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Friday, July 30, 2021

| July 30, 2021

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, “Recalibration!” looks back at this past week of July 26-30. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Harry Hurley; talk show host, WPG, Atlantic City; Mark Simone, talk show host, WOR, New York; Dr. Renee Kohanski, forensic psychiatrist/medical profession podcaster; Ralph Nader, political activist/talk show host, “The Ralph Nader Radio Hour”; Walter Sterling, talk show host, “Sterling on Sunday”; 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-AM, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; 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, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click  here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Schultz, Husmann Join Quu. Selected to become Quu’s head of marketing and product manager, respectively, are Suzy Schultz and Ben Husmann. Schultz and Husmann will report directly to chief executive officer Steve Newberry, who comments, “Suzy and Ben are respected executives and creative problem solvers known for leading innovation in audio. With deep industry knowledge, they’re uniquely qualified to fortify the significant expansion of Quu’s software and services [which will roll out] later this year.” Creative Prism founder/chief executive officer Schultz notes, “Developing a consistent, clarified, and fresh approach to Quu’s brand and messaging is a dream come true. We’re focused on empowering Quu’s customers and offering the industry access to ratings and revenue growth opportunities that build on radio’s core product.” Meanwhile, Husmann states, “My role is to make it quick, easy, and painless for stations to enhance their programming and advertising metadata and visuals for the car dashboard and beyond. I’m excited to collaborate with the elite team at Quu to build a new and improved user experience on top of Quu’s extensive capabilities.” Schultz’s marketing/content production company Creative Prism will oversee branding, communications, marketing strategy, productization, and sales enablement for Quu customers. Prior to founding Creative Prism, Schultz was Cumulus Media/Westwood One’s senior vice president of corporate marketing, and managing editor of iHeartRadio. Formerly AccuRadio’s chief operating officer, Husmann was senior vice president/product and technology for TagStation and NextRadio. Quu enables radio stations to publish sales and programming messages on car dashboards; it delivered over six billion “visual Quus” in 2020. Earlier this month, Quu and Bonneville announced a multi-market partnership.

Tunein, iHeart Partner On Strategic Technology and Content. The agreement will allow TuneIn to dispense on more than 850 iHeartMedia digital stations. In addition, TuneIn will have access to local advertising demand from iHeartMedia’s monetization assets, including its sales force of nearly 2,000 sellers in every major market, and Triton Digital‘s advertising technology. iHeartMedia chief data officer/president of revenue strategies Brian Kaminsky comments that the partnership is “a great marriage of content and technology. [It is] enabled by Triton’s cutting edge and comprehensive suite of audio advertising technology to support streaming audio and podcast businesses with both direct and programmatic sales. With Triton’s Supply Side Platform, local advertisers will have the ability to reach additional iHeart and TuneIn listeners through both direct and programmatic sales.” TuneIn chief revenue officer Rob Deichert notes, “The relationship with iHeart demonstrates the power of TuneIn’s open platform to flexibly align with the content, distribution and monetization assets of our partners to jointly create new and previously unrecognized value. We’re incredibly pleased to partner with iHeartMedia and Triton as we continue our mission to delight listeners and reinvent radio for a connected world.”

WNYC Appoints Clary Deputy Editor. The newly-created role at WNYC Broadcasting Foundation-owned public radio news/talk WNYC, New York will be filled August 30 by current Vice VP Stephanie Clary. As deputy editor, Clary will oversee the station’s news coverage, working with editors in charge of multiplatform desks to align journalistic priorities. Per a WNYC press release, “In Stephanie, we have found a truly impressive journalist with deep experience covering local, national, international and breaking news on both digital and broadcast platforms. She has developed strategies to enhance newsroom innovation and dynamism. She will bring those skills to WNYC as we continue to grow our audience, expand our reach, and produce impactful journalism that improves the lives of people in New York City and our region. Her track record as a leader in a wide range of newsrooms makes her the perfect fit for this role. She has managed large teams of journalists, bringing to each job her unique mix of editorial judgement, product expertise, digital skills, and news judgment. Our team is the next place she wants to bring her talents and skills.” Clary comments, “I’m thrilled to join a newsroom that’s so essential to our city and region at a time when local news is diminishing in even the largest metropolis. This role is an incredible opportunity to work on both audio and digital at an institution with such a deep and respected legacy, and such committed journalists. I’m excited to be a part of helping to serve more communities with impactful, mission-driven journalism and storytelling.” Prior to her present role at Vice, Clary was CNN’s director of social publishing; managing editor at Mic; managing editor of NBC start-up “Breaking News”; and part of the Seattle Times team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the 2009 Lakewood police shooting in Washington.

Nielsen’s Q2 Revenue, Income Increase. Second quarter 2021 revenue for Nielsen Holdings rose 6.2% year-to-year to $861 million. Net income from continuing operations attributable to shareholders was up 207.1% to $86 million. Meanwhile, adjusted EBITDA rose 11.8% to $370 million. The audience measurement division saw revenue gain 4.3% to $629 million, while outcomes & content revenue was up 11.5% to $232 million. The company revised full-year 2021 guidance: It increased total revenue growth projections from 2% – 3% to 2.5% – 3% on a constant currency basis; adjusted EBITDA from $1.47 billion – $1.49 billion to  $1.475 billion -$1.49 billion; and adjusted earnings per share from $1.47 – $1.58 to  $1.54 – $1.61. According to chief executive officer David Kenny, “[The results] demonstrate our continued strategic and operational transformation, as the global media ecosystem evolves. We have increased confidence in our full-year outlook, which is reflected in our updated 2021 guidance. We continue to see healthy renewals from existing clients, growing interest from new clients, and steady progress in our global product development. We are executing well against our strategy and roadmap to create long-term value and are pleased with steady progress again this quarter.”

House-Passed Bill Contains Public Media Funding. The Fiscal Year 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill earmarks money for public media. Corporation For Public Broadcasting president/chief executive officer Patricia Harrison remarks, “We appreciate the House of Representatives’ strong support of public media, providing $565 million for CPB’s [fiscal year] 2024 advance appropriation, ensuring that public media remains free and available to every American. As the country continues to address the impact of a global pandemic on every aspect of American life, public media is responding with content and services that support the increased educational, informational, and public safety needs of America’s diverse communities. We are grateful for the House’s ongoing support of $20 million for the public broadcasting interconnection system, which allows for the distribution of content from producers to local stations and is part of our nation’s emergency alert system.” Regarding the $31.8 million provided for the Department of Education‘s “Ready To Learn,” Harrison states, “The program enables the creation of accessible, educational public media content, on air, online and in the community, for children ages 2 to 8. As the appropriations process continues, we look forward to working with Congress on funding decisions to support a healthy and vibrant public media system.”

Have You Heard This Podcast? That’s a question those at ABC News are most likely again posing regarding the network’s “Have You Seen This Man?,” which begins its second season (Wednesday) August 11. Listeners are invited to join a real-time global search by U.S. Marshals for fugitive John Ruffo, who stole over $300 million. Instead of reporting for a 17-year prison sentence, the scammer – currently on the “15 Most Wanted” list – vanished. Involved in one of the largest frauds of its time, Ruffo swindled banks out of more than $300 million, using the cash to transform himself into a Wall Street luminary. The six-part Sunny Hostin-hosted podcast features reporting by ABC News senior investigative reporter Matthew Mosk, who embeds with the U.S. Marshals on Ruffo’s trail. Mosk reports the story of how 23 years ago, Brooklyn computer salesperson Ruffo pleaded guilty to fraud. After turning in his ankle monitor on his way to a 17-year prison sentence, Ruffo left his car at New York’s JFK Airport and disappeared. Tips have kept marshals on their toes for two decades and listeners could be the key in uncovering the final clue in finding Ruffo, who was rumored to be behind home plate at a Los Angeles DodgersBoston Red Sox baseball game. The podcast reports on Ruffo’s disappearance through the eyes of those who were there, including the attorney who persuaded a judge to let Ruffo drive himself to prison; the bailiff who took off Ruffo’s handcuffs; the FBI agent who got the call when Ruffo skipped town; Ruffo’s former wife, who remarried after abandoning hope that he would make contact with her; and family members who found themselves temporarily homeless after Ruffo skipped bail. A four-part Hulu original limited series on the global search for Ruffo is currently in production from ABC News Longform. The first season of “Have You Seen This Man?” followed the search for murderer Lester Eubanks, who was on the run for over 45 years. That podcast yielded more than 300 tips; the case remains active.

SiriusXM’s SXM-8 Satellite Ready for Service. The SXM-8 satellite completed in-orbit testing and has been handed over to SiriusXM. Last month (6/6), a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the satellite into space from Cape Canaveral. SXM-8 is the ninth digital, audio radio satellite built by Maxar for the satcaster. SiriusXM senior vice president/satellite and repeater systems engineering & operations Bridget Neville notes, “We are committed to enhancing our satellite fleet and ability to deliver the best audio entertainment, traffic, weather, data and information services for years to come. We congratulate our engineering team, Maxar, and SpaceX on a successful launch and commissioning.” Maxar senior vice president/space programs delivery Chris Johnson adds, “We are proud of our long-standing relationship with SiriusXM and excited to see SXM-8 ready for service to bring entertainment to millions of SiriusXM subscribers. The entire Maxar team is committed to excellence – playing a role in the success of our customers’ missions is what drives us every day.” SXM-8 is more than 27-feet tall and weighed nearly 7,000 kg at launch. SXM-8 has an almost 30-feet in diameter mesh reflector that will allow SiriusXM programming to reach radios, including those in moving vehicles.

TALKERS News Notes. Whereas Nielsen July 2021 stats indicate double-digit declines by Newsmax’s cable news competition, Newsmax is touting a year-over-year total audience increase of 500%, maintaining it is the country’s fourth-rated cable news network. Chief executive officer Christopher Ruddy states, “Newsmax is growing across almost every metric.” The cable news network draws over 30 million regular viewers … Airing weekly on CRN Digital Talk Radio and in numerous radio markets across the country, “What’s Cookin’ on Wine” notes its 750th episode with an on-air celebration. Among those taking part include Brewer Clifton founder/winemaker Greg Brewer; Arthur Vineyards proprietor David Long; Pisoni Vineyards founder Gary Pisoni; Boisett Collection proprietor Jean-Charles Boisset; and CIRQ & CHEV Wines founder Michael Browne. The Michael Horn and Nicole Nielson-hosted show began broadcasting from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in 2002; Michael Jordan spun off “What’s Cookin’ on Wine” and created “The Word on Wine,” which originates from Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa (California). According to Jordan, “What’s Cookin’ on Wine” has become “one of the most respected radio shows and podcasts in the world of wine. Bringing the joy of wine to the public is my passion; it’s only fitting to celebrate the legacy of the show with some of the most important people in the industry.” In addition to being an original host of “The Word on Wine” and “What’s Cookin’ on Wine,” certified sommelier Horn hosts the daily syndicated “What’s Cookin’ Today.” He founded CRN in 1983 and is its chief executive officer … Public radio news/talk WMFE, Orlando’s former president/chief executive officer Stephen McKenney Steck, 77, died this past Saturday (7/24) in Orlando. He was hit by a car while biking. Responsible for signing on WMFE in 1980, Steck founded the Carroll McKenney Foundation For Public Media, a nonprofit producer of Central Florida programming and podcasts.

Creesh, We Hardly Knew Ye…

| May 21, 2021

By Mark Wainwright
Talk Show Host

CNN’s “The Story of Late Night” overlooked both “Broadway Open House” and the brilliant young comedian/host who was stricken by tragedy on the eve of his network television debut.

SYRACUSE — Although I’ve enjoyed the first three episodes of “The Story of Late Night,” I was surprised that CNN barely acknowledged Jerry Lester and NBC’s “Broadway Open House,” which was TV’s first late night comedy/variety show. NBC aired it live, five nights a week between 11pm and midnight, and while a couple different personalities took brief turns hosting the program, most of the show’s run was emceed by the veteran vaudeville comic Jerry Lester.

Lester led a small troupe of performers through sketches, musical numbers, audience-participation gags, and whatever other silliness he could improvise. The program debuted in May of 1950, and after some early success, the show began to fade a bit over time. And when Lester walked away from the show a year later – evidently frustrated that cast member Jennie “Dagmar” Lewis was accidentally becoming the true star of the show, at his expense – that doomed the whole effort. NBC pulled the plug on August 24, 1951.

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Monday Memo: Listeners Kidnapped!

| May 17, 2021

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Notice how often transmitters invite listeners and viewers to leave?

NBC uses affiliates’ air to ask viewers to watch Peacock instead. They even cannibalize their own linear channels. As President Trump recently addressed Congress, Lester Holt anchored on NBC, while MSNBC “Morning Joe” stars anchored coverage on Peacock. As if Brian Williams + talking-heads on MSNBC and Shepard Smith + talking-heads on CNBC weren’t splintering viewership already.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

| April 28, 2021

Meadowlark Media and DraftKings Ink Big Deal for Content Distribution. The Miami Herald has the story about the new $40 million deal that Meadowlark Media – the company formed by former ESPN chief John Skipper and former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard – and DraftKings have entered into. According to the Herald, DraftKings is getting into the content distribution business and by June or early July will be responsible for getting Meadowlark’s flagship program “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” onto radio, television, podcast platforms, and social media. It will also serve as title sponsor. The paper reports that Meadowlark negotiated with several other companies including SiriusXM, NBC’s Peacock and iHeartMedia.  Le Batard told the Herald that didn’t want fans to have to climb a paywall for his show. “We didn’t want to do that to our listeners. The thing that I chose was freedom. Every time I’ve negotiated anywhere was for freedom, not money. This allows Meadowlark to be profitable from the start and have total freedom to do what we want. We can go forward and appear everywhere. We can make partnerships anywhere we want. We don’t have any corporate overlord. Our partner is our sponsor and what they are sponsoring is our freedom. The media landscape is changing very rapidly, and this shows how much power and value individuals can exert in breaking free from the corporate machine.” By summertime, Le Batard’s show – currently only available in podcast form – will be found in video formant on YouTube, Twitch, and DraftKings’ own nascent channel. The Herald adds that “the partnership will include DraftKings commissioning content projects and original programming that Meadowlark will develop and produce, including sports documentaries, as DraftKings broadens its sports entertainment footprint.”

Alpha Media Files Opposition to Larry Wilson’s Petition to Deny with FCC. As Alpha Media works to emerge from bankruptcy – approval for which it has received from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern Division of Virginia – it also needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission. But minority interest holders Larry Wilson and Paul Stone filed Petitions to Deny with the FCC, claiming that Alpha has failed to comply with FCC regulations regarding licensing of some of its stations and that the matter requires further review of foreign ownership interests, respectively. Alpha recently filed its opposition to the Petitions to Deny. In that filing’s summary, it says, “In short, when one peels away the bombast of Wilson’s Petition, it is clear that Wilson is inappropriately using the agency as a platform for rehashing his differences with certain members of the Company’s Board of Directors and management, and vainly attempting to shoehorn assessment of his personal grievances into the Commission’s processes under the guise of spurious claims that Alpha is unfit to hold its broadcast licenses. Moreover, his assertions are false. For Stone’s part, he simply criticizes the FCC’s well-established policy of promoting companies’ ability to promptly emerge from bankruptcy where further regulatory review of foreign ownership interests is required, a policy that is grounded in public interest considerations and comity with the bankruptcy laws. Neither Wilson nor Stone has standing as a party-in-interest. Any claims they had as holders of minority interests in Alpha pertaining to the Plan or to Alpha’s governance could and should have been presented to the Bankruptcy Court or the Delaware courts. While they inexplicably chose not to avail themselves of these alternative forums, they cannot now seek redress before the Commission. It has been black-letter law that the FCC does not adjudicate private contractual matters for far longer than the ‘more than 40 years’ that Wilson’s counsel has been ‘practic[ing] before the Commission,’ and the FCC has no reason to do so here.”

Westwood One Announces Executive Promotions. Three Westwood One staffers are promoted to new positions within the syndicator and sales firm’s programming and operations divisions. Twenty-eight-year Westwood One employee Susan Stephens is promoted to SVP and general manager, Westwood One programming. In this expanded role, Stephens will work to optimize programming and content opportunities and collaborations between news, talk, music, and entertainment. Tim Seymour rises to SVP, head of operations in which the 20-year WWO staffer assumes responsibility for the operations, partner relations, affiliate & sales operations, traffic & continuity, and research operations teams. Becky Bennett is elevated to VP, partner relations. Stephens and Seymour both report to Cumulus Media executive vice president of marketing and president of Westwood One Suzanne Grimes. Bennett will report to Seymour. Grimes says, “We have an enviable depth of talent within Westwood One with the unique experience to lead us forward. It is a privilege and a pleasure to announce these well-deserved promotions that will position us to succeed in 2021 and beyond.”

Edison’s Annual ‘Moms and Media’ Study Unveiled May 6. The results of the annual “Moms and Media” study from Edison Research will be revealed at a webinar being presented next Thursday (5/6) at 2:00 pm ET. Edison says, “This year’s ‘Moms and Media’ study provides insight on media usage, social media habits, and current outlook on tech by U.S. moms. Findings incorporate data from The Infinite Dial study from Edison Research and Triton Digital, as well as data from Edison Research’s new ongoing syndicated measurement of social media, The Social Habit. The 2021 report features data trends on devices, media engagement, and technology usage of U.S. moms. Highlights from this year’s study include: smart speaker ownership, podcast adoption, online audio listening, and social media engagement. In addition, the report will showcase brand new research centered on social media usage by U.S. moms and their children. You can register for the webinar here.

Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Harry Hamm Sentenced in Child Porn Case. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that former longtime KMOX, St. Louis air personality Harry Hamm was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. The 79-year-old former entertainment editor for the radio station admitted that FBI investigators found child porn on two of his cell phones and his laptop. Hamm is also facing charges of second-degree statutory sodomy, incest and possession of child pornography in St. Louis County. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. The Post-Dispatch story says the St. Louis County charges stem from allegations of sexual contact with a 16-year-old. Hamm began his career with the station in 1975.

TALKERS News Notes. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway is bringing two of the Navy SEALS who were on the mission that killed al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden to Des Moines for a fundraiser for the Puppy Jake Foundation that provides service dogs for combat-wounded veterans. Rob O’Neill – the SEAL who fired the shots that killed Bin Laden – and SEAL dog handler Will Chesney will take part in the June 18 event…..ABC News Radio is providing coverage of President Joe Biden’s address this evening and will begin with a one-hour special, “The Biden Presidency: The First 100 Days,” looking back at the start of the Biden administration. The program will air live on the radio network from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET anchored by correspondent Aaron Katersky. ABC News Radio will also provide live anchored coverage of President Biden’s speech, with reporting and analysis from ABC News’ team of correspondents and experts…..Public radio outlet WPLN, Nashville announces it has hired Caroline Eggers as the newsroom’s first environmental reporter. She starts her new position in June and will cover environmental issues with a focus on equity for WPLN News as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms across the U.S. to report on under-covered topics and communities. She comments, “WPLN News delivers essential stories with incredible intellect and empathy. I can’t wait to reflect these values while investigating Nashville’s climate action plan, air quality and infrastructure challenges.”

COVID-19, Biden’s 100 Days Address to Congress/$1.8 Trillion American Families Plan, Andrew Brown, Jr Protests/Police Violence, 2020 Census-House Seats, Critical Race Theory Controversy, John Kerry Iran Allegation, and Southern Border Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/27). The CDC’s new directives on mask wearing, the rollout of vaccines, and the high rate of cases in places like India and Brazil; this evening’s 100-day address to Congress by President Joe Biden and his $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the protests of the police shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. and other cases of police violence; the results of the 2020 census and its impact on U.S. Rep seats; the controversy over “critical race theory” and its use in public schools curricula; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Israeli air strikes with Iran’s foreign minister; and the overwhelming number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

CES2021: Technology Is Merely the Plumbing

| January 14, 2021

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Today wraps the (virtual) convention reporters are scolded for calling “the Consumer Electronics Show.” Years ago, the Consumer Electronics Association changed its name to Consumer Technology Association, as tech things became mere vessels for user experiences.

Radio first-timers I’ve nagged-into attending CES were, at first, intimidated. Even before the pandemic turned life upside-down, technology was changing our lives, every day, in almost every way. Then came 2020, and while many industries took a brutal hit, tech sales grew 5% last year, to $442 billion in retail value.

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