NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the 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, “Shots in the Arm,” looks back at this past week of March 1-5, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/medical physician; Brett Winterble, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte; Andy Caldwell, talk show host, K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; Mark Belling, talk show host, WISN, Milwaukee; Dan Mandis, talk show host, WTN, Nashville; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The 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; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; WSAN, Allentown, PA; KDSK, Albuquerque; WLTM-FM, Erie, PA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; Pioneer 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.
Salem Media Group Q4 2020 Net Revenue Flat; Full Year Revenue Declines 7.2%. Reporting its financial data for the fourth quarter of 2020 and the full year, Salem Media Group performs well compared to some of the other media companies that have released their financial data. Fourth quarter net revenue was $64.5 million – down just 0.2% over the same period in 2019. Full year net revenue was $236.2 million – a decline of 7.2% from 2019. Salem reports in segments and although the broadcast segment’s net revenue was down 4.8% on revenue of $48.1 million, its digital segment was up 13.5% on revenue of $11.2 million. For the full year of 2020, the broadcast segment’s net revenue was down 8.1% on revenue of $178.1 million and the digital segment’s net revenue was up 1% on revenue of $39.6 million. Salem reports a fourth quarter loss of $3.3 million compared to the $4.5 million loss it posted in 2019. For the full year the company’s reported loss was $54 million, up from the loss of $27.8 million it reported for 2019.
WFAN’s ‘Carton & Roberts’ to Be Simulcast on SNY. The WFAN, New York afternoon drive show “Carton & Roberts” – co-hosted by Craig Carton and Evan Roberts – will be simulcast on cable TV via SNY, beginning in May. The show airs on Entercom’s WFAN from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm daily and SNY will simulcast the show from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “‘Carton & Roberts’ has quickly connected with audiences by providing a unique daily sports conversation experience. WFAN has a long and storied history of bringing sports radio to life visually and we’re honored to join with SNY to expand Craig and Evan’s reach onto more screens, more devices and, of course, still in your car.” SNY president Steve Raab adds, “We are excited to partner with WFAN to bring ‘Carton and Roberts’ to SNY. Craig and Evan are engaging, insightful and know their New York sports. The addition of this simulcast not only enhances our daily television line up, but it elevates New York sports news and entertainment programming for a very passionate fan base.”
New Rich Eisen Podcast Launches Via Westwood One. Sports media personality Rich Eisen’s new podcast, “Just Getting Started with Rich Eisen,” is launching via Cumulus Media’s Westwood One Podcast Network. Eisen’s new podcast features interviews with the biggest names from news, entertainment, sports, and pop culture, who discuss their career origins and mines their stories on how they got started in a format where audiences can be inspired by their endeavors. The first guest is actor Matthew McConaughey, with Daymond John, Soledad O’Brien, and Gary Vaynerchuk sitting down with Eisen in upcoming weeks. “Just Getting Started” is Eisen’s first step into the world of personal fulfillment podcasting and the first original podcast produced in a partnership between Rich Eisen and Westwood One Podcast Network announced in December. In the partnership, Westwood One monetizes, markets, and distributes all Eisen’s existing and forthcoming podcasts.
TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “BOB & TOM Show” is commemorating International Women’s Day on Monday (3/8) in a special showcase called, “Ladies That Make Us Laugh.” The program will feature the women of The BOB & TOM Show, in addition to some of the show’s favorite female guests. Kristi Lee, BOB & Tom Show news director, will be joined live by BOB & TOM “relationship expert,” comedienne Alli Breen and guest comedienne Nikki Glaser. Also joining the show Monday will be BOB & TOM regulars, correspondents Jessica Alsman and Jess Hooker. All morning, the program will feature past guest appearances from female comedians, including Maria Bamford, Rene Hicks, Miss Pat, and Amy Schumer. Show host Tom Griswold says, “Some of the funniest moments on our show have come from our many female guests. It’ll be fun hearing those highlights Monday morning. Also, we’ve been so fortunate to have Kristi Lee as a part of the show for over 35 years. Kristi is a savvy broadcaster who is open and honest about her life, and very funny. We will add to the mix, show staff members Jessica Alsman and Jess Hooker, along with comedienne Alli Breen… we feel the distaff portion of our show is well-represented.”…..To honor International Women’s Day the popular true crime podcast, “Forgotten: Women of Juárez,” is being released simultaneously and globally in three new languages – believed to be a world first in the podcasting business. The translation into Spanish, German, and Danish allows “Forgotten” to shed more light on the hundreds of Mexican women who have been abducted in the world’s most dangerous city, and on the misogyny and systemic sexual femicide in Mexico and around the world. This is the first in a planned pipeline of locally adapted content initiated by iHeartMedia and Podimo to expand the reach of powerful stories to bigger and more relevant audiences…..GBH News in Boston is marking the one-year anniversary of the pandemic by presenting “A Year Apart: How COVID Changed Us,” featuring a full day of special programming across radio, television, digital and social media platforms on Wednesday, March 10. GBH general manager of news Pam Johnston says, “We’re inviting our audience to join our journalists in reflecting on what we’ve learned and experienced during this historic year. We aim to rise above the intensity of the daily news cycle and consider where we are now, what we have lived through, and what is yet to come as it relates to COVID-19.”
COVID-19 Vaccines, Variants and Stats Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 1-5. The rollout of vaccines, concerns about variants, and the latest COVID stats combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the U.S. economy tied with the nation’s education crisis. Coming in at #3 was a tie between the allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the #MeToo movement. 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.
Monday Memo: We Are Changed. “New Year, new challenges…AND opportunities!” consultant Holland Cooke reckons. In this week’s column, HC lists “10 Fresh Insights into People’s Changing Behaviors,” based on “billions of tweets (yes, with a B).” Read it here.
Wednesday’s Biden Inauguration Preparation, Capitol Assault Investigation, Impeachment, Trump Pardons and Commutations, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccinations, Social Media and Free Speech, Migrant Caravan, Navalny Arrested, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The preparation for Wednesday’s inauguration ceremonies for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris; the ongoing investigation into the assault on Capitol Hill; the House’s vote to impeach Donald Trump again; speculation about the coming pardons and commutations from President Trump; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and criticism of vaccine rollout problems; social media’s banning “spreaders of misinformation” and the issue of free speech; a new migrant caravan from Honduras crosses Mexico for the U.S.; Putin opposition figure Alexei Navalny returns to Russia and is detained; and today’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend.
Pending Business: How Do You Like to Be Coached? Sales and marketing pro, and Lapcom Communications Corp president, Steve Lapa says he recently worked with two top 20 market radio stations with no formal system for sellers to give feedback to air talent handling live reads. “The pattern is predictable. The seller sells, the host does the endorsement read, and results are disappointing. The host reads are off target and the dance begins. No one has taken the time to adjust the feedback system.” Read his column here.
Joe Zarbano Exits WEEI, Program Director Role. The Boston Globe reports that Joe Zarbano has left his PD role with Entercom sports talk station WEEI, Boston. Zarbano first joined WEEI in 2007 as an intern and rose through the ranks to become program director in 2016. He stated in a company-wide memo, “After careful thought and consideration, the time has come for me to pursue new challenges and step away from WEEI. In May of 2007, I walked into 20 Guest St. to begin an internship that I was so excited about I couldn’t sleep the night before. Little did I know, it was the beginning of a 14-year journey that would lead me to some of the most challenging but rewarding years of my life.” The Globe says that while WEEI won a Marconi for Sports Station of the Year in 2018, the Nielsen ratings have been kinder to crosstown competitor WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub.” The paper notes that in the fall ratings period, WBZ-FM “was first in the market in the men 25-54 demographic, while WEEI was a distant fourth.”
WGFX-FM, Nashville Midday Trio Exits for Outkick Gig. According to a piece in the Nashville Post, the trio of Johnathan Hutton, Paul Kuharsky, and Chad Withrow – hosts of the “Midday 180” show on Cumulus Media’s sports talk WGFX-FM, Nashville “104.5 The Zone” – are leaving the station for a new role with Clay Travis’ Outkick. Travis is building a new Outkick OTT Network that will launch later this year. The Post says Travis’ new venture intends to air from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm ET with live audio and video plus a podcast network. Hutton tweeted, “We’re parting ways with the station, but ‘We’re Not Leaving.’ We remain in the business to win. A priority for each of us was to ensure we’d continue to work with one another, as we are the closest of friends, and we will continue to raise the bar.”
Emily Pankow Named General Counsel for Red Apple Media. Longtime Red Apple Group counsel Emily Pankow is appointed to the general counsel role for Red Apple Media, owner of WABC, New York and operator of WLIR-FM, Long Island. Pankow launched her legal career with Red Apple Group as an associate. CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Red Apple Media and WABC Radio will be well served by Emily’s legal insight. She has proven herself time and time again as an asset to our company over the past 15 years. Since the acquisition of WABC, Emily has been instrumental in the day-to-day legal work and has earned this title. I have every confidence that Emily will succeed in the new position and is destined for great things in the future.” Pankow comments, “I’m honored and delighted to join the Red Apple Media team at this exciting phase of the company’s growth under John Catsimatidis’ leadership. I look forward to helping build upon Red Apple Media’s success. Red Apple Group is continuously expanding its horizons and it has been a pleasure and honor to learn and grow with the company.”
Jordy Culotta Exits WNXX, Baton Rouge. Co-host of the “Off the Bench” program (7:00 am to 10:00 am) Jordy Culotta exits the Guaranty Media spors talk station. Culotta co-hosted the program with T-Bob Hebert and it’s unclear at this time if the company will replace Culotta or continue with Hebert hosting solo.
Retired Wisconsin Radio Personality John Moser Dead. WTMJ, Milwaukee reports that longtime WBEV-AM, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin radio personality John Moser has died, just two weeks after delivering his final broadcast for Good Karma Brands’ WBEV-AM. The details surrounding Moser’s passing are not clear. His family says he went into the woods near Mount Horeb, Wisconsin to hunt coyote and did not return. Authorities later found his body and the cause of death is under investigation. Moser began his career in Beaver Dam in 1973. During his time there, he served as a news announcer, disc jockey, marketing consultant and general manager.
TALKERS News Notes. There’s not a lot of detail on this but Townsquare Media is dropping the Robert Pratt-hosted “Pratt on Texas” program from its talk stations KFYO, Lubbock “Newstalk 790”; KYYW, Abilene; and KWFS-AM, Wichita Falls. The company posted the following to its websites: “As of January 18, 2021 the show ‘Pratt on Texas’ will no longer be heard on Townsquare Media radio stations in Lubbock, Abilene, and Wichita Falls, Texas. Townsquare Media thanks Mr. Pratt for his years of service hosting ‘Pratt on Texas,’ and wishes Mr. Pratt the best in his future endeavors. An additional announcement will be forthcoming concerning future programming on KFYO, KYYW, and KWFS-AM.” Pratt posts on his website that the move is the result of “cancel culture,” apparently implying that his show has been pulled because of his conservatism. Pratt says his ratings “are as great as ever.”…..All day today (1/18), SiriusXM’s Urban View channel and the Joe Madison show are honoring the legacy and celebrating the influence of Martin Luther King Jr. Madison is hosting a special edition of his morning show featuring speeches, sermons, and never-before-heard interviews. Madison is sharing his address to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms on King’s legacy, King’s “Give Us the Ballot” speech and “Why Jesus Called A Man A Fool” sermon, Rev. C.L. Franklin’s “The Eagle Stirreth the Nest,” and exclusive new interviews with Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, attorney Raymond C. Pierce of the Southern Education Foundation, former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, and journalist Joan Walsh. Topics will include the 13th Amendment, supporting Black colleges and Black youth in the South, health equity, and white supremacy…..ABC News Radio is offering extensive live anchored coverage of the inauguration events, starting with the COVID-19 memorial ceremony on Tuesday, January 19. On Wednesday, January 20 ABC News Radio will offer a primetime special report that includes coverage of the planned celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. Correspondent Aaron Katersky will anchor from the Capitol with reporting by correspondent Karen Travers, correspondents Alex Stone and Mark Remillard, and multi-platform reporter Ines de La Cuetara. Coverage will also include reporting and analysis by former White House correspondent Ann Compton, political analyst Steve Roberts, and ABC News’ political team and security experts. ABC News’ flagship daily podcast “Start Here,” hosted by Brad Mielke, will post a special edition on Wednesday featuring the latest reporting on the Inauguration.
Newsmax Media Founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The CEO of Newsmax Media – the conservative news organization that owns and operates Newsmax.com and Newsmax TV in addition to a number of other platforms and services in digital and print publishing – is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Veteran journalist, entrepreneur, and news executive Christopher Ruddy discusses the history and strategy that has led to Newsmax TV achieving enormous rating gains this year in its juggernaut campaign to provide FOX News Channel with formidable competition in the conservative news/talk cable TV ratings wars. In this revealing conversation, Ruddy tells Harrison his side of the recent story by media writer Ben Smith published inThe New York Times under the headline, “The King of Trump TV Thinks You’re Dumb Enough to Buy It.” He dispels the notion conveyed in that piece that Newsmax TV has strategically flanked FOX to its far right and is telling President Donald Trump’s most ardent loyalists whatever they want to hear regardless of the truth. Ruddy discusses the bigger picture of Newsmax content which also delivers stories and items that are unfavorable to Trump and collectively covers a broader segment of the spectrum best described as center-right, as opposed to far-right. Harrison and Ruddy take a deep-dive into talk media political “positioning” which lies at the very heart of modern competitive programming. They also speculate on the future of American politics and the talk media coverage thereof. True to his unpredictable and often contrarian approach to what many observers consider conventional wisdom, Ruddy states that it appears President-Elect Biden is not veering to the far left as many Republicans and Trump supporters fear he will as evidenced by many of his cabinet picks, and that the 46th president will be far more of a “centrist” than many in both parties are expecting. Ruddy also candidly discusses the balancing act required to maintain a long-standing “friendship” with Trump while not being afraid to criticize his policies on those occasions when he believes such criticism is warranted in addition to outlining his immediate plans to grow Newsmax as a full-service news organization in 2021. This podcast is a must-listen! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Floyd Reese Exiting ‘102.5 The Game’ in Nashville. According to a story in the Nashville Post, former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese is giving up his sports talk host gig at Cromwell Media’s WPRT-FM, Nashville “102.5 The Game.” Reese co-hosted the afternoon drive program “Jared & The GM” with Jared Stillman for the past five-plus years. Stillman will continue to host the afternoon show now billed as “Stillman & Company” as the station seeks out a new afternoon co-host. The Post cites a press release in which Reese states, “This is something I’ve been contemplating for a while and I feel it’s time for me to take a step back. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my tenure with ‘102.5 The Game’ and doing a show with Jared has been a terrific experience. He and I formed a unique partnership that allowed us to be teammates and friends. I’d also like to thank Cromwell Media owner Bud Walters and [program director] Ryan Porth for their non-stop support over the years. It’s been a good run.” Reese was general manager of the NFL’s old Houston Oilers from 1990-1999 and the Titans (after the Oilers moved from Houston to Nashville) from 1999-2006. He was a senior football advisor for the New England Patriots from 2009-2012. He joined “102.5 The Game” in 2015.
WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Keeps The Bike Drive Alive. The annual holiday “Bikes for Kids” drive was launched by retired WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte talk host John Hancock 26 years ago. With Hancock’s retirement at the beginning of 2020, the fate of the charitable drive that had provided some 20,000 bikes (as well as gifts, food, clothing and more) to tens of thousands of needy Charlotte-area kids was up in the air. Ultimately, WBT staff, in partnership with the Carolina Panthers, WSOC-TV, Frito Lay, and some other local charitable organizations, worked to get 400 brand-new bikes collected during the “Bike Drive” that took place on Tuesday (12/15). Brett Winterble, who took over the afternoon drive show following Hancock’s retirement, says, “It was an amazing day for Hancock’s bikes for kids. This was my first opportunity since joining WBT in February to interface with this amazing audience in person. The generosity and good cheer of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday was truly awe inspiring. In gathering hundreds of bikes for well deserving children I forged new friendships with dedicated listeners to WBT. One man named Steve told me he was a 50-year listener of WBT and had attended every one of the bike drives Hancock led. It was an unbelievable show of generosity and good civic pride. I look forward to next year and can’t wait for this to continue to grow!”
Townsquare Media to Offer $550 Million in Senior Secured Notes. In a filing with the SEC, Townsquare Media reveals it has priced an offering of $550 million in aggregate principal amount of its 6.875% senior secured notes due 2026. These notes are being offered to institutional buyers and will be senior secured obligations of the company and will be guaranteed on a senior secured basis by certain of the company’s direct and indirect wholly owned subsidiaries. The closing of the offering is anticipated to take place on or about January 6, 2021. Townsquare says that it intends to use the net proceeds from the offering, together with cash on hand, to repay existing senior secured credit facilities, to redeem all of its outstanding 6.500% senior notes due 2023. It is also terminating its existing senior secured credit facilities, including its existing revolving credit facility.
Skyview Networks and MLB Radio Rightsholders Team Up for Annual Meeting. This year’s annual meeting of Major League Baseball radio rightsholders and Skyview Networks to discuss their broadcast operations and ad sales experiences from the previous season was done remotely. This year’s panels placed a heavy focus on fan engagement and advertising strategies with emphasis on maximizing digital assets under the restrictions of the pandemic. Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones says, “The MLB radio rightsholders play a significant role in their teams’ success through broadcast sponsorships. Radio and baseball have always put fans first and this season proved no different. Skyview played an important role in helping teams find creative solutions during the pandemic and we showcased those solutions to the whole league this week.” Skyview says many teams also leveraged the power of social media to engage with fans through promotions from their biggest sponsors, citing proactive communication as their key to success. Putting their followers’ interests at the forefront, these organizations hosted many virtual gatherings through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more to encourage listenership and interaction while the season was on a hiatus. Additional panel topics included software and strategies to streamline remote broadcasting, creating awareness for franchises’ ancillary digital content to increase broadcast listening and sponsorship extensions, and monetizing the evolving sports betting opportunities across a radio platform.
New Drive Time Shows on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. Channel in January. Starting on January 4, the new lineup on SiriusXM’s non-partisan P.O.T.U.S. channel will include “Julie Mason Mornings” (6:00 am to 9:00 am ET) and “The Laura Coates Show” (3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET). Veteran journalist Mason takes over for Tim Farley’s “The Morning Briefing” after Farley’s retirement at year’s end. Coates – a CNN senior legal analyst – moves to the P.O.T.U.S. channel from SiriusXM’s Urban View channel. Julie Mason has more than 30 years of experience covering local, state and national politics, including four presidential campaigns. In more than 10 years at the White House, she traveled internationally and reported from more than 30 different countries. She is a former elected board member of the White House Correspondents Association. In addition to her media work, Coates has served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law.
United Stations Radio Networks Names Jim Roberts Director of Affiliate Sales and Marketing for Sports. Sports radio pro Jim Roberts is named director of affiliate sales and marketing/sports content for United Stations Radio Networks. He comes to USRN after a 20-plus years career with Disney/ESPN in which he oversaw the inception and growth of the affiliate network of 500-plus stations for ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes while also managing Disney owned-and-operated stations in New York City and Dallas. United Stations recently announced a partnership with SportsGarten Network to provide stations with short-form, long-form and daily daypart options in sports and sports wagering content. In his new role, Roberts will market all USRN sports-related programs and services, including the Total Sports Prep service. USRN’s Stefan Jones comments, “At United Stations we are growing our programming, services, and partnerships in the sports and sports-wagering lane. As more and more states are legalizing sports wagering, we want to ensure our company delivers quality options.”
TALKERS News Notes. Sports media personality Rich Eisen and Westwood One reach an agreement for the latter to feature “The Rich Eisen Show” podcast on the Westwood One Podcast Network, beginning on January 4. The deal also calls for the development of a new podcast by Eisen called “Just Getting Started” (scheduled for a February debut) in which Eisen interviews the biggest names from news, entertainment, sports, and pop culture, discussing their career origins and mining their stories on how they got started, in a format where audiences can be inspired by their endeavors…..In Chicago, Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM, Chicago is handing the agribusiness beat over to Steve Alexander with the retirement of Orion Samuelson at the end of this month. Samuelson is putting the wrap on a radio career that spans 60 years. Alexander says, “When I’ve filled in for Orion over the past 12 years, I’ve often joked that he gave me the key to the tractor, and I was able to keep it out of the ditch until he returned. Come next month, I’ll try to keep the tractor upright and continue Orion’s efforts to explain how important agriculture is to all of us.”…..GCN-syndicated talk radio host Dr. Daliah Wachs’ program adds two new affiliate stations as WEOL, Elyria, Ohio and KPRL, Paso Robles, California pick up the show.
COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Vaccines, the Economy & Closings, Stimulus Talks, Ongoing Election Denial, Georgia Runoff Elections, Biden Transition, and Northeast Snowstorm Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for post-holidays cases; the beginning of vaccine distribution in the U.S.; the state of the U.S. economy and forced business closings; the congressional negotiations over a new stimulus package; the ongoing denial of the election results in the Donald Trump camp; January’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the Joe Biden administration’s transition and nominations; and a big snowstorm hits the Northeast were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. There’s a series of holiday programs being made available on Entercom’s RADIO.COM that’s airing from December 18-20. The shows are: “POP Goes Christmas,” featuring Why Don’t We and Ava Max; “Acoustic Christmas,” featuring Kelly Clarkson, Meghan Trainor, Dan + Shay, Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, Rob Thomas, Train, Matt Nathanson, Ava Max, and a special performance from Keith Urban; “Country Christmas,” with Keith Urban, Dan + Shay, Lady A, Runaway June, and Russell Dickerson; and “Not So Silent Night” starring Machine Gun Kelly, 24kGoldn, All Time Low, SHAED, and Wallows. Those four shows will culminate in the “RADIO.COM LIVE! Holiday Music Festival,” a free video stream of the concert performances on December 21 at 6:00 pm ET, available nationwide on the RADIO.COM app and website at RADIO.COM/Live. Portions of the show will also be available on Twitch and via RADIO.COM’s social media channels. The performances will be accessible on demand for 72 hours after the show on RADIO.COM and station websites…..SiriusXM announces the rollout of several new pop up channels, holiday specials, live programs for New Year’s Eve, exclusive video, podcasts and best-of live performances. “New Year’s Nation” will launch beginning December 29 as a pop-up channel on SiriusXM dedicated to the ultimate New Year’s celebration songs in pop, rhythm, dance, and hip-hop from across the nation featuring the hottest hits from Harry Styles, Dua Lipa, The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Drake, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Taylor Swift and more. New holiday pop-up channels include Top 100 Interviews of 2020, highlighting the top celebrity interviews from the past year. Hosted by SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle and Julia Cunningham, the pop-up channel will feature interviews from shows including “Andy Cohen Live,” “The Hoda Show” and “The Jess Cagle Show” with some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Ben Affleck, Hugh Jackman, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Laverne Cox, Lily Collins, Lizzo, Ramy Yousef, Sam Smith, Sean Penn, Spike Lee and dozens more.
Howard Stern Signs Renewal with SiriusXM for Five More Years. During previous investor conference calls, outgoing SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer said he believed Howard Stern and SiriusXM would come to terms on a new deal and today’s announcement bears that out. Under the new agreement, Stern will continue to produce and host “The Howard Stern Show” exclusively for SiriusXM for the next five years, and the Howard Stern archive of audio and video will continue to be licensed to SiriusXM for an additional seven years. Stern says, “Fifteen years ago, I joined SiriusXM, a fledgling group of broadcasters. I had been in a toxic relationship with terrestrial radio. And no matter how well I treated the medium, no matter how successful I made them, they abused me. Going to SiriusXM liberated me. I felt like Tina Turner freeing myself from Ike. And despite the naysayers and the ridicule, we have persevered, and are thriving. I’ve been proven right about satellite radio over and over again. With this contract renewal, I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be right about. Certainly, I have a lot more to say about Metamucil crackers and stepmom porn. Plus, now that I can work from home, I simply don’t have an excuse to quit.” Meyer says, “As the leading audio entertainment company, we couldn’t be happier to have Howard, the leading host in all of radio and audio, continue to make SiriusXM the home for his show, channels, and archives while at the peak of his broadcasting career. Howard’s home has been SiriusXM and it will remain that way, but we’ve expanded SiriusXM in recent years too, and we are excited about finding the right ways that select content from Howard can find audiences on additional platforms. May I add, I consider Howard a close friend and look forward to listening to him for years to come.”
Ron St. Pierre Out at iHeartMedia’s WHJJ, Providence; Jim Polito Takes Over Morning Show. Longtime Providence air personality and programmer Ron St. Pierre has exited iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence where he hosted the morning drive show. Filling the programming gap is WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based morning personality Jim Polito. In 2016, iHeartMedia dropped the local morning show hosted by Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan on WHYN-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts and began simulcasting Polito’s show there. The WHJJ move puts the Jim Polito show in three of iHeartMedia’s New England markets.
Salem’s KRLA and KTIE Cut Ties with Brian Whitman. Southern California radio pro Brian Whitman exits Salem Media Group’s morning drive show “The Morning Answer” that he co-hosted with Jennifer Horn that was simulcast on KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino. Whitman shared the news on his Facebook page on Friday (12/4). He wrote, “I was provided the following from folks at Salem/KRLA this morning. The announcement was sent by the general manager to their kind and hardworking staff, making this news public. I’ll have very personal thoughts to share with members of the ‘Morning Answer Listening Family’ (as I came to know and regard you over many years) very soon. It will be in this space at a time that is more appropriate and comfortable. With all of my love and with the warmest gratitude for every moment that we’ve shared together, I offer words that I know fall far short of my heart’s sentiment. Thank you, thank you, thank you guys.” The message from management was as follows: “After eight years hosting ‘The Morning Answer,’ Brian Whitman will no longer be with us. We wish Brian all the best in the future. Chuck [Tyler] and I echo Phil Boyce who said, “Brian has been a hard-working and extremely talented employee for us for many years. We will always cherish his friendship, and our opportunity to work together at KRLA and KTIE.” Whitman was the liberal counterpart to conservative Horn.
Hubbard Radio Drops Sports Talker Chris Rongey; Re-Aligns Host Lineup. According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar, afternoon drive sports talk personality Chris Rongey has been let go from Hubbard Radio’s WXOS-FM, St. Louis. Rongey had been part of “The Fast Lane” afternoon show since replacing D’Marco Farr in 2017. The station moves midday host Jamie Rivers into afternoons alongside Anthony Stalter and Brad Thompson and promotes Alex Farrario to the midday show co-hosting with Brandon Kiley.
Talk Radio Host Michael Berry’s Good Month Includes Raising $1.3 Million for PTSD Foundation. KRTH, Houston-based, nationally syndicated talk host Michael Berry had a very good month in which his program helped raise $1.3 million for Camp Hope, the residential treatment center run by the PTSD Foundation of America, of which Berry is the national spokesman. The organization was laying off staff, including the vital folks who counsel suicidal veterans who struggle with re-integration after war. Berry teamed up with sponsor Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture chain, to raise funds. During the whole of 2020, Berry’s efforts have raised $3 million for the organization, almost its entire budget. Additionally, Berry made national news on Monday (12/7) for his interview with Houston-based Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue, during which Unanue said he gave U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez the company’s “employee of the month” award. This came after Ocasio Cortez called for a boycott on Goya products because Unanue publicly praised President Trump. However, Unanue says the boycott call produced a counter-protest in which supporters flocked to buy Goya goods. On top of that, Berry has added new affiliates, WPNN, Pensacola, Florida, and KNUW, Silver City, New Mexico and hopes to roll out seven new affiliates before the New Year. In case you missed it, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian profiled Berry back in October. Read it here.
PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. The Nielsen Audio PPM ratings survey in the month prior to the November election (October 8 – November 4) was not as generous to sports talk radio stations as it was to news/talk, still TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian reports that 46% of sports talkers were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the October 2020 survey. Gainers from October to November were led by RadiOhio’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “97.1 The Fan” (+0.7, 6.2 share) and Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville (+0.7, 6.0 share). Due to the pandemic’s effect on live sports, year-over-year comparisons have not been kind to the sports talk format and November 2019 to November 2020 is not different. 68% of sports talk outlets in PPM markets were down. However, 23% of stations gained with Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas leading the pack (+1.6, 2.8 share). While no sports talkers claimed the #1 rank in their market during the November survey, iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis came close, posting a 7.6 share good for the #2 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.
WJR, Detroit News Director Dick Haefner to Retire. After a 51-year career in radio news, WJR, Detroit news director Dick Haefner is retiring. Haefner, an award-winning newscaster, reporter, and news director, has been WJR news director since 1989. Cumulus Media says that “his tenure is unmatched by any other Detroit broadcast news director. He is one of the most recognizable news voices in his hometown of Detroit, signing on to radio news in 1969 and signing off on December 11, 2020, Haefner’s last day on-air.” The company goes on to note that “under Haefner’s leadership, WJR News has been honored with nearly every national and local news award in the broadcast business, including: the Peabody Award, Associated Press national award for Best Broadcast Reporting, Edward R. Murrow Awards, and numerous state news awards… Some of Haefner’s projects have changed laws. A series on suburban toxic waste dumps resulted in tighter rules for handling waste. An investigation of fraud at gas stations brought about new regulations on service station inspections and fuel hauling, and even changed the way the IRS taxes the fuel hauling industry. Among the biggest stories Haefner has broken are Coleman Young’s baby, the Nancy Kerrigan–Tonya Harding incident heard around the world, and Detroit’s two side-by-side sports stadiums.” Haefner comments, “Anything I may have accomplished is because of other people, my wife Judy, and my family who allowed me to pursue adventures in broadcast news, and especially my co-workers. My most important job was to put them in position to do their best work. What they accomplished every day is my greatest reward. I have had the best job in Detroit radio news for almost 32 years. I’m the luckiest person I know.”
Susan O’Connell Retires from Compass Media Networks; Robert Blum Rises to Senior Manager of Affiliate Sales. Affiliate sales pro Susan O’Connell is retiring from her position as vice president of news/talk affiliate sales with Compass Media Networks, effective December 31. At the same time, the company announces that Robert Blum – a Compass Media staffer since 2011 – is being promoted to senior manager of affiliate sales for news/talk/sports. O’Connell has been in the news/talk affiliate sales business for the past 40 years, the last six with Compass Media. She previously served with the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, ABC Radio Networks, CBS News, and the Progressive Radio Network. She comments, “The best part of my job has always been working with great broadcasters. Thank you all for sharing your time, talent, and friendship over the years. Compass Media Networks was the perfect place to wind up. Representing our stellar news/talk lineup and being part of this team has been an honor and a privilege.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “Susan is a total superstar, friend, and treasured colleague. Through hard work, perseverance, and cunning, Susan established Compass Media Networks as a dominant player in news/talk programming with over 750 leading news/talk stations airing over a dozen hours of our daily, live, and original news-talk programming.”
COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Trump Challenges, Biden Transition, Stimulus Package, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pornhub Allegations, and Presidential Pardons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/7). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the pleas from authorities to follow mask and gathering mandates, and the status of vaccines; Donald Trump continues legal challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues his administration’s transition; the debate in Congress over a new stimulus package; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the allegations that porn giant Pornhub has promoted underage actors; and reports of Donald Trump’s pardon plans were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro and urban media personality Charlamagne Tha God, a.k.a. Lenard McKelvey, and iHeartMedia renew and extend their relationship. The deal means the co-host of the WWPR, New York “Power 105.1”-based, nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” will continue to work with iHeartMedia for the next five years. He says, “I give my sincerest thanks to iHeart for empowering me over the past decade to be the best talent that I can be, and for honoring me as an owner and executive. I love the audio business and iHeart is the biggest and best audio company in the world. As co-founder and chief creative officer of the Black Effect Podcast Network and now senior creative officer of cultural content and programming at iHeart, all I want to do for the next five years is continue to move the culture of radio and podcasting forward by curating a new era of voices, programming, and events. GOD IS GREAT! Now, it’s time to get back to work.”