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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

| April 7, 2021

Gordon Smith to Leave NAB Leadership Role at Year’s End. The National Association of Broadcasters announces that president and CEO Gordon H. Smith will leave his position and transition to an advisory and advocacy role effective December 31, 2021. NAB’s chief operating officer Curtis LeGeyt will become the next president and CEO of NAB effective January 1, 2022. In a video message to members, Smith said, “It has been my great honor to give the lion’s roar for broadcasters – those who run into the storm, those who stand firm in chaos to hear the voice of the people, those who hold to account the powerful – and to stand with those of the fourth estate who have the hearts of public servants.” Smith joined NAB as president and CEO in November 2009. Previously, he served as a two-term U.S. senator from Oregon and later as senior advisor in the Washington offices of Covington & Burling, LLP. NAB joint board of directors chairman Jordan Wertlieb (president of Hearst Television) thanked Smith for his service to the industry. “Gordon is the ultimate statesman, bringing people together from both sides of the aisle to discuss ideas, find common ground and lead NAB to success on countless fronts. On behalf of the leadership of NAB, we extend our sincere gratitude for more than a decade of service to the broadcast industry. We look forward to continuing to work with Gordon and benefiting from his guidance for years to come. I am also delighted to share that NAB is in the enviable position of having cultivated top talent within the organization to provide for a smooth and stable transition in leadership. Curtis LeGeyt has the utmost confidence of the NAB leadership and staff to lead our association into the future.” LeGeyt has been with NAB for nearly a decade, during which time he led several highly successful legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of broadcasters, including the permanent reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR), inclusion of $1 billion in RAY BAUM’s Act to reimburse stations impacted by the spectrum auction repack, and successful passage of the Music Modernization Act. Prior to assuming his current role as chief operating officer, LeGeyt served for five years as NAB’s executive vice president, Government Relations. Before joining NAB, LeGeyt was senior counsel to then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (VT). He says, “I am honored and humbled to be named the next leader of this great organization. To represent the broadcast industry and the local stations that bind our communities together in a moment of such tremendous change across the media landscape is a privilege. Our stations’ role in communities across this country has never been more important, and I look forward to working every day to ensure their ability to grow and thrive.”

SCOTUS Declines to Hear Alex Jones Appeal. According to numerous media reports, including this one from NBC News, the U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the appeal requested by radio and internet personality Alex Jones of his sanction by a Connecticut court. Jones was sanctioned in 2019 for what he said on his radio show about an attorney for the relatives of the victims of the Newtown massacre and for violating numerous court orders to turn over documents to the families’ lawyers. Judge Barbara Bellis also barred Jones from filing a motion to dismiss the case and added she would order Jones to pay some of the families’ legal fees. Jones argued that his words were the exercising of his First Amendment rights. Jones is being sued by some of the families who lost loved ones in the shooting after Jones claimed that the shootings were a hoax and who consequently suffered harassment and threats from Jones’ fans. Jones earned the sanction after claiming on his radio show that an attorney for the families tried to plant child porn on his computer by sending it in encrypted email files. In Connecticut, that state’s Supreme Court ruled that sanctions were proper because Jones’ words were an “imminent and likely threat to the administration of justice.”

WHCU, Ithaca Adds SRN’s Dennis Prager to Early Afternoon Daypart. Ithaca, New York news/talk WHCU is adding Salem Radio Network’s Dennis Prager show to the lineup in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. Joe Salzone is news director at the Saga Communications station, and he says, “We polled our listeners on a Rush Limbaugh replacement show over the past month and Prager was their top choice. While they know that Rush’s show was great, they also understand that radio is best as a live, topical medium and that running repeats of Rush segments was not what they ultimately wanted to listen to.” WHCU operations manager Chris Allinger adds, “Dennis will be a good fit for WHCU. He is intelligent, educated, and will bring those assets to the regional airwaves. Replacing a legend like Rush is not easy, but Dennis has been successfully doing his nationally syndicated weekday show in the exact same time period for over 20 years, so his track record is already proven.”

Todd Starnes Show Joins WMLB, Atlanta. The nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” is joining the program lineup on WMLB, Atlanta “Freedom 1690” in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. The station is owned by Delmarva Educational Association but is being operated under an LMA by the Virginia-based John Fredericks Radio Network that owns conservative talk duo WJFN-AM/FM in the Richmond, Virginia market. John Fredericks says, “Now more than ever, as Leftist elites continue their unprecedented power grab and assault on Christians, Todd stands at the beachhead of defending people of faith everywhere.”

Nielsen: Consumer Sentiment About COVID-19 Recovery Improving. According to a new study by Nielsen that addresses American consumer sentiment about COVID-19 and media usage, people 18 and older are showing “increased confidence with respect to consumer behavior.” Nielsen says the survey looked at three segments reflecting attitudes about the pandemic. People who are “Ready to Go,” those who “Proceed with Caution,” and consumers who “Wait and See” when it comes to resuming normal behavior. The “Ready to Go” segment peaked at 61% in the March 2021 survey compared with 34% in April 2020. The more pessimistic group of Wait and See consumers dropped to 9% in March 2021 compared with 29% a year ago. Other key consumer sentiments include: 82% now say that stores that were closed have started to open again compared with only 40% in April of last year; 64% agree that it is safer than it was a month ago, compared to 38% in April 2020; and 72% agree that their town is starting to emerge from the crisis versus 44% a year ago. The study showed that heavy radio listeners are more likely to make big-ticket purchases within a year. Heavy radio listeners are 18% more likely to purchase or lease a new or used vehicle in the next year, and 64% are more likely to buy a house in the next twelve months, compared to total adults. Nielsen Audio managing director Brad Kelly comments, “As Americans continue to navigate the pandemic, the future looks promising. Consumers are becoming more optimistic and resuming more normal activities, especially heavy radio listeners. AM/FM listeners are more likely to be out and about and spending more time in their vehicles.” You can see more in a Nielsen webinar here.

‘The Biz Tape’ Launches on Nashville Podcast Network. The Bobby Bones-led Nashville Podcast Network is launching a new program called “The Biztape” hosted by Colin McKay and Joe Wasilewski. “The Biztape,” formerly known as “That’s Showbiz Baby,” is a weekly podcast covering all things music business and media. Hosts McKay and Wasilewski are music industry professionals who provide insight into the business and technical side of these closed-curtain industries. McKay and Wasilewski say, “We searched for a long time to find a podcast that discussed the music business from the business side. We wanted more advice and more depth than just ‘work hard.’ We decided to fill the void by creating ‘The Biztape’ so we could get as nerdy as we always wanted to with it. Thankfully, with the help of Bobby Bones and the Nashville Podcast Network, we have the opportunity to continue that dream and we can’t wait to start creating with such a passionate and unique brand.”

iHeartMedia Debuts New Podcast ‘In Fact with Chelsea Clinton.’ A new iHeartRadio Original Podcast is being launched titled “In Fact with Chelsea Clinton” and hosted by the former First Daughter and public health expert. The podcast joins the iHeartPodcast Network that is already home to “You and Me Both with Hillary Clinton” and “Why Am I Telling You This? with Bill Clinton.” iHeartMedia says, “‘In Fact with Chelsea Clinton’ will pull back the curtain on some of the biggest public health challenges of our time. Each week on the podcast, Clinton — who holds a doctorate in international relations, a masters in public health, and teaches at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health — will sit down with experts, activists, and an assortment of surprising guests who share her passion for science, evidence and, of course, facts.” In the podcast’s debut episode, Clinton sits down with Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, who has been a vocal advocate for people with HIV/AIDS since publicly sharing his own HIV-positive status in 2019; activist Peter Staley; and Dr. Oni Blackstock, an HIV physician and health equity advocate, to explore the trajectory of HIV/AIDS from the early days of activism through modern day.”

New Kelly Osbourne and Jeff Beacher Show to Launch on PodcastOne. A new, eponymous podcast starring Kelly Osbourne and Jeff Beacher is debuting on PodcastOne in which Osbourne and Beacher will create a live theater experience and feature their dynamic and outrageous personalities and uncensored conversations with a diverse list of celebrity guests and famous friends. They will discuss everything from the latest current events to fitness, weight-loss, fame, stories of inspiration and beyond. Osbourne and Beacher will be joined by regular co-host Donny Davis, original star of “Beacher’s Madhouse” and one of the most well-known activists for little people. The podcast will record and film from the penthouse of the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel – former home to “Beacher’s Madhouse” theatre. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Kelly and Jeff together are a showstopping dynamic. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome them to PodcastOne and know that their show will be destination programming for podcast audiences.”

‘104.5 The Team’ in Albany Names Dan Bahl Brand Manager. Two months after previous brand manager and on-air host Tom Gozlowski was let go from the station, Townsquare Media’s WTMM-FM, Albany “104.5 The Team” announces that Dan Bahl joins as the new brand manager and afternoon drive co-host. Bahl partners with incumbent air personality Jeff Levack on the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm program. Bahl has been operating his own sports website and podcast network. He says, “I am extremely honored and excited to join ‘104.5 The Team’ and the Townsquare Media family. I am really looking forward to having great debates and conversations with Jeff Levack and the ‘104.5 The Team’ listeners, as well as strengthening the brand on-air, online, and across social media.” Townsquare Media director of content Matty Jeff comments, “We are thrilled to welcome Dan to the Townsquare Media local team here in Albany. Dan’s leadership, acumen across all platforms, and passion for sports will broaden the reach of the great local on-air and digital content we create daily on ‘104.5 The Team.’”

COVID-19, Voting Legislation/McConnell Threat, Matt Gaetz Investigation, Biden Infrastructure Plan, Border Crisis, Derek Chauvin Trial, and China Military Exercises Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/6). The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; Georgia’s vote restriction law, the Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill, and Mitch McConnell’s threats to businesses that protest Georgia’s law; allegations U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz had relationships with underage girls; the battle in Washington over President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan; the large number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; and China’s military exercises near Taiwan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.