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Monday, March 30, 2020

| March 30, 2020

Monday Memo: Smart Advertisers Relate. While many radio sales reps are in pandemic panic mode, smart sellers are helping nimble advertisers do what radio does best: tell a lot of people something useful quickly.  In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke lists commercial copy points he’s hearing.  See them here.

Growing Coronavirus U.S. Death Toll, Trump Extends Social Distancing Through April, Criticism of Trump Administration, Financial Markets Activity, Celebs with COVID-19, Lawmakers’ Stock Trades Controversy, and Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The rising U.S. death toll from COVID-19; President Trump extends the nation’s social distancing policy through April 30; criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic; the pandemic’s effect on the world’s financial markets; celebrities who’ve tested positive for COVID-19; the investigation into U.S. lawmakers who sold stocks ahead of the global sell-off; and the November presidential election were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: The Vice President’s Lead List. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s Pending Business column that smart salespeople should take a cue from Vice President Mike Pence’s Presidential Task Force press conference last week in which he named the three biggest companies hiring – today.  Read Lapa’s tips for smart marketing in a new normal environment here.

Forever Media Cuts Staff at News/Talk WDEL, Wilmington and Elsewhere. The Wilmington News Journal reports that Forever Media has taken the drastic step of laying off “more than 10 people” from its radio properties as the result of a revenue hit from the coronavirus pandemic.  Included in the layoffs are WDEL talk personalities Allan Loudell and Robin Bryson.  Forever Media closed on its $18.5 million purchase of Delmarva Broadcasting’s 10-station radio portfolio last May.  Bryson is quoted telling the News Journal that the mandated closure of non-essential businesses hit business hard.  “That’s a good portion of who our advertisers are.  So, you know they’re not open, they can’t afford to advertise so they cancel their contracts and then we don’t have any commercials to run and we’re not getting any revenue.”

WGAN-AM, Portland Drops Morning Drive Co-Host Ken Altshuler. In Portland, Maine, Saga Communications drops morning drive co-host Ken Altshuler – the left-leaning half of the show – as part of a restructuring move.  Altshuler has been co-host of the morning show since 2002.  The change leaves conservative Matthew Gagnon hosting solo.  Altshuler tells the Portland Press Herald that over the past few months, the station has been moving to a single-host format in other dayparts.  Altshuler says he plans to continue in the media, either with another radio station or with a blog and podcast.  Sixty-seven-year-old Altshuler is a family law attorney who practices in Portland.

Ramsey’s ‘Message of Hope’ Becomes Regular Podcast. The Ramsey Solutions organization announces that a new podcast from the Ramsey Network called, “A Message of Hope” is launching.  The Ramsey Network says, “There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty in our country right now.  Let’s change that. Ramsey Network hosts Dave Ramsey, Ken Coleman, and Rachel Cruze share practical money and career advice through the ‘Message of Hope’ series.  This brand-new podcast also features episodes from Chris Hogan, Christy Wright, Anthony O’Neal, and Dr. John Deloney to encourage you in every area of life.”

‘Ark Midnight with John B. Wells’ Partners with Talk Media Network. The weekly, three-hour radio show “Ark Midnight with John B. Wells” is partnering with Talk Media Network for marketing and affiliate relations.  Talk Media Network CEO Josh Leng says, “John B. Wells is an expert in weaving stories, news, and interviews together with an artful thread and his instantly recognizable voice.  ‘Ark Midnight’ is a destination nighttime show.”  Wells comments, “It’s great to be working with Talk Media Network.  They understand the program and have added new affiliate stations before we could even make this announcement.”  The show recently was added to the program schedule at WNTW-AM Richmond and KLKS-FM in Brainerd, Minnesota and soon joins KYAH-AM in Delta, Utah and WIOS-AM, Tawas City, Michigan.

Tony Bruno to Reunite with Harry Mayes on SiriusXM. Sports talk pro Tony Bruno – via SiriusXM and JAKIB Media Partners – is returning to a daily sports talk radio show after five years away from the format.  He’s being joined on the new “Tony Bruno Show” by former WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “The Fanatic” partner Harry Mayes.  The show launches on SiriusXM’s Dan Patrick Radio channel on April 6.  Bruno says, “I want to thank all of my fans who have followed and supported me through the years.  I am grateful to everyone who has encouraged me to return and who still wants to hear my daily fun approach to sports and current affairs, which has been my forte’ for over four decades in broadcasting.  I can’t think of a better platform than SiriusXM and reuniting with my former ESPN colleague on the Dan Patrick Radio channel, and I am thrilled to be able to return to the airwaves with my good friend and co-host Harry Mayes.  There is no doubt that we will provide an exciting, fun, sports talk radio program that joins a sea of great content on SiriusXM.”

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on news/talk-formatted stations. Fifty-three percent of the news/talk stations on our panel were up (weekly, 6+ AQH share) over the January 2020 survey with just 27% seeing a ratings decline. Leaders in the improved column include Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta (+1.4) and iHeartMedia’s WISN, Milwaukee (+1.0). Comparing February 2019 to February 2020, WSB-AM/WSBB-FM is again the leader, posting an increase of 4.4 shares. iHeartMedia’s WTVN, Columbus adds 2.7 shares year-over-year, and Entercom’s KFTK-FM St. Louis is up 2.1 shares. Just two news/talk stations ranked #1 in their markets in February – CMG’s WSB, Atlanta (11.4 share) and iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento (8.4 share). However, five news/talk outlets ranked #2 in their respective markets.  Find out which ones, here.

TALKERS News Notes. The KSTE, Sacramento-based “Armstrong & Getty Show” starring Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty adds new affiliate WGOW-FM, Chattanooga, starting today (3/30).  Earlier this year, the program was added to other Cumulus Media talk stations including KABC-AM, Los Angeles and KSFO, San Francisco…..The nationally syndicated “Free Talk Live” program – led by show founders Ian Freeman and Mark Edge – adds new affiliate stations: KGGF-AM, Coffeyville, Kansas; WTSN-AM/FM, Dover, New Hampshire; WNTW-AM/FM, Richmond; WAIM-AM, Anderson, South Carolina; and WCSI-AM/FM, Columbus, Indiana to put its total affiliate roster at 209 stations…..ESPN’s “Paul Finebaum Show” makes its return to the cable TV SEC Network with an audio-only format at 3:00 pm ET.  Although Finebaum has been doing the show for ESPN Radio for the past two weeks, it has not aired on the SEC Network.  Finebaum comments, “Despite all of us adjusting to this new normal and distancing ourselves from each other, we’re probably more connected right now than we’ve been in a long time.  I’m really proud of the conversations and discussions we’ve had on the show, especially over these past few weeks, and look forward to returning to television and continuing to support and uplift one another during such an uncertain time.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Last night’s “FOX Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America” event aired on FOX Television as artists including host Elton John and guests Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Billie Eilish, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, Dave Grohl, H.E.R., Mariah Carey, Sam Smith,Tim McGraw and more performed from their own homes.  The program was also aired live on iHeartMedia radio stations and the iHeartRadio app.  Pictured below is Tim McGraw (upper left) singing “Something Like That” while three of his band members accompany him from their homes.  The event encouraged viewers and listeners to support charities Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation.

Friday, March 27, 2020

| March 27, 2020

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   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 on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM, Washington, DC.  The new episode titled, “Lives versus Livelihood?” looks back at this past week of March 23-27, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSMike Gallagher, talk show host, Salem Radio NetworkCurtis Sliwa, talk show host, 77WABC, New York; Dr. Daliah Wachs, physician/talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkSteve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston/webmaster, scamicide.com; Trevor Smith, radio content producer, Aloha Productions, Australia; Bobbie Winston (La Femme Bobbie), American ex-pat/artist, Brazil; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio CompanyDavid Clayton-Thomas, musician, songwriter/former lead vocalist, Blood, Sweat & Tears.  This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on WONK-FM, Washington, DC Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), 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.

Adams Radio Reducing Salaries to Avoid Layoffs. In his announcement that Adams Radio Group staffers have agreed to take a temporary 10% pay cut in order to avoid layoffs, CEO Ron Stone says, “I could not be prouder of our employees.  Every employee of Adams Radio stepped up to do their part to ensure that no Adams employee would lose their position.  We are a family. Our goal is singular.  To ensure everyone in our company gets through this crisis with the least amount of harm.  This test of our country’s ability to weather a storm is unlike anything any of us have seen, but we will get through this together, and be stronger for it.  What seems like a huge sacrifice today, is miniscule compared to what our fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers sacrificed.  At least we are not weathering winter without coats or boots like Washington’s army at Bunker Hill.  We are not killing our brothers in a civil war.  And we are not living for weeks in foxholes in horrible winter conditions during the Battle of the Bulge. Things could be much worse.  I sincerely hope that any company, media or otherwise, will consider overall reductions in compensation on a temporary basis rather than terminate employees.  Our most important asset is our people, and we should do all we can to keep them whole.  I am so thankful for a staff that not only wants to participate in helping our company weather this storm, they are working tirelessly in our communities to keep our local businesses front and center in the minds of listeners.”

Backbone Offers Broadcast from Home Capability Free for 45 Days. In order to help the radio industry serve the public, digital remote broadcast provider Backbone is offering its Backbone CoHost with LUCI Global apps to radio stations for free for 45 days.  The company says, “We need to stay safe, and we need to stay on the air.  Working from home is no longer just a futuristic perk, it’s our current duty.  This should be easy and affordable, and it can be.  There is no need to outlay capital to survive, thanks to our unique, integrated Virtualization in the Cloud.  Backbone CoHost PL is a fast and easy way for stations to create an always-available ‘Party Line’ conference room for one or more hosts, guests, and correspondents to contribute live audio for your broadcasts.  These two-way conversations are enabled by using the groundbreaking LUCI Global service from Technica del Arte and their free, downloadable apps for iOS, Mac, Android, and Windows platforms.  LUCI enables these phones, pads, and computers to communicate with and using the same standard formats used by commercial hardware, including COMREX and TIELINE.  CoHost PL is a simplified, unswitched version of Backbone CoHost, allowing users to instantly join the broadcast with the touch of a finger.  There are no IT settings to configure, no port selections to worry about, and no equipment to purchase or forget in the car.  It all works with whatever device you’re carrying, and over any decent Internet access you can find.”  Backbone is offering a fully functional, unlimited demo of CoHost PL and LUCI Global to our existing phone and radio customers, as well as U.S.-based call-letter radio and TV stations, for 45 days, starting March 30.  Find out more here. To start a free 45-day trial, email your contact information and a brief note about your organization to: info@backbone.com

Dom Giordano Launches “Home Learning Tips” One-Minute Feature on WPHT, Philadelphia.  Recognized throughout the state of Pennsylvania as a master teacher prior to beginning his stellar, decades-long radio career on some of Philadelphia’s leading news/talk outlets, WPHT mid-morning host Dom Giordano has launched a series of one-minute tips on home schooling for parents to utilize in productively keeping their kids busy while they are home during the coronavirus crisis.  The feature runs once per hour between 1:00 pm and 7:00 pm every weekday.  Giordano tells TALKERS, “After hearing from listeners about the challenges of working with their kids at home due to schools being closed, I offered my station a one-minute daily combination pep talk and ideas to help their kids at home for parents.  The theme is you are your child’s first and best teacher.  I’m tapping into my credibility with listeners and my years as an education/parenting analyst and columnist.”

Cumulus’ Dallas Talk Stations Hosting Special Mark Cuban Broadcast Today. Dallas news/talk stations WBAP and KLIF-AM are presenting an on-air town hall with businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, titled, “Assisting DFW Businesses During the Coronavirus.”  The Cumulus Media stations will simulcast the program from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm CST.  The WBAP/KLIF Town Hall will be hosted by Brian Estridge and Rick Roberts and topics addressed will include: How can businesses survive during these times?; How would the government’s Coronavirus Spending Package assist?; and How can consumers help their local community businesses?

Weighing the Economy Versus Lives Is Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 23-27.  The ethical dilemma of whether to save the country’s economy by reopening businesses or keep them shut to limit the deaths and the toll on the health care system was the most-talked-about story on news/talk this week and sitting atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the stimulus deal being crafted in Congress and the activity on the world’s financial markets.  Coming in at #3 is the status of the U.S. health care system, followed by the presidential race and politics 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.  See this week’s entire chart here.

iHeartMedia and Salem Media Group Withdraw Guidance on First Quarter of This Year. Not surprisingly, two of the radio industry’s corporations – iHeartMedia, Inc. and Salem Media Group Inc. – are announcing they are withdrawing their financial guidance originally provided on their 2019 fourth quarter earnings calls.  iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman states, “Given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the duration and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the U.S. economy, we believe it is appropriate to withdraw our full-year 2020 guidance.  While we cannot determine the full extent of COVID-19’s impact on our business at this time, we are monitoring this rapidly evolving situation closely and look forward to discussing our business in greater detail as part of our first quarter 2020 earnings results investor call.”  iHeartMedia COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “iHeartMedia had a strong January and February before the effects of COVID-19 began to unfold into a global pandemic in early March.  The challenges that COVID-19 has created for advertisers and consumers has impacted iHeart’s revenue in recent weeks, creating a less clear business outlook in the near term.  To maintain maximum financial flexibility during this period, we have drawn $350 million on our $450 million senior secured asset-based revolving credit facility (“ABL Facility”).  We believe that the additional funds from drawing on our ABL Facility, in combination with our cash balance, provides us with a prudent level of liquidity at this time. We fully appreciate the unprecedented challenges posed by this crisis, however, we remain confident in our business, our employees and our strategy. With our experienced management team and our leadership position in the audio sector, we are committed to navigating this period while serving our audiences and other constituents.”  Salem Media Group, Inc. says in a statement, “Based on current indications, Salem expects total first quarter 2020 revenue will be less than previously projected as a result of decreased revenues from advertising, programming, events and book sales.  Due to continuing uncertainties regarding the ultimate scope and trajectory of COVID-19’s spread and evolution, the effects of the pandemic on Salem’s audiences, programmers and advertisers, and current and potential future governmental restrictions that may be adopted in the markets in which Salem operates, it is impossible to predict the total impact that the pandemic may have on Salem’s business.”

TALKERS News Notes. Nationally syndicated talk radio star Michael Savage is appointed by President Trump to the board of directors of the Presidio Trust for a term expiring May 4, 2023.  Along with the National Park Service, the Presidio Trust manages the Presidio of San Francisco, the former military fort that is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  The host of the Westwood One-syndicated “The Savage Nation” holds a doctorate in ethnobotanical research from the University of California and both a Master of Science in botany and a Master of Arts in anthropology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that former WGN-AM station manager Todd Manley is producing a new podcast via his EarSight Studios that pairs Windy City communications consultants Lissa Druss and Thom Serafin for “The Crisis Cast.”  The episodes will be hosted by former WBBM-AM/WFCS-FM anchor Mariam Sobh.  EarSight expects to produce three to five podcasts per week…..Today (3/27), Cox Media Group’s Atlanta stations – led by news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM – is hosting a virtual food drive to benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank as part of the Stronger Together ATL campaign.  Atlanta Community Food Bank continues to provide meals for children, families and seniors as access to nutritious food throughout the COVID-19 crisis, by working with more than 600 nonprofit partners and the new Text for Help program…..The Cumulus Media news/talk teams at WBAP and KLIF-AM in Dallas were well represented at this year’s Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Contest.   Reporter Clayton Neville won First Place for Spot News by a Reporter for his coverage of the August 2019 El Paso Shooting.  The WBAP news team was awarded Second Place for Spot Coverage by a Station for coverage of the North Dallas Tornadoes in October.  For the 6th year KLIF morning drive anchors Dave Williams and Amy Chodroff won First Place for News Anchor Team and WBAP’s Brian Estridge won First Place for Sports Play-by-Play.

PPM Analysis: Classic Rock. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on classic rock.  It was a mixed bag in February for classic rock stations in the PPM markets, with 44% of stations losing weekly, 6+ AQH share and 46% gaining.  Year-over-year, 50% of classic rockers lost share while 43% saw an increase.  Three classic rock outlets – all owned by iHeartMedia – ranked #1 in February: KRFX, Denver “The Fox” (5.7), WRFX, Charlotte “The Fox” (7.9), and WAQX, New York (in the Middlesex-Somerset-Union market) (7.4).  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

More Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro AJ Dukette joins Saga Communications’ classic hits WYNZ, Portland “Rewind 100.9” to host mornings, taking over for the recently retired Chuck Igo.  Saga vice president of programming Bob Lawrence says, “When learning that Chuck was retiring, we began an extensive search for the right person to fill his shoes and then – Voila! – AJ appeared late last week.  We could not be more thrilled to welcome such a talented, Portland icon.”…..Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the annual Mountain Jam Festival scheduled for May 29-31 at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, New York has been cancelled.  Acts scheduled to perform included Gov’t Mule, Trey Anastasio Band, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Head and the Heart, Grace Potter, and many more…..Empire State Realty Trust and iHeartMedia announce their partnership to “reach those sheltering at home” with WHTZ, New York Z100’s radio waves and Empire State Building’s world-famous tower lights.  Tonight at 9:00 pm, the tower of the Empire State Building will illuminate the New York City skyline and beam iHeartMedia’s Z100 with a light show synced to the modern era anthem of New York City, Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind.”  The light show will replay on Saturday, March 28, and then again from Monday, March 30 through Thursday, April 2.  On Sunday, March 29, the Empire State Building will “shine in a dynamic heartbeat” from 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm in support of the “FOX Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America.”

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

| January 15, 2020

iHeartMedia Begins Massive Layoff of Air Talent. The exact number of personalities let go is not known at this point, but as iHeartMedia issued a press release yesterday explaining its new Markets Group management structure designed to “take advantage of the significant investments it has made in technology and artificial intelligence and its unique scale and leadership position in the audio marketplace,” it was firing local air personalities it deems not necessary to the company’s future success.  iHeartMedia, like every other radio company, faces intense competition for listeners from digital music services and digital spoken-word platforms.  Dayparts that aren’t crucial to a station’s revenue – usually nights and overnights – are often seen as not needing live, local jocks, especially when the company produces quality national programs to fill those hours.  As for news/talk and sports talk hosts, the cost of maintaining a show with two or more personalities plus a producer is sometimes more than income from spot sales and other revenue streams can provide.  iHeartMedia’s statement on the “employee dislocation” is as follows: “We are modernizing our company to take advantage of the significant investments we have made in new technology and aligning our operating structure to match the technology-powered businesses we are now in.  This is another step in the company’s successful transformation as a multiple platform 21st century media company, and we believe it is essential to our future – it continues our momentum and adds to our competitiveness, our effectiveness, and our efficiency with all our major constituencies.  During a transition like this it’s reasonable to expect that there will be some shifts in jobs – some by location and some by function – but the number is relatively small given our overall employee base of 12,500.  That said, we recognize that the loss of any job is significant; we take that responsibility seriously and have been thoughtful in the process.”  Some of those in the spoken-word formats who’ve exited the company include: Kerry Belkin, producer, WFXJ, Jacksonville; Leland Conway, host, WHAS, Louisville and WLPA, Lexington; Big Jim Donovan, host, WSYR, Syracuse; Andrew Downs, program director, KXNO, Des Moines; Jim Fisher, host, WOC, Quad Cities; Seth Harp, programmer and host, WFXJ, Jacksonville; Carl Harris, creative services director, Tampa Bay cluster; Travis Justice and Heather Burnside, hosts, and Sean Roberts, producer, Pete Kaliner, host, WWNC, Asheville, NC; Dave Levora, morning host, WOC, Quad Cities; Mike Lucas, host, WTSO, Madison; Ross Peterson and Chris Williams, hosts, KXNO, Des Moines; Jake Query and Derek Schultz, hosts, WNDE, Indianapolis; Chip Ramsey, weekend producer, WERC, Birmingham; John Ramsey and Mike Rutherford, hosts, WKRD, Louisville.

Brian Sussman Exits KSFO, San Francisco. Eighteen-year KSFO, San Francisco talk show host Brian Sussman announces he’s leaving the Cumulus Media station where he’s been hosting the morning drive show.  Sussman says that in April of 2019 he resigned due to an impasse in contract negotiations, but soon thereafter reached a temporary agreement to host the show four days per week through December (his brother, Brad Sussman, hosted the fifth day).  But in October, Sussman was required to go on medical leave through the remainder of the year.  That affected his plans for continuing into 2020.  He tells TALKERS magazine, “Fortunately, I’m feeling great, but clearly all those years of scant sleep and starting show prep at 3:00 am finally caught up with me.  The KSFO listening family – both locally and nationally – are such a loyal band of patriots.  But what I’ll miss the most about our show is working with the best producer in talk radio, Sheri Yee, and my lovely and super-hilarious sidekick, Katie Green.  Thankfully, Brother Brad has been doing a great job filling in for me and I hope he’s the future!  Meantime, I appreciate KSFO’s management team for having been so considerate these past few months.”

Impeachment, Presidential Race/Democratic Debate, Iran Protests, U.S.-China Trade Negotiations, Royal Family Controversy, Philippine Volcano Eruption, and MLB Sign Stealing Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/14). The impeachment articles against President Trump set to move to the Senate; the Democrats hoping to challenge Donald Trump in November and last night’s debate in Des Moines; the protests in Iran over the Islamic Republic’s accidental shooting down of the Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752; the Trump Administration’s progress in trade negotiations with China; the controversy over Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s stepping back from royal life; the deadly eruption of Taal Volcano in the Philippines; and the MLB’s handling of the sign stealing scandal were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Comrex Announces New Firmware in Conjunction with ACCESS MultiRack. News from Comrex Corporation reveals that the company has released firmware version 4.5p2, a new update for its line of IP audio codecs.  This new firmware version is being released in conjunction with ACCESS MultiRack – a new multi-instance codec that provides seamless integration of all functions with legacy single-instance ACCESS codecs.  This new firmware simplifies CrossLock connections between the new ACCESS MultiRack and legacy Comrex IP audio codecs.  It replaces an older Adobe Flash-based GUI with an HTML5 web-based GUI as the default user interface.  This new interface avoids the security risks posed by Adobe Flash, and is supported by all browsers.  Users can upgrade their Comrex IP audio codecs using the free Device Manager application which can be downloaded here.  If a user is updating a device from FW version 2.7.1 or earlier, they can contact Comrex Support for assistance.

TALKERS News Notes. Pictured here is Westwood One News correspondent Steve Kastenbaum covering last night’s Democratic presidential debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder notes that the hosts of WSCR, Chicago’s weekly golf show, “The Scorecard on The Score,” – Ed Sherman and Steve Olken – are leaving the station.  The two have hosted the show at the Entercom sports talk station for the past 10 years.  WSCR is expected to name new hosts for the show before it returns to the air in March…..KTBB, Tyler, Texas is the newest affiliate of FOX News Radio, subscribing to the FOX 5 Minute News Service on January 6…..FOX News Channel and FOX News Radio star Brian Kilmeade visited affiliate station WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta in December and senior operations and program manager Drew Anderssen says, “Few syndicated hosts, if any, create the kind of impact with affiliates and their communities that Kilmeade does.  Brian participated in our 29th annual drive to provide Georgia foster children with gifts at Christmas.  His impact helped us fulfill wish lists for over 9,000 foster kids, in partnership with St. Vincent de Paul Georgia and the Georgia Division of Family & Children Services!”  Pictured below (clockwise from top left) are: Anderssen, “Kilmeade & Friends” senior producer Alyson Mansfield, Kilmeade, WSB traffic anchor Ashley Frasca, and WSB-FM “B95.5” morning personality Tad Lemire.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Beasley Media Group’s urban contemporary WDMK, Detroit “105.9 KISS-FM,” the nationally syndicated “Rickey Smiley Morning Show” is now heard in the 6:00 am to 10:00 am slot.  Station program director John Candelaria says, “We are thrilled to have Rickey Smiley join ‘105.9 KISS FM.’  I have watched Rickey ascend to national superstar over the past 20 years and we are excited to have him leading the lineup for the ‘All New 105.9 KISS FM.’  Detroit is ready for a fresh new morning show!”

Monday, May 2, 2016

| May 2, 2016

kcmo logoTom Becka Returns to Kansas City as KCMO Re-Vamps Lineup.  Last week, Cumulus Media’s KCMO-AM/K279BI, Kansas City cut ties with 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm personality Greg Knapp.  It turns out that was phase one of a programming lineupbeckatom restructure.  Talk host Tom Becka – who previously worked in the market at crosstown KMBZ – joins the station to host the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show.  Local host Rob Carson remains in the morning drive slot.  Current KCMO personality Mike Ferguson moves to the 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm slot, followed by Dave Ramsey from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm and Westwood One’s Michael Savage from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  Cumulus Media Midwest regional VP and market manager Donna Baker comments, “KCMO talk radio takes an exciting step forward today.  Welcoming Becka back to KC, Mike Ferguson continuing local community conversations over the lunch hour, and Dave Ramsey returning to three hours in the afternoon are powerful additions to our talented lineup.”

theblaze logoReport: ‘Nearly 40’ Laid Off at TheBlaze.  According to a published report by Lloyd Grove in The Daily Beast, close to 40 staffers have been let go from Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze – just a year after numerous staffers were laid off in May of 2015.  Grove’s piece says this is part of a restructuring required by the covenants of a “multimillion-dollar bank loan” recently taken out to keep the company going.  Layoffs reportedly affect some 20 at offices in New York, 12 in Washington, five at a dozen in Washington, five at a documentary studio in Columbus, Ohio, plus several in a Los Angeles office.  Back in February, Kraig Kitchin stepped down from his CEO role with TheBlaze to focus on “existing commitments.”  Director of advertising sales Jeremy Price and director of marketing Liz Julis also exited at that time.  The story says these changes do not affect Beck’s Premiere Networks-syndicated show.  Read Grove’s piece here.

baileykenettaKenetta Bailey Named SVP of Marketing for CBS RADIO.  Joining CBS RADIO as senior vice president, marketing is Kenetta Bailey.  She was most recently heading up her own consulting firm – KB Consulting – in which she worked with a variety of start-up businesses on subscriber growth, social media and branding.  She also serves as an adjunct instructor at the Wharton School of the University ofcbsradio logo Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  CBS RADIO president Andre Fernandez states, “I’m thrilled to welcome Kenetta to our leadership team, and look forward to introducing her creative energy and brand expertise into everything we do.  We have a tremendous opportunity to expand the strength of our brands locally and nationwide, as well as define our long range position in the marketplace.  I know Kenetta will play an instrumental role in the telling of our story to the industry.”  Bailey will be responsible for the marketing and brand positioning of the company, its stations and its digital products.  She’ll also provide business-to-business marketing support and work with the division’s market managers and station management to develop and coordinate strategy for their local marketing efforts.

price howardWhen Your Station IS the News.  Last week’s attempted takeover of a media outlet in Baltimore by an allegedly deranged man happened at a television station.  But, it could just as easily have been a radio station group.  ABC Television Network director of business continuity Howard B. Price writes in a column published today (5/2), that “comprehensive, well-resourced and well-rehearsed emergency planning not only assures your continued ability to operate in times of crisis, but more importantly, shows your staff and clients how much you care.”  He notes that the Sinclair-owned station and its staffers were prepared and it showed in how the situation was dealt with.  Read Price’s valuable advice for preparing for potential emergencies here.

entercom2015 Acquisitions Help Entercom to Q1 Net Revenue Hike of 23%.  During 2015, Entercom added stations to its portfolio in deals with Lincoln Financial Media and Bonneville.  Those deals helped the company’s first quarter 2016 net revenue soar tofielddavid $96.1 million.  Company CEO David Field says, “But the bigger news is that we had another great quarter of organic revenue growth.  Same station revenues increased 6% for the quarter… In sum, it was a terrific quarter. What is important to note is that is part of an increasingly consistent pattern of Entercom delivering solid growth quarter-after-quarter.  This now marks the fourth consecutive quarter of accelerating organic revenue growth for Entercom.”

The Presidential Race/Trump Protests, Iraq Parliament Protest, Seattle May Day Violence, 9/11 Report Controversy, White House Correspondents Dinner, and NFL Draft Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The activities of the candidates for president and the California Donald Trump protests; the storming of the Iraqi Parliament by anti-government protestors; Sunday’s violent May Day protests in Seattle; controversy over the validity of the contents of the 9/11 report and Saudi Arabia’s threat to the U.S. if blamed for the terror attacks; the various political jabs from speakers at Saturday’s annual White House Correspondents Dinner; and the 2016 NFL Draft were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

holdtheirfeet16FAIR’s ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ Reports Record Attendance.  The immigration-oriented radio row scheduled for June 22-23 in Washington is filling up with radio talk show hosts fast.  The “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” event is produced by Federation for American Immigration Reform and executive director Bob Dane calls it an all-time high attendance record and adds that it’s “no surprise given immigration is the hottest issue in a high-profile, turbulent campaign.”  FAIR says there are three remaining broadcast slots up for grabs.  The event on Capitol Hill pulls together talk hosts, lawmakers, law enforcement and media.  FAIR covers all expenses and engineering.  Call for details at 202-328-7004.

Odds & Sods.  Sports talk KDCO, Denver adds an FM presence in the market via translator K284CI at 104.7 FM.  Mile High Sports Radio operates the stations under an LMA from Kona Coast Radio….. The Red State Talk Radio Network-based talk show “Standing Ground” hosted  by Jeremy Leahy adds new affiliate station WJHC, Jasper, Florida (between Jacksonville and Tallahassee).  The show airs at 11:00 pm on Sunday evenings…..Alpha Media’s Mason City, Iowa stations news/talk KGLO and standards KRIB pick up 11 honors in the Small Market Division of the 2015 Iowa Broadcast News Association awards.  KGLO’s Bob Fisher won four first-place awards for Best Newscast, Sports Play-by-Play, Political Coverage, and Public Affairs.

Monday, September 9, 2013

| September 9, 2013

trn logoTRN Issues Response to Reports of Financial Problems at the Company.  TALKERS magazine has received a press release from Talk Radio Network and CEO Mark Masters in response to reports of financial problems at the company.  Below is the full press statement as received from TRN at 2:30 pm ET on 9/9:

ARE YOU DIAL GLOBAL’S (WESTWOOD ONE’S) NEXT VICTIM?

      The truth about the proposed merger between Dial Global/Westwood One and Cumulus is a dark one for our industry.  Dial Global/Westwood One’s market power in programming and sales representation, combined with Cumulus Network’s programming and distribution power in the top 100 U.S. markets, will have a devastating effect on most every area of the radio industry. Our previous experience with Dial Global/Westwood consists of improper, illegal, and/or unethical conduct that is set forth in the second amended complaint http://www.trn1.com/uploads/files/SecondAmendedComplaint.pdf in our pending antitrust action against Dial Global/Westwood One and others.   If this merger is allowed to occur, the results of our previous experiences with Dial Global/Westwood One will be magnified tenfold to radio stations and content producers, which will be at the mercy of the newly empowered Dial (Westwood One)/Cumulus and the leverage that can be brought to bear by this new behemoth.

If this merger is allowed to occur, the culture of corruption at Dial/Westwood, as described in our second amended complaint, and other filings, will surely infect and spread within the new behemoth entity and victimize the rest of the industry, resulting in a super monopoly.

Sadly, the actions described in the second amended complaint are forcing the TRN companies to cut back to the basic operating essentials pending resolution of the multiple issues raised in their legal actions against Dial Global/Westwood One.  We had hoped that the change in management at Dial Global/Westwood One would bring about a new paradigm focused on correcting the prior harms in a manner which would be helpful to our companies and the industry as a whole.  Sadly, recent events have shown that the opposite is true and that the behaviors that gave rise to the lawsuits against Dial/Westwood One are endemic throughout the Dial/Westwood One monopoly.   The ruthless and unethical behaviors that have continued through multiple executive teams at Dial/Westwood are breathtaking in their scope and arrogance.

We encourage the rest of our industry to stand together, and with us, now.  We have been in business for 20 years, and have had excellent relationships with the other companies in our industry during that time.  But this is a horse of a different color.  Please contact the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition (antitrust@ftc.gov) and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (antitrust.complaints@usdoj.gov or (202) 307-2040), your state’s Attorney General, and your local member of Congress about the dangers of this proposed merger and its threat to your First Amendment rights, business and products.  As for us, we will continue to pursue Dial Global/Westwood One in federal court and other appropriate forums, for monopoly and other improper behaviors, expose the behaviors described in the second amended complaint,  and achieve ultimate victory from the tragedy that Dial Global/Westwood One have imposed upon our companies and others within the industry.

DIAL/WESTWOOD ONE SCORES INITIAL VICTORY WITH ARNN

The actions described in the second amended complaint with respect to America’s Radio News Network (“ARNN”), and additional actions which will be the subject of future filings, have now succeeded on an interim basis with respect to ARNN.  Specifically, ARNN has been forced to suspend its broadcast operations, effective at the close of its broadcast day on Friday, September 6, 2013, pending the successful outcome of its actions against Dial Global/Westwood.  ARNN has arranged for appropriate feeds to be provided to its affiliates for a reasonable period of time to enable them to secure alternate programming.

AS TO RUMORS OF OTHER ONGOING OPERATIONS

All of the TRN companies have been severely damaged by the Dial Global/Westwood One conduct addressed above and also addressed in the various legal actions which the TRN companies have brought, or will bring, against Dial Global/Westwood.    That conduct has forced all of these companies to make wrenching internal decisions and to take painful internal actions.  As Dial Global/Westwood One has been collecting our advertising revenues, but refusing to pay them over to us or to account for them, these companies have now been forced to reduce as many operating costs as possible.   However, the current rumors of an alleged shutdown of broadcasting operations for non-ARNN programming are unfounded.  Broadcasts of the other programs are continuing without interruption.

CALL TO ACTION!

If Dial/Westwood can do this to us, they certainly can do this to you – so you need to join together, and with us, in opposing this dangerous merger, with as much force as you can muster, so that you can have a future that is not controlled by a monopoly http://www.trn1.com/uploads/files/SecondAmendedComplaint.pdf

wadedonromaDon Wade Passes at 72.  Longtime WLS, Chicago morning personality Don Wade – who hosted the program with his beloved wife Roma – died on Friday at the couple’s Florida home.  It was almost a year ago that Wade suffered a seizure and was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.  He underwent an operation but never returned to the air at WLS.  Roma Wade posted the following statement on the WLS website (in part): “Last Friday morning, my hero, my best friend, my soulmate left this mortal coil behind and entered the realm of spirit while wrapped in my loving arms.  God blessed us with almost an entire year since Don’s surgery to embrace life, love, family, and adventure, all while knowing that his time on this beautiful earth was drawing to a close.  What a gift!  What a joy to be entrusted with my magnificent man’s care for that precious time.”  Wade began his work at WLS in 1985 with Roma by his side, remaining with the station as it transitioned to talk in 1989 and moving to AM drive.  Current Salem Radio Network VP, news & talk programming Tom Tradup was VP and GM of the station and charged with flipping it to talk including firing some of the most beloved DJs in Chicago history. He says Wade stayed with the newly formatted station, “Don’s infectious good humor, intelligent grasp of the issues, and his uncanny ability to connect one-on-one with men and women throughout Chicagoland convinced me he had to stay.  He and Roma (in those days they kept their marriage a secret) were the very first ‘hires’ I made at the new WLS Talkradio 890.  Over the years, Don’s popularity—and our ratings and revenue—soared as he and Roma woke up countless hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans.”  Chicago media writer Robert Feder has more on Wade’s passing here.

millerchrisMad Social Networking Skills.  Noted digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller tackles the question, “So what is it that differentiates ‘mad’ social networking skills from ‘casual’ skills, or just plain competency?”  Does it involve video shooting and editing, coding, HTML, or actual IT knowledge?  In a new column posted today (9/9) Miller writes, “There’s more to being a good jock than listening to yourself talk.  There’s more to being a good sales manager than just knowing a lot of clients.  And, there’s more to having ‘mad’ social networking skills than being passionate about posting a ton of stuff!”  He goes through five levels to which truly effective social networking skills must rise to be truly effective.  They are: 1) Know your target; 2) Know how to talk and listen to your target; 3)  Learn how to write well and with style; 4) Understand what fits and doesn’t fit in terms of actual content; and 5)  Actively remain engaged to know if your message is reaching the target.  To read Chris Miller’s entire column, please click here.

iheartradiotalkClear Channel Launched Update App for iHeartRadio Talk.  The beta version of iHeartRadio Talk was released in July was done with what president of digital Brian Lakamp admits is “very limited mobile functionality.”  But now the company is offering new updates for iOS and Android apps to allow users to access more talk content.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment states, “The updated apps will feature a directory for talk that now allows users the ability to browse and select from hundreds of programs.  For the first time ever, segments from ‘The View’ and ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ will be available to coincide with ABC‘s new season.”  CC believes that iHeartRadio Talk is “the first audio platform offering on-demand, listener-created talk content alongside popular news, celebrity and entertainment audiosodes…The service is trending to be a more popular feature for men than women, though iHeartRadio’s demographic has traditionally skewed more female, allowing the digital service to attract a burgeoning audience.”

esiasonboomerBoomer Esiason Debuts on Boston’s ‘Sports Hub.’  The ever-busy Boomer Esiason – co-host of the ‘Boomer & Carton’ morning drive show on CBS Radio’s WFAN, New York, sports TV personality and color man for WestwoodOne’s Monday Night Football broadcasts – is debuting on CBS O&O WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” today.  For the past couple of years, Esiason made a Monday morning appearance on crosstown WEEI, Boston with John Dennis and Gerry Callahan.  The segment was recorded before Esiason went on the air on WFAN.  Now, Esiason continues reaching Boston sports fans with his expertise with WBZ-FM’s Toucher & Rich.

salisburyseanSean Salisbury Teams with John Harris for Midday Show on Yahoo! Sports Radio.  Former NFL quarterback and sports talk media pro Sean Salisbury becomes part of the Yahoo! Sports Radio network lineup as co-host of “The War Room” with John Harris airing from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET daily.  Yahoo! Sports Radio CEO David Gow states, “Sean is a big-time addition to our lineup.  He does his homework, he is insightful and he is not afraid to voice his opinions.   And the combination of Harris and Salisbury provides some of the strongest football coverage in sports – we are delighted to announce his addition at the start of the NFL season.”  Salisbury adds, “I am excited to join Yahoo! Sports Radio and to work with John Harris.  I really look forward to working with the entire team there and creating great shows.  During his media career, Salisbury has worked for ESPN and CBS Radio.  He is currently on the Dallas Cowboys pre-game show for Fox Sports TV in Dallas.

siriusxmExecutive Changes and Promotions at SiriusXM.  An internal memo from SiriusXM president and content officer Scott Greenstein informs staff of some new management changes and congratulates those who’ve been promoted.  First, Jeremy Coleman, head of talk and entertainment for much of the past 10 years is named senior vice president, Howard Stern channels.  Greenstein notes that Coleman “worked closely on the initial development of the channels before Howard’s official launch on SiriusXM in 2006, and is now excited to move over to work with Howard and his team on further growth.”  Also, Tim Sabean is named senior vice president, entertainment and comedy.  He’ll oversee the comedy channels, as well as a variety of other key entertainment assets including: Opie & Anthony, Piolín Radio, Jason Ellis, Ron & Fez, Covino & Rich, and Dino Costa, as well as the Radio Sex channel.  Dave Gorab is promoted to vice president and general manager, talk programming.  Greenstein says Gorab has been instrumental in building the news and political talk channels and will expand his oversight to include politics, news, women’s, family, health, educational, religious and specialty talk programming.

mikemorrisbobsansevereCumulus Sports Talk “105 FM The Ticket” in Minneapolis Adds Local Talk with Help from Tom Barnard.  The Twin Cities sports talk tri-mulcast of WGVX (105.1), WGVZ (105.7), and 105.3 FM – up ‘til now relying on content from CBS Sports Radio Network – is adding a local PM drive program beginning todaybarnardtom featuring Mike Morris (left) and Bob Sansevere (right) from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  Tom Barnard – morning institution who’s heard on the company’s rock KQRS – will also be heard on the station as the third hour of Barnard’s podcast will be aired from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm on the sports station.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Neal Justin reports Barnard is bringing former WCCO personality Don Shelby aboard his three-hour podcast as his sidekick and he’ll also be part of the third hour sports talk segment.  KQRS operations manager Scott Jameson tells the paper, “We’ve got two well-performing rock stations and it’s smart to leverage those brands to help our baby brother grow up.”

wtoplogoVeteran Journalist Mike Murillo Joins WTOP, Washington.  Mike Murillo becomes part of the WTOP, Washington staff as an anchor and reporter beginning today (9/9).  Most recently, Murillo worked at Merlin Media’s WWIQ, Philadelphia as anchor/reporter, studio technician and web andmurillomichael social media manager.  Prior to his stint in Philly, Murillo was a reporter at “FM News 101.9” in New York.  Murillo says, “Like many in this business, for years I have admired WTOP from afar.  I am truly excited to now become a member of this amazing news team.”  WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo adds, “Mike does it all.  Not only is he a seasoned anchor and street reporter, he’s a skilled web designer and broadcast technician.  We’re excited to have him join WTOP’s team of broadcast and digital journalists.”

Odds & Sods.  CBS Radio freelance reporter Donna Francavilla tells TALKERS magazine she is returning to TV for the first time in 15 years.  Though she will continue her freelance for CBS Radio, Francavilla has accepted a temporary, part-time on-air position at WBMA-TV, Birmingham, Alabama.  She recently won first, second and third place national communication awards from the National Federation of Press Women, serves as an Edward R. Murrow judge, freelances occasionally for Oprah’s OWN Network, and established a consulting company called Frankly Speaking Communications, LLC…..Cox Media Group’s news/talk WHIO-AM/FM, Dayton is the local affiliate for Cleveland Browns football.