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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

| March 30, 2021

Entercom Changes Corporate Name to Audacy. This change was teased by Entercom on Monday in a tweet but makes the news official today, marking the change from Entercom Communications Corp to Audacy, effective immediately. In a press release, the company says: “Over the past three years, the company has purposefully evolved into a scaled, multi-platform audio content and entertainment organization with the country’s best radio broadcasting group and a leadership position in virtually every segment of the dynamic and growing audio market—including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, network, live experiences, music, sports and news. Audacy is also the #1 creator of original, premium audio content.” Chairman, president and CEO David Field adds, “We have transformed into a fundamentally different and dramatically enhanced organization and so it is time to embrace a new name and brand identity which better reflects who we have become and our vision for the future. ‘Audacy’ captures our dynamic creativity, outstanding content, and innovative spirit as we aspire to build the country’s best audio content and entertainment platform.” The company says its evolution has been fueled by: the acquisition of the CBS Radio group, the launch of RADIO.COM and building the fastest growing digital audio platform, the acquisition of Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, enhancing its sports platform with the acquisition of QL Gaming Group and its partnership with FanDuel, and more. The company’s ticker symbol will change from ETM to AUD effective on or about Friday, April 9. Along with the name Entercom, effective today, the company will also sunset the RADIO.COM brand and align its direct-to-consumer platform under Audacy.

Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM, Saginaw Adds ‘Markley, Van Camp & Robbins’ for Early Afternoons. Saginaw, Michigan news/talk WSGW-AM/FM announces it is filling the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart previously occupied by the Rush Limbaugh program with Compass Media Networks’ “Markley, Van Camp & Robbins Show” featuring Jamie Markley, David Van Camp, and Scott Robbins. The Alpha Media station says in mid-March it switched “from the Rush recordings to this new, live show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. WSGW wanted a show that would serve conservatives on the hot topics of the day in an informative and entertaining style. The MVC&R Show does that perfectly because they include a Millennial, Gen Xer, and a Baby Boomer. The range of audience listenership this trio brings closes the generation gap and provides a unique perspective that no other show can do. At the end of the day, it’s three friends hanging out and talking about everything! It is a great show and 100.5 & 790 Newsradio WSGW is excited to announce their addition to the lineup.”

WDUN-AM/FM, Gainesville, Georgia to Air Todd Starnes Show in Noon to 3:00 pm Slot. The Gainesville, Georgia news/talk outlet announces it will fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart with the “Todd Starnes Show.” Jacobs Media’s WDUN-AM/FM is overseen by EVP and general manager Bill Maine, who says, “We know our listeners will miss Rush. He was the absolute best at what he did, and no one can replace him. But we are fans of Todd Starnes and we think moving Todd into that time slot, as well as adding more locally produced programs gives WDUN an exceptionally strong lineup of news/talk programs.”

KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City Expands Local Shows in Talent Shuffle. Salt Lake City news/talk KSL-AM/FM announces a series of changes in its lineup that includes the expansion of three programs. The Bonneville station says that with the departure of Lee Lonsberry from this station, Boyd Matheson’s “Inside Sources” program moves from the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon slot to the new 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daypart. The “Utah’s Noon News” show expands from 30 minutes to a full hour from 12:00 to 1:00 pm and “The Dave and Dujanovic Show” grows by an hour to air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. KSL program director Kevin LaRue says, “Boyd is just too important of a voice to the community to only have him on KSL one hour a day. We’re excited to provide listeners a longer program to cover important issues. The thinking he offers about the news and current culture is unparalleled.” Matheson also serves as the opinion editor of the Deseret News. He says, “Having spent most of my career as an international business consultant really gave me a look at how things work, what leadership looks like, and how you pull people together. Then my time in Washington DC as a chief of staff understanding the behind-the-scenes things that go on where the real levers of power are in DC and of course our connection to politics here locally. ”

‘Free Talk Live’ Host and Co-Founder Ian Freeman Awaits Bail Ruling; Faces Fraud and Money Laundering Charges. The lead host and co-founder of the nationally syndicated talk radio program “Free Talk Live” – Ian Freeman– is awaiting a ruling from federal Judge Magistrate Andrea Johnstone on a bail request from his attorney, according to an article in the Manchester Union-Leader. Freeman is being charged with money laundering, fraud and conspiracy after a recent raid on his home by federal authorities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Georgina MacDonald alleges that Freeman and others operated a Bitcoin-dollar exchange program through churches with which they are affiliated and called Freeman a “sophisticated cybercriminal.” The Union-Leader reports the feds allege that Freeman used Shire Free Church accounts to convert dollars to Bitcoin and that those dollars came from “romance fraud, investment fraud, and your-friend’s-in-jail fraud.” MacDonald says Freeman “offered anonymity, didn’t ask questions and charged a 10% exchange fee” when “legitimate” exchange services charge 3% or less. In requesting bail, Freeman’s attorney, Mark Sisti, argued that Freeman is not a flight risk and that he’s known about the federal investigation for years because people agents interviewed would tell Freeman about their encounter with authorities. Sisti says Freeman could have fled before his arrest. Industry observers who follow this TALKERS Heavy Hundred program know that its main freedom-based theme and Freeman’s ongoing antagonistic position on laws he considers unconstitutional have provided it with provocative and compelling “reality show” type material even though it has been a source of irritation to both local Keene, New Hampshire (where the show is based) and federal law enforcement agencies. Part of the show’s formidable appeal to an ever-growing number of affiliates and loyal listeners has been the willingness of its primary host to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”

Sam Tatum Promoted to VP, Integrated Marketing & Partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media. Rising from his director of sales for Radio One’s Washington, DC cluster to the newly created position of vice president, integrated marketing & partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media is Samuel Tatum. In this new role, Radio One and Reach Media say they are further unifying their sales and integrated marketing efforts across both divisions to help brands and agency partners effectively connect with the coveted and influential Black consumer through authentic and powerful multiplatform touchpoints. Tatum will lead a team of marketers and project managers in developing and implementing new innovative marketing solutions for national advertisers and agencies utilizing all of the Radio One and Reach Media assets. As the primary liaison between the national sales teams and other departments within Radio One, Reach Media, and other Urban One divisions, Tatum will streamline communications, ensure the continuity of national and corporate partnerships, and make sure the sales teams continue to provide their advertising partners with the absolute best-in-class cross-platform solutions. Tatum states, “I am humbled by the confidence Reach Media and Radio One has placed in me and am excited to continue to grow the legacy of our founder, Cathy Hughes, in this new role. Radio One and Reach Media have a rich portfolio of assets, and I am passionate about the opportunity to create, develop, and execute unique, on-brand, and culturally appropriate solutions that provide reach and engagement with the Black consumer for our advertisers and partners. Let’s blaze new trails!”

Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville Announces Content Partnership with A to Z Sports. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces it has entered into a content partnership agreement with popular online sports information and entertainment destination, A to Z Sports. Cumulus Media says, “The agreement brings together the two biggest sports entertainment brands in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, allowing them to create and share unique, deep-dive sports content across their respective digital platforms, including streaming and on-demand content, podcasts, social media, and much more, plus live and local on-air programming on ‘104.5 The Zone’ and high-engagement live events for area sports fans.” Per the terms of the agreement, “104.5 The Zone,” the flagship home for the Tennessee Titans and Nashville affiliate for University of Tennessee Volunteers, will regularly feature A to Z Sports personalities, while “104.5 The Zone” personalities will appear regularly on A to Z Sports’ popular programs. The partnership will create shared and complementary original programming between the brands and their platforms to give fans more and better sports news and talk than ever before. WGFX program director Paul Mason says, “We are truly excited to partner with A to Z Sports! This opens up more doors for both WGFX and A to Z to be more creative and implement new ideas in the market. The true winner in this partnership is the Nashville sports fan.” A to Z Sports is co-owned by Zach Bingham and Austin Stanley. Earlier this month, “104.5 The Zone” signed sports journalist Buck Reising as its midday air personality (10:00 am to 1:00 pm). Reising had previously been a frequent guest host on WGFX, but is mostly known for his “615 Sessions” podcast and live weeknight show, “A to Z Sports Primetime,” heard on A to Z Sports Nashville.

Audacy Unveils New Relationship with BetMGM. The new Audacy, formerly Entercom, unveils another sports betting deal, this time with BetMGM. This relationship is a multi-year deal designating BetMGM as a betting partner of Audacy across its sports broadcast stations, the Audacy, and Bet QL apps and digital platforms, and the “BetQL Audio Network.” The partnership will bring BetMGM’s sports betting content to Audacy sports talk listeners and gives BetMGM preferred access to Audacy talent. The partnership comes on the heels of several recent moves made by Audacy in the sports betting space, including the acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group and the launch of the “BetQL Audio Network, both of which are fundamental components of this deal. Audacy president of sports Mike Dee says, “The advent of legalized mobile sports betting has presented an unprecedented opportunity to bring the action closer to the audience than ever before and, as a result, provide our partners with a direct line of sight to tap into an attentive, fully engaged audience of potential sports bettors. We are proud to partner with BetMGM and wish to thank them for their confidence in us as we become one of their largest media partners. In light of our BetQL acquisition and related offerings, we believe this commitment is the latest validation that no other media company offers the wide variety of ways to connect with the sports betting audience the way that we do on a multi-platform basis.”

COVID-19 Cases Rising/Vaccines, WHO Virus Origin Report, Derek Chauvin Trial, Biden Economic Stimulus Plan, Suez Ship Freed, Lil Nas X Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/29). The rising number of COVID-19 cases and the CDC’s warning of a fourth wave, plus the rollout of vaccines; the World Health Organization’s COVID origin report that suggests the coronavirus jump to humans from animals; the beginning of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the Biden administration’s multi-trillion dollar economic plan that first focuses on infrastructure; the container ship that blocked the Suez canal for almost a week is freed; and the controversy over the new song from Lil Nas X and the accompanying “Satan Shoes” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

| November 6, 2019

Mike Francesa ‘Leaving Afternoon Drive’ on WFAN, New York. Newsday’s Neil Best broke the story after New York sports talk radio icon Mike Francesa told him he’ll be leaving his afternoon drive show on WFAN in December with “details to come.”  Entercom New York regional president Susan Larkin later issued the following statement, “Mike Francesa will continue to be part of WFAN, and will soon also have an expanded role on RADIO.COM.  While we are still finalizing details, this is an exciting move to bring more of Mike’s iconic sports talk content to fans across broadcast and digital in new, engaging ways wherever and however loyal sports fans want it.  Stay tuned as we will be sharing more details in the weeks to come.”  Francesa left his longtime afternoon drive slot on WFAN in December of 2017, only to return in April of 2018, bumping his replacement – the team of Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott – to middays.  Carlin exited WFAN in September with Gray and Scott continuing to host the midday show.  The New York media – especially the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand – has been reporting on the ratings battle between Francesa on WFAN and Michael Kay on ESPN’s WEPN-FM, New York.  Nielsen Audio’s October PPM survey saw Kay beat Francesa in the men 25-54 demographic with a 7.4 share to Francesa’s 6.0 share.

JVC Media Expands ‘Florida Man Radio’; Adds Ed Tyll Show in Middays. The “Florida Man Radio” format based at JVC Media’s WDYZ-AM, Altamonte Springs/W288CJ, Oviedo in the Orlando market will be heard on the company’s WYGC, High Springs in the Gainesville market, effective November 11.  At the same time, the company announces that talk radio pro Ed Tyll is joining the lineup in middays.  The station’s programming consists of: Bubba the Love Sponge in AM drive, Scott Ledger (10:00 am to 12:00 noon), Ed Tyll (12:00 noon to 2:00 pm), Shannon Burke (2:00 pm to 6:00 pm), attorney Justin Clark (6:00 pm to 7:00 pm), plus Key Networks’ “Bill O’Reilly Update” and Westwood One’s syndicated Ben Shapiro and Michael Savage shows at night.   JVC CEO John Caracciolo comments, “This is exactly what radio needs right now – fresh, new, funny, and local – this is ‘Florida Man Radio.’  The vision of a locally based talk station that isn’t afraid to confront the big topics while not taking it too seriously, screams the mantra of JVC.  We aren’t afraid to buck the norms – keeping live and local radio working for our clients and listeners, providing great results for clients, and continuing to invest in great programming.  I’m thrilled for the future of our stations across the country and thrilled to be growing ‘Florida Man Radio’ all over the state.

KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City Names Lee Lonsberry New Midday Host. Longtime KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City early afternoon personality Doug Wright retired from his daily talk show earlier this year. Now, Bonneville announces that his former producer, Lee Lonsberry, will begin hosting the 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm program in December.  Also, the station is expanding the “Inside Sources” program hosted by Deseret News opinion editor Boyd Matheson to a full hour, airing from 11:00 am to 12:00 noon.  Lonsberry has also been serving as communications director for U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop for the last few years.   Lonsberry says, “Hosting this show will be a thrill and a privilege.  I’ve been preparing for this show my entire professional life, and arguably, well before that.”  Bonneville SVP and market manager Tanya Vea says of the changes, “These additions to the lineup are an exciting step forward for KSL NewsRadio.  Our commitment to local reporting, fairness, and coverage of the biggest breaking news is greater than ever.”

PPM Analysis: MLB Flagships. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October PPM survey, today focusing on stations that serve as Major League Baseball flagships.  Since the October survey covered September 12 to October 9, the push to the playoffs and the first few games of the 2019 playoffs happened during that time.  Eventual World Series Champions the Washington Nationals’ Entercom-owned flagship WJFK-FM appeared to get a lift from its team, rising from a 3.5 share (6+) during the September survey to a 4.3 share in October.  Interestingly, the flagship for the American League Champion Houston Astros – iHeartMedia’s KBME “SportsTalk 790” – languished well below a 2.0 share (hitting its 1.4 share peak in August) for the entire season.  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

TALKERS News Notes. WHAM, Rochester talk show host Bob Lonsberry created a controversy after tweeting, “‘Boomer’ is the n-word of ageism.  Being hip and flip does not make bigotry ok, nor is a derisive epithet acceptable because it is new.”  The since-deleted tweet that addressed the “ok Boomer” meme went viral and raised a lot of criticism of Lonsberry’s reasoning, including from celebrities.  Check out Starr Rhett Rocque’s analysis at Fast Company here…..FOX News Channel is moving the Sunday evening “Life, Liberty and Levin” program, starring Mark Levin from its 10:00 pm start to 8:00 pm.  Levin, who also hosts a daily, three-hour radio talk show syndicated by Westwood One, has been a “top-performing program” for FNC, according to The Hill’s report.  The publication says Levin’s show “delivered more than 1.43 million viewers last weekend and was the most-watched program in cable news on Sunday night, topping rivals CNN and MSNBC.”…..ESPN Films’ “30 for 30” podcasts are returning for a sixth season with four all-new audio documentaries.  The first episode debuts on November 12, with the others premiering every Tuesday through December 3.  The season kicks off with a story about two of the most famous women in sports, Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, who talk openly about their stranger-than-fiction experience with Shabtai Kalmanovich, former owner of their Russian basketball team and possible double agent…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Lisa Labuz is moving from her current role as morning news anchor and local host of NPR’s “Morning Edition” on Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ, Chicago to news anchor for the 10:00 am to 3:00 pm daypart…..Pictured below are WAXY “790 The Ticket” and WQAM “560 The Joe” personalities Marc Hochman and Channing Crowder as they took their afternoon drive show to the University of Miami campus Tuesday afternoon (11/5) for the kickoff of the college basketball season. From left to right are: Miami athletic director Blake James, Crowder, Hochman, and 1992 Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta​.

Impeachment Process, Ukraine Affair, 2020 Presidential Race, Tuesday Election Results, Roger Stone Trial, Zervos’ Trump Allegations, Mormon Family Murdered in Mexico, and ABC News and the Epstein Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/5). The impeachment process against President Trump; EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland updates his testimony about Trump’s alleged quid pro quo offer to Ukraine; the results of Tuesday’s elections that saw Democrats take control of Virginia’s legislature and the too-close-to-call Kentucky governor’s race; day one of Roger Stone’s trial on obstructing congress in the Russian election meddling case; the revelation of phone records in Summer Zervos’ allegations of sexual assault against President Trump; the murder of 9 members of a Mormon family by a drug cartel in northern Mexico; and ABC News’ defense of “quashing” Amy Robach’s interview with Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre 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. In the West Palm Beach market, Hubbard Radio names Garrett Phillips producer of the “Tim & Chelsea” morning show on WIRK “New Country 103.1.”  Operations manager and WIRK brand/content director Bruce Logan says, “Since 2015, Garrett has shown a high competence in many different roles for this cluster.  Rising quickly from intern to show producer to the lead producer for Paul Barsky’s show on WFTL.  No matter the role, Garrett has excelled.  I am sure his addition as producer for Tim & Chelsea on ‘New Country 103.1’ will produce excellent results as we add another important puzzle piece to what we are building on WIRK.”…..Beasley Media Group announces the official unveiling of “The History Of WRIF” podcast.  The station debuted in 1971 and is generally considered one of the longest running active rock stations in the country.  Beasley says, “With a rich history and an incredible roster of on air personalities known both in Detroit and nationwide, the podcast, hosted by former WRIF DJ Mike Staff and produced by current WRIF host Steve Black, will feature discussions with past and present personalities reflecting on the incredible moments and memories from their past and current time on the air.”  The first episode features Motor City radio legend Arthur Penhallow.  “Arthur P” was present for the launch of 101 WRIF and spent several decades on the air at WRIF.  During that time, he received many honors, including recognition from The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and a role in the movie, The Upside of Anger, that used WRIF as a setting for the movie and starred award-winning actor Kevin Costner.