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Thursday, May 27, 2021

| May 27, 2021

Premiere Networks to Syndicate “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” in Rush Limbaugh’s Old Daypart. A source at Premiere Networks confirms the story in today’s Wall Street Journal that reports Premiere will begin syndicating “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart, beginning June 21. Sexton, a former CIA officer and NYPD counter-terrorism expert currently hosts an eponymous 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET show for Premiere Networks and Clay Travis – founder of Outkick (which he just sold to FOX) – hosts the morning drive “Outkick the Coverage” show on FOX Sports Radio. Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott is quoted saying, “We’re not going to replace Rush Limbaugh, we’re going to have an evolution of the show with fresh voices — those that grew up on Rush and admired him.” Clay Travis writes a piece at Outkick today explaining that this has been in the works for months and he gives his rationale for leaving the morning sports show behind to work with Sexton on the new talk radio show.

‘News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis’ to Debut on July 4. The launch of Cumulus Media’s new talk station is set for July 4 and the company announces that WKIM-FM, “News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis” will be the official flagship radio station for the University of Memphis Tigers. As such, the deal with Tiger Sports Properties means the station will air every football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball game starting in August. The agreement also includes broadcasting of the weekly one-hour football and men’s basketball coaches’ shows with Ryan Silverfield and Penny Hardaway, respectively. Cumulus does not reveal the daily programming to be heard on the station outside of Westwood One’s newly launched “Dan Bongino Show.” Cumulus Memphis VP and market manager Morgan Bohannon says, “At Cumulus, we believe strongly that ‘what’s good for Memphis is good for us,’ and that commitment to our community drives all that we do. One of our most important priorities and responsibilities as a local broadcaster is to help make Memphis a better place. Becoming the flagship radio partner of Memphis Tiger Athletics, an entity that is so beloved by our city and its residents, is the opportunity of a lifetime. Cumulus Memphis has the largest live, local and homegrown team in the radio industry – all of whom are incredibly excited about becoming the radio home of the Memphis Tigers. We are thrilled to put the full power of four 100,000-watt stations behind the partnership. KIX-106, 98.1 The Max, 103.5 WRBO and the all-new ‘News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis’ will work in concert to raise the level of awareness and celebrate all that is Memphis Tiger Athletics. Rebranding ‘98.9 The Bridge’ and changing the format of the station is just one more step to showcase Tiger Athletics and all that it means to Memphis. We are excited and eager to begin a new and long-lasting partnership with the University of Memphis, Learfield IMG College and Tiger Sports Properties.”

Real Estate Powerhouse/Radio Talk Show Host Dottie Herman Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The CEO of Douglas Elliman, one of the nation’s oldest and largest real estate brokerage firms, Dottie Herman, is this week’s guest on the PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” She is also the host of a long-running talk show, “Eye On Real Estate” on WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer” that has evolved into a weekend radio institution in the Big Apple. Herman has received numerous high-level honors for both her executive and entrepreneurial leadership in the field of real estate and is on just about every prestigious magazine list of the most powerful women in American business. Michael Harrison says, “Dottie Herman is at the potentially explosive junction where real estate and talk radio meet. The topic is hot and getting hotter tying into all aspects of American life – politics, economics, business, education, and the entire menu of news/talk radio staples. Not to mention, it can attract advertisers from a wide array of industries from banks to home maintenance. Dottie Herman brings the ‘wise woman’ persona reminiscent of some of radio’s greatest talk performers and on-air advisors into a modern context. We discuss everything from her dramatic childhood to her dynamic self-made career as a real estate giant to her role in talk radio including the economy, her perspective on Donald Trump based on her relationship with him in the real estate business, and entrepreneurism in America.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

WVHU, Huntington, West Virginia’s Tom Roten Celebrates 20 Years. Talk radio personality Tom Roten, known to his listeners as “The Straight Shooter,” celebrates his 20th year hosting the morning show on iHeartMedia’s WVHU, Huntington “NewsRadio 800.” Roten began his career with WVHU in 1991 when he began his 15-year stint as the station’s sports play-by-play announcer. In June of 2001, when the station switched to news/talk, Roten became the morning drive host. Roten recalls how he transitioned to the morning show. “I was wrapping up a high school basketball broadcast when I saw a recently elected first-time member of Congress waiting with other parents for her son to come out of the locker room. I asked Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to join me for the postgame report. We talked about the game of course, but I also asked her about being sworn into the U.S. House just a month prior. I didn’t realize it at the time, but members of management were listening to the interview and had been looking for a local morning talk host to fill out the lineup of the station’s new talk format. We had Rush Limbaugh, but the rest of the lineup was still up in the air.” He was offered the morning gig and agreed to try it for a year. About his 20-year morning talk career, he says, “It’s hard to believe really. I’m blessed to have had this opportunity and I’m thankful the listeners and advertisers have stuck with me in my quest to deliver truth, opinion, and, hopefully, some entertainment. Talking about what’s going on in our region and in the nation from a local perspective has helped me bond with my listeners.”

Cumulus Media Moves to Pay Down $175 Million in Debt. The company announces it is taking steps to pay down $175 million of debt using cash on hand. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “As I noted on our recent earnings call, the continuing improvement in economic and public health conditions is fueling very encouraging momentum across all our businesses. Against that backdrop, we are accelerating debt repayments, which will de-lever the balance sheet more quickly, reduce interest expense, and further increase our free cash flow. Since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018, we have reduced our net debt by almost $600 million, despite the impact of a global pandemic. Looking ahead, our better leverage profile and more than $200 million of available liquidity will provide us meaningful financial flexibility as we continue along our strong rebound trajectory. Cumulus Media’s strong competitive position, proven track record of solid execution, numerous revenue growth drivers, and ability to consistently generate significant free cash flow give us multiple pathways along which to grow shareholder value in the short- and long-term.” On May 17, Cumulus completed a $60 million repayment of its ABL Revolver due 2025, which represented the entirety of the amount outstanding under the facility. Following the paydown, the ABL Revolver due 2025 is undrawn and available as liquidity for general corporate purposes. Cumulus was required by the terms of its debt agreements to make mandatory debt prepayments from the proceeds of its previously announced sale of land in Bethesda, MD, in June 2020 and sale of towers and related assets in September 2020, after giving effect to a right of reinvestment. On May 25, the company paid down approximately $89 million of its Term Loan Credit Facility due 2026 related to this mandatory prepayment obligation. Approximately $65 million of the prepayment related to the Land Sale, and approximately $23 million of the prepayment related to the Tower Sale. Additionally, pursuant to the terms of its 6.75% Senior Secured First Lien Notes due 2026, the company launched a tender offer for the Notes at par for approximately $26 million, which represents the pro rata amount required to be offered from the proceeds of the Tower Sale. Following the expiration of the tender offer, any amounts that remain untendered will be directed toward an additional prepayment of the Term Loan.

TALKERS News Notes. Former President Donald J. Trump has been making appearances on talk radio programs recently, including a guest spot on the USA Radio Network-syndicated “Wayne Allyn Root: Raw and Unfiltered.”…..Audacy’s Cadence13 announces the launch of a new, weekly podcast titled, “That Thing I Do,” starring Grammy-nominated bassist Este Haim and Emmy Award-winning actor Darren Criss on which the close friends will share their mutual love of music, pop culture, and more with special guests. “That Thing I Do” will be a “raucous deep-dive into the funny and strange quirks of those successful people, and an investigation of what it is about ‘that thing they do’ that makes them who they are.”…..On Tuesday, June 1 ABC News kicks off Pride Month with the two-episode premiere of its first LGBTQ+ issue-focused podcast, “Life Out Loud with LZ Granderson.” The ABC News contributor says, “We lost so many stories to the AIDS epidemic, violence, harassment and silence due to fear. I’m passionate about creating a space to capture these underreported stories and untold oral histories, while also celebrating the joys of living ‘life out loud’ and where we’re going as a community.”…..WGN-AM, Chicago host and contributor Dane Neal will broadcast live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday (5/30), 6:30 am to 10:00 am, leading up to WGN’s coverage of the 105th Indianapolis 500. IMS president J. Douglas Boles says, “We welcome Dane Neal and WGN back home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 105th Running of the Indy 500 for a live pre-race show followed by the live race broadcast. Chicago’s Very Own has such a rich tradition with the ‘500’ and the Speedway, as it was a broadcast pioneer by starting its coverage of the race nearly 100 years ago.”…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs” show is added to the program schedule at Ultimate Caps Inc’s KBFS-AM, Belle Fourche, South Dakota and KYDT-FM, Pine Haven, Wyoming.

San Jose Mass Shooting, COVID-19 Origin Controversy, January 6 Commission, Trump Org Grand Jury, Election Audits, Inflation Fears, Gaza Cease-Fire/Anti-Semitic Violence, Border Crisis, and Biden-Putin Meeting Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/26). The shooting deaths of 8 people at a rail yard in San Jose; the growing call for investigation into the origin of the coronavirus and China’s pushback over the lab leak theory; the GOP’s hesitation over creating a January 6 Commission to investigate the Capitol invasion; Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. convenes a grand jury to consider indictments in the criminal investigation of the Trump Organization; the 2020 election audits taking place in New Hampshire and Arizona; soaring consumer prices and fears of inflation; the cease-fire in Gaza and instances of violence against Jews in the U.S. and abroad; the crush of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border; and the planned meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

| February 23, 2021

Cumulus Media Reports 2020 Q4 Net Revenue Down 13.9%; Net Revenue for Full Year of 2020 Declines 26.7%. The second major radio company to report financial figures from the fourth quarter and the full year of 2020 (Beasley was first back on February 10), Cumulus Media reports net revenue of $245.8 million for the fourth quarter – a decline of 13.9% compared to the same period in 2019 – and full year 2020 net revenue of $816 million, down 26.7% from $1.1 billion reported in 2019. For Q4, Cumulus posted a loss of $249,000 a year after 2019’s Q4 income of $1.6 million. For the full year of 2019, the company posted a loss of $57.9 million compared to 2019’s full year income of $62.2 million. On the positive side, Cumulus reports that quarterly revenue improved sequentially from Q2 to Q4, both in total and excluding political; it achieved 9.4% year-over-year digital revenue growth (12.1% on a same station basis), driven by podcasting growth of nearly 40%; it generated $33.2 million of cash from operations for the full year; it completed two significant M&A transactions generating aggregate gross proceeds of $282 million; paid down $54.3 million of term loan and retired $47.2 million of senior notes; and finished the year with $271.8 million of cash on hand (an increase of $256.6 million compared with December 31, 2019). President and CEO Mary Berner comments, “Given 2020’s extenuating circumstances, I am extremely proud of the company’s performance and the efforts of the entire Cumulus team to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19. In the face of the pandemic, we maximized revenue performance, materially reduced expenses, generated cash through strong working capital management, and executed highly accretive divestitures that strengthened our balance sheet. As a result of these efforts and with a recovering economy, we believe that we are well-positioned to return our business to its pre-pandemic trajectory and to capitalize on strategic and financial options to best drive shareholder returns.”

Chad Benson Welcomes New Affiliate Stations. The Radio America-syndicated “Chad Benson Show” welcomes four new radio stations to its roster of affiliate stations: WP Broadcasting’s news/talk KRSY-AM, Alamogordo, New Mexico; WCED Rsdio’s news/talk WCED-AM, Du Bois, Pennsylvania; Fieldview Broadcasting’s news/talk KWBG-AM, Boone, Iowa; and VP Broadcasting’s news/talk WHOL-AM/W295CR Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Chad Benson Show is also heard on such signals as Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix; iHeartMedia’s KSTE-AM, Sacramento; and Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville. Radio America says, “Listeners love Chad’s explanation of the day’s hard news delivered in a thoughtful and entertaining way. And that explains why Chad is featured on some of the most highly rated talk stations in the country and delivers the demos that talk radio needs most.”

Entercom and Pro Sports Teams Cooperate on ‘Vaccinate Michigan’ Effort. The Entercom Detroit station cluster that includes sports talk WXYT-FM “97.1 The Ticket,” all-news WWJ-AM “Newsradio 950,” and three music brands are partnering with the Detroit Lions, the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Pistons to launch a new community initiative called “Vaccinate Michigan.” All five stations are airing state-approved public service announcements about the COVID-19 vaccination and its availability for Michigan residents. The “Vaccinate Michigan” announcements are voiced by various Entercom Detroit on-air personalities, show hosts, and news anchors, as well as some of the city’s key sports figures, including Tigers manager AJ Hinch, Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd, Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, Lions head coach Dan Campbell, and Pistons head coach Dwane Casey. Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “Our company and sports partners understand the importance of getting Michigan businesses open, as well as the need of our listeners and fans to get back to work and feel some sense of normalcy. Radio serves as a crucial lifeline for the communities it serves and we’re proud to lend our influential voice in the community and our citywide footprint to deliver the important message of COVID-19 vaccinations to our listeners and fans.”

SummitMedia Enters into Podcast Deal with CurtCo Media. This strategic partnership between SummitMedia and CurtCo Media is SummitMedia’s first formal alliance with a third-party content creator for the podcast audience. SummitMedia owns and operates 47 radio stations in nine states. Los Angeles-based CurtCo Media currently produces cutting-edge quality scripted and unscripted podcast programming. SummitMedia chairman and CEO Carl Parmer comments, “SummitMedia’s partnership with CurtCo Media provides us with an exciting opportunity to develop and explore the rapidly growing podcast medium. We’ve known and watched CurtCo create engaging and innovative content for years, and we value the integrity and quality they bring to the media industry.” CurtCo Media CEO Bill Curtis says, “Having a strategic alliance and investment from SummitMedia makes this partnership the most powerful moment to date in our business development. We’re so excited to work with Greg Kelly, Carl and their team to create new dynamic programming and combine Summit’s powerful radio platform with CurtCo Media in the fast-growing world of podcasting. We believe this strategic partnership will provide sustainable value for our business and expand our audience.”

TALKERS News Notes. Longtime radio and television consumer advocate Clark Howard will receive the 2021 “Andrew Ashwood Award” at the 12th annual Talk Show Boot Camp, presented by Don Anthony’s Talentmasters and Gabe Hobbs Media being held virtually this year on March 18 and 19.  Howard, who wrapped his nationally syndicated radio program after 23 years at the end of 2020, will be presented with the award by last year’s recipient, Greg Moceri. He says, “When I was given the privilege of selecting someone who exemplified the positivity that Andrew did for our industry, it took me two seconds to say Clark Howard. Having worked and associated with him for 30 years, he was an instant selection on how many ways he has demonstrated that positivity and has helped millions through the years. ‘In Clark we trust’ impacted his knowledge and authenticity in our industry for decades and it continues today. Clark was an instant choice to carry on this great tradition of honoring Andrew.”…..The 2nd Annual Radio Cares – Feeding America is off to a great start with new and returning partners signing on in support of the nationwide radio event that raises money to provide meals for individuals and families facing hunger in America. Radio Cares is presented by Feeding America and the Independent Broadcasters Association and takes place on April 14 on radio stations across the country. Last year, in its inaugural event, Radio Cares raised enough money to purchase 5 million meals.”…..The Philadelphia Phillies and Entercom announce a new, multi-year radio deal with the MLB’s Phillies to keep sports talk WIP-FM the flagship station for the club’s radio broadcasts. The play-by-play team of Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen will be joined by Kevin Frandsen this season. Entercom Philly SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We’re eagerly awaiting the return of Phillies baseball and are happy to announce a new broadcast extension with the club. As the undisputed voice of the Philadelphia sports fan, we look forward to putting listeners right in the middle of the action through premier game day coverage and keeping them caught up with their favorite team throughout the season.”

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, SCOTUS Trump Tax Returns Ruling, Capitol Riot Investigation, Cabinet Confirmation Hearings, Dominion Sues Mike Lindell, and Facebook Australia News Deal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/22). The United States passes the 500,000 COVID death mark and the rollout of vaccines continues; the Supreme Court rules New York prosecutors can have access to Donald Trump’s tax records; today’s first Senate hearing on the January 6 Capitol insurrection; Monday’s first confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland, and the coming hearings for embattled White House budget office nominee Neera Tanden and Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland; voting systems firm Dominion sues MyPillow chief Mike Lindell for $1.3 billion for defamation; and Facebook agrees to Australian news deal that will pay news organizations were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

| February 3, 2021

Key Networks and Bloomberg Offer ‘Tax Tips’ Daily Feature. Tax season is upon us and beginning Monday (2/8), Bloomberg Radio is making its daily feature “Bloomberg Tax Tips” available to stations. Bloomberg and syndicator Key Networks say in a press release, “2020 was a year like no other, and that makes the 2021 tax season one that requires special attention. Bloomberg Radio is meeting listeners’ needs with a special series of daily tax tips designed to air in the 10 weeks leading up to April 15, at the height of when listeners are preparing their personal income tax filings for 2020.” The 30-second daily reports are hosted by Bloomberg tax reporter Laura Davison and among the topics covered this season are: If listeners have been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, they may need to pay state taxes differently this year; if listeners are still missing some or all of the stimulus payments Congress approved last year, they can claim that on their tax return this year; and more people have worked from their homes during COVID-19, leading many to wonder if they can claim the home office deduction on their taxes. Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green says, “So much is different this year, and people have so many questions about their taxes. It’s a topic that interests listeners across all radio formats.” Bloomberg Tax Tips anchor Laura Davison reports on taxes for Bloomberg News from its Washington bureau. She frequently interviews members of Congress, policymakers, and tax professionals about how the tax code affects businesses and families. She has been with Bloomberg since 2014 and has also covered the insurance industry.

Round Three of Holiday 2020 PPM Ratings Takeaways. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from the third round of Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2020 PPM survey that covered the period of December 3 – January 6. Due in large part to the chaotic events that followed the November election, the Holiday PPM survey from Nielsen reveals radio listeners remained more interested in news and opinion during the month of December than in previous years. In Sacramento, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK was steady with a 7.8 6+ weekly, AQH share, though it slid from #2 to the #3 rank. Entercom’s news/talk KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh added three-tenths to finish the survey with a 5.3 share and remained in the #6 spot. Although both Bonneville’s news/talk KSL-AM/FM (6.1 share) and iHeartMedia’s KNRS-FM (6.0 share) in Salt Lake City were down from the December survey, both remained in the respective #2 and #3 ranks. And in Las Vegas, Entercom’s news/talk KXNT lost just one-tenth (2.7 share), it rose from #14 to #11 while Beasley Media Group’s KDWN shed three-tenths but remained in the #17 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets here.

WFDF-AM, Detroit Owner Bans Mention of Kwame Kilpatrick’s Name After Spurned Offer. According to a piece in the Detroit News, WFDF-AM, Detroit “910 Superstation” owner Kevin Adell is banning the mere mention of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s name on his airwaves because Kilpatrick ghosted Adell after the latter made him an offer to host his own talk show on the station. Kilpatrick’s 28-year prison sentence for corruption was commuted by President Trump last month and, hearing that Kilpatrick was interested in hosting a show on the station as a step toward launching a ministry, Adell offered him either the morning drive or afternoon drive program plus a 30-minute show on his Word Network international religious radio operation. But after a week of waiting and not hearing from Kilpatrick, Adell lashed out, saying, “For wasting my time, now no one’s going to breathe your name. And any guests you have on, if they talk about him, you’re off. Is that mean-spirited? Sure. But it shows he is not going to jerk me around.” The Detroit NewsRobert Snell says Kilpatrick has about $11.5 million in debts, including the $1.7 million in restitution he must pay the IRS and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Pollnow to Lead Cumulus Montgomery. Former iHeartMedia Wichita market president Don Pollnow is re-joining Cumulus Media to serve as vice president and market manager for that company’s Montgomery, Alabama station group that includes news/talk WLWI-AM, sports talk WMSP-AM and four music brands. Prior to his work with iHeartMedia, Pollnow managed Cumulus’ Green Bay, Wisconsin cluster. Pollnow says, “I would like to thank Mary Berner, Bob Walker and Mark Sullivan for this opportunity. I am beyond thrilled to be returning to Cumulus and to be joining the experienced team in Montgomery. With the great culture, support and resources of Cumulus, we will continue to be a top-performing market for the company.”

Radio Reveals Super Bowl Coverage. During this week leading up to Super Bowl LV and for the game on Sunday evening, Cumulus Media’s Westwood One announces its plans to cover the contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kevin Harlan will handle the play-by-play duties for the 11th straight year, while Super Bowl XXXIV MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner will return for the third consecutive year as the lead analyst. Tony Boselli will be back for a fifth straight year as sideline reporter and will be joined by longtime field reporter Laura Okmin, who will return to the Super Bowl crew for the second time. Jim Gray will anchor the pregame and halftime coverage for the 20th consecutive year. FOX Sports Radio, a division of Premiere Sports Network, is bringing its entire 24/7 lineup of sports talk shows to its Super Week coverage, including “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” “The Dan Patrick Show,” “Outkick The Coverage with Clay Travis,” and more. SiriusXM is presenting coverage from Super Week, including on its pop-up channel Super Bowl LV Radio with lead host Danny Kannell. Broadcasts from Tampa will include the voices of numerous SiriusXM NFL Radio personalities such as Gil Brandt, Tim Brown, Bill Polian, Mark Dominik, Charlie Weis, Solomon Wilcots, Erik Coleman, David Diehl, Bruce Gradkowski, Torry Holt, Brad Hopkins, Ed McCaffrey, Kirk Morrison and Brady Quinn. Super Bowl-focused content from “The Pat McAfee Show,” hosted by the former NFL punter who has become one of sports media’s most popular personalities, will appear on the SiriusXM app.

TALKERS News Notes. Philadelphia talk radio host Dom Giordano scored an exclusive interview with the newest addition to the Donald Trump impeachment defense team, Bruce Castor, the former Montgomery County, Pennsylvania DA. Castor tells Giordano how he got involved in the representation team, and explains why he’s willing to represent the former president in a very heated political climate. Castor also discusses the potential argument of ‘dereliction of duty’ from the impeachment managers, and how that argument shouldn’t hold up in court…..PodcastOne says it is airing the brand-new episode of “Mea Culpa with Michael Cohen” featuring Stormy Daniels. The company says that in their first interaction ever, Daniels unveils her personal feelings about what transpired between her and the former president and “the relationship that changed political history.” The program launched in September of 2020 and has since featured a wide variety of guests, ranging from actors like Ben Stiller and Rosie O’Donnell, with whom Trump had a well-documented history of malevolence, as well as members of federal law enforcement and political scientists and consultants. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Podcasting is the only medium that gives its audience the full story and not just the headlines. ‘Mea Culpa with Michael Cohen’ is giving us the content that polarized news media censors and this episode with Stormy Daniels is not to be missed.”

Trump Impeachment, Fractured GOP/Unapologetic Greene, Biden-GOP Stimulus Negotiations, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Big Tech & Political Censorship, GameStop and the Reddit Rebellion, Deadly Florida Child Porn Raid, Putin Critic Sent to Prison, and Jeff Bezos to Exit Amazon CEO Role Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/2). The Article of Impeachment against Donald Trump; the Republican Party’s attempts to coalesce in the aftermath of Trump and criticism of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s rhetoric; President Joe Biden and the GOP negotiate over a new COVID stimulus package; the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; criticism of Big Tech over what some perceive as political censorship; the Reddit crowd’s GameStop, AMC, and silver ploy and repercussions on Wall Street; two FBI agents are killed and three wounded in a raid on a child porn suspect’s Florida residence; Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny is sentenced to two years in prison; and Jeff Bezos’ leaving Amazon’s CEO role were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

| November 5, 2020

Cumulus Media’s Q3 Financial Report Reveals Net Revenue Down 30.1%. Reporting its earnings for the third quarter of 2020, Cumulus Media says net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 30.1% from the same period in 2019. The company also reports a net loss of $15.8 million compared to the $16.3 net income reported for the third quarter of 2019. Same station net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 29.4% from Q3 of 2019. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “In the third quarter, the company continued to focus on maximizing revenue performance, executing meaningful expense reductions, protecting cash through efficient working capital management and strengthening our balance sheet. Despite the extraordinary challenges of operating through a pandemic, we have reduced debt by $269 million and increased cash by $316 million since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018 (a net debt reduction of more than $585 million or 46%.) We believe that these actions, along with record-setting political revenues, will allow us to navigate through and emerge from the COVID-19 crisis with considerable ability to support our growth initiatives and capitalize on strategic and operating opportunities in 2021 and beyond.”

Bakersfield Talk Radio Personality Inga Barks Dies. According to a report by KERO-TV, Bakersfield, former market talk radio personality Inga Barks has died unexpectedly at age 53. At this point details are few, but it appears Barks passed away on November 4. KERO-TV quotes Barks’ friend Cindy Andrews – who worked with Barks at American General Media news/talk outlet KERN-AM – saying, “I am deeply saddened over the death of my former coworker and friend, Inga Barks. Not only was she a talented talk show host, but she was also very devoted to her family. We shared many laughs and unique experiences as female broadcasters for American General Media. She will be missed by many.” You can see KERO-TV’s report that includes tributes from former co-workers – including KMJ, Fresno’s Blake Taylorhere.

WTIC-AM, Hartford Morning Co-Host Joe D’Ambrosio to Leave Station in June. According to an account in the Hartford Courant, WTIC-AM, Hartford morning drive co-host Joe D’Ambrosio says he’s frustrated with his “inability to speak his mind on the air and will leave his position when his contract expires in June.” The paper reports that D’Ambrosio told co-host Ray Dunaway, “At this radio station at this time, I’m not allowed to let my opinions be known. I’ve told management, when my contract is up in June, my time with WTIC will be over.”  It’s not clear if D’Ambrosio is upset with a directive from management or just with the general tenor of host and caller opinions. Reporter Susan Dunne says that when reached later, D’Ambrosio declined to elaborate on his comments.

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 October 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the news/talk format. Over the last eight PPM surveys going back to March, the global pandemic, racial tensions/protests, and the election year have provided the news/talk format with ample hot-button issues to discuss and the format’s performance has improved over the same period in 2019, based on Nielsen’s 6+ weekly AQH share data. In the October 2020 survey, 61% of news/talk stations were up over the September 2020 survey with gainers being led buy iHeartMedia’s KFYI, Phoenix (+1.4) and Bonneville’s KSL-FM, Salt Lake City (+1.3). Comparing year-over-year data, 68% of news/talk stations were up in October 2020 compared to October 2019 with gainers being led by iHeartMedia’s WISN, Milwaukee (+6.2), KNRS-FM, Salt Lake City (+4.4), and WCBM Inc’s WCBM, Baltimore (+3.7). In the October 2020 survey, seven news/talk stations ranked #1 (6+) in their respective markets. Find out which stations were ranked #1 by reading Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Mid-West Family Madison Donates $900k in Advertising. The Madison, Wisconsin station group of Mid-West Family Broadcasting gave $900,000 in free advertising (more than 31,000 commercials) to hundreds of local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic between March 21 and July 21 through its “NOW OPEN” program. Mid-West Family Madison president Tom Walker says, “Our company was formed in Madison, we’ve been here for 91 years, and our commitment to the community and local businesses is our top priority. ‘NOW OPEN’ gave us the chance to connect businesses with consumers when they needed it most.”

Report: ESPN to Lay Off 300. According to a report by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, sports giant ESPN is laying off 300 staffers and will not fill some 200 positions that had been open. This comes as parent company ABC/Disney deals with the effects of the pandemic and the changes in media consumption behavior. Marchand’s report indicates that the cuts will be “spread across the network” but will largely spare on-air personalities. Marchand adds, “As is the case across Disney, ESPN is trying to shift more of its business to direct-to-consumer. It has created ESPN+. It had reported 8.5 million subscribers as of this summer. The pandemic has also created new ways to deliver programming with less people.”

The Road to 270 Electoral Votes/Promised Legal Challenges, Portland Violence, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, European Lockdowns, New Islamic Terror Threats, U.S. Exits Paris Climate Accord, Prop 22 Passes in California, Watch on Hurricane Eta Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/4). The counting continues as Donald Trump and Joe Biden each hope to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to claim victory and the gearing up of legal challenges to some states’ vote totals; the National Guard is called in to Portland, Oregon after a riot is declared; the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for the fall/winter seasons; the lockdowns being ordered in numerous European nations to combat the rising number of COVID cases; concerns about new terror attacks by actors sympathetic to the Islamic State; the United States officially exits the Paris Climate Accord; California passes Proposition 22 which allows Uber and Lyft to treat drives as contractors and not employees; and the possibility that Hurricane Eta will gain steam and head for Florida 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. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and iHeartMedia are teaming up for an exclusive podcast partnership for the series “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Vault” that will debut Friday (11/6), the day before the 35th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony airing on November 7 on HBO. The series covers iconic induction speeches and will debut with The Beatles inducted by Mick Jagger, N.W.A inducted by Kendrick Lamar, The Eagles inducted by Jimmy Buffet, and Stevie Nicks inducted by Harry Styles. New episodes will premiere every Friday through the end of the year and a second season will premiere in early 2021. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “Over the past 35 years, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies have become renowned for their impassioned and sometimes outrageous acceptance speeches. We’re thrilled to bring the most iconic moments of past and present music infamy to fans around the world and continue to share what’s made the event special in the past and for years to come.”

Monday, October 12, 2020

| October 12, 2020

Monday Memo: Got Local News? Guard it. Now more than ever – with the pandemic upending the life we were accustomed to – consultant Holland Cooke says “you will continue to distinguish your product from your robotic audio competition, and what’s-left-of the newspaper, by telling listeners something useful that nobody else is telling them.”  In this week’s column, some simple tips. Read it here.

The Presidential Race/Mail-In Voting, Fatal Denver Rally Shooting, VP Debate, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Trump’s COVID Case, New Stimulus Negotiations, Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation, Hurricane Delta-California Wildfires, and NFL COVID Concerns Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The November presidential election and the matter of mail-in voting; the fatal shooting at a Denver political protest gathering and tensions in the city; Wednesday’s vice presidential debate; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for future cases, and President Trump‘s bout with the disease; negotiations for a new federal stimulus package; the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett; Hurricane Delta drenches Louisiana and the ongoing California wildfires; and the positive COVID-19 cases popping up in the NFL were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Take It or Leave It. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes today about selling news/talk radio in a time when your sales planning priorities can shift as quickly as the news cycle changes. He says that “organizing chaos is part of our new sales world” and offers some strategies to keep sellers on track during these unpredictable times. Read it here.

Carmean Joins Entercom Sacto As GSM. The market president and chief revenue officer for Townsquare Media’s Boise (Idaho) cluster – Rick Carmean – is named general sales manager of Entercom Sacramento. According to Entercom Sacramento senior vice president and market manager Stacey Kauffman, “Because of the rich history and success of Entercom Sacramento’s portfolio of brands and assets, expectations are high for this team. Rick’s vast experience in audio, sports, and digital – coupled with his track record of producing winning results – make him an excellent and valuable addition to our strong leadership team. We are excited to welcome Rick to Entercom and Sacramento.” Carmean adds, “I’m thrilled for the opportunity to represent the top-rated radio stations in the market and work with a talented team of sales professionals and on-air talent.” Carmean previously was Red Zebra Broadcasting’s president and chief executive officer and held digital advertising leadership roles at AOL and Source Media. In addition to sports talk KIFM-AM “ESPN 1320,” Entercom Sacramento consists of rhythmic CHR KSFM; CHR KUDL “106.5 The End”; classic rock KSEG “96.9 The Eagle”; KRXQ “98 Rock”; and alternative KKDO “Alt 94-7.”

More Than 2,100 “Attend” NAB’s Online Radio Show. The week-long digital experience began one week ago (Monday, 10/5) and continued through this past Friday afternoon (10/9) at RadioShowWeb.com. According to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), Radio Show in-person attendance has recently been averaging 2,000, while this year’s online event attracted 2,143 registrants. NAB president and chief executive officer Gordon Smith comments, “Although we regret not being able to meet in person, this [past] week’s Radio Show digital experience provided a welcome opportunity to connect and gain valuable insight on how to prevail during this difficult time and move forward as an industry.” RAB president and chief executive officer Erica Farber remarks, “The Radio Show is an industry favorite. Having the opportunity to gather virtually and connect with broadcasters, advertisers, thought leaders, and partners has been tremendously valuable. The good news is all Radio Show content will continue to be made available for on-demand viewing should anyone want to re-watch a specific session or may have missed any of the sessions or presentations.” Among the highlights were a keynote by Dave Ramsey, and a “CEO Town Hall” with Mary Berner (Cumulus Media); David Field (Entercom); and Bob Pittman (iHeartMedia). The Town Hall was moderated by NBC News senior business correspondent/MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle. Next year’s Radio Show will co-locate with the NAB Show, which has been rescheduled for October 9-13 (2021) in Las Vegas.

KBA Honors Talbott. Bluegrass native Julie Talbott will be presented with the Ralph Gabbard “Distinguished Kentuckian Award” from the Kentucky Broadcasters Association at today’s (Monday, 10/12) 2:00 pm virtual Excellence in Broadcasting Awards event. Fifteen years after joining Premiere Networks, Talbott was named president of the company in January 2014 ; she oversees operation of Premiere Networks’ more than 100 radio programs and services. In addition, she manages business partnerships with talent, as well as leading/maintaining affiliate relationships to sell/service Premiere Networks, Total Traffic & Weather Network, and the 24/7 News Network. Talbott previously was chief operating officer of MJI Broadcasting, which was acquired by Premiere’s parent company Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia). Talbott began her career at BBDO Advertising. The Ralph Gabbard “Distinguished Kentuckian Award” is presented in recognition of achievements and accomplishments of former Kentuckians who have earned fame or acclaim in their respected field.

AWMF and ESPN Launch Scholarship For Black Females. The mission of the partnership between the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (AWMF) and ESPN is to provide black women a path into careers in sports media. ESPN’s donation of $10,000 will provide two educational scholarships to assist black females pursuing such career paths. Alliance for Women in Media Foundation executive director Becky Brooks remarks, “It has been wonderful to collaborate with ESPN to conceptualize this scholarship. Through this strong partnership, we’re proud to continue our work in pursuing greater diversity in the sports journalism work force.” ESPN vice president of corporate communications/AWMF board member Katina Arnold notes, “Diversity and inclusion is ESPN’s #1 focus. We want to support and create concrete ways to grow the pipeline of black talent in the sports industry. The ESPN and AWMF scholarship is the perfect way to fulfill ESPN’s mission of supporting black and African-American women pursuing careers in media.” Selection of student winners will be based on applicants developing an essay of 750 – 1,000 words, highlighting the importance of black women in sports media. Applications are due in less than six weeks (11/20). AWMF and ESPN will select one black female undergraduate student winner and one black female graduate student to receive the scholarships payable to each winning student’s educational institution.

TALKERS News Notes. Former CIA officer and NYPD counter-terrorism expert Buck Sexton debuts his Premiere Networks’ three-hour show in Tampa Bay tonight (Monday, 10/12, 9:00 pm – 12:00 midnight) on iHeartMedia’s WFLA “News Radio 970.” Senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia Tampa/Sarasota Tommy Chuck comments, “We are excited to have Buck Sexton join our on-air lineup of strong local and national personalities. His life experience gives him unique perspective that our audience will be very interested to hear.” Sexton adds, “I’m honored to have my show join WFLA, [one of] the greatest heritage stations in the country. I can’t wait to begin speaking every night to listeners in the Tampa Bay area, one of the best talk radio audiences there is.” WFLA’s revised weekday lineup is: “Coast to Coast AM with George Noory” (12:00 midnight – 5:00 am); “AM Tampa Bay” (5:00  am – 9:00 am); Glenn Beck (9:00 am – 12:00 noon); Rush Limbaugh (12:00 noon – 3:00 pm); Sean Hannity (3:00 pm – 6:00 pm); “PM Tampa Bay with Ryan Gorman” (6:00 pm – 9:00 pm); and Buck Sexton (9:00 pm – 12:00 midnight). Also in the iHeartMedia Tampa Bay cluster, personal finance host Dave Ramsey moves his daily talk show to news/talk WHNZ “1250 Impact Radio” from cross-town Beasley Media Group’s WHFS “Money Talk 1010.” According to iHeartMedia market president Chris Soechtig, “We’re excited to add ‘The Dave Ramsey Show to our [2:00 pm – 5:00 pm] line-up. [Dave] brings a new group of listeners to 1250 WHNZ who pay attention to what’s coming out of their speakers and applying what they hear.” ….. Designed to encourage eligible voters to cast ballots in next month’s election, Beasley Media Group’s “Your Vote – Your Voice” initiative will include recorded fifteen- and thirty-second PSAs, as well as custom content that will be featured on the chain’s 64 radio station websites. Beasley Media Group chief content officer Justin Chase notes, “This initiative is a great reminder that no matter who you choose, it’s important to make sure your voice is heard at the polls.” Customized messaging encouraging listeners to vote will be displayed using Quu RDS technology across the company’s in-car dash platforms ….. Technology entrepreneur Matt Moog is named interim chief operating officer of Chicago Public Media, which includes public radio news/talk WBEZ. Moog succeeds Steve Edwards, who performed those duties on an interim basis as well, but segues back to his vice president and chief content officer responsibilities. Chicago Public Media’s CEO role opened up a year ago when Goli Sheikholeslami exited to join New York Public Radio. Earlier this year, American University Washington, DC public radio news/talk WAMU “The Medium Is The Message” chief content officer Andi McDaniel was appointed CPM’s chief executive officer, but departed. The search for a permanent Chicago Public Media CEO is expected to resume next year ….. During a Washington State gubernatorial debate last week, governor Jay Inslee remarked that, “We follow science in Washington.” Bonneville Seattle news/talk KIRO-FM host Dori Monson tweeted, “The state where I could go to Olympia and change my ‘birth cert’ to say I was a girl on 10/2/61 HAHAHAHAHA.” That tweet has led to Monson’s indefinite suspension from his KIRO-FM duties, as well as his pre-game and post-game hosting chores for Seattle Seahawks football games ….. An integral cog of the Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine,” Joe Morgan, has died at his Danville, California home. After his playing career, Morgan became a baseball analyst on television and radio. The former second baseman did color for games of the Reds (1985); San Francisco Giants (1986 – 1994); and Oakland A’s (1995). Morgan attained national exposure on ABC-TV’s baseball telecasts and had a 20-year run (1990 – 2010) as Jon Miller’s analyst on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball.” During that stretch, he was in the ESPN Radio booth for post-season and World Series contests. In 2011, he hosted a daily syndicated radio show for Sports USA Radio Network. In addition to the Reds, Morgan played for San Francisco, Oakland, Houston, and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Hall of Famer was 77 years old.

Midwest Communications Taps Villarreal As Wausau VP/MM. Eight-year Laredo, Texas-based International Business & Marketing consultant Milko Villarreal, Jr. is appointed vice president and market manager of Midwest Communications’ five-station Wausau, Wisconsin cluster. Midwest Communications president and chief executive officer Duke Wright comments, “We welcome Milko to the family and look forward to many successful and prosperous years to come. His passion and desire to win are a great fit for our already positive Wausau operation.” Villarreal, who begins his new assignment in three weeks (11/2), remarks, “I am thrilled to join Midwest. The Wright family has a long-standing tradition of excellence in broadcasting. Ideologically, and operationally, I believe we are a very good fit; I look forward to making a positive contribution.” The former NAB radio board member succeeds Brett Lucht, who passed away three months ago. In addition to news/talk WSAU and sports talk WRIG, Midwest Communications’ Wausau cluster consists of country WDEZ, CHR WIFC, and rock WOZZ.

NEP & Edison Research To Implement COVID-19-Related Protocols. The exit poll conducted by Edison Research on behalf of ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and NBC News, will begin interviewing voters at early voting locations around the country starting tomorrow (Tuesday, 10/13). Edison Research co-founder and executive vice president Joe Lenski states that, “More Americans are expected to vote before Election Day this year than any other election in history. The member networks of the National Election Pool (NEP) and Edison Research have developed innovative new techniques to account for that in our long-standing exit poll. In 2018, Edison and the NEP pioneered the technique of conducting interviews at in-person early voting sites, and today, we’re using that valuable experience to expand those efforts for 2020. It’s simply a matter of taking our time-tested models and applying them to the ways people vote today.” In addition to adapting to the changing ways that voters cast their ballots, the NEP is taking precautions to ensure that voters participating in the in-person exit polls remain safe. Exit polls will be conducted by interviewers wearing masks, who will remain six feet away from respondents and will have single-use pencils available for each voter filling out the exit poll questionnaire. Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes will be available for voters to use before and after completing their exit polls. As it has since 2004, the NEP exit poll will include extensive telephone surveys of those planning to vote by mail to ensure that all voters are represented in Election Night coverage across the pool’s member networks and subscribers. This year, those polls will reach more than 25,000 voters casting ballots before Election Day.

“WTMJ 2021” Airs Tomorrow. The nine-hour broadcast (9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Tuesday, 10/13) on Good Karma Brands’ Milwaukee news/talk WMTJ “News Radio 620” looks at events and issues that will shape the year ahead. It will feature interviews with Wisconsin’s most influential names such as Wisconsin governor Tony Evers; senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson; Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin; Medical College of Wisconsin chief executive officer Dr. John Raymond; and community activist Frank Sensabaugh. Good Karma Brands Milwaukee vice president and market manager Steve Wexler explains, “Every year, WTMJ brings our listeners an all-day look at the issues shaping our future. Little did we know how tumultuous a year 2020 would turn out to be when we gathered last year.” Presidential politics is the leadoff topic at 9:00 am. It will be followed by public safety (10:00 am); sports in the age of COVID-19 (11:00 am); business and the economy (12:00 noon); healthcare (1:00 pm); entertainment (2:00 pm); education (3:00 pm); local and state government (4:00 pm); and the racial divide (5:00 pm).

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Starting today (Monday, 10/12), Mz Shyneka takes over in afternoon drive on Core Radio Group Atlanta urban contemporary WWSZ “Streetz 94.5.” Core Radio Group president and chief executive officer Steve Hegwood comments, “It is my pleasure to sign Mz Shyneka to afternoons. Her addition to our great team keeps us at the forefront of this competitive Atlanta market.” According to Mz Shyneka, “I am overwhelmed with joy to be back on the radio in my hometown. I can’t wait to continue making history at the only black-owned station in Atlanta.” She most recently did afternoons for Radio One’s cross-town similarly-formatted WHTA “Hot 107.9” ….. Elsewhere in Atlanta, after an approximately 20-year tenure at Cox Media Group urban AC WALR “Kiss 104,” Saturday morning “Spotlight Gold” host “Youngbloodexits …..  Under a new one-year deal, all Villanova football and basketball games for the 2020 – 2021 season will be carried on Beasley Media Group Philadelphia adult hits WBEN-FM “95.7 Ben FM.” Beasley Media Group Philadelphia vice president and market manager Joe Bell comments, “Our motto at ‘Ben’ is ‘Playing Anything We Feel Like,’ and we feel like playing some Villanova games. It will be a great season for Villanova sports.” Program director Chuck Damico notes, “We’re thrilled to add Villanova football and basketball to ‘95.7 Ben FM’ this year. It’s an honor to deliver these games to their passionate fans and alumni.” Meanwhile, Villanova Sports Properties vice president and general manager Drew Young adds, “The affiliation with ‘Ben FM’ expands our reach in the Delaware Valley and gives the ‘Nova Nation’ a prominent new home on the FM dial.” ….. The former 15-year afternoon personality/music director at Bahakel Communications Colorado Springs rocker KILO, Jack Wilson, has died from coronavirus. Wilson left KILO in 2015 and did weekends in Phoenix for Hubbard Radio’s similarly-programmed KUPD. KILO’s Facebook page notes, “It is with deep regret that we share this news with the KILO Nation. He was and will always be a big part of the KILO family. We send our love and condolences to his family and friends. Please keep them in your thoughts during this difficult time.” The 38-year-old Wilson is survived by his mother (Pattie Ray); a 17-year-old daughter (Bella); and a six-year-old son (Jack Jr.) ….. “The Quick Silva Show with Dominique Da Diva” moves to Reach Media for distribution and syndication. Reach Media and Radio One chief executive officer David Kantor comments, “I’ve had the opportunity to see this show grow tremendously. Quick Silva and Dominque Da Diva are two very strong radio talents who have an authentic connection to their audience. I am confident that the show will continue to be a huge draw for the listening audience. The beauty of this is that this is one of few syndicated afternoon shows.” The program will be carried from 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm by Radio One stations in Washington, DC (WKYS); Philadelphia (WPHI “Hip-Hop 103.9”); Baltimore (WERQ “92-Q Jams”); Cincinnati (WIZF “101.1 The Wiz”); and Columbus (WCKX “Power 107.5”).