Tag: "Monday Memo"

Monday, June 1, 2020

| June 1, 2020

Talk Radio Faces Challenges After Weekend of Urban Strife Across America. The staffs at news and talk radio stations that are in touch with their communities were pulling extra duty over the weekend as protests over the death of George Floyd in cities across the country exploded into violent and destructive events. TALKERS magazine is in contact with programmers and air personalities whose stations have been covering the events, in some cases adding round-the-clock live programming to keep listeners informed. The violent protests come as the nation attempts to safely emerge from a months-long lockdown intended to fight the coronavirus pandemic, complicating an already difficult time in America and around the globe. Talk stations face the challenge of broadcasting to listeners who are living in a time that some observers have noted is like the Great Depression, the nationalist/fascist movements that preceded World War II, and the race riots of the 1960s all rolled into one. As this day progresses, TALKERS will present comments and thoughts about how they’re handling their broadcasting duties during this unique time in human history. We asked broadcasters to tell us how their station or talent are approaching this time of intense unrest. WABC, New York PD Dave LaBrozzi tells TALKERS that the outbreak of violence is the kind of situation that illustrates why it is so important for great news/talk stations to maintain live and local air talent with strong ties to the community and the trust of its citizens. He says, “When you have the founder of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa, on the streets every day and hosting a three hour midday talk show and you have the former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, on the air every day from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm you get insight and information that no other New York station can provide.” LaBrozzi adds that it is important to book guests of that same caliber stating, “Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik and former police detective Bo Dietl share their wisdom and insight along with other high profile experts to keep listeners informed  and safe all day long.” Salem Media Group and Salem Radio Network SVP spoken word format Phil Boyce offered the following to his talent: “As you know, the situation in many of our cities is volatile, thanks primarily due to outside agitators. We all looked at the video of the death of George Floyd and were disturbed. We all know that does not represent how most police officers respond. Here are a few pointers about how we can handle this difficult situation: 1) Be very careful what you say about this. Most of our listeners respect the rule of law and want to support law and order candidates. If you know of a candidate who is sympathizing with the anarchists,  point that out. But be careful how we do it. 2) We can be a calming influence in each of our communities. Let the public know that we hear the pain and hurt they are expressing, but further violence is not the way to express it. Let them know that we all should support the efforts of law enforcement to protect our communities, and also deal with this tragic situation. 3) Think through all of your comments and positions. This is not a time to ‘shoot from the lip.’ Be respectful of the other side, while at the same time being forceful in condemning acts of violence that threaten to tear apart our communities.” At Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WFCS-FM, Chicago, brand manager and news director Ron Gleason says, “Because WBBM is all-news around the clock on a daily basis, our staff is ready at any time for major breaking news. But the magnitude of what’s happening, especially on the coattails of the Covid-19 pandemic, means extraordinary times lead to extraordinary measures.  We’ve not only staffed up on reporters, we’ve also increased the role of traffic which is used to watching the streets on a minute-by-minute basis. When something requires non-stop coverage, that’s what we do.  And while we have reporters live from multiple locations, we stress the importance of safety first.  We have had protesters verbally confront a reporter, and we’ve had police redirect reporters, but I’m happy to say everyone is safe. The toughest part of coverage was getting our anchors and behind-the-scenes producers and editors access to our facility, as the city has shut off the main arteries into the downtown area. Eventually we figured out the work-arounds, and nobody listening would know of any issue – except of course, we’re reporting all the closures.” WPHT, Philadelphia midday host Dom Giordano tells TALKERS, “The way I’m handling the crisis on the air is to be covering it in the field and bringing that sound back to my show, allowing more callers on than usual to be able to vent, and highlighting people who are volunteering to clean up attacked stores, or are banding together to peacefully protect stores from looting.”

TALKERS EXCLUSIVE:  Michael Harrison Talks with SirusXM Satellite Radio ‘Urban View’ Channel Morning Host Joe Madison.  TALKERS founder Michael Harrison engaged in a conversation recorded yesterday afternoon (5/31) with Joe Madison of SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the highest-ranking African American radio talk show host on the publication’s Heavy Hundred list, about the race relations crisis in America. Madison says he suspects President Trump is prepping the country to invoke martial law if the violence continues.  He also thinks the violence is being perpetrated by destructive provocateurs and not the peaceful demonstrators. He believes the violence would be curtailed “if the other three officers involved in the killing of George Floyd were arrested tonight.” To listen to an excerpt of the conversation, please click here The complete interview will be posted tomorrow in the podcast, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”

TALKERS EXCLUSIVE:  WPG, Atlantic City Morning Host Harry Hurley Pulls All-Nighter Dispatching Police, Interviewing Officials, and Taking Calls.  Often referred to as the “Morning Mayor of Atlantic City,” talk show host Harry Hurley proved that he is indeed a community leader by demonstrating exactly to what heights radio can rise in the midst of a community crisis.  Listen to him tell his story to Michael Harrison in a conversation recorded shortly after he completed his program and extended stint this morning (6/1) by clicking here.

Monday Memo: June?  So Soon?  Early March seems forever-ago, yet like yesterday. Life under quarantine has blurred the listener routines we need to be part of. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke offers plain talk about radio’s challenges pre-, during, and post-pandemic. And why you want to play a song from 1967 on Wednesday. Read it here.

Protests Across America, Trump vs Antifa, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections and Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The violent protests over the police killing of George Floyd that erupted over the weekend in numerous cities across the country; President Trump’s declaration that the Antifa movement will be classified as a terrorist organization; the tally of COVID-19 cases, death toll, and projections for future cases; and the November presidential election were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Yogi Got It. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that radio sellers used to promising retailers that their ad campaign would “pack the place,” need to come up with a new goal. What is that goal? “What’s new, different, and important today is your new page in the game plan. ‘New’ can be your best marketing friend as you re-focus on the marketing messaging.” Read his column here.

Joe Walsh Back in Talk Radio on GAB Network and WCGO, Chicago. According to a press release from GAB Radio Network, Joe Walsh – former Illinois congressman and former WIND-AM talk show host – is geting back in the talk radio biz after leaving to challenge President Trump for the Republican nomination. Walsh famously left his position with Salem Media Group’s WIND-AM and the Salem Radio Network last summer saying he’s “done with talk radio.” Now, Walsh will host a live 11:00 am to 1:00 pm ET show in national syndication via GAB Radio Network. His program will air delayed on WCGO, Chicago from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, local time. Walsh says, “I’m excited to be back on the radio. This country is too divided. We need to get folks out of their corners and listening to each other. That’s what I’ve always done with radio, and I think there’s a hunger for an honest voice out there.” WCGO and GAB Radio Network general manager Chuck Duncan says he feels “Joe’s passion and patriotism come at a critical time in our nation’s history, and it’s important for all perspectives on America’s direction be made available to every city in every state. We are honored to present this important forum to Joe at an essential time and look forward to having Joe’s voice heard throughout Chicago on WCGO as well as making ‘The Joe Walsh Show’ available to every concerned station’s lineup through our GAB Radio Network.”

TALKERS News Notes. WIND-AM, Chicago morning news anchor and co-host Amy Jacobson and employer Salem Media Group are suing Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for banning Jacobson from his then-daily coronavirus pandemic press briefings after Jacobson spoke at a rally protesting Pritzker’s lockdown order. The governor’s office says Jacobson represents a talk show with a “particular point of view” and as a result she forfeits her status as a “reporter.” Jacobson and Salem argue that the governor’s ban violates Jacobson’s First Amendment rights. Salem and Jacobson are asking the court to take action to immediately allow her back into the briefings…..Former KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City talk show host Jay Mcfarland is featured in a piece in the Daily Herald as he runs for a seat in Congress. Mcfarland exited KSL last July and is one of four Republicans in the race for the U.S. Rep. seat in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. Mcfarland says he is positioning himself as someone who can bridge the gulf that separates Republicans and Democrats in Congress…..In another politics-meets-talk-radio story, Minnesota Public Radio reports that former Minneapolis (and nationally syndicated) talk host Jason Lewis secured the Republican nomination to run against U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) in November. Lewis served as a U.S. Rep. for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District for one term before losing his re-election bid to Democrat Angie Craig in the fall of 2018.…..During times when major news events cause sports talk radio broadcasters to address those issues, they can face criticism from those who tell them to “stick to sports.” Obviously, this is one of those times. Mile High Sports president and CEO Nate Lundy penned an insightful piece that directly confronts that dictate. (Mile High Sports operates KDCO-AM/K248CI in Denver.) In the piece he writes, “I personally do not have any patience for the ‘stick to sports’ crowd. I will never, under any circumstances, tell our team of writers, hosts and staff to do so. Our opinions are not substandard simply because of our job description. And we believe the same about each of you. We may not agree with your opinion about the Rockies, but we support your right to think and share it.”…..Denver is not the only place where sports talk hosts are talking about social and political issues with no apologies. In Buffalo, Jeremy White of the “Howard & Jeremy” show on Entercom’s WGR “550 SportsRadio” told listeners, “I do totally understand someone that says like, ‘I come to you guys to get away from what’s going on.’ But then of course there are going to be times when that is not possible. And today what’s going on in Minneapolis, this is not possible to do, to stay away from all this stuff… There’s just so much that’s built into this. Like, ‘this is a sports station.’ That’s right. We’re also humans on this station. I care about people. I care about a lot of people. What else matters today in the world, right now? The idea that like, ‘Oh it’s just a difference of opinion.’ It’s not anymore. It’s about humanity. It’s not about opinions anymore.”…..A new podcast from Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and spoken media specialty agency Oxford Road is being unveiled called “The Bongino Brief,” hosted by former Secret Service Agent, former NYPD officer and New York Times best-selling author Dan Bongino. WWO says “The Bongino Brief” launches today and is available through smart speakers. Westwood One says it and Oxford Road are partnering to lead the development of personality-driven flash briefing programs in the smart speaker marketplace by offering flash briefings from one of the top podcasters in the world. This marks the next form of short-format streaming media, as personalities and not just news come to the format…..The WRKO, Boston-based “The Financial Exchange with Barry Armstrong, Chuck Zodda and Mike Armstrong” adds a new affiliate station as Townsquare Media’s WBEC-AM, Pittsfield, Massachusetts puts the show in its lineup for the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot. The show is heard on 15 stations across New England.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In honor of Black Music Month, iHeartMedia announces it will celebrate with exclusive audio vignettes from some of today’s top urban artists. The company says the celebration will “honor the incredible achievements of Black musicians and their influential contribution to the world of music.” Beginning today (6/1), iHeartMedia will air special audio messages from artists including H.E.R, Flipp Dinero, and Russ and more as they celebrate the impact and  achievements of Black musicians who have influenced their lives such as Beyonce, Dr. Dre, Jay Z, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hill, Ludacris, Michael Jackson, Notorious B.I.G., Prince, Tupac, and many more. iHeartMedia EVP of urban/hip hop programming strategy Doc Wynter says, “With community and personal connection being more important now than ever before, we’re honored to be able to celebrate the significant impact that Black music has had on all of us. We’re thrilled to be able to bring our listeners’ favorite artists together to support one another with inspiring messages from artists like H.E.R. who will pay tribute to the legendary Lauryn Hill, and Russ who will celebrate the important contributions that his fellow Atlanta native, Ludacris has made on Black Music.”…..Radio One launches its “We Are One: Feeding the Community Campaign.” It says it is partnering with the music community to feed hundreds of families as many are feeling the significant financial strain as a result of these tough economic times. Radio One’s 53 stations will come together across its 15 markets to feed families in their localities by giving away meals provided by local minority-owned restaurants.

Monday, May 18, 2020

| May 18, 2020

Monday Memo: Weekend Warriors, Battling the Virus. As the cooped-up are coping, radio talkers are listening. In last week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke polled a panel of weekday hosts, who describe the mood they’re monitoring. This week, HC rounds up weekend ask-the-expert hosts, who describe how callers’ questions flesh-out listeners’ lives during the shutdown now easing in phases. Read it here.

Re-Opening Controversy, Statistics & Projections, Trump IG Firings, Michael Flynn Case, Pressure on China, Ahmaud Arbery Case, Presidential Race, and Fred Willard Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The concerns about safely re-opening the economies in states across the country; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and projections about future infections; the political battle heating up over President Trump’s firing of inspector general Steve Linick; the DOJ’s dropping of the charges against Michael Flynn for lying in court and Republicans’ efforts to involve Barack Obama in the case; some 100 countries pressuring China for an investigation into its coronavirus efforts; the case of murdered Georgia jogger Ahmaud Arbery; the latest poll numbers in the presidential race; and comedian Fred Willard dies at 85 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Get Ready. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that as most parts of the country begin transitioning out of mandated self-isolation, your clients are working through a maze of regulations and protocols completely new to them. Go with the “Three-E Theory” – be empathetic, energetic, and easy. Read his column here.

Mancow Asks Court to Toss Defamation Suit. A story in the Daily Herald by Harry Hitzeman reveals that WLS-AM, Chicago morning host Erich “Mancow” Muller is asking a Cook County Circuit Court judge to dismiss the defamation suit filed against him by former Harvest Bible Chapel pastor James MacDonald. If you recall, Mancow aired on his radio show secretly recorded tapes of MacDonald in which he wonders if child porn could be placed on the computer of a Christianity Today editor with whom he had a beef. MacDonald was subsequently ousted by his church’s board in 2019 and in response MacDonald filed suit against Muller late last year. Now, Muller files the Motion to Dismiss arguing that MacDonald is a public figure and it was Muller’s “duty as a Christian and media member to shine a light on MacDonald’s true character.” MacDonald’s lawyer is saying Muller’s motion comes too late, too long, and also argues Muller’s lawyer has a conflict of interest in the case as he once represented MacDonald. The two sides have a court date of June 12.

Josh Wolff Named VP of Programming for iHeartMedia Harrisburg-Lancaster. Programming pro Josh Wolff is promoted to vice president of programming for iHeartMedia’s Harrisburg and Lancaster, Pennsylvania markets. In this role Wolff will oversee all on-air content as well as music and digital programming operations for all of the Harrisburg and Lancaster brands. He will continue to program CHR WAEB “B-104” and rock WZZO in Allentown. iHeartMedia area SVP of programming Dave Hovel says, “With Josh’s strong leadership skills in Allentown, it was a no-brainer to elevate him to oversee iHeartMedia Harrisburg and Lancaster. The entire Harrisburg/Lancaster team is excited to have Josh in the role to lead and grow our iHeart footprint in the markets.” Before joining iHeartMedia’s Pennsylvania region, Wolff served as the music director and assistant program director for adult contemporary KESZ and adult hits KYOT “95.5 The Mountain” in Phoenix.

Beasley Delaying 2020 Q1 Financial Report. In a May 15 filing with the SEC, Beasley Broadcast Group, parent of Beasley Media Group, says it is unable to meet its Form 10-Q filing deadline due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its business operations. The company notes that an order issued by the Securities Exchange Commission grants a 45-day extension to file certain disclosure reports. Beasley says it intends to file its Quarterly Report no later than June 29. In addition to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on its ability to complete its quarterly review, “the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused disruptions to the Company’s business and operations, and the related uncertainty as to when or the manner in which the conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic will subside have made it necessary for it to seek an amendment to its credit facility that would, among other things, amend certain financial covenants. For the quarter ended March 31, the Company was in compliance with its financial covenants related to its credit facility. However, at that time the Company was projecting that it was unlikely to be able to comply with its First Lien Leverage Ratio as of June 30. As a result, the Company is seeking and expects to enter into an amendment to its credit facility in the coming weeks, and projects that it will be in compliance with the financial covenants, as amended, over the next 12 months. If the Company is unable to obtain an amendment to its credit facility, it would result in an event of default, which would materially affect its results of operations, liquidity and financial condition.”

Townsquare Media Promotes Dobbins to VP. Sales pro Sarah Dobbins is promoted from director of sales for Townsquare Media’s Portland station group to vice president of sales for Northern New England, including the Portland and Augusta markets as well as the Portsmouth, New Hampshire market. She’ll report to regional market president & chief revenue officer Christine Sieks. Dobbins says, “Townsquare Media has an unbelievable combination of local marketing resources designed to help local businesses grow. Now more than ever, our local brands, digital marketing solutions, and attribution tools make Townsquare a powerhouse in Northern New England. I am excited to partner with Christine Sieks in maximizing our resources to drive sales growth throughout Maine and New Hampshire.”

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago morning personality Erich “Mancow” Muller – host at Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM – was one of the high-profile leaders of Saturday’s “Open Illinois Rally” organized and co-hosted by Josh Ellis of American Revolution 2.0. Mancow and a number of politicians and candidates gathered to “address the governor’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic response.” The intent was to demand the state legislature “work on guidance and provisions to safely open Illinois businesses and resume our work lives.”…..WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway tells TALKERS magazine it was a “great honor” to have President Trump call into his radio show on Friday (5/15). Conway says that when Trump was running for office, the two spoke many times but this was the first time they talked with Trump as president. “It doesn’t matter what people think about him, this is the President of the United States who picked up the phone and spoke directly to my audience.” Conway’s show is also heard on WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids and WOC-AM, Quad Cities…..Nexstar Broadcasting is presenting “COVID-19 The Virtual Town Hall” to be aired on its television stations across Connecticut tonight (5/18) at 7:00 pm.  The audio from the event will be carried by iHeartMedia’s 11 Connecticut radio stations. The Town Hall will include: Governor Ned Lamont, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, and numerous state representatives and health care experts…..BIA Advisory Services is presenting a webinar tomorrow (5/19) at 11:00 am called “2020 State of Media Sales Study” that will consist of answering such questions as: What’s on the minds of local media sellers as they operate in a post COVID marketplace? Where do they expect to find ad revenue? What verticals will have the most potential in Q3 and Q4 in 2020? And, which types of accounts will pose the biggest challenges? The webinar will share findings from the April 2020 study of media sales professionals about the past year and current, unusual conditions…..The Talk Shows USA-syndicated “Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk” program adds two new affiliate stations as KBRN-AM/ K280GR, Boerne, Texas and KIVA-AM/ K229CL, Albuquerque, New Mexico add the show to their weekend program schedules…..Westwood One News is presenting “The Summer of COVID-19” as its Memorial Day Weekend special. WWO says, “Barbeques and beaches. Death rates and vaccine hopes. It is going to be a summer like no other. American traditions are under threat, from backstage ball fields to seasonal staples like family vacations and summer camps, while others still plan to hit the road or take to the skies during an unprecedented health and financial crisis… correspondent Christopher Cruise explores how we got here and where we are going, or not going, this summer.” It replaces “The Week in Review” on May 23-24.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. On Long Island, Connoisseur Media’s four-station cluster that includes hot AC WALK-FM, rock WWSK-FM “94.3 The Shark,” classic hits WBZO “103.2 MAX,” and adult contemporary WKJY-FM “KJOY 98.3” shined a light on the mental effects of social distancing with a special live stream concert last night (5/17) to benefit The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention Long Island Chapter. The “Be Well Long Island” benefit concert featured performances and appearances by: Johnny Rzenick of the Goo Goo Dolls, Joan Jett, Scott Stapp, DMC from Run DMC, Kevin Martin and Brian Quinn of Candlebox, Fitz and The Tantrums, Vintage Trouble, and more. WWSK music director Brian Orlando says, “There are thousands of people suffering in silence right now. We at Connoisseur Media want them to know that they’re not alone.”

Monday Memo: Weekend Warriors, Battling the Virus

| May 18, 2020

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — As the cooped-up are coping, talkers are listening. In last week’s column, a panel of weekday hosts describes the mood they’re monitoring.

This week, a panel of weekend ask-the-expert hosts describes how callers’ questions flesh-out listeners’ lives during the shutdown now easing in phases.

Read More

Monday, May 11, 2020

| May 11, 2020

Monday Memo: Talkers, Listening. Cable television talk legend Larry King taught us that great talkers are good listeners. So, in this week’s column consultant Holland Cooke asks a quartet of our talk media cohorts what they’re hearing as listeners cope. HC speaks with Westwood One nationally syndicated star Jim Bohannon, Providence radio and TV news and talk pro Gene Valicenti, and two hosts working in recreation meccas – Harry Hurley at WPG, Atlantic City and Heidi Harris at KMZQ in Las Vegas. Read it here.

Statistics and Projections, Re-Opening and Second Wave Threats, COVID-19 at the White House, U.S.-China Relations, Ahmaud Arbery Slaying, Michael Flynn Case, and Jerry Stiller Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the number of deaths, and projections for future infections; some U.S. states cautiously begin re-opening amid concerns about a second wave of infections; the reports of White House staffers testing positive; the war of words between the U.S. and China over the origin of the coronavirus; the arrest of Gregory and Travis McMichael in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery; the DOJ drops the Michael Flynn case and allegations of the Obama administration’s role in implicating Flynn; and comedian Jerry Stiller dies were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Masks, Appointments, and Social Distancing. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that it’s important to be smart about what and how you are selling. “As local business categories slowly come back to life, dealing with restrictive guidelines never before anticipated, marketing dollars may take a more cautious path to recovery. Some of your advertisers are dealing with the logistics of government-funded loans to bridge the gap and the new challenges that will arise. Will hours and operations ever be the same as before the coronavirus pandemic?” Read his column here.

Beasley Media Group Announces Re-Opening. The company says that today (5/11) it is beginning the approved gradual Phase One implementation of re-opening its radio properties in states that have reopened for business.  Beasley Media Group states that “both the timing and safety measures for these re-openings will be based upon approved CDC, individual state, and local government recommended guidelines. During Phase One, no more than 25% of each cluster’s individual workforce will be in the workplace at any given time.” Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley adds, “We have taken a very conservative, thorough and thoughtful approach to our company’s gradual reopening plan to provide, first and foremost, a safe and healthy work environment for our employees. Our market managers have done an incredible job working closely with their individual state and local governments to ensure a safe transition process as we all continue to navigate these unprecedented times.”

Evening Show Change at WLS-AM, Chicago. Windy City media personality Jenniffer Weigel leaves her early evening talk show on Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM and a sports-themed show hosted by Rob Martier debuts in its place. Chicago media writer Robert Feder breaks the story here. Martier has been with WLS-AM since joining as evening news anchor in 2018. He also hosts a weekend auto show and Illini football broadcasts. Weigel came aboard last March as a part of the Mancow Muller morning show before transitioning to late night host and then early evening personality.

Bob Matthews Retires from WHAM, Rochester. The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports that longtime WHAM sports talk host Bob Matthews did his last show for the legendary iHeartMedia signal on Friday. Matthews tells the paper he was not fired nor furloughed but that at age 73 and after serving with the station for 35 years, he admits “the coronavirus got the best of me.” He adds, “It’s been very difficult the last two months. It’s been tough talking sports for two hours when there’s no sports. I’ll be OK.” Matthews, a longtime columnist for the Democrat & Chronicle who left the paper in 2012, says he’s recently been diagnosed with diabetes and knows he’s susceptible to the virus. The station will replace Matthews’ 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show with Westwood One’s “The Savage Nation” with host Michael Savage.

iHeartMedia Adds New Voices to ‘Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020’ Podcast. A podcast addressing students graduating this year titled, “Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020” is being produced by iHeartMedia and will be published on Friday (5/15) ahead of National Graduation Day on the 17th. The company announces that Bill and Melinda Gates; singer, songwriter and actor Becky G; actor and gender equality ambassador Freida Pinto; stand-up comedian George Lopez; director and actor Henry Winkler; New York Times bestselling author John Green; Mary J. Blige; T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert; actor, producer, singer and songwriter Rita Wilson; acclaimed singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson; T.I.; Apple CEO Tim Cook; and Emmy award-winning news anchor Tom Brokaw have joined the podcast event featuring commencement addresses from some of the most inspiring and accomplished thought leaders impacting culture today. “Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020” will also feature speeches from iHeartRadio personalities Ryan Seacrest, Enrique Santos, Angie Martinez, Bobby Bones, Jake Brennan, Angela Yee, Woody, and J Cruz. The speeches will be produced specifically for the podcast, through the iHeartPodcast Network, and are dedicated to all the graduating classes of 2020 who will miss their commencement celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The podcast will be available on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are heard.

Alpha Media Presents ‘Tools for Difficult Times’ for Staff and Clients. Last Thursday (5/7), Alpha Media held a virtual keynote titled, “Now What? Tools for Difficult Times,” featuring author and Ted Talk alum Greg Bell and special guest Meghan Trainor. Alpha CEO Bob Proffitt states, “The goal of the event was to offer our employees and clients positive and actionable planning strategies to maximize personal and professional opportunities as we begin the re-entry phase of this crisis.” Close to 1,000 guests virtually attended to hear motivational speaker Greg Bell provide key insights and incredible tools for moving forward in this new era. Grammy Award winner Meghan Trainor discussed with Skyview Network host Dana Cortez how she is using her platform positively to help feed those in need at this time. They also tackled how to handle the pressure and fatigue from the constant influx of social media during the pandemic. Alpha Media says that it believes that innovation, creativity and connection are important now more than ever. To meet that need, the company says its Virtual Keynote series will continue throughout the year with new speakers and guests to be announced.

Radio One Philadelphia and MyPhillyLawyer Salute Frontline Workers. In an effort to give back to the front-line workers of the COVID-19 pandemic, Radio One Philadelphia joined MyPhillyLawyer for the “Salute on the Front Line” campaign that features video tributes and special lunch deliveries to men and women nominated by members of the community. Listeners to Radio One’s Philadelphia stations can submit video tributes to the radio stations highlighting the work and contribution of friends or family members who are essential workers in the Philadelphia area. The radio stations will feature the videos and each day will have lunch delivered to the workplace of the honorees to thank them and their co-workers for their service. Radio One Philadelphia general manager Ezio Torres says, “This partnership with MyPhillyLawyer recognizes not only the front-line workers who immediately come to mind, but also those who work in the grocery stores and drug stores, along with the delivery drivers, postal workers, SEPTA personnel, and many others. It’s just a great way to acknowledge those who continue to allow us to move forward. We want to send them a big thank you!”

Westwood One: Radio Listening Levels Ramping Up. The data presented in this week’s Westwood One Blog are culled from “a brand-new study of consumer COVID-19 sentiment and spending intentions” as well as “just-released audience data from the 45 Portable People Meter markets. The PPM data covered the period of March 27, 2020 through May 6, 2020.” The PPM data indicates that Americans are listening at a rate of 82% or pre-COVID-19 levels.  A study conducted by Nielsen found that 32% of adult Americans consider themselves in the “ready to go” category and they have a greater intent to resume their spending habits. Read the blog here.

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated radio program “Our American Stories” begins airing on iHeartMedia’s KTRH, Houston, effective June 1. Lee Habeeb is the show’s host and CEO of program producer American Private Radio. He says, “The Astros, Johnson Space Center, NASA, and KTRH. We are thrilled to join this town of giants. After announcing our partnership with Entercom last week in Dallas on KRLD-AM, and now this partnership with the leading talk station in Houston, we are truly humbled. There are milestones and we have just crossed two really big ones.”…..NPR has struck an agreement with SAG-AFTRA that will allow it to temporarily reduce employee compensation due to an expected budget shortfall because of the coronavirus pandemic. As reported at Current.org by Tyler Falk, employee salaries will be reduced on a sliding scale beginning next week, with a maximum cut of 9%. However, the move does not affect employees making less than $80,000. It will be in effect through the end of NPR’s fiscal year in September. The pact also prohibits NPR from laying off any workers for the rest of the fiscal year.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Detroit, Beasley Media Group’s hip hop WMGC “105.1 The Bounce” promotes J. Steele to assistant program director. He joined the station in April of 2019 and hosts the afternoon drive show. Beasley Detroit director of programming Jerry Tarrants comments, “J. Steele brings extensive programming background to the position and has proven to be a valuable member of the team since joining the station last year as our afternoon drive talent at ‘The Bounce.’ I know J. will bring the same energy and dedication to this role as he does with his very entertaining afternoon show for his listeners in the Motor City!”…..The Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated “Big D and Bubba” show is named the new morning program at country WCLT-FM, Columbus “T-100.” To make room, program director Wild Walley gives up the AM show and becomes host of the afternoon drive program…..At Max Media’s hip hop KFCO “Flo 107.1,” the morning duo of Larry Ulibarri and Kathie J are out. The company has made no official announcement, but the morning show’s info is gone from the station’s website.

Monday Memo: Talkers, Listening

| May 11, 2020

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Larry King taught us that great talkers are good listeners. So I asked a quartet of our cohorts what they’re hearing.

I asked for ADJECTIVES…

… to describe listeners’ mood while we’ve all been hunkered-down.

  • Gene Valicenti gets it in both ears each day. After hosting morning drive on WPRO, Providence, he anchors top-rated NBC10 TV news at 6:00 pm. People are “in good humor,” he reckons, “but edging toward impatience.”
  • Frustrated. Suspicious” is what Westwood One’s Jim Bohannon hears. “And to a lesser extent I hear ‘determined’ (to gut it out).”
  • Understandably, “the mood is stunned and confused” in Las Vegas, hardest-hit by the shutdown. KMZQ’s Heidi Harris says people there “aren’t getting assurances on when it will end. Will they go back to work? Will their old jobs exist? No one has clear answers.”
  • Also surrounded by closed casinos, WPG, Atlantic City’s Harry Hurley describes folks there as “disgusted (with the stay-at-home order), ‘Anxious,’ ‘Depressed,’ ‘Scared’ (worried about becoming infected with coronavirus).” And like Las Vegans, “worried about whether or not they’ll be able to return to work.”

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Monday, May 4, 2020

| May 4, 2020

Monday Memo: “3 Big Things” Feeling cooped up by coronavirus confinement?  You’re not alone!  But, in this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke notes some “silver linings” in this crisis (an opportune call-in topic).  Read it here.

Coronavirus Statistics and Projections, Re-Opening States, Pressure on China, Presidential Race/Joe Biden Allegations, Financial Markets Activity, and Korean DMZ Incident/Kim Jong Un Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and predictions about future deaths; the various states that began re-opening their economies; accusations the coronavirus escaped from a Wuhan laboratory, China’s response, and pressure on the country to open up to investigation into the origins of the virus; the presidential race and Tara Reade’s accusation of sexual assault against Joe Biden; the world’s financial markets react to the coronavirus pandemic; and shots fired between North and South Korea across the DMZ and Kim Jong Un’s resurfacing were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Don’t Fight Santa. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that it doesn’t matter if radio reaches 92% of adults each week if there are no cars parked at retail stores in your market.  To help a client in this climate, you have to “see what your advertisers see.”  Read his column here.

Hubbard Radio Announces Cuts Across Its Radio Properties. On Friday, Hubbard Radio chairman and CEO Ginny Morris announced in a memo to the company’s staffers that the disruption in the advertising business due to the coronavirus pandemic was forcing the company to take the unfortunate step of reducing payroll via layoffs at its radio stations in Chicago, Seattle, Phoenix, Washington, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, and St. Louis.  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that six staffers at sports talk KSTP-AM “SKOR North” were let go including Minneapolis Twins reporter Derek Wetmore and Minnesota Vikings reporter Matthew Coller.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that longtime WXOS-FM sports talk host Bernie Miklasz was one of 20 staffers in St. Louis to be let go.  Post-Dispatch reporter Dan Caesar adds that the lineup at WXOS changes with Miklasz’s exit.  Randy Karraker moves from afternoons to Miklasz’s former 7:00 am to 10:00 am show.  Midday host Anthony Stalter moves to the afternoon show with Brad Thompson and Chris Rongey.  Cardinals play-by-play voice Dan McLaughlin will host an hour-long show at 10:00 am while Jamie Rivers and Brandon Kiley will host the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm program.

Key Networks Celebrates a Year in Syndication for Bill O’Reilly. It’s been a year since Key Networks brought conservative media icon Bill O’Reilly back to radio in national syndication via his daily radio feature “The O’Reilly Update.”  That show, along with the morning drive feature “The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition,” are currently airing on 208 radio stations from coast-to-coast. The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition launched in January. O’Reilly says, “It is simply imperative that Americans get the truth in this very dangerous time. Many news agencies spin it. ‘The O’Reilly Update’ never does that. We deliver honest news and commentary every day in a concise, lively format. It’s gratifying to see the great response.”  Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “Over 200 stations carrying programming in a year’s time is an amazing feat! It speaks to the quality of the content. During these challenging times, listeners want to hear news and commentary from a trusted voice and Bill O’Reilly delivers with ‘The O’Reilly Update.’”

‘Marilyn: Behind the Icon’ Podcast Series Debuts. A new podcast series from the alliance of Crossover Media Group Sales, LifeBites, and “Behind the Icon” producers looks at the life of Marilyn Monroe via a dramatic narrative based on Gary Vitacco-Robles’ bestselling books, ICON: The Life, Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe Volumes I and II (BearManor Media, 2015). The series is called “Marilyn: Behind the Icon” and “portrays Monroe up close and personal with a dramatic storyline featuring narration, actor dramatization, and commentary by a mental health expert. Marilyn Monroe is played by the talented Erin Gavin, who portrayed the legend on stage. Erin captures the essence of Marilyn that will captivate the podcast audience. In addition, the series features award-winning voice-over talent, Brad Hyland (Santa from Elf on the Shelf, Victoria’s Secret and many commercials) as the sultry, warm-voiced narrator.”  Producer Nina Boski says, “Fans around the world have an unending fascination with Marilyn Monroe. But underneath the glamour, there was a real person who struggled tremendously with mental health and addiction issues, which are truly an American epidemic. ‘Marilyn: Behind the Icon’ will reveal a dramatic narrative that will help Marilyn become more real and even more relatable to millions of fans and for people who are suffering from some of the same issues as the icon.”  Crossover Media Group Sales managing partner Sue Freund adds, “‘Marilyn: Behind the Icon’ is such a dynamic story for millions of Marilyn fans. We wanted to take on a project that was different and could tell the icon’s story to the world in a unique and groundbreaking way.  The producers of ‘Marilyn: Behind the Icon’ knock it out the park with their ability to share the Monroe story. They made it come to life – to entertain, but also to educate the audience at the same time about mental illness and addiction. The podcast gives a voice to Marilyn’s struggles in a way that can help others potentially seek the help she herself so desperately needed. We are excited to get behind such a compelling project!”

Radio Cares Radiothon Raises More than $500,000 for ‘Feeding America.’ The “Radio Cares Feeding America Emergency Radiothon” that began on Thursday (4/30) and ran through the weekend has raised more than $500,000 for hunger relief organization Feeding America. The radiothon closed with a $20,000 donation from Scott and Sandi Borchetta and Big Machine Label Group. The funds raised will provide 5 million meals for Americans living with hunger. The charitable initiative was developed and led by Ron Stone, president & CEO, Adams Radio Group, and Brian Philips, EVP, content & audience, Cumulus Media/Westwood One. Philips says, “Listeners answered the call from their favorite stations, large and small, unified by the cause of American hunger. Our listeners represent the most generous cross-section of America. There exists a bond among them that no crisis can break. Cumulus is always proud when what we do moves people.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new, weekly podcast from ABC News’ FiveThirtyEight titled, “PODCAST-19: FiveThirtyEight on the Coronavirus” debuted on May 1. The program features host Anna Rothschild, with the support of FiveThirtyEight team, investigating COVID-19 mysteries, debating when it’s safe to reopen the economy, and keeping track of the latest scientific developments on vaccines and treatments. ABC News says Rothschild has over a decade of experience reporting on science, health, and the environment. She has won multiple awards for her science communication, including from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Physics…..The John Fredericks Radio Network is broadcasting live this week – Monday through Wednesday – from Clarksdale, Mississippi, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.  Fredericks says the show is investigating how the systemic poverty in the Delta region is affecting how residents are coping with the coronavirus pandemic.  He adds, “We’ll be discussing what the next steps are for small business owners, residents, and students, many of whom do not have high-speed broadband. Some have no Internet whatsoever, which may lead them to fall further behind the learning curve.”…..iHeartMedia Orlando is presenting an online “Education Fair, Education Summit” on Thursday, May 14 and Friday, May 15 from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm at EducationSummitFL.com. Designed to serve colleges, universities, tech schools, trade schools and more, the custom web page will allow education recruiters to conduct video interviews and review transcripts in real time. Students can log on and click on the education institute profile they wish to chat with. iHeartMedia Orlando partnerships manager Chianna Ray says, “This virtual event is exactly what our community needs right now. Many students have not had the chance to visits schools, meet with recruiters and are feeling unsure of their future. Recruiters have missed valuable face time with future students since events are not taking place at this time. We look forward to making that connection through our event.”…..Beasley Media Group stations in Fayetteville, Augusta, and Charlotte are hosting a complimentary 30-minute webinar designed to help struggling restaurant owners and managers directly impacted by the pandemic. The webinar will take place on Thursday, May 7, at 2:30 pm. Beasley says the session will feature actionable insights, timely advice, and relevant information that local restaurants can use immediately to help increase business during these challenging economic times. Participants can learn from Steve DaPolito, co-owner of Charlotte-based Bisonte Pizza Co., who helped to increase sales for his business at the onset of COVID-19. They can also learn about resources available to local restaurant owners provided by representatives from both the North Carolina and the South Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association…..Beasley Media Group and broadcast television firm TEGNA are partnering on a broadcast TV series focusing on the esports rivalry between the Overwatch League’s Houston Outlaws and Dallas Fuel.  TEGNA, owner of stations in 12 Texas markets, is broadcasting a weekly docuseries of original episodes chronicling the competition. Beasley Esports COO Lori Burgess comments, “We are thrilled to be partnering with the Dallas Fuel and TEGNA’s Texas stations to bring fresh sports competition and entertainment back to our fans and TV viewers. Video gaming is hotter than ever and professional esports is taking center stage this month in Texas with the inaugural Lone Star Showdown presented by Samsung. New fans can expect a battle worthy of champions.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves.  As a result of Hubbard Radio’s decision to trim payroll because of the COVID-19 business climate, here are some of the air personalities reported to have been affected: In Chicago, media writer Robert Feder reports classic rock WDRV “97.1 The Drive” night host Phil Manicki and overnight host Greg Easterling, along with AC WSHE-FM “SHE 100.3” morning producer Robb Rose and night jock Brian Middleton, WDRV-FM promotion manager Heather Torrey, and hot AC WTMX-FM “101.9 The Mix” morning producer Cynthia Denicolo and social media staffer Melissa “Mel D” Dever all exit. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that country WIL-FM “New Country 92.3” morning hosts Bud Ford and Jerry Broadway are gone. Today (5/4), Hubbard announces that WSHE program director Cat Thomas is leaving that station to move to Seattle to become brand and content director at CHR KQMV “MOViN 92.5” and adult contemporary KRWM “Warm 106.9.”  Vice president of brand and content at WTMX and WSHE Jimmy Steal is assuming WSHE PD duties…..After the company put the wraps on the nationally syndicated country radio morning program “The Ty Bentli Show” on Friday with the exit of hosts Chuck Wicks and Tricia “TJ” Jenkins (Bentli exited the show earlier this year), Cumulus Media’s Westwood One launched the new “Morning Koffy” syndicated program hosted by Paul Koffy and co-host Jasmine Sadry. Cumulus EVP marketing and Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes says, “Well known in the radio industry and well-liked by country artists, Paul is the ideal host for this new show. Paul has spent his entire career in country music and, surprisingly, has never before hosted a program from Nashville – we can’t wait to see what he does from Music City. With Jasmine on the other mic, this show is one good morning brew.”…..Tampa Bay CHR WFLZ-FM “93.3 FLZ” replaces “The Kane Show” with new morning drive program, “THEjoeSHOW.”  Moving from the company’s Detroit CHR WKQI “Channel 955” where he was afternoon drive personality and APD, host Joe Carballo is joined by Ashley Nics and producer Jed Shilling. iHeartMedia Tampa Bay VP or programming Tommy Chuck says, “‘93.3 FLZ’ has a long history of incredible morning personalities. I’m excited to announce the next great show that is poised to take over Tampa Bay. Joe, Ashley, and Jed have done a great job preparing for this opportunity.” In Detroit Ashley Nics served as a producer for “The Mojo in the Morning Show” and hosted middays. Jed Schilling worked in the programming and digital department. Together, the three also hosted the “Heavily Anxious” podcast…..In Baltimore, morning drive personality Stash, a.k.a. Steve Ash, exits Shamrock Communications’ classic rock WZBA “100.7 The Bay.”  Stash announced the move via a Facebook post…..Alpha Media Bakersfield announces Erik Fox is promoted to program director for KLLY-FM “Energy 95.3.”  He’s been serving as music director and afternoon drive host for the station. Alpha Media Bakersfield general manager Jeremy Price says, “Erik Fox has shown himself to be one of the hardest working individuals in this industry that I have ever worked with. His love for the music marks a huge step up for the station. And in the year that he has been MD for ‘Energy,’ our ratings have risen to levels not seen on that station for over half a decade. Individuals committed to local radio like Erik are rare and we are blessed to have him on our team and, in this new capacity, are excited to see him continue to dominate in the ratings.”…..iHeartMedia moves Atlanta hip hop “The Beat” from WRDG-FM at 96.7 to WBZY-FM at 105.3.  The move bumps the Spanish hits format that had been airing on WBZY-FM.  Station program director Dan Hunt says, “We’re excited for the opportunity to rebuild ‘The Beat’ from the ground up and continue to represent the urban music culture with a sound unique to Atlanta.  Atlanta’s music lovers will get to listen to the most prolific voices in hip hop radio today, including “The Breakfast Club” and DJ Scream.”

Monday, April 20, 2020

| April 20, 2020

Monday Memo: The Trump Show. There’s lots of buzz about that New York Times report that the president told the coronavirus task force “he wanted to start a White House talk radio show.”  To which Rush Limbaugh invited him to guest host.  In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke asks “What if…?”  Read it here.

COVID-19 Statistics and Projections, the Re-Open the Country Debate/Stay Home Protests, Trump vs Governors, U.S.-China Relations, Deadly Nova Scotia Shooting, Financial Markets Activity/Oil Prices Crash, and Celebrities with Coronavirus Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and the death toll as well as the projections for future cases and deaths; the debate over “re-opening” the country and the organized protests against “stay home” directives; President Trump’s war of words with some of the country’s governors over the breadth of his powers; the pressure on the Chinese Communist Party as calls for an investigation into the coronavirus’ origins mount; a lone shooter posing as a police officer kills 16 people in Nova Scotia; the world’s financial markets’ reactions to the coronavirus pandemic and the glut of oil; and global celebrities with COVID-19 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Time Is of the Essence. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column about adjusting to the new dynamic of deadlines and timeliness.  “Adjusting to working from home, with limited access to the people and resources you rely on is a daily climb.  More than likely you are now participating in (multiple) online meetings that eat the clock.  Still, you are paid on performance and need to keep the dynamics of the sales process moving forward in a timely fashion.  Like it or not, for today, you need to own this new dynamic.”  Read his column here.

SmartTalk Radio Network Distributing ‘The Hard Question.’ The daily talk radio program “The Hard Question” with host Blanquita Cullum is now being made available to stations across the country via the SmartTalk Radio Network.  Cullum says, “‘The Hard Question’ is all about trying to help the audience to be empowered, to be able to hear a deeper level of a conversation on an issue that may impact them and change their life.”  The network says, “With decades of experience in broadcasting and government service, Cullum knows the decision makers and her guest list routinely includes the names you hear in the headlines: governors, senators, ambassadors, foreign heads of state, as well as regular citizens.”  SmartTalk Radio Network general manager Chuck Duncan says, “Occasionally in network radio, a diamond emerges from the clutter of ho-hum.  Blanquita Cullum is a woman of worldly experiences and a deep participant of the inside rail, allowing her to ask and offer sensible solutions to the hard questions.  With unique clarity and above-the-fold guests, BQ covers the critical issues with a compassion, intellect, and understanding that evidences her emergence onto the national scene. She’s got a voice that must be heard.”

KXL, Portland’s Steve Leader Retires. Longtime morning news anchor Steve Leader retired from his role with Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland on Friday (4/17).  Leader had been a news anchor on KXL for 34 years.  His KXL news colleague Pat Boyle posted photos and a tribute to Leader on Facebook, writing: “Legendary news guy Steve Leader’s last day! Thanks Steve for keeping Portlanders informed for more than 30 years.  You are a huge talent and will be greatly missed.  Enjoy your retirement; you deserve it.”

Round Three of March PPMs Released.  The third of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s March 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus.  The survey period covered February 27 – March 25.  You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here.  The intense coronavirus news consumption since the pandemic was declared in mid-March has driven listening to all-news and news/talk radio stations.  Some of those seeing increased weekly 6+ , AQH share increases include: Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland which added 1.8 shares in March to finish with a 6.7 share and a leap to the #3 rank in the market; iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento rises 1.9 shares from February to March for a 10.3 share and its third straight month at #1; Entercom’s news/talk KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh climbs 1.3 shares to finish with a 5.6 share and the #5 rank in the Steel City; Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City rises to the #3 rank by adding 1.1 shares to end the survey with a 6.0 share; and iHeartMedia’s WLW-AM, Cincinnati tacks 1.8 shares onto its February 8.3 share to finish March with a 10.1 share and the #1 rank in the market.  You can see all of TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian’s Ratings Takeaways here.

‘New Jersey 101.5’ Presents Next Coronavirus Town Hall. This Thursday (4/23), Townsquare Media’s news/talk WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the next in its series of coronavirus Town Hall broadcasts.  The station’s senior political director Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments in highlighting the sacrifices being made by the front-line workers dealing with this health crisis.  He says, “Nurses, EMTs, and police officers are among the many frontline workers who are putting their own health at risk during this crisis.  We will both highlight their stories and offer them the resources they need to deal with the overwhelming stresses of their jobs.”  This edition’s on-air expert panel will feature: Debbie White, president, Health Professionals and Allied Employees; Pat Colligan, president, New Jersey Police Benevolent Association; Barbara Platt, president, New Jersey EMS Council; and first-responder crisis councilor Michael Bizzarro, PhD, LCSW, BCD.

Legislators Seek Paycheck Protection for Local Journalists and Broadcasters. A bi-partisan effort to assist local journalists and broadcasters suffering with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is being spearheaded by U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and John Boozman (R-AR).  They sent a letter to senate leadership urging them to ensure any future legislation make thousands of local newspapers, TV, and radio stations around the country eligible for small business assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  In the letter, the senators called for waiving the Small Business Administration’s affiliation rule to allow local media outlets to access funding, pointing to the critical role these outlets play in keeping communities healthy and informed.  The senators say in their statement, “Ensuring that local news outlets remain viable at this critical time is not only a matter of fairness but is essential to public health.  Local newspapers, radio, and television stations provide important local content that keeps their communities informed.  People rely on local newspapers and broadcasters to cover school and business closures, to widely communicate public health guidance, and to combat life-threatening misinformation.”  National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith comments on the move, “NAB is grateful to Senators Cantwell, Kennedy, Klobuchar and Boozman for their leadership in supporting expanded access to Small Business Administration loans for local radio and television stations under the Payroll Protection Program.  America’s broadcasters are providing trusted and credible lifesaving coverage to keep citizens safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet local stations are suffering advertising losses of historic proportion that will undermine this critically important service.  We urge congressional leaders to support this proposal to provide immediate SBA loan eligibility to more local radio and TV stations.”

TALKERS News Notes. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway signs a new deal with the iHeartMedia news/talk station that runs through 2022, with an additional one year option.  Conway’s program is also heard on the company’s WMT, Cedar Rapids and WOC, Davenport, Iowa.  Conway says, “WHO Radio was and remains the gold standard for local talk radio in America.  I’m delighted to have signed this contract and look forward to many more years broadcasting on these heritage stations.”…..Indianapolis-based news/talk personality Tony Katz, who hosts “The Morning News” on Emmis’ WIBC-FM as well as his own syndicated late morning show, is putting his flagship station together with local businesses and sponsors to feed first responders across Central Indiana.  He says, “‘Hoosiers Helping Heroes’ does weekly deliveries of meals, snacks, and drinks to local hospitals.  It’s our way of saying, ‘thank you.’  And businesses across the area have been great to work with.  They want to help.  People want to help.  We’re getting calls from restaurants all over the area.  All types of businesses and individuals are asking if they can be a part of it.”…..NPR president and CEO John Lansing tells company staffers in a memo that the organization is preparing to cut costs due to a budget shortfall of between $35 million and $40 million due to the coronavirus pandemic.  He says, “We do not have any position eliminations on the table now, and it is our goal to avoid them as much as is reasonably possible.  However, I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t guarantee anything other than that is my intent.”…..JVC Media is airing the “Florida Man Radio”-based Shannon Burke afternoon drive program on its Long Island news/talk outlet WRCN “103.9 LI News Radio”  JVC Media’s EVP for Florida Shane Reeve says, “Now more than ever, our community needs to come together and stay at home to keep their families and loved ones safe.  With that being said, as humans we have the need to socialize and feel like we are still part of the society that we love.  The ‘Florida Man Friday Happy Hour with Shannon Burke’ is that bit of relief and laughter you need to keep some sense of normalcy in your life.”…..The nationally syndicated “America Tonight” with Kate Delaney adds two new affiliate stations as Seehafer Broadcasting’s WFHR-AM, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin and Rck 1 Group’s WVLY, Wheeling, West Virginia add the show to their program lineups.

Wheeler Morris Named Hubbard Seattle VP/Market Manager. In Seattle, Hubbard Radio names Wheeler Morris vice president and market manager for the five-station cluster.  Scott Mahalick, who’s been serving as interim market manager, is named operations manager for the Seattle station group.  Morris has been serving the company as manager of corporate podcasting strategy.  Wheeler says, “I’m excited to join the great team at Hubbard Radio Seattle and to help continue the success that the strong brands have built over the years.  I’m especially excited to have an experienced and accomplished partner like Scott Mahalick to lead content and brands. He’s the right person to lead operations.”  Mahalick comments, “It brings joy to my heart that we will have the good fortune of Wheeler at the helm of Hubbard Radio Seattle.  Our team deserves a dedicated full-time manager focused on our success. I’ve had the advantage of getting to know and work with Wheeler this past year in his capacity as the head of our podcasting efforts. I can tell you he is a people person with great charm, empathy, wicked smart, driven and innovative as they come.  Bring it Wheeler!”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Country radio personality Shawn Parr is launching a new, daily syndicated program via Key Networks titled, “Shawn Parr’s Across the Country” on June 1.  Key Networks says the four-hour, localized country music entertainment program features Parr’s trademark warmth, wit and love for country music, and is available for stations Monday-Friday via FTP delivery.  The show is customized to air anywhere in a station’s lineup between 6:00 am and 12:00 midnight.  Key Networks adds, “Known as ‘The Ambassador of Country Music,’ Shawn Parr is one of country radio’s brightest and most familiar voices.  With nearly 30 years in country radio, including 10 years as a nationally syndicated on-air host, Parr takes country fans front row-center to country’s biggest stars and hottest music.”  Parr says, “My entire career has always been about the country listeners and they will lead the way with this show as well!  Teaming up with Key Networks is like a dream come true.  Together we have worked so hard to get this show on the air and trust me when I say I am fired up and can’t wait for you to feel the energy ‘Across The Country!’”…..Air personality Corey Dillon exits Hubbard Radio’s country KNUC, Seattle “98.9 The Bull” after a two-year stint.  Dillon says via Facebook, “There are no hard feelings on my end.  It’s business, and I understand that.  I have learned so much over the past two years here at ‘The Bull’ and feel more confident in my craft than ever.”…..Cumulus Media names Paul Williams director of programming for Westwood One Nashville.  In this role, Williams will oversee the marketing, content, and operations for Westwood One’s nationally syndicated country programming.  Williams was most recently vice president of marketing & artist development for Reviver Entertainment Group in Nashville…..iHeartMedia Atlanta announces the Spanish hits format is moving from WBZY at 105.3 FM to WRDA at 105.7 FM.  iHeartMedia SVP of programming Meg Stevens says, “This is a tremendous opportunity to move the signal where more of the Hispanic audience can enjoy the music, information and the top-rated ‘Tu Mañana Con Enrique Santos’ show.”

Monday, March 30, 2020

| March 30, 2020

Monday Memo: Smart Advertisers Relate. While many radio sales reps are in pandemic panic mode, smart sellers are helping nimble advertisers do what radio does best: tell a lot of people something useful quickly.  In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke lists commercial copy points he’s hearing.  See them here.

Growing Coronavirus U.S. Death Toll, Trump Extends Social Distancing Through April, Criticism of Trump Administration, Financial Markets Activity, Celebs with COVID-19, Lawmakers’ Stock Trades Controversy, and Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The rising U.S. death toll from COVID-19; President Trump extends the nation’s social distancing policy through April 30; criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic; the pandemic’s effect on the world’s financial markets; celebrities who’ve tested positive for COVID-19; the investigation into U.S. lawmakers who sold stocks ahead of the global sell-off; and the November presidential election were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: The Vice President’s Lead List. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s Pending Business column that smart salespeople should take a cue from Vice President Mike Pence’s Presidential Task Force press conference last week in which he named the three biggest companies hiring – today.  Read Lapa’s tips for smart marketing in a new normal environment here.

Forever Media Cuts Staff at News/Talk WDEL, Wilmington and Elsewhere. The Wilmington News Journal reports that Forever Media has taken the drastic step of laying off “more than 10 people” from its radio properties as the result of a revenue hit from the coronavirus pandemic.  Included in the layoffs are WDEL talk personalities Allan Loudell and Robin Bryson.  Forever Media closed on its $18.5 million purchase of Delmarva Broadcasting’s 10-station radio portfolio last May.  Bryson is quoted telling the News Journal that the mandated closure of non-essential businesses hit business hard.  “That’s a good portion of who our advertisers are.  So, you know they’re not open, they can’t afford to advertise so they cancel their contracts and then we don’t have any commercials to run and we’re not getting any revenue.”

WGAN-AM, Portland Drops Morning Drive Co-Host Ken Altshuler. In Portland, Maine, Saga Communications drops morning drive co-host Ken Altshuler – the left-leaning half of the show – as part of a restructuring move.  Altshuler has been co-host of the morning show since 2002.  The change leaves conservative Matthew Gagnon hosting solo.  Altshuler tells the Portland Press Herald that over the past few months, the station has been moving to a single-host format in other dayparts.  Altshuler says he plans to continue in the media, either with another radio station or with a blog and podcast.  Sixty-seven-year-old Altshuler is a family law attorney who practices in Portland.

Ramsey’s ‘Message of Hope’ Becomes Regular Podcast. The Ramsey Solutions organization announces that a new podcast from the Ramsey Network called, “A Message of Hope” is launching.  The Ramsey Network says, “There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty in our country right now.  Let’s change that. Ramsey Network hosts Dave Ramsey, Ken Coleman, and Rachel Cruze share practical money and career advice through the ‘Message of Hope’ series.  This brand-new podcast also features episodes from Chris Hogan, Christy Wright, Anthony O’Neal, and Dr. John Deloney to encourage you in every area of life.”

‘Ark Midnight with John B. Wells’ Partners with Talk Media Network. The weekly, three-hour radio show “Ark Midnight with John B. Wells” is partnering with Talk Media Network for marketing and affiliate relations.  Talk Media Network CEO Josh Leng says, “John B. Wells is an expert in weaving stories, news, and interviews together with an artful thread and his instantly recognizable voice.  ‘Ark Midnight’ is a destination nighttime show.”  Wells comments, “It’s great to be working with Talk Media Network.  They understand the program and have added new affiliate stations before we could even make this announcement.”  The show recently was added to the program schedule at WNTW-AM Richmond and KLKS-FM in Brainerd, Minnesota and soon joins KYAH-AM in Delta, Utah and WIOS-AM, Tawas City, Michigan.

Tony Bruno to Reunite with Harry Mayes on SiriusXM. Sports talk pro Tony Bruno – via SiriusXM and JAKIB Media Partners – is returning to a daily sports talk radio show after five years away from the format.  He’s being joined on the new “Tony Bruno Show” by former WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “The Fanatic” partner Harry Mayes.  The show launches on SiriusXM’s Dan Patrick Radio channel on April 6.  Bruno says, “I want to thank all of my fans who have followed and supported me through the years.  I am grateful to everyone who has encouraged me to return and who still wants to hear my daily fun approach to sports and current affairs, which has been my forte’ for over four decades in broadcasting.  I can’t think of a better platform than SiriusXM and reuniting with my former ESPN colleague on the Dan Patrick Radio channel, and I am thrilled to be able to return to the airwaves with my good friend and co-host Harry Mayes.  There is no doubt that we will provide an exciting, fun, sports talk radio program that joins a sea of great content on SiriusXM.”

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on news/talk-formatted stations. Fifty-three percent of the news/talk stations on our panel were up (weekly, 6+ AQH share) over the January 2020 survey with just 27% seeing a ratings decline. Leaders in the improved column include Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta (+1.4) and iHeartMedia’s WISN, Milwaukee (+1.0). Comparing February 2019 to February 2020, WSB-AM/WSBB-FM is again the leader, posting an increase of 4.4 shares. iHeartMedia’s WTVN, Columbus adds 2.7 shares year-over-year, and Entercom’s KFTK-FM St. Louis is up 2.1 shares. Just two news/talk stations ranked #1 in their markets in February – CMG’s WSB, Atlanta (11.4 share) and iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento (8.4 share). However, five news/talk outlets ranked #2 in their respective markets.  Find out which ones, here.

TALKERS News Notes. The KSTE, Sacramento-based “Armstrong & Getty Show” starring Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty adds new affiliate WGOW-FM, Chattanooga, starting today (3/30).  Earlier this year, the program was added to other Cumulus Media talk stations including KABC-AM, Los Angeles and KSFO, San Francisco…..The nationally syndicated “Free Talk Live” program – led by show founders Ian Freeman and Mark Edge – adds new affiliate stations: KGGF-AM, Coffeyville, Kansas; WTSN-AM/FM, Dover, New Hampshire; WNTW-AM/FM, Richmond; WAIM-AM, Anderson, South Carolina; and WCSI-AM/FM, Columbus, Indiana to put its total affiliate roster at 209 stations…..ESPN’s “Paul Finebaum Show” makes its return to the cable TV SEC Network with an audio-only format at 3:00 pm ET.  Although Finebaum has been doing the show for ESPN Radio for the past two weeks, it has not aired on the SEC Network.  Finebaum comments, “Despite all of us adjusting to this new normal and distancing ourselves from each other, we’re probably more connected right now than we’ve been in a long time.  I’m really proud of the conversations and discussions we’ve had on the show, especially over these past few weeks, and look forward to returning to television and continuing to support and uplift one another during such an uncertain time.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Last night’s “FOX Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America” event aired on FOX Television as artists including host Elton John and guests Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Billie Eilish, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, Dave Grohl, H.E.R., Mariah Carey, Sam Smith,Tim McGraw and more performed from their own homes.  The program was also aired live on iHeartMedia radio stations and the iHeartRadio app.  Pictured below is Tim McGraw (upper left) singing “Something Like That” while three of his band members accompany him from their homes.  The event encouraged viewers and listeners to support charities Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation.

Monday, March 23, 2020

| March 23, 2020

Monday Memo: Coronavirus Community.  “When normalcy is upended, it is human nature to take comfort hearing how others are faring” and consultant Holland Cooke reckons that “it’s less misery-loves-company than we’re-all-in-this-together.”  And in this week’s column, he cautions that, right now, stations are making a lasting impression.  Read it here.

The State of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Federal Stimulus Package Debate, Global Stock Selloff, Unemployment Rises/Recession Predictions, Summer Olympics Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The status of the coronavirus pandemic; the federal stimulus package being debated in congress; the global stock selloff is predicted to continue; the expectations of high unemployment figures to be reported and a recession is being predicted for the U.S.; and the possibility the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo will be postponed were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Warning, Speed Bumps Ahead. Radio sales pro and president of Lapcom Communications, Steve Lapa, writes in this new TALKERS column Pending Business about how to work in the sales environment brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.  Lapa has tips for planning and prioritizing for sales staffers dealing with limited in-person collaborations, online meetings, minimal studio and talent access, constant price fluctuations, and more.  Read it here.

WABC, New York Adds Bill O’Reilly ‘Morning Edition.’ Conservative commentator and talk show host Bill O’Reilly is joining the daily program lineup at Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York via his Key Networks-syndicated morning drive radio feature, “The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition.”  O’Reilly’s 15-minute daily radio program, “The O’Reilly Update,” launched in late April 2019 and between the two shows O’Reilly is heard on more than 200 stations.  O’Reilly says, “WABC is the station I listened to as a kid.  It is a legacy radio outlet and I hope I can add to the legacy with honest, no spin daily commentary.”  Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “Key Networks is so proud to be associated with Bill O’Reilly and ‘The O’Reilly Update.’  The content has been superb and the tremendous response is a testament to Bill and the talent he brings to the airwaves, with a style unmatched in media.  We’re thrilled to welcome the great WABC New York, bringing our affiliate group to over 200 stations in 10 months.”

Salem and Hugh Hewitt Agree to Contract Extension. This new deal between Salem Radio Network and talk host Hugh Hewitt runs through December of 2028.  Hewitt has been a host on SRN since July of 2000.  In April of 2016, he moved from the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET show on the network, to morning drive, taking over for Bill Bennett who had hosted the “Morning in America” show.  Salem says that Hewitt’s national footprint has grown to more than 450 affiliate stations and he’s also seen on a video simulcast on Townhall.com.  Hewitt appears regularly on NBC News programs, including “Meet the Press,” and is a regular contributor to the Washington Post.  Hewitt says, “I look forward to not only this fall’s presidential election but the next two presidential campaigns and all the news in between them as well.  The past 20 years have been two decades of upheaval and crisis, a sudden devastating attack on America, of war and terror and now a pandemic, of hard-fought elections and massive legislative and legal changes.  It’s been a privilege to cover these breaking news events for three hours a day with the extraordinary team and guest list we have assembled and rely upon.”  Salem Media Group CEO Ed Atsinger states.  “Hugh has been a Salem stalwart since 2000.  He’s one of the most respected voices in American media today, and as Salem continues to grow our national and international footprint, Hugh’s program remains a flagship show for the news/talk format which Salem helped pioneer.”

Ratings Takeaways from Final Round of Nielsen’s February PPM SurveyTALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from the fourth and final round of February PPM data from Nielsen Audio. Some positive weekly, 6+ AQH share movement among spoken-word stations includes: iHeartMedia’s WTKK-FM, Raleigh adding a half share to January’s 1.8 share hike to finish February with a 7.6 share and the #2 rank in the market; Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis tacks four-tenths on during the February survey to land at an 8.0 share and the #2 rank; and Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville piles another six-tenths onto its January share-and-a-half increase to finish the February survey with a 10.4 share and the #2 rank in the market.  See Mike Kinosian’s Ratings Takeaways here.

Beasley and Borrell to Present ‘Crisis Marketing for Local Business’ Seminars. This series of complimentary webinars from Beasley Media Group and Borrell Associations takes place tomorrow and Wednesday (3-24/25) as part of Beasley Media Group’s ongoing ‘We Are All in This Together Community of Caring Initiative.’  It consists of five, 30-minute webinars focused on crisis marketing for local businesses impacted by the current coronavirus situation.  Topics addressed will include: valuable tips for communicating with customers & non-customers, how to craft creative & appropriate marketing messages, and common concerns & opportunities faced by local businesses.  Beasley is making the session “open to any interested businesses, however, it is especially relevant for local companies located within Beasley Media Group markets.”  The webinar will be moderated by Beasley Media Group chief digital officer Todd Handy and vice president of digital sales Dan Frisbie.  Local marketing experts Gordon Borrell, Jim Brown, and Corey Elliott of Borrell Associates “will provide valuable guidance on how local businesses can not only survive but thrive and make a difference in times of crisis.”

TALKERS News Notes. Sports talk WKNR, Cleveland “850 ESPN” program director Matt Fishman tells TALKERS that the station has created a new show to get fans ready for the only major sports event on the calendar – the NFL Draft – taking place on April 23.  Beginning tonight from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, WKNR is presenting “ESPN Cleveland’s Countdown to the Draft” hosted by Tony Grossi…..The South Bend cluster of Federated Media – including news/talk WTRC, Niles, Michigan “Michiana’s News Channel” – is launching “Operation: Restaurant Rescue.”  The stations have produced a digital menu of area restaurants that are offering carryout or delivery options and allows consumers to buy gift cards for some of the establishments…..Racing star Kevin Harvick, driver of the # 4 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, is resuming his SiriusXM show, “Happy Hours.”  The show airs Wednesday’s at 1:00 pm on the SiriusXMNASCAR Radio channel with Matt Yocum as co-host.  Harvick says, “Matt and I figured it would be good to get back on SiriusXM to talk to the fans and try to entertain folks during this downtime.  Even though we’re not racing, there’s still plenty to talk about, both the things involving our sport as we look ahead to the season, and also what’s happening in our daily lives away from the track.  I hope we can take your mind off other things and maybe make you laugh a little bit along the way.”

iHeartMedia Stations to Play National Anthem.  At 12:00 noon ET today, all iHeartMedia radio stations will play a version of the National Anthem.  The company says, “In these challenging times, we want to take a moment of solidarity to celebrate our collective strength as a nation and recognize the heroic efforts of so many workers on the frontline – including our doctors, nurses, health care professionals, caregivers, and other critical responders who are working night and day to get us through this. Today, iHeartMedia will honor the resilience of Americans by encouraging the masses to unite through the healing power of music as our 850+ radio stations and formats across the country air a version of the National Anthem.  We want to send our heartfelt thoughts, concern and support to any family who may need it as we face these tough times together as a country.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The Academy of Country Music and dick clark productions announce that “The 55th ACM Awards” will take place on Wednesday, September 16 – in a city and venue yet to be announced – and will air on CBS TelevisionKeith Urban will serve as host and the lineup of performers will also be announced at a later date…..iHeartMedia’s rock WJRR, Orlando announces that its Earthday Birthday Number 27 Music Festival set for April 18 at the Central Florida Fairgrounds will be postponed to September 5 at the same venue…..In response to the coronavirus pandemic, iHeartMedia Charlotte is launching “Carolina Cares,” an initiative to help the local community by highlighting local organizations and services necessary during times of crisis.  Across all its stations’ websites, iHeartMedia Charlotte is promoting various local organizations offering services to individuals as well as businesses that are operating on limited hours and restaurants that are offering delivery, pickup or gift cards during this pandemic.  Local organizations highlighted will include Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, American Red Cross and Classroom Central, with more to be added on a need basis…..Entravision Communications announces “El Show del Mandril” – starring Ricardo Sanchez – is the new morning drive show on Regional Mexican KDLD, Santa Monica “Viva 103.1 FM.”

Monday Memo: Coronavirus Community

| March 23, 2020

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — One hundred New Englanders died during The Great Blizzard of ’78.  Those of us who survived all have stories, many sad, others amusing, even wistful.  And, yes, nine months later, there was a baby boom.  We who covered that week are feeling déjà vu as the coronavirus pandemic story unfolds.

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