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Thursday, May 20, 2021

| May 20, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 22, 2021

| April 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 25, 2021

| March 25, 2021

Cumulus Fires One and Suspends Two at WGRF-FM, Buffalo After Racists Remarks on ‘Morning Bull Show.’ One member of the “The Morning Bull Show” at Cumulus Media’s classic rock WGRF-FM, Buffalo “97 Rock” has been fired and two other members have been suspended after they did a bit that involved comparing the color of famous Black women’s skin to burnt toast. Spectrum News reports that Cumulus fired Rob Lederman and suspended Rich Gaenzler and Chris Klein. Gaenzler also lost his gig as arena announcer for Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits games and the University of Buffalo says Gaenzler will not be considered for stadium announcer next fall (a position he’s held in the past). At least two advertisers pulled their ads from the station as Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the West Herr Auto Group canceled their current ad schedules. Cumulus issued the following statement: “Cumulus Media operates from a clearly defined set of programming principles and there is no question that Rob Lederman’s comments made on The Morning Bull Show are in direct violation of those principles. We swiftly terminated him and suspended the remainder of the show’s on-air talent. We apologize and deeply regret the incident.”

WBEN-AM, Buffalo Extends Bauerle and Bellavia Shows to Cover Limbaugh Daypart. According to a report in the Buffalo News, Entercom’s Buffalo news/talk WBEN-AM is going to fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart long occupied by “The Rush Limbaugh Show” by expanding the midday David Bellavia and afternoon drive Tom Bauerle shows. Beginning on April 5, the David Bellavia show air from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and Tom Bauerle’s program will air from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The station will add a 9:00 am to 10:00 am program hosted by AM drive co-host Brian Mazurowski and producer and fill-in host Joe Beamer. To fill the 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm hour created by Bauerle’s move, WBEN will air “The News Hour with Tom Puckett and the WBEN News Team.” Program director Tim Wenger says in a memo to staff, “This lineup gives us the ability to super-serve the market with the most compelling stories and topics on the minds of people in Buffalo and Western New York and establishes us as THE go-to outlet for full LIVE coverage all day long.”

Dana Loesch Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The leading female news/talk radio host in America, Dana Loesch, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Loesch has been syndicated by Radio America in the 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm ET time slot for the past seven years and is considered one of the leading players in a growing field of competitors seeking to be cleared on stations looking to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Rush Limbaugh. Loesch, a staunch conservative described as a “next generation” talker, is the author of three highly influential books: Hands Off My Gun: Defeating the Plot to Disarm America (Hachette, 2015), Flyover Nation: You Can’t Run a Country You’ve Never Been To (Sentinel, 2016), and Grace Canceled: How Outrage is Destroying Lives, Ending Debate, and Endangering Democracy (Regnery, 2020). Harrison and Loesch discuss the state of the talk radio industry as it enters the post-Limbaugh era along with her views on the gun control debate in the wake of the latest wave of mass murders in the news.  They also tackle the big questions about the future of the Republican Party, Donald Trump and the conservative movement in America.  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.  Don’t miss this!

Round Three of Nielsen Audio’s February PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s February 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen’s February 2021 sweep covered February 4 – March 3. All-news and news/talk stations that typically see a decline in listening following a presidential election kept the attention of listeners due to the chaos that followed the elections and that continued into the new year with the January 6 Capitol attack and the incoming Biden administration. In this report, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM drops from #1 to #2 after losing two-tenths to finish the February survey with a 6.0 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share). Urban One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte sheds 1.1 shares to finish with a 5.5 share and slides to the #4 rank. In Sacramento, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK remains ranked #1 even while losing six-tenths and wrapping the survey with a 9.6 share. There’s a second-place tie in Salt Lake City as iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-FM dips nine-tenths and Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM is flat – both posting 7.0 shares. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets – as well as the first two rounds – here.

Nielsen: Women Make Up 45% of Podcast Consumers; Kids & Family Most-Listened-To Genre. The new Podcasting Today report from Nielsen indicates that the top genre among female podcast listeners in the U.S. is ‘kids & family,’ with a 77% audience composition while true crime is fourth with a 60% audience composition (health & fitness and arts are second and third, respectively). The rest of the top 10 is: religion and spirituality (58%), education (54%), society and culture (53%), fiction (50%), and TV, film, and music (48%). “Perhaps what this tells us is that regardless of characteristics such as gender, podcasts listeners are a diverse group with diverse interests and that women are among the most voracious consumers of podcasts of all types and subjects.” Nielsen states, “Women are savvy consumers of news, information, and other media across devices. They also make up 45% of all podcast consumers over-indexing in podcasts across all genres. This is a coveted demographic for marketers and advertisers, as female-led households in the U.S. increased 41% in the last five years. No matter what media they’re consuming, truth, transparency, and real representation matter.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new podcast deal is announced in which iHeartMedia partners with Will Packer Media for a slate of original scripted and unscripted podcasts to the iHeartPodcast Network. iHeartMedia says, “The new partnership builds on the success of the true crime podcast ‘Fight Night,’ which launched on the iHeartMedia platform in October 2020 and was co-produced by Will Packer and James Lopez, president of Will Packer Productions. ‘Fight Night’ examined one of Atlanta’s most infamous armed robberies from the night of Muhammad Ali’s historic 1970 return to boxing.”…..ABC Audio unveils its new podcast “Inside the Oscars,” hosted by ABC News’ Ginger Zee. ABC says the six-part series dives into everything listeners want to know in the one-month countdown to an Oscar Sunday that will be like no other, including how filmmaking and the way we enjoy movies has changed. The first episode of “Inside the Oscars” is available today (3/25) with new episodes posting Thursdays…..Entercom and Global Music Rights announce a long-term partnership that allows Entercom to perform GMR’s catalog of hit songs across all of its platforms. Entercom says the multi-year deal starts immediately and paves the way for a strong partnership between the rapidly growing audio content and entertainment platform and the boutique performing rights organization featuring some of music’s most talented hitmakers. Entercom chief David Field adds, “We are excited to partner with Irving [Azoff] and the team at GMR. They represent some of the top talent on radio today. The combination of Entercom’s reach and GMR’s music is a huge win for our audience.”

Biden’s Immigration Policy, COVID-19, Cuomo Troubles, Georgia Voting Bill-Dem’s For the People Act, Suez Canal Blocked, Deadly Boulder Shooting/Gun Control, Biden Press Conference, and Chinese Cotton Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/24). The growing crush of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s response; the rising number of COVID-19 cases in some U.S. states, concern about variants, and vaccine rollouts; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is accused of giving his family priority in COVID testing, he faces allegations of sexual harassment, and engineering a cover-up over nursing home COVID deaths in the state; the Georgia bill that would restrict voting and the House Democrats’ For the People voting expansion bill; the freighter creating a roadblock in the Suez Canal; the slaying of 10 at a grocery in Boulder, Colorado and the larger issue of gun control; today’s first live press conference for President Joe Biden; and the allegation that Xinjiang cotton is made in Chinese detention camps were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, February 26, 2021

| February 26, 2021

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Feeding an Environment of Fear,” looks back at this past week of February 22-26, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Gary Sutton, talk show host, WSBA, York, PA; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Dr. Renee Kohanski, podcaster, Clinical Correlation, Medscape‘s MDEdge Psychcast / forensic psychiatrist; Rush Limbaugh, late talk radio icon; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. 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 (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, MD; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer 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.

iHeartMedia 2020 Q4 Revenue Down 8.8%; Full Year Revenue Declines 20%. Reporting its financial data for the fourth quarter and for the full year of 2020, iHeartMedia fares a little better than its two major competitors (based on the number of radio stations owned) Cumulus Media and Entercom Communications. Fourth quarter revenue was $935.5 million, a decline of 8.8% from the same period in 2019. For the full year, revenue was $2.9 billion, down 20% from the full year 2019. Although the company reports net income of $2.9 million in Q4 2020, that’s down 95% from the $62.1 million net income reported in Q4 of 2019. For the full year 2020, iHeartMedia reports a net loss of $1.9 billion. It reported net income of $11.2 billion in 2019. iHeartMedia says that strong sequential improvement is continuing since the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. It also reports that digital revenue increased 26% year-over-year, including a 91% increase in podcasting revenue. Company chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are pleased that the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn – and it’s particularly rewarding to see the impressive performance from our areas of strategic investment, like podcasting, SmartAudio, digital, and Ad Tech. In addition, with our new reportable segments, we will be able to provide additional insights into both our largest segment and our fastest-growing segment, and help highlight the key metrics and impressive performance of each.” iHeartMedia COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our swift response to the COVID pandemic and our diligent management of expenses throughout the year enabled us to successfully achieve approximately $250 million of savings in 2020. This cost management enhanced our operating leverage and helped us to achieve adjusted EBITDA of $265 million in the fourth quarter, which was an improvement of 64% over the third quarter. The continued sequential improvement of our revenue, adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow over the past three quarters has us well positioned for continued recovery into 2021, and our commitment to make the majority of the $200 million of COVID-19 related savings permanent will further enhance the company’s operating leverage as revenue recovers.”

iHeartMedia Unveils New Business Operating Structure. Saying that this new structure reflects the “increasing size and importance” of its digital businesses, iHeartMedia announces that its two divisions – the Digital Audio Group and the Multiplatform Group – will publicly report their financial data separately and will have dedicated management. The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the iHeartRadio digital service and its podcasting business while the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group includes its broadcast radio assets. The company says that as of the fourth quarter of 2020, the Digital Audio Group encompassed almost 20% of the company’s consolidated revenue and 23% of its earnings, and during that quarter grew revenue by 53% year-over-year and Adjusted EBITDA by 74% year-over-year. The company expects the Digital Audio Group will continue to grow as an increasing proportion of its business in the future. It adds that separate reporting of these two operating segments will provide “improved visibility into the underlying performances, results and margin profiles of these distinct audio-driven businesses.” Here’s how it breaks down: The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the podcasting business; the iHeartRadio digital service; the company’s digital sites, newsletters, digital services and programs; and its digital advertising technology companies, including Jelli, RadioJarUnified and Voxnest, and will also include the recently-announced Triton Digital upon completion of the acquisition. Leading the division will be Conal Byrne as CEO and Darren Davis as COO, with Carter Brokaw serving as the president of digital revenue and Jessica Jerrick as EVP of digital distribution and platform partnerships. Meanwhile, iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group – representing almost 75% of the company’s revenue – includes the 860-plus radio stations in 160 markets; the company’s live and virtual events business; and its national sales organization (which will use iHeartMedia’s full array of products, from broadcast radio and events to its SmartAudio suite of data targeting and attribution products, which allows informed digital-like planning against targeted audiences with the benefit of broadcast scale and impact, as well as using all of the products from the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group). Premiere Networks, which includes the Total Traffic and Weather Network; and BIN: Black Information Network, will also join this group. Leading the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group will be Greg Ashlock as CEO and Tim Castelli as chief revenue officer.  Julie Talbott joins this group as president of Premiere Networks; Hartley Adkins becomes president of the Markets Group; Jeff Howard remains president of national sales and Tony Coles as president of BIN: Black Information Network. Bob Pittman says, “These new reportable segments will enable us to strengthen the mission and tighten the focus of both the iHeart Digital Audio Group and the iHeart Multiplatform Group, while accelerating our ability to deliver industry-leading products and services to our listeners and advertising partners across all of our platforms. Creating these two business reportable segments will allow us to provide the investment community with increased visibility into the financial results of each segment – enabling them to better appreciate the strong growth and success of our digital businesses, including our industry-leading podcast business, as well as the continued strength of our broadcast radio and marquee events businesses.”

Entercom Announces New Programming Leadership Structure. This enhancement of Entercom’s programming leadership structure for its central programming team leaves Pat Paxton in his current position as chief programming officer. He says, “This enhanced leadership team will supplement our premium content offering throughout our portfolio and ensure we have the premier collection of personalities engaging deeply with our audiences nationwide. It will also allow us to best integrate the innovation of new products and content so we are continuously growing the impact and reach of our offering and super serving our 170 million listeners each month.” In this new structure EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano continues to manage Entercom’s sports, all-news, and news/talk brands. He is also being charged with growing Entercom’s content insights and analytics capabilities and overseeing its network and syndicated content development. Dave Richards joins the central programming leadership team as senior vice president of programming, rising from his SVP of programming of KISW, Seattle for the last 19 years and having developed programs like “The Men’s Room” and concepts like KISW’s annual “Live Day.” In his new role, Richards will be responsible for original content ideation, talent development, and coaching. He’ll spearhead Entercom’s efforts to support its expanding business portfolio, which includes RADIO.COM, Cadence13, and Pineapple Street Studios, through the generation of cross-platform content. Michael Martin continues to serve as SVP of programming and music initiatives and oversees Entercom’s relationships with artists, management, and record labels and lead its efforts to collaborate with the artist community on event, digital, and social opportunities. The company also announces the following members of its executive committee, who will collaborate to develop and oversee programming strategy across the company: Pat Paxton; Jeff Sottolano; Michael Martin; Dave Richards; Pam Russo, SVP and general manager, RADIO.COM; Bill Smee, VP of news; Matt Volk, VP of sports; Nikki Nite, VP of programming and brand manager, Entercom Austin; and Reggie Rouse, urban format captain, Entercom, and brand manager, Entercom Atlanta.

Round Three of January 2021 PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. The January 2021 survey covered January 7 – February 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland jumps from the #6 rank to #3 on the strength of 1.4 share increase that helped it finish the January survey with a 6.2 share. Urban One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte tacks on 1.6 shares for a 6.6 share finish and a jump from #5 to #3. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK, Sacramento regains the #1 rank after adding 2.4 share to wrap the survey with a 10.2 share. In Salt Lake City, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-FM also claims the #1 rank after adding 1.9 shares to post a 7.9 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report for this round or markets (as well as his Takeaways from the first two rounds) here.

TALKERS News Notes. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM, Chicago is honoring the memory of former morning drive host Bob Collins, who would have been 79 on Sunday (2/28). Collins died in a small plane collision in 2000. On today’s Bob Sirott morning show, staffers WGN toasted Collins this morning (2/26) at 7:48 and, according to tradition, poured from the bottle of Jack Daniel’s found in Collins’s office. Also on the air with Sirott today were retired WGN morning host Spike O’Dell (who succeeded Collins) and retired agribusiness reporter Orion Samuelson.…..The nationally syndicated “Dan Bongino Show” hits the 100 affiliate station mark a year after its launch. Cumulus Media’s Westwood One says that – in addition to being heard on stations like KABC-AM, Los Angeles; KSFO-AM, San Francisco; and KSEV-AM, Houston – from the November election through February 22, the Dan Bongino Show podcast “boasted more than 51 million downloads on Apple, Spotify and other major platforms, rising 27% during that period.” Bongino says, “Growing up a fan of conservative talk radio makes this moment extra special for me. To be able to reach people across the country with a strong pro-liberty, pro-freedom message is the honor of a lifetime. Special thanks as well to the affiliates partnering with us in this venture.”…..A new sports radio imaging service called Game Plan is being offered to stations from SPLAT! and is syndicated by Sun Broadcast Group. SPLAT! says GAME PLAN is “a new kind of sports radio imaging service, designed specifically to sharpen the competitive edge of local stations, while simultaneously complementing the power of network sports brands. With GAME PLAN, a local station’s imaging sounds just as bold and powerful as their network imaging, maybe even better.”…..Entercom and Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates announce a multiyear radio broadcast contract extension for sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” to continue to serve as the Pirates’ flagship radio station. Under the terms of the new deal, all Pirates weekday afternoon games will air on “93.7 The Fan” and sister news/talk KDKA-AM/W261AX.

COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines and Variants Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 22-26, 2021. The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines and the concern about variants creating another wave of cases combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the U.S. economy tied with the education crisis. Following at #3 was the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s nominees for attorney general, interior secretary, and White House budget office, tied with Donald Trump’s planned speech at CPAC on Sunday. 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 magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

| January 12, 2021

Ramsey Solutions’ Ramsey+ Presents ‘RESET Live’ Tonight. This evening (1/12) at 8:00 pm ET, Ramsey Solutions’ Ramsey+ is presenting an “all-in-one financial guide called ‘RESET Live.'” Ramsey+ says, “Nearly half (46%) of Americans say their debt level creates stress. New Years’ resolutions are a first step to changing financial habits, but it takes a proven plan and small wins to get real peace of mind.” To take part in this free virtual event, viewers can RSVP to RESET Live by texting “RESET” to 33789 and tuning in at www.daveramsey.com/reset. Nationally syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey, bestselling authors Chris Hogan and Rachel Cruze, and Life.Church pastor Craig Groeschel will host the program in which viewers will discover how to: Develop discipline, get small wins with money right away, get out of debt for good, and build better money habits that last. Dave Ramsey says, “We’re looking in the rearview mirror at 2020, a year when so many families were completely devastated financially. Looking ahead, we need a reset – a time for families to leave behind what was lost and dream about what the future will look like. People need a plan for working their way out of debt, saving for the future and building wealth. More than that, they need hope, and that’s what this event is going to provide.” Ramsey Solutions says that Ramsey+ “has guided millions with an easy-to-follow, personalized plan for their money. Members learn Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps, which start with saving for an emergency fund. Within the first 90 days, the average Ramsey+ member saves $2,700 and pays off $5,300 in debt.” A Ramsey+ membership comes with access to online financial courses like Financial Peace University, the EveryDollar budgeting tool, the goal-tracking BabySteps app, virtual and in-person classes and communities, and more. People can start a free trial of Ramsey+ by visiting www.daveramsey.com/ramsey-plus.

‘Our American Stories’ Hits 300-Affiliate Milestone. The nationally syndicated program “Our American Stories” announces it has hit the milestone 300-affiliate mark as it welcomes iHeartMedia’s KEIB, Los Angeles “The Patriot”; Entercom’s WBEN-AM, Buffalo; KJCE, Austin; WILK-AM/FM, Wilks-Barre/Scranton; Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland; and Townsquare Media’s KLXX-AM, Bismarck, North Dakota, and more. The program is produced and syndicated by American Private Media and is hosted by CEO Lee Habeeb. He says, “At a time when talk radio is top heavy with what divides us as Americans, listeners are responding to our nightly program that celebrates what brings us together. America is a good and beautiful country – not a perfect country, but a good and beautiful one – and we celebrate the stories that made us who we are each and every day. ‘Our American Stories’ really is about who we are, revealing what President Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. The news mostly focuses on what isn’t working in life and the bad things that happen each day. Our show is an antidote to that, a place to be inspired and moved and to learn.”

‘The Dana Show’ to Air on KVI, Seattle.  The Radio America-syndicated talk radio program “The Dana Show” – hosted by Dana Loesch – is joining the program schedule at Sinclair Broadcast Group’s news/talk KVI, Seattle, effective tonight (1/12). “The Dana Show” takes over the slot previously held by “The Savage Nation.” KVI program director Rick Van Cise says, “We are excited to welcome Dana to KVI, America’s first conservative talk station! Her unique perspective shines a bright light on the issues that matter most to conservatives and their families.” Dana Loesch appears regularly on FOX News Channel and has provided election analysis for ABC, CNN, and FOX. She’s appeared on HBO and has co-hosted “The View.”

CES2021: Finally, You Can Attend!  It’s massive, it’s mind-boggling. You’ve heard so much about the Consumer Electronics Show, but you just couldn’t get to Las Vegas for a week in January. Each year, consultant Holland Cooke has, and he’s reported here. “Lately,” he reckons, “everyone but rioters are avoiding crowds,” and CES has gone-virtual. HC explains how you can attend, and why broadcasters should. Read it here.

Ben Ferguson and iHeartMedia Enter into Deal for Podcast and Weekend Show. Talk radio host Ben Ferguson and iHeartMedia are entering into a relationship that will make Ferguson’s “Ben Ferguson Podcast” available on the iHeartPodcast platform and his three-hour weekend talk radio program joins Premiere Networks. Ferguson’s radio program – airing live Sundays from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm – currently is heard in markets including Dallas, Miami, Minneapolis, Denver, and Baltimore. He says, “This is a significant milestone in my career. Partnering with iHeartRadio and Premiere Networks is like being called up to play in the majors. Working with the best in the business has always been my dream and now I get to do what I love in radio and podcasting with a brilliant team behind me!”

TALKERS News Notes. News/talk KFOR and sports talk KLMS, Lincoln, Nebraska sports director Jeff Motz is named 2020 Nebraska Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Motz joined Alpha Media’s KFOR in 2006 as a news anchor/reporter and backup sportscaster and earned the title of sports director for KFOR and KLMS in 2013. Motz has also earned numerous gold level and first place awards in sports, news, and severe weather coverage from the Associated Press and Nebraska Broadcasters Association. He has also been the television play-by-play voice of Nebraska Wesleyan University football and basketball since 2006 and is a member of the Nebraska School Activities Association’s media advisory committee…..FOX Sports Radio reports that it has achieved record, year-end audience gains across multiple digital platforms. The FOX Sports Radio Podcast Network garnered more than 221 million podcast listens in 2020, more than doubling the total from 2019. On the streaming front, FSR experienced its best month of all time in the most recent survey, with total listening hours increasing +62% year-to-year…..Entercom announces the launch of “BetQL Countdown to Kickoff,” a six-episode series of special NFL playoff programming in partnership with recently acquired sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group. Led by Nick Kostos of RADIO.COM Sports and host of the platform’s “You Better You Bet” podcast, as well as sports broadcaster Sara Perlman, “BetQL Countdown to Kickoff” serves as previews of the weekend’s upcoming games featuring a mix of sports gambling insight…..Cadence13, a premium podcast company that is part of Entercom’s Podcast Network, and NBA veteran JJ Redick and Tommy Alter’s ThreeFourTwo Productions announces a new weekly podcast called “The Long Shot,” hosted by Miami Heat forward Duncan Robinson and former teammate and longtime friend Davis Reid…..“Hard Factor” and Podcast Ad Reps announce an exclusive sales representation agreement for the daily news podcast. “Hard Factor” is hosted by Mark Borghi, Pat Cassidy, Will Smith, and Wes Shephard, and “focuses on giving the day’s news in a funny and engaging manner without political bias.” “Hard Factor” was launched as a part of the ‘Barstool News Network’ in December of 2018, but exited Barstool to proceed as an independent podcast for 2021…..Frankie Boyer, founder and host of the Frankie Boyer Radio Shows, announces expansion of her “Frankie Boyer Lifestyle Show” on WADK, Newport, Rhode Island. It replaces the Clark Howard Show and is heard weekdays from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm…..New York Public Radio names Rebecca Kaplan Haase senior vice president of sponsorship. She was most recently overseeing sales and content distribution at Hearst Communications’ King Features. Prior to that, she spent 11 years at The Washington Post, where “she helped build a robust, multi-platform advertising sales operation that successfully shepherded the organization through one of the most challenging periods in its history.”

Urban One Prices $825 Million in Senior Secured Notes. Media firm Urban One announces that it has priced an offering of $825 million in aggregate principal amount of its 7.375% senior secured notes due 2028. These notes will bear interest semi-annually at a rate equal to 7.375% per annum and were offered at par value. Urban One says that net proceeds from the offering, to be used together with cash on hand, will be used to repay or redeem the loans outstanding under that certain Credit Agreement, dated as of April 18, 2017, the Company’s 8.750% Senior Secured Notes due December 2022, the Company’s 7.375% Senior Secured Notes due 2022, and the loans outstanding under that certain Credit Agreement, dated as of December 4, 2018. The offer is expected to close on or about January 25, 2021.

Democrats Pursue Impeachment, Biden Inauguration Prep/State Capitols on Guard, Capitol Riot Investigation/Arrests, Social Media and the Capitol Attack, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines/WHO Herd Immunity Declaration, and Belichick Turns Down Medal of Freedom Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/11). Democrats in Congress announce intent to pursue impeachment of Donald Trump; the strategic preparation for Joe Biden’s inauguration and concerns at state capitols about attacks on them; the investigation into the Capitol riot and the ongoing arrests of participants; social media platforms boot Trump, others and Parler is removed from several app stores; the fast-rising number of COVID cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the WHO’s declaration that herd immunity won’t be achieved this year; and Patriots coach Bill Belichick turns down Presidential Media of Freedom were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.