Channel 40’s “Western Mass News” midday talk show. Duncan’s national “Yappy Tour” will roll on through the remainder of the year. She has already appeared on more than 25 local and syndicated programs. Hosts and shows interested in booking Bernadette Duncan can do so by calling Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.