By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Just reading about Gene Valicenti’s routine may exhaust you. In his 30th year on NBC10 Providence, he co-anchors the 6:00 pm weeknight TV newscast that sometimes beats the other stations combined. And in his 10th year on WPRO radio, his morning drive ratings hit #1 6+.
Begging-the-question: WHEN do you sleep? Gene chuckles “I take a nice nap during the day, and get to bed by 9.” And like many working remotely during the shutdown, he says “doing the show from home has been a blessing. More sleep, a later wake-up, and a more alert host!”
Brian Shactman Joins WTIC-AM, Hartford for Mornings. Television news personality Brian Shactman is named the new morning drive co-host at Entercom’s WTIC-AM, Hartford, joining Ray Dunaway for the “Mornings with Ray and Brian” program. Shactman assumes the role beside Dunaway left open after former morning co-host Joe D’Ambrosio and Entercom agreed to negotiate an early exit from his contract. Prior to joining WTIC, Shactman had been serving as an anchor for WBTS-TV, Boston NBC10 and New England Cable News. He most recently created and hosted “Primary Source,” a nightly political show focusing on the presidential primary and has also anchored weekend evenings on NBC10 Boston since the onset of the pandemic. Entercom Connecticut SVP and market manager Stephanie Perl says, “I’m excited to welcome Brian back to Connecticut to join our morning show program alongside Ray Dunaway. He has a proven track record of entertaining and capturing his audience, and his energy will be a great addition to our show.” Shactman comments, “I have been listening to Ray for years, and WTIC is always my first stop when I get in the car. To now be a part of the WTIC team is an absolute thrill. Connecticut – the whole state – is a community. WTIC is a huge part of that community, and I am excited to help people start their day in this great state.”
Townsquare Media Creates Texas Network Featuring Chad Hasty Show. Following the departure of the Robert Pratt-hosted “Pratt on Texas” program from Townsquare Media’s talk stations KFYO, Lubbock “Newstalk 790”; KYYW, Abilene; and KWFS-AM, Wichita Falls, the company is adding a two-hour version of “The Chad Hasty Show” (5:00 pm to 7:00 pm) to those stations’ program schedules. This move also marks the creation of the Texas Townsquare Media Network that will function on those three stations, with more affiliates expected to be announced later this year. Hasty is the first host to operate under this banner, with more programs anticipated to join it. Hasty has been hosting his eponymous 8:30 am to 11:00 am program on KFYO since the fall of 2012 and he’ll continue that Lubbock-focused program in addition to the new afternoon drive show.
Former Sports Talker Marty Tirrell to Be Sentenced Wednesday. The Des Moines Register reports that former Des Moines sports talk host Marty Tirrell will be sentenced in federal court tomorrow (1/20) after pleading guilty in December of 2019 to one count of mail fraud. Prosecutors are seeking a five-year sentence combined with an order to pay $1.46 million in restitution to American Express, Wells Fargo, Bank of the West and five individuals. Prosecutors say Tirrell defrauded investors of more than $1.5 million in a sporting events tickets resale venture. However, Tirrell didn’t acquire tickets and instead used the cash to “finance a lavish lifestyle and to spend on online gambling.” Prosecutors are seeking the five-year sentence because “the defendant has been defrauding businesses and individuals with his lies for years, with little to no consequences. Defendant continued to lie after he was under investigation in this matter, and the government is concerned he won’t ever stop lying.”
Salem Media Group’s Regnery to Publish Josh Hawley’s Book. After Simon & Schuster decided to cancel its publication of Senator Josh Hawley’s new book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, in the aftermath of the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, Hawley has found a new publisher in Salem Media Group’s Regnery Publishing. Simon & Schuster said in a statement, “We did not come to this decision lightly. As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: At the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.” The Salem press release says, “Despite Senator Hawley’s immediate and forceful condemnation of the violent incursion, social media teemed with calls for retribution for his objection to the certification of the electoral vote. The next day, citing his purported ‘role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom,’ Simon & Schuster announced that it was dropping Hawley’s book, scheduled for publication in June. Responding to the impulsive decision, Hawley stated on Twitter, ‘Simon & Schuster is canceling my contract because I was representing my constituents, leading a debate on the Senate floor on voter integrity, which they have now decided to redefine as sedition.’” The press release goes on to state: “Senator Hawley is an authority on the legal and constitutional implications of Big Tech’s growing power. While the attorney general of Missouri, he investigated how the most powerful company in the world – Google – uses citizens’ private information. In The Tyranny of Big Tech, he shows how Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and other digital giants have abused their enormous market power and political influence, silencing their competition. Explaining why current policies fail us, he identifies alternatives that will break Big Tech’s control over our liberties.”
High-Profile Guests to Take Part in 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards. On Thursday (1/21), the 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards will take place in a virtual format and is being recorded from multiple locations. Just-announced special guests will include: Aaron Mahnke, Hillary Clinton, Holly Frey, Laverne Cox, Questlove, Roy Wood Jr., Will Ferrell, and more. The awards span 30 categories and you can see all of the finalists here. The event will exclusively video stream on iHeartRadio’s YouTube and Facebook pages on Thursday at 9:00 pm ET and will broadcast across iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and on the iHeartRadio App at 9:00 pm local time.
Anny Mansfield Named Corporate Research Director for Gen Media Partners. The company says that in order to meet the growing demands of its expanding portfolio of radio rep firms and networks, Anny Mansfield has been appointed to the newly created position of corporate research director. Mansfield has been with Gen Media Partners since its inception and in this new role will build out a company-wide research department and work closely with the company’s sales departments to serve the needs of network and national advertisers. Gen Media Partners CEO Kevin Garrity says, “I am very pleased that we already had the right person on our team to lead research across Gen Media Partners. Anny is exceptional at finding the data to develop marketing strategies that help our account executives deliver compelling stories and solutions about the power of radio to advertisers and their agencies, especially for new business development.”
U.S. Agency for Global Media Names Board of Directors; Blanquita Cullum Appointed Chair. New boards of directors have been appointed for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks by CEO Michael Pack. The USAGM says the diverse boards “bring exceptional skill in the fields of journalism, language, technology, broadcasting, and diplomacy that are essential to the work of the three surrogate broadcast networks, which provide a lifeline of factual news for those living in places where a free press is denied to them by repressive government.” Blanquita Cullum — host, producer, and writer for “The Hard Question” — is named chairwoman of the three boards. She comments, “From my previous service on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, I understand the importance of delivering objective, accurate news about America and the world to combat our adversaries’ misinformation campaigns and to shine the light of truth into those dark corners where access to a free press is denied. The other board members and I will fight to ensure these networks and their journalists have the tools and support they need to perform their difficult but essential work, which itself is crucial for our national interest.” Serving on the board with Cullum as directors are: Jonathan Alexander, Amanda Milius, Roger Simon, and Christian Whiton.
TALKERS News Notes. This Thursday (1/21) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the latest in a series of Town Hall broadcasts to help New Jersey deal with the mental stresses of the pandemic. The station’s Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments in bringing mental health experts together to talk about these stressors and help residents access help. He says, “The toll this pandemic has taken on our overall mental wellness has been huge. This program seeks to de-stigmatize seeking help and connect our listeners to the many resources available.”…..Beasley Broadcast Group announces that subsidiary, Beasley Mezzanine Holdings, LLC intends to offer $280 million in aggregate principal amount of senior secured notes to persons reasonably believed to be qualified institutional buyers…..In Abilene, Texas, Cumulus Media drops the sports talk format on KTLT-FM and flips to rock as “98.1 The Phantom.”…..iHeartMedia New York’s iHeartRadio Broadway and D’Marie Productions announce that the LGBTQ+ comedy podcast “Slumber Party with Tim Murray” is joining the iHeartPodcast Network, beginning January 20…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs Show” adds new affiliates: WWPR-AM, Bradenton/Tampa; KNET, Palestine, Texas; WNRI ,Woonsocket, Rhode Island; WTBG-FM, Brownsville, Tennessee; and WVEL, Peoria, Illinois.
Trump’s Final Day/Pardons Commutations, Inauguration Prep, Capitol Attack Investigation and Arrests, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, China and WHO Failures, Social Media and Free Speech, New Migrant Caravan, and Australian Open Troubles Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/18). Today’s final day in office for President Donald Trump and the pardons and commutations expected to be issued; the preparation and security for Wednesday’s inauguration for Joe Biden; the ongoing investigation into the Capitol attack and related arrests; the fast-rising number of COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response report indicating China and the WHO failed to act quickly at the beginning of the pandemic; the move by social media platforms to suspend purveyors of extremist content; the caravan of Hondurans heading for the U.S.; and positive COVID tests hamper the Australian Open were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
WBAL-AM, Baltimore Moves C4 to Morning Show; Yurpizy Morgan Moves to Middays. The new morning program on Hearst Television’s news/talk WBAL-AM, Baltimore is “Mornings with C4 and Bryan Nehman,” airing from 5:30 am to 10:00 am. Nehman has been hosting mornings on WBAL since 2012. Clarence M. Mitchell IV, a.k.a C4, had been hosting the 9:00 am to 1:00 pm program. Yurpizy Morgan – previously hosting the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm program since being promoted from weekends in January of 2019 – is now on air from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. The station expects to name a new, permanent host for the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm daypart soon. Station president and general manager Cary Pahigian comments, “C4 and Bryan are among Maryland’s most informed, outspoken, and connected broadcasters. Their frequent on-air collaborations always receive high marks from listeners. This new partnership, along with WBAL’s award-winning news coverage, further solidifies WBAL as Baltimore’s first choice for news and talk.”
PPM Analysis: All-News. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s June 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the all-news format. June was a mixed bag for the all-news format as 50% of stations saw their weekly, 6+ AQH share go down while 44% were up. Leaders on the positive side were Entercom’s KNX, Los Angeles (+1.0, 3.9 share) and iHeartMedia’s WBZ-AM, Boston (+0.7, 6.6 share). Comparing June 2019 to June 2020, 69% of all-news stations were up, led by Entercom’s KCBS-AM, San Francisco (+2.7, 8.9 share); KYW, Philadelphia (+2.3, 6.1 share); and WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago (+2.1, 6.9 share). Two all-news outlets – WBBM, Chicago and KCBS-AM, San Francisco – ranked #1 in their respective markets in June. See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.
Talkers 2020 Convention Officially Cancelled. The 23rd annual installment of the talk media industry’s largest, longest running and most important national convention set for October 16 in New York City has been officially cancelled. It was originally scheduled for June 5 and then postponed until October 16 in hope that the disruption of public events imposed by COVID-19 would be alleviated by the Fall. In a statement issued this morning (7/15), TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “We regret that this decision had to be made. We waited as long as possible before coming to it. However, an event of this nature is completely impractical under the circumstances. Especially with all the hugging, kissing and ‘elbow rubbing’ that takes place at this iconic conference. Hopefully, next year will be better and we’ll pick up with Talkers 2021.” In the meantime, look for information to be posted shortly announcing details of an online, on-demand version of the conference’s key panel discussions, keynote addresses, and award presentations that will run in TALKERS for a week in late Summer or early fall. Those who have registered for Talkers 2020 will be receiving refunds and sponsors will be contacted shortly about plans going forward.
Gow Media Re-Brands SB Nation as SportsMap Radio Network. Effective July 27, SB Nation Radio becomes SportsMap Radio. Owner Gow Media says it is making the change to operate the network it has owned for more than 10 years under its own brand. Gow Media acquired the assets of Sporting News Radio and rebranded the network through partnerships to become Yahoo Sports Radio. That lasted five years. Then a deal was struck with SB Nation some four years ago. Gow Media CEO David Gow says, “We have benefitted from brand partnerships with great companies such as Yahoo and SB Nation but have ultimately concluded that we no longer want to be subject to the fate of another brand. Strategically, it is important to build our own brand. For our sponsors, we maintain our large audiences with a network of over 500 affiliate stations. For our affiliates, our strong lineup remains. What is different though is that by operating as SportsMap, we can partner with multiple entities (vs. a single brand partner) in the development of new content and the expansion to digital platforms.” Recently, Gow has added sports talk talent including Scott Ferrall through Sportsgrid and Tony Bruno and Eytan Shander through JAKIB Media. Network program director Craig Larson adds, “Top to bottom our lineup has never been stronger. We have gotten great feedback from our affiliates.”
TALKERS News Notes. The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that former WCAU-TV, Philadelphia “NBC10” anchor/reporter Denise Nakano is joining Entercom’s all-news KYW-AM as a part-time anchor. Nakano exited the NBC O&O television station in June in what was a COVID-19-related financial move…..In Chicago, two WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM staffers are exiting. According to a report by media writer Robert Feder, sports anchor George Ofman and traffic and spot news helicopter reporter Kris Habermehl are leaving the Entercom station in what appears to be budget-related layoffs…..Numerous news outlets – including BBC News – are reporting that ViacomCBS is severing its relationship with television and radio personality Nick Cannon after a recent edition of his “Cannon’s Class” podcast “promoted hateful speech and spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.” On the podcast, Cannon – who also hosts morning drive on Muerelo Media’s hip hop KPWR, Los Angeles “Power 106” and a syndicated radio show via Skyview Networks – interviewed former Public Enemy rapper Professor Griff in which the two discussed the theory that Jews control the media. ViacomCBS issued the statement, “ViacomCBS condemns bigotry of any kind and we categorically denounce all forms of anti-Semitism. While we support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against bigotry, we are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One announces a partnership with Omnicast Media that brings the podcast “Something You Should Know” to the Westwood One Podcast Network. The program began decades ago as a radio feature and in September 2016 was launched as a podcast by host Mike Caruthers. In each episode, Carruthers interviews top experts in their fields to offer fascinating information and advice to help listeners save time and money, advance their careers, become wealthy, improve relationships, and simply get more out of life.
COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Moderna Reveals Positive Vaccine Results, Trump Reverses Foreign Student Ban, Biden Unveils $2 Trillion Climate Plan, Presidential Race & Primaries, Violent Portland Protests, Trump Signs Hong Kong Accountability Act, Ghislaine Maxwell Bond Hearing, and Sports Leagues Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/14). The spiking number of COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future cases; pharmaceutical firm Moderna says latest COVID-19 vaccine trial shows “robust” immune response; President Trump reverses his ban on foreign college students; presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden unveils his $2 trillion climate and infrastructure plan; the November presidential election and Tuesday’s primary results in Alabama, Maine, and Texas; the ongoing, violent protests in Portland, Oregon; Trump pushes back against China by signing the Hong Kong Accountability Act; a judge rules Ghislaine Maxwell must remain in prison as she awaits her trial set for next summer; and the status of sports leagues as they prepare to play games 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. Programming pro Mat Mitchell is named brand and content director for Hubbard Radio’s hot AC KSTP-FM, Minneapolis “KS95.” Mitchell joins Hubbard from his most recent position with iHeartMedia in Phoenix where he programmed CHR KZZP, hot AC KMXP, and adult hits KYOT. Minnesota region manager Dan Seeman says, “As you can imagine, this position attracted some of the best programming talent in America. We talked to a lot of smart and passionate programmers and Mat was the consensus favorite. He has great experience, vision, and a proven track record. Mat has the opportunity to work with one of the most talented staffs in radio. We are excited for Mat to lead the next chapter of ‘KS95.’”…..Digital/social media pro Lauryn Snapp is adding on-air contributor duties for the Premiere Networks-syndicated “CMT After MidNite with Cody Alan” and “CMT Radio Live with Cody Alan.” Premiere announces that effective immediately, Snapp will join Cody Alan each night, bringing pop culture and lifestyle stories to the country radio programs. When concerts and events return, she’ll also join Alan on the road as he provides listeners with artist interviews and behind-the-scenes reports. Alan says, “Lauryn’s winning personality and witty repartee make her a natural fit to join me on the mic every night. Her passion for music, culture, and fan engagement across our digital and social networks has quickly become an essential part of our programming.”…..SiriusXM announces the launch of its latest collection of exclusive radio channels dedicated to iconic musicians including: Beastie Boys, Bob Marley, Coldplay, Michael Jackson, and Queen, plus the return of The Prince Channel, that will be available through August 13.