Tag: "Minneapolis"

Thursday, April 1, 2021

| April 1, 2021

Lee Habeeb, Host and Producer of Our American Stories, Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. At a time when appreciation for the art of storytelling is clearly on the ascent in talk media, Lee Habeeb, the host and producer of “Our American Stories” makes a return appearance as a guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Since its launch six years ago, the weekly two-hour syndicated program has been added, mostly in the evenings, to the menus at more than 315 news/talk radio stations across the nation including some really big ones. It is a highly researched and meticulously produced story-based overview of contemporary American life and cultural history that Michael Harrison describes as being “one of the most promising inventions to come down the commercial talk radio pike in years… a program that illuminates history, popular culture, politics, business, science… the spectrum of topics, people, and angles that make up the rich and intricate fabric of America.” Harrison and Habeeb take a deep-dive into the subjects of American history and the nation’s centuries-old mission to overcome its problems and form a more perfect union, in addition to discussing the positive tenets of capitalism, the differences between legal and illegal immigration, and the need for the media focus on the positive as well as the negative. Habeeb explains new ways of expanding the boundaries of the standard news/talk radio format as well as its conventional business model. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

NPR and Edison Study Identifies Six Unique Radio Segments. Data from a recent study from NPR and Edison Research – titled Radio: Live On Air and Everywhere – will be revealed in a webinar on April 15. The study examines the role radio plays in Americans’ lives in 2021 and reveals listening behavior among the six unique radio audience segments. In teasing the webinar, Edison says the study finds 63% of those in the U.S. age 18+ are reached by radio every day, and 41% of all daily audio time in the U.S. is spent with radio. The study explores listener attitudes about advertising on radio and other media, and provides insight into NPR listeners and how they occupy a unique place in this context. Edison and NPR says the webinar will reveal: What the six types of radio listeners are and how they engage with radio; which type of listener is most open to radio advertising content; how radio listeners feel about advertising on radio versus other platforms; and where NPR listeners fit into the six segments of listeners, and their attitudes toward sponsorships.

‘Todd Starnes Show’ Added to KBDT, Dallas and KQSP, Minneapolis. The nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” is being added to the program schedule at USA Radio Networks’ KBDT-AM, Dallas and KQSP-AM, Minneapolis in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. USA Radio is also adding the “Todd Starnes News & Commentary” daily feature to 18 stations including KBCF-AM/FM, Muscle Shoals, Alabama; KPKY, Terrell, Texas; KVNN, Victoria, Texas; and seven stations in the Nevada Talk Network.

‘ESPN 102.5 The Game’ in Nashville Adds Caroline Fenton to PM Drive Show. Nashville sports talker WPRT-FM “ESPN 102.5 The Game” brings Caroline Fenton aboard as part of the “Stillman & Company” afternoon drive show led by Jared Stillman. Ryan Porth is program director for the Cromwell Media-owned station. He says, “We are extremely excited to be able to add Caroline to our talented team. Caroline will pair well with Jared in the afternoons, becoming 102.5 The Game’s first full-time female on-air host in our nine-plus years of existence. She will also greatly assist the show and the station with our digital efforts across all platforms.” Fenton was most recently digital video/social content producer with ESPN. In that role, she helped integrate content strategies and produce digital shows such as “Baseball Tonight Live” and “Countdown to College Gameday.” She says, “As the daughter of two Tennessee natives, this state has always felt like home to me and I couldn’t be happier to be here representing some of the best sports fans in the country. It’s an honor to learn from and work with Jared and the entire team at ‘102.5 The Game’ and to continue our reputation as Nashville’s best sports talk.”

iHeartMedia Cleveland Launches ‘The Jimmy Malone Show.’ A new, local program is launching on iHeartMedia Cleveland’s sports talk WARF-AM “FOX Sports 1350 The Gambler.”  “The Jimmy Malone Show” – hosted by longtime Cleveland radio personality Jimmy Malone. It debuts today (4/1) airing each Thursday and Friday morning from 6:00 am to 9:00 am. The program will also air on sister adult contemporary WMJI-FM “Majic 105.7” on Saturdays from 6:30 am to 9:00 am. iHeartMedia Cleveland says, “Each week Jimmy will host conversations with politicians, community and business leaders, journalists and others, all with the goal to make a difference in Northeast Ohio. The debut show on April 1 will feature Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, along with author and justice advocate Andrea Thome, who is a native Clevelander and wife of former Indians slugger Jim Thome.  Friday’s show reunites Jimmy with his longtime, now retired, radio partner John Lanigan.”

Charlie Thomas Named Area President for iHeartMedia’s Mid-North. Thirty-six-year radio pro Charlie Thomas is promoted to area president for iHeartMedia’s Mid-North area. He was most recently area president for North Dakota. In this new position, he’ll oversee markets including Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota as well as Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot, Grand Forks and North Dakota markets that comprise 29 stations. Thomas will report to Shosh Abromovich, division president for iHeartMedia. Abromovich says, “We are very excited for Charlie to oversee these six markets. His proven leadership helped the North Dakota area be among the top performers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m confident that his forward thinking will guide and grow these communities to the next level.”

Heather Cohen Among Honorees at Inaugural ‘Sheroes in Media’ Awards. The inaugural “Sheroes in Media” awards from the Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association were held virtually last night and Weiss Agency EVP Heather Cohen was one of the recipients. The MMCA event honored “women who promote and exemplify diverse media excellence.” Also honored were: Julie Burton, executive director, Women’s Media Center; Francine Compton, president, Native American Journalist Association; Michelle Lee, chair, Asian American Journalists Association; Nora Lopez, president, National Association of Hispanic Journalists; Lisa Matthews, president, National Press Club; and Dorothy Tucker, president, National Association of Black Journalists. MMCA president David Morgan says, “At this critical time in our country it is more important than ever to have greater diversity in who, what, where, when and how stories are told. MMCA is beyond honored to launch this annual event by celebrating the powerful ‘sheroes’ currently leading the organizations at the spear of the fight for media diversity while also building support for our ongoing effort to increase diverse media ownership.”

Radio One Names Yonni Rude Executive Producer of ‘The Morning Hustle.’ Moving from his operations manager role at Radio One’s Cleveland station group  to executive producer for Reach Media’s “The Morning Hustle” is Yonni Rude. In this new role, Rude will work with the team to create captivating content.  He will oversee all aspects of the show both on-air and digitally. He’ll focus on daily operations while overseeing the entirety of the brand. Rude says, “The Morning Hustle is the next evolution of morning radio and I’m excited to lead the team and help grow the brand. Thanks to Colby Colb, Mitch Henry and David Kantor for the opportunity to lead this amazing team.”

TALKERS News Notes. On April 6, ABC Audio will debut the first episode of its new podcast, “Soul of a Nation: Tulsa’s Buried Truth,” written and hosted by ABC News senior national correspondent Steve Osunsami. The podcast examines the racially motivated attacks on Black residents of Tulsa in 1921 in which as many as 300 Black Americans died. Featuring archival audio accounts from witnesses and interviews with historians, “Tulsa’s Buried Truth” brings listeners through the painful history and into the modern-day quest for closure and healing…..iHeartMedia launches “COVID-19 Immunity in Our Community,” an iHeartRadio Original limited podcast series produced in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to share timely and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines. The show is hosted by iconic ABC News television broadcaster Robin Roberts. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne states, “With more and more Americans getting access to vaccines as supply increases, it is important the public has the facts about the vaccines in order to understand how important they are to ending this pandemic. ‘COVID-19 Immunity in Our Community’ will provide listeners with reliable resources and information rooted in science, so they’re equipped to make decisions about their lives – and the lives of those around them.”…..Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios unveils two new original documentary podcasts series – “My Fugitive,” in which Emmy Award-winning documentarian Nina Gilden Seavey uncovers disturbing secrets hidden away by the FBI for decades that shed new light on one of the most famous cases in American history; and “Stay Away from Matthew MaGill,” the story of a mysterious man who died alone in the backwoods of Georgia leaving behind a treasure trove of clues, papers, and remnants of his stranger-than-fiction life of crime, luxury, and scandal – and how reporter Eric Mennel’s five-year journey to uncover the truth led him to question his own path…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One announces the debut of the “Politics of Food” podcast, an in-depth look into the intentional politicization, economics, and community impact of food on a global scale. Political strategist and organizer Cristina González hosts the show and talks with restaurateurs, executives at major food companies, farmers, consumers, and experts on a wide variety of issues. She also explores the impact of COVID-19 on restaurants, social issues like racism in food media, and the different ways political decisions work as a force to drive hunger across the globe…..The Tampa Bay Rays announce an extension of their comprehensive broadcast agreement with iHeartMedia Tampa Bay to keep play-by-play broadcast on sports talk WDAE through the 2025 MLB regular season.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Biden Infrastructure Plan/Tax Increases, Derek Chauvin Trial, Border Crisis/Immigration Policy, Matt Gaetz Allegation, Violence Against Asians, and Voting Legislation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/31). The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan and the tax increases necessary to pay for it; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the large number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; the allegation of sexual relations with a minor against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz; the rise in violence against Asian Americans; and Georgia’s stricter voting rules plus the Congressional Democrats’ bill to expand voting rights were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

| February 24, 2021

Entercom Q4 Revenue Down 25.7%; Full Year 2020 Declines 33.6%. The third major radio company to present 2020 fourth quarter and full year financial data is Entercom (Beasley and Cumulus have already posted their financial results and iHeartMedia is scheduled to do the same tomorrow). The company reveals 2020 Q4 net revenue was $319.5 million, down 25.7% from the same period in 2019, and 2020 full-year net revenue was $1.06 billion, a decline of 33.6% from 2019. Entercom notes that since the depths of the pandemic revenue dip in the second quarter of 2020, business is trending up. Its 2020 Q4 revenue was up 19% from Q3. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “I am pleased to report that Entercom continued to drive strong sequential operating improvement with revenues up 19% and EBITDA more than doubling vs. the third quarter. Digital, podcasting, sports betting and network radio all posted strong double-digit growth over prior year and we are continuing to drive innovation across these businesses to enhance future growth potential. While the pandemic continues to hobble a large number of our advertisers, particularly locally, we are optimistic about a strong recovery in our local ad sales later this year driven by vaccinations, fiscal stimulus and pent-up consumer demand in heavily impacted categories.” Entercom breaks down its revenue by segments and some of the noteworthy data in this report includes that spot (local and national) revenue was down 27.7% from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020; year-over-year spot revenue was down 42.9%. On the positive side, digital revenue (including podcasting) rose 20.5% from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020 and was up 26% year-over-year. Looking at radio revenue by format, while Entercom’s music formats took the biggest hit in 2020 – revenue was down 44% — sports talk revenue declined by 39.3% and news/talk was off by 21.7% during the year.

Round One of Nielsen Audio’s January 2021 PPM Data Released. The first of four rounds of PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s January 2021 survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s January 2021 survey covered January 7 – February 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round. In New York, Entercom’s all-news stations both saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares increase – WINS added four-tenths to finish with a 4.0 share and the #8 rank and WCBS-AM added two-tenths for a 2.9 share and the #12 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles tacked on three-tenths for a 5.0 share and remains ranked #3. In Chicago, Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM added half a share to re-claim the #1 rank with a 7.3 share. Across town, Nexstar Media’s news/talk WGN-AM added four-tenths for a 4.1 share and the #7 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here

Talk Programmer Bob Shomper to Retire in April. Longtime news/talk programmer Bob Shomper announces he’ll retire from the radio business on April 2. Shomper is currently program director at NRG Media’s KLIN, Lincoln, Nebraska. During his career he’s served at some of America’s great news/talk stations, including: WCCO-AM, Minneapolis; KTAR-FM, Phoenix; WLS-AM, Chicago; WGN-AM, Chicago; WBAP-AM, Fort Worth/Dallas; and more. Shomper tells TALKERS magazine that his decision to retire is entirely his own and he’s grateful to be doing so on his own terms.

Robbie Stevens Posts Powerful Commentary to TalkersRadio About Honoring Truth in Media Discussions About Politics.  Noted record producer Robbie Stevens, one of TalkersRadio’s roster of “out-of-the-box” talk talents has posted a powerful new commentary yesterday (2/23) titled, “My Mistake(s),” that takes a candid look at a problem radio talk show hosts wrestle with all the time – staying true to core principles, maintaining a healthy sense of skepticism, and being honest about mistakes when making them. Stevens, who was the first talent signed for TalkersRadio – a service of TALKERS magazine – when it launched in the fall of 2013, has agreed to perform as a commentator on the platform for a “limited engagement” that will run through June of 2021. The Bronx-based New York City native is well-known in the music industry for his years of innovative studio work with a wide variety of high-profile artists, most recently on behalf of the estate and fans of the late John Lennon, for which he has achieved critical acclaim for his “raw” remix of the legendary artist’s Imagine album. He also most recently executive produced 13 Billboard #1 Dance Chart singles in a row, for Yoko Ono’s innovative ensemble Ono. He also recently produced (with Yoko Ono) the “John Lennon Anthology,” a four-CD set of unreleased material that was Rolling Stone magazine’s boxed set of the year. During his colorful career, he’s played on, mixed, or produced records by Herbie Hancock, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other high-profile musicians going back decades. During this time, Stevens has developed an alternative career as a talk radio host and commentator heard occasionally via on-air and online outlets provided by heritage NYC stations WOR and WNYM (in addition to TalkersRadio). Commenting on Stevens’ latest posting, TALKERS general manager of broadcast operations (and former WOR PD) David Bernstein says, “Robbie is raw, fresh, and as real as the urban streets that gave rise to his gritty philosophy and we always get strong response to his work on our exciting platform. This new installment of his show is a grand slam home run because it strikes at the very core of our deepest personal conflicts in arriving at and sticking with our truths as talk radio hosts operating in a swirling ocean of changing information.” To listen to Robbie Stevens’ new series of commentaries on TalkersRadio, please click here. TalkersRadio is an “experimental” talk radio platform launched in 2013 to provide the industry with a “workout space” and “showcase for new talk programming concepts.” Since its launch it has been a temporary home to a number of spoken-word talents – both high-profile and obscure – who’ve used it to work and showcase concepts that have gone on to achieve terrestrial radio exposure and even national syndication. In addition to Stevens, current TalkersRadio hosts include Claire CarterMeg McDonald, and UK sensation, Graham Mack. At the time of his passing, Alan Colmes was working on a series concept called “Healed Planet” heard on TalkersRadio which offered a glimpse into the late FOX News Radio and FOX News Channel star’s metaphysical interests. Files of that fledgling show remain archived on TalkersRadio as a tribute to Colmes. For more information about TalkersRadio, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

Cool Operations Manager Opportunity. Locally owned southern-based radio group seeking a full-time Operations Manager with strong technical and digital skills. The ideal candidate MUST have experience operating OP-X and managing satellite operations for syndicated programs. Applicant must have at least 5 years of experience. Proven experience in managing social media branding, digital marketing, and video production. Proficient in digital automation systems, digital audio editing and production is a must. EEO. Send resumes to dalton@starnesmediagroup.com

TALKERS News Notes. A new channel from Newsmax TV officially launches on VIZIO SmartCast, the award-winning Smart TV platform available to millions of viewers. Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy states, “Launching on VIZIO SmartCast allows our viewers to simply plug in their new televisions and play Newsmax TV. Newsmax is experiencing exponential growth and provides a much-needed perspective on the issues that many VIZIO viewers care about.”…..A new partnership between iHeartMedia and independent UK podcast company Novel will result in the debut of 11 original podcast series over the next three years. The relationship begins with the release of two podcast series, “The Assault on America” and “Deliver Us From Ervil.” “The Assault on America” tells the inside story of the insurrection at the Capitol by working with open-source investigative journalists Bellingcat. “Deliver Us From Ervil” is an investigative true-crime series in which a groundbreaking team of journalists enters a lawless town on the border of Mexico run by a secretive religious sect living in exile and outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. government since 1924…..Content creation company Mean Ole Lion Media adds three new lifestyle-based podcasts to its portfolio. The podcasts are: “Conversations with Dr. Ian Smith,” all about people and discovering their back-story; “Business First with Sonia Alleyne,” that shines a light on brilliant and successful business people in a variety of industries; and “The History of Being Black” with host Eunice Elliott.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Capitol Riot Public Testimony, Biden Cabinet Nominees, Biden Migrant Policy, Trump Tax Returns, Rochester Protests, Russian Sanctions, China’s Hong Kong Loyalty Oath, and Tiger Woods Car Crash Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/23). The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the testimony before the U.S. Senate about the January 6 Capitol insurrection; the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland, embattled White House budget office nominee Neera Tanden, and Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland; the Biden administration’s continued use of Trump policy turning away migrants at the Mexican border; the SCOTUS’ ruling Donald Trump must turn his tax data over to New York AG Cyrus Vance Jr.; the protests in Rochester, New York over the decision not to prosecute police in the death of Daniel Prude; the Biden Administration’s sanctions on Russia for the SolarWinds hack and the Navalny poisoning; China’s instituting loyalty oaths for Hong Kong politicians; and Tiger Woods is hurt in one-car accident in California were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

| February 2, 2021

iHeartMedia Launched ‘Business 99.1 FM’ in Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake City market now has a full-time business talk station as iHeartMedia begins simulcasting “Business 99.1 FM” on KJMY-HD2/K256AE using content from Bloomberg Radio. iHeartMedia Salt Lake City says, “‘Business 99.1 FM’ will feature ‘Bloomberg Daybreak’ and ‘Bloomberg Businessweek’ to keep listeners informed on national and global economic climates as well as notable Bloomberg hosts including Lisa Abramowicz, Jonathan Ferro, and Carol Massar. The station will also provide in-depth interviews with some of the world’s most successful business executives and analysts.” iHM Salt Lake City market president Stu Stanek adds, “Because market news from across the world can impact our Utah economy, we are proud to offer content and analysis to help keep investors and business owners informed. Partnering with Bloomberg Radio, a leader in business and financial news, makes for the perfect formula in building a great audience for our advertisers.”

Round Two of Holiday 2020 PPM Ratings Takeaways. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from the second round of Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2020 PPM survey that covered the period of December 3 – January 6. Traditionally, the Holiday PPM survey reveals a significant drop off in listening for news/talk and all-news stations due to altered listening habits during the holiday season. This year, due to the post-election chaos, many news/talk stations either didn’t see a dramatic drop in weekly, AQH share or even saw an increase. In Detroit, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WJR-AM dipped just four-tenths to a 4.2 share and the #9 rank. Entercom’s WCCO-AM, Minneapolis added five-tenths to finish with a 5.2 share good for the #5 rank. In San Diego, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KOGO was up two-tenths to wrap the survey with a 5.1 share and climbs from #6 to #4. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways report for this round of markets here

The Trevor Carey Show Returns to KFIV, Modesto for Afternoon Drive. Joining iHeartMedia’s KFIV, Modesto “PowerTalk 1360” is Trevor Carey, who is hosting the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot in afternoon drive. Carey served as a host on the station in 2015-16 and the station says Carey will interview “a variety of well-known national guests including the movers and shakers from Sacramento, Fresno, and the entire San Joaquin Valley.” On his return to the station, Carey says, “It’s great to be back on KFIV to reconnect with all my listeners in the Modesto area. They are some of the most politically active people in the state, and if I may say, GREAT CALLERS! I’m energized to bring my message back to these fine folks.”

SiriusXM Reports 2020 Q4 and 2020 Full Year Financial Statements. While SiriusXM reports revenue of $2.19 billion for the fourth quarter of 2020, it also is reporting a loss of $677 million for the quarter, compared to the income of $243 million it reported in the fourth quarter of 2019. For the whole of 2020, revenue was $8.04 billion, an increase of 3% over 2019. SiriusXM reports income of $131 million for 2020 compared to income of $914 million reported for all of 2019. The company says the decrease in net income was a result of a $976 million non-cash impairment charge associated with Pandora. SiriusXM CEO Jennifer Witz says, “SiriusXM turned in strong operating and financial results in 2020: we grew SiriusXM self-pay subscribers, revenue, adjusted EBITDA, and free cash flow despite the pandemic. Our new car penetration reached approximately 80% in the fourth quarter and is set to rise above 80% this year, and the incorporation of 360L, our next generation in-car entertainment platform, is accelerating. SiriusXM, Pandora, and Stitcher, together with our investment in SoundCloud, now reach an audience of more than 150 million people. We are bolstering our position as North America’s leading audio entertainment company with new innovative talk shows and podcasts, streaming music channels targeting younger audiences, and extended deals with major media brands, such as NBCUniversal News Group.  We signed an exclusive audio agreement with The Masters and secured additional digital sports rights with the NFL and NBA to benefit our streaming products. We are also thrilled Howard Stern extended his agreement to continue live broadcasts of his amazing show.”

Connecting Communities Through Radio. This Saturday evening (2/6), Boston public radio station WGBH and The Huntington Theatre Company are presenting a radio broadcast of the play Tiger Style! by Mike Lew. WGBH general manager for news Pam Johnston says, “The pandemic has challenged us to find new ways to build community and connections. Although this often means gathering in digital spaces, radio has emerged as a vital player in the local community, with the power to connect audiences around a shared experience.” The station is partnering with the Massachusetts Restaurant Association for a “tune in and take out” campaign encouraging listeners to order take out from their favorite restaurant to eat while they enjoy the production. Read more here.

TALKERS News Notes. There are a number of staff additions at Skyview Networks as Kristin Krahl is named director of network sales, Nicholas Maniscalo and Hailey Hole become managers of traffic audio, Chuck Rowe and Julie Whitlow join as managers of production services, Lani Martinez becomes manager of business analytics and executive services, and Thor Black is appointed associate of research. Additionally, the company retains the services of Ron Rivlin and Chris Martinez for affiliate sales and Raul “Rico” Colindres as vice president of content development and syndication…..Hubbard Radio’s WTOP News and PodcastOne announce the return of the award-winning podcast, “American Nightmare Series.” The new season titled, “American Nightmare Series: Murder in a Safe Place,” debuts on February 22 and focuses on a cold case that has haunted the D.C. region for over 23 years – the brutal rape and murder of 50-year-old nurse Sherry Crandell inside the hospital where she worked. Veteran D.C. crime reporter Paul Wagner hosts the podcast in which he speaks with Crandell’s children, former colleagues, and the detective who has been in charge of this case since the beginning. Wagner also brings to light evidence that has never been made public before this podcast…..iHeartMedia partners with Propagate Content and Brian Baumgartner, the actor behind The Office’s Kevin Malone, to co-produce the new podcast, “The Office DeepDive with Brian Baumgartner.” Each week, Baumgartner will be joined by his former coworkers and pals, including: Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fischer, Angela Kinsey, and writer, director & creator Greg Daniels…..SiriusXM is celebrating Black History Month via programming on its talk and comedy channels. SiriusXM Urban View will feature specials including Joe Madison hosting a virtual event with the Ford Men of Courage National Leadership Forum in partnership with Morehouse College. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, professor, publisher, and SiriusXM host Karen Hunter will feature an original content series, “Black History Changemakers,” weekdays this month showcasing Black heroes and hidden figures in history, science, law, banking, politics, sports, TV, film, music, and more. This special daily segment can be heard on “The Karen Hunter Show.”…..Public radio news/talk WNYC, New York announces that Michael Hill is named the new voice of “Morning Edition.” He was most recently with New Jersey PBS station NJTV/NJ Spotlight News where he has worked as anchor, correspondent, and multimedia journalist since 2014. WNYC also announces that Sean Carlson moves from interim to permanent host of “All Things Considered” on the station. He takes over for Jami Floyd, who left the role to lead the company’s new Race & Justice unit…..Radio America announces that the Chad Benson Show adds new affiliate WSKY-FM, Gainesville, Florida which is airing the program from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

COVID-19/Vaccine Rollout, Biden and GOP COVID Stimulus Deals, Trump Impeachment, GOP Election Deniers/‘Country First’ Drive, GameStop Trading/Financial Markets Activity, and Myanmar Coup Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/1). The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll and the rollout of the vaccines; the negotiating in Washington between the Biden and GOP COVID stimulus deals; the February 9 impeachment of Donald Trump; the Republican election deniers and the “Country First” move being launched by U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger; the Reddit crowd trading of GameStop, AMC and silver, and the world’s financial markets activity; and the Biden administration’s response to the Myanmar military coup were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, January 25, 2021

| January 25, 2021

INDUSTRY AND NATION MOURN: Talk Media Pioneer Larry King Dead at 87. According to a report on Facebook posted by the producers of his current syndicated television show, Ora Media, legendary star of talk radio and television, Larry King died this weekend at the age of 87. The statement says: “With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.” The statement continues, “For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.” The cause of death was not indicated, however King had been reportedly hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this month. King was a major player in the talk media world who ushered in the modern era of syndication in radio on the Mutual Broadcasting System and the cable news/talk show format on television at CNN. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison issued the following statement: “Larry King was not the greatest talk show host on radio or television in terms of skills, outrageous personality or direct and profound influence on public policy. He was, however, the most important pioneer who paved the way for today’s robust talk media presence on both radio and television. If there ever was a case of the right person at the right time, Larry King fit the bill and that’s all it took for him to be a mighty force. He was the modern era of talk radio’s first national celebrity born solely as a result of his work in the medium. And his contribution to today’s institutional cable news/talk TV format is undeniably fundamental to the medium’s current presence as America’s political and sociological meeting place. We have lost one of the greatest broadcasting presences of the first century of radio and television history as well as one of the quirkiest and most colorful individuals to ever sit behind a microphone.” Read TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian’s “Remembering Larry King” feature here.

Tributes to Larry King Pouring in from All Over the Industry.  TALKERS has received dozens of tributes, anecdotes, and comments from readers in all sectors of the broadcasting industry in reaction to the passing of Larry King on Saturday (1/23).  The following statements from people who knew him and worked with him reflect the basic sentiments expressed across the board. Westwood One legend Jim Bohannon rose to national prominence as Larry King’s fill-in host back in the early days of King’s career as the late-night “king of talk radio” on the Mutual Broadcasting System. Bohannon tells TALKERS, “Larry King was the first certified big shot for whom I’d ever worked, and I was all set for some screaming prima donna jerk. What I found was a funny, savvy, decent human being who was always very supportive of me. His best advice: Be yourself. My 11 years backing him up on the radio were always based on being a first-rate Jim rather than a second rate Larry.” This Friday (1/29) marks Bohannon’s 28th anniversary of hosting that very same show fulltime. Norm Pattiz, chairman of PodcastOne and founder of Westwood One, was instrumental in Larry King’s fabulous radio career. He tells TALKERS, “Larry King was a superstar on radio well before he became a talk show icon on television and his contribution in those media will never be duplicated. I first met Larry in 1985 when Westwood One Radio bought the Mutual Radio Network. Some said at the time that I bought the network just to get the ‘Larry King Show’ and I never corrected them. When CNN came calling, I was thrilled to share Larry with them and when his show became one of the most influential nightly talk shows in history it only confirmed what I had known all along. No one will ever match the style, compassion, and genuine love for a great interview that Larry had and the worlds of television, radio, and podcasting are worse today for his loss.” Tom Tradup, VP/news and talk programming, Salem Radio Network, tells TALKERS, “My favorite memory of Larry was when I was president/GM of WLS in Chicago and was meeting with Larry for lunch in the now-closed Cape Cod Room restaurant of Chicago’s Drake Hotel. Always upbeat and gregarious, Larry seemed just a little down. He revealed he was speaking to a business group that night and his hotel had lost his trademark suspenders. After lunch I ran over the Marshall Field’s on State Street and bought him a pair. Big smile from a broadcast legend whose talent endured for decades.” And media consultant, TALKERS columnist, and host of “The Big Picture” on RT America (which also carried Larry King’s syndicated TV show at the time of his death), Holland Cooke adds, “One year ago this week, Larry was my guest on the very first show produced at RT’s new Los Angeles studio. Larry’s gift was his curiosity; and his legacy to fellow talkers is the art of the short question. I remember him asking Bob Hope, ‘Who do YOU think is funny?’ And he asked David Duke, ‘Don’t you ever get tired of hating?’ Often, guests on book tours or who are otherwise timely are prepped with ‘safe’ answers, regardless of the questions asked. And they get away with it, because hosts ask verbose questions and don’t listen closely to responses. Larry’s short question would catch the guest off-guard – enough to yield an answer you wouldn’t hear elsewhere along the tour.

King and I: An Excerpt from Bernadette Duncan’s Landmark Book Yappy Days: Behind the Scenes with Newsers, Schmoozers, Boozers and Losers (Talkers Books, 2016).  I landed a part-time job with the Larry King Radio Show in 1986 because I was in the right place at the right time. My late shift at NBC Radio Networks where I produced the Neil Myers Show ended at 1:00 am and no other talk producer was on the premises. All that was required? Meet Mr. King in the lobby, escort him to the elevator, guide him down the hall to the nearest empty studio, check mics and audio, and then be prepared to do the same with the on-coming, big-name parade of guests scheduled for the night. Basically, I was a “handler” for an extra 75 bucks a shift. At the time, this pre-suspenders-wearing Larry King was one of the most successful radio talk show hosts in the industry who at the height of his show’s prominence had nearly 500 affiliate stations around the country. Just the year before, in 1985, he began hosting a nightly TV program on the new cable network called CNN (for Cable News Network) and “Larry King Live” was getting some buzz. In addition to television at 9:00 pm… then radio after midnight… he was in contract to write a book. Larry King’s career was hot. And it was this book deal with a New York-based publisher that brought him to the Big Apple four or five days a month to meet with his editor face-to-face. I became his New York producer/handler, working in coordination with his crew in Washington, DC. Little did I realize when I signed up with “the King of Talk,” I would dive into a world as quirky as what you’d find down Alice’s rabbit hole. To read the entire excerpt please click here.

Alpha Media Announces Pre-Arranged Chapter 11 Reorganization. The company says in a statement on its website that it has entered into a “restructuring agreement with certain of its lenders to reduce its debt, as well as raise incremental capital” to allow it “to successfully navigate current market conditions and pursue growth opportunities. The company expects no disruption to its broadcast operations, customers or employees. Management will remain in place and continue to maintain the company’s day-to-day operations.” Alpha Media says it has filed “a pre-arranged plan of re-organization, disclosure statement and voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. Certain of the company’s existing lenders have agreed to provide new capital in the form of committed debtor-in-possession and exit financing. These lenders, together with management, are expected to collectively own 100% of the equity of the re-organized company, subject to regulatory approvals from the Federal Communications Commission. The restructuring of the company’s balance sheet will require receipt of bankruptcy court approval and certain regulatory, including FCC, approvals and satisfaction of other customary conditions. The company expects to conclude the restructuring process in the first half of 2021.” Alpha chairman and CEO Bob Proffitt comments, “We have made significant progress in aggressively deleveraging our business in recent years. As we proceed with our financial restructuring to improve our capital structure and manage through the ongoing downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agreement we reached today will leave Alpha Media well positioned for a market recovery as a stronger and even more competitive company. Broadcast radio is the leading reach medium in the United States, with attractive ROIs for advertisers, and radio continues to be an indispensable communications platform nationwide. We believe the balance sheet restructuring will provide greater financial resources and flexibility to Alpha Media, enabling the Company to strengthen its position as a leading mid-market broadcaster in the United States, and invest in new digital capabilities to better serve our advertisers and communities. Our core business continues to perform well despite current market challenges. We will continue to invest in our talented teams to foster the unique culture that has been key to Alpha Media’s success in delivering dynamic, diverse and exciting content to our communities.”

Monday Memo: Time Management 2021. “Short version? Time will not be managed.” But in this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke explains how “tasks can,” and that’s gotten trickier in pandemic shutdown mode. He outlines solutions for recurring distractions. Read it here.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccine Rollout Troubles, Trump Impeachment, Capitol Attack Investigation, Trump Third Party Launch, Tacoma Protest/Deadly Indianapolis Shooting, and NFL Conference Championships Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the strategic troubles affecting the rollout of the vaccines; the Article of Impeachment against Donald Trump; the arrests being made during the investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol; the rumors that Donald Trump intends to launch a third political party; the Tacoma protest in which a police officer drove into a crowd and the shooting in Indianapolis in which five adults and an unborn child were killed; and Sunday’s NFL Conference Championship games were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Value. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says, “Presenting the value proposition is a never-ending challenge, especially for the broadcast seller. I’ve seen too many sellers get hung up on product features that are station-centric – important to management, talent, and the seller. The truth is the advertiser doesn’t see it the same way.” The past year has taught us that the value perception of your station’s product has changed. For more on this, read Lapa’s column here.

WCCO-AM, Minneapolis Program Director John Hanson Exits. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Entercom’s news/talk WCCO-AM, Minneapolis has let program director John Hanson go. Hanson had been serving as the station’s PD since the fall of 2018. Hanson is a native of the Twin Cities who worked on air as co-host of KSTP-TV’s “Twin Cities Live” afternoon talk show that launched in 2008. He joined Entercom in 2013 to program sports talk KCSP-AM, Kansas City. The reason for Hanson’s departure is not clear but the staff was alerted in a memo from market SVP Shannon Knoepke, who wrote on January 21, “Reaching out this afternoon to notify the staff that John Hanson is no longer with the company, effective today. More to come as we move forward and work to fill this position.”

WJBC, Bloomington-Normal Adds Michael Koolidge Show. The independently syndicated Michael Koolidge show is added to the program schedule at Cumulus Media’s WJBC-AM, Bloomington-Normal, Illinois in the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot. Koolidge says, “We couldn’t be more excited to join WJBC. I’ve been trying to break into the Bloomington-Normal market for years and I’m thrilled that Cumulus’ WJBC decided to pick up the show!” WJBC operations manager Dan Westhoff says, “We are very excited to be adding ‘The Michael Koolidge Show’ to our lineup. Michael’s been very successful throughout Illinois and the Midwest and we can’t wait to have him on WJBC.”

Marc Bernier Show Celebrates 30th Anniversary. Pictured above is WNDB, Daytona Beach talk host Marc Benier broadcasting live from DB Pickles restaurant in Ormond Beach, Florida celebrating his 30th year on air as a talk host. The celebration was also a benefit for Halifax Urban Ministries. January 21 was declared “Marc Bernier Show Day” with a flag flown over the state capitol and declarations declared honoring Bernier in the cities and county of Volusia. A number of local and state officials attended the broadcast.

WRHU Radio Hofstra University will Receive World Radio Day Award 2021.  In conjunction with World Radio Day coming up on February 13, the Academy of Radio Arts and Sciences of America has selected WRHU Radio of Hofstra University to receive the 2021 World Radio Day Award. The honor commemorates World Radio Day, established by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) and is celebrated annually on February 13. World Radio Day is intended to raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio. WRHU is the first student-run station to receive this honor.  WRHU Radio 88.7 FM is the campus radio station of Hofstra University, a private university located on Long Island in Hempstead, NY. The station has been the recipient of numerous regional, state, and national awards, including three prestigious Marconi Awards from the National Association of Broadcasters (2014, 2017, and 2019).  With studios housed in Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, the station has been committed to training the next generation of radio professionals for more than 60 years in a wide variety of radio genres including news, sports, public affairs, community programming, and music. For the past decade, WRHU has exclusively produced and distributed radio broadcasts of New York Islanders hockey games, the first and only college radio station to have such an agreement with a professional major-league sports team.  “We are immensely honored to receive this award of recognition,” said Mark Lukasiewicz, dean of the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication. “WRHU and its managers and staff deserve enormous credit for carrying on their work throughout the pandemic and providing vital information to the community.”  The annual World Radio Day Award honors a U.S. radio station that exemplifies the best attributes of the radio industry. Recipients may be large or small stations, commercial or noncommercial, located in any market, and broadcasting in any language. The award jury looks for stations that demonstrate ideals of localism, audience reach, community service, effective use of new digital platforms, diversity in program content and staffing, and financial and ratings success.  For this year’s award, the jury has highlighted the work done during the coronavirus pandemic, in light of UNESCO’s theme for the World Radio Day 2021 celebration, which is “New World, New Radio” in the sense that radio is a medium for resilience of our society. The jury of Academy is composed by eight highly qualified professionals of the broadcast industry (in alphabetical order): Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency; Michael Harrison, founder/publisher, TALKERSPaul McLane, editor in chief, Radio WorldMike McVay, president, McVay Media ConsultingFrancisco Montero, partner, Fletcher, Heald & HildrethChris Oliviero, SVP/MM, Entercom New York; Deborah Parenti, publisher, Radio Ink; and Paul Rotella, president of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association. WRHU was recognized for its efforts during the crisis, expanding its content as student and community staffers worked and broadcast from their homes during a New York state lockdown. Hofstra University has been cited on the Best College lists of U.S. News & World ReportThe Princeton ReviewFiskeWashington Monthly, Forbes, LinkedIn and Payscale.com. It is the only university chosen to host U.S. presidential debates in three consecutive election cycles (2008, 2012 and 2016). The World Radio Day Award was initially created by the Spanish Radio Academy to spread awareness of World Radio Day. The annual February 13 commemoration was endorsed by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly and accompanied by the creation of the International Radio Committee, which collaborates with UNESCO to promote World Radio Day each year. Last year, the award went to all-news station, WTOP, Washington DC.  The 2021 World Radio Day Award will be presented to WRHU at Hofstra University in early February. For more information, click here.

Townsquare Media to Repurchase 10 Million Shares. In a press release, Townsquare Media, Inc announces it has entered into an agreement to repurchase a minimum of 10 million of the 12.5 million shares of Class A common stock, shares of Class B common stock and warrants held by funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management L.P., for $6.40 per security, which reflects a 19% discount from the closing price of the Class A common stock on Friday, January 22, 2021. The repurchase was approved by the board of directors following the recommendation of a committee of independent and disinterested directors. The aggregate purchase price is expected to be at least $64 million, subject to the company’s ability to elect to purchase additional securities at closing of the repurchase. At closing, the repurchased securities will be retired and, subject to the company’s election to repurchase additional securities, the company’s outstanding securities will be reduced from approximately 28 million to approximately 18 million. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “We appreciate the opportunity to facilitate this significant transaction with Oaktree and are excited about this repurchase, which secures the exit of a very long-term private equity majority shareholder that current and potential shareholders have described to me consistently as being an obstacle to investing more, or establishing a position, in Townsquare given the significant overhang Oaktree’s holding represented. This repurchase is immediately accretive to shareholders and we thank our board of directors for their vote of confidence in our medium and long-term business plan to grow revenue and profits.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a report by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM, Chicago afternoon news anchor Kim Gordon has resigned from the Nexstar Media Group station after 15 years. It’s rumored that Gordon will be joining Cumulus Media’s crosstown news/talk WLS-AM to serve as the afternoon news anchor on the Big John Howell program. Back at WGN, Feder reports that Lauren Lapka will be the news anchor on the Steve Bertrand afternoon program…..iHeartMedia flips sports talk WFXJ-AM, Jacksonville “The Game” to Gospel as “Hallelujah AM930/93.3 HD2.”…..News and sports radio pro Mike Smith is leaving his gig with iHeartMedia’s WBEX-AM, Chillicothe, Ohio to pursue other career opportunities, The 43-year radio pro says, “Thanks to all the great listeners, which many, many of them became life-long friends, and I can say the same about my colleagues being life-long friends and that means more to me than any nice thing that anybody ever said about the job that I did.”

Friday, January 8, 2021

| January 8, 2021

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, “Responsibility, Integrity, and Credibility,” looks back at this past week of January 4-8, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/medical doctor; Erick Erickson, talk show host, WSB, Atlanta / talk show host, regional syndication; Joe Madison, talk show host, SiriusXM Satellite RadioAnne Eller, talk show host / station owner, WCRS, Greenwood, SC; 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; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; 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.

KMJ, Fresno’s Ray Appleton Under Scrutiny for “Hanging” Comment. Fresno talk radio host Ray Appleton – heard daily from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on Cumulus Media’s news/talk KMJ-AM/FM – is being taken to task, at least by the Fresno Bee, for saying on his program that “certain news editors should be hanged… maybe.” Appleton’s comment came during a monologue in which he complained about the media’s coverage of the attack on the U.S. Capitol compared to coverage of protests and riots in Portland and other cities, implying that reporting on those events was more sympathetic. He posted a clarification to his Facebook page that was later removed. In it, he says the comment was “clearly tongue in cheek.” On his program Thursday, he said, “So if you were upset by that, I didn’t mean it. I humbly apologize. I’m not talking about taking every news editor and hanging them. I mean, come on. Get with it.” The Bee reports that a call to KMJ for comment on Appleton’s comment was not returned.

Del Colliano: Cumulus Corporate Flips on Election Talk Mandate. According to InsideMusicMedia publisher Jerry Del Colliano, who cites an internal memo from Cumulus Media EVP of content Brian Philips, the company did an about-face on Wednesday as the assault on the Capitol building was taking place in Washington, DC. Del Colliano says that contrary to what many of the company’s talk hosts were saying up to that point about the legitimacy of the election results, Philips’ memo ordered all Cumulus and Westwood One personalities not to continue presenting any illegitimacy claim. He wrote, “We need to help induce national calm NOW. Cumulus and Westwood One will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended. The election has been resolved and there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’” He adds, “If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately.” Del Colliano writes, “Some employees felt the sudden change in direction was so onerous that it in effect dictated what air talent could not broach on the air even after many years of tolerating if not encouraging controversial political talk for the purpose of increasing ratings.”

WFAN, New York Debuts Craig Carton-Hosted Gambling Addiction Program. The program is titled, “Hello, My Name is Craig,” and will air on WFAN-AM/FM, New York on Saturday mornings at 9:30. The 30-minute program is being hosted by Craig Carton and is being presented by 1-800-GAMBLER. In the program, Carton will “drive candid conversations with listeners about different aspects of gambling and provide resources and outlets to those seeking help or looking for ways to help their loved ones.” Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie will be a regular contributor and the program will feature various guests to share stories of indulgence, falls from grace, and the fight to overcome gambling addiction. Guests will include medical and therapy experts, members of the 1-800-GAMBLER team, founders of rehabilitation treatment centers, and more. Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Legalized gambling is a growing part of the modern sports experience and the everyday fans’ conversations. Our obligation and commitment are to serve not only the audience that can responsibly enjoy these gaming elements, but also in a meaningful way help those, like Craig, who have an addiction. With Craig’s voice and unique perspective, along with outstanding partners and the influence of the WFAN platform, we will do just that.” Carton adds, “Each week, we will tackle different aspects of what for some is a fun recreation but for others is an addiction that forever alters and sometimes ends lives. The show will be a raw and revealing look into the fastest-growing vice in the country and I look forward to providing my first-hand perspective for both those dealing with the grip of their gambling compulsions as well as the loved ones in their lives.” Carton, who hosted mornings on WFAN with Boomer Esiason from 2007 to 2017, was convicted of fraud he perpetrated in order to pay off gambling debts. He served a year of a three-year sentence in prison. He returned to WFAN this fall to host the WFAN afternoon show with Evan Roberts.

WCCO-AM, Minneapolis Talk Host Dave Lee Announces Retirement. WCCO-AM, Minneapolis morning drive personality Dave Lee announces he’ll retire from the Entercom news/talk station at the end of April. Lee joined the station in September of 1989 from KFGO, Fargo where he was program director and afternoon drive personality. He first joined the station as a weekend and fill-in host and gradually became part of the Charlie Boone and Roger Erickson morning show. Lee took over sole hosting duties of the morning show in 1997. During his career he’s also done play-by-play for the Minnesota Gophers and he filled in as a Minnesota Twins announcer from 1991 to 1996. He continues to do play-by-play for the television broadcasts of the Minnesota State High School Boys and Girls basketball tournaments, while serving as the radio voice of the University of St. Thomas football on WCCO. He’s been named Minnesota’s Sportscaster of the Year six times and has won three Emmys for his television work.

“Free Talk Live” to Migrate from GCN to Talk Media Network. “Free Talk Live” co-founder Ian Freeman announces that his New Hampshire-based, nationally syndicated program will move from current syndicator Genesis Communications Network to Talk Media Network, effective January 18. Freeman says that while GCN has been “a great radio syndication partner” since 2004, for a few reasons (some of them technical) he’s made the hard decision to sign up with TMN. He says, “Talk Media Network is, like GCN, an affiliate-focused network. They don’t have makegoods or cramdowns or other undesirable, unfriendly corporate syndication crap. TMN’s CEO Josh Leng came up through the industry and has himself been a successful talk radio programmer.  He knows what it’s like in the trenches and has built his company with the desires of radio stations and programmers in mind. Over the years, we’ve gotten to know Josh and I appreciate his passion for radio.” Freeman continues, “TMN’s also an interesting new take on a syndicate – they don’t have a network studio. Their shows feed directly to Westwood One’s uplink facility. That means that TMN’s overhead is reduced and the potential for failures is lower. It also means we had to start producing our show 100% from the FTL studio, which was no problem, since I’ve had that capability here for years but never used it until now. Since we’re now fully in charge of our program content, phones sound better and our feed on XDS should be a little higher quality as the audio won’t be re-encoded and re-processed at the network studio, since there isn’t one… We will stay on GCN for some time in order to give our stations plenty of time to make the jump. I’m grateful to the crew at GCN for their professionalism and support over the years and especially now. I don’t ever want to burn a bridge and I have nothing but respect and appreciation for Ted, George, Adam, and the rest of the crew there and wish them only the best.”

SportsGrid Content to Air on SiriusXM. There’s a new sports betting-oriented channel on SiriusXM as the satellite broadcaster inks a deal with SportsGrid. The new SportsGrid Radio channel will feature personalities including Scott Ferrall, Gabe Morency, Ariel Epstein, and Jared Smith plus expert contributors and guest analysts. The channel streams live from its production facilities adjacent to New York’s Madison Square Garden and at the Meadowlands inside the FanDuel Sportsbook. SportsGrid says its real-time reporting includes the daily odds, lines, matchups, injury reports, news and more across pro football, basketball, baseball, hockey, college sports, golf, tennis, and soccer.

iHeartMedia Completes Warrant Exchange for Stocks. The company announces that it has completed an exchange of iHeartMedia Warrants (financial instruments that give the holder the right to buy underlying shares at a specific price on or before a specified date) into shares of iHeartMedia Class A Common Stock, the Company’s publicly traded equity, or Class B Common Stock. The company reports that as of December 31, 2020, there were approximately 65 million shares of Class A Common Stock, 7 million shares of Class B Common Stock, and  75 million Warrants outstanding. Following the exchange, there will be approximately 110 million shares of Class A Common Stock, 29 million shares of Class B Common Stock, and 7 million Warrants outstanding. The exchange was authorized by a previously issued Declaratory Ruling from the Federal Communications Commission approving an increase in iHeartMedia’s authorized aggregate foreign ownership from 25% to 100%. Certain shares of Class B Common Stock and Warrants were not converted into Class A Common Stock due to current regulatory restrictions applicable to certain shareholders. iHeartMedia expects additional conversions of Class B Common Stock and Warrants into Class A Common Stock.

Attack on Capitol Building Top News/Talk Story for Week of January 4-8, 2021. Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol Building in Washington by hundreds of Donald Trump supporters was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Donald Trump’s continuing denial of the election results combined with his phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State seeking to overturn his loss there. Coming in at #3 was Tuesday’s Georgia runoff election that saw both Democrats beat their Republican opponents. 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.

December 2020 PPM Ratings Takeaways – Round Two

| December 23, 2020

December 2020 PPM Data – Information for the December 2020 ratings period has been released for Washington, DC; Boston; Miami; Seattle; Detroit; Phoenix; Minneapolis; San Diego; Tampa; Denver; Baltimore; and St. Louis.

Nielsen Audio’s December 2020 survey period covered November 5 – December 2.

Here are highlights from spoken-word stations finishing in their respective markets’ top 20.

NEWS/TALK

  • As a result of three straight decreases, Cumulus Media’s WMAL is an overall -1.2 (8.0 – 7.9 – 7.5 – 6.8, 6+) and drops from third in Washington, DC to fifth.
  • Following three positive spikes in succession that yielded a +2.7 (3.9 – 4.9 – 6.0 – 6.6, 6+), iHeartMedia’s WRKO “AM 680 – The Voice of Boston” sputters by eight-tenths to 5.8 (fourth to sixth, 6+).
  • Without a loss the past five survey periods for a net gain of +1.3 (7 – 1.7 – 1.8 – 2.1 – 2.6 – 3.0, 6+), iHeartMedia-owned WIOD “News Radio 610 Miami’s News, Traffic, & Weather Station” stumbles by four-tenths to 2.6 (#12 to #15, 6+).
  • Including December’s +.6, Bonneville-owned KIRO-FM is in an alternating down/up pattern (7.1 – 6.4 – 7.0 – 6.6 – 7.2, 6+) that returns “Seattle’s News/Seattle’s Talk” to #1 (second to first).
  • Sliding from #10 to #13 is KIRO-FM cluster-mate KTTH “Conservative Talk Radio,” which is off a combined half-share in November/December (3.6 – 3.4 – 3.1, 6+).
  • An overall +2.0 through five consecutive sweeps without a loss (3.4 – 3.4 – 3.6 – 3.8 – 4.7 – 5.4, 6+), Cumulus Media Detroit’s WJR “News Talk 760” (Lions) surrenders 40% of that boon (4.6, -.8, fourth to eighth, 6+).
  • Three consecutive upticks by iHeartMedia’s KFYI accounted for a +3.2 (4.3 – 4.4 – 5.8 – 7.5, 6+), but “News Talk 550” plummets by -1.2 to 6.3 (6+), concluding a November-only visit to Phoenix’s top spot (first to third).
  • Trending 4.3 – 3.8 – 4.0 – 3.6 (September 2020 – December 2020, 6+), Bonneville’s KTAR-FM (Arizona Cardinals) slips from seventh in Phoenix to tenth.
  • A combined -1.2 in October/November (5.5 – 5.2 – 4.3, 6+), Entercom’s WCCO “News Radio 830” (Timberwolves) purges one-third of that deficit with a +.4 to 4.7 (6+) and reenters Minneapolis’ top ten (#11 to #9).
  • Following five consecutive sweeps without a loss for a net gain of +1.6 (2.5 – 2.6 – 3.0 – 3.0 – 3.4 – 4.1, 6+), iHeartMedia Minneapolis’ KTLK “Twin Cities News Talk AM 1130” relinquishes one-quarter of the windfall (3.7, -.4, #12 to #13, 6+).
  • Notwithstanding that it gains two-tenths (4.7 – 4.9, 6+), iHeartMedia San Diego’s KOGO “News Radio 600” backslides from fourth to sixth.
  • Off a collective four-tenths in three straight sweeps without an increase (2.2 – 2.2 – 2.1 – 1.8, 6+), KOGO’s cluster-mate, KGB-AM “AM 760” (formerly Tegna’s KFMB-AM), repeats at #17.
  • Flat at #18 in San Diego, iHeartMedia Los Angeles’ KFI “AM 640” is -.4 in November/December (2.1 – 2.0 – 1.7, 6+).
  • Having more than doubled (+3.5) its 6+ AQH share through six consecutive up or flat trends (7 – 2.7 – 3.1 – 3.2 – 4.6 – 5.1 – 6.2, 6+), Cox Media Group Tampa’s WHPT “102.5 The Bone – Real, Raw, Radio” is -1.0 in December (5.2, third to fifth, 6+).
  • Even though iHeartMedia Tampa’s WFLA adds three-tenths (3.3 – 3.6, 6+), “970 Tampa Bay’s News Radio” (Tampa Bay Lightning) slips from #12 to #14.
  • On the heels of its November gain of four-tenths (3.8 – 4.2, 6+), iHeartMedia Denver’s KDFD “Freedom 93.7 – Real News, Real Talk” falters by six-tenths to 3.6 (eighth to ninth, 6+).
  • Tied at #18 are KDFD cluster-mates KHOW “Talk Radio 630” (2.0 – 1.9, -.1, flat at #18, 6+) and KOA “News Radio 850 AM” (1.7 – 1.9, +.2, #21 to #18, 6+).
  • In Baltimore, Hearst Television-owned WBAL “News Radio – Expect More” has a June 2020 through December 2020 topline of: 4.4 – 4.1 – 4.4 – 4.3 – 4.3 – 4.4 – 4.5 (6+).
  • An overall +2.6 through four successive improvements (3.3 – 3.9 – 4.4 – 5.2 – 5.9, 6+), Baltimore independent WCBM “680 Stimulating Talk – Breaking News” is -2.0 in November/December (5.9 – 5.0 – 3.9, sixth to ninth, 6+).
  • Dropping from seventh to tenth, Entercom St. Louis’ KFTK “FM News Talk 97.1” is a combined -1.0 in November/December (5.5 – 4.9 – 4.5, 6+).
  • Three setbacks in succession by Entercom owned KMOX result in an overall -3.0 (6.7 – 5.2 – 3.9 – 3.7, 6+) as the “The Voice of St. Louis” slips from #11 to #12.

NEWS

  • Despite regaining 40% of the -1.0 it surrendered this time last month (9.3 – 9.7, +.4, 6+), Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP-FM & WTLP-FM “Washington’s Top News” shifts to the runner-up slot after four successive months at #1.
  • It is a November-only stay at #1 for iHeartMedia Boston’s WBZ-AM “News Radio 1030,” which is off two-tenths in back-to-back reports (7.2 – 7.0 – 6.8, first to fourth, 6+).
  • This marks the fourth straight up or flat sweep for an overall +.9 by Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned KOMO (4.4 – 5.0 – 5.0 – 5.1 – 5.3, 6+), which progresses from fifth in Seattle to fourth.
  • A combined +.9 in October/November (4.5 – 4.8 – 5.4, 6+), Entercom Detroit’s WWJ “News Radio 950” dips three-tenths to 5.1 (fourth to fifth, 6+).

SPORTS TALK

  • In four straight down or flat trends, Entercom-owned WJFK-FM “106.7 The Fan” is a collective -1.0 (2.4 – 2.1 – 1.6 – 1.6 – 1.4, 6+) and falls from #16 in Washington, DC to #17.
  • After logging four straight gains for a collective +2.9 (3.9 – 4.1 – 4.9 – 5.4 – 6.8, 6+), Beasley Media Group Boston’s WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub” (Celtics, Bruins, Patriots) is -.7 in November/December (6.8 – 6.2 – 6.1, flat at #5, 6+).
  • Via five consecutive sweeps without a loss, WEEI-FM netted one-half share (2.5 – 2.6 – 2.6 – 2.6 – 2.8 – 3.0, 6+), but the Entercom Boston outlet drops three-tenths to 2.7 (flat at #12, 6+).
  • Having been +1.2 in October/November (2.2 – 2.9 – 3.4, 6+), Bonneville Seattle’s KIRO-AM “ESPN 710” (Seahawks) forfeits one-third of that bounty (3.0, -.4, 6+) and slumps from #10 to #15.
  • After gaining eight-tenths in October/November (4.7 – 5.2 – 5.5, 6+), Entercom Detroit’s WXYT-FM “97.1 The Ticket” (Pistons, Red Wings) erodes by -1.0 to 4.3 (third to ninth, 6+).
  • In Phoenix, three straight improvements by Bonneville-owned KMVP-FM (Arizona Diamondbacks) yielded a collective +1.3 (1.6 – 2.0 – 2.4 – 2.9, 6+), but “98.7 Arizona Sports” is -.8 in November/December (2.9 – 2.6 – 2.1, #16 to #18, 6+).
  • Off eight-tenths in November/December (8.2 – 7.6 – 7.4, 6+), iHeartMedia Minneapolis’ KFXN “Sports Radio 100.3 K-Fan” (Wild, Vikings) shifts from second to third.
  • After logging three straight reports without a loss for a collective +1.0 (1.2 – 1.8 – 1.8 – 2.2, 6+), iHeartMedia-owned WDAE “620 Tampa Bay’s Sports Radio” is -.7 in November/December (2.2 – 1.9 – 1.5, #19 to #20, 6+).
  • Nearly doubling (+1.7) its 6+ AQH share in three straight increases (1.8 – 2.0 – 2.4 – 3.5, 6+), Bonneville Denver’s KKFN “Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan” (Nuggets) is -.9 in November/December (3.5 – 3.0 – 2.6, #11 to #14, 6+).
  • Entercom Baltimore’s WJZ-FM “The Fan” is -1.0 in four consecutive down or flat reports (3.9 – 3.9 – 3.5 – 3.1 – 2.9, flat at #11, 6+).
  • Following a gain of six-tenths this time last month, Hubbard Broadcasting Louis’ WXOS “101 Sports” is unchanged at 2.7 (December 2020, 6+) but dips from #15 to #16.

PUBLIC RADIO NEWS/TALK

  • Replicating November’s +1.3, American University-owned WAMU “The Mind Is Our Medium” is a cumulative +3.1 in three consecutive bumps (6.4 – 6.9 – 8.2 – 9.5, 6+), yet backslides from second in Washington, DC to third.
  • Up a collective three-tenths in three straight sweeps with a loss (.5 – .7 – .8 – .8, 6+), Pacifica Foundation Washington, DC’s public radio news/talk/jazz hybrid WPFW pops on at #20.
  • Virtually doubling (+2.2) its 6+ AQH share in three straight upticks (2.3 – 3.3 – 3.5 – 4.5, 6+), WGBH Educational Foundation-owned WGBH, Boston progresses from ninth to eighth.
  • Boston University’s WBUR drops three-tenths to 4.0 (eighth to ninth, 6+), thus snapping at four a consecutive string of up or flat moves that accounted for a collective +1.1 (3.2 – 3.4 – 3.4 – 3.5 – 4.3, 6+).
  • A combined -8 in October/November (3.7 – 2.9 – 2.9, 6+), Dade County School Board-owned WLRN answers with a December increase of three-tenths to 3.2 (6+) and reenters Miami’s top ten (#14 to #10, 6+).
  • It is a November-only stay at #1 for Northwest Public Radio Seattle’s KUOW, which is nonetheless a collective +1.6 via four straight up or flat trends (5.3 – 5.8 – 6.3 – 6.9 – 6.9, first to second, 6+).
  • Including December’s loss of three-tenths, Wayne State University Detroit’s WDET is in a rotating down/up pattern (2.1 – 2.0 – 3.0 – 2.9 – 3.0, 6+) and carries on at #16.
  • Pushing up from #12 to #11 in Phoenix, Maricopa County Community College-owned KJZZ records its third straight up or flat trend for a net gain of three-tenths (3.0 – 3.1 – 3.3 – 3.3, 6+).
  • In addition to repeating at #1 in Minneapolis, Minnesota Public Radio’s KNOW is +1.9 in three straight upticks and reaches the nine-share threshold (7.1 – 7.2 – 7.8 – 9.0, 6+).
  • Even though it is -.8 in November/December (7.4 – 7.3 – 6.6, 6+), San Diego State University-owned KPBS is #1 the third month in a row.
  • A combined -1.3 in October/November (3.7 – 3.2 – 2.4, 6+), University of South Florida-owned WUSF picks up two-tenths to 2.6 (December, 6+), moving from #18 in Tampa to #17.
  • Not only is Colorado Public Radio’s KCFR a collective +2.8 as a result of four successive upticks, it is #1 in Denver the fourth month in a row and crosses the eight-share level (5.5 – 6.7 – 6.9 – 7.9 – 8.3, 6+).
  • Your Public Radio Baltimore’s WYPR “88.1 Your NPR News Station” repeats November’s AQH share and market rank (4.7, seventh, 6+).
  • Four up or flat trends in succession by KWMU account for a +1.0 (2.1 – 2.3 – 2.6 – 2.6 – 3.1, 6+) as the University of Missouri-owned outlet advances from #16 in St. Louis to #14.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

| December 8, 2020

Howard Stern Signs Renewal with SiriusXM for Five More Years. During previous investor conference calls, outgoing SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer said he believed Howard Stern and SiriusXM would come to terms on a new deal and today’s announcement bears that out. Under the new agreement, Stern will continue to produce and host “The Howard Stern Show” exclusively for SiriusXM for the next five years, and the Howard Stern archive of audio and video will continue to be licensed to SiriusXM for an additional seven years. Stern says, “Fifteen years ago, I joined SiriusXM, a fledgling group of broadcasters. I had been in a toxic relationship with terrestrial radio. And no matter how well I treated the medium, no matter how successful I made them, they abused me. Going to SiriusXM liberated me. I felt like Tina Turner freeing myself from Ike. And despite the naysayers and the ridicule, we have persevered, and are thriving. I’ve been proven right about satellite radio over and over again. With this contract renewal, I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be right about. Certainly, I have a lot more to say about Metamucil crackers and stepmom porn. Plus, now that I can work from home, I simply don’t have an excuse to quit.” Meyer says, “As the leading audio entertainment company, we couldn’t be happier to have Howard, the leading host in all of radio and audio, continue to make SiriusXM the home for his show, channels, and archives while at the peak of his broadcasting career. Howard’s home has been SiriusXM and it will remain that way, but we’ve expanded SiriusXM in recent years too, and we are excited about finding the right ways that select content from Howard can find audiences on additional platforms. May I add, I consider Howard a close friend and look forward to listening to him for years to come.”

Ron St. Pierre Out at iHeartMedia’s WHJJ, Providence; Jim Polito Takes Over Morning Show. Longtime Providence air personality and programmer Ron St. Pierre has exited iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence where he hosted the morning drive show. Filling the programming gap is WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based morning personality Jim Polito. In 2016, iHeartMedia dropped the local morning show hosted by Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan on WHYN-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts and began simulcasting Polito’s show there. The WHJJ move puts the Jim Polito show in three of iHeartMedia’s New England markets.

Salem’s KRLA and KTIE Cut Ties with Brian Whitman. Southern California radio pro Brian Whitman exits Salem Media Group’s morning drive show “The Morning Answer” that he co-hosted with Jennifer Horn that was simulcast on KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino. Whitman shared the news on his Facebook page on Friday (12/4). He wrote, “I was provided the following from folks at Salem/KRLA this morning. The announcement was sent by the general manager to their kind and hardworking staff, making this news public. I’ll have very personal thoughts to share with members of the ‘Morning Answer Listening Family’ (as I came to know and regard you over many years) very soon. It will be in this space at a time that is more appropriate and comfortable. With all of my love and with the warmest gratitude for every moment that we’ve shared together, I offer words that I know fall far short of my heart’s sentiment. Thank you, thank you, thank you guys.” The message from management was as follows: “After eight years hosting ‘The Morning Answer,’ Brian Whitman will no longer be with us. We wish Brian all the best in the future. Chuck [Tyler] and I echo Phil Boyce who said, “Brian has been a hard-working and extremely talented employee for us for many years. We will always cherish his friendship, and our opportunity to work together at KRLA and KTIE.” Whitman was the liberal counterpart to conservative Horn.

Hubbard Radio Drops Sports Talker Chris Rongey; Re-Aligns Host Lineup. According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar, afternoon drive sports talk personality Chris Rongey has been let go from Hubbard Radio’s WXOS-FM, St. Louis. Rongey had been part of “The Fast Lane” afternoon show since replacing D’Marco Farr in 2017. The station moves midday host Jamie Rivers into afternoons alongside Anthony Stalter and Brad Thompson and promotes Alex Farrario to the midday show co-hosting with Brandon Kiley.

Talk Radio Host Michael Berry’s Good Month Includes Raising $1.3 Million for PTSD Foundation. KRTH, Houston-based, nationally syndicated talk host Michael Berry had a very good month in which his program helped raise $1.3 million for Camp Hope, the residential treatment center run by the PTSD Foundation of America, of which Berry is the national spokesman. The organization was laying off staff, including the vital folks who counsel suicidal veterans who struggle with re-integration after war. Berry teamed up with sponsor Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture chain, to raise funds. During the whole of 2020, Berry’s efforts have raised $3 million for the organization, almost its entire budget. Additionally, Berry made national news on Monday (12/7) for his interview with Houston-based Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue, during which Unanue said he gave U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez the company’s “employee of the month” award. This came after Ocasio Cortez called for a boycott on Goya products because Unanue publicly praised President Trump. However, Unanue says the boycott call produced a counter-protest in which supporters flocked to buy Goya goods. On top of that, Berry has added new affiliates, WPNN, Pensacola, Florida, and KNUW, Silver City, New Mexico and hopes to roll out seven new affiliates before the New Year. In case you missed it, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian profiled Berry back in October. Read it here.

PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. The Nielsen Audio PPM ratings survey in the month prior to the November election (October 8 – November 4) was not as generous to sports talk radio stations as it was to news/talk, still TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian reports that 46% of sports talkers were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the October 2020 survey. Gainers from October to November were led by RadiOhio’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “97.1 The Fan” (+0.7, 6.2 share) and Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville (+0.7, 6.0 share). Due to the pandemic’s effect on live sports, year-over-year comparisons have not been kind to the sports talk format and November 2019 to November 2020 is not different. 68% of sports talk outlets in PPM markets were down. However, 23% of stations gained with Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas leading the pack (+1.6, 2.8 share). While no sports talkers claimed the #1 rank in their market during the November survey, iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis came close, posting a 7.6 share good for the #2 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

WJR, Detroit News Director Dick Haefner to Retire. After a 51-year career in radio news, WJR, Detroit news director Dick Haefner is retiring. Haefner, an award-winning newscaster, reporter, and news director, has been WJR news director since 1989. Cumulus Media says that “his tenure is unmatched by any other Detroit broadcast news director. He is one of the most recognizable news voices in his hometown of Detroit, signing on to radio news in 1969 and signing off on December 11, 2020, Haefner’s last day on-air.” The company goes on to note that “under Haefner’s leadership, WJR News has been honored with nearly every national and local news award in the broadcast business, including: the Peabody Award, Associated Press national award for Best Broadcast Reporting, Edward R. Murrow Awards, and numerous state news awards… Some of Haefner’s projects have changed laws. A series on suburban toxic waste dumps resulted in tighter rules for handling waste. An investigation of fraud at gas stations brought about new regulations on service station inspections and fuel hauling, and even changed the way the IRS taxes the fuel hauling industry. Among the biggest stories Haefner has broken are Coleman Young’s baby, the Nancy KerriganTonya Harding incident heard around the world, and Detroit’s two side-by-side sports stadiums.” Haefner comments, “Anything I may have accomplished is because of other people, my wife Judy, and my family who allowed me to pursue adventures in broadcast news, and especially my co-workers. My most important job was to put them in position to do their best work. What they accomplished every day is my greatest reward. I have had the best job in Detroit radio news for almost 32 years. I’m the luckiest person I know.”

Susan O’Connell Retires from Compass Media Networks; Robert Blum Rises to Senior Manager of Affiliate Sales. Affiliate sales pro Susan O’Connell is retiring from her position as vice president of news/talk affiliate sales with Compass Media Networks, effective December 31. At the same time, the company announces that Robert Blum – a Compass Media staffer since 2011 – is being promoted to senior manager of affiliate sales for news/talk/sports. O’Connell has been in the news/talk affiliate sales business for the past 40 years, the last six with Compass Media. She previously served with the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, ABC Radio Networks, CBS News, and the Progressive Radio Network. She comments, “The best part of my job has always been working with great broadcasters. Thank you all for sharing your time, talent, and friendship over the years. Compass Media Networks was the perfect place to wind up. Representing our stellar news/talk lineup and being part of this team has been an honor and a privilege.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “Susan is a total superstar, friend, and treasured colleague. Through hard work, perseverance, and cunning, Susan established Compass Media Networks as a dominant player in news/talk programming with over 750 leading news/talk stations airing over a dozen hours of our daily, live, and original news-talk programming.”

COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Trump Challenges, Biden Transition, Stimulus Package, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pornhub Allegations, and Presidential Pardons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/7). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the pleas from authorities to follow mask and gathering mandates, and the status of vaccines; Donald Trump continues legal challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues his administration’s transition; the debate in Congress over a new stimulus package; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the allegations that porn giant Pornhub has promoted underage actors; and reports of Donald Trump’s pardon plans 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. On-air pro and urban media personality Charlamagne Tha God, a.k.a. Lenard McKelvey, and iHeartMedia renew and extend their relationship. The deal means the co-host of the WWPR, New York “Power 105.1”-based, nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” will continue to work with iHeartMedia for the next five years.  He says, “I give my sincerest thanks to iHeart for empowering me over the past decade to be the best talent that I can be, and for honoring me as an owner and executive. I love the audio business and iHeart is the biggest and best audio company in the world. As co-founder and chief creative officer of the Black Effect Podcast Network and now senior creative officer of cultural content and programming at iHeart, all I want to do for the next five years is continue to move the culture of radio and podcasting forward by curating a new era of voices, programming, and events. GOD IS GREAT! Now, it’s time to get back to work.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

| November 4, 2020

POST-ELECTION DAY UNCERTAINTY: News/Talk Media Braces for Even Further Polarization.  As indicated yesterday in TALKERS, news/talk media programmers and on-air hosts are contemplating what life will be like after the election (see story below), weighing the impact various potential scenarios will have upon their positioning and preparing themselves for inevitable changes in the political landscape. In this era of targeting audiences based on their political predisposition, or what TALKERS founder Michael Harrison yesterday (11/3) described as “the daily dance of affirmation,” the results of this election could have a profound impact on the ideological stances of talk show hosts going forward. Now, a day later, at the time of the posting of this item, the final result of the election is still undetermined as the nation awaits accurate counts in several battleground states. Harrison, notes, “We now know one extremely important thing that wasn’t certain yesterday – there will be no blow out.  There will be no so-called blue or red wave.  There will be no clear-cut confirmation of a basic direction agreed upon by an obvious majority of Americans. That means more, not less, polarization and the further intensification of fear, anger, and political tribalism. One of the greatest obstacles to creating viable objective journalism and social healing in such an environment is the prevailing attitude, ‘if you are not with us, you are against us.’”

Saga Communications Q3 Revenue Rises Dramatically from Q2; Still Down 26% from Q3 in 2019. Reporting on its revenue for the third quarter of 2020, Saga Communications says, “Third quarter revenue and related net income continue to be materially impacted by disruptions to businesses and service providers activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From the net revenue low point in April the company’s revenue has significantly increased in each of the following months. The company continues to concentrate on new revenue strategies and enhanced engagement with its existing and new advertisers.” Saga’s net revenue for Q3 2020 was $24.1 million, a 43.1% increase over Q2 of 2020 but 26% lower than the $31.3 million reported in Q3 of 2019. Station operating income was $6.1 million for the quarter, a decrease of 42% from the same period in 2019. Station operating expense decreased $4 million to $19.6 million for the quarter compared to the same period last year. Operating income was $247,000 and Saga took a net loss of $950,000 for the quarter, compared to the gain of $3,3 million it reported in the third quarter of 2019. Among the publicly traded U.S. radio companies, Saga Communications is positioned well going forward as it has $49.8 million in cash on hand as of November 2, 2020. Its total bank debt is just $10 million as of the end of the quarter.

Country WCOL-FM, Columbus PM Jock Brandon Boxer Doubles Up to Host Mornings on News/Talk WTVN-AM. Columbus Business First reports that iHeartMedia has filled the morning show host role at news/talk WTVN-AM, Columbus with Brandon Boxer, currently the afternoon host and assistant program director at sister country station WCOL-FM. Boxer replaces Joel Riley, who along with producer Tom Schmid were laid off in this latest round of staff culling at the company. Boxer will continue in his roles with WCOL. He tweeted on Monday: “Today was a tough one for some of my colleagues & very sad. I feel very weird announcing this, but tomorrow I begin a new journey hosting mornings on [610 WTVN]. It’s extremely bittersweet & I’m scared to death, but here we go.”

Jason Lewis Comes Up Short in U.S. Senate Race. Former Minneapolis talk radio host Jason Lewis (also a former GOP congressman from Minnesota) was unsuccessful in his bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Tina Smith. She won the special election to fill the seat vacated by Al Franken in 2017 and was running against Lewis for her first full, six-year term. Lewis began his talk radio career as a weekend host on KOA-AM, Denver. He worked in the Twin Cities market as a talk host at KSTP and KTLK. His talk show was eventually syndicated by Premiere Networks and Genesis Communications Network. He’d also served as a talk host at WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte.

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 October 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on sports talk. The transition from the September PPM survey to the October PPM survey was good for sports talk radio as 65% of sports talk stations were up (6+ weekly AQH share) compared to the 18% that were down and the 17% that were flat. Gainers were led by iHeartMedia’s KFXN-FM, Minneapolis “K-FAN” (+2.9); Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville “104.5 The Zone” (+2.4); and Cumulus’ KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas “The Ticket” (+2.1). However, a look at year-over-year numbers gives us a look at just how far many sports talk stations fell due to the COVID-related shutdown of live sports as 72% of sports talk stations in PPM markets were down compared to the October 2019 survey and just 22% improved. Those stations showing growth were led by KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas (+2.3); KFXN-FM, Minneapolis (+1.4); and Cumulus’ KNBR, San Francisco (+0.9). KFXN-FM was the only sports talk outlet to rank #1 in its market during the October 2020 PPM survey. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Election Day, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, the Economy & Financial Markets Activity, State Marijuana Votes/Oregon Decriminalizes Hard Drugs, IS-Inspired Terror Attacks, and China Halts Ant Group IPO Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/3). The presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, as well as the races for U.S. Senate and U.S. Rep seats; the U.S. economy and the election day activity in the world’s financial markets; several states vote to legalize marijuana and Oregon decriminalizes small amounts of hard drugs; the Islamic State-inspired terror attacks France, Vienna, and Kabul; and the Chinese government stops the IPO of Jack Ma’s Ant Group 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. Detroit radio personality Mark “Meltdown” Milligan is celebrating his 25thanniversary at Beasley Media Group’s rock WRIF-FM. “Meltdown” began his career with the station on November 1, 1995 as the overnight jock. He later moved to the evening show host role and in February of 2009, he replaced Detroit legend Arthur Penhallow as the afternoon drive personality. Beasley Media Group Detroit director of programming Scott Jameson says, “One of the reasons legendary brands become ‘legendary’ are personalities that over time, develop a true connection and deep bond with the audience. In the nearly 50-year history of WRIF there have been two afternoon drive jocks. ‘Meltdown’ continues the rich legacy of outstanding air talent on WRIF. Congratulations on your 25th!”…..Service Broadcasting Group is looking for a high-profile entertainer to join the cast of the KKDA, Dallas “K104”-based “DeDe in the Morning” show that is nationally syndicated via Compass Media Networks. Service Broadcasting Group head of content George “Geo” Cook and #TeamDeDe are launching a national talent search for an entertainer, influencer, and storyteller who can collaborate with host DeDe McGuire and lead co-host Lady Jade to add their own authentic personality and powerful point of view to “DeDe in the Morning.” Email your video expressing why you are our next big star, along with your resume package, including an audio demo (aircheck), social media links, and podcast audio clips to SBG HR manager Debbie Henry at debbie.henry@K104fm.com. EOE.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

| October 28, 2020

Round Two of Nielsen’s October PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s October 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets, including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s October 2020 survey period covered September 10 – October 7. You can see all the 6+, weekly AQH share data from subscribing stations here. Also today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Washington, DC, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM gives up one-tenth to finish at a 7.9 share but rises from  the #3 to the #2 rank. Across town at Hubbard Radio, all-news WTOP-FM remains ranked #1 in the market after adding eight-tenths to finish with a 10.3 share. It was a good survey for iHeartMedia in Boston as news/talk WRKO adds 1.1 shares to finish with a 6.0 share good for the #6 rank and all-news WBZ-AM also adds 1.1 shares to jump from the #5 to the #1 rank on the strength of a 7.2 share. In Seattle, Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM posts a six-tenths increase after four surveys without a positive move to wrap the October survey with a 7.0 share that lifts it to #1. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways here.

Joe Benigno Expected to Announce Retirement from WFAN, New York Today. As reported by the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, Entercom’s sports talk WFAN, New York “The Fan” says there will be an important announcement during the 5:00 pm hour of today’s “Joe & Evan” show. It’s widely believed that co-host Joe Benigno will announce his retirement from the station that will open the door to bringing Craig Carton back to the station, most likely to co-host the afternoon drive show with current co-host Evan Roberts. Even before all of the Carton-to-return-to-WFAN chatter began, 67-year-old Benigno had dropped hints about his desire to hang up the cans and retire to Florida. As for Carton, the station has not announced his return but incessant reports in the New York media indicate the former morning drive co-host – out of prison after being convicted of fraud in a Ponzi scheme created to pay off gambling debts – is a lock to be back on WFAN’s airwaves.

Dori Monson Returns to KIRO-FM, Seattle Air After Suspension. Seattle talk radio host Dori Monson returned to host his afternoon drive program on Bonneville’s KIRO-FM on Tuesday (10/27), some two-and-a-half weeks after being suspended for a tweet that he said “didn’t hit the mark.” The Seattle Times reports that Monson issued his apology on air that followed the written one posted on the KIRO-FM website. Monson said his tweet was commentary during the gubernatorial debate between Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Republican challenger Loren Culp. In addressing the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Inslee said the state follows science (implying science as opposed to politics). His tweet read: “Inslee: we follow science in WA. The state where I could go to Olympia tomorrow and change my birth cert to say I was a girl on 10/2/61. HAHAHAHAHA.” Monson faced immediate backlash accusing him of being transphobic and was suspended indefinitely from his daily show and his role on Seattle Seahawks pre- and post-game shows.

TALKERS News Notes. The parent company of Nielsen AudioNielsen Holdings LLC – is reportedly in talks with Advent International to sell its consumer goods data business, according to the Financial Times. The piece indicates the deal would value that division at around $2.9 billion. Nielsen had previously announced its plans to spin off the Global Connect business and recently revealed it will be renamed NielsenIQ…..Hubbard Radio’s KIXI-AM, Seattle adds weekend programming from Smart Talk Radio Network to its lineup. Three shows – “Around The House With Eric G,” “Our Auto Expert,” and “Barbeque Nation” – made available via Sun Broadcast Group, will air on Saturdays and Sundays…..Entercom’s Steve Holman, Mike Conti, Miller Pope, and James Fairey of sports talker WZGC-FM, Atlanta “92.9 The Game” were honored by the Georgia Association of Broadcasters with Merit Award for “Best Sports Play-by-Play” as part of this year’s Gabby Awards…..WHO, Des Moines-based radio iron man Simon Conway is doing double duty this week as he hosts his afternoon drive talk program on iHeartMedia’s WHO, WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids, and WOC-AM, Davenport, as well as handling mornings on the company’s “Good Morning Orlando” show that airs on news/talk WFLF-AM.

WCCO-AM, Minneapolis Afternoon Personality Jordana Green Reveals Cancer Diagnosis. WCCO-AM, Minneapolis afternoon drive personality Jordana Green told listeners that she has been diagnosed with leukemia and is receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic. Yesterday (10/27), Green – who co-hosts the program with Paul Douglas told listeners doctors found the cancer last week, and immediately decided she should get treatment that includes multiple rounds of chemo and a possible bone marrow transplant in the spring. In a report posted to the station’s website, Green says, “I’ve been feeling crappy for a few months, very fatigued. About two weeks ago I noticed some large bruising on my legs but didn’t remember bumping myself. Last Tuesday, I went for some bloodwork. Tuesday night my doctor called and said I need to go to the ER as my platelets were low. Normal platelets are 150,000+. Mine were 19,000. They admitted me, did a bone marrow biopsy and 12 hours later told me I had leukemia.” She says she’ll try to check-in on the show from her hospital room when she’s “feeling up to it,” for the next several weeks she’ll be off the air while she is receiving chemo treatments.

The Presidential Election, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Deadly Philly Police Shooting/Protests, Hunter Biden Emails, Big Tech Before Congress, Financial Markets Activity, New California Wildfires, and Tropical Storm Zeta Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/27). The November 3 presidential election and the final week of campaigning by Donald Trump and Joe Biden; the rising number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and abroad and projections for the fall/winter; a second night of protests and looting in Philadelphia after a Black man is killed by police; the allegations that Hunter Biden used his father’s vice presidency to gain lucrative business deals in Ukraine by promising access to Joe Biden; today’s appearance before a Senate Commerce Subcommittee by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai; the world’s financial markets respond to the rise in COVID-19 cases; the new wildfires affecting Southern California; and the expected path of Tropical Storm Zeta 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. According to a report at Syracuse.com, adult contemporary WLZW, Syracuse “Lite 98.7” morning show co-host and classic rock WOUR midday personality Dave Coombs is leaving Townsquare Media and will join Saga Communications to host the morning drive show on active rock WLZX, Springfield, Massachusetts “LAZER 99.3” in November. Coombs has been co-hosting the “Lite 98.7” morning show with his wife Beth, who  will remain in her position with new co-host Dave Wheeler…..The entertainment podcast “Hollywood Unlocked with Jason Lee [UNCENSORED],” enters into a deal with FOX Soul to air the program on the digital television network. Lee is also host of the Premiere Networks-syndicated “Hollywood Unlocked with Jason Lee,” a two-hour weekend show that airs on 60 hip hop stations nationwide, in addition to iHeartRadio…..Entercom proudly congratulates hot AC WSTR, Atlanta “Star 94” air personality Mike Kannon for being honored with a GABBY Award for “Best On-Air Personality” from the Georgia Association of Broadcasters…..Cumulus Media announces that WIXV, Savannah “I-95” air personality and program director Don Scott (below, left) is being honored by the State of Georgia with the Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award for exemplary community service. The Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award is Georgia’s highest service award and was personally presented to Scott by State Representative Carl Gilliard (below, right). Scott says, “‘I-95’ and our parent company Cumulus Media respects our audience and understands our responsibility to serve the public interest. My personal passion for radio, as well as the passion of our staff, drives us to maintain a high level of quality in everything we do. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have been selected to receive this award. I would like to thank Carl Gilliard and the State of Georgia for this recognition.”

October 2020 PPM Ratings

| October 27, 2020

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