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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

| August 17, 2021

Ramsey Solutions’ Film Borrowed Future Debuts on October 14. The first documentary film from Ramsey Solutions will premiere on digital platforms on October 14. Titled, “Borrowed Future: How Student Loan Debt Is Killing the American Dream,” and produced by Dave Ramsey, it “uncovers the dark side of the student loan industry, exposes how it’s built to work against the 45 million Americans currently in debt for their education, and shows that it’s possible to beat the student loan system.” The film is directed by David DiCicco and features experts such as Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, Seth Frotman, Kristina Ellis, Dr. John Delony and Anthony ONeal, as well as CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, Mike Rowe. The main subjects of the documentary are college graduates who owe between $9,000 and $1 million in student loan debt, a debt-free college graduate, and high schoolers who haven’t yet questioned the norm of student loans. DiCicco says, “This film is a warning for kids and teenagers who aren’t victims of the student loan industry yet. I want viewers to walk away from this film with eyes wide open to the true cost of student loans. Teens need to know that they can have the American Dream — they just shouldn’t listen to America on how to get it.” Dave Ramsey adds, “The student loan problem is out of control, and it’s messed up millions of lives. Smart young people got sucked into a false narrative about what success looks like, and it’s left them paralyzed. It’s time to call the student loan industry what it is: an epic failure.” See more about the film here.

Phil Valentine Update: Family Says He Remains in ‘Grave Condition.’ The status of WWTN-FM, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7” afternoon drive talk host Phil Valentine has not improved as his family provided an update last night (8/16) asking his fans to “pray for a miracle” as he remains in “grave condition.” Valentine contracted COVID-19 in mid-July and initially Valentine told his listeners that while he was pretty sick, he believed he was “on the other side of it.” His family revealed on July 22 that he’d been hospitalized and was eventually put on a ventilator due to his suffering from COVID pneumonia. Although Valentine had expressed concerns over the safety of the vaccines and disagreed with mask mandates, his family says he was never an “anti-vaxxer,” but he does regret not being more “pro-vaccine.” His family is urging his fans to get vaccinated.

Salem Media Group Promotes Jamie Cohen to SVP of Broadcast Digital. Digital media pro Jamie Cohen is promoted to senior vice president, broadcast digital for Salem Media Group. The company says that in his new role he’ll oversee all aspects of the digital operations for Salem’s local and national/network digital efforts. Salem Broadcast Media president David Santrella comments, “Jamie has done a tremendous job building Salem’s digital enterprise for our local stations. Overseeing all aspects of our digital operations, both locally and nationally, will open more channels of opportunity and unify our efforts in reaching our audiences through digital avenues and monetizing our digital assets.” Cohen says, “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and am bullish on our future. With the emergence of platforms like Salem Now, the Salem Podcast Network and other innovations, our audience has never been bigger. We have an amazing opportunity ahead of us and I can’t think of a better place to be.”

Phil Cianciola to Host Mornings on WOSH-AM, Oshkosh. Radio pro Phil Cianciola is named morning drive host for Cumulus Media’s WOSH-AM, Oshkosh, Wisconsin “NewsTalk 1490,” effective August 23. The station says, “It is important for WOSH that we retain a local voice in mornings and provide a show that will be uniquely Oshkosh. We wanted to find someone who would get what Oshkosh and the Valley are all about and would be able to entertain our listeners while also providing the news and community information that matters most. That’s a lot to ask of someone, but we’re confident that Phil fits our needs perfectly.” During his career Cianciola has served at Milwaukee news/talk outlets WISN and WTMJ. He comments, “I believe in LOCAL radio. The magic of radio is the relationships we build with listeners over the air. It’s all I’ve ever done. I guess you could say radio is in my blood.”

Brian Hauswirth Named News Director at KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri. News pro Brian Hauswirth joins Zimmer Communications to serve as news director for news/talk KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri “93.9 The Eagle.” In this role, he becomes the newest member of the “Wake Up Columbia” morning drive program. Zimmer Communications operations manager Jeremy Washington states, “We’re thrilled to have Brian Hauswirth be part of our Zimmer News Network. Brian shares our vision for excellence in broadcasting and will strongly enhance our award-winning local news coverage in Mid-Missouri.” Hauswirth most recently served with Missourinet where he was a senior capitol reporter, covering the Missouri statehouse in Jefferson City. His radio station experience includes time spent working at KMZU, Carrollton; KTRS, St. Louis; and KRES-KWIX, Moberly. In addition to his new role, Hauswirth will continue his 23rd season as a college football scoreboard host at Learfield, where he handles the updates for five major colleges across the nation, including Mizzou, Alabama, Texas Tech, Purdue, and Wyoming.

Audacy and Urban One Enter into Digital Platform Relationship. A content distribution partnership between Audacy and Urban One will put audio from the latter’s 57 stations in 13 markets onto the Audacy digital platform. Audacy VP of business development Corey Podolsky comments, “This partnership underscores our unwavering commitment to amplifying diverse voices and delivering premier audio content to the communities in which we serve. We’re delighted to unite with a power player in the audio space to expand and enhace our content offering and add dozens of dynamic brands to our library.”

iHeartMedia Launches Progressive Podcast Network Cool Zone Media. The launch of Cool Zone Media will highlight “vital voices often overlooked in today’s rapidly changing political landscape,” according to iHeartMedia. The progressive podcast network is being powered by investigative journalist and podcaster Robert Evans. The company says Cool Zone Media will provide an “in-depth look at topics including climate change, the Capitol insurrection, and uncovering QAnon – offering listeners a place unique from others in the political sphere by melding media and politics with storytelling.” The network debuts with the first episode of the new daily podcast, “It Could Happen Here,” that focuses on climate change and picks up where Evans’ 10-episode weekly podcast by the same name left off. Evans, who is serving as the head of content for Cool Zone Media, will be joined by the iHeartPodcast Network’s executive producer, Sophie Lichterman, who will become Cool Zone Media’s head of creative, to help curate and elevate other vital voices in today’s progressive political landscape for the network.

TALKERS News Notes. Canton radio stations WHBC-AM “News/Talk 1480” and WHBC-FM “Mix 94.1” wrapped their 14th Annual Aultcare Wish-a-thon to benefit Wishes Can Happen on Friday August 13 and the Alpha Media outlets helped raise a record $334,928. The charity grants wishes to children with severe and terminal illnesses in Northeast Ohio. The record number was an increase of almost $145,000 over last year’s event, thanks in large part to the many businesses, individuals and foundations who stepped up…..PodcastOne announces it has secured the exclusive sales and distribution rights for B-Real’s “Dr. Greenthumb” podcast and the sales rights to the show in its vodcast form. “Dr. Greenthumb” launched in January of 2020 as a program dedicated to all things entertainment, music, and cannabis and now has more than 300 recorded episodes to date that include guests such as Tommy Chong, George Lopez, Tony Hawk, Matt Barnes, John Sally and Ricky Williams. B-Real says, “PodcastOne has set the bar for what podcasts have become. With their amazing roster of shows, best-in-class distribution and advertising approach, there is no other platform for the ‘Dr. Greenthumb’ podcast. I am excited to partner with Norm Pattiz and the PodcastOne family.”…..Pictured below are staffers from the Audacy Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina operations celebrating their honors from the 2021 State Television and Radio (STAR) Awards presented by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association. News/talk WYRD-FM “106.3 WORD” was honored with four STAR Awards including: Radio Station of the Year, Radio Personality of the Year (Tara Servatius), Best News Talk Show (Tara Servatius), and Production PSA.

Benztown West Coast Commercial Production Director Jeff Kelly Dies at 50. The company announces the untimely death of Jeff Kelly, who had joined Benztown in January as West Coast Commercial Production Director. Kelly passed away unexpectedly on August 13 at the age of 50. He and his fiancé had recently moved to L.A. to work with the Benztown team in its Glendale studios. Benztown president Dave “Chachi” Denes says, “We are deeply saddened we were not able to spend more time with Jeff and we will miss him very much. Jeff was incredibly energized and excited about working for Benztown and his recent move to L.A. from Albuquerque, and his positive attitude and tremendous talents were inspiring. His production, writing and VO skills were among the very best in the business and I am incredibly grateful for his contributions to our company, the Commercial Production Department and YamanAir.”

Biden on Taliban in Afghanistan, COVID-19 Stats & Mandates, New Trump Book, Western Drought/Wildfires, and Newsom Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/16). President Joe Biden defends his Afghanistan pullout amidst the Taliban’s resurgence and the social chaos; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rate of vaccination, and mask mandates for schoolchildren; the new book from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa titled, Peril, that chronicles the final days of the Donald Trump administration; the drought and wildfires plaguing the U.S. West; and the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom heats up were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, June 14, 2021

| June 14, 2021

TALKERS 2021 Was a Success! The 24th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important conference, the Talkers Convention, took place this past Friday (6/11) on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The event was a presentation of TALKERS in association with Hofstra’s multi-award-winning radio station, WRHU. More than 50 industry leaders from talk radio and cable news/talk TV spoke during a non-stop day of presentations and panel sessions. Due to strict regulations adhering to COVID-19 protocols, attendance was limited to a sellout crowd of 175 people which was reached about a week prior to the event. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says, “We were delighted to be able to join forces again with our colleagues at Hofstra – the site of our very successful 2016 event – and be able to actually present a live conference in an extremely COVID-19 compliant environment which Hofstra was equipped to provide. The convention achieved its goal to boldly address key existential issues facing the talk radio and talk media industries at this dramatically critical juncture.” TALKERS will be posting extensive coverage of the event in the days to come including video documentation recorded under the direction of Art Vuolo covering every speech, presentation and panel discussion.  Stay tuned for details.

FOX News Channel and FOX News Radio‘s Brian Kilmeade delivers the keynote address at TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11.

Key Networks nationally syndicated commentator Bill O’Reilly (right) is interviewed by TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison (left) at TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11.

McVay Media Consulting president Mike McVay (right) moderates the “Programming News/Talk Radio in the ’20s” panel at TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11. Panelists were (from l-r): Joe Thomas, program director/morning host, WCHV, Charlottesville, VA; Greg Stocker, WPHT, Philadelphia APD, executive producer for the Rich Zeoli show; Michael Czarnecki, program director WONK-FM, Washington, DC and the iHeartPodcast Channel; Josh Leng, CEO, Talk Media Network; Dave LaBrozzi, SVP of programming, Red Apple Media; and Phil Boyce, SVP/spoken word format, Salem Media Group, operations VP, New York region.

Westwood One nationally syndicated talk host Jim Bohannon (right) moderates the “Generating Talk Radio Revenue in a Noisy Digital World” panel at TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11. Panelists were (from l-r): Christine Travaglini, president Katz Radio Group/RAB; Marc Beaven, general manager, WCBM, Baltimore; Paul Gleiser, president/owner KTBB, Tyler, TX; Kathy Carr, president, Howie Carr Radio Network; Erik Hellum, COO, Townsquare Media/RAB; and Paul Vandenburgh, owner/morning host, WGDJ, Albany, NY.

WRHU Radio operations director John T. Mullen (right) moderates the “Attracting Younger Demos and Broadening the Base” panel at TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 11. Panelists were (from l-r): Derek Hunter, talk host WCBM, Baltimore; Martha Zoller, talk host WDUN, Gainesville, GA; Sid Rosenberg, morning co-host, WABC, New York; Mike “Bax” Baxendale, morning co-host, WAQY-FM, Springfield,  MA “Rock 102”; Brett Winterble, talk host, WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte; and Dr. Asa Andrew, talk host, Asa Rx.

Monday Memo: Dear Old Dad. There’s still time to make a fuss on his special day; and in this week’s column consultant Holland Cooke suggests a couple vintage radio hits worth dusting off, “regardless of your format.” Read the column here.

Biden’s European Trip/G7, Putin Summit, COVID-19, Minneapolis Protest Death, Harris Latin America Trip Criticism/Immigration Reform, Trevor Reed Case, Soaring Urban Crime, and Bennett Replaces Netanyahu Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. President Joe Biden’s European trip, the meeting of G7 leaders; Biden’s summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Wednesday; the fast-falling rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy, and speculation about the origin of the coronavirus; one person is killed as a car rams into protestors in Minneapolis; criticism of Vice President Kamala Harris’ Latin America trip and the subject of immigration reform; the case of former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed who’s been detained in Russia for two years; the soaring rates of urban crime in America’s large cities; and Naftali Bennett succeeds in ousting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERSmagazine.

Pending Business: Demand vs Frequency. Sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, writes in today’s column, “As you engage advertisers during this sales tailwind, what happens when rates and rotations are not even close to 2020 or Q1 of 2021? Does the sales banter go straight to demand? It happened to me. Your internal high-five is your advertiser flashing red light for high rates! Oops, you moved right to the easy part – demand is up so rates are up. Your advertiser should be compassionate, understanding that you made it through to the other side of the pandemic. Are your advertisers really saluting your demand curve? No.” Read more here.

Jim Fox Named Operations Manager for Cumulus Media Kansas City. Radio programming pro Jim Fox is named operations manager for CUMULUS MEDIA’s Kansas City cluster that includes news/talk KCMO-AM/K279BI and six music brands. Fox joins CUMULUS Kansas City following a 17-year career with Audacy, where he was vice president, programming, for the company’s four Dallas stations. CUMULUS Kansas City RVP and market manager Donna Baker says, “Record-high ratings delivery as the #1 cluster in KC is the result of our incredible programming talent delivering the highest level of audience engagement. Jim Fox is among the best programming minds in the business. His expertise growing strong brands that deliver results for our client partners is the ideal addition to our team in Kansas City.” Fox comments, “I’m extremely excited and fortunate to be joining this incredible team with an already proven track record of success. So many people who I respect helped to make this move possible. I’m energized by the idea of working closely with Donna Baker, Doug Hamand, Brian Philips, and the very impressive and talented staff in Kansas City.”

Dave Symonds Joins Summit Media Richmond as Director of Programming and Operations. The new director of programming and operations at SummitMedia, LLC’s Richmond cluster that includes WURV-HD2 “ESPN Richmond” and four music brands is Dave Symonds. The company says, “Symonds brings a solid track record of progressive leadership in multi-station, multiformat programming, management, and brand development, including start-ups and well-established stations and shows. He has been consistently successful in differentiating brands, communicating format values and achieving ratings successes.” Symonds adds, “After meeting with the Summit Richmond team, I was quickly swept up by their strength and creativity, as well as the opportunities and potential of these stations. I already respected market manager Bob Willoughby when we were competed a few years back. Now, I’m excited to partner with him. Plus, it’s Richmond. I’m thrilled!”

Zimmer Marketing Market Manager Chad Elliot Dies Unexpectedly at 47. The Joplin, Missouri station group of Zimmer Marketing reports the unexpected passing of its market manager, Chad Carroz, a.k.a. Chad Elliot, who died at his home on Saturday at the age of 47. Elliot was the longtime host of the “KZRG Morning NewsWatch” program on the news/talk station. He held that position for over a decade before moving into a full-time role in sales and management. Company owner James Zimmer says, “Chad will be missed by all who knew and loved him. He was part of our family for over 25 years. His passion for radio guided him from being a part-time air talent to market manager of Zimmer Marketing in Joplin. We will hold Chad forever in our hearts and look forward to seeing him in eternal life with Christ.” Elliot leaves behind his wife Monica – also a member of the Zimmer team – and the couple’s daughter, Mattie.  In announcing her husband’s death via Facebook, Monica wrote, “Chad had two passions. Zimmer Radio and his dogs. He lived, breathed, and bled Zimmer. He wanted nothing more than to help local businesses succeed and grow. He fought for those success stories. I was given a rare gift to work alongside my husband almost seven years ago. At first, I thought it wouldn’t work. How can a couple be together 24/7? It had its challenges, but I wouldn’t trade one single minute of it for anything! 8-5 he was in charge. 5-8 I was in charge. It worked.” Details on funeral arrangements are pending.

Audacy Adds Two Shows to BetQL Network. The BetQL Network is adding two new weekday programs to its lineup. Audacy announces that as part of its multiplatform partnership with BetMGM, the network will launch “The Daily Tip,” featuring Michael Jenkins and Chelsea Messinger, and “BetMGM Tonight,” starring Ryan Horvat and Quinton Mayo, beginning June 21. The “BetQL Network,” is heard on KEZW-AM, Denver “The Bet 1430AM”; KCBS-HD2, Los Angeles; and WCFS-HD2, Chicago “The Bet 105.9.”  Audacy president of sports Mike Dee says, “We are ecstatic to announce the next phase of our planned expansion of the ‘BetQL Network.’ Our partnership with BetMGM – who is co-developing these shows alongside our sports programming team led by Matt Volk [vice president of sports] – enables us to create this new content that will both entertain and inform our audience around daily sports betting activity. We aspire for the ‘BetQL Network’ to become the go-to destination for the sports betting community and we’ll continue to announce new content to this dynamic platform over the next few months.”

Two Researchers Promoted at Paragon Strategies. Two Paragon Media Strategies longtime researchers are being promoted. Sara Schueller rises to vice president/research and Simone Lowin is promoted to research services director. Paragon CEO Mike Henry notes, “Sara Schueller and Simone Lowin have been part of the Paragon backbone for two decades.  During that time, Paragon has produced hundreds of research projects for our media and entertainment clients. Every one of those projects was guided by these incredible women who exhibit the highest capacity for integrity and professionalism. We’re incredibly fortunate to have them as part of the Paragon family.”

Monday, May 10, 2021

| May 10, 2021

Monday Memo: Was Rush the Format? As the American comeback unfolds, polls demonstrate widespread optimism. “Yet,” consultant Holland Cooke reckons, there’s “a day-after-day negativity, a wearying sameness, among the half-dozen hosts vying for the Rush Limbaugh hours” on his affiliate stations. And in this week’s column, Cooke warns against typecasting the format as political talk: “If we learned one thing during the pandemic shutdown, it’s people’s appetite for ‘survival information.’” Read his column here.

Pending Business: Why Buy? Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says that if you ask yourself the question: Why buy advertising on your station, you know the answers to this in your sleep. “Yet why do three different sellers give three different answers? It sounds silly, but even at the best run stations, large market or small, my experience is the answers vary a little too much.” He offers eight questions to ask yourself that will help you formulate the answers to that question: Why buy? Read it here.

Townsquare Media Q1 Net Revenue Down 5.1%; Digital Revenue Up 13%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Townsquare Media reveals total net revenue was $88.8 million, a decline of 5.1% from the same period in 2020. The company’s net loss shrinks dramatically from $59.5 million in the first quarter of 2020 to $6.1 million in Q1 of 2021. Operating income also did an about-face, shrinking from a loss of $72.1 million in Q1 of 2020 to income of $8.8 million this year. Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson says, “We are extremely proud to report that Townsquare’s first quarter 2021 results approached, and in some cases exceeded, levels achieved in the pre-COVID first quarter of 2019, which surpassed our expectations and previously stated guidance. In the first quarter of 2021, net revenue declined -5% year over year, and -1.6% excluding political and Live Events net revenue. When excluding Live Events net revenue, first quarter net revenue increased +0.3% as compared to the first quarter of 2019. Total digital revenue growth accelerated to +13% year over year (+32% vs. Q1 2019), contributing nearly 49% of Townsquare’s total first quarter net revenue. Our digital revenue growth was fueled by Townsquare Interactive, our digital marketing solutions subscription business, Townsquare Ignite, our digital programming advertising platform, and Townsquare Amped, digital advertising on our owned and operated brands, which increased revenue year over year by +15%, +12%, and +11%, respectively. Impressively, TSI, Ignite, and Amped’s first quarter net revenue exceeded Q1 2019 revenue levels by +34%, +45%, and +15%, respectively. Over the next three years, we expect to grow our digital net revenue from $167 million (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of March 31, 2021) to $250 million. The strong growth of our digital revenue, together with our strong expense management, led to Adjusted EBITDA increasing nearly +30% over the prior year. I am especially proud to share that first quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $20.1 million is +$1.3 million, or +7%, higher than Q1 2019’s pro forma Adjusted EBITDA, and +$2.1 million, or +12%, higher when excluding profit from Live Events.”

The Mayor and the Mobster. Nationally syndicated Compass Media Networks talk star Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo scored an amazing one-hour double interview with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former high-profile mobster Michael Franzese last week which he ran on Tuesday through Friday (5/4-7) as a four-part special series on his radio show titled, “The Mayor and the Mobster.” Giuliani prosecuted Franzese 40 years ago at a time when the two men were arch enemies. Much has changed since then in terms of their relationship. In a fascinating conversation about the nature of crime fighting, prosecution, and redemption, the two men have more than reconciled their differences as indicated in a wonderful interview conducted brilliantly by Pags. You can watch the entire 56-minute conversation captured on video by clicking here.

Missouri House Passes Bill to Make January 12 ‘Rush Limbaugh Day.’ The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill last Thursday (5/6) that would make January 12 “Rush Limbaugh Day” in honor of the Cape Girardeau, Missouri native who died in February at age 70. The bill met with opposition from Democratic House members, including Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove who criticized Limbaugh for “constant attacks on Black people and other people of color,” according to a report by the AP. Republican Rep. Sara Walsh, a supporter of the bill, said, “Rush demonstrated courage to speak boldly and encouraged his listeners and viewers to reach for their dreams and to push onward beyond the naysayers and discouragers that we all encounter in life.” The bill must pass the Missouri Senate before it moves on to the governor’s office.

AdLarge and Sounds Profitable Partner for ‘Up Next – A Podcast UpFront.’ Audio ad sales network AdLarge Media partners with podcast ad tech publication Sounds Profitable to launch Up Next – A Podcast UpFront. The companies say that “embracing a ‘never-been-done-before’ concept, Up Next utilizes the podcast format to promote podcasting with two acclaimed industry leaders hosting the series, FRQNCY founder/CEO Michelle Khouri and Edison Research SVP, Tom Webster. The idea originated from a brainstorming session between the leadership team at AdLarge and Sounds Profitable and is NOT an event but rather a podcast series specifically designed to showcase the multiple facets of the podcast industry including publishers, networks, content producers, and more. No special invitation required to listen to the podcasts, they are available to everyone.” In the first season of the Up Next series, AdLarge’s premiere episode focuses on the power of podcast advertising in addition to exploring the intriguing and valuable aspects of the podcasting world. The AdLarge season consists of six episodes, which also includes sample episodes from some of the most favored podcasts in the space today such as: “Crime Junkie,” “Swindled,” “The Hey Girl Podcast,” “The Trip,” and “Kill Me Now with Judy Gold.” AdLarge SVP, head of revenue operations & digital sales Ilwira Marciszek says, “It’s crazy that no one thought of this earlier. We know podcasts get results. This is the perfect way to get in front of people on their own time. I’m beyond thrilled to use the medium we’re selling to showcase the power of podcasting.” You can learn more here.

Broadcasters Foundation of America Seeks Donations to Counter Lost Fundraising Events. The Broadcasters Foundation of America is in need of donations to counter the loss of funds from major fundraising events that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. A 501(c)3 charity, the BFoA is the only organization dedicated exclusively to providing financial aid to broadcasters and their families whose lives have been upended by debilitating illness, accident, or catastrophe. BFoA chairman Scott Herman says, “In its more than 70 years of existence, the Broadcasters Foundation has provided financial assistance to every broadcaster who qualified, and we want to continue that track record. These men and women are our colleagues, and unthinkable tragedy has left them unable to work. We cannot turn our backs on them.” Cancelled fundraisers for the Broadcasters Foundation include the Celebrity Golf Tournament, the Golden Mike Award, and the Philip J. Lombardo Charity Golf Tournament. Personal and corporate donations can be made here.

COVID-19, GOP vs Cheney, Rising Consumer Goods Prices, Weekend Gun Deaths in U.S., Gas Pipeline Hack, Biden’s Infrastructure Plan, Afghanistan Girls School Bombing, and Arabian Sea Arms Seizure Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy, and the outbreak in India; U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney faces losing her GOP leadership role for not carrying the stolen election banner; concerns about the fast-rising prices of gas and consumer goods; the slaying of six at a Colorado Springs birthday party and numerous other gun deaths over the weekend; the hacking of a gas pipeline by Russia-based operatives; President Joe Biden to push his infrastructure plan this week; the bombing at a girls school in Afghanistan that killed 85 people; and the U.S. Navy seizes a large weapons cache in the Arabian Sea were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Michael Harrison Animal Welfare Music Video Going Viral on YouTube. The animal welfare anthem “I Know You’re Real” that appears on the new Gunhill Road album What Year Is This! has been picking up an accelerating number of views this past week – approximately 1,400 per day – solely based thus far on radio interviews. The song’s lyrics, penned by Michael Harrison and recited by him on the recording and video, discuss the metaphysical nature of the relationship between humans and animals as well as the connectedness of all sentient life forms to the universe at large. The video, described by talk media host Thom Hartmann as “a masterpiece,” displays a fascinating array of photos and video clips depicting animals – domestic and wild – and cosmic images. Harrison recently became a regular working member of the legendary NYC-based band that has been around since the late 1960s. To book Harrison to appear as a guest talking about animal welfare, cosmic consciousness, and the golden days of FM rock radio, please contact him directly at michael@talkers.com or call Barbara Kurland at TALKERS at 413-565-5413.  To view the video, please click here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

| April 27, 2021

Shari Gonzalez Promoted to Market President for iHeartMedia Miami. Radio sales pro Shari Gonzalez is promoted to market president for iHeartMedia’s Miami/Fort Lauderdale station group that includes news/talk WIOD, sports talk WINZ, WXBN “Black Information Network,” and eight music brands. She was most recently regional SVP of sales for the cluster. iHeartMedia division president Linda Byrd says, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to promote Shari into her first market president role. In the short time that we have worked together, I have seen her competitiveness, work ethic and ability to move her team in the direction we need to go. Shari has the experience and smarts to make a great market president of iHeartMedia Miami/Fort Lauderdale. She will be a great leader in one of our most important markets.” Gonzalez comments, “I am honored and thrilled for this opportunity. To continue to work with and now lead this incredible portfolio of brands and this ‘best-in-class’ team of talented, passionate colleagues is a dream come true. Miami/Fort Lauderdale is experiencing a boom like no other market in the country and the South Florida market is filled with a culture and uniqueness that is second to none. As our market continues to grow as a multi-cultural, global economic and entertainment destination, we at iHeartMedia Miami/Fort Lauderdale remain committed to being the largest and most meaningful connection to millions in South Florida.”

‘The Rich Eisen Show’ Joins Audacy for Live Streaming and On-Demand Service. Sports media personality Rich Eisen enters into a content distribution partnership with Audacy to add his “The Rich Eisen Show” to the Audacy digital platform. “The Rich Eisen Show” streams live daily from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. The show, as well as his new podcast, “Just Getting Started,” are available on-demand on the Audacy digital platform. “The Rich Eisen Show” emanates from Los Angeles and is simulcast on NBC Sports on Peacock. Audacy EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano states, “Rich’s show is a terrific addition to our Audacy platform and reinforces our position as the unrivaled leader in local and national sports audio content. We’re thrilled to bring Rich’s mix of sports and culture to our audience, just in time for this week’s NFL Draft.”

Tricia Gallenback to Lead Cumulus Media’s Eugene Stations. Sales and management pro Tricia Gallenback is named the new vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media’s Eugene, Oregon station group that includes news/talk KUGN-AM, sports talk KUJZ-FM, and three music brands. She most recently held the same position at Reno Media Group’s stations in Reno, Nevada. Prior to that she was director of sales for Beasley Media Group’s Fayetteville, North Carolina operations. Gallenback says, “It’s an exciting time to work in radio! Cumulus is a dynamic and innovative company and I’m honored that [Cumulus RVP] Don Morin invited me to join the talented team in Eugene. The Cumulus stations in Eugene are iconic brands and have a history of commitment to community and partnership success. I’m looking forward to discovering how much more we can accomplish together.”

Ernest Fears III Rises to Director of Sales at Radio One Washington, DC. Radio sales pro Ernest Fears III is promoted to director of sales for Radio One’s Washington, DC station group that includes sports talk WTEM-AM “The Team 980” and news/talk WOL-AM/W240DJ. Fears was most recently general sales manager for the station group. Fears says, “During my 40 years in the business in the DC market, I’ve had the chance to work with so many professionals that I have learned from. If not for them, I would not stand where I am today. I look forward to paying forward the help and guidance that I received to my team and their clients.” Radio One senior regional vice president Jeff Wilson adds, “For decades, Ernie has been one of the most respected leaders in Washington, DC media.  But today, we celebrate his leadership and innovation moving forward as we blaze new trails while creating unprecedented solutions for our business partners.”

WWO Blog: What Changes in TV Viewing Mean for Radio. In this week’s Westwood One blog, chief insights officer Pierre Bouvard addresses the changes taking place in the television industry as viewers shift from linear TV to ad-free streaming options. This is a massive challenge for advertisers who’ve made TV a big part of their media plans. The piece is peppered with ominous stats, including: Nielsen’s just-released Total Audience Report reveals linear television’s weekly reach among persons 25-54 has dropped from 85% in Q3 2018 to only 77% in Q3 2020; pay TV lost 5.5 million subscribers in 2020; MoffettNathanson reports that residential penetration of traditional pay TV is down to 61% of occupied households. This is sharply reduced from pay TV’s peak 89% penetration in 2009; and according to MoffettNathanson, in Q4 2020, 67% of all broadcast network viewership was from the 50+ audience. So how does radio advertising play into this? Bouvard says that putting AM/FM radio in the plan generates triple the reach of connected TV – for example, adding 50 points of AM/FM radio to 250 points of TV (225 linear TV GRPs and 50 connected TV GRPs) generates a +24% increase in reach, triple the incremental reach lift that connected TV can add alone.

TALKERS News Notes. A deal between direct mail firm We Mail America.com and the Independent Broadcasters Association to “bring the We Mail America.com business model to independently owned radio markets of all sizes.” A press release says, “We Mail America.com is reinventing the traditional direct mail model by coupling it with a full suite of digital advertising services that works precisely and in conjunction with each radio ad campaign and mail deployment. This comprehensive view of advertising fortifies audio marketing strategies across all mediums, screens, and devices.” IBA president (and Adams Media CEO) Ron Stone says, “Independent radio has never had so many competitors, and direct mail is certainly one of them.  We Mail America.com brings a no-nonsense approach to direct mail and provides radio operators a new tool for their clients. The model that [We Mail America.com founder] Gary [Pizzati] has created enables independent stations to add a new source of revenue to their cluster that does not just move money from one pocket to the other.”…..Audacy’s C13Originals is expanding its longtime partnership with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jon Meacham to launch Shining City Audio, a podcast studio co-venture focused on creating a wide-ranging slate of audio documentaries and series centered around history with some of the most well-respected historians and voices joining at launch. The Shining City Audio initial 2021 slate features two new series written and narrated by Meacham: “Fate of Fact,” a limited-run series examining the question of how and why so many conservative Americans have become prone to disinformation and anti-democratic narratives, and a daily podcast focused on this day in history…..SiriusXM today announced that it has acquired 99% Invisible Inc., the company owned by Roman Mars, the creator, host, and executive producer of the “99% Invisible” podcast. The acquisition brings the podcast host and his team to SiriusXM, where they will continue to operate 99% Invisible, the podcast “What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law,” and develop new podcast projects…..Observing the reaction to the “Saturday Night Live” cast’s befuddlement at the news that Elon Musk will host an upcoming episode of the sketch comedy show, KZRG, Joplin, Missouri program director Peter Thiele is inviting Musk to appear as guest host on “KZRG Morning News Watch.” He says, “Elon Musk is one of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs! We are proud to invite him to be the guest host of the ‘KZRG Morning News Watch!’ Joplin, Missouri’s convenient location on two major freeways with a fantastic airport makes this offer even more tantalizing.”

COVID-19, Biden 100 Days Address, Deadly Police Shootings/Race Relations, Iran-Israel Tensions/John Kerry Allegation, Southern Border Crisis, Newsom Recall, and Oscars Show Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/26). The rates of positive COVID cases in U.S. states, the rollout of and concerns about vaccines, and the overwhelming cases and deaths in India; President Joe Biden’s Wednesday address before Congress marking his first 100 days; protests over recent deadly police shootings of Black citizens and the call for a complete release of body camera video in the death of Andrew Brown Jr.; the military tensions between Iran and Israel and the allegation former Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Israeli air strikes with Iran’s foreign minister; the mass of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; petitioners gather enough signatures to put the recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom on the ballot; and Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, October 23, 2020

| October 23, 2020

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Dead Lives Matter,” looks back at this past week of October 19 – October 23, 2020. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Mike Siegel, talk show host, KFNX, Phoenix; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder, Scamicide.com; Dr. Renee Kohanski, psychiatrist / commentator, MDedge Psychcast; Bob Costantini, chief correspondent, Ear on the White House; and Victoria Jones, executive editor, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

iHeartMedia Acquires Voxnest. This acquisition brings podcast programmatic platform Voxnest into the iHeartMedia fold (iHM previously owned a minority stake in Voxnest). Voxnest is described by iHeartMedia as “the leading consolidated marketplace for podcasts and the best-in-class provider of podcast analytics, enterprise publishing tools, programmatic integration and targeted ad serving.” iHeartMedia says that now it is able to provide podcast advertisers with additional targetable inventory at scale by allowing the effective and efficient monetization across an entire range of podcast inventory on this one-of-kind programmatic platform. This additional inventory will increase the monetization of iHeartMedia’s full range of podcasts and advance the podcast marketplace for both buyers and sellers. iHeartMedia will also be able to drive greater monetization for creators of podcast content – wherever they currently publish their shows – by connecting Voxnest’s advanced ad technology with multiple publishing platforms across the industry. Voxnest ad technology capabilities also includes: Dynamic ad insertion; audience and content targeting to the right listeners based on demographics, territories, devices and interests; programmatic podcast buying across all audio platforms by providing native support of VAST and OpenRTB. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “This is an important addition to the iHeart digital product ecosystem, which includes our SmartAudio suite of data-driven broadcast radio advertising solutions; our position as the No. 1 commercial podcast publisher with massive distribution and promotion across all our broadcast assets; and the iHeartRadio digital platform. The addition of iHeart’s offerings to Voxnest will ensure critical mass for the platform and accelerate its growth.  As we continue to invest in podcasting and lead the industry, we anticipate this acquisition will have an important impact on iHeart’s ability to more fully monetize its podcast inventory, and will also benefit the other podcast publishers that are part of the Voxnest network and the advertisers who are using it.”

KZRG, Joplin Adds Two to News Department. KZRG, Joplin, Missouri program director Peter Thiele says that in a continued commitment to Joplin and the Four-State area, the Zimmer Radio news/talk outlet is expanding its news team with the hiring of multimedia journalists Steve Scott and Dalton Evans. Thiele says Zimmer Radio is committed to local news on-air, online, and on app, focusing on breaking news, severe weather, and operating a 24-hour newsroom. Market manager Chad Elliot states, “We are excited to grow our news team at a time when other media companies are cutting their commitment to local news. Zimmer is making a stronger commitment to breaking news and weather coverage for the communities we serve.” Thiele adds, “The long-term growth of KZRG is tied to being the first stop for news, weather, and opinion and being a listener-focused destination.”

VP Broadcasting Launches New Talk Outlet in Allentown. The simulcast of WHOL-AM and W295CR in Allentown, Pennsylvania flips from a tropical music format to news/talk featuring local personality Joe Ligotti in morning drive, followed by Radio America’s Chad Benson from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, Dana Loesch from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, Westwood One’s Ben Shapiro from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm and Mark Levin from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The station will air classic rock on weekends. VP Broadcasting CEO Victor Martinez names “Diamond Boy” Luis Torres program director for the station. Torres says, “I’m excited for the trust Victor has in me and for the opportunity VP Broadcasting is giving me to bring a new outlet and style to the Lehigh Valley. I believe this mix of the new generation of talk combined with classic rock music is what the area had been missing.”

SiriusXM’s Jim Meyer Confident in New Howard Stern Deal. During Thursday’s third quarter earnings call, SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer addressed the current contract negotiations with Howard Stern. He said, “Howard tells me he’s never been happier. And our relationship with Howard is very strong. He is producing fantastic content and his show has never been better. We had very productive conversations regarding a long-term renewal of this agreement. From my perspective, we are far along, but it’s never done until it’s done. I am very confident we will have an agreement soon to announce shortly.” When asked for details on what a new deal might entail, he said, “I can tell you that where we are in the discussions today, we have a set of economics that Howard’s team is happy with and I’m happy with. Obviously, we’ve got to get the deal completed. And it would certainly be a long-term arrangement.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript. Members can read or listen to the entire earnings call here.

TALKERS News Notes. A message to subscribers from Nielsen Audio notes that the October 2020 PPM survey is the first monthly PPM data release that will see the results of its headphone adjustment and outlier mitigation enhancements. Nielsen will host a client webinar on Tuesday, October 27 to review the data (set to be released early next week). Nielsen will also spotlight insights from the October data, along with a recent consumer sentiment study “to provide context for the organic growth we’re seeing beyond the headphone enhancement.”…..Sun Broadcast Group announces two new additions to its staff. Amanda Stetzy joins the company as media research analyst and Alyson Tiller is named assistant traffic coordinator. SBG says the new hires come on the heels of the recent expansion of the sales team, with the addition of Jackie Cardillo and Angela Codella. Chief operating officer Danno Wolkoff says, “As advertising demand continues to grow at Sun, we needed more people to support the sales team and ensure that our advertisers’ and agencies’ needs are met, and campaigns run as ordered. Amanda and Alyson will help our salespeople deliver exceptional client service and 100% accountability. I am delighted to welcome them both to Sun.” Previously, Stetzy served with Regional Reps and Tiller served with CBS Radio.

Presidential Election Issues Top News/Talk Story for October 19-23. The related presidential race, Thursday’s debate, ballot issues, the polls, and foreign election tampering all came together to make the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was COVID-19 stats & projections, health care, vaccines, and psychology. Coming in tied at #3 was accusations, scandals & corruption, the Hunter Biden emails, and Donald Trump’s Chinese bank account, followed by the economy, stimulus package, business openings, and the education crisis all tied at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The new chairman of the BMI board of directors is Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley. Beasley, who joined the board in 2014, most recently served as vice chairman of the BMI board. She succeeds Michael J. Fiorile, chairman of the Dispatch Printing Company, who has been elected presiding director of the BMI Board. Beasley says, “It is truly an honor to have the privilege of serving as chair of the BMI board of directors. Many thanks to Michael Fiorile for his innovative vision, tireless collaboration, and insightful leadership over the past several years in his role as chairman of the organization. I look forward to working together with the board, Mike O’Neill, and the outstanding BMI team to continue to serve the evolving needs of music creators, publishers, and licensees in today’s dynamic marketplace.”…..iHeartMedia Milwaukee’s urban contemporary WKKV “V100.7” is hosting “Your Vote is Your Voice,” a special broadcast with vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris on the importance of voting, what to expect at the polls, deadlines for voting absentee, and more. The special airs Monday (10/26) from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm and is being hosted by “V100.7” air personalities Bailey Coleman and Reggie Brown.