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Monday, December 7, 2020

| December 7, 2020

Monday Memo: Podcasting’s Prime Time. Once a hobbyist platform, on-demand audio now features the biggest stars, delivers advertisers ears and analytics they can’t get elsewhere, and pairs listeners and content creators like no other medium. In this week’s column, Holland Cooke summarizes the keynote Spotify’s Dawn Ostroff delivered during the CNBC Evolve webcast “The Evolution of Content and Consumption.” Read it here.

Pending Business: Time for a Skills Inventory. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa president of Lapcom Communications Corp – writes today that year-end is a good time for radio sellers to take inventory of their sales skills and make sure they match up with the pandemic-influenced restrictions and technology-requisite times in which we’ll be working in 2021. Read more here.

Dom Giordano to Be Honored by the Zionist Organization of America.  WPHT, Philadelphia 9:00 am – 12:00 noon host Dom Giordano will be honored by the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Zionist Organization of America, the nation’s oldest pro-Israel organization, for “his patriotism, friendship to the Jewish community, support for Israel and honest commentary about the Middle East” on his show. Giordano will be one of eight people nationwide recognized as “Zionist Spotlights” as part of ZOA’s Virtual 2020 National Superstar Gala. The Gala, taking place on Sunday, December 27, at 7:00 pm ET can be seen (live and on demand) at zoavirtualgala.com. Attorney and legal icon Allen L. Rothenberg is the other honoree representing the Greater Philadelphia Region. The event will also feature Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight, hip-hop artist Ice Cube, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, physician and philanthropist Dr. Miriam Adelson, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan, ZOA national president Morton Klein and more. Giordano – a former school teacher who is nationally recognized as one of the leading experts on education in talk radio and a perennial member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred – received the Greater Philadelphia ZOA’s 2011 Ben Hecht Award for Outstanding Journalism/Man of the Year at the annual Gala that year.

ESPN’s WEPN-FM, New York Moving DiPietro, Canty & Rothenberg to AM Drive. As reported by the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, ESPN is going local in morning drive on sports talk WEPN-FM, New York for the first time. In January, the Rick DiPietro, Chris Canty & Dave Rothenberg program moves from its current 9:00 am to 11:00 am slot to the 5:00 am to 8:00 am slot with the ESPN Radio nationally syndicated “Keyshawn, ZWill & Zubin” show airing from 8:00 am to 10:00 am. These changes come as ESPN tweaks the national lineup in preparation of the departure of Dan Le Batard in January. On WEPN-FM, “Greeny” with Mike Greenberg will air from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, followed by the “Bart [Scott] & [Alan] Hahn” show that’s now part of the national ESPN Radio lineup from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm.

Bernie Miklasz to Return to St. Louis Airwaves on KFNS-AM. According to Dan Caesar’s report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, sports talk KFNS-FM, St. Louis is bringing former Post-Dispatch columnist and former crosstown WXOS-FM personality Bernie Miklasz aboard to host the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show. Also, former KMOV-TV, St. Louis sports director Steve Savard will host the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm show. John Hadley is operating the station while he and a group of investors work to buy the station from owner Randy Markel. Hadley admits that his acquisition of Miklasz’s and Savard’s talent was only possible because they both agreed to work for the “hometown discount.” Miklasz tells Caesar, “Unlike other potential employers who who tended to make promises they couldn’t keep, Hadley was realistic and honest about what they could do for me. The economy is bad, and I wasn’t looking to break the bank. But Hadley didn’t try to exploit the situation by making a ridiculous, low-ball offer. I was enthusiastic about working with him to reach a fair deal for both sides… The trust factor meant a lot to me… Local ownership appeals to me. Local ownership is investing more than money… The personal investment is meaningful.”

PPM Analysis: Four… Less… Years. News/talk stations in Nielsen Audio’s PPM markets enjoyed improved ratings during the November 2020 survey – 68% of news/talk stations in that survey were up over the previous month’s survey – that coincided with the final month of the presidential campaign (October 8 to November 4). In today’s analysis, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian compares the performances of news/talk stations in the November 2020 survey with the same period during the last presidential election in 2016. He shows that 74% of news/talk stations in PPM markets were up (6+, weekly AQH share) in the November 2020 survey compared to the same period in 2016. In fact, there were 10 news/talk stations that increased their AQH share by three full shares or more from the November 2016 survey to November 2020. Find out which stations accomplished that plus much more in Mike Kinosian’s piece here.

Former NFL Player George Wrighster Hosting Late Nights on Mad Dog Radio Channel. Former NFL tight end George Wrighster joins SiriusXM to host the 10:00 pm to 1:00 am ET “Night Cap” program on the Mad Dog Sports Radio channel, beginning tonight (12/7). Wrighster was drafted out of the University of Oregon in 2003. After his playing days, he transitioned into his second career as an entrepreneur/investor and sports media personality.  He has hosted shows on radio and television for a number of networks including FOX Sports, ESPN, and KFWB and KLAC in Los Angeles. SiriusXM SVP of sports programming Steve Cohen says, “With his experience both on the field and in the media, George brings an excellent and well-rounded perspective to the Mad Dog Sports Radio channel and we’re excited to have him deliver an engaging and entertaining show to our listeners on a nightly basis.”

UNUSUAL TALK MEDIA GUEST ALERTBob Kosch Is Back! Former mortgage banker, loan broker, tax lien investor, rock ‘n’ roller, and music/talk radio broadcaster Bob Kosch is back (after another prison stint) and available to do talk media interviews. If you’re looking for a change-of-pace type of special guest for your talk radio show, TV show, or podcast, check out this fascinating ex-con. Michael Harrison (a longtime friend of Kosch) describes Kosch as a “compellingly articulate, original, charming and informative larger-than-life character” who has no problem taking on a variety of subjects including the economy, commercial real estate, scams, the Donald Trump Era (he’s an outspoken Trump critic), prison reform, and pop music, among others. Bob Kosch is an ex-con with a plan that he says can save America from recession and move the economy forward. Experiencing corporal punishment by nuns at St. Anthony’s in Hawthorne, NJ as a child because of learning disabilities and left back in the 5th grade, he began engaging in deceptive behavior at an early age – all of which he talks about openly. He is an expert in mortgage law, focusing mainly in foreclosure and equitable subrogation. Kosch was charged with wire fraud by the U.S. Government in 1999. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 60 months in prison on September 12, 2001. His case brought to light Household Finance’s alleged predatory lending which ultimately led to that company’s demise. The most recent were charges by the State of New Jersey for theft-related offenses which he points out were fabricated by local prosecutors. The case was reversed, and charges vacated but Bob spent six years in prison during the process!  While in State custody, Kosch was in charge of the Law Library at Northern State Prison and worked as “substitute counsel” in court line proceedings. In a particular case, he worked with the ACLU when a transgender inmate was brutally beaten by police and then charged with assault. He was successful in having her transferred to the Women’s Prison in Clinton, New Jersey – setting a precedent in the system and the state. He was instrumental in the enactment of a bill signed by Governor Phil Murphy to end Administrative Segregation arguing Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment claims. Since his release on November 1, 2020, he voluntarily continues to help others in custody who do not have the money to hire an attorney for appeals and post-conviction related matters. He just recently filed a “writ of coram nobis” in an immigration proceeding for an inmate subject to deportation. Bob Kosch can be contacted via email at r2892k@gmail.com or phoned at 973-900-2831.

Beasley Media Group Promotes Tina Murley to VP of Corporate Sales. Boston director of sales Tina Murley is promoted to vice president of corporate sales for Beasley Media Group, effective immediately. Murley has been DOS at Beasley Boston since 2014 and will continue to be based in Boston. In her new role, she’ll be responsible for overseeing the traditional and integrated sales efforts on behalf of the entire company. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “Tina brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to her new role as VP of corporate sales. Her positive attitude and commitment to excellence on behalf of our advertisers and the company made her the perfect choice to lead our company’s sales efforts into the future.”

Nate Dixon Named VP of Sales for Entercom St. Louis. Radio sales pro Nate Dixon joins Entercom’s St. Louis station group as vice president of sales for the cluster that includes news/talk outlets KMOX-AM and KFTK-FM and four music radio outlets. Dixon was most recently with Radio One’s St. Louis operations as station manager. Entercom St. Louis SVP and market manager Becky Domyan comments, “Nate has an incredible track record of performance, community outreach, and team building throughout his career in St. Louis. He is going to elevate our performance to new heights, and I look forward to him leading the way for our sales operation, turbo-charging revenue on all fronts.”

COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Giuliani Hospitalized, Lives vs Livelihood Debate, Trump Challenges Election Results, Biden Transition, Georgia Runoff Elections, and the Economy/Job Losses Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines in the U.K., and expectations for U.S. vaccine distribution; Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is hospitalized with COVID-19; the lives-versus-livelihood debate as lockdown’s hit California; Trump’s continuing challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues building his administration; Georgia’s January U.S. Senate runoff elections and Sunday’s LoefflerWarnock debate; and the state of the U.S. economy and the effects of job losses were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. It’ s going to be double duty for on-air pro Frank Ski who is joining Cox Media Group’s urban contemporary WALR-FM, Atlanta “KISS 104.1” as morning host, effective February 1. Ski will continue to host the afternoon drive program at Howard University’s urban contemporary WHUR, Washington, DC. In addition to his radio work, Ski is signed to a global publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing for his catalogue of hip-hop, rap, gospel, and Baltimore club-music. WALR director of branding and programming Terri Avery says, “I’m thrilled to usher in this new era of ‘The Frank Ski Show’ on ‘KISS 104.1.’ Frank Ski is a proven leader and trusted voice in Atlanta’s African American community. We welcome Frank to the ‘KISS 104.1’ team.”…..Hubbard Radio announces that Fitz – host of KNUC, Seattle’s “Fitz In The Morning” show – will end his daily program in the next few weeks to focus his efforts on the nationally syndicated “Country Top 40” and the creation of new projects. Fitz says, “While I will dearly miss the daily interaction with my Seattle listeners, I’m truly excited to focus my attention on continuing the tradition of ‘CT40’ and bringing it into the next decade with fun, captivating new features, emotion, and remembering the stars of yesterday, while introducing the country stars of tomorrow.” KNUC brand/content director Scott Mahalick says, “We look forward to writing a new chapter for ‘98-9 The Bull’ next year and are working on plans now. We are glad to continue being the flagship radio station for ‘CT40’ with Fitz and look forward to him playing the hits for years to come.”

Friday, December 4, 2020

| December 4, 2020

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Hazy Shade of Winter, looks back at this past week of November 30 – December 4, 2020. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Jim Bohannon, talk show host, Westwood OneHeidi Harris, talk show host, KMZQ, Las Vegas; Stephanie Miller, talk show host, WYD Media ManagementAmy Hao, talk show host, KSCO, Santa Cruz; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

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 November 2020 PPM survey (October 8 – November 4), today focusing on the news/talk format. This survey leading up to the November 3 presidential election was, in general, a boon to the news/talk format. In fact, 78% of news/talk stations in PPM markets saw their weekly, 6+ AQH share increase from the November of 2019 survey to this November 2020 survey. Comparing the October 2020 survey to the November survey, 68% of news/talk stations’ ratings were up, with gainers led by iHeartMedia’s WKRC, Cincinnati (+2.3), KNRS-FM, Salt Lake City (+1.9), KFYI, Phoenix (+1.7), and Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis (+1.7). Returning to year-over-year numbers, big gainers here included iHeartMedia’s WISN-AM, Milwaukee (+7.6), KFYI-AM, Phoenix (+5.0) and WIBC-FM, Indianapolis (+4.5). In what is a first, the top 10 news/talk stations by market rank were all #1 in their respective markets during the November 2020 survey. See which stations those were and a whole lot more in Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Dan Le Batard and ESPN Agree to Part Company. This is one of those separations that might have been termed a “shocker” simply because of the successful nature of the relationship between ESPN and Dan Le Batard. But as industry watchers are aware, the relationship has been contentious recently and Le Batard made no secret about his displeasure with ESPN’s directive during the summer to steer clear of politics. He was also not pleased that ESPN laid off his radio producer Chris Cote as part of its staff cutbacks (Le Batard brought Cote back by paying his salary out of his own pocket). Pile on top of that the fact that ESPN recently moved the video simulcast of his show from cable’s ESPNews to the subscription ESPN+ platform and reduced his radio show from three to two hours. Le Batard’s final programs will be on January 4. In a statement, ESPN EVP and executive editor Norby Williamson says, “It was mutually agreed that it was best for both sides to move on to new opportunities and we worked together closely to make that possible. We thank Dan for his many years and contributions to ESPN and wish him all the best going forward.” Le Batard’s official statement is as follows: “Gracias to ESPN for unleashing Papi and Stugotz upon an unsuspecting America, and for lending its substantive credibility to our careening clown car. Can’t believe Stugotz finally achieved his dream of becoming a high-priced free agent. I’m forever indebted to Erik Rydholm, Matt Kelliher and their vibrant team for providing a creative oasis across a decade, and for expanding the Le Batard family to include so many brilliant colleagues who have become forever friends, bonded eternally by laughter and love. Want to also extend my gratitude to Chuck Salituro, Jimmy Pitaro, Traug Keller, Marcia Keegan, Connor Schell, Juan Diaz, Mike Foss, Amanda Gifford, Liam Chapman, Megan Judge, Elizabeth Fierman, the Hialeah-soaked crew at Imagina …and when did this become a droning acceptance speech instead of a quick goodbye? In short, thank you, Disney and ESPN, for a quarter century of absurd blessings. To our loyal army of concerned fans, and to everyone who walked along and played an instrument in our Marching Band to Nowhere, know that it is a very exciting time for us, not a sad one. And that you’ll be hearing our laughter again soon enough.”

New ESPN Radio Schedule to Launch on January 5. With the departure of Dan Le Batard from the ESPN Radio and ESPN television schedules, ESPN announces the broadcast schedule for the radio network that begins effective on January 5. ESPN moves “Greeny,” with Mike Greenberg from the early afternoon slot to Le Batard’s current 10:00 am to 12:00 noon air time. It inserts the WEPN-FM, New York duo “Bart & Hahn” – Bart Scott and Alan Hahn – into the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm daypart. As for the television program “Highly Questionable,” it will continue with a “contributing team” consisting of Elle Duncan, Domonique Foxworth, Israel Gutierrez, Bomani Jones, Mina Kimes, Katie Nolan, Sarah Spain, Pablo Torre, and Clinton Yates.

Joe Madison to Be Honored by the National Black Radio Hall of Fame. Talk radio pro Joe Madison is being honored by the National Black Radio Hall of Fame as a 2021 inductee for the “National Satellite Talk Radio Award.” Organization president Bernard Hayes says, “We as a board decided that it would be only fitting to continue the honoring of our leaders in Black Radio despite the current climate in our country and have thereby decided to continue honoring the legacy of those who have done so much to support our communities at large. We will fulfill this task by using the services of the Zoom application.” The National Black Radio Hall of Fame, whose main facility is located at Harris Stowe State University, will have its program hosted by its National Board Members and the local Atlanta Chapter on Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 6:00 pm ET.

WDUN-AM, Gainesville, Georgia Talk Host Martha Zoller Recovering from Health Issue. Georgia talk radio host Martha Zoller is off of her regular talk show on Jacobs Media’s news/talk WDUN-AM, Gainesville, Georgia after having emergency surgery on a burst abscess on a lung that sent her to the hospital on November 21. She tells TALKERS magazine that she is recovering at home and will be away from her radio show for a couple of weeks and then expects to be hosting her program from home until she’s cleared to return to WDUN’s studios.

WAMU Staff Joins SAG-AFTRA. The content creation staff at American University’s public radio outlet WAMU-FM, Washington voted unanimously to recognize SAG-AFTRA as its union. The new bargaining unit will cover the public media professionals who create content for all areas of the station, including DCist.com, “The Kojo Nnamdi Show,” “1A,” “The Big Broadcast,” “Hot Jazz Saturday Night,” and the podcasts “Dish City,” “What’s With Washington,” and “Diane Rehm: On My Mind.” The newly formed bargaining unit will be made up of 80 employees, including hosts, reporters, producers, editors, and engineers who create content for the news, programming and digital units. WAMU “Morning Edition” host Esther Ciammachilli says, “WAMU’s content creators, as a collective bargaining unit represented by SAG-AFTRA, are thrilled to advance our shared beliefs in transparency, accountability, fairness and most importantly, the truth.”

Longtime Chicago Cubs TV Personality Len Kasper Joining WMVP Radio for White Sox Broadcasts. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, 16-year Chicago Cubs television play-by-play man Len Kasper is joining Good Karma Brands-operated sports talk outlet WMVP-AM as announcer for Chicago White Sox broadcasts. Feder says that Kasper – who replaces Andy Masur in the play-by-play role – will work alongside analyst Darrin Jackson.

COVID-19 Spike, Vaccines, and Prevention Tie for Top News/Talk Story of the Week. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the anticipated rollout of vaccines, and prescriptions for prevention of the disease tied for the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio for the week of November 30 to December 4, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Donald Trump’s continuing to claim election fraud. Coming in at #3 was the pardons granted by President Trump and the possibility he’ll grant pardons to his children and himself, followed by the Georgia Senate runoff elections at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Las Vegas adult contemporary outlet KSNE-FM “Sunny 106.5” and KLAS-TV “8 News Now” is presenting a special broadcast titled “A Very Sunny Christmas” to benefit Opportunity Village in Southern Nevada – a nonprofit organization serving adults in the Southern Nevada community with intellectual and related disabilities. Airing on the iHeartMedia radio station and KLAS-TV on December 18 and 25, it will feature Sunny 106.5 morning hosts AJ and Joanna plus performances by Nevada-based entertainers including Wayne Newton, Little Big Town, Debbie Gibson, Darius Rucker, Mat Franco, Brian Newman, Russell Dickerson, Shin Lim, Daniel Emmet, Piff The Magic Dragon, Xavier Mortimer, and many more. AJ says, “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous challenges to Opportunity Village and the people they serve, particularly with the upcoming event season as their normal holiday events like Magical Forest have been cancelled for the 2020 season.”

Monday, August 17, 2020

| August 17, 2020

Monday Memo: Emulate Success. Talkers of all sorts – music DJs, talk hosts, podcasters – are fighting for attention, now more than ever, in what TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison calls “today’s sped-up world.”  In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke lists success prescriptions from industry icons. Read it here.

USPS Controversy/Mail-In Voting, Presidential Election/Kamala Harris Choice, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, School Opening Debate, Portland Protests/Urban Violence, WAP Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The funding issues facing the U.S. Postal Service and President Trump’s allegation that mail-in voting breeds fraud; the November presidential election and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the debate over opening schools this fall; the ongoing protests in Portland and rise in violent crime in a number of U.S. cities; and the controversy over the Cardi B song “WAP” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: In the Market for a Test Drive. A personality endorsement campaign is a commitment on both sides – the client’s and the talent’s and AE’s. What happens when a prospect responds with the desire to “try it for a month?” Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes about tying the length of time it takes to get a consumer through the purchase process to the minimum term required for an endorsement campaign featuring one of your talk personalities. Read it here.

WQAM, Miami Re-Vamps Daily Program Schedule. South Florida sports talker WQAM “560 The Joe” announces it’s tweaking its daily lineup, adding ESPN Radio’s “Greeny” with Mike Greenberg in the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm daypart and is expanding the afternoon drive “Hochman and Crowder” show – hosted by Marc Hochman and Channing Crowder – to 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Entercom South Florida SVP and market manager Keriann Worley says, “With the return of live sports, we aim to give sports fans of South Florida a home for both national headlines and premier coverage of their favorite teams. As he returns to radio, Mike Greenberg is a nationally recognized and trusted voice and we’re delighted to add his show to our already impressive lineup of weekday programming.”

John Fredericks Radio Network Announces New Virginia Digital News Operation. In conjunction with Star News Digital Media, the Virginia based John Fredericks Radio Network is launching The Virginia Star – a new, digital news operation that begins publishing today. John Fredericks is host of the network’s morning drive program and he’s also serving as publisher and editor-in-chief of the news operation. He says, “We are very excited about this new venture: real news in real time. The Virginia Star will be fiercely local in its core news reporting content, augmented with a national flavor and robust commentary section. Like on my radio show, we encourage all voices.” Star executives say they have hired three local, full-time reporters and have contracted with several more on a part-time basis. Fredericks adds, “We are going to cover the stories important to our readers that the fake news refuses to do simply because it doesn’t fit their narrative. At The Virginia Star, we have our own narrative, it’s called the truth.” Star News Digital Media CEO Michael Patrick Leahy says, “The Virginia Star now becomes the fifth state-based news site in the Star News Network, joining The Tennessee Star, The Ohio Star, The Minnesota Sun, and The Michigan Star.” Star News Digital Media chief technology officer Christina Botteri adds, “The Virginia Star is the first affiliate of the Star News Network. We own and operate our four other news sites. We searched the country to find the right organization with the reputation and experience to work with in a fifth state, and the John Fredericks Radio Network in Virginia was hands down the right choice for us. Together with John, our crackerjack team of on-the-ground reporters, and the great people of Virginia, we will change the face of news in the Commonwealth.”

PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s July 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on sports talk. As sports leagues begin returning to live play-by-play, America’s sports talk stations are hoping it will translate into improved ratings. During the July 2020 survey, Tegna’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “Sports Radio 97.1 The Fan” was the big gainer, adding seven-tenths to post a 3.6 share. Right behind was Cumulus Media’s KNBR, San Francisco tacking on six-tenths for a 2.5 share finish. Comparing July 2020 to July 2019, the top gainer is iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis “K-FAN,” which posts a seven-tenths gain for a 5.0 share. No sports talk station ranked #1 in its market in July – not even close. However, three stations – Beasley Media Group’s WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub”; WBNS-FM, Columbus; and KXFN-FM, Minneapolis – tied for ranking #8 in their respective markets. See the complete report here.

TALKERS News Notes. This month, Premiere Networks is celebrating the 20th anniversary of FOX Sports Radio. Premiere says that it and FOX Sports “have enjoyed a long partnership that kicked off in 2000 with the goal of producing a home for industry-leading talent focused on delivering entertaining, informed and thought-provoking programming for sports fans. FOX Sports Radio launched in August of that year, and the network’s storied 20-year run has developed a loyal following of more than 14 million listeners across more than 500 affiliates nationwide with an unmatched weekday lineup featuring some of the biggest names in sports broadcasting, including Colin Cowherd, Dan Patrick, Clay Travis, Doug Gottlieb, Chris Broussard, Rob Parker, R.J. Bell, Jason Smith, Mike Harmon and Ben Maller.” Premiere SVP of sports programming Don Martin says, “What an amazing accomplishment – 20 years! I’ve been fortunate to be part of the FSR family for the entire run, both as an affiliate and on the management team.”…..San Diego is getting its first taste of “The Mightier 1090” today (8/17) as the Bill Hagen-led station begins operating. XEPRS-AM had been a sports talker as “The Mighty 1090” operated by Broadcast Corporation of the Americas but that organization lost its lease on the Mexican blowtorch last year. Now, ad exec Hagen is re-imagining the station. Times of San Diego reports that former XEPRS sports talk host Scott Kaplan is hosting afternoon drive. The rest of the schedule is: SportsGrid’s “The Morning After” with Ariel Epstein and Jared Smith in morning drive, Rich Eisen from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, two programs hosted by Scott Ferrall, and Tony Bruno in evenings…..ESPN Radio announces that effective today (8/17), personalities Dan LeBatard and Stugotz are presenting new daily podcast-exclusive content. A new digital-only episode will be recorded and posted before their 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET national radio show.  Following the radio program, LeBatard and Stugotz will record more thoughts and ramblings as a digital-only “post-game show.” In addition, each hour of the radio show – as well as their local hour heard in Miami – will continue to be available as podcasts. ESPN Audio VP, digital marketing and strategy Tom Ricks says, “Dan and Stugotz already have a large digital-only audience, and we wanted to better serve that audience with exclusive podcast content. They are a unique show on sports radio and now their podcast listeners will get more unique podcast content each day.”

Michael Harrison Joins Gunhill Road with New Song About Life During Pandemic.  Here they come again! Gunhill Road, the legendary album rock band that was a cult favorite of FM radio in the early 70s and then scored a Top 40 AM radio one-off smash in 1973 with “Back When My Hair Was Short” has returned in 2020 with a reworked version of the classic hit. This time the catchy tune has new lyrics that address the coronavirus with a lovingly humorous take on the sacrifices society is making to contain it. Rock enthusiasts might recall that Gunhill Road reunited in 2014 to a packed house at New York’s Bitter End and a brand new double album titled, “Every 40 Years,” which became the subject of a feature film documentary. The long-running ensemble which consists of original members Glenn LeopoldSteve Goldrich, and Paul Reich and new members musician/arranger Brian Koonin and TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison has a new set of songs ready to drop in early 2021. Among the new songs is one co-written and performed by Harrison that addresses the issue of animal welfare. To check out the new “Back When We Used to Hug” video, please click here.

Newsmax TV Adds ‘Stinchfield’ to Nightly Lineup. Four-time Emmy-winning journalist Grant Stinchfield is joining the evening lineup at Newsmax TV, beginning tomorrow (8/18) at 8:00 pm ET. Newsmax says “Stinchfield” is “a full hour of the day’s top news and provocative conversation.” Stinchfield says, “I’m thrilled to be at Newsmax TV. Each night, our viewers can look forward to a compelling mix of up-to-the-second news and compelling discussions with newsmakers and Newsmax TV’s great roster of contributors.” Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy says, “Grant has an impeccable track record in broadcast journalism with the awards to prove it. He will bring our viewers solid news reports with the insight they can’t find elsewhere.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Townsquare Media’s Albany, New York station group, country WGNA brand manager Matty Jeff is promoted to director of content for the cluster that also includes alternative WQSH, rock WQBK, adult contemporary WPBZ, hip hop WQBK-HD2/W256BU, and sports talk WTMM-FM. Townsquare Albany market president Kevin Rich says, “Matty has programmed WGNA to be a consistent local ratings and online leader and by far the #1 country station in the Capital Region. Having him as my partner in the director of content role will make our locally programmed stations even stronger.”…..Country radio air personality Jessica Cash announces she’s leaving Alpha Media’s WFLS, Fredericksburg, Virginia at the end of this week. She says, “Fourteen years is a long time for someone in our profession to be in one place. I’ve had the good fortune to do that, to hopefully get your day started with a smile. But, now it’s time for me to make a change in my life.” Cash co-hosts the morning drive show with Steve Waters. The duo has won honors over the years, including CMA’s Small Market Morning Show in 2018 and the ACM Small Market Personality in 2019. The station is searching for her replacement…..Condolences to the family and friends of longtime South Florida radio personality Sonny Fox, who passed away on Friday (8/14) in Dunnellon, Florida after an illness at age 73. An obit in the Miami Herald notes that Fox worked at former rock outlet WSHE (now hip hop WMIB), CHR WHYI, oldies WMXJ, and country WKIS.

Thursday August 13, 2020

| August 13, 2020

Gardner Announces Retirement. Having worked for Bonneville the past 12 years – the last three as senior vice president and San Francisco market manager – Carl Gardner will be retiring at the end of this month. Bonneville International president Darrell Brown comments, “Carl has been a tremendous asset to Bonneville. We will miss his leadership, deep experience, and friendship.” Gardner transferred to the Bay Area from Seattle, where he spent nine years as the company’s vice president/market manager. In advance of that, he was an upper-level executive at Journal Broadcast Group for 17 years, leaving in 2008 as executive vice president of television, radio, and digital media. For more than a half-dozen years, Gardner was Journal’s Milwaukee-based president of radio operations. The University of Washington alum began his 43-year media career in Seattle and has worked in Denver and Portland, as well as San Francisco and Milwaukee. A past chair of the NAB Radio board and former member of the NAB executive committee, Gardner has had active industry involvement in other capacities, including membership on the Radio Advertising Bureau board of directors, Associated Press advisory board, and Washington State Association of Broadcasters board of directors. For the past seven years, Gardner has been part of the Seattle Sports Commission’s executive committee. Bonneville is expected to name Gardner’s replacement later this month.

RAB To Acquire NRTS. Founder/president of the National Radio Talent System, Dan Vallie, will advise the Radio Advertising Bureau as the RAB integrates the institute into the organization. With RAB’s oversight, the national “System” will continue to operate under its brand name and network of institutes across the country. RAB president/chief executive officer Erica Farber states that, “An integral part of the RAB’s mission is providing the industry with the tools and resources to help broadcasters attract new sales talent to the medium and enhance radio’s professionalism through training and support. The integration of the National Radio Talent System into the RAB delivers on the mission in so many ways. We are just delighted to continue to grow Dan Vallie’s vision and take it to the next phase.” According to Vallie, “The National Radio Talent System began as a labor of love to prepare the next generation of broadcasters, who can be hired today and be leaders in our industry tomorrow. Today’s visionary broadcasters, universities and sponsors working together have made it a reality. RAB has been there with us from the very first Radio Talent Institute. I’m confident the National Radio Talent System will continue to grow and maximize its potential, assuring the industry of young talent on through this 21st century. I truly believe over the next 100 years, radio will be the keystone of a golden age of audio, even more so by attracting young talent to the industry. People make the difference – always has been and always will be.” Entercom chief operating officer/RAB board chair Susan Larkin notes, “The future of our companies is dependent on the next generation of committed, prepared, and talented radio professionals. The National Radio Talent System is unique in that it provides a radio talent ‘farm’ for the industry, an incubator of well-rounded, well-educated college talent with a passion for radio. That’s why investing in this program is good for the RAB and the industry.” College students, recent graduates, and radio interns have to apply to be accepted into the intensive 10-day Institutes. Sessions include on-air, programming, sales, writing, news, sports, promotions, videography, podcasting, social media, engineering and management. Each student participates in RAB training and takes the exam to earn Radio Marketing Professional Certification (RMPC).

Davis Appointed iHM Greensboro VP/Programming. Most recently the senior vice president of programming for Entercom Richmond – Zac Davis – joins iHeartMedia as vice president of programming of Greensboro’s five-station cluster. Davis will report to iHeartMedia Greensboro president Kellie Holeman, who comments, “I am thrilled to welcome Zac to my team in Greensboro. I look forward to collaborating with him to continue developing these great brands. Zac brings a wealth of knowledge and creativity across all formats; I look forward to a long, prosperous partnership.” Davis adds, “I’ve really enjoyed my four years in Richmond, but always considered North Carolina my home. I’m thrilled to head back to Greensboro. After getting to know [those involved], I knew this was a special team.” The Florida State University grad previously was program director at iHeartMedia Hartford-New Haven and has held industry positions in Denver, Salt Lake City, and Raleigh, as well as in Melbourne (Florida), Stockton (California); and Myrtle Beach (South Carolina). In addition to WPTI “Your News, Talk, & Sports Station” (ninth, 4.2, July 2020, 6+), iHeartMedia’s Greensboro cluster consists of adult contemporary WMAG “The Best Variety of the ‘80s, ‘90s, & Today” (third, 8.8, 6+); WTQR “Q-104.1 #1 For New Country” (sixth, 5.7, 6+); rock WVBZ “105.7 Man Up!” (tenth, 3.7, 6+); and CHR WMKS “100.3 Kiss-FM The Triad’s #1 Hit Music Station” (#12, 2.4, 6+).

Weinstein, Donaldson, Hall To Occupy Washington’s Radio Booth. While the updated name of this particular NFL franchise might not be the most creative – although an improvement over its controversial one – the Washington Football Team has unveiled its completely new radio crew for a potential 2020 season. Cumulus Media sports talk WSBN “ESPN 630 The Sports Capitol” afternoon host Bram Weinstein will handle play-by-play, while former defensive back DeAngelo Hall prepares to serve as an analyst alongside Julie Donaldson. Weinstein succeeds Larry Michael, who faces accusations of improper behavior toward female employees. Donaldson and Hall are replacing Chris Cooley and Rick “Doc” Walker. Weinstein explains that since 1979, “Only two people have had the privilege of holding the position of play-by-play voice of the Washington Football Team. With that in mind, and knowing what this team means to our community, I am humbled and honored to be given this opportunity. This is the fulfillment of a dream. This is also an exciting time to start with so much change happening in and around the franchise. I’m proud to have been selected to be part of this team.” Former NBCSW anchor/reporter Donaldson is the franchise’s newly-named senior vice president of media and remarks, “With DeAngelo’s experience as the ‘eyes’ of our defense for a decade, not to mention his work with the NFL Network, and Bram’s tenure as a sports broadcaster/Washington Football fan, we’ll be able to relate to – and involve –  the players and fans like never before.” Hall adds, “I am incredibly excited and honored to be joining this storied franchise as the next gameday analyst. While I loved my time playing for Washington the better part of ten years, there is more I would have liked to have accomplished for the fans. This opportunity will allow me to make a lasting impact in a different way. We are heading into the future with Julie Donaldson and I am excited to be her teammate for this journey.” The franchise’s games will air on a network headed by Cumulus Media news/talk WMAL and cross-town Radio One-owned sports talk WTEM “980 The Team.”

TALKERS News Notes. Honoring the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, iHeartMedia’s WVON “1690 The Talk of Chicago” afternoon talent Kimberley Egonmwan will host a virtual celebration to commemorate contributions of African-American women to democracy. The event will honor past and present “Women of the Movement” with a pictorial montage; a civic engagement call-to-action; and two panel discussions about how women have turned voting into power. Taking place on Zoom and Facebook Live, the celebration begins this Saturday (8/15) at 11:00 am, preceded by a 10:30 am civic engagement show featuring a 2020 census and election presentation by the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority connection committee. Among those scheduled to join Egonmwan are the first black female US Senator, Carol Moseley Braun; congresswoman Robin Kelly; historian Dr. Keisha N. Blain; political strategist Delmarie Cobb; and “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” contributor Stefanie Brown James Montana Public Radio host/writer/producer Nora Saks is the recipient of Boston University public radio news/talk WBUR’s Daniel Schorr journalism prize of $5,000 for her podcast “Richest Hill,” a series on a notorious EPA superfund site. Named for the legendary CBS, CNN, and NPR reporter/analyst, the award honors public radio journalists under the age of 35. Saks will be honored at a virtual event next month (9/15) … Effective next Monday (8/17) on Good Karma Brands’ Madison sports talk WTLX “100.5 FM ESPN,” Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Zubin Mehenti grab the 5:00 am – 9:00 am slot. Fellow ESPN Radio talents Mike Greenberg (“Greeny”) and Max Kellerman will follow at 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm, and 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, respectively. Vice president and market manager Keith Williams comments, “It is an exciting time to be an ESPN radio sports fan, with the opportunity to listen to ESPN Network’s new national shows that will provide incredible energy and varying perspectives. Fans will continue to hear from the locally-produced and informative Wilde & Tausch (9:00 am – 12:00 noon); 12-year radio host Jim Rutledge (3:00 pm – 4:00 pm); and then complete their day with the fast-paced entertainment of Greg Scalzo & Ben Brust (4:00 pm – 6:00 pm).” … A daily, two minute Josh Tolley-hosted feature – “The Business of Life” – is available from Fishnet Syndication. Topics pertain to faith, family, finance, politics, entertainment, and news. Fishnet Syndication partner Mike Tyler notes, “Josh has a long history of producing a fantastic radio show covering many hot topics to keep listeners coming back for more. Fishnet Syndication is always on the lookout for great shows and we know content is king.” Tolley adds, “I’ve had a very successful radio show with over 20 million listeners in 160 countries and in all 50 states. We know our decision to partner with Fishnet Syndication is the correct decision. Mike Tyler and Kent Jones have a long history in the radio industry and are well known for getting the job done.”

Entercom Launches “Battleground America.” The daily podcast available to listeners nationwide on Radio.com beginning next Monday (8/17) is centered around this year’s presidential election and American politics. Entercom Greenville (South Carolina) news/talk WYRD “106.3 Word” morning show host Tara Servatius provides daily intel on American politics and culture. Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg senior vice president and market manager Steve Sinicropi remarks, “With election season in full swing, we want to give our listeners a wide array of premier political content, supported by reliable insight and diverse opinions. Tara does a fantastic job captivating her audience through her daily morning show and we look forward to amplifying her voice across the country on Radio.com to spark healthy discussions surrounding the 2020 election.” Servatius opines, “This election will be unlike any other and could change the way Americans live forever. I’m excited to share this afternoon snack with our local listeners who want their ‘Tara Show’ fix, as well as share my voice with those in other cities nationwide craving election talk radio as we rapidly approach November.” In episode one, Servatius will discuss her opinion about president Trump‘s 2016 win being a razor’s edge miracle and the probability of pulling it off again. New episodes will be available every weekday.

NAB Show New York Registration Opens Next Month. The ten-day (October 19 – 29) virtual event showcases advances in next-generation technology and will feature conferences, workshops, and exhibits focused on podcasting, television, film, online video, live events, and advertising. Executive vice president of NAB conventions Chris Brown notes, “We are continuing to evolve the digital event model to better serve the needs of the industry with a more robust platform and enhanced experience for participants. This solution allows us to serve a broader audience with expanded content, collaborative features and a longer, more flexible schedule that optimize opportunities for conducting business, networking and peer-to-peer learning.” Additional NAB virtual events taking place in October include the “Radio Show” (October 5–9), co-produced by the Radio Advertising Bureau, and NAB’s Sales and Management Television Exchange (October 14 – 15).

WBT, Charlotte Morning Host Pat McCrory is this Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  Former North Carolina governor turned WBT, Charlotte talk show host Pat McCrory is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.”  McCrory is heard weekday mornings on the Entercom-owned heritage station with co-host, newsman Bo Thompson, 8:00 – 10:00 am on a highly-rated show that addresses local, regional and national topics along with a blend of pop culture items and a heavy dose of “fun.”  He has successfully held that position since 2017 after serving a four-year term as the Republican governor of North Carolina.  His gubernatorial service was a wild ride during which he garnered a tremendous amount of national attention, both positive and negative, due to the controversy surrounding his signing of the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act – also referred to as”HB2″ – and became embroiled in the issue of transgender use of public rest rooms.  There was a political backlash against that move which resulted in North Carolina being the target of numerous economic boycotts that resulted in the loss of revenue and jobs for the state.  McCrory, who refers to himself as one of the first victims of the “cancel culture,” lost his bid for re-election following that episode by a razor thin margin.  Prior to that, he had a long track record of being one of North Carolina’s most popular political figures.  Before being elected Governor, he served seven consecutive terms as mayor of Charlotte and presided over the Queen City’s notable growth as a business and cultural center during that period.  Harrison and McCrory candidly discuss a variety of topics from the impact of hyper political correctness on public discourse to current political issues.  Don’t miss this!  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Wrap” located in the right-hand corner on every page of Talkers.com.

Kamala Harris Receives VP Nod, Mail-In Voting Debate, School Opening Struggles, and the Economy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/12).  The selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as Joe Biden’s running-mate topped the TALKERS list of most-discussed stories on news/talk radio across America yesterday (8/12).  It was followed by the debates over mail-in voting and the opening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Other major topics included concern over the economy including unemployment, the stimulus package debate, as well as COVID-19 stats and projections according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Approximately two weeks ago, 21-year-old Payton Cannon was killed when her vehicle ran off the right side of a North Carolina road and hit a tree. Payton was the daughter of David “Ace” Cannon, better known as “Ace” from the syndicated “Ace & TJ” show that originates from iHeartMedia Charlotte CHR WHQC “Hits 96.1.” Payton’s childhood friend, Max McLaughlin, will drive a Mohawk Northeast-sponsored #1Payton’sPromise.org Toyota Camry in tomorrow’s (Friday, 8/14) inaugural Arca Menards Series race at the Daytona International Speedway. “Ace” comments, “We are very touched that Max has been granted permission to honor Payton in this way.” Ritchie “TJ” Beams adds, “The best part about this is Payton would absolutely love it.” McLaughlin is a second-generation driver and races for Hattori Racing Enterprises. He won his first race on a road course at Watkins Glen International last season. Payton’s Promise is a nonprofit charity set up to help when a community is in the need of immediate help from tragic events or when local support efforts need more assistance to get to their goals … Most recently doing afternoons at iHeartMedia San Francisco CHR KYLD “Wild 94.9,” Julian Nieh (“Julian on the Radio”) joins Hubbard Broadcasting Seattle’s similarly-formatted KQMV “MOViN 92.5” for nights. KQMV brand and content director Cat Thomas comments, “Julian has always impressed me with his energy, excitement, and content. We are thrilled to have him join the team at ‘Seattle’s #1 Hit Music Station.” Nieh notes, “I’m beyond blessed to be added to a team of insanely-talented individuals and management. I’ve learned and been blessed to work with some of the best managers in this industry, and continue to do so. Much appreciation and thanks to Cat Thomas for bringing me aboard. I knew Cat was one of those special managers and all around good people when I met him last year.” …  Former WPLJ, New York City music director/midday talent Melony Torres has joined Pandora as director of pop programming. Torres was with WPLJ when it was a Cumulus Media-owned hot AC; it’s now an Educational Media Foundation contemporary Christian outlet … The classical music format on Nashville Public Radio’s WFCL will relocate to the HD2 channel of co-owned news/talk WPLN-FM in the fall. Posting on the station’s website, president chief executive officer Steve Swenson writes that WFCL will air “more of Nashville’s music” with “complete local curation.” WFCL’s new format, he indicates, will be a “vibrant soundtrack of Music City.” … Voiceover talent Jordana Klein adds imaging duties at Cumulus Media Dallas CHR KLIF-FM “Hot 93.3.” Klein formerly was imaging director at Bell Media Toronto CHR CKFM “99.9 Virgin Radio” and imaging voice at Bell Virgin Radio stations throughout Canada … Starting next Monday (8/17), Damien Barling and Kenny Caraway (“D-Lo & KC”) take over 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm duties on Entercom Sacramento sports talk KIFM-AM “ESPN 1320.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

| August 12, 2020

Sumner Redstone Has Died. According to a statement from ViacomCBS, its chair emeritus and chief executive officer of controlling shareholder National Amusements, Sumner Redstone, has died. Redstone served as Viacom CEO from 1996 – 2005, and was executive chair of the Viacom and CBS boards from 2005 – 2016. He since was chair emeritus for both companies. A statement reads, “Sumner Redstone was a brilliant visionary, operator, and dealmaker, who single-handedly transformed a family-owned drive-in theater company into a global media portfolio. He was a force of nature and fierce competitor, who leaves behind a profound legacy in both business and philanthropy. ViacomCBS will remember Sumner for his unparalleled passion to win, his endless intellectual curiosity, and his complete dedication to the company. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Redstone family today.” Sumner Redstone was 97 years old.

Beasley Study: Boston Consumers Optimistic. Results of Beasley Media Group Boston-commissioned/ Strategic Solutions Research-conducted polling indicate the majority of Boston-area consumers remain optimistic even during the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, a large percentage feel their spending is – or will soon be – back to normal. Beasley Media Group Boston vice president/market manager Mary Menna comments, “The company’s study is meant to help guide marketing partners on how to craft the most effective messaging with their advertising and give Boston area businesses critical data as to local consumers’ current state-of-mind and planned future behaviors. It was important for us to conduct this research to get a pulse on Boston consumers for our clients. People in Boston are optimistic that we will make it through the pandemic. That optimism shows true ‘Boston Strong’ grit and determination. They also understand the seriousness of the situation: The great majority of listeners – nine of ten – support wearing a mask, and they expect others to do so as well.” Strategic Solutions Research partner Hal Rood notes that, while shopping patterns have had to shift online, “It does not spell the end of brick-and-mortar establishments. The overwhelming majority of listeners still plan on making in-person shopping part of their mix, and that includes people under 35.” The survey was conducted July 6 – 16 among 1,532 listeners of Beasley Media Group Boston’s five radio stations: sports talk WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub”; classic hits-oldies WROR “105.7 ’80s & More”; WKLB “Country 102.5”; WBOS “Boston’s Rock 92.9”; and rhythmic hot AC WBQT “Hot 96.9.”

Local Ad Revenue Estimates Lowered. Continuing economic fallout owing to the coronavirus crisis has led BIA Advisory Services to adjust its estimate for 2020’s total local advertising market to $140.4 billion, which is down from April’s $144.3 billion. Albeit with this year’s anticipated strong political advertising, BIA’s updated forecast estimate represents a 6.1% decline from 2019. BIA’s senior vice president/chief economist Mark Fratrik explains that, “To update our post-COVID forecast from April, we analyzed the continuing impact on local advertising by the weakened economy, continuing job loss reports, and the downturn in some key business verticals. We believe a realistic view of the economy overall and the advertising marketplace is that, after a dramatic decrease in the second-quarter and a bumpy start to the third, the remainder of the year will turn positive, but end up with an overall decline in local advertising for the year.” As political campaigns continue to drift to online rallies and events, presidential and down-ballot candidates are spending significant dollars in local broadcast and digital advertising. Ever since its April prediction, BIA increased the expected political ad spend from $7.1 billion to $7.3 billion. Distributed share to different media includes $5 million to terrestrial radio; $138 million to over-the-air TV; $40 million to cable TV; and $26 million to online/digital.

COVID-19 Concerns Cause BFA Golf Tourney Cancellation. Owing to coronavirus-related safety fears, the Broadcasters Foundation of America has scrubbed its celebrity golf tournament fundraiser. Another big BFA money driver – the Philip J. Lombardo Golf Tournament traditionally held in conjunction with the NAB Show in Las Vegas – was cancelled as well a few months ago. Broadcasters Foundation chair Scott Herman remarks, “Our colleagues who find themselves in acute need due to a debilitating illness or accident need our help. This year, we are helping more broadcasters than ever before, and it’s imperative that we continue to do so. We cannot turn our backs on our colleagues.” Broadcasters Foundation president Jim Thompson adds, “We have three major fundraisers a year, and the golf tournaments are two of them. Our grant recipients worked in radio or television stations in markets across America.” The two golf fundraisers, along with smaller events, generate over $450,000 a year. In hopes of negating the losses, the Broadcasters Foundation is launching a plea for donations. Personal contributions can be made to the Foundation’s Guardian Fund. Corporate offerings are accepted through the Angel Initiative, while bequests can be made through the Foundation’s Legacy Society.

Mr. Master Marks Milestone: Million Spots Per Week. The company behind Automation Import Manager (AIM) – Mr. Master – has processed and provided compliance for one million network spots per week nationwide. This coincides with Mr. Master announcing new AIM agreements with Neuhoff Communications (five markets/20 stations) and Forever Communications (three markets/26 stations). It has AIM renewal contracts with Entercom (44 markets/453 stations); Alpha Media (46 markets/226 stations); SummitMedia (nine markets/51 stations); and Forever Media (16 markets/63 stations). Mr. Master president Stu Jacobs states, “We are very proud that AIM has become such a widely accepted, and useful tool that helps networks, stations, and advertisers to quickly get the accurate information they need, whether they are working in-office or remotely. One million national network spots a week – 52 million spots a year – is a huge milestone for our company. We couldn’t have done it without our first-class team and the amazing clients who trust us with their accountability.”

Albuquerque’s KQTM Aligns With Cage Side Seat MMA Media. The multi-layered broadcast relationship between Team Broadcasting Albuquerque sports talk KQTM “ESPN 101.7 The Team” and Cage Side Seat MMA Media includes weekly Jim “Gries” Grieshaber-hosted longform programming; daily UFC/MMA commentaries/features; and weekly guest appearances on live programming. KQTM president Joe O’Neill comments, “It’s great to work with Jim. He’s a national-level talent connected to the pulse of UFC/MMA. We look forward to bringing “Gries” to New Mexico.” Grieshaber adds, “We’re so pumped to partner with our friends at ‘The Team’ and the great MMA fans of Albuquerque. Albuquerque is hallowed ground in our sport. It is home of the mecca of MMA gyms Jackson-Wink MMA, the GOAT Jon Jones, and legends like Holly Holm, Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez, ‘The Karate Hottie’ Michelle Waterson, and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. We’re coming strong with the best in MMA/UFC sports talk programming.”

Key Networks And Virtual Jock Partnering. In the barter basis arrangement, New Generation Radio product Virtual Jock will provide syndication company Key Networks access to its on-air talent and programming services. Virtual Jock founder/president/chief executive officer Jason Kidd explains that right before launching Virtual Jock five years ago, “Many stations were downsizing and losing strong local talent in the process. Fast forward to now and the need is greater than ever before. Teaming up with Key Networks will allow us to take things to an even higher level, expanding and offering our major market talent roster to radio stations across all formats. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with them.” Key Networks president and chief operating officer Jim Higgins comments, “The ongoing disruption from COVID-19 has severely impacted every radio company. All have eliminated some on-air positions and daypart shifts as cost-cutting moves in order to retain financial stability. Virtual Jock can now assist these groups and others by offering a no-cost barter option to fill some of these numerous holes and to also reconnect with those disenfranchised listeners. We want to work closely with stations to fill this void as radio is beginning to rebound.” Chief revenue officer Dennis Green notes, “Jason [Kidd] and his team have developed a concept that offers stations a chance to bring top-notch talent across all formats to markets from coast-to-coast. Key Networks is delighted to partner with Virtual Jock to provide a marketing opportunity that is cost-effective for stations both large and small to have dynamic and proven talent on their air.” In addition to 24/7 formats, Virtual Jock currently offers 40 full-time/in-house voice talents, as well as fully-produced audio programs and imaging. New York and Orlando-based Key Networks is a Sun & Fun Media-affiliated company.

Shondaland Audio, iHeartMedia Release Original Podcasts. As part of an arrangement between iHeartRadio and Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland Audio, three podcasts will debut this month: “You Down?”; “Criminalia”; and “Go Ask Ali.” Future podcasts will include “#Matter,” “American Coup,” and “Black Girl Lost.” According to iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne, “Shonda Rhimes is an absolute creative powerhouse. Developing these first few shows together has indicated what a strong partnership iHeartMedia and Shondaland have formed with Shondaland Audio. The breadth and depth of content that’s in progress as part of this partnership is unparalleled. We’re thrilled to work beside the Shondaland team to bring Shonda’s unique storytelling magic to podcast listeners everywhere.” Shondaland Audio chief design and digital media officer Sandie Bailey states, “Podcasts allow for innovative and intimate storytelling and that’s exactly what this slate offers – deeply human stories through a range of genres and formats aimed to engage the varied and ever- growing podcast listenership. iHeartMedia has been an incredible partner in forming Shondaland Audio. I’m thrilled that audiences will soon hear more from our collaboration with this new offering of shows.” Rhimes oversees development of the slate; Bailey manages day-to-day operations. Previously launched “Katie’s Crib,” a bi-weekly podcast following “Scandal” and “Waitress” actress Katie Lowes joined the slate three months ago. It releases a new episode tomorrow (Thursday, 8/13) that features actress Gabrielle Union.

Veritone One Signs On With Nielsen’s Podcast Buying Power Service. Audio advertising and media agency Veritone One is now subscribing to Nielsen’s Podcast Buying Power Service. Veritone One senior vice president of strategy and investment Conor Doyle comments, “As one of the largest podcast advertising agencies serving over 100 active clients across 15,000 podcasts, Nielsen’s research will help us refine our current placements and unlock market opportunities for new advertisers wanting to enter the medium. Access to consumption and audience data will attract brand advertisers who have been previously hesitant to enter the largely direct-to-consumer space. Integrating Nielsen’s unique insights along with our proprietary AI-based analytics and decades of experience will enable us to set a new industry standard in podcast advertising.” Nielsen Global Media executive vice president/managing director David Hohman notes, “Veritone One is an agency that is on the cutting-edge of advertising. We are excited to empower them as they turn their data into actionable intelligence with real-time campaign optimization. With more brand advertisers coming into the podcast medium, and Nielsen’s ability to analyze over 150 podcasts, Veritone One will be able to reach even greater success as an innovative industry leader.”

TALKERS News Notes. “Women To Watch” joins the lineup of Red Apple Media New York’s WABC “Talk Radio 77” this Saturday (8/15) at 8:30 am. It will commence as a 30-minute show, expanding to 60 minutes three weeks later (9/5) at a yet-to-be-determined time. The show’s founder/host Susan Rocco remarks, “I always wanted ‘Women to Watch’ to be the go-to media network for all stories related to women’s leadership and success. We are building a woman-owned, women-run media company to amplify the voices of women who are leading across all industries.” WABC’s senior vice president of programming Dave LaBrozzi notes his station, “is proud to support strong women by bringing this lively and inspiring weekly show to the NYC market.” The first guest featured on WABC will be The Weiss Agency executive vice president Heather Cohen, who comments, “‘Women To Watch’ is the place to go to hear inspiring stories by inspiring women. Susan [Rocco] is the consummate professional and her interviews are spot-on.  I’m honored to be the first guest in the NY market.” Rocco states, “Heather Cohen is an exciting first guest for our new market. She’s a New Yorker, has worked in the industry and was recently elected chair of The Alliance For Women in Media.” Originated and still heard on Entercom Philadelphia’s WPHT “Talk Radio 1210,” Women To Watch has expanded to a national podcast and digital platform … Separate from his duties as 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm host on Cox Media Group Atlanta news/talk WSB-AM & WSBB-FM, Erick Erickson today (Wednesday, 8/12) celebrates the one-year anniversary of doing self-syndication. His first affiliate was in Athens, Georgia (WGAU). Twelve months later, Erickson is on more than a dozen Georgia news/talk outlets. A one-man band, he does affiliate relations, and ad sales. Describing the experience as rewarding, Erickson explains, “Georgia’s swing state status makes a statewide program focused on the state a unique selling point. I try to be upfront, though, that I want to stretch outside the state after the election and keep growing nationwide.”  … As noted yesterday (TALKERS, 8/11), president Trump chatted on-air with Salem Media Networks host Hugh Hewitt. That wasn’t yesterday’s only radio stop for the chief executive though as he visited with Fox Sports Radio’s (6:00 am – 9:00 am, ET) “Outkick The Coverage” host Clay Travis. Regarding college football and the coronavirus, Trump told Travis, “People don’t realize it’s a tiny percentage of people that get sick and they’re old. It just attacks old people, especially old people with bad hearts, diabetes, some kind of a physical problem or a weight problem. These football players are very young, strong people. Physically, they’re in extraordinary shape, so they’re not going to have a problem. You’re not going to see people dying. You can’t have empty seats. I’m not sure college football can do it, but we’ll have to see.” On the return of the NFL and the NBA, he commented, “Well, they want to open and they want to open badly and they’ve been working with government. I would say this – if they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open. Other than that, I’d love to see them open and we’re doing everything possible to get them open. They can protest in other ways. I don’t think they should protest our flag or our country. Basketball ratings are down to very, very low numbers. People are angry about it. They have enough politics with guys like me. They don’t need more as they’re going up for the shot. There was a nastiness about the NBA and the way it was done. I think the NBA’s in big trouble — bigger trouble than they understand.” … Taking the place of annual in-person tours that SiriusXM’s “NFL Radio” channel usually conducts, it will present 32 virtual NFL training camp shows – one for each NFL franchise. Starting today (Wednesday, 8/12), “NFL Radio” channel hosts will interview players, coaches, and team executives via video conferencing. SiriusXM senior vice president of sports programming Steve Cohen states, “Like all NFL fans, we look excitedly ahead to the 2020 NFL season. Even amid these very unique circumstances in which teams are reporting to camp, we remain dedicated to giving our listeners the most in-depth and comprehensive preseason preview of their favorite teams. Our experts include some of the most knowledgeable and well-connected people covering the game today. They will deliver a level of analysis on teams and players that you can’t get anywhere else.” …  Numerous lineup changes next Monday (8/17) at Disney-owned/Good Karma Brands-operated sports talk WMVP will find “ESPN 1000 Chicago” airing two hours (5:00 am – 7:00 am) of ESPN Radio’s new national morning show with Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Zubin Mehenti. Shifting from 6:00 am – 9:00 am to 7:00 am – 10:00 am is David Kaplan. He will partner with Jonathan  Hood, who segues from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Meanwhile, Carmen DeFalco and John Jurkovic transition from 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm to 10:00 am – 12:00 noon, as ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg-hosted “Greeny” takes over the vacated 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm slot. Weekend hosts Chris Bleck and Adam Abdalla advance to 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, while Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman remain in afternoon drive (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm) … Citing pandemic-caused budget issues, Team Broadcasting Albuquerque sports talk KQTM “ESPN 101.7 The Team” parts ways with morning host Jim Villanucci and producer/host Sam Hauser. The station’s afternoon program – “Team Talk” – is being handled by a revolving set of hosts. Formerly an on-air talent at Cumulus Media Albuquerque news/talk KKOB-AM, Villanucci joined KQTM two years ago. He previously worked at news/talk stations in Portland (KXL) and Las Vegas (KXNT). Before coming to “The Team” last year, Hauser served as sports director in Austin, Minnesota at KAUS and was a producer/board op in Miami at sports talk WAXY “790 The Ticket.”

Kamala Harris Receives VP Nod, Mail-In Voting Debate, School Opening Struggles, and Chicago Unrest Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/11).  The selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as Joe Biden’s running-mate topped the TALKERS list of most-discussed stories on news/talk radio across America yesterday (8/11).  It was followed by the debates over mail-in voting and the opening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Other major topics included Chicago unrest, Russia’s vaccine, stimulus relief, and the cancellation of Big 10 and Pac-12 college football according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. With Ryan Seacrest’s television partner Kelly Ripa taking yesterday (Tuesday, 8/10) and today (Wednesday, 8/11) off, his “Live With Kelly & Ryan” co-host those two days is Sisanie, his radio partner. The two work together  on Premiere Networks’ “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” heard around the country from iHeartMedia Los Angeles CHR flagship KIIS “102.7 Kiss-FM.” Sisanie has filled in for Ripa several times the past few years … Last summer, Westwood One’s “Bob & Tom Show” asked David Rush, the world’s fastest juggler and breaker of over 150 Guinness World Records, to attempt shattering the record for most balloons popped in one minute using chopsticks. Rush established that mark in 2018 with 28 balloons, but that feat was subsequently broken. Rush set out to regain the title this past Sunday (8/9) – this time using hand pump-inflated, COVID-free balloon targets bearing “The Bob & Tom Show” logo. Halfway into the attempt, Rush recounts that he was “just barely on pace to beat the record,” but began throwing the chopsticks a little faster to pop 40 balloons in 60 seconds – a new world record. A big promoter of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, Rush dedicates all his world records to that cause … WBVX “Classic Rock 92.1” names Dennis “Dead Air” Dillon program director/afternoon personality of the LM Communications Lexington (Kentucky) outlet. LM Communications owner/president Lynn Martin remarks, “We are pleased to welcome Dennis Dillon, who has a long history of presenting the very best classic rock music and now can present it to the best classic rock audience in Lexington. By introducing him to our locally-owned and operated radio group, we once again show that being a local voice rather than just a cog in a national wheel lets us provide something truly unique to the classic rock audience in Lexington. Dillon notes, “In a time when big corporations are moving away from local DJ’s in the community, I’m ecstatic to have found a home in the city I love with a locally-owned and operated company. I’ve always loved this genre and I’m already discovering that the ‘Classic Rock 92.1’ fans share that same passion.” Dillon previously worked in Cincinnati, Louisville, and Chattanooga … Former MusicMaster vice president of sales Jerry Butler joins Marc Radio Gainesville-Ocala as local sales manager for a cluster that includes alternative WHHZ “100.5 The Buzz”; country WPLL; rhythmic CHR WTGM “Magic 101.3”; classic hits-oldies WXJZ; and contemporary Christian WTMN & WRZN. Marc Radio general manager Dave Cobb comments, “Jerry brings the perfect mix of leadership, marketing, on-air personality, and programming savvy. He knows the radio industry inside and out. He is great at advising clients and introducing them to new products. He’s a great asset to our team.” Butler adds, “Our goal is to guide the local advertising community on how best to earn impressive returns on their investments in any, or all, of our radio station formats.” … After stunting by playing a weekend of all-Christmas music, Zimmer Midwest Communications Springfield, Missouri flips sports talk KWTO “The Jock” to adult contemporary “98.7 The Dove.” ZMC co-owner John Zimmer remarks, “It’s a great day for our company to enter the greater Springfield market with stations featuring the most powerful signals and largest coverage areas to serve the Ozark region. The greater Springfield region has been a great driver of growth in Missouri – we are proud to be of part of the expansion. We look forward to making a positive impact and difference for the community and businesses with our local solutions and stations to promote the economy of the Springfield region.” Kevin Howard and Liz Delany (“Kevin & Liz”) debut in morning drive next Monday (8/17). Core artists on “Lite Rock Favorites The Dove” include Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Billy Joel, and Sting.