iHeartMedia and Connoisseur Agree to Erie, PA and Frederick, MD Swap. The stations that Connoisseur Media is getting in this deal – news/talk WFMD-AM and country WFRE-FM in Frederick, Maryland – come from the Aloha Trust that iHeartMedia created 11 years ago for stations it has to sell to comply with ownership caps. In exchange, iHeartMedia will get six stations from Connoisseur Media in Erie – CHR WRTS-FM, rock WRKT-FM, adult hits WXBB-FM, country WTWF-FM, news/talk WJET-AM and sports talk WFNN-AM and adult contemporary WLTM-FM in Mina, New York. The companies expect the deal to close in the second quarter of this year. Connoisseur CEO Jeffrey Warshaw says, “iHeart is getting a remarkable team and an amazing array of brands. We have owned the stations for 13 years and have tremendous gratitude for the people of Erie. We are excited to enter the Frederick market with these legendary properties.” Meanwhile, iHeartMedia Allentown/Harrisburg region president Dan Lankford states, “We’re very pleased to have the opportunity to expand our reach and establish a presence in the Erie and Mina markets.”
PPM Analysis: Public Radio News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2019 PPM survey, today focusing on public radio news/talk. More public radio news/talkers were up (60%) than down (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the January survey to the February survey, with perennial uber-performer KUOW, Seattle showing the best increase of 0.6 shares. About half of the stations on the panel were down (51%) from last February to this February, with KQED losing 2.3 shares in the San Jose market and 1.7 shares in the San Francisco market. However, both KUOW, Seattle and KQED, San Francisco ranked #1 in those markets in the February 2019 survey. Also ranking #1 in their respective markets were KPBS, San Diego; KCFR, Denver; and KUT, Austin. See the entire report here.
Backbone Demonstrating ‘Total Radio – In the Cloud’ at NAB Show. The NAB Show in Las Vegas gets underway on April 6 and among the “hot topics” that will be addressed at the huge confab are: content in the cloud, streaming, and podcasting, all of which attendees can see in operation at the Backbone Networks booth. The company says it will show how users can create a completely virtualized radio production environment – all operating in the cloud. Backbone Networks will have a SUNY college radio station broadcasting live to demonstrate how students produce live and automated shows in the cloud, stream them, and automatically generate and publish podcasts – all done with just a Mac, a mixer, and a couple of mics. Attendees can see the broadcasters using Backbone’s Production Suite – the whole turnkey bundle for a complete radio station that includes: Backbone Radio – professional streaming radio station in the cloud, live and automated, always-on 24/7; Backbone Talk – broadcast multi-line call-in phone system; Backbone Co-Host – unlimited SIP/OPUS remotes and multi-location shows with no boxes or hardware; Backbone Hub – cloud assistant for automated production, podcast publication, Alexa briefings, and scheduling live audio and FTP show syndication to AM/FM stations; and more. If you’re going to the NAB Show, check out the Backbone Networks booth (#N6319).
ESPN: Live Sports Reached 22.3 Million 12+ Fans Via Radio Last Fall. The sports media giant says that its ESPN Audio segment conducted a custom live sports audio study with Nielsen for the period of August 30, 2018 to January 17, 2019 that concluded an estimated 22.3 million people – 9.2% of the 12+ population – listened to live sports on ESPN Radio on terrestrial stations. The study consisted of the company’s play-by-play broadcasts of college football including bowl games and the College Football Playoff, regular and post-season MLB action, and NFL & NBA games. ESPN VP, multimedia sales John Fitzgerald says, “ESPN Radio’s live events are at the core of what makes it so valuable to our advertisers. This study has shown that once again our unparalleled lineup of marquee matchups continues to grow our audience nationally and increase the reach of ESPN Radio.”
TALKERS News Notes. “I would probably say not,” is the quote from Chris “Mad Dog” Russo about getting back together with Mike Francesa on Entercom’s sports talk WFAN, New York. Russo made the comment to WEPN, New York personality Michael Kay on his afternoon drive program. The competition between Kay and Francesa in afternoons in the Big Apple has been a big story in New York media lately…..Radio personality Walter M Sterling is serving as the guest star on KMOX, St. Louis’ late night, 10:00 pm to 2:00 am show. Sterling, whose Westwood One show “Sterling on Sunday” airs on KMOX, is sitting in for host Ryan Wrecker…..Today is Major League Baseball’s Opening Day and SiriusXM is beginning its season of presenting live play-by-play broadcasts of every game, all season long to accompany the news and analysis of baseball heard on the MLB Network channel on the satellite radio service.
Mueller Investigation Report Aftermath, Trump Administration’s Obamacare Battle, Charlottesville Guilty Plea, Jussie Smollett Case, Border Wall/Immigration Issue, Green New Deal, Brexit Chaos, NBA Action and NCAA Tournament Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/27). The aftermath of the completion of the Trump-Russia investigation and President Trump’s appearance on ‘Hannity’; the Trump administration’s moves to do away with the Affordable Care Act; James Alex Fields pleads guilty in the deadly car attack at the 2017 Charlottesville white nationalist rally; the controversy over the Illinois state’s attorney not to press charges against actor Jussie Smollett; the status of the U.S.-Mexico border wall and reports of migrant overcrowding in El Paso; the U.S. Senate’s vote on the Green New Deal; the political chaos in Britain over Theresa May’s EU exit proposal; NBA action and the NCAA tournament 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. There are two programming announcements from iHeartMedia Cleveland. First, programmer Carletta Blake moves from the company’s Raleigh country station WNCB “B93.9” to Cleveland to assume the PD post at country WGAR-FM, effective April 8. Simultaneously, cluster programmer Jason Carr is named PD for adult hits WHLK “106.5 The Lake.” He adds this role to his PD duties at alternative WMMS-HD2/W256BT “ALT 99.1 FM” and his APD responsibilities at rock WMMS. iHeartMedia North Ohio president Keith Hotchkiss says, “I could not be more excited for Carletta and Jason. Both are incredibly adept and have proven, extensive track records of success with aligning our market-leading iHeartMedia brands across all platforms. They are a perfect match for the vision of these stations and I know they will continue to move WGAR and ‘The Lake’ forward with music and content our listeners love.”…..At Griffin Communications’ Tulsa radio cluster, programmer Brian Jennings exits his position as PD of country KVOO and classic country KXBL “Big Country 99.5” after 15 months with the stations…..iHeartMedia rock WZZO, Allentown “95.1 ZZO” adds the WMMS, Cleveland-based “Rover’s Morning Glory” program, effective Monday (4/1). The change comes shortly after the recent death of longtime station morning personality Kevin “The Bearman” Schutts. Longtime morning co-host Keith Moyer is moving to the afternoon drive to host “The Keith Show.” He says, “I am thrilled for many reasons. My dream job has arrived. No more getting up at 3:00 am, I can actually stay out past 6:00 pm and I can spend more quality time with my family and friends and TV. I will be doing what I did in mornings, but now in the afternoon thus keeping The Bearman and Keith’s legacy alive! Plus, being the only live afternoon drive show, I have the freedom to get out of the studio and broadcast from all over the Lehigh Valley. ‘The Bearman and Keith’ will never be replaced, but ‘Rover’s Morning Glory’ is a great alternative and will be the second best morning show in WZZO’s history!”…..Westwood One’s syndicated country program “The Ty Bentli Show” is being heard across the pond as WWO strikes a deal with the UK’s Bauer Media, making it the only American program that’s part of its Country Hits Radio format. Bentli and cast members Chuck Wicks and Tricia “TJ Jenkins” will debut there on April 5 in markets including: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, South Yorkshire, Lancashire, Humberside, Tyne & Wear, Teesside, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Tayside, Inverness, and Ayr…..Entercom and RCS ink a new deal for an expanded, long-term data partnership for the broadcaster’s use of RCS’ Mediabase service. As part of the agreement, Mediabase will provide Entercom with comprehensive music listening and consumption data for the company’s portfolio of over 235 stations nationwide. Additionally, Entercom will report the company’s weekly station music adds to the Mediabase platform.
November PPMs Generally Good to Talk Radio. You can call it the “election bounce” if you like but some of the news/talk stations that did well in Arbitron’s November 2012 PPMs were ramping up in October and before. Plus, the fall has traditionally been a good ratings period for news/talk whether there’s an election or not. Of course, Hurricane Sandy played a major factor for stations in the New York and Middlesex-Somerset-Union markets. Some of the stations worth noting include CBS Radio’s New York all newsers WCBS and WINS which jumped from a 3.8 to a 5.3 and a 4.0 to a 4.8, respectively. Clear Channel’s Los Angeles talk juggernaut KFI continues to thrive inching up to a 5.3 from a 5.1 the month prior. Cumulus Media’s Chicago news/talker WLS bounced back up to a 4.1 after posting a 3.7 in October. Likewise in Dallas-Fort Worth for Cumulus as WBAP-AM/FM pops up a half share to a 3.9. Clear Channel’s KTRH, Houston rose from a 3.4 in October to a 4.1 in November. In Washington, DC Cumulus’ WMAL-AM/FM jumped from a 3.4 to a 4.2. In Philadelphia, Merlin Media’s WWIQ hopped from 2.7 in October to a 3.6 in November. Cox Media’s WSB, Atlanta – which has been maintaining healthy numbers in the PPM for some time – vaults from a 6.8 to an 8.3 this month. Cumulus’ Detroit talker WJR rose more than a full share from a 4.8 to a 5.9. Public radio outlet KUOW, Seattle claimed the top spot in the November PPMs with a 5.5 share. Clear Channel’s KFYI, Phoenix went up a full share from a 4.9 to a 5.9. Mixed results in Baltimore as Hearst’s WBAL fell from a 5.7 to a 5.0 while WCBM rose from a 3.0 to a 3.8 share. Good news for pubcaster KOPB, Portland which went from a 5.3 to a 6.2 while Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL jumped from a 4.8 to a 5.5 share. Clear Channel’s WPGB, Pittsburgh leaped a full share from a 6.9 to a 7.9 share while its Sacramento sister KFBK also enjoyed a significant rise from a 5.6 to a 6.8 share. In the New Jersey market of Middlesex-Somerset-Union, Townsquare Media’s New Jersey 101.5 (WKXW, Trenton) posted an outstanding 8.6 – up from a 6.2 in October – with help, no doubt, from Hurricane Sandy. TALKERS’ sister publication RadioInfo has all the PPM data including Mike Kinosian’s analysis of the numbers. You can find that here.
Laura Ingraham Back on Radio “Soon.” That’s what the author, pundit and talk show host told Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly. During one of Laura Ingraham’s regular appearances on Fox News Channel with O’Reilly, he questioned her status in the talk radio world and she told him she will be back on the radio with another syndicator (she left Talk Radio Network at the end of her contract on Tuesday) very soon. “I’m close to signing a new deal. I’m very, very close. But I’ll be back on the air probably in the next several days.” Ingraham told O’Reilly she informed TRN she would be “terminating the deal” months ago and that it was time to move on.
Talk Host Tom Becka to Exit KRWK, Fargo “101.9 Talk FM.” Talk radio pro Tom Becka has been serving as program director and talk show host at KRWK, Fargo since it flipped from rock to talk in March of this year. Becka tells the Fargo Forum he’s returning to Omaha where he’s worked for years and has family. Becka says any notion his departure has anything to do with the performance of the new format is not correct. “The station has grown every month. My experience with Radio Fargo-Moorhead was great and I’m proud of what we accomplished here in a short time. To say I’m leaving because of ratings would be erroneous.” Radio Fargo-Moorhead is selling its cluster of stations to Midwest Family Communications. The FCC has approved the license transfers but according to one source, the actual takeover may not happen until the spring.
Todd Schnitt Show to Leave Flagship WFLA, Tampa. Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt Tweets that his program – airing live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm – will be off longtime flagship WFLA, Tampa after the December 18 program. Schnitt further Tweets that the national syndication continues and is expanding under syndicator Compass. No word what CC has in mind for afternoons at WFLA. Currently, it delay-broadcasts Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm but may have plans to move Hannity to the live PM drive slot.
Jim Isabella Named Evening Host at WNIR, Akron. Journalist Jim Isabella has been doing fill-in work for WNIR for the past two years. He now takes over the evening show formerly hosted by the late Tom Erickson who died on November 3 after a long illness. Isabella most recently worked for the Akron Beacon Journal. Station owners Bob and Bill Klaus note in a press release that Isabella, who was a frequent caller to the show hosted by the late Howie Chizek who passed away suddenly in June, made them more aware of his talents during his fill-in time in addition to receiving positive response from the station’s listeners.
Odds & Sods. Watch for Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk host Andy Dean from the network’s “America Now with Andy Dean” on Fox News Channel’s “America’s News HQ” this Sunday at 4:45 pm ET as he sits in a panel discussing the latest headlines in news and politics…..SiriusXM brings the Major League Baseball winter meetings to listeners via its MLB Network Radio and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio channels. The meetings take place in Nashville December 2 through 6 and the satcaster will have front office experts Jim Bowden, Jim Duquette and Steve Phillips there hosting various programs with other special expert guests including former pitcher Jeff Nelson.
Bubba the Love Sponge Offers Reward for Arrest of Animal Abuser. After hearing about the case of a dog found in the Bradenton, Florida area that had been attacked by someone with an axe, radio star Bubba the Love Sponge put up $1,000 of his own cash on top of the $500 being offered by the Animal Network for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible. After hearing about the case, Tampa-area philanthropist Gary Kompothecras of the legal and medical referral service 1-800-ASK-GARY added another $1,000 to the reward to make the total $2,500. Bubba reports to TALKERS that the dog, named Axel, is recovering from his injuries and will be available for adoption once he is healthy again.
Los Angeles Broadcaster David Courtney Dies at 56. The Southern California radio community is mourning the loss of omnipresent “big voice” David Courtney, who passed away on Thursday, November 29. Many considered Courtney the voice of Los Angeles sports, since for the past 23 years, he was the public address announcer of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He performed similar duties for MLB’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 18 years and NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers since October 2008. Greater Los Angeles area radio listeners knew him for his frequent traffic and sports updates as part of the Total Traffic Network. Over the last 20 years, Courtney was heard on a number of major Los Angeles radio outlets including KABC and KSPN, as well as KOLA in the Inland Empire. His other radio background included stints at Houston’s KULF as executive producer of sports programming and that market’s KTRH, where he was weekend news anchor before landing a nightly, three-hour news/talk program. New York City-born Courtney moved to Los Angeles in 1963 when his father, Alan, became president of MGM Television. According to Courtney’s Twitter feed, he needed to miss Wednesday night’s Clippers game against Minnesota owing to the fact he was in the hospital awaiting an angiogram. The 56-year-old Courtney is survived by his wife, Janet Fisher-Courtney.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle Remains Top Talk Radio Topic for Second Straight Week. The struggle between the Obama administration and GOP congressmen to deal with impending tax hikes and spending cuts was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Benghazi investigation tied with the Susan Rice-GOP leaders meetings. Following at #3 was the Israel-Gaza tensions with the clean-up of Hurricane Sandy at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s entire chart here.