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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

| November 10, 2020

iHeartMedia Third Quarter Revenue Down 22%. The earnings report from iHeartMedia for the third quarter of 2020 shows the media company in a slightly better situation than some of its similar-sized competitors as revenue was $744 million, a decrease of 22% over the same period in 2019. (Cumulus Media and Entercom were both down 30% and Beasley was down 25%.) iHeartMedia says that its third quarter revenue was up “53% sequentially, moving from down 47% [year-over-year] in Q2 to down 22% [year-over-year] in Q3. The company adds that October revenue increased 2%, benefitting from significant political advertising and digital revenue increased 17% [year-over-year]. Breaking the report down by segment, broadcast revenue declined 29% from $573 million in Q3 2019 to $404 million this year but increased 66% quarter-over-quarter. Networks revenue declined 26% from $160 million to $119 million but increased 24% quarter-over-quarter. Digital revenue increased 17%, from $97 million to $113 million, led by a 74% increase in podcasting revenue. iHeartMedia posted a loss of $32 million in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the net income of $12 million in Q3 of 2019.

iHM’s Pittman: Podcasting Already Profitable for Us. During yesterday’s investors conference call, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman explained the success of its podcasting segment. He said, “Podcasting continues to be our strongest performing business line, reflecting the fact that we built iHeart into the number one commercial podcast publisher in America, with 252 million downloads a month as of September, which is up 71% year-over-year. In Q3, as measured by Podtrac, we were number one in downloads each month. Our audience continues to be more than twice the size of the next largest commercial podcaster. And we extend that our lead over all other ranked podcasters. Let me share with you our model. We partner with the best content creators in the world – some of whom are our very own radio talent – distribute their content to the largest audience possible without a paywall, and use the unparalleled scale of our broadcast radio business as a built-in marketing machine to drive engagement with our podcast shows. We feel this is an important part of our secret sauce. It’s how we continue to build hit podcast after hit podcast, and how we continue to grow our leadership position. According to Podtrac’s latest data, not only are we number one overall, but we currently have the most shows featured across all categories, and we have ranked shows featured in all 19 possible categories, the most among all publishers. Let me be clear, podcasting is already a profitable business for us, and has an EBITDA margin that is higher than the overall company margin. Our podcast business is advertiser supported, it’s not subscription based, and it’s not behind a paywall, which enables our creators to share their passion with the widest audience possible, as we distribute their podcast not only on the iHeartRadio app, but across as many other distribution platforms as possible.”

Entercom Closes on $32 Million Acquisition of QL Gaming Group. According to a press release, Entercom Communications’ acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group will give Entercom “unrivaled data, analytics, and insight-driven content to Entercom’s best-in-class sports broadcast stations, influential podcasts, and RADIO.COM.” The QLGG technology portfolio includes sports betting data and analytical capabilities (BetQL), daily fantasy sports (RotoQL), simulation-based sports outcome predictions and game forecasting (AccuScore), and comprehensive analytical coverage of the ATP and WTA Tours (TennisInsight.com), each with respective subscriber base and licensing opportunities. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “As the sports betting marketplace continues to grow exponentially, the acquisition of QL Gaming Group is a perfect fit for our unrivaled sports audio platform. Integrating QL’s analytics and content with our sports brands enables us to deliver unparalleled experiences for sports fans. The acquisition builds on our track record of digital growth and further enhances our direct-to-consumer technology portfolio with data and analytics capabilities, while also adding an innovative new subscription offering to our platform.” Justin Park, QLGG co-founder and CEO, will continue to lead the business reporting to Entercom president of sports Mike Dee and Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley. Entercom adds that in 2021, under the company’s first full year of ownership, QL Gaming Group is expected to generate approximately $12 million in revenue with an EBITDA margin in the high 20s.

Flag Family Media Partners with Forum Communications to Operate WDAY-AM, Fargo. A deal between Flag Family Media and Forum Communications will give the former “an extensive role in WDAY-AM’s day-to-day operations and provides an eventual path to ownership.” Flag Family Media owns news/talk outlets WZFG, Fargo “AM 1100 The Flag” KTGO, Tioga, North Dakota “AM 1090 The Flag.” Both of Flag Family Media’s principals – Steve Hallstrom and Scott Hennen – have worked at WDAY-AM in the past. Forum president and CEO Bill Marcil, Jr says, “This partnership allows us to focus our attention on our in-depth TV, digital, and print news operations while still sustaining a strong local radio presence in the region. We know Flag Family Media will honor the legacy of WDAY-AM and are looking forward to seeing how they transform our region’s radio experience.” Scott Hennen adds, “This is an extremely significant day for our company, and we look forward to learning from, and working with, some great professionals at WDAY Radio. Steve and I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and bring some energy and creativity to this legendary radio station.”

WOR, New York’s Michael Riedel Publishes New Broadway Book. WOR, New York morning drive co-host Michael Riedel has released his second book, Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, 2020), that chronicles “a transformative decade on Broadway, featuring gripping behind-the-scenes accounts of shows such as Rent, Angels in America, Chicago, The Lion King, and The Producers. In this book, Riedel presents the drama behind every mega-hit or shocking flop, bringing readers into high-stakes premieres, fraught rehearsals, tough contract negotiations, intense Tony Award battles, and more. From the bitter feuds to the surprising collaborations, all the intrigue of a revolutionary era in the Theater District is packed into Singular Sensation. Broadway has triumphs and disasters, but the show always goes on. Riedel, who co-hosts the WOR morning show with Len Berman, says, “I’m a newspaper guy who’s become a radio guy. It’s been my great pleasure to host the morning show with Len Berman on WOR for nearly three years. Len spent his life in sports. I spent mine on Broadway. We certainly talk a lot about politics and current events, but variety is the spice of life, so sports and Broadway are always in the mix. Broadway’s going through a tough time right now, but my book, recounts a better time – the 1990s. I have no doubt that Broadway will be back one day, and Len and I will be there to cheer it on.”

TALKERS News Notes. As eyes and ears shift to Georgia for the January 5 runoff elections to decide that state’s two U.S. Senate races, Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher’s syndicated late morning talk show will “parachute into Georgia in December” as he launches a “Save The Senate” initiative. Gallagher will use Salem’s WGKA-AM, Atlanta “AM920 The ANSWER” as his December base to follow what promises to be the most expensive runoff election in U.S. history. Gallagher says, “This pair of runoff elections in Georgia will be enormously consequential for America. I’m eager to originate my show from the studios of ‘AM 920 The ANSWER’ in Atlanta for a number of days in December, highlighting the dramatic differences between the Republicans and the Democrats in the race. It is all-hands-on-deck for Georgia!”…..The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Cincinnati Public Radio’s WVXU-FM had to shut down its operations after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the station is without much local content until further notice. It posted to its website: “Our programming is being provided through a national feed with limited local information. We apologize for this inconvenience and are doing everything possible to maintain the service you expect. We will return to normal operations as quickly as it is safe to do so.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is presenting the 2020 Masters Tournament with exclusive hole-by-hole coverage beginning Thursday (11/12) through Sunday (11/15). The 84th Masters Tournament from Augusta National Golf Club is being played in November for the first time…..San Francisco public news/talk personality Michael Krasny is retiring from his position with KQED-FM where he’s been host of the late morning “Forum” program for almost 30 years. His last program will be on February 15, 2021. He says, “I want to thank all of the listeners, guests and exceptional colleagues I’ve had the great fortune to encounter over the years as host of Forum. I’ve been unusually fortunate to sustain such a long career serving the Bay Area in a role that allows me to participate in such rich and thoughtful conversations about the topics of our times.”

Biden Transition Process/Trump Refuses to Concede, Barr Orders ‘Irregularities’ Investigations, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Pfizer Vaccine, SCOTUS Obamacare Case, Trump Fires Esper, and Georgia Runoff Elections Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/9). President-Elect Joe Biden proceeds with the transition process while President Trump refuses to concede the election; Attorney General Bill Barr orders Justice Department election crimes office to investigate voter “irregularities”; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and in Europe and projections for fall and winter cases; Pfizer announces its COVID vaccine is 90% effective; the Supreme Court begins hearing arguments on the Affordable Care Act; President Trump fires Defense Secretary Mark Esper and appoints Christopher Miller acting secretary; and the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats 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. Country radio on-air pro Brooke Taylor is named midday host at iHeartMedia’s WSIX-FM, Nashville “The BIG 98.” Taylor was most recently with the company’s Chicago country station “BIG 95.5” until that station’s recent flip to a rock format. Taylor will continue to host the night show for iHeartMedia Denver’s “107.7 The Bull” and broadcast on several iHeartCountry stations across the country. She says, “When I set out to work in country music, one of the first things I prayed for was to be in Nashville one day, and the fact that this is becoming a reality is honestly a dream come true. I can’t wait to join an already incredible team at ‘The BIG 98’ and to represent the iHeartCountry brand.”…..Alpha Media Lincoln names Joe Dobbins, a.k.a. JDub, content director for CHR KFRX. JDub comes to Lincoln from Alpha’s CHR WDJX, Louisville where he was content director and afternoon show host. Alpha Media Lincoln operations manager Rob Kelley comments, “Joe is an outstanding programmer with outstanding vision. He is the perfect leader for our staff and for the brand of a great heritage CHR like KFRX.”…..iHeartMedia’s nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” announces that its fourth annual #Change4Change broadcast will feature a day of giving to help listeners in need. Traditionally a radiothon, this year’s event will grant wishes to listeners experiencing hardship. #Change4Change will broadcast on Thursday, November 19, 2020 on hip hop WWPR, New York “Power 105.1” and across more than 77 affiliates of “The Breakfast Club.”…..WXKB, Fort Myers “B103.9FM” morning personality and Army veteran Jason “Big Mama” Jones, in conjunction with ABC 7, raising awareness and support for Home Base Southwest Florida Veteran and Family Care on Veterans Day (11/11). Jones also hosts Beasley Media Group’s “Bravery Network,” a weekend program dedicated to shining a light on important issues and services available for veterans and their families. He says, “I am very excited about this partnership. Being able to use the power of radio and television to help raise awareness and money for the veterans of Southwest Florida. I am planning some ‘star’-studded guest for the day that will not only make show informative but very entertaining as well.”…..The CHR evening show “Party LiveLine!” partners with Sun Broadcast Group effective immediately. The program was created by John Garabedian and his hosted by Mason Kelter. SBG chief development officer Rich O’Brien says, “Broadcasters are worried about the loss of TSL among 18-34-year-olds, who spend extraordinary amounts of time with streaming services on their mobile devices. Add to this the negative effects which RIFs and voicetracking have had on the ratings of Top 40 stations, and until now there were no good alternatives. That’s why we are so excited to be offering this breakthrough Top 40 night show which is 100% live and interactive.”

Thursday, September 26, 2019

| September 26, 2019

‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ – Day 2.  Pictured above is conservative writer and media figure Ann Coulter (left) speaking on the air with Bill Meyer of KMED-AM, Medford, Oregon (right) at the 13th annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row, presented by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill.  This year, 72 talk radio hosts are taking part in the radio row, debating immigration policy, interviewing members of Congress, law enforcement officials, experts, activists, administration officials, and those who live and work along the Southern border.

WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans Talk Host Seth Dunlap to Sue Entercom; Company Brings Police into Anti-Gay Slur Incident.  WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans owner Entercom released a statement yesterday (9/25) regarding its investigation into the use of the station’s Twitter account to publish a gay slur about station sports talk host Seth Dunlap on September 10.  At the same time, Dunlap’s lawyer – Megan Kiefer – released a long public statement implying that Entercom has not shown Dunlap any proof of its investigation into trying to find the perpetrator and concludes saying they are preparing a suit against Entercom. (Read that in Kevin Allman’s piece in Gambit.)  Dunlap has been on leave from the station since September 12.  However, Entercom says in its statement, in part: “WWL has completed its investigation into the highly offensive, unauthorized tweet sent from WWL’s Twitter account on September 10, which directed a homophobic slur at Seth Dunlap.  WWL conducted this investigation with the assistance of and external digital forensic firm and outside counsel, and expended considerable internal resources both in New Orleans and on our corporate staff.  We determined that the most appropriate next step is to involve law enforcement.  At this point, the investigation is in the hands of law enforcement and it is not appropriate for us to comment any further on the substance of our findings.”  Kiefer says in her statement that Dunlap has taken and passed a polygraph test indicating he is not responsible for the tweet and, in promising the lawsuit, she adds that Dunlap has endured a “history of discrimination” during his eight years with the station.

Alpha Media and Salem Media Group Content to Be Available on Entercom’s RADIO.COM. The content distribution partnerships between Entercom’s RADIO.COM and broadcasting companies Alpha Media and Salem Media Group will put live channels for all of Alpha’s and Salem’s radio stations on the digital platform and provide a destination for the companies’ on-demand audio and podcasts.  Entercom’s growth of the RADIO.COM platform beyond hosting just its own content is seen in recent content distribution agreements with CNN, Bloomberg Media, Cox Media Group, and Bonneville.  Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley says, “These partnerships further position RADIO.COM as the premiere destination for live and on-demand audio news, entertainment, music and sports content in markets all across the U.S.”  Alpha Media content to be available on RADIO.COM includes livestream broadcasts from 183 stations in 12 markets. Salem Media Group content to be available on the digital platform includes livestreams from their portfolio of 115 radio stations, including 73 stations in the nation’s top 25 markets and 25 stations in the top 10, and over 700 podcasts. Salem Media Group will also partner with RADIO.COM to reach listeners directly and share information about local events, programming and promotions from their portfolio of stations.

‘WOR Live’ at The Cutting Room.  Pictured above are WOR, New York personalities and their guests who appeared in the second installment of “WOR Live,” yesterday (9/25) at The Cutting Room in New York City.  They had a spirited conversation about some of the day’s top stories, their radio careers, what has changed in radio in recent years, and how news reporting has changed in the wake of 9/11.  From left to right are: WABC-TV reporter Toni Yates, WOR personalities Mark Simone, Joe Bartlett, Len Berman, Michael Riedel, Joe Concha, and WABC-TV reporter N.J. Burkett.

Seen and Heard at the NAB/RAB Radio Show. TALKERS magazine special features correspondent Jeff McKay checks in from the NAB/RAB Radio Show in Dallas in which he reports on the “2020 and Beyond: Insights from the Top” session with executives from top radio companies, as well as thoughts about monetizing podcasting and terrestrial radio in the era of media convergence.  Read his report here.

TALKERS News Notes. On the same day that e-cigarette manufacturer Juul announced it is suspending all marketing efforts in the wake of the recent deaths being attributed to vaping, Entercom sent an internal email to its sales force that it is no longer accepting advertising for vaping products.  Earlier this week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a public health emergency and banned the sale of all vaping products for four months…..The new podcast from Lemonada is titled, “Last Day,” and is hosted by Lemonada co-founder Stephanie Wittels Wachs.  The program addresses the opioid crisis – reported to have taken 72,000 lives in the U.S. in 2017 – focusing on the last day of a victim’s life.  Wachs lost her brother Harris to opioid addiction.  She says, “We’re telling my brother’s story because it’s emblematic of so many stories of people taken too soon by this disease, and we think demystifying one person’s last day and their overall experience will help remove the stigma and shine light on solutions.”…..Season 4 of iHeartRadio’s Original Music Podcast, “Disgraceland” – produced and hosted by Jake Brenan – premieres today (9/26) on the iHeartPodcast Network.  iHeartMedia says, “In the first episode of the musical true crime podcast, Brenan covers hip hop legends N.W.A., the self-proclaimed, ‘most dangerous hip hop group in America.’  Other programs this season include and examination of: Led Zeppelin and the dangers of the band’s guitarist, Jimmy Page; the story behind Madonna’s difficult and deeply saddening rise to fame; and even explores Eric Clapton’s drug addiction and his murderous drummer.”

Trump-Ukraine Controversy/Impeachment Inquiry, 2020 Presidential Election, Brexit Chaos, Jacques Chirac Dies, and Joker Screening Threats Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/25). The controversy over President Donald Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the Democrats’ move to begin an impeachment inquiry; the Democrats vying to challenge Trump in 2020; the political chaos in Britain over Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy; the death of former French President Jacques Chirac; and the reports of possible threats of violence and public screenings of the new film, The Joker, were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Charlotte Job Opportunity. In the Charlotte, North Carolina market, Entercom is seeking a part-time news anchor for news/talk WBT-AM/FM.  The company posts the following job description: “You’re an engaging, experienced on-air personality.  You’re a great storyteller.  You know how to get to the heart of a story and make it relatable to the listener. You’re never satisfied with knowing just the “Who?, What?, Where?, and When?” of a story; you always seek to know, “Why?”  If this sounds like you, News Talk 1110 & 99.3 WBT Charlotte would like to hear from you.”  Get more information and apply here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In New York City, iHeartMedia names Greg T the new co-host for the morning show on hot AC WTKU.  The new “Carolina with Greg T in the Morning Show” debuts on October 9.   Carolina Bermudez says, “After a summer of having the opportunity to share the studio with some of the best and brightest on-air hosts across the country, it just made sense to welcome my brother Greg T to the KTU family.  I couldn’t be happier and can’t wait to welcome him to his new radio home!”  Greg T has been a part of the Elvis Duran show for the past 23 years.  As he moves across the hall to his new gig, Duran says, “Greg T is a major part of our show’s 25-year success story and I will miss him dearly.  We applaud his courage and determination to keep moving forward. I am so proud of him!”…..iHeartMedia adult contemporary KSNR, Las Vegas “Sunny 106.5” names AJ Maguire morning drive personality in which he joins the station’s Joanna Baumann for the “AJ and Joanna Morning Show.”  iHeartMedia SVP of programming Tony Matteo says, “We’re excited to have AJ anchoring morning drive on ‘Sunny 106.5.’  Adding AJ’s skill as a storyteller and entertainer to the already strong ‘Sunny 106.5’ Las Vegas brand puts the station in the perfect position for growth and success.”  Maguire joins the station from Cox Media Group, where he most recently served as the afternoon host for country WWKA and classic hits WMMO in Orlando for the past three years…..Entercom’s hot AC WSTR, Atlanta “Star 94.1” names programming pro Jerry McKenna program director, effective September 30.  McKenna was most recently with Cape Cod Broadcasting as director of programming.  He previously served with Entercom in Springfield and Boston, Massachusetts.  Entercom Atlanta SVP and market manager Rick Caffey says, “I am excited for Jerry McKenna to bring his breadth of knowledge to ‘Star 94.1.’  His insight and experience will be invaluable as we continue to deliver the engaging content Atlanta listeners deserve and expect from our station.”…..Skyview Networks announces “The Dana Cortez Show” is added to the program schedule at Riviera Broadcast Group’s hip hop KKFR-FM, Mayer, Arizona (Phoenix market).   This is the first top 15 market station to add the show to its lineup…..Sun Broadcast Group reports the Michael Baisden show is back on the air in his hometown of Chicago on dance-formatted W236CF, Chicago/W236CG, Bolingbrook “95.1 FM Club Steppin.”…..Townsquare Media Billings, Montana brings Michael Foth aboard as brand manager for classic rock KMHK “103.7 The Hawk.”  He says, “Reaching people on digital platforms is something that was only imagined by most terrestrial broadcast companies 10 or 15 years ago.  Radio is in the middle of a unique transformation and Townsquare Media is a leader in the industry.  I’m excited to be a part of this evolution.”

Thursday, September 19, 2019

| September 19, 2019

Nick Reed Back in PD Chair at KSGF, Springfield, Missouri. News/talk KSGF-AM/FM, Springfield, Missouri morning personality Nick Reed is promoted to program director of the SummitMedia station. Reed joined the station in 2010 as PD and morning host but, for the past several years, has focused solely on his morning show.  Now, he again takes on the program director role.  SummitMedia Springfield president Janelle Moffett says, “Nick’s insight and years of experience are a great asset to our group.  We’re fortunate to have him on our team!”  Reed comments, “I am so very happy to be with KSGF under SummitMedia right now.  There really is a positive energy underway that made me want to be back in the saddle as program director of KSGF.”

Cumulus Media Announces Pricing of $525 Million Senior Secured Term Loan B. In the process of announcing in the pricing of a new $525 million senior secured term loan B due March 2026, Cumulus Media says that upon the closing of the new term loan (expected next week), it “will have fully refinanced the $1.3 billion term loan that the company assumed upon emergence from Chapter 11 on June 4, 2018.”  The new term loan will have an interest rate of LIBOR plus 3.75% with a 1.00% LIBOR floor, issued at 99.5% of par. Proceeds from this issuance, along with cash on hand, will be used to pay down and refinance the company’s existing term loan. Cumulus’ debt will then consist of the $525 million new term loan and $500 million of secured bonds issued in June 2019, representing a $275 million reduction in total debt since emergence.  Cumulus says its financial position will be further improved by the lower interest rates and 2026 maturity of the new debt.

Erick Erickson Show Deep-Diving into Georgia Politics. The recently launched, WGAU, Athens, Georgia-based Erick Erickson show reports that it is doing what it intended to do when host Erickson and Cox Media Group first began considering the project – covering Georgia politics. Erickson’s new program is distributed statewide via the Georgia News Network, airing live from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon.  The company says, “A month into the new Erick Erickson Radio Show, Georgia political leaders are taking advantage of having a new statewide radio program.  In just the last three days, Erickson has interviewed Governor Brian Kemp, Senator David Perdue, and Congressmen Doug Collins and Jody Hice.  Collins is the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and Erickson was able to interview Collins to update listeners on the headline-grabbing proceeding of that committee.”

WOR Live Event to Address ‘Rebuilding NYC’s Skyline.’  Next Wednesday (9/25), the “WOR Live” series at The Cutting Room brings in experts to discuss “Rebuilding NYC’s Skyline: Past, Present & Future.”  This event is being moderated by Len Berman, co-host of “Len Berman & Michael Riedel in the Morning” on WOR, New York. Joining Berman at the lunchtime event will be: Gary LaBarbera, president of Bldg & Construction Trades Council NYC; John Murphy, international rep for United Assoc Plumbers and Pipe Fitters; Thomas Hill, SVP of Boston Properties; and Mark Gregorio, president of TEI Group.

TALKERS News Notes. At the “Drive to Digital 2019” conference taking place at London’s The British Library Knowledge Centre on October 30, Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley will be featured in the “Driving the Digital Dash” automotive portion of the conference. Beasley, along with numerous audio and tech experts from around the world, will share her insights on key automotive technology trends and the impact on radio listening in cars…..Entercom’s RADIO.COM platform is announcing a new, original podcast for New York Yankees fans, hosted by legendary Yankees play-by-play man John Sterling, titled, “Pinstripes & Bright Lights.”  The weekly podcast will focus on baseball and Yankees history.  RADIO.COM SVP and general manager Pam Russo says, “As part of our ongoing content strategy, we seek to diversify on-demand audio offerings on RADIO.COM, the premiere destination for live and on-demand audio and sports content in the U.S.  John is a legendary broadcaster with an unprecedented reputation among baseball fans across the country and we’re looking forward to hearing his insider stories.”…..The nationally syndicated “Around The House with Eric G.” show – syndicated by Envision Networks – is added to the program schedule at Sinclair Broadcast Group’s KVI-AM, Seattle “Talk Radio 570.”  Eric G. says, “After spending most of my design career in Seattle, it is good to be back home.”

Iran’s War Threats/Saudi Oil Attack, 2020 Presidential Race, Kavanaugh Allegations, Dems Impeachment Strategy, and New National Security Adviser Named Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/18). Iran’s threat of “all-out war” after being accused of responsibility for the attack on a Saudi oil production facility; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; the allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and criticism of The New York Times’ opinion editor; the ongoing talk of impeachment of the president by congressional Democrats; and the naming of Robert O’Brien as the new national security adviser 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 Northeastern Wisconsin, Roger Utnhmer is retiring, and his Nicolet Broadcasting is selling its five-station cluster – along with two digital local news platforms – to his sales manager, Bryan Mazur.  Nicolet owns adult standards WBDK, Algoma; classic hits WRKU, Forestville; country WRLU, Algoma; WSBW, Ephraim; and translator W277BP, Sturgeon Bay.   In a Facebook post, Utnhmer says, “I appreciate the great people who have made Nicolet Broadcasting a successful company.  Those include Jeff Wagner in Antigo, Bruce McNeill in Eagle River, Paul Eck in Park Falls and Paul Schmitt and Tim Kowols in Sturgeon Bay.  These guys made me look better than I really am… Thank you for being among the best of the best.  And now to Bryan Mazur I wish you all success going forward. You are inheriting a very solid staff and one of the most beautiful markets in American radio.”…..Pictured below is Beasley Media Philadelphia air personality Kathy Romano (left) with ABC News and “Good Morning America” chief meteorologist Ginger Zee (right) at the 95.7 BEN FM 3rd annual Her Story Luncheon, held yesterday (9/18) in Philadelphia.  Romano is co-host of WMMR’s “Preston and Steve” show as well as the weekly “Her Story” program on sister WBEN-FM. The program showcases dynamic women that are making a significant impact in the community via their business, their charity work or a combination of both.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

| June 4, 2019

Lars Larson Inks New Deal with Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland. Talk radio star Lars Larson signs a new deal to continue hosting his daily program on Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland “FM News 101” through 2024.  As part of the deal, Larson’s 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm PT show is also broadcast to 21 stations in the Pacific Northwest via Alpha Media’s Radio Northwest Network.  Larson’s national radio show airs live on some 125 affiliate stations from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm PT via syndicator Compass Media Networks (with whom Larson also holds a multi-year contract).  Alpha Media SVP and market manager Lisa Decker says, “With the biggest local talk radio audience in the region, ‘The Lars Larson Show’ reaches more than 3.5 million listeners.  All of us at Alpha Media Portland, our listeners, and our advertisers are excited to extend our relationship with Lars for the next five years.”  Larson comments, “I’m thrilled to renew my relationship with a station I’ve been with through half a dozen presidents, a dozen NW governors, a live volcano eruption, and more than 25 years as a reporter, anchor, and now talk host.”

Cumulus Makes WABC Programmer Change Official. Yesterday (6/3), TALKERS magazine reported that former hot AC WPLJ, New York program director Dave LaBrozzi has taken over the programming reigns of Cumulus Media’s heritage news/talk WABC, New York, replacing Craig Schwalb.  Now, the company makes it official with a press release. LaBrozzi joined WPLJ in May of 2018.  Prior to that he was VP of programming for what is now Entercom’s Baltimore cluster (when it was owned by CBS RADIO) that includes sports talk duo WJZ-FM “105.7 The Fan” and WJZ-AM “CBS Sports Radio 1300.”  He previously served as regional vice president of programming for iHeartMedia (back when it was Clear Channel) overseeing stations in Pittsburgh; Wheeling, West Virginia; and Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  Cumulus New York VP and market manager Chad Lopez says, “Dave will be an incredible asset to 77 WABC and Radio 103.9/WNBM-FM, and brings experience in both the news/talk and urban AC formats to his new role with Cumulus New York.  We are looking forward to continuing to grow these stations and to giving their passionate listeners even more of the content and community connection that they rely on and enjoy every day.”

The Thompson Family’s Big Radio to Acquire Two More in Janesville, Wisconsin. Two historical Janesville, Wisconsin radio stations are changing hands as Skip BlissSouthern Wisconsin Broadcasting (a subsidiary of Bliss Communications) agrees to sell heritage news/talk WCLO-AM and country WJVL-FM to Ben Thompson-led Big Radio for an undisclosed sum.  Buyer Big Radio operates eight stations in the Southern Wisconsin markets of Beloit, Freeport, Monroe, and Janesville.  Skip Bliss’ father put WCLO on the air in 1930 and WJVL-FM launched in 1947.  Meanwhile, Big Radio was founded by Ben’s father Scott Thompson in 1996 with the purchase of two Monroe stations.  The sale announcement states that “[u]nder Ben’s leadership, Big Radio remains committed to its founding ideals, providing superior coverage of the community’s local news, sports, entertainment, and information.  Big Radio provides local news 365 days a year and its sports department broadcast over 350 regional high school sporting events last year.  Ben Thompson and Big Radio believe the future of radio is local, and aggressively pursue this strategy to the benefit of its listeners and advertisers.”  Kalil & Co., Inc. represents the buyer in this transaction.

New York’s WOR to Present Live Event Speaker Series. Big Apple news/talk WOR is launching an event series called “WOR Live” that will feature in-depth interviews and compelling speakers.  iHeartMedia announces that for the first event, station morning personality Len Berman will moderate a panel that will analyze the news business in 2019.  Joining Berman will be New York news personalities Rosanna Scotto – co-host of WNYW-TV’s “Good Day New York” – and Ernie Anastos, news anchor at WNYW “FOX News 5.”  The event also features networking opportunities and lunch and takes place at the Cutting Room on June 19 at 11:30 am.

Entercom’s New York All-News Stations Win Big at NYSAPA. WCBS-AM and WINS-AM – both all-news outlets operated by Entercom Communications – won a total of 16 2018 New York State Associated Press Association Awards. WCBS 880 received first place in seven categories, including top honor for “Outstanding News Operation for Radio.”  Sister station 1010 WINS was recognized with top honors in three categories, including for Best Newscast and Best Weathercast.  The stations collectively received second place finishes in six categories.  Winners were honored at NYSAPA’s annual awards dinner on June 1 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Trump’s UK Visit, 2020 Presidential Race, Deadly Virginia Beach Shootings, U.S.-China Tensions, Mexican Tariff Proposal/Immigration Issues, Big Tech Anti-Trust Investigation, and Holzhauer’s ‘Jeopardy!’ Run Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/3). The official state visit to the U.K. by President Trump; the Democrats vying to challenge Trump in 2020; the aftermath of the shootings in Virginia Beach that left 12 dead; the diplomatic and economic tensions between the U.S. and China over the tariffs the U.S. has slapped on Chinese exports; the Trump Administration’s plan to place tariffs on Mexican exports and the Southern border immigration issues; the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation into possible Big Tech anti-trust activity; and James Holzhauer’s improbable “Jeopardy!” run 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 Detroit, iHeartMedia names Bill Black director of urban programming for hip hop WJLB and urban contemporary WMXD “MIX 92.3,” taking over for Nate Bell, who left that position earlier this year.  Black comes to Detroit from his most recent position with Radio One in Cleveland programming hip hop WENZ and urban contemporary WZAK.  He says, “I am really thrilled to join the iHeartMedia team and be able to do what I love. The talented programmers that I get to collaborate with, coupled with these legendary Detroit urban stations are unmatched and I’m excited to get to work.”…..iHeartMedia appoints Dustin “Fletcher” Matthews program director for alternative WEND, Charlotte “106.5 The End,” effective June 10.  Matthews moves from the company’s St. Louis region where he was director of alternative rock programming.  iHeartMedia Virginia-Carolina Region SVP Chadwick “A.J.” Hausknecht says, “Dustin is one of the best alternative format programmers in the country.  His unmeasurable creativity and distinctive out-of-the-box thinking will be a great addition to our super passionate and strategic programming family here at iHeartMedia Charlotte.”…..Alpha Media announces that programmer Brown is moving from his PD position in Louisville to Columbia, South Carolina where he’ll serve as operations manager.  He continues as format captain for the company’s urban, urban AC, and gospel brands.  Alpha Media regional president Mike Hartel says, “Brown is a natural leader and he has been a star in our company for a while now.  We can’t wait to bring his big ideas and his big heart to our organization and our community in Columbia!”…..This past weekend, Premiere Networks-syndicated personality Delilah (left) appeared on the Food Network program,  “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen,” hosted by country star Trisha Yearwood (right).  Yearwood also sat down for an interview with Delilah for her podcast “Love Someone with Delilah.”  The three-time Grammy Award-winner discussed her life and career, including her first full-length studio album in more than 10 years, Let’s Be Frank: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra…..Entercom expands its LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network CHANNEL Q to new markets, including: Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, and Washington D.C.  The network now brings the latest in LGBTQ+ news and information, pop culture, and new music to listeners in a total of 19 local markets and via the RADIO.COM app nationwide…..WAQX, New York morning personality Shelli Sonstein – longtime co-host of Q104.3’s “Jim Kerr Rock & Roll Morning Show” – led her fundraising team in the 2019 NYC Tunnel to Towers Climb that benefits the families of first responders and military personnel killed in action.  Sonstein led her team (pictured below) in their age group with a record time climbing the 104 stories of the World Trade Center.  She says, “I would like to thank Elvis Duran and my co-host Jim Kerr for their very generous donations, and of course, ‘Q104.3’ and iHeartMedia for supporting my efforts.  My entire team finished this very difficult climb and vows to be back again next year to raise even more funds and awareness of this great organization.”

Thursday, March 7, 2019

| March 7, 2019

KGO, San Francisco Announces New Lineup.  Bay Area news/talk icon KGO 810 is unveiling its new lineup of talk show hosts that will begin on Monday (3/11).  Earlier this week the station elected not to renew the contract of midday host Ethan Bearman.  Now, the Cumulus Media station announces three personalities are joining the daily lineup: Mark Thompson, Pat Thurston, and John Rothman. Thompson’s show airs from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, Thurston is on from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, and Rothman holds down the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm shift.  KGO program director and operations manager Lee Hammer says, “I’m excited to be able to add more live and local programming to KGO.  KGO is talking about the major stories of the day and the impact they have on our daily life.  To get those conversations started, we’ve added three outstanding and veteran talk show hosts, each with their own unique style of engaging, informing and entertaining our listeners.”  Mark Thompson has worked at KGO previously, in addition to KABC and KFI in Los Angeles. He’s also a veteran TV weather reporter and worked at KRON-TV, San Francisco.  Pat Thurston has been a weekend host at KGO for the past 12 years. She is an Army veteran who also worked for the Secret Service.  John Rothman has a varied professional background as a former college professor, author, lecturer, foreign policy consultant and expert on the U.S. presidency.  Rothman hosted various shows on KGO since 1996.

Chris Stigall and WPHT, Philadelphia Part Company.  Talk radio host Chris Stigall has exited Entercom’s news/talk WPHT, Philadelphia after almost nine years with the station.  As of Wednesday (3/6), Stigall’s bio, etc. was gone from the WPHT website and Jeff Bolton was sitting in on the morning show. Philadelphia Magazine reports it has confirmed that Stigall is no longer with the station.  Reporter Victor Fiorillo writes that “according to sources close to the Stigall situation, the split wasn’t ugly.  Those sources say that 1210AM simply decided not to renew Stigall’s contract.”  There’s been no public comment by Entercom about its plans to replace Stigall.  He’d arrived in Philly from Kansas City in 2010 where’d hosted a show on KCMO-AM.

Mike North Returns to Chicago Airwaves for Weekly Sports Betting Show on ‘ESPN 1000.’ Chicago sports radio icon Mike North is returning to the air as co-host of “The ODDS Couple” with Carmen DeFalco on ESPN’s WMVP “ESPN 1000.”   The weekly, one-hour program focused on sports betting debuts tomorrow (3/8) at 6:00 pm. WMVP vice president and general manager Jim Pastor says, “As sports betting moves from the shadows to the spotlight, we expect to be a destination for those who participate and those who want to be entertained.  This isn’t only going to be about updated betting lines and hot tips.  It’s about the highs, the lows, and how to succeed and have fun whether you’re a grizzled veteran or a newcomer to sports betting.  Those in betting circles already know of Mike’s incredible track record as a long-time gambling expert.  Bringing Mike back to Chicago’s airwaves to become a lead voice in local sports betting was too good to pass up.  Pairing him with ESPN1000’s resident gambling guru, Carmen DeFalco, was a no brainer.”  North spent most of his radio career on the air at crosstown sports talker WSCR “The Score.”  DeFalco co-hosts WMVP’s midday “Carmen & Jurko” show with John Jurkovic.

Details of Cox Media Group Assets Sale Revealed. Last month’s announcement by Cox Enterprises that it is selling its television assets, the Dayton Daily News and radio stations news/talk WHIO-AM/FM, classic hits WZLR, and country WHKO in Dayton to Apollo Global Management did not come with a price tag.  Now that details have been filed and made public, we know that Apollo will pay $3.1 billion for the media properties.  Technically, the buyer is Terrier Media Buyer Inc. and the two radio stations will operate under the Camelot Radio name.

Edison Research and Triton Digital Unveil The Infinite Dial 2019. The 2019 Infinite Dial study from Edison Research and Triton Digital has been made public and the companies say that the growth of podcasting is evident as among the U.S. population ages 12 and older, the total number of people who have ever listened to a podcast passes 50% for the first time. Edison Research SVP Tom Webster says, “This is a watershed moment for podcasting–a true milestone.  With over half of Americans 12+ saying that they have ever listened to a podcast, the medium has firmly crossed into the mainstream.”  Other findings from this year’s study include that more than half the U.S. population now reports having used YouTube specifically for music in the last week.  That number is now 70% among 12 to 34-year-olds.  It also found that the percentage of Americans who listen to online audio (defined as listening to AM/FM radio stations online and/or listening to streamed audio content available only on the internet) has doubled since 2012, growing from one-third of the population to two-thirds.  See more here.

Alana Lujan Named Director of Sales for CMG Jacksonville. Rising from integrated digital sales manager to director of sales for Cox Media Group’s Jacksonville radio cluster is Alana Lujan.  In her new role, she’ll lead the sales effort for the market’s radio and Local Solutions brands, including news/talk WOKV-FM, sports talk WOKV-AM “ESPN 690,” and six music radio outlets.  She says, “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to lead our strong and talented sales team in Jacksonville.  I’m excited for this new adventure and to bring my experience in broadcast and digital sales as well as my love of radio to help this team achieve new levels of success.”

MIW Group Extends Mentoring Program Application Deadline to March 11. Persons interested in applying for the Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio (MIW) Group’s 2019 MIW Group Mildred Carter Mentoring Program have until Monday, March 11 to do so.  This notable experience pairs up-and-coming women, who have spent a minimum of five years in the radio industry, with female professionals recognized as leaders in all aspects of radio broadcasting and media.  A total of four candidates from within the radio broadcasting industry – including management, sales, marketing, programming and digital disciplines – will be selected for the 2019 program. For mentee criteria, and instructions on how to apply, please visit www.radiomiw.com.

WOR’s Berman and Riedel Turn One!  Pictured above is the WOR, New York morning show team celebrating the one-year anniversary of the “Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning” show.  Pictured (from l-r) are: Michael Riedel, executive producer Natalie Vacca, and Len Berman.

U.S.-Mexico Border Situation, Trump-Russia Investigation/Manafort Sentencing, Democrats’ Anti-Semitism Resolution, North Korea Weapons Program, DNC Bars FOX, Anti-Vaxer Controversies, Alex Trebek Cancer Diagnosis, ‘Leaving Neverland’ Controversy, and NBA and NCAA Basketball Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/6). The large number of illegals reportedly crossing the U.S.-Mexico border; the investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents and the related sentencing of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort; the fracture in the Democratic Party with no vote on the anti-Semitism resolution; reports of North Korea’s re-boot of its missile program; the Democratic National Committee’s barring FOX News from covering the Democratic primary debates; the various controversies over anti-vaccination beliefs; “Jeopary!” host Alex Trebek announces his diagnosis of stage four prostate cancer; the banning of Michael Jackson records and the aftermath of HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” film; and NBA and NCAA basketball action 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. Metaphorical shock waves were felt across Southern California yesterday (3/6) when KROQ, Los Angeles morning personality Gene “Bean” Baxter announced he’d be leaving the “Kevin & Bean” show by the end of this year.  Baxter has hosted the show with Kevin Ryder on Entercom’s alternative station since 1990.  Telling his audience that “30 years is a good time to stop,” he says he plans to re-locate to England after he finishes his career with the station…..Cumulus Media and Westwood One announce that air personality Stew James will assume the afternoon drive host duties on WSM-FM, Nashville “95.5 NASH Icon and the national Westwood One NASH Icon Network. James has most recently served with the company as weekend air talent and technical producer of “The Ty Bentli Show.”…..The syndicated weekend radio show “Sunday Night Slow Jams” adds new affiliates to bring its total affiliate roster to 175 stations worldwide.  New stations include: XHTO-FM, El Paso; WLMI-FM, Lansing, Michigan; and KHTH-FM, Santa Rosa, California…..iHeartMedia and FOX Broadcasting Company announce that Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter T-Pain will serve as host of the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards taking place on March 14 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.  The live two-hour event will be broadcast live on FOX TV, iHeartMedia radio stations, and the iHeartRadio platform.