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Wednesday, May 4, 2022

| May 4, 2022

Cumulus Media 2022 First Quarter Net Revenue Rises 15%. Reporting financial data for the first quarter of 2022, Cumulus Media’s total net revenue for the period was $232 million, an increase of 15% over the same period in 2021. The company says it was the fifth straight quarter of sequential improvement in revenue performance versus a comparable quarter in 2019. Cumulus also reports a Q1 net loss of just $0.9 million, down from the net loss of $21.9 million reported in the first quarter of 2021. The broadcast radio segment is broken into two parts – spot, which rose 11.9% over the same period a year ago, and network, which was up 5.2%. The company’s digital segment was up 18%, led by digital marketing services (+35%) and podcasting (+22%). Cumulus president and CEO Mary G. Berner says, “Our outstanding first quarter results once again demonstrate the positive impacts of our ‘audio-first’ strategy to transform the company from a one-dimensional radio broadcaster to a multi-dimensional audio media company. Following a strong 2021 performance, this quarter’s results underscore our ability to deliver value to our shareholders through sustained profitable top- and bottom-line growth and balance sheet de-levering. We delivered sequential revenue improvement for the fifth straight quarter versus the comparable 2019 quarter, grew EBITDA by 250% year-over-year, and generated continued strong cash from operations, which collectively allowed us to achieve the company’s lowest net leverage in over a decade. Given our best-among-peers balance sheet, strong financial momentum and the company’s positive 2022 outlook, we expect ongoing cash flow generation that will support a meaningful return of capital to shareholders now and in the future. Accordingly, as a first step, today we are announcing a $50 million share repurchase program with a plan to commence share repurchases in the near-term. This capital return program is underpinned by our continued belief that the company is significantly undervalued.”

 

Cumulus Rejects Unsolicited Acquisition Bid. The last sentence of Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner’s statement outlining its first quarter results says it all: “The company is significantly undervalued.” That was also the theme of a memo from Berner to Cumulus shareholders regarding the unsolicited offer from a consortium led by Connoisseur Media CEO Jeffrey Warshaw to acquire Cumulus. Berner says, “The company recently received an indication of interest in acquiring the company for $15 to $17 per share. After a careful and thorough review, conducted in consultation with our financial and legal advisors, the board unanimously concluded that the indication of interest significantly undervalues the company and is not in the best interests of its shareholders. The company’s board is open to all paths that continue to drive superior shareholder value. Our strong momentum across business lines, multiple digital revenue growth drivers, operational efficiency and superior cash flow provide the company with substantial untapped upside that it expects to continue to realize on behalf of its shareholders. Given these facts and circumstances, the board unanimously believes execution of the company’s strategy will deliver significantly more value to shareholders than this indication of interest.”

 

Bill O’Reilly’s ‘No Spin News’ Debuts This Week. The Bill O’Reilly-hosted program from Key Networks debuts this week on 58 stations across the U.S. Key Networks says “No Spin News” is “a full hour of trailblazing journalist and bestselling author O’Reilly’s fair, smart, fact-based analysis” airing every weeknight. The one-hour show has been airing in New York on 77 WABC for over a year under the title, “Common Sense with Bill O’Reilly.” The program now joins the suite of shows syndicated by Key Networks that includes: “The O’Reilly Update,” “The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition,” and “The O’Reilly Update – Weekend Edition.” O’Reilly says, “We are beyond happy that radio stations from coast-to-coast are spreading the ‘No Spin’ mantra. We provide something that’s badly needed in the USA: honest fact-based analysis.” Key Networks COO Dennis Green comments, “Based on the success of ‘The O’Reilly Update,’ the marketplace was ready for more content from Bill O’Reilly. ‘No Spin News’ provides analysis on what is happening in the world that listeners want to hear. This is content you won’t get anywhere else, and I expect stations to add Bill O’Reilly’s ‘No Spin News’ in large numbers!”

 

WABC-TV, New York Opens Long Island Bureau at Hofstra University. New York City’s WABC-TV is opening a new, Long Island bureau today (5/4) inside the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University. The small bureau will have a full-time reporter and two production trucks in Long Island, New York. WABC has a history of supporting the journalism program at the university, donating significant quantities of valuable equipment and providing internship and career opportunities for many students. Hofstra students will have regular exposure to WABC journalists, expanded internships, guest lectures and seminars held by WABC professionals. The Long Island bureau, located in the newsroom of Hofstra’s award-winning, student-run radio station, WRHU-88.7 FM, reinforces WABC-TV’s commitment to Long Island, as well as the Herbert School’s commitment to community journalism, including the newly launched community news site, LongIslandAdvocate.com. Lawrence Herbert School of Communication dean Mark Lukasiewicz states, “Our journalism program emphasizes experiential, hands-on learning and encourages our student journalists to engage with Long Island communities to tell impactful stories. The Eyewitness News Long Island bureau, located alongside WRHU’s newsroom, will provide that kind of hands-on opportunity – a daily chance for students to observe and learn from great local journalists doing the work of New York’s top broadcast news operation.”

 

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “Rob Carson Show” joins the 1400 Investments, LLC-owned Nevada Talk Network. The program, syndicated by Newsmax and airing in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart, is being heard on KELY-AM, Ely; KNNR-AM, Sparks-Carson City; KDJJ-FM, Fernley-Fallon; KPKK-FM, Amargosa Valley; KAVB-FM, Hawthorne; and KPVM-TV 25.6, Pahrump…..The syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” – airing live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET – adds new affiliate station KTXW-AM/FM, Austin “The Bridge” to its roster of affiliate stations…..FOX Nation – FOX News Media’s “on-demand streaming service designed to complement the FOX News Channel experience with a members-only destination for its most passionate and loyal super fans” – is premiering a documentary series about music and television industry star Sharon Osbourne in September. Titled “Sharon Osbourne: To Hell & Back,” the four-part program features “a candid and heartfelt look into Osbourne’s personal and professional life, highlighting how she found herself in the crosshairs of the cancel culture movement after exiting CBS’s ‘The Talk.’”…..SiriusXM is presenting nationwide, comprehensive coverage of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday (5/7). The wire-to-wire race broadcast of the Kentucky Derby is provided by NBC Sports Audio Network.

 

Roe v Wade Leak, Midterm Primaries/Trump & the GOP, the Economy, Russia-Ukraine War, COVID-19 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/3). Reactions to the leak of a draft of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade; the primary elections in Ohio and Indiana, the battle for control of Congress in November’s midterm elections, and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the activity on the world’s financial markets, the supply chain woes, and concerns about a recession; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the effects across the globe; and concerns about new Omicron variants and the possibility of a serious summer COVID wave were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, April 29, 2022

| April 29, 2022

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Staying Focused,” looks back at this past week of 4/25 to 4/29. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSMatthew B. Harrison, media attorney/associate publisher, TALKERSGregg Stebben, correspondent, beamz.live; Bill Brady, talk show host/owner, KFNX, Phoenix; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company.  The show airs weekends on WONK-FM, Washington, DC; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; KMZQ, Las Vegas;  WTPL, Manchester, NH; WEMJ, Laconia, NH; WTSN, Dover-Portsmouth, NH; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPodcast Radio UK and many more. To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS 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.

 

Bill Cameron to Host Weekly Show for WLS-AM, Chicago. Legendary Chicago political reporter Bill Cameron is returning to Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM to produce and host the Sunday radio program and podcast “Take 1 with Bill Cameron.” The program will debut from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm on May 1 featuring Cameron’s unedited interviews with Chicago newsmakers and discussions about local breaking news. His first guest is Senator Dick Durbin. Cameron, who retired from full-time reporting in August 2021 after more than 50 years of covering Chicago politics, says, “It’s impossible to walk away from Chicago. This is the city with politics that wouldn’t be believable in a movie script, architecture that architects worldwide come to study, Nobel Prize-winning intellectuals, nationally renowned restaurants, performing arts, and museums, eight professional sports teams that alternately thrill and confound diehard fans, and more than 200 diverse neighborhoods in 78 community areas. ‘Take 1 with Bill Cameron’ is the kind of program ideally suited to radio. Ask a question, get out of the way, don’t interrupt, and let interesting people tell their stories – no sound bites, no spin, no shouting, no editing.” WLS-AM program director Stephanie Tichenor says, “We are delighted to welcome back Bill Cameron to ‘the Big 89.’ The news doesn’t stop and neither does Bill.”

 

Good Karma Brands Unveils Apps for New York and Los Angeles Stations. The two newest sports talk stations in the Good Karma Brands stable – ESPN Los Angeles and ESPN New York – are getting their own apps. The company announces the new apps “offer fans the opportunity to listen to all shows and content with limited recorded commercials.” ESPN LA SVP and market manager Sam Pines says, “It is a priority to invest in our fans and partners, and by creating a one-tap-to-listen app, we are able to deliver shows and content for free to fans across the country. The easily accessible content will include all of fans’ favorite ESPN LA voices.” ESPN New York market manager Vinny DiMarco adds, “We are continuing to invest in our fans and deliver best-in-class content at their convenience. Whether it’s hearing your favorite 98.7 ESPN host or live games, you’ll be able to listen anytime and anywhere.” Earlier this year, sports media and marketing company Good Karma Brands acquired ESPN LA 710 AM and ESPN 1050 AM in New York, as well as the agreement to perform ESPN’s obligations under the Local Marketing Agreement for 98.7 ESPN in New York.

 

Broadcasters Foundation of America Presents Leadership Awards. On Wednesday morning (4/27), the Broadcasters Foundation of America closed the NAB Show in Las Vegas by honoring several industry leaders at its annual Leadership Awards breakfast. The Leadership Award is presented by the Broadcasters Foundation annually to industry leaders who have made an impact on the broadcast industry and in their local communities. This year’s honorees are: Byron Allen, founder, chairman, and CEO, Allen Media Group; Pierre Bouvard, chief insights officer, Cumulus Media; Ralph Oakley, retired, president and CEO, Quincy Media; Christine Travaglini, president, Katz Radio Group; and Dennis Wharton, retired, EVP, Media Relations, National Association of Broadcasters. Gordon Smith, former U.S. Senator and special advisor to the NAB, was honored with the Lowry Mays Excellence in Broadcasting Award, which is presented annually to a broadcast luminary who has made an impact on the industry through innovation, entrepreneurship, issue advocacy, community service, and philanthropy. Pictured above are (from l-r): Tim McCarthy, co-president of the Broadcasters Foundation and Scott Herman, chairman of Broadcasters Foundation, Byron Allen, Pierre Bouvard, Christine Travaglini, Dennis Wharton, Ralph Oakley, and Gordon Smith.

 

TALKERS News Notes. Cablefax publishes its Top 100 Power Players of the cable industry and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy is honored with inclusion on the list. Cablefax says its chart represents “exceptional leaders [who] have grown their organizations through a pandemic, rising inflation, M&A, an influx of streaming services and general uncertainty without ever dropping the ball.”…..Talk radio host Simon Conway is adding another gig to his already busy spring work schedule. Conway – heard in afternoon drive on iHeartMedia’s WHO, Des Moines; WMT, Cedar Rapids; and WOC, Davenport, Iowa – has been filling in on Bud Hedinger’s morning show on WFLF, Orlando since March 24. This weekend, he’ll be hosting the Premiere Networks-syndicated talk show, “The Weekend.”…..iHeartRadio and 23andMe are debuting season three of the podcast “Spit,” that features a different guest podcast creator on each program diving into genetics, DNA, health and how it all ties together. Each host shows how knowledge of our DNA is a powerful tool in living our healthiest lives. Season three explores how specific information about our DNA can change our lives.

 

The Economy Top News/Talk Story for Week of April 25-29. The economy, including the sinking value of tech stocks, the high price of food and gasoline, and predictions of a major recession came together as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter and the reactions on Wall Street and by the public, followed by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War and U.S. foreign policy at #3. 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.

Friday, April 15, 2022

| April 15, 2022

 

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS, is now posted. This new episode titled “Hostile Takeovers” looks back at this past week of 4/11 to 4/15. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSCurtis Sliwa, talk show host, WABC, New York; Jim Bohannon, talk show host, Westwood One; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company; Bill O’ Reilly, talk show host/commentator, No Spin News; and Matthew B. Harrison, associate publisher, TALKERS/law professor. The show airs weekends on WONK-FM, Washington, DC; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; KMZQ, Las Vegas;  WTPL, Manchester, NH; WEMJ, Laconia, NH; WTSN, Dover-Portsmouth, NH; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPodcast Radio UK and many more. To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS 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.

 

Report: Connoisseur’s Jeffrey Warshaw Offers to Buy Cumulus Media. According to a report from Reuters, Connoisseur Media CEO Jeffrey Warshaw is leading a consortium that is offering to acquire Cumulus Media “for close to $1.2 billion, including debt, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.” Warshaw’s offer is to take the company private for $15 to $17 per share. Before the news broke yesterday, Cumulus was trading at around $11 per share. After the news broke, Cumulus stock closed Thursday’s trading at $14.21 per share. Warshaw says the consortium would be willing to pay more, subject to due diligence. Reuters says that “a Cumulus spokesperson confirmed that the company had received ‘an unsolicited, non-binding, highly conditional indication of interest’ and that its board of directors was reviewing it alongside its financial and legal advisers.” Cumulus operates 406 radio stations, syndicator Westwood One, as well as its digital platform. The Reuters piece notes that in February, Noble Capital Markets analysts put a $27 price target on the stock, saying that “Cumulus is seeing strong advertising demand driven by sports betting, government, restaurants and cryptocurrency platforms.”

 

iHeartMedia Division President Linda Byrd Announces Retirement. Forty-year iHeartMedia staffer Linda Byrd announces she is retiring from her role as division president for iHeartMedia Florida and moves into an advisory role, effective July 15. The company says that “as a company leader for four decades at iHeartMedia, Byrd has contributed to the success of nearly 50 different markets and countless employees.” iHeartMedia says one of the duties in her advisory capacity will be the continued involvement in iHeartMedia’s Hispanic footprint, where she has made significant contributions. Byrd says, “It’s hard even to say the word retire. I have had the most fantastic career working in an industry that I absolutely love. I’ve never even thought about doing anything else. And I am so fortunate to have been on this iHeart train, and previous companies, for the last 40 years. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am thankful and excited to have the opportunity to transition into an advisory role for the next stage of my life. And I’m truly appreciative of the support and partnership I have had for so many years with Bob [Pittman], Rich [Bressler], Greg [Ashlock] and Hartley [Adkins]. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to learn from and work with.”

 

John Rowe to Lead Cumulus Northeast Wisconsin. Radio executive John Rowe is promoted to vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media’s combined business unit of Cumulus Green Bay and Cumulus Appleton/Oshkosh. Rowe has been serving as vice president/market manager for Cumulus Appleton/Oshkosh for nearly eight years and adds leadership responsibilities for the Green Bay market, effective immediately. In the two markets, Cumulus operates sports talk WDUZ-AM/FM, Green Bay and news/talk WOSH-AM/FM, plus seven music brands. Rowe comments, “I am excited to lead both Wisconsin clusters on behalf of Cumulus Media. The combination of talent and quality programming in each market makes this an ideal role and provides a host of opportunities going forward. My primary focus will be to enhance these great brands while meeting the needs of both our listeners and advertisers. I want to thank Mary Berner, Bob Walker, and Mark Sullivan for this opportunity.”

 

TALKERS News Notes. Sports talk KKFN-FM, Denver “104.3 The Fan” afternoon drive personality Darren “DMac” McKee is named Denver’s best talk show host in alt-weekly Westword’s Best of Denver 2022 edition. The Bonneville station notes that the recognition was not specific to the format of sports, or even the field of radio. McKee co-hosts “The Drive with Tyler Polumbus and DMac.” It was a week for kudos for the duo as Polumbus was honored by the Colorado Broadcasters Association with their 2021 Award of Excellence in the category of Best Regularly Scheduled Entertainment Program for his “Mount Polumbus” segment…..SiriusXM announces the launch of Amanda Seales’ “Smart Funny & Black Radio,” a new morning show on Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Radio channel. The weekly program kicks off on Monday (4/18) at 10:00 am ET. Seales is joined by co-hosts Taj Rani and JeremiahLikeTheBible. Kevin Hart says, “I’m beyond excited to have the amazing Amanda Seales join Laugh Out Loud Radio’s expanding family, as we continue to deliver a dynamic slate of voices to the channel. Passionate, unapologetic, brilliant, talented, and most of all funny, her show is going to be a can’t-miss experience for our SiriusXM listeners nationwide.”…..Larj Media and iHeartMedia debut the new serial podcast “Nobody Should Believe Me,” hosted and executive produced by novelist Andrea Dunlop. The podcast investigates Munchausen by proxy, a form of medical child abuse in which a caregiver feigns, exaggerates, or induces illness in their child for the purpose of receiving attention and sympathy from medical staff, their family, the community, and even strangers online. Dunlop first became interested in the subject when her older sister was investigated for Munchausen by proxy. This catastrophic series of events that followed tore her family apart and set her on a journey to understand this most taboo form of abuse. In this groundbreaking podcast, Dunlop talks to some of the top experts in the world to explore the criminology and psychopathology behind Munchausen by proxy and to reveal the wide swath of destruction these perpetrators leave in their wake…..Audacy announces that its premium podcast studios, including Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, have garnered 22 nominations for the 2022 Webby Awards, the leading international award honoring excellence on the internet, representing the most across the industry. Audacy’s nominations span original series, partner series, partner networks, and branded content across 20 categories, including Arts & Culture, Crime & Justice, Documentary, Diversity & Inclusion, and Sports.

 

Russia-Ukraine War Top News/Talk Story for Week of April 11-15. The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and the greater topic of U.S. foreign policy was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the U.S.  economy, including high gas prices, inflation and employment figures, followed by the Brooklyn subway shooting, crime, and guns at #3. 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.

Monday, January 25, 2021

| January 25, 2021

INDUSTRY AND NATION MOURN: Talk Media Pioneer Larry King Dead at 87. According to a report on Facebook posted by the producers of his current syndicated television show, Ora Media, legendary star of talk radio and television, Larry King died this weekend at the age of 87. The statement says: “With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.” The statement continues, “For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.” The cause of death was not indicated, however King had been reportedly hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this month. King was a major player in the talk media world who ushered in the modern era of syndication in radio on the Mutual Broadcasting System and the cable news/talk show format on television at CNN. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison issued the following statement: “Larry King was not the greatest talk show host on radio or television in terms of skills, outrageous personality or direct and profound influence on public policy. He was, however, the most important pioneer who paved the way for today’s robust talk media presence on both radio and television. If there ever was a case of the right person at the right time, Larry King fit the bill and that’s all it took for him to be a mighty force. He was the modern era of talk radio’s first national celebrity born solely as a result of his work in the medium. And his contribution to today’s institutional cable news/talk TV format is undeniably fundamental to the medium’s current presence as America’s political and sociological meeting place. We have lost one of the greatest broadcasting presences of the first century of radio and television history as well as one of the quirkiest and most colorful individuals to ever sit behind a microphone.” Read TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian’s “Remembering Larry King” feature here.

Tributes to Larry King Pouring in from All Over the Industry.  TALKERS has received dozens of tributes, anecdotes, and comments from readers in all sectors of the broadcasting industry in reaction to the passing of Larry King on Saturday (1/23).  The following statements from people who knew him and worked with him reflect the basic sentiments expressed across the board. Westwood One legend Jim Bohannon rose to national prominence as Larry King’s fill-in host back in the early days of King’s career as the late-night “king of talk radio” on the Mutual Broadcasting System. Bohannon tells TALKERS, “Larry King was the first certified big shot for whom I’d ever worked, and I was all set for some screaming prima donna jerk. What I found was a funny, savvy, decent human being who was always very supportive of me. His best advice: Be yourself. My 11 years backing him up on the radio were always based on being a first-rate Jim rather than a second rate Larry.” This Friday (1/29) marks Bohannon’s 28th anniversary of hosting that very same show fulltime. Norm Pattiz, chairman of PodcastOne and founder of Westwood One, was instrumental in Larry King’s fabulous radio career. He tells TALKERS, “Larry King was a superstar on radio well before he became a talk show icon on television and his contribution in those media will never be duplicated. I first met Larry in 1985 when Westwood One Radio bought the Mutual Radio Network. Some said at the time that I bought the network just to get the ‘Larry King Show’ and I never corrected them. When CNN came calling, I was thrilled to share Larry with them and when his show became one of the most influential nightly talk shows in history it only confirmed what I had known all along. No one will ever match the style, compassion, and genuine love for a great interview that Larry had and the worlds of television, radio, and podcasting are worse today for his loss.” Tom Tradup, VP/news and talk programming, Salem Radio Network, tells TALKERS, “My favorite memory of Larry was when I was president/GM of WLS in Chicago and was meeting with Larry for lunch in the now-closed Cape Cod Room restaurant of Chicago’s Drake Hotel. Always upbeat and gregarious, Larry seemed just a little down. He revealed he was speaking to a business group that night and his hotel had lost his trademark suspenders. After lunch I ran over the Marshall Field’s on State Street and bought him a pair. Big smile from a broadcast legend whose talent endured for decades.” And media consultant, TALKERS columnist, and host of “The Big Picture” on RT America (which also carried Larry King’s syndicated TV show at the time of his death), Holland Cooke adds, “One year ago this week, Larry was my guest on the very first show produced at RT’s new Los Angeles studio. Larry’s gift was his curiosity; and his legacy to fellow talkers is the art of the short question. I remember him asking Bob Hope, ‘Who do YOU think is funny?’ And he asked David Duke, ‘Don’t you ever get tired of hating?’ Often, guests on book tours or who are otherwise timely are prepped with ‘safe’ answers, regardless of the questions asked. And they get away with it, because hosts ask verbose questions and don’t listen closely to responses. Larry’s short question would catch the guest off-guard – enough to yield an answer you wouldn’t hear elsewhere along the tour.

King and I: An Excerpt from Bernadette Duncan’s Landmark Book Yappy Days: Behind the Scenes with Newsers, Schmoozers, Boozers and Losers (Talkers Books, 2016).  I landed a part-time job with the Larry King Radio Show in 1986 because I was in the right place at the right time. My late shift at NBC Radio Networks where I produced the Neil Myers Show ended at 1:00 am and no other talk producer was on the premises. All that was required? Meet Mr. King in the lobby, escort him to the elevator, guide him down the hall to the nearest empty studio, check mics and audio, and then be prepared to do the same with the on-coming, big-name parade of guests scheduled for the night. Basically, I was a “handler” for an extra 75 bucks a shift. At the time, this pre-suspenders-wearing Larry King was one of the most successful radio talk show hosts in the industry who at the height of his show’s prominence had nearly 500 affiliate stations around the country. Just the year before, in 1985, he began hosting a nightly TV program on the new cable network called CNN (for Cable News Network) and “Larry King Live” was getting some buzz. In addition to television at 9:00 pm… then radio after midnight… he was in contract to write a book. Larry King’s career was hot. And it was this book deal with a New York-based publisher that brought him to the Big Apple four or five days a month to meet with his editor face-to-face. I became his New York producer/handler, working in coordination with his crew in Washington, DC. Little did I realize when I signed up with “the King of Talk,” I would dive into a world as quirky as what you’d find down Alice’s rabbit hole. To read the entire excerpt please click here.

Alpha Media Announces Pre-Arranged Chapter 11 Reorganization. The company says in a statement on its website that it has entered into a “restructuring agreement with certain of its lenders to reduce its debt, as well as raise incremental capital” to allow it “to successfully navigate current market conditions and pursue growth opportunities. The company expects no disruption to its broadcast operations, customers or employees. Management will remain in place and continue to maintain the company’s day-to-day operations.” Alpha Media says it has filed “a pre-arranged plan of re-organization, disclosure statement and voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. Certain of the company’s existing lenders have agreed to provide new capital in the form of committed debtor-in-possession and exit financing. These lenders, together with management, are expected to collectively own 100% of the equity of the re-organized company, subject to regulatory approvals from the Federal Communications Commission. The restructuring of the company’s balance sheet will require receipt of bankruptcy court approval and certain regulatory, including FCC, approvals and satisfaction of other customary conditions. The company expects to conclude the restructuring process in the first half of 2021.” Alpha chairman and CEO Bob Proffitt comments, “We have made significant progress in aggressively deleveraging our business in recent years. As we proceed with our financial restructuring to improve our capital structure and manage through the ongoing downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agreement we reached today will leave Alpha Media well positioned for a market recovery as a stronger and even more competitive company. Broadcast radio is the leading reach medium in the United States, with attractive ROIs for advertisers, and radio continues to be an indispensable communications platform nationwide. We believe the balance sheet restructuring will provide greater financial resources and flexibility to Alpha Media, enabling the Company to strengthen its position as a leading mid-market broadcaster in the United States, and invest in new digital capabilities to better serve our advertisers and communities. Our core business continues to perform well despite current market challenges. We will continue to invest in our talented teams to foster the unique culture that has been key to Alpha Media’s success in delivering dynamic, diverse and exciting content to our communities.”

Monday Memo: Time Management 2021. “Short version? Time will not be managed.” But in this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke explains how “tasks can,” and that’s gotten trickier in pandemic shutdown mode. He outlines solutions for recurring distractions. Read it here.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccine Rollout Troubles, Trump Impeachment, Capitol Attack Investigation, Trump Third Party Launch, Tacoma Protest/Deadly Indianapolis Shooting, and NFL Conference Championships Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the strategic troubles affecting the rollout of the vaccines; the Article of Impeachment against Donald Trump; the arrests being made during the investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol; the rumors that Donald Trump intends to launch a third political party; the Tacoma protest in which a police officer drove into a crowd and the shooting in Indianapolis in which five adults and an unborn child were killed; and Sunday’s NFL Conference Championship games were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Value. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says, “Presenting the value proposition is a never-ending challenge, especially for the broadcast seller. I’ve seen too many sellers get hung up on product features that are station-centric – important to management, talent, and the seller. The truth is the advertiser doesn’t see it the same way.” The past year has taught us that the value perception of your station’s product has changed. For more on this, read Lapa’s column here.

WCCO-AM, Minneapolis Program Director John Hanson Exits. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Entercom’s news/talk WCCO-AM, Minneapolis has let program director John Hanson go. Hanson had been serving as the station’s PD since the fall of 2018. Hanson is a native of the Twin Cities who worked on air as co-host of KSTP-TV’s “Twin Cities Live” afternoon talk show that launched in 2008. He joined Entercom in 2013 to program sports talk KCSP-AM, Kansas City. The reason for Hanson’s departure is not clear but the staff was alerted in a memo from market SVP Shannon Knoepke, who wrote on January 21, “Reaching out this afternoon to notify the staff that John Hanson is no longer with the company, effective today. More to come as we move forward and work to fill this position.”

WJBC, Bloomington-Normal Adds Michael Koolidge Show. The independently syndicated Michael Koolidge show is added to the program schedule at Cumulus Media’s WJBC-AM, Bloomington-Normal, Illinois in the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot. Koolidge says, “We couldn’t be more excited to join WJBC. I’ve been trying to break into the Bloomington-Normal market for years and I’m thrilled that Cumulus’ WJBC decided to pick up the show!” WJBC operations manager Dan Westhoff says, “We are very excited to be adding ‘The Michael Koolidge Show’ to our lineup. Michael’s been very successful throughout Illinois and the Midwest and we can’t wait to have him on WJBC.”

Marc Bernier Show Celebrates 30th Anniversary. Pictured above is WNDB, Daytona Beach talk host Marc Benier broadcasting live from DB Pickles restaurant in Ormond Beach, Florida celebrating his 30th year on air as a talk host. The celebration was also a benefit for Halifax Urban Ministries. January 21 was declared “Marc Bernier Show Day” with a flag flown over the state capitol and declarations declared honoring Bernier in the cities and county of Volusia. A number of local and state officials attended the broadcast.

WRHU Radio Hofstra University will Receive World Radio Day Award 2021.  In conjunction with World Radio Day coming up on February 13, the Academy of Radio Arts and Sciences of America has selected WRHU Radio of Hofstra University to receive the 2021 World Radio Day Award. The honor commemorates World Radio Day, established by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) and is celebrated annually on February 13. World Radio Day is intended to raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio. WRHU is the first student-run station to receive this honor.  WRHU Radio 88.7 FM is the campus radio station of Hofstra University, a private university located on Long Island in Hempstead, NY. The station has been the recipient of numerous regional, state, and national awards, including three prestigious Marconi Awards from the National Association of Broadcasters (2014, 2017, and 2019).  With studios housed in Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, the station has been committed to training the next generation of radio professionals for more than 60 years in a wide variety of radio genres including news, sports, public affairs, community programming, and music. For the past decade, WRHU has exclusively produced and distributed radio broadcasts of New York Islanders hockey games, the first and only college radio station to have such an agreement with a professional major-league sports team.  “We are immensely honored to receive this award of recognition,” said Mark Lukasiewicz, dean of the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication. “WRHU and its managers and staff deserve enormous credit for carrying on their work throughout the pandemic and providing vital information to the community.”  The annual World Radio Day Award honors a U.S. radio station that exemplifies the best attributes of the radio industry. Recipients may be large or small stations, commercial or noncommercial, located in any market, and broadcasting in any language. The award jury looks for stations that demonstrate ideals of localism, audience reach, community service, effective use of new digital platforms, diversity in program content and staffing, and financial and ratings success.  For this year’s award, the jury has highlighted the work done during the coronavirus pandemic, in light of UNESCO’s theme for the World Radio Day 2021 celebration, which is “New World, New Radio” in the sense that radio is a medium for resilience of our society. The jury of Academy is composed by eight highly qualified professionals of the broadcast industry (in alphabetical order): Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency; Michael Harrison, founder/publisher, TALKERSPaul McLane, editor in chief, Radio WorldMike McVay, president, McVay Media ConsultingFrancisco Montero, partner, Fletcher, Heald & HildrethChris Oliviero, SVP/MM, Entercom New York; Deborah Parenti, publisher, Radio Ink; and Paul Rotella, president of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association. WRHU was recognized for its efforts during the crisis, expanding its content as student and community staffers worked and broadcast from their homes during a New York state lockdown. Hofstra University has been cited on the Best College lists of U.S. News & World ReportThe Princeton ReviewFiskeWashington Monthly, Forbes, LinkedIn and Payscale.com. It is the only university chosen to host U.S. presidential debates in three consecutive election cycles (2008, 2012 and 2016). The World Radio Day Award was initially created by the Spanish Radio Academy to spread awareness of World Radio Day. The annual February 13 commemoration was endorsed by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly and accompanied by the creation of the International Radio Committee, which collaborates with UNESCO to promote World Radio Day each year. Last year, the award went to all-news station, WTOP, Washington DC.  The 2021 World Radio Day Award will be presented to WRHU at Hofstra University in early February. For more information, click here.

Townsquare Media to Repurchase 10 Million Shares. In a press release, Townsquare Media, Inc announces it has entered into an agreement to repurchase a minimum of 10 million of the 12.5 million shares of Class A common stock, shares of Class B common stock and warrants held by funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management L.P., for $6.40 per security, which reflects a 19% discount from the closing price of the Class A common stock on Friday, January 22, 2021. The repurchase was approved by the board of directors following the recommendation of a committee of independent and disinterested directors. The aggregate purchase price is expected to be at least $64 million, subject to the company’s ability to elect to purchase additional securities at closing of the repurchase. At closing, the repurchased securities will be retired and, subject to the company’s election to repurchase additional securities, the company’s outstanding securities will be reduced from approximately 28 million to approximately 18 million. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “We appreciate the opportunity to facilitate this significant transaction with Oaktree and are excited about this repurchase, which secures the exit of a very long-term private equity majority shareholder that current and potential shareholders have described to me consistently as being an obstacle to investing more, or establishing a position, in Townsquare given the significant overhang Oaktree’s holding represented. This repurchase is immediately accretive to shareholders and we thank our board of directors for their vote of confidence in our medium and long-term business plan to grow revenue and profits.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a report by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM, Chicago afternoon news anchor Kim Gordon has resigned from the Nexstar Media Group station after 15 years. It’s rumored that Gordon will be joining Cumulus Media’s crosstown news/talk WLS-AM to serve as the afternoon news anchor on the Big John Howell program. Back at WGN, Feder reports that Lauren Lapka will be the news anchor on the Steve Bertrand afternoon program…..iHeartMedia flips sports talk WFXJ-AM, Jacksonville “The Game” to Gospel as “Hallelujah AM930/93.3 HD2.”…..News and sports radio pro Mike Smith is leaving his gig with iHeartMedia’s WBEX-AM, Chillicothe, Ohio to pursue other career opportunities, The 43-year radio pro says, “Thanks to all the great listeners, which many, many of them became life-long friends, and I can say the same about my colleagues being life-long friends and that means more to me than any nice thing that anybody ever said about the job that I did.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

| June 25, 2019

It’s Official: Greg Papa Joins KNBR. The news of the arrival of Bay Area sports media figure Greg Papa at Cumulus Media’s sports talk KNBR is official – he’ll be co-hosting the midday show with John Lund, effective July 16. Papa, a longtime radio voice of the Oakland Raiders, also begins serving as play-by-play man for the San Francisco 49ers this season.  This news from Cumulus comes a day after TALKERS reported that longtime KNBR air personality Gary Radnich is retiring from the station and that host Bob Fitzgerald (who serves as play-by-play voice of the Golden State Warriors) is exiting.  The station’s new lineup has “Papa & Lund” airing from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Fitzgerald’s former partner Rod Brooks is joining the Tom Tolbert-led afternoon drive show, as is Radnich’s co-host, Larry Kreuger.  The new “Tolbert, Kreuger & Brooks” show will air from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  This is a return to KNBR for Papa, who hosted his own show on the station from 2001 through 2003.  He’s also worked with Lund in the past.  KNBR program director Jeremiah Crowe says, “Greg brings unrivaled knowledge and top-notch entertainment value to every broadcast he leads.  His connection with the Bay Area sports fan runs deep on many levels through his history in the local market, and we are proud to reunite him with John Lund in middays on ‘The Sports Leader.’” Regarding the exit of longtime personality Gary Radnich, Cumulus San Francisco VP/GM Doug Harvill says, “From the time Gary Radnich started at KNBR he was a pioneer in the sports talk format.  He built a close relationship with listeners through his entertaining and intriguing perspective on sports and life.  I cannot express how appreciative all of us at KNBR are for the opportunity to have partnered with him on his KNBR journey.”

Andrew Kalb Exits ABC Radio News. Radio news pro Andrew Kalb announces he’s exited ABC News as part of “a restructuring led by new management.” Kalb, who’s been with ABC News for the past 22 years, says, “It has been an honor to lead a talented team of broadcast and digital journalists and storytellers, and to successfully re-launch the ABC News Radio business, which now serves over 1,650 radio stations.  Most recently, I also was executive producer and helped launch the ABC News daily audio podcast, ‘Start Here,’ which was recognized with a Murrow award last week for ‘innovation in journalism.’  Along the way, I have served our affiliates in partnership and with pride, understanding that all success is the result of teamwork and collaboration.  To my many friends in radio, both at ABC and across the industry, thank you for the opportunity to work with you.  I am looking forward to my next exciting opportunity.”  Kalb can be emailed at: andrewkalb@gmail.com.

The New York Festivals Radio Award Winners Presented in NYC. The winners of the 2019 New York Festivals Radio Awards were presented in New York last night and RTE Ireland was named Broadcaster of the Year for the third year running.  Almost Tangible LTD. from the U.K. was named Production Company of the Year.  ESPN Films was named Grand Winner for its “30 For 30” podcast.  Pictured above is “30 For 30” producer and host Jody Avirgan (right) accepting the award at last night’s ceremony.  You can see all the winners here.

TALKERS News Notes. New Jersey talk radio station WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” was honored with five of the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists’ Signature Awards at a ceremony held last Saturday (6/22) in Newark.  Four of the Townsquare Media station’s full-time staffers and one freelancer were honored for “compelling news reporting on-air, online, and through the use of video.”  Michael Symons and Sergio Bichao took 2nd place in the Investigative Reporting category for their four-part series on New Jersey’s pension system, detailing spiraling costs and sky-high individual payouts.  Dino Flammia is the 2nd winner of the Herbert Morrison Award for Best Audio Story for his series on the challenges and successes seen in treating mental health issues in New Jersey.  Michael Symons is the 3rd place winner of the Herbert Morrison Award for Best Audio Story, for the audio presentation of his and Sergio Bichao’s pension series.  Louis C. Hochman is both the 1st and 3rd place winner of the Gabe Pressman Award for Best News Video. The first-place award is for his video of a community memorial service after a Long Branch teen killed his entire family and a friend.  The 3rd place award, shared with freelancer Jay Lassiter, is of Lassiter’s long-form interview with former legislator Maria Rodriguez-Gregg, detailing her decision to publicly disclose a domestic violence incident…..Radio news pro Steve Nikazy is calling it a career at Entercom’s all-news KYW, Philadelphia.  After 29 years with the station, Nikazy will retire on June 28…..Hubbard Radio St. Louis is honored with the distinction of making the St. Louis Top Workplaces list.  The designation comes after a survey from Energage – a culture, technology, and workplace improvement research company.  Hubbard operates sports talk WXOS-FM “101ESPN” and four music-formatted stations in the St. Louis market.  Hubbard St. Louis vice president and market manager John Kijowski says, “This Top Workplace designation is especially important to us. In February of last year, we acquired KSHE and ‘105.7 The Point’ from Emmis Communications. We had twice the number of employees that we had to fit into the same square footage.  We really worked hard to provide all of our employees with a great workspace.  We focused on instilling confidence in the leadership and being attentive to the process of blending workplace cultures.”

Radio Exec Rick Devlin Dies at 75. Longtime radio executive Rick Devlin died on May 15 at the age of 75.  During the course of his 40-year career, Devlin was general manager at WOR, New York; ABC Radio; and RKO Radio. He also served as president of the Radio Network Association and was a member of the National Association of Broadcasters and the Radio Advertising Bureau.

Six-Station Deal in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. This deal will transfer six radio stations and an FM translator in the Williamsport, Pennsylvania market from Backyard Broadcasting PA LLC led by Daniel J. Farr to Backyard Broadcasting of Pennsylvania LLC led by Van A. Michael.  The stations are: country WILQ-FM, hot AC WLMY-FM, sports talk WWPA-AM/W267BJ, rock WZXR-FM, rock WCXR-FM, and oldies WBZD-FM.  The price of the sale has not been announced.

2020 Presidential Race, Iran Sanctions, Southern Border Migrant Issues, Trump Rape Accusation, Census Citizenship Question, and U.S.-China Relations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/24). The Democrats competing for their party’s nomination to face President Trump in 2020; the new sanctions placed on Iran in the aftermath of its shooting down a U.S. drone; the conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border and the politics of migrant issues; writer E. Jean Carroll’s allegation she was raped by Donald Trump in the early 1990s; the issue of including the question of citizenship on the next U.S. census; and the tensions between the U.S. and China over tariffs 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. Big news from Chicago as on-air legend Terri Hemmert announces she’s giving up her midday show at Entercom’s triple A WXRT, where she’s been working for the past 45 years.  The 71-year-old personality will continue to serve with the station on a part-time basis, including continuing to host the Sunday morning “Breakfast with The Beatles” program…..LM Communications hands programming duties for its Charleston, South Carolina stations rock WYBB “98 ROCK” and triple A WCOO “The Bridge” to company PD Chili Walker, who is program director for its Charleston, West Virginia stations rock WKLC “ROCK 105” and classic hits simulcast WMXE/WWQB.