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Monday, July 23, 2018

| July 23, 2018

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents this month’s final look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s June 2018 PPM survey, today focusing on news/talk.  Comparing 6+ numbers, 51% of news/talk stations saw their weekly AQH share decrease from the May 2018 survey to the June survey.  Looking at year-over-year numbers, 51% of stations realized AQH share gains.  In the June 2018 survey, 13 news/talk stations ranked in the top five in their markets (6+), with Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta; Entercom’s KMOX, St. Louis; and iHeartMedia’s WLW, Cincinnati ranking #1 in their respective markets. See Kinosian’s entire report here.

Nielsen Releases Podcast Insights Study. This “marketers guide to podcasting” from Nielsen Audio explores the purchasing habits of podcasting fans in the fast-moving packaged goods category – groceries, booze, pet goods, personal care items, etc.  Based on its Homescan panel with additional data from an online questionnaire of those panelists who identify as fans of podcasting, Nielsen says, “The podcast listener tends to spend more at the grocery store on a weekly basis according to our research.  Advertisers who can leverage the podcast audience may find a greater ROI since this group tends to spend more.”  The study examines the buying habits of avid podcast fans based on podcast genre.  For example, the graphic at right shows the top five product categories purchased by fans of news and politics podcasts, as measured by the influence those fans have had on a category’s annual sales.

WFAN’s Joe Benigno Off the Air Today.  Contrary to the report published on Friday (7/20) in TALKERS based on a New York Post piece, midday sports talk personality Joe Benigno will not be on the air today.  Benigno – who is accused of sexual harassment in a suit filed against him, WFAN, and other staffers in New York state court in Brooklyn by former WFAN sales exec Laura Lockwood – was on vacation last week when the suit was filed.  Initially, the station said Benigno would be back on the air today (7/23) and that it looked forward to defending itself and Benigno. However, after letting clients know that Benigno would remain off the air today, the station is apparently doing its own investigation into Lockwood’s claims and deems it wise to keep him off the radio for now.  The station has not made public his return date.

NBC Sports Radio Adds Chris Simms and Peter King to ‘Pro Football Talk Live.’  Two NFL experts are added to the roster of NBC Sports Radio’s “Pro Football Talk Live with Mike Florio.”  The press release from NBC Sports says former NFL quarterback Chris Simms continues as a part-time co-host during the radio/TV simulcast hours on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN, and that NFL insider Peter King joins the program for a weekly, two-hour simulcast.  “Pro Football Talk Live with Mike Florio” launched in January of 2015 and is currently heard in morning drive on more than 150 affiliate stations.  It’s also heard on SiriusXM.

iHeartMedia’s ‘FM 96.9 The Game’ New Flagship for Orlando Magic.  Jumping from Cox Media Group’s WDBO-AM, Orlando to iHeartMedia’s simulcast of WYGM-AM/W245CL “FM 96.9 The Game” is the NBA’s Orlando Magic.  The station will serve as the flagship for the franchise’s radio play-by-play.  Dennis Neumann is handling play-by-play, Richie Adubato takes on the color analyst duties for all home games, while Brandon Kravitz serves as pregame, halftime and postgame host for all games, and will provide sideline reports for all home contests.  Additional programming includes the nightly, half-hour “Magic Drive Time” hosted by Dante Marchitelli.

Wither ‘Dave, Shelly and Chainsaw?’  We know that Shelly Dunn is retiring from radio and the “Dave, Shelly and Chainsaw” program that’s been heard in the San Diego market for the past 28 years.  But now that rock KFMB-FM owner Tegna has announced that it and the show have failed to come to terms on a new agreement, where the show will land is the big question.  For its part, Tegna says, “After extensive negotiations and a generous offer to the DSC team, we were unfortunately unable to reach an agreement to keep the show here at KFMB.  We wish the DSC the very best with their future pursuits.  We also want to thank and wish Shelly Dunn well on her retirement, which she announced last week.  She’s had an incredible 30-year career and will be missed.  We are looking to the future and remain committed to our listeners in San Diego.”  Dave Rickards posted a series of tweets showing his removing the show’s stuff from the KFMB studios and saying he has a new place to put it, and ending with, “Announcement coming shortly.”  Some industry watchers believe the show might be destined for Entercom’s struggling sports talker KWFN, based on the idea that the DSC show would be a good way to draw listeners to the newly flipped station – that is if Entercom wants a non-sports show in morning drive.  Stay tuned.

Chad Benson Show Clears on ‘Power Talk 1360’ in Modesto-Stockton.  The Radio America nationally syndicated Chad Benson show is now airing in the afternoon drive daypart on iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFIV “Power Talk 1360” in the Modesto-Stockton, California market.  KFIV-AM is added to the recent list of affiliates to begin carrying the show, including KTAR-FM, Phoenix and KSTE-AM, Sacramento.

Trump-Putin Summit, Trump-Russia Investigation, U.S.-E.U. Trade War Threats, Trump-Rouhani Threats, Jeanine Pirro-The View Spat, Trader Joe’s Slaying/Standoff, Toronto Shooting, Mama Mia 2 and Equalizer 2 Films, and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The aftermath of President Trump’s summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin; the investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russian agents; the Trump tariffs on goods from the European Union and concerns about a new trade war; President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani exchange threats; FOX News star Jeanine Pirro’s boisterous exit from an appearance on ABC’s “The View”; the slaying of a Trader Joe’s staffer after a standoff with an armed man in Los Angeles; the deadly shooting in a Toronto restaurant; the opening weekend of the Mama Mia 2 and Equalizer 2 films; and Major League Baseball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

EXCLUSIVE TALKERS AUDIO: Michael Harrison Interviews Former CBS Radio CEO/President Dan Mason About VSiN and the Potential Impact of Legalized Sports Betting on Media. Launched in 2017, VSiN (Vegas Stats & Information Network) is the first media network dedicated to providing news, analysis and proprietary data to the millions of Americans who bet on sports and make gambling a multimillion-dollar industry. Launched by sports media legend Brent Musberger and fueled by award-winning broadcasters and legendary odds makers, VSiN’s mission is to inform and entertain these consumers wherever and whenever they want it. A dedicated SiriusXM Satellite Radio channel (204) is among the platforms on which VSiN is available, which also include live video streaming, web (www.VSiN.com), mobile and social. One of the principals in the VSiN organization is former CBS Radio CEO/president Dan Mason who serves as a strategic advisor and investor participating in all aspects of the company’s operations. Mason, who served in the top position at CBS Radio for 15 years, is one of the most colorful and accomplished figures in the radio industry today. He is a Radio Hall of Fame inductee who also serves as an advisor to iHeartMedia and chairman of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, in addition to participating as a talent in network sports play-by-play announcing and commentary (women’s basketball and horse racing). TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, who worked closely with Mason in the late 1980s establishing WZLX, Boston as one of the nation’s leading classic rock stations, caught up with him yesterday (7/17) for an exclusive telephone interview. They discuss VSiN and the potential impact of legalized sports betting on the media industry. To listen to the conversation in its entirety, please click here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Taking on the title of director of music programming in Baltimore for Entercom is Tom Cook.  The company announces he’ll be responsible for programming adult contemporary WLIF “Today’s 101.9” and CHR WWMX “Mix 106.5.”  Cook was most recently Michigan regional operations manager for Townsquare Media.  Entercom SVP and market manager Tracy Brandys comments, “We are delighted to welcome Tom to our team.  He has an amazing track record of accomplishments at the various stations he has programmed and we look forward to him bringing that enthusiasm and experience to us here in Baltimore.”…..On-air pro Dan Day exits his role as evening host at Guaranty Media’s classic rock WDGL, Baton Rouge “Eagle 98.1.”  At the same time, the company announces that Mike Benson– who also serves as an account executive for the cluster, is returning to the air to host the midday program.

Friday, July 20, 2018

| July 20, 2018

Report: Silver Lake Offers $500 Million Investment in iHeartMedia. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, private equity firm Silver Lake has offered to invest $500 million in iHeartMedia, though the piece says the company’s largest creditor group led by Franklin Mutual Advisers and Pacific Investment Management Co. has not accepted the offer.  Silver Lake’s intent is to invest prior to iHeartMedia’s emergence from Chapter 11 reorganization, expected to happen in November.  Such an investment would give iHM more cash to disperse to creditors.  The WSJ piece says Silver Lake’s investment offer is in the form of convertible preferred shares that are a hybrid instrument of debt and equity.  Convertible preferred shares usually pay interest.  They are called convertible because they include an option to convert to common equity at a specified share price.

WFAN’s Joe Benigno Returns to Air on Monday.  After the Wednesday filing of a sexual harassment/hostile work environment suit against WFAN, New York and midday sports talk personality Joe Benigno, the station tells the New York Post that the company will fight the allegations made by former WFAN sales exec Laura Lockwood and that Benigno – on vacation this week – will be back on the radio on Monday (7/23).

Star City Broadcasting Launches Lafayette, Indiana News/Talk Station. The new station emanates from WSHY-AM and is simulcast on translator W282CJ.  It’s a flip from the previous sports talk format and is being branded “The Patriot 104.3 FM.”  It will feature Premiere Networks programs Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, as well as Westwood One’s Michael Savage.  Star City Broadcasting general manager Billy Huggins says, “This area is booming and there has been a huge demand for news and talk on the FM dial.  We will combine the power of top national talk shows, local personalities, and news from our growing TV stations to create a radio station that will most definitely be ‘The Voice of Greater Lafayette.’”  Huggins adds that the station is auditioning local voices “to make sure we cover the whole story and how it impacts Greater Lafayette.” Star City operations manager Ski Anderson comments, “Combining the resources of Star City’s four television stations and our well-established radio stations will give us a solid base to launch and grow news and talk, crystal clear on the FM dial.”

FCC Pushes Back Against Sinclair. Television operator Sinclair Broadcast Group appeared shocked by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s Monday (7/16) release in which he stated that he has “serious concerns” about the Sinclair-Tribune deal.  Two days later, the commission adopted a Hearing Designation Order in which the transfer applications for WGN-TV, Chicago; KDAF-TV, Dallas; and KIAH-TV, Houston will go before an administrative judge.  The commission’s concerns are outlined in the following paragraph from the Order.  “Among these applications were three that, rather than transfer broadcast television licenses in Chicago, Dallas, and Houston directly to Sinclair, proposed to transfer these licenses to other entities.  The record raises significant questions as to whether those proposed divestitures were in fact ‘sham’ transactions. By way of example, one application proposed to transfer WGN-TV in Chicago to an individual (Steven Fader) with no prior experience in broadcasting who currently serves as CEO of a company in which Sinclair’s executive chairman has a controlling interest.  Moreover, Sinclair would have owned most of WGN-TV’s assets, and pursuant to a number of agreements, would have been responsible for many aspects of the station’s operation.  Finally, Fader would have purchased WGN-TV at a price that appeared to be significantly below market value, and Sinclair would have had an option to buy back the station in the future.  Such facts raise questions about whether Sinclair was the real party in interest under Commission rules and precedents and attempted to skirt the Commission’s broadcast ownership rules.  Although these three applications were withdrawn today, material questions remain because the real party-in-interest issue in this case includes a potential element of misrepresentation or lack of candor that may suggest granting other, related applications by the same party would not be in the public interest.” This transaction would transfer ownership of news/talk WGN-AM to Sinclair, which currently owns three Seattle radio stations – talk KVI, all-news KOMO-AM/FM, and hot AC KPLZ – in addition to its television holdings.

TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! Convention Videos All Posted.  Videos covering the entire nine-hour agenda of the recent TALKERS convention held on June 8 in New York City – from the opening breakfast to closing cocktail reception award ceremonies – are now posted here at Talkers.com.  Seventy-one industry luminaries spoke at the 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention.  The videos – 19 in all – will remain posted for the rest of 2018 on a convenient page sponsored by Comrex Corp and are available for unlimited free viewing by TALKERS readers.  To see any or all of the speeches, workshops, panels, and presentations at this tremendously successful gathering, please click here.

Trump-Putin Meeting Top News/Talk Story for Week of July 16-20.  The Helsinki meeting between President Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the Trump-Russia investigation and the related request by Russia to interrogate former Russia Ambassador Michael McFaul and financier Bill Bowder.  Coming in at #3 was the case of alleged Russian spy Maria Butina, followed by the fallout from President Trump’s recent NATO meeting 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 magazine.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.

Adrian Cronauer Passes at 79.  The man whose military radio show entertaining the troops in Vietnam was loosely adapted into the movie Good Morning Vietnam– Adrian Cronauer – died on Wednesday at age 79.  Robin Williams’ portrayal of Cronauer got him an Academy Award nomination.  The real Cronauer had broadcasting in his blood.  After his military service, he worked in New York doing voice work for radio and TV.  He programmed a TV station and managed a radio station.  Later in life, he would again serve his country as a confidential advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) from 2001 through 2009.  He represented the POW/MIA Office at meetings within the Office of the Secretary of Defense and at various outside functions, including liaison with the leadership of veterans’ service organizations as well as family and activist groups.

Ralph Nader Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Iconic political activist, consumer advocate and five-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Nader – a Princeton and Harvard graduate – came to prominence in the mid-1960s with the publication of his book, Unsafe at Any Speed (Grossman Publishers, 1965), a critique of the safety record of American automobile manufacturers in general, and particularly the first-generation Chevrolet Corvair. In 1999, a New York University panel of journalists ranked Unsafe at Any Speed 38th among the top 100 pieces of journalism of the 20th century. Nader makes a case that news/talk radio – both commercial and public – no longer offers the American listener the level of ideological diversity that it did in years gone by before going in a “corporatist” direction. This has led him to launch a show of his own, “The Ralph Nader Radio Hour,” a weekly talk show broadcast on the Pacifica Radio Network, and available as a podcast on iTunes. Nader is joined by comedic co-hosts Steve Skrovan and David Feldman for what is described as a lively, informative hour of interviews with some of the nation’s most influential movers and shakers plus thought-provoking discussions of the week’s news. Harrison and Nader, whose friendship goes back about 30 years, gently spar – agreeing and disagreeing on a number of issues, including whether or not Nader’s refusal to withdraw from the historic 2000 presidential race prevented Al Gore from winning that election. A number of progressive media gatekeepers have held that against Nader for the past 18 years. Upon posting this interview, Harrison states, “Ralph Nader is one of the most influential Americans of the past century and has a voice that still deserves to be heard. His radio show on Pacifica is an excellent vehicle not only for his ongoing commentary but also as an alternative platform for provocative guests not often heard by the American public in today’s flash headlines-oriented media environment.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At country KGGO, Los Angeles, Amy Mangola-Soler exits the morning show where she’d been serving as a cast member alongside Graham Bunn and David Bugenske.  She’d been with the Mt. Wilson Broadcasters station since 2015…..iHeartMedia Las Vegas announces that Las Vegas radio personality Mark DiCiero joins the company to host weekend shows on adult contemporary KSNE “Sunny 106.5.”  He’d been a radio personality in the market for the past 18 years as co-host of the “Mark and Mercedes in the Morning” program on Entercom’s crosstown hot AC KMXB “Mix 94.1.”  KSNE program director Chris Pickett says, “Mark is a well-known and beloved personality here in Las Vegas.  He has developed a genuine bond with the market and we’re happy that our listeners can connect with him on the Valley’s most popular radio station.”…..The Premiere Networks-syndicated Bobby Bones morning show is being added to the program schedule at Community First Broadcasting’s country KKIA, Ida Grove, Iowa “The Moose.”  The show replaces “The Fish Tank” with host Matt Fisher.

PPM Analysis: Alternative. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a report on the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s June 2018 PPM survey, today focusing on alternative rock.  June was pretty good to alternative stations in PPM markets with 54% seeing their 6+ AQH rise.  Comparing June 2017 numbers to June 2018, 48% of alt rock stations enjoyed an increase AQH. Houston is the only market in which an alternative station ranks in the top five, with iHeartMedia’s KTBZ, Houston “94.5 The Buzz”  occupying the #5 spot with a 6+ weekly AQH share of 5.0%. See the whole report here.