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Friday, May 7, 2021

| May 7, 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, “The Knock on the Door,” looks back at this past week of May 3-7.   The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, talk show host, Compass Media NetworksSteve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder, scamicide.com; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkTodd Starnes, talk show host / owner, KWAM, Memphis; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company; and Brian Koonin, Broadway musician / member, Gunhill Road. 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, 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, 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; 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.

 

iHeartMedia First Quarter 2021 Net Revenue Down 9.5%. The company reports net revenue for the first quarter of 2021 of $707 million, a dip of 9.5% compare to the $781 million reported in the first quarter of 2020. iHeartMedia also reports an operating loss of $76 million compared to 2020’s operating loss of $1.7 billion. The company reports financial data by segment and the positive aspects of the report are its digital and podcast segments which reported revenue of $119 million (up 55%) and $38.4 million (up 141.9%), respectively. Broadcast radio’s revenue was $358.5 million (down 22.3%); networks revenue was $115 million (down 14.5%); and sponsorship and events revenue was $22.4 million (down 23.7%). iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman states, “The first quarter outperformed our expectations on all financial metrics as the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn, which is not just a continuation of the positive trends we’ve seen across the business – we believe it’s a validation of our long-term multiplatform product and revenue strategy and the investments we have made in growth areas like podcasting, ad tech, and the continued expansion of broadcast radio on digital devices. As a company we continue to prioritize identifying new opportunities across the audio, advertising, and data analytics sectors to expand our Total Addressable Market from just the $15 billion of Radio TAM to include the $160 billion of Digital TAM, providing us with new revenue opportunities for meaningful and sustainable growth for all our operating segments.” Company president, COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our ability to adapt and innovate, as well as our strategic allocation of capital, during the COVID-19 pandemic have set the stage for strong growth in 2021. Our cost management, investments in key areas of growth, and focus on our core-competencies helped us to achieve Adjusted EBITDA of $102 million in the first quarter, and we remain confident that we will be back to 2019 Adjusted EBITDA levels by the end of 2021.”

 

Audacy Net Revenue for First Quarter of 2021 Declines 19%. Reporting its first quarterly financial report after rebranding from Entercom to Audacy, the company says net revenue for Q1 of 2021 was $240.8 million, a decrease of 19% over the same period in 2020. Audacy also reports a net loss of $21.6 million compared to the Q1 2020 net loss of $9.1 million. Breaking the company down by segments: local and national spot revenue was $154.3 million (down 27.5%); digital – including podcasting – revenue was $49.9 million (up 15.9%); and network revenue was $17.6 million (down 19.1%). Audacy president and CEO David Field says, “The year has gotten off to an active start as we successfully completed the rebranding of the company to Audacy, reflecting our transformational progress into a leading, multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with scaled audience reach and a leadership position in virtually every key segment of the dynamic and growing audio market. We are in the midst of a strong, albeit uneven, advertising recovery reflecting the nature of our business mix. First quarter digital revenues grew 17% and national revenues rebounded to prior year levels, but local ad revenues remained behind as many of our customers continue to be impacted by the pandemic. Because the local radio advertiser base is weighted toward later-stage recovery categories including restaurants, concerts and entertainment, movies, travel, and theme parks, we anticipate a strong recovery of local advertising across these businesses during the third and fourth quarters. Our second quarter pacings are up more than 60% over 2020 reflecting massive improvements across all segments of our business from the depressed levels of the prior year. In another strong sign of recovery, our average local customer spending levels are now exceeding their average 2019 spending levels. Total local ad spending is down because of a decline in the number of customers with a significant majority of those inactive accounts concentrated in later-stage recovery business categories. During the quarter, we announced and completed the acquisition of Podcorn, the country’s #1 podcast influencer marketplace hosting over 44,000 podcast creators, substantially bolstering our customer product offerings. We also announced a multi-year agreement with BetMGM making them a preferred sports betting partner of the company. We are emerging from the pandemic as a meaningfully stronger and better positioned company with significantly enhanced growth potential and are excited by the opportunities ahead as we continue to drive innovation and development of new products, content, and capabilities.”

 

Salem Media Group Reports Q1 Revenue Growth of 1.9%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Salem Media Group, delivers positive numbers as total revenue for the company was $59.4 million, an increase of 1.9% over the same period in 2020. The company reports that total operating expenses decreased 27.9% to $55 million from $76.3 million and operating expenses – excluding gains or losses on the disposition of assets, stock- based compensation expense, changes in the estimated fair value of contingent earn-out consideration, impairments, depreciation expense and amortization expense – decreased 6.2% to $51.4 million from $54.8 million. Salem also reveals operating income of $4.4 million compared to the operating loss of $18 million it posted in the first quarter of 2020. Salem Media Group reports its business segments and says net broadcast revenue was $44 million, a decline of 2.5% compared to the first quarter of 2020; same station net broadcast revenue was $43.9 million, a dip of 1.9%; digital media revenue was $9.6 million, an increase of 5.7%; digital media operating income rose 21.6% to $0.9 million from $0.8 million; and publishing revenue increased 43.4% to $5.7 million from $4.0 million.

‘1010XL’ in Jacksonville Celebrates Alumni Week. Jacksonville sports talk WJXL-AM/FM “1010XL” is taking a look in the rearview mirror next week as it celebrates Alumni Week beginning on Monday (5/10). The Seven Bridges Radio LLC-owned station is bringing back popular hosts of the past, is “re-pairing” hosts who formerly worked together and is taking a journey back through the memories of the station’s first 15 years. Frank Frangie, the station’s afternoon drive host, and Rick Ballou will reunite in afternoon drive for the entire week. The duo handled afternoon drive together for more than seven years beginning in 2009. They also will be joined periodically throughout the week by Jessica Blaylock, a mainstay on the show during much of the time Frangie and Ballou were together. Mike Dempsey, the host of “Jaguars Today,” will be reunited for the entire week with his former co-host, former Jags’ linebacker Tom McManus. Guest during the week include Jeff Lageman, David Garrard, Jason Godbee and Ryan O’halloran. “Helmets and Heels,” the station’s weekly show featuring all-female hosts, will air every night during the week from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Current hosts Lauren Brooks and Donna Murphy, who have been on the show since its inception, will be joined by show regular Taylor Doll as well as former cast members Jessica Blaylock, Blythe Brumleve, Amanda Borges and others. “The Drill,” the station’s morning show, will have interview segments with former co-hosts Jordan DeArmon, Mackenzie Thirkill, as well as Tony Boselli and some surprise guests. Hays Carlyon, currently an afternoon drive co-host, will sit in on “XL Prime Time” with Joe Cowart, Matt Hayes, and Leon Searcy. “XL Prime Time” guests include Chad Scott, Terry Norvelle, Scott Manze and more. While Frangie and Ballou will have segments with Joe Block, Pat Dooley, Amanda Borges, former program director Jason Dixon, and others.

RTDNA Presents Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. The RTDNA announces the regional winners of the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Awards and bestows more than 750 awards in recognizing more than 350 local radio and television stations. RTDNA chair Andrea Stahlman says, “The regional RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award recipients we announce today produced extraordinary journalism that brought clarity and context to 2020’s biggest news stories. The winning work demonstrates dedication, determination, and a commitment to the highest ethical standards enshrined in RTDNA’s Code of Ethics.” In a new category for 2021, more than 40 news outlets earned regional Murrow Awards for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, including examples of bilingual reporting, contextual coverage of inequality and discrimination, and newsroom-convened community discussions. RTDNA executive director and COO Dan Shelley comments, “Local journalists across the country guided Americans through a pandemic, ongoing racial reckoning and a fraught election cycle, despite facing unprecedented operational challenges and an astonishing number of physical attacks during 2020. The persistence of the regional Murrow Award winners we recognize today is a testament to these journalists’ commitment to their First Amendment duty.” See the complete list of winners here.

Edison Research Releases ‘Moms and Media 2021’ Study Results. The results of Edison Research’s “Moms and Media 2021” study have been released and the company says some of the highlights include that 46% of U.S. moms own a smart speaker, up from 33% last year. Sixty-three percent of U.S. moms now use voice-operated personal assistants of any kind, including smart speakers, smart phones, tablets, computers, and other devices. Of those moms who own a smart speaker, they own an average of 2.7 of the devices. Edison Research vice president Melissa DeCesare says, “The past year during COVID has been about adjustment, especially for moms. The pandemic uprooted everything we knew and were familiar with and it forced a new at-home lifestyle for the entire family. Moms are tasked with keeping it all on track and they do it with help from modern technology. Our 2021 report shows that moms have not only maintained their commitment to devices and mobile tendencies, but they’ve actually adjusted their habits to better suit their needs during the pandemic.” Other noteworthy data include: More moms are consuming online audio with 82% of U.S. moms being monthly online audio listeners compared with 76% in 2020, and 76% of U.S. moms being weekly online audio listeners compared with 70% in 2020; and more moms are listening to podcasts with 64% of U.S. moms having ever listened to a podcast (up from 57% in 2020) – 40% having listened in the last month and 28% having listened in the last week. See more about the study here.

TALKERS News Notes. After nearly three years of hosting and producing “Bagels and Broadway with Valerie Smaldone” on WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer,” Smaldone says she’s ending the radio edition of the food and theatre-themed program but will continue the show as a podcast this fall when Broadway reopens. Smaldone recently began a new position as executive vice president and producer at multiplatform content company Audio Drama Initiative…..PodcastOne announces a multi-year first look deal with Picture Perfect Federation, the joint venture between Picture Perfect Entertainment and Federation Entertainment led by Patrick Wachsberger, for the development of scripted serial podcast content. Under the development deal, Wachsberger and his team will introduce scripted content across multiple genres with an eye to package the resulting audio IP for television, film, and streaming platforms. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Patrick and his team are true professionals with unparalleled success in the movie, television and scripted world. The partnership with PodcastOne will complement their expertise with over 10 years of experience in the audio space developing weekly interview styles and successful scripted programming. Together, we are going to supercharge our story telling and fan development capabilities to create a slate of programs that will be exciting for audiences, advertisers and production houses looking to be involved with our amazing IP.”…..Advertising mogul and veteran TV personality, Donny Deutsch is teaming up with Kast Media to launch his first-ever podcast titled, “On Brand with Donny Deutsch,” on May 13. Deutsch has hosted television shows such as CNBC’s long running series, “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch” and MSNBC’s “Saturday Night Politics.”…..Alpha Media Canton announces that news/talk WHBC-AM is the new home of “Tangled Up In Blues with Cornel Bogdan.” Bogdan’s show first aired in September 2000 in Youngstown. He says, “When I started ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ over 20 years ago, I had no idea it would be so greatly accepted. It’s very humbling. My listeners are passionate about this music like no other. WHBC is a cornerstone in Canton. I wanted to be part of that heritage. ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ on WHBC is really good mojo!”…..“The Motley Fool” radio show host Chris Hill is the narrator of the audio book edition of Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money (2021 Harriman House) that is enjoying having just hit the milestone of 100,000 audiobook sales.

COVID-19 Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 3-7. The COVID-19-related issues including vaccines, variants, politics, the soaring death toll in India, and statistics combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Facebook’s Oversight Board keeping Donald Trump’s page suspended and the broader issue of censorship, followed by party politics and Liz Cheney’s battle for her status in the GOP at #3. 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.

Promotions Positions Open at Audacy. There are two positions open on the Promotions + Experiences team at Audacy. The company says it is “looking to add two talented, versatile promotions pros to our central Promotions + Experiences team. These individuals will focus on promotional partnerships with concert partners, activating select live performance venues, and play a vital role in live events across the company’s portfolio of brands.” You can learn more and to apply for the Promotion Director, Concerts & Experiences position here and do the same for the Promotion Manager, Concerts & Experiences position here.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

| May 6, 2021

Saga Communications Q1 Net Revenue Down 15.5%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Saga Communications announces net revenue for the period was $22.3 million, a decline of 15.5% from the $26.1 million reported in Q1 of 2020. Station operating expense decreased $3.3 million to $18.9 million for the quarter compared to the same period last year.  Station operating income was $4.7 million, down from the $5.5 million reported in the first quarter 0f 2020. Free cash flow increased 21.4% to $1.8 million for the quarter. Saga Communications reports net income of $758,000 in the first quarter, compared to $1.7 million in Q1 2020. The company’s balance sheet reflects $56.3 million in cash on hand as of March 31, 2021 and $57.4 million as of May 3, 2021. Saga’s total bank debt remained at $10 million as of the end of the first quarter 2021. Capital expenditures in the first quarter were $534,000 compared to $1 million for the same period last year. Saga expects to spend approximately $4.5 – $5.5 million for capital expenditures during 2021.

Nielsen Q1 Revenue Up 2.5%. Ratings and analytics giant Nielsen Holdings plc reveals its financial results for the first quarter of this year and revenue was $863 million, an increase of 2.5% on a reported basis. Nielsen notes that these results reflect the March 5, 2021 sale of the Global Connect business (consumer data) for $2.4 billion in net proceeds, which resulted in a $542 million preliminary gain on sale, net of taxes, recognized in the quarter. Of the net proceeds, $2.28 billion were used for debt reduction in March and April 2021. Beginning in the first quarter of 2021, Global Connect results were reclassified to discontinued operations for all periods presented. Nielsen CEO David Kenny comments, “We delivered a solid first quarter, as our teams executed incredibly well. We closed on the sale of Global Connect in March and are now singularly focused as the global essential data, measurement, and analytics provider for the entire media ecosystem. We are investing in our future and we are well-positioned to drive new growth from new solutions across all of our end markets globally. In particular, we are pleased with the advances we’ve made in Audience Measurement, Outcomes and Gracenote Content Services. We are executing as planned and we are increasing key elements of our 2021 guidance.”

FOX Corp Acquires Clay Travis’ Outkick. Yesterday (5/5), FOX Corporation announced an agreement via its subsidiary to acquire Outkick Media, LLC, the digital media platform founded and led by Clay Travis, and related assets. FOX says, “Outkick is an omnichannel leader in sports, opinion, politics, and pop culture content across its radio, podcasts, online and social outlets, as well as being one of the foremost sources of sports wagering information in the United States. Further, Outkick is in an exclusive marketing agreement with FOX’s partner FanDuel and serves as a significant source of sports wagering referrals.” FOX Corp executive chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch comments, “As FOX further diversifies our growing digital portfolio and broadens our position in the sports wagering ecosystem, there could be no better acquisition than Outkick. Clay and his team have quickly made Outkick a content powerhouse with a very large, loyal and engaged audience. We expect the synergies presented across FOX’s existing portfolio of assets will turbocharge this exciting business.” Travis adds, “Outkick has grown out of my passion for producing bold, well-informed, and entertaining content about sports, current events and, more recently, sports wagering. With the power of FOX behind us, we look forward to maintaining Outkick’s unwavering commitment to that mission, as well as further accelerating the growth of our audience, and continued leadership in the sports wagering affiliate category.” Clay Travis will remain integrally involved at Outkick and serve as its president. The price of the acquisition has not be announced.

Dr. Laura’s ‘Call of the Day’ Hits 100 Million Download Mark. The “Call of the Day” podcast from Dr. Laura Schlessinger has reached the 100 million-downloads mark. The podcast is a feature that’s taken from Dr. Laura’s daily SiriusXM talk show in which she features a call she designates as the best from each day’s show. The “Call of the Day” podcast was launched in 2017 and has consistently ranked #1 in Parenting on Apple Podcasts, is top ranked in Kids and Family, and is among podcasting’s Global 200 according to Chartable. Dan Brady, director of podcast operations and program audio content for Take On The Day LLC, says, “We set forth to make this podcast a new avenue to hear Dr. Laura. It turns out we made it one of the most popular focusing on families and parenting. Take On The Day LLC president Geoff Rich adds, “In addition to its popularity with listeners old and new, Dr. Laura’s ‘Call of the Day’ has proven to be a great opportunity for advertisers who want to reach the desirable demographic of women 25-54.  It’s been a win-win for everyone.”

Todd Starnes Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Entrepreneur, syndicated talk show host, radio station owner, author, columnist, and conservative/evangelical thought-leader Todd Starnes is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” After working as a radio news reporter and news columnist for a number of years, this colorful and controversial personality began hosting a syndicated talk radio show on FOX News Radio in 2017. In 2019, he moved on from FOX, launching his own independent syndicated show which just recently cracked the 100-affiliate milestone. In January 2020, he significantly expanded his media empire by purchasing Memphis talk station 990 AM KWAM which now serves as the flagship for his growing radio show and political/industry influence. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

Report: Future of Centennial’s WINC-AM, Winchester, Virginia Uncertain. A story in the Winchester Star shines a light on the status of Centennial Broadcasting II’s Winchester, Virginia news/talk outlet WINC-AM. Company CEO Allen Shaw tells the paper that WINC-AM “hasn’t had great financial success” lately and that the death of Rush Limbaugh has added to the station’s woes. Shaw tells the Wincester Star that his company is selling WINC-FM and WZFC-FM, to Fairfax, Virginia-based Metro Radio Inc. for $225,000 and that Centennial offered WINC-AM as well “practically for nothing” but Metro didn’t want it. If Centennial can’t sell WINC-AM, it would consider donating it to a college or a religious group before it would take the station dark.

COVID-19, Trump vs Liz Cheney/Future of GOP, Facebook Trump Ruling, Giuliani Investigation, Border Crisis, Newsom Recall/Jenner Run, and Peloton Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/5). The rate of COVID cases in the U.S., the move to waive COVID vaccine patents, and the soaring death rate in India; Donald Trump’s orchestration of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s fall from power in the House and the future of the GOP; Facebook keeps Trump account suspended but allows for further review; the FBI’s investigation into Rudy Giuliani and the mainstream media’s reporting errors; the crush of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Joe Biden administration’s immigration policy; the recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom and Caitlyn Jenner’s plan to run for the office; and Peloton recalls all of its treadmills after numerous accidents and one death were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

| May 4, 2021

Beasley 2021 Q1 Net Revenue $48.2 Million; Operating Loss Shrinks. First quarter financial data from Beasley Broadcast Group – parent of Beasley Media Group – reveals a decline in net revenue of 17.8%, from $57.7 million in Q1 2020 to $48.2 million in Q1 2021. While station operating income was down, $5.2 million compared to $6.7 million in Q1 2020, Beasley greatly reduced its operating loss from $7.1 million in the first quarter of 2020 to $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2021. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “Beasley reported 2021 first quarter financial results consistent with the expectations we outlined when we reported the 2020 fourth quarter, as our strong revenue growth in the first two months of the comparable 2020 period, prior to the onset of the pandemic, created a difficult year-over-year comparison. Though we continued to experience challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic during the first quarter, I am pleased to report that we began to see a strong recovery. As a result, we expect Beasley to return to top-line revenue growth beginning in the second quarter of 2021. During the first quarter, we continued to advance our digital transformation and revenue diversification initiatives across the company. In this regard, Beasley generated digital revenue growth of approximately 10% on a year-over-year basis, with digital accounting for approximately 12% of total first quarter revenue, compared to 9.3% of total revenue in the prior year period. Consumer demand for digital audio content remains strong and with our ongoing emphasis on digital innovation, Beasley continues attracting new business by successfully targeting the sale of non-radio products to non-radio advertisers. With the continued strong growth of our digital business, Beasley will report digital revenue as a separate segment going forward. We believe this milestone represents an important inflection point in the ongoing evolution of our operating model and clearly highlights the value of our revenue diversification strategies.”

Bill O’Reilly’s New Book, Killing the Mob, Published. The latest book from broadcast journalist and talk host Bill O’Reilly (with co-author Martin Dugard) is out as KILLING THE MOB: The Fight Against Organized Crime in America (2021, St. Martin’s) hits booksellers today (5/4). The promo for the book says: “O’Reilly traces the brutal history of 20th century organized crime in the United States, and expertly plumbs the history of this nation’s most notorious serial robbers, conmen, and especially, mob family bosses. Covering the period from the 1930s to the 1980s, O’Reilly traces the prohibition-busting bank robbers of the Depression Era, such as Bonnie & Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby-Face Nelson. In addition, the authors highlight the creation of the Mafia Commission, the power struggles within the ‘Five Families,’ and the battles to control Cuba, Las Vegas and Hollywood, as well as the personal war between the U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy and legendary Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.” Bill O’Reilly currently hosts the Key Networks nationally syndicated radio programs “The O’Reilly Update” and “The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition.”

Townsquare Media Ups Jeff Luckoff to Market President for Michigan. Rising from his Grand Rapids market president role to regional market president and chief revenue officer for Michigan is Jeff Luckoff. In this role, he’ll oversee Townsquare Media’s Michigan local media clusters and will report to SVP Todd Lawley. Lawley says, “In a very short amount of time Jeff has reset the culture, made key hires, and built a foundation that is unlocking the full potential of our market leading online and on-air brands in Grand Rapids. We are now challenging Jeff to unlock the full potential of our statewide footprint which includes Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Flint.” Luckoff comments, “We have incredible talent and local brands throughout the state of Michigan. I am fortunate for the opportunity to utilize Townsquare’s footprint to deepen our impact on the community and further deliver better results for our advertisers. I am honored to be leading such an extraordinary team.”

NAB Opens Nominations for 2021 Marconi Awards. The National Association of Broadcasters is now accepting nominations for the 2021 NAB Marconi Radio Awards and will be accepting submissions until May 31. Established in 1989 and named for inventor and Nobel Prize winner Guglielmo Marconi, the prestigious awards recognize overall excellence and performance in radio. Station and on-air personality nominations may be submitted for the 23 awards presented in the following categories: Legendary Station of the Year, Legendary Manager of the Year, Radio Station of the Year by Market Size, Radio Station of the Year by Format, Personality of the Year by Market Size, Network/Syndicated Personality of the Year, and Best Radio Podcast of the Year. Nominations may only be made by NAB members. You can see the rules here. Winners will be recognized during a special event at the Radio Show, held October 13-14, 2021 in Las Vegas, and co-located with NAB Show.

TALKERS News Notes. The American Urban Radio Networks names Ebony McMorris White House news correspondent. She comes to AURN from Reach Media/Urban One where she most recently served as national news correspondent. She comments, “For such a time as this, it is an honor to join the AURN family as their White House correspondent during such a pivotal and monumental point in history. In taking this role I am reminded of Alice Dunnigan, the first African American woman to receive White House credentials, who said, ‘While the role of the Black press is that of objectively reporting the news as it happens, it has another function equally as important – that of fighting oppression.’”…..Audacy’s sports talk KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh “93.7 The Fan” announces that former MLB player Neil Walker will join “The Fan Morning Show” with Colin Dunlap and Chris Mack Monday mornings at 9:00 am, beginning May 10…..iHeartMedia and Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg’s Pushkin Industries audio production company unveil a new co-produced iHeartRadio Original Podcast called, “Be Antiracist with Ibram X. Kendi.” The weekly interview program builds on Kendi’s extensive body of antiracist work, challenging listeners to consider what an antiracist society might look like and how individuals and communities can play an active role in building it. Kendi says, “After a year that laid bare the pervasive racial inequity that continues to plague our nation, we must continue the difficult but necessary conversations that will allow us to imagine and erect a truly antiracist society. I look forward to exploring these topics with guests whose work I deeply admire and digging deep with them and with listeners.”…..CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is launching a new podcast called, “Chasing Life,” in which Gupta guides listeners on how to mindfully approach our new normal, while finding a balance between self-care and productivity. He says, “As we’re entering a new – and more hopeful – phase of this pandemic, now seemed like a worthy point in time to start a new podcast with recovery and reflection in mind. While we may never be able to replicate a pre-2020 world, I hope we can all start moving forward and start chasing life again.” The first episode premiers May 11 via CNN’s apps.

Audacy and Genomind Partner for Mental Health Care Content. Mental health awareness has been a focus of Audacy’s public service efforts for several years and now the company announces a partnership with Genomind to help “bring mental health conversations into the mainstream.” As part of the partnership, Audacy will leverage the deep local connection of 15 stations across eight markets – Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego and Washington D.C. – to promote Genomind’s new Mental Health Map, the first and only consumer DNA test to offer a concise, easy-to-navigate blueprint of your genetic profile and its influence on stress and anxiety, mood, focus and memory, habits and substance use, sleep, social behavior, and eating behavior. Audacy vice president, social impact Sarah Harris says, “Mental health awareness is a major area of focus for us and a crucial pillar of our companywide social impact platform, and we’re excited to further activate our commitment through this partnership with Genomind. We recognize our significant influence and welcome the opportunity to use our voice, coupled with Genomind’s mental health expertise, innovations and technology, to help improve and save lives and continue our shared mission of ending the stigma of talking about mental health.” Genomind will also serve as the sponsor for Audacy’s “I’m Listening Daily Capsules,” 60-second daily public service announcements as part of the company’s yearlong “I’m Listening” mental health initiative. Genomind will also serve as the presenting sponsor of Audacy’s annual “I’m Listening” broadast, a live national program that brings together artists, athletes and medical specialists every September to remind listeners it’s okay to not be okay, raise awareness and end the stigma of talking about mental health.

COVID-19, Giuliani Investigation, Trump’s Facebook Fate, Bill and Melinda Gates to Divorce, Border Crisis, and Severe Southeast Weather Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/3). Vaccination rates in the U.S. and the politicization of the “jab,” rising infections among young Americans, and the high death toll in India; Facebook to decide the fate of Donald Trump’s currently suspended account; Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and wife Melinda Gates to divorce; the crush of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and the 6,000-plus illegals captured by ICE in April; and the severe weather hitting the Southeast were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Industry Memorial Tribute to the Late Barry Farber Set for May 5. The family of Barry Farber, in association with TALKERS magazine, is presenting an industry memorial tribute to the legendary radio talk show host on May 5 via Zoom. The virtual event will mark the first anniversary of his passing and the 91st anniversary of his birth. Farber, considered by industry observers to be one of the greatest talk radio hosts of all time, as well as one of the genre’s most influential pioneers, passed away on May 6, 2020 – one day after his 90th birthday. The event will consist of a series of personal remembrances delivered by a select panel of family, friends and radio industry colleagues. It will be recorded and available for on-demand viewing as part of a larger display of memories and Farber history being developed for a special commemorative website devoted to the broadcaster. Barry Farber’s on-air career was launched in 1960 and continued all the way to his death in 2020. It included his hosting major shows on such legendary New York outlets as WINS, WOR, and WMCA. He also was syndicated by ABC Radio Networks and Daynet. His final shows were carried by CRN Digital Talk Radio Network. According to The New York Times, at the time of his death he was the longest continually running radio host. Farber was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2014 and is a past recipient of the TALKERS Lifetime Achievement Award among many other honors. He was the author of three books and a student of 26 languages. The memorial event will take place on Zoom on Wednesday, May 5 between 7:30 pm and 9:00 pm and will be hosted by Michael Harrison. Although all Zoom positions are filled, the event will be available to view via live streaming on YouTube. To view the Memorial event in real time on Wednesday at 7:30 pm ET, please click here.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

| March 18, 2021

Kim Komando Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Talk radio’s leading expert voice on computers and digital technology, Kim Komando, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Komando is an outstanding broadcaster and modern-day thinker who produces, hosts, and distributes a weekend, long-form radio talk show and short-form features about computers and digital technology from her studios and headquarters at WestStar MultiMedia Entertainment in Phoenix, an independent syndication firm that she runs with her husband Barry Young, a legendary radio personality in his own right and an extremely adept businessman. Together, they built a multimillion-dollar empire based on her keen intelligence, outstanding personality, and extraordinary understanding of the new era. Her programs are heard on more than 400 stations across the country. She also hosts a separate business-oriented computer show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. According to Harrison, “Kim – a wife, mother, entrepreneur, broadcasting executive, and former TALKERS magazine Woman of the Year – has been a major radio talk show host and commentator, not to mention newspaper columnist for more than 25 years, disseminating information about computers and technology to the masses and playing a significant role in ushering in this amazing new era in the wiring of the human nervous system. It’s been five years since she’s been a guest on this podcast and the world has changed a whole lot since then… so we figured it’s about time to have her back and do some catching up.” In an extraordinarily candid, free-wheeling conversation, Harrison and “The Digital Goddess” take a deep-dive into a wide variety of aspects of modern radio’s complex relationship with digital technology offering sharp insight into this new era of politics, business, communications and culture. 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. Don’t miss this!

Urban One Reports 2020 Q4 Revenue Up 7.3%; Full Year 2020 Revenue Declines 15%. The fourth quarter of 2020 was a winner for Urban One as political, digital, and cable TV advertising helped push the company’s net revenue to $113.5 million, an increase of 7.3% over the same period in 2019. For the full year of 2020, Urban One reports net revenue of $376.3 million, a decline of 15% over the full year 2019. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $51.9 million, an increase of 51.3% from the same period in 2019. The company reported operating income of approximately $34.5 million for fourth quarter, compared to operating income of approximately $12.1 million for the same period in 2019. Net income was approximately $26.4 million compared to a net loss of approximately $7.9 million for the same period in 2019. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins III says, “The company had an extremely strong fourth quarter, driven by record levels of political advertising and strong demand for our digital and cable TV advertising inventory. In combination with ongoing cost controls, this resulted in a 51% increase in Adjusted EBITDA. All of our operating divisions were able to grow Q4 Adjusted EBITDA year-over-year, and I was particularly pleased with the performance of our digital business, which delivered approximately $6.4 million of Adjusted EBITDA for the full year, an increase of 587% from prior year.” Urban One breaks out its report by segments and, for the fourth quarter of 2020, radio advertising was down 19%, political advertising was up 2083%, digital advertising was up 57.3%, and cable TV advertising was up 5.4%.

Westwood One Creates New Early Afternoon Show Hosted by Dan Bongino. Conservative commentator and podcaster Dan Bongino is the host of a new, daily talk radio program being syndicated nationally by Westwood One live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET. The program launches on May 24 and will air on Cumulus Media news/talk stations that aired the Rush Limbaugh show, including in top 10 markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Bongino is a former Secret Service agent and NYPD officer that WWO says “is uniquely positioned to provide commentary and analysis that directly questions the philosophical underpinnings of both the Left and Big Government Republicans.” Bongino’s Westwood One podcast had more than 117 million downloads in 2020. He also serves as a commentator for FOX News Channel. He says, “I’m excited to embrace the immense power of radio to connect with my listeners live for three hours every day. This is an incredible privilege, and I pledge to honor the trailblazing work of those who came before me.”

Report: ‘Tensions’ Between iHeartMedia and GMEI Over Stock Deal. According to a report in Campaign, British firm Global Media & Entertainment Investments’ seeking permission from the Federal Communications Commission to acquire up to 49.99% of iHeartMedia’s stock as a foreign investor is a source of consternation for iHeartMedia which only wants to allow GMEI to acquire up to 9.99%. Gideon Spanier’s piece indicates that GMEI bought 8.7% of the company last month – without first seeking permission from the iHeartMedia board – and that seems to be the issue. GMEI says it’s surprised by iHM’s move to limit its acquisition to 9.99% since it ran its 49.99% plan by iHM lawyers last month. But iHeartMedia states in a filing with the FCC, “Because iHeart had no advance knowledge of GMEI’s intention to acquire stock in excess of 5% of iHeart’s voting and equity, iHeart had no ability to prevent the acquisition of its publicly traded stock above the amount permitted under the FCC’s rules without [seeking] a declaratory ruling [from the regulator]. GMEI’s independent investment decision” to buy its 8.7% stake “caused” an “inconsistency with the FCC’s foreign ownership rules.” iHeartMedia passed a resolution last year that any shareholder wishing to acquire more than 10% of its stock needs approval from the iHM board. But GMEI says petitioning the FCC for permission to own 49.99% is a separate matter and says its intentions are not hostile and that it wants to “co-operate and work together.”

TALKERS News Notes. The national radio network FOX Sports Radio – a division of Premiere Sports Network – adds its content to new affiliate KGA-AM, Spokane and in doing so hits the 600-station mark. Stephens Media Group Spokane operations manager Kent Jones says, “As the flagship station for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, we are thrilled to add the wall-to-wall sports coverage provided by FOX Sports Radio. This is an exciting time for Gonzaga and Spokane. FOX Sports Radio’s amazing lineup of talent with their coverage of the tournament and everything sports allows us to provide the best sports programming for Spokane, both now and throughout the year.”…..ESPN announces that the podcast “The Right Time with Bomani Jones” expands from two shows per week to three, publishing on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule. The new Friday addition will feature weekly conversations with The Undefeated’s Domonique Foxworth, whose previous visits ESPN says have been some of the most popular episodes from both download and social media engagement perspective. Jones says, “The last year has been great for ‘The Right Time,’ so I’m glad we can give more to our listeners. I also can’t wait to follow through on something those listeners have long wanted, a weekly spot with Domonique, one of the most intelligent and entertaining talents at this company.”…..PBS SoCal and KCET, Southern California’s flagship PBS organizations, announce a new partnership with Southern California Public Radio’s flagship radio station KPCC-FM, Pasadena to deliver free, local daily news programing across multiple platforms throughout Southern California via a new on-air and online program called “SoCal Update.” KPCC and LAist chief content officer Kristen Muller says, “This community-owned, local, public media news collaboration sets a new model for trusted local news and journalism in Southern California as NPR and PBS are two of the most fair and accurate sources of news that exist in the world today. We look forward to this exciting new partnership with PBS SoCal and KCET.”…..Boston public media producer GBH announces an expansion of its award-winning local arts coverage, adding digital writer James Bennett II to its news team. Bennett comes to GBH from New York Public Radio where he covered classical music for classical radio station WQXR and contributed to “New Sounds” and WNYC. GBH general manager Pam Johnston comments, “We recognize the importance of arts and culture to the local community, with leading arts organizations breaking new ground on a regular basis. James is an inventive and accomplished writer with deep knowledge in the arts. As part of the GBH News team he will further strengthen our robust cultural coverage.”

COVID-19, Atlanta Spa Slayings/Racism, Democrats’ Assault on the Filibuster, the U.S.-Mexico Border Crisis, Cuomo on the Ropes, Storms Hit U.S. Southeast, Texas Man Arrested at VP Harris’ Residence, U.S.-Russia Relations, and Candace Owens-Cardi B Spat Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/17). The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, the rollout of vaccines, and rising case numbers in Europe and South America; the shooting deaths of eight people at Atlanta-area massage parlors and speculation about anti-Asian sentiments; Democrats’ attempts to eliminate the filibuster from the U.S. Senate; the masses of child migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s facing allegations of sexual harassment and the investigation into the COVID-nursing home scandal; destructive storms cause damage in the U.S. Southeast; a Texas man is arrested on weapons charges outside of Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington; Russia recalls its U.S. ambassador after Joe Biden calls Vladimir Putin a killer; and the spat and potential legal tangle between conservative commentator Candace Owens and hip hop artist Cardi B were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

| March 16, 2021

Cox Media Group’s ‘95.5 WSB’ Names Erick Erickson Early Afternoon Host. At news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta, Cox Media Group announces that the daypart long occupied by the “Rush Limbaugh Show” will be hosted by the station’s Erick Erickson, beginning on Monday (3/22). Erickson will move from his current 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot and the station’s early evening host Mark Arum will take over the 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm program. WSB will air an hour of Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity program live at 3:00 pm and will air the rest of the show delayed from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. WSB director of branding & programming Drew Anderssen says, “With these lineup changes, 95.5 WSB will better serve Atlanta with more local programming. Erick Erickson and Mark Arum are both tremendous talents, and the move will continue to strengthen the extraordinary brand that is 95.5 WSB.” Erickson also hosts his own self-syndicated 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET talk radio show that has garnered almost 20 affiliate stations in its first year (although speculation has already begun that other syndication developments could be in the works that take into account the host’s new schedule).  Erickson says, “I would never have gotten into radio without encouragement from Rush Limbaugh who has been gracious over the years with a lot of great advice and guidance. It was an honor to fill in for him on his show, and it is overwhelming and humbling to move into the slot Rush occupied with such distinction for so long. I appreciate and intend to live up to the responsibility that comes with this time slot.” Mark Arum, who’s been with WSB since 1997, also serves as traffic anchor for WSB-TV’s “Channel 2 Action News This Morning.” Arum says, “When I was hired at 95.5 WSB over 23 years ago, I could never have envisioned that I would ever get the opportunity to host a drive time show on the best news and talk station in the nation. It’s a cliché, but this is truly a dream come true.”

WOKV-FM, Jacksonville Goes Local in the ‘Rush Daypart.’ As sister news/talk giant WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta is doing (see story above), Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville is filling the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart occupied by Rush Limbaugh for so many years with a local host, in this case current late morning personality Mark Kaye. CMG says that Kaye “has been growing his audience on 104.5 FM from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon for multiple years. Mark has gained a national following through multiple video streaming platforms, as well as a show on Newsmax TV.” Cox will fill Kaye’s current daypart with FOX News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade whose radio show will air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Kaye comments, “As a life-long fan of Rush Limbaugh, I am still adjusting to a world without his voice. Producing a daily show in ‘Rush’s timeslot’ is a daunting task for any broadcaster, but I am grateful to the leadership team at CMG and 104.5 WOKV for placing their trust in me. With the audience’s help I promise to do my best to keep Rush’s spirit, energy, and unique brand of conservative entertainment alive. This is an incredibly bittersweet opportunity.”

iHeartMedia Names Paul Rogers Area President for North Florida. Media executive Paul Rogers is named area president for iHeartMedia’s newly configured North Florida area that includes Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Panama City. Rogers takes over for Nicky Sparrow who was recently promoted to SVP of multicultural sales for iHeartMedia Markets Group. Rogers reports to division president Linda Byrd. She says, “I’ve worked with Paul for over 35 years, in many different roles. His integrity, judgment, professionalism, and competitiveness are what any manager would look for in a market leader. He is the perfect choice as a successor, and I have no doubt that he will take this area to the next level. I also want to thank Nicky for the great work she has done in getting Jacksonville to where we are today and congratulate her on this exciting new opportunity to expand her role in iHeartMedia.” Rogers has been serving iHeartMedia as market president for Tallahassee and Panama City since 2017.

Townsquare Media 2020 Q4 Net Revenue Down 3.2%; Full Year Revenue Declines 15%. Compared the second quarter of 2020 when Townsquare Media’s net revenue was down 35% compared to 2019, the fourth quarter’s decline of just 3.2% was a source of joy for CEO Bill Wilson. While Q4 net revenue was $108.5 million (down 3.2%), net revenue for the full year was $371.3 million, down 15% from the full year 2019 ($431.4 million). What has Wilson pumped is Townsquare’s digital assets. He says, “Townsquare Interactive, our digital monthly subscription business, excelled throughout the year, accelerating year-over-year net revenue growth in Q4 to +16% and generating over $70 million of revenue for the full year (+14% YoY) at a profit margin of approximately 30%. In total, digital net revenue increased +6% year over year, driven by both Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite (our digital programmatic advertising platform), which grew net revenue by +11% year over year.  With $162 million of 2020 digital net revenue, digital now accounts for approximately 44% of our total net revenue, further differentiating us in the local media marketplace.” Wilson says that the company is proud of its roots and DNA in local radio, “2020 was the year Townsquare became a ‘Digital First’ company.” He says, “I am also pleased to reaffirm our expectation that Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite will each generate $100 million in revenue in two to three years. 2020 served to accelerate Townsquare’s transformation into a premier local media and digital marketing solutions company proudly super-serving markets outside the top 50 markets.”

TALKERS News Notes. One of WFAN, New York afternoon co-host Craig Carton’s fraud victims is petitioning the court asking that Carton’s restitution order be rewritten because Carton has returned to the Entercom sports talk station in what petitioner Gerard LoDuka says “is almost surely an extremely lucrative job,” according to a piece in the New York Post. LoDuka claims that the restitution order requiring him to pay 15% of his yearly income toward the nearly $5 million he owes victims should be rewritten because of his new, high-profile job. But Carton’s attorney says Carton makes “a fraction” of his previous salary as morning drive co-host…..Cumulus Media announces that for the second year in a row, news/talk KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno’s “Morning News” takes home the Golden Mike Award for “Best Newscast under 15 minutes” (Division B) from the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California. KMJ news anchors Matt Otstot, Tony Manes, Liz Kern and Aaron Abeytia – along with sports anchor George Takata and weather anchor Kimberly Kolliner – teamed up for the winning newscast…..The National Association of Broadcasters is offering a new online training course for radio stations containing critical information and guidelines for complying with Federal Communications Commission regulations. The Radio Rules! A Guide to FCC Regulations for Radio Stations course is now available here. The scenario-based training course tests participants’ understanding of acceptable practices for FCC regulation compliance. The guide outlines compliance related to content, advertising, station operation and management, copyright, and public files and reporting in four learning activities.

Mildred Carter Mentoring Program Announces 2021 Participants. The Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group, a volunteer organization dedicated to developing management and leadership skills for women in radio broadcasting, introduces the MIW Group Mildred Carter Mentoring Program’s Class of 2021. They are (pictured above from left to right) The 2021 class is comprised of the following professionals, listed in alphabetical order: Lisa Kirkman, national accounts director, Ruby Radio, Northeastern Nevada; Jenna Miller, integrated sales manager, Cox Media Group, Tampa; Tonee Roper, on-air personality and promotions director, Neuhoff Media, Springfield, Illinois; and Ashley Wilson, director of country programming, iHeartMedia, Kentucky/Indiana Region. The program, now in its 20th year, matches up-and-coming women in radio with female professionals recognized as leaders in all aspects of the industry. vCreative is serving as the lead sponsor of this year’s program. The MIW Group Mildred Carter Mentoring Program is named in the memory of Mildred Carter who, along with her husband Andrew “Skip” Carter, founded the first African American-owned radio station in the U.S. in 1950, when they turned on KPRS, Kansas City.

Migrant Border Crisis, COVID-19, Cuomo Allegations, Stimulus Package, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Voting Bills, Georgia’s Trump Investigation, Gavin Newsom Recall Effort, North Korea Warns U.S., and the Grammy Awards/Oscar Nominations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/15). The Biden administration’s immigrant problem as thousands of parentless children amass at the U.S.-Mexico border; the number of COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, the removal of mask mandates in some states, and the rollout of vaccines; the sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the fellow Democrats calling for his resignation; Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package becomes law; the voting bills in various states critics say will make voting more difficult; the investigation into Donald Trump’s call to the Georgia Secretary of State asking for more votes; California Governor Gavin Newsom battles the recall effort against him; the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un warns the U.S. about military exercises with South Korea, and Sunday night’s Grammy awards and the unveiling of this year’s Oscar nominations were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

| February 24, 2021

Entercom Q4 Revenue Down 25.7%; Full Year 2020 Declines 33.6%. The third major radio company to present 2020 fourth quarter and full year financial data is Entercom (Beasley and Cumulus have already posted their financial results and iHeartMedia is scheduled to do the same tomorrow). The company reveals 2020 Q4 net revenue was $319.5 million, down 25.7% from the same period in 2019, and 2020 full-year net revenue was $1.06 billion, a decline of 33.6% from 2019. Entercom notes that since the depths of the pandemic revenue dip in the second quarter of 2020, business is trending up. Its 2020 Q4 revenue was up 19% from Q3. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “I am pleased to report that Entercom continued to drive strong sequential operating improvement with revenues up 19% and EBITDA more than doubling vs. the third quarter. Digital, podcasting, sports betting and network radio all posted strong double-digit growth over prior year and we are continuing to drive innovation across these businesses to enhance future growth potential. While the pandemic continues to hobble a large number of our advertisers, particularly locally, we are optimistic about a strong recovery in our local ad sales later this year driven by vaccinations, fiscal stimulus and pent-up consumer demand in heavily impacted categories.” Entercom breaks down its revenue by segments and some of the noteworthy data in this report includes that spot (local and national) revenue was down 27.7% from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020; year-over-year spot revenue was down 42.9%. On the positive side, digital revenue (including podcasting) rose 20.5% from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020 and was up 26% year-over-year. Looking at radio revenue by format, while Entercom’s music formats took the biggest hit in 2020 – revenue was down 44% — sports talk revenue declined by 39.3% and news/talk was off by 21.7% during the year.

Round One of Nielsen Audio’s January 2021 PPM Data Released. The first of four rounds of PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s January 2021 survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s January 2021 survey covered January 7 – February 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round. In New York, Entercom’s all-news stations both saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares increase – WINS added four-tenths to finish with a 4.0 share and the #8 rank and WCBS-AM added two-tenths for a 2.9 share and the #12 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles tacked on three-tenths for a 5.0 share and remains ranked #3. In Chicago, Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM added half a share to re-claim the #1 rank with a 7.3 share. Across town, Nexstar Media’s news/talk WGN-AM added four-tenths for a 4.1 share and the #7 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here

Talk Programmer Bob Shomper to Retire in April. Longtime news/talk programmer Bob Shomper announces he’ll retire from the radio business on April 2. Shomper is currently program director at NRG Media’s KLIN, Lincoln, Nebraska. During his career he’s served at some of America’s great news/talk stations, including: WCCO-AM, Minneapolis; KTAR-FM, Phoenix; WLS-AM, Chicago; WGN-AM, Chicago; WBAP-AM, Fort Worth/Dallas; and more. Shomper tells TALKERS magazine that his decision to retire is entirely his own and he’s grateful to be doing so on his own terms.

Robbie Stevens Posts Powerful Commentary to TalkersRadio About Honoring Truth in Media Discussions About Politics.  Noted record producer Robbie Stevens, one of TalkersRadio’s roster of “out-of-the-box” talk talents has posted a powerful new commentary yesterday (2/23) titled, “My Mistake(s),” that takes a candid look at a problem radio talk show hosts wrestle with all the time – staying true to core principles, maintaining a healthy sense of skepticism, and being honest about mistakes when making them. Stevens, who was the first talent signed for TalkersRadio – a service of TALKERS magazine – when it launched in the fall of 2013, has agreed to perform as a commentator on the platform for a “limited engagement” that will run through June of 2021. The Bronx-based New York City native is well-known in the music industry for his years of innovative studio work with a wide variety of high-profile artists, most recently on behalf of the estate and fans of the late John Lennon, for which he has achieved critical acclaim for his “raw” remix of the legendary artist’s Imagine album. He also most recently executive produced 13 Billboard #1 Dance Chart singles in a row, for Yoko Ono’s innovative ensemble Ono. He also recently produced (with Yoko Ono) the “John Lennon Anthology,” a four-CD set of unreleased material that was Rolling Stone magazine’s boxed set of the year. During his colorful career, he’s played on, mixed, or produced records by Herbie Hancock, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other high-profile musicians going back decades. During this time, Stevens has developed an alternative career as a talk radio host and commentator heard occasionally via on-air and online outlets provided by heritage NYC stations WOR and WNYM (in addition to TalkersRadio). Commenting on Stevens’ latest posting, TALKERS general manager of broadcast operations (and former WOR PD) David Bernstein says, “Robbie is raw, fresh, and as real as the urban streets that gave rise to his gritty philosophy and we always get strong response to his work on our exciting platform. This new installment of his show is a grand slam home run because it strikes at the very core of our deepest personal conflicts in arriving at and sticking with our truths as talk radio hosts operating in a swirling ocean of changing information.” To listen to Robbie Stevens’ new series of commentaries on TalkersRadio, please click here. TalkersRadio is an “experimental” talk radio platform launched in 2013 to provide the industry with a “workout space” and “showcase for new talk programming concepts.” Since its launch it has been a temporary home to a number of spoken-word talents – both high-profile and obscure – who’ve used it to work and showcase concepts that have gone on to achieve terrestrial radio exposure and even national syndication. In addition to Stevens, current TalkersRadio hosts include Claire CarterMeg McDonald, and UK sensation, Graham Mack. At the time of his passing, Alan Colmes was working on a series concept called “Healed Planet” heard on TalkersRadio which offered a glimpse into the late FOX News Radio and FOX News Channel star’s metaphysical interests. Files of that fledgling show remain archived on TalkersRadio as a tribute to Colmes. For more information about TalkersRadio, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

Cool Operations Manager Opportunity. Locally owned southern-based radio group seeking a full-time Operations Manager with strong technical and digital skills. The ideal candidate MUST have experience operating OP-X and managing satellite operations for syndicated programs. Applicant must have at least 5 years of experience. Proven experience in managing social media branding, digital marketing, and video production. Proficient in digital automation systems, digital audio editing and production is a must. EEO. Send resumes to dalton@starnesmediagroup.com

TALKERS News Notes. A new channel from Newsmax TV officially launches on VIZIO SmartCast, the award-winning Smart TV platform available to millions of viewers. Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy states, “Launching on VIZIO SmartCast allows our viewers to simply plug in their new televisions and play Newsmax TV. Newsmax is experiencing exponential growth and provides a much-needed perspective on the issues that many VIZIO viewers care about.”…..A new partnership between iHeartMedia and independent UK podcast company Novel will result in the debut of 11 original podcast series over the next three years. The relationship begins with the release of two podcast series, “The Assault on America” and “Deliver Us From Ervil.” “The Assault on America” tells the inside story of the insurrection at the Capitol by working with open-source investigative journalists Bellingcat. “Deliver Us From Ervil” is an investigative true-crime series in which a groundbreaking team of journalists enters a lawless town on the border of Mexico run by a secretive religious sect living in exile and outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. government since 1924…..Content creation company Mean Ole Lion Media adds three new lifestyle-based podcasts to its portfolio. The podcasts are: “Conversations with Dr. Ian Smith,” all about people and discovering their back-story; “Business First with Sonia Alleyne,” that shines a light on brilliant and successful business people in a variety of industries; and “The History of Being Black” with host Eunice Elliott.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Capitol Riot Public Testimony, Biden Cabinet Nominees, Biden Migrant Policy, Trump Tax Returns, Rochester Protests, Russian Sanctions, China’s Hong Kong Loyalty Oath, and Tiger Woods Car Crash Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/23). The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the testimony before the U.S. Senate about the January 6 Capitol insurrection; the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland, embattled White House budget office nominee Neera Tanden, and Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland; the Biden administration’s continued use of Trump policy turning away migrants at the Mexican border; the SCOTUS’ ruling Donald Trump must turn his tax data over to New York AG Cyrus Vance Jr.; the protests in Rochester, New York over the decision not to prosecute police in the death of Daniel Prude; the Biden Administration’s sanctions on Russia for the SolarWinds hack and the Navalny poisoning; China’s instituting loyalty oaths for Hong Kong politicians; and Tiger Woods is hurt in one-car accident in California were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

| February 23, 2021

Cumulus Media Reports 2020 Q4 Net Revenue Down 13.9%; Net Revenue for Full Year of 2020 Declines 26.7%. The second major radio company to report financial figures from the fourth quarter and the full year of 2020 (Beasley was first back on February 10), Cumulus Media reports net revenue of $245.8 million for the fourth quarter – a decline of 13.9% compared to the same period in 2019 – and full year 2020 net revenue of $816 million, down 26.7% from $1.1 billion reported in 2019. For Q4, Cumulus posted a loss of $249,000 a year after 2019’s Q4 income of $1.6 million. For the full year of 2019, the company posted a loss of $57.9 million compared to 2019’s full year income of $62.2 million. On the positive side, Cumulus reports that quarterly revenue improved sequentially from Q2 to Q4, both in total and excluding political; it achieved 9.4% year-over-year digital revenue growth (12.1% on a same station basis), driven by podcasting growth of nearly 40%; it generated $33.2 million of cash from operations for the full year; it completed two significant M&A transactions generating aggregate gross proceeds of $282 million; paid down $54.3 million of term loan and retired $47.2 million of senior notes; and finished the year with $271.8 million of cash on hand (an increase of $256.6 million compared with December 31, 2019). President and CEO Mary Berner comments, “Given 2020’s extenuating circumstances, I am extremely proud of the company’s performance and the efforts of the entire Cumulus team to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19. In the face of the pandemic, we maximized revenue performance, materially reduced expenses, generated cash through strong working capital management, and executed highly accretive divestitures that strengthened our balance sheet. As a result of these efforts and with a recovering economy, we believe that we are well-positioned to return our business to its pre-pandemic trajectory and to capitalize on strategic and financial options to best drive shareholder returns.”

Chad Benson Welcomes New Affiliate Stations. The Radio America-syndicated “Chad Benson Show” welcomes four new radio stations to its roster of affiliate stations: WP Broadcasting’s news/talk KRSY-AM, Alamogordo, New Mexico; WCED Rsdio’s news/talk WCED-AM, Du Bois, Pennsylvania; Fieldview Broadcasting’s news/talk KWBG-AM, Boone, Iowa; and VP Broadcasting’s news/talk WHOL-AM/W295CR Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Chad Benson Show is also heard on such signals as Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix; iHeartMedia’s KSTE-AM, Sacramento; and Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville. Radio America says, “Listeners love Chad’s explanation of the day’s hard news delivered in a thoughtful and entertaining way. And that explains why Chad is featured on some of the most highly rated talk stations in the country and delivers the demos that talk radio needs most.”

Entercom and Pro Sports Teams Cooperate on ‘Vaccinate Michigan’ Effort. The Entercom Detroit station cluster that includes sports talk WXYT-FM “97.1 The Ticket,” all-news WWJ-AM “Newsradio 950,” and three music brands are partnering with the Detroit Lions, the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Pistons to launch a new community initiative called “Vaccinate Michigan.” All five stations are airing state-approved public service announcements about the COVID-19 vaccination and its availability for Michigan residents. The “Vaccinate Michigan” announcements are voiced by various Entercom Detroit on-air personalities, show hosts, and news anchors, as well as some of the city’s key sports figures, including Tigers manager AJ Hinch, Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd, Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, Lions head coach Dan Campbell, and Pistons head coach Dwane Casey. Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “Our company and sports partners understand the importance of getting Michigan businesses open, as well as the need of our listeners and fans to get back to work and feel some sense of normalcy. Radio serves as a crucial lifeline for the communities it serves and we’re proud to lend our influential voice in the community and our citywide footprint to deliver the important message of COVID-19 vaccinations to our listeners and fans.”

SummitMedia Enters into Podcast Deal with CurtCo Media. This strategic partnership between SummitMedia and CurtCo Media is SummitMedia’s first formal alliance with a third-party content creator for the podcast audience. SummitMedia owns and operates 47 radio stations in nine states. Los Angeles-based CurtCo Media currently produces cutting-edge quality scripted and unscripted podcast programming. SummitMedia chairman and CEO Carl Parmer comments, “SummitMedia’s partnership with CurtCo Media provides us with an exciting opportunity to develop and explore the rapidly growing podcast medium. We’ve known and watched CurtCo create engaging and innovative content for years, and we value the integrity and quality they bring to the media industry.” CurtCo Media CEO Bill Curtis says, “Having a strategic alliance and investment from SummitMedia makes this partnership the most powerful moment to date in our business development. We’re so excited to work with Greg Kelly, Carl and their team to create new dynamic programming and combine Summit’s powerful radio platform with CurtCo Media in the fast-growing world of podcasting. We believe this strategic partnership will provide sustainable value for our business and expand our audience.”

TALKERS News Notes. Longtime radio and television consumer advocate Clark Howard will receive the 2021 “Andrew Ashwood Award” at the 12th annual Talk Show Boot Camp, presented by Don Anthony’s Talentmasters and Gabe Hobbs Media being held virtually this year on March 18 and 19.  Howard, who wrapped his nationally syndicated radio program after 23 years at the end of 2020, will be presented with the award by last year’s recipient, Greg Moceri. He says, “When I was given the privilege of selecting someone who exemplified the positivity that Andrew did for our industry, it took me two seconds to say Clark Howard. Having worked and associated with him for 30 years, he was an instant selection on how many ways he has demonstrated that positivity and has helped millions through the years. ‘In Clark we trust’ impacted his knowledge and authenticity in our industry for decades and it continues today. Clark was an instant choice to carry on this great tradition of honoring Andrew.”…..The 2nd Annual Radio Cares – Feeding America is off to a great start with new and returning partners signing on in support of the nationwide radio event that raises money to provide meals for individuals and families facing hunger in America. Radio Cares is presented by Feeding America and the Independent Broadcasters Association and takes place on April 14 on radio stations across the country. Last year, in its inaugural event, Radio Cares raised enough money to purchase 5 million meals.”…..The Philadelphia Phillies and Entercom announce a new, multi-year radio deal with the MLB’s Phillies to keep sports talk WIP-FM the flagship station for the club’s radio broadcasts. The play-by-play team of Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen will be joined by Kevin Frandsen this season. Entercom Philly SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We’re eagerly awaiting the return of Phillies baseball and are happy to announce a new broadcast extension with the club. As the undisputed voice of the Philadelphia sports fan, we look forward to putting listeners right in the middle of the action through premier game day coverage and keeping them caught up with their favorite team throughout the season.”

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, SCOTUS Trump Tax Returns Ruling, Capitol Riot Investigation, Cabinet Confirmation Hearings, Dominion Sues Mike Lindell, and Facebook Australia News Deal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/22). The United States passes the 500,000 COVID death mark and the rollout of vaccines continues; the Supreme Court rules New York prosecutors can have access to Donald Trump’s tax records; today’s first Senate hearing on the January 6 Capitol insurrection; Monday’s first confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland, and the coming hearings for embattled White House budget office nominee Neera Tanden and Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland; voting systems firm Dominion sues MyPillow chief Mike Lindell for $1.3 billion for defamation; and Facebook agrees to Australian news deal that will pay news organizations were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

| February 10, 2021

Beasley Broadcast Group’s Q4 2020 Net Revenue Declines 5.1%. Reporting on the fourth quarter and the full year of 2020, Beasley Broadcast Group – parent company of Beasley Media Group – reports net revenue of $68.5 million for the fourth quarter, a decline of 5.1% over the same period in 2019. For the full year, net revenue was $206.1 million, a decrease of 23.7% from the $261.6 million reported in 2019. There was positive news from the fourth quarter as operating income rose 54% to $19.6 million and station operating income increased 25.2% to $20.1 million. However, for the full year of 2020, the company posted an operating loss of $4.3 million and station operating income declined 86% to $24 million. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Beasley’s 2020 fourth quarter financial results reflect the ongoing recovery of our business and solid execution by our teams in generating sequential quarter-over-quarter revenue growth that exceeded the high-end of the preliminary range we announced in January. During the quarter, we continued to navigate the ongoing pandemic-related challenges exceptionally well. The meaningful actions we have taken over the past nine-months, including reducing station operating expenses and negotiating discounts with service providers and partners, resulted in 28.8% year-over-year growth in SOI and improved SOI margin as well as a 62.4% increase in station operating income less corporate expenses. In addition, despite the pandemic and restrictions in certain markets, we generated fourth quarter free cash flow of $16.8 million, inclusive of the $4.6 million net gain from dispositions, which compares very favorably to the $20.7 million of free cash flow in the year ago period which benefited from $21.8 million in dispositions. Record fourth quarter net political revenue of $10.2 million, combined with the resumption of advertising in key categories, drove year-over-year revenue increases in six of our station clusters. Excluding political revenue, Beasley continued to generate sequential month-over-month revenue growth, with October up 8.3% over September and November up 2.0% over October, while December paced slightly behind November due to a tightening of COVID-19 restrictions in certain markets. Notably, our continued emphasis on strong local content drove best-in-industry ratings performance for our station clusters in the fourth quarter, according to Nielsen, and our cumulative on-air audience share has grown consistently since March.”

TALKERS and Industry Mourn the Passing of Marcia Daly. Longtime TALKERS executive art director and advertising coordinator Marcia Daly, 67, unexpectedly passed away on Thursday, February 4 at her home in Westfield, MA. One of the original members of the TALKERS staff since its launch in 1990, she was a key component of both the company’s management and production teams and a beloved friend and colleague to countless professionals in the broadcasting industry across America. In that capacity, she worked closely with some of the biggest names in the talk show industry on their art, logos and advertising campaigns and was widely respected for her tremendous talent and reputation for kindness. In announcing the sad news, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison said, “Marcia Daly was an invaluable component in the rise and ongoing success of TALKERS for the past 31 years serving as an ever-dependable teammate and friend to those of us fortunate to have had her in our lives. In addition to being an extremely accomplished and talented artist, she was known far and wide for having a heart of gold and being one of the kindest and most generous people one could ever hope to know. All of us at TALKERS are stunned by this terribly sad news and pray for Marcia’s family and friends.” She is survived by her husband of 44 years, Joseph Daly. Born in Springfield, MA to Donald Van der Wolk and Betty (Moynihan) Van der Wolk, she leaves behind children, Kathleen Daly of Westfield, MA and John Daly of Medford, MA. A dedicated member of Blessed Sacrament Church, in Westfield, MA, Marcia Daly actively volunteered with the Soup Kitchen and Take & Eat. A cat lover, gourmet cook and baker, and a huge fan of crime dramas, she made friends everywhere she went and had a positive impact on everyone she met. A funeral mass will be held on Friday, February 12, 2021 at 11:00 am ET in Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church, 127 Holyoke Road, Westfield.  It can be virtually attended via livestream at https://my.gather.app/remember/marcia-daly. In lieu of flowers, donations in Marcia Daly’s honor may be made to The Sisters of St Joseph, 577 Carew Street, Springfield, MA 01104.

Entercom and TEGNA Strike Deal for Locked On Podcast Network. This new content agreement between Entercom and TEGNA – which recently acquired the local sports podcast network Locked On Podcast Network – puts Locked On’s extensive lineup of professional and collegiate sports podcasts featuring analysis from local experts, writers, reporters, and insiders, on Entercom’s RADIO.COM platform. The deal also calls for the development of new content, including co-produced and co-branded podcasts, a daily sports news podcast featuring hosts from leading RADIO.COM sports stations and local experts from Locked On, and two weekly one-hour programs, produced by Locked On, available on Entercom radio stations and RADIO.COM. Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley says, “We’re aggressively leveraging the value of our national dominance in sports programming and content in audio, digital and sports betting platforms and our agreement with Locked On reflects continued progress on this front. As the number one creator of live, original local audio content, we’re excited to add Locked On’s collection of top-rated podcasts to our portfolio, welcome their eight million monthly listeners nationwide to the RADIO.COM platform and make their inventory available to our advertising partners.” The first podcast co-produced under the partnership will be “Locked On Today,” hosted by “Locked On Packers” host Peter Bukowski. The program will be “a fast-paced take on the biggest sports stories of the day, going beyond the scoreboard and behind the scenes for insight and perspective from the local experts of the Locked On Podcast Network and Entercom sports radio stations.”

iHeartMedia Unveils iHeart 3D Audio for Podcasts. A new slate of podcasts from iHeartMedia will be released using the binaural or 3D audio technology the company is calling iHeart 3D Audio that “places listeners into the middle of an audio soundscape, immersing them in the story like never before.”  The company says 3D audio “creates a sense of movement, location and triggers other senses, enhancing listening experiences and providing a new way for people to hear high quality, surround sound, immersive content, and reproducing real-life experiences, much like virtual reality has done for video, right in their own homes.” iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “Podcasting has undoubtedly stepped in as one of this year’s most relied upon forms of entertainment. We’ve seen a huge spike in listenership and iHeart wants to ensure we’re meeting this growing audience in new, innovative ways. This is virtual reality for the ears, and by expanding our 3D audio offerings, our goal is to place fans at the center of the stories they love – in an even more immersive, innovative format.” iHeartMedia will launch a new slate of podcasts that is underpinned by the unique recording technology.

Moore and Squire Promoted at iHeartMedia Philadelphia. Two executives at iHeartMedia’s Philadelphia station group are promoted. Jeff Moore is named market president, rising from his previous post as senior vice president of sales, and Chris Squire is elevated to the SVP of sales position. Moore says, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this great team of successful sales and programming professionals in Philadelphia while representing some of the most iconic brands. My mission is to continue to build a winning culture that attracts the best talent and has a positive impact on our employees, brands and the community we serve.”

TALKERS News Notes. Based on data from the Podcast Consumer Tracker, Edison Research releases its first chart of the U.S. top 50 podcasts of 2020. In the top five positions are: 1) The Joe Rogan Experience 2) The Daily 3) Crime Junkie 4) This American Life and 5) My Favorite Murder. You can see the complete list here…..LiveXLive Media, owner of PodcastOneSlacker Radio, and React Presents, announces today’s release of “Valentine’s Day In Hell.” The six part musical-horror-comedy podcast marks the first production of the recently announced joint venture with LiveXLive and Audio Up Media. “Valentine’s Day In Hell” features some of today’s hottest recording artists, top social influencers, and media personalities in starring roles. Those starring in the podcast include iann diorjxdnOliver Treephem, and recent Billboard 21 Under 21 artist, Carlie Hanson – with Adam Carolla playing the devil.….Cumulus Media’s Westwood One announces the weekly podcast, “Brown Ambition,” to the Westwood One Podcast Network. Hosted by Mandi Woodruff and Tiffany Aliche, the program offers “life-changing financial advice and resources for women and other communities that have been excluded from the essential financial conversations necessary to thrive. Business Insider named ‘Brown Ambition’ one of ‘the best personal finance podcasts of 2021.’” Woodruff says, “When we started ‘Brown Ambition’ more than five years ago, we knew we wanted to create a unique space for women of color to feel empowered to build wealth and take charge of their careers unapologetically. I’m so proud of the organic growth we have achieved with the show thanks to the loyal listeners who have made us part of their weekly routine all these years.”…..The “Under the Hood” car talk show, hosted by Shannon Nordstrom, Russ Evans, and Chris Carter, moves into new studios. The program says that “this expansive project features all-new, state-of-the-art equipment throughout, including HD streaming video with an automatic switching system.” The show is also broadcast live in its home market on KELO-AM, Sioux Falls, South Dakota with the syndicated version of the radio show airing on more than 240 stations.

Impeachment Hearing, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, WHO’s China Investigation, Deadly Minnesota Clinic Shooting, and Supremes Singer Mary Wilson Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/9). The opening day of the impeachment case against Donald Trump; the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the World Health Organization reports its investigation into the origin of the coronavirus was likely not the result of a lab breach; a Minnesota man kills one and injures five at a health clinic in Minnesota; and Supremes singer Mary Wilson dies at 76 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

| January 14, 2021

Key Networks Names Deidra Hoye to Lead Expanded Sales Team. Syndication firm Key Networks appoints network advertising sales executive Deidra Hoye to the senior vice president, ad sales position in which she’ll lead the company’s newly expanded sales team. Los Angeles-based Hoye will supervise the enhanced sales team of veteran network radio sales professionals that includes recent hires Maggie Sisco, vice president, Eastern sales; Brian Pollina, vice president, Midwest sales; and Michelle McLynn, supervisor of sales support & operations. Hoye previously served as vice president, network sales, for Premiere Networks. Sisco joins Key Networks from PodcastOne, where she was vice president/director of sales, Eastern region. Pollina comes to Key Networks from United Stations Radio Networks, where he was vice president of digital assets and Midwest sales. McLynn joins Key from Westwood One, where she was affiliate services manager. Key Networks and Sun & Fun Media CEO Rob Koblasz says, “We are delighted to welcome Deidra to the Key Networks team. Her wealth of experience in the network ad sales arena will allow us to serve our partners now and as we grow our network. Deidra’s leadership along with the breadth of experience of our team is a winning combination for our customers.” Key Networks syndicates “The O’Reilly Update,” starring Bill O’Reilly to almost 250 radio stations. It also manages all network advertising sales, affiliate sales, and marketing for Bloomberg Radio and distributes “Shawn Parr’s Across The Country,” as well as news/talk program “The Jesse Kelly Show,” alt rock morning program, “The Billy Madison Show,” and Virtual Jock programming services.

KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh News Anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas to Retire. Pittsburgh news anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas is retiring from her PM drive anchor post at Entercom’s news/talk KDKA-AM after 45years in the broadcasting business. Ryan-Douglas has been with KDKA-AM since 2002. She joined KDKA-AM after anchoring the morning news at crosstown (current classic hits outlet) WWSW “3WS” for almost 20 years. Entercom Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “Rose has been the ultimate news professional. Not only will we miss her on the air but her calming influence in the newsroom is irreplaceable. On behalf of all of us at KDKA Radio and our listeners we thank her for the tremendous work she has done over the years.” Her last shift will be Friday, February 26.

Seth Goldberg Exits ‘ESPN Syracuse’ for Gig with the NBA. Syracuse.com reports that WTLA-AM, Syracuse “ESPN Radio Syracuse” host and producer Seth Goldberg is leaving the radio station to take a position with the NBA. Goldberg began working at WTLA in 2015 producing “Upon Further Review” with hosts Chris McManus and Steve Neikam while still a student at Syracuse University. Joining WTLA full time after graduating in 2016, Goldberg has been co-host and producer for “Orange Nation” (co-hosted with Steve Infanti), and produces “On the Block,” a program with Syracuse.com’s Brent Axe. Both programs also are featured on the WTLA-SU Twitch streaming channel ‘Cuse Sports Talk.’ Galaxy Media CEO Ed Levine says Goldberg’s on-air role on “Orange Nation” will be filled in the interim by Paulie Scibilia.

Beasley Media Group’s Preliminary Q4 Net Revenue Down 5.8%-6.5%. Releasing preliminary financial data from the fourth quarter of 20201, Beasley Media Group says it expects net revenue for the period to be approximately $67.4 million to $67.9 million. Compared to the same period in 2019, the figures represent a decrease of between 5.8% and 6.5%. The company says the change reflects a year-over-year decrease in commercial advertising revenue due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, partially offset by growth in digital, esports, and political revenue. Other data points include: fourth quarter 2020 Station Operating Income increased by approximately 23.1% to 28.8% year-over-year to approximately $19.2 million to $20.1 million; and fourth quarter 2020 EBITDA increased by approximately 25.0% to 33.8% year-over-year to approximately $17.0 million to $18.2 million. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “We expect to report top-line revenue improvement in the second half of the year, with sequential quarter-over-quarter growth in both the third and fourth quarters of 2020. Our preliminary fourth quarter performance also demonstrates the significant operating benefits from the actions we took earlier this year to address the pandemic, including reducing station operating expenses and negotiating discounts with landlords, service providers, and partners. Although it is difficult to predict what the impact of COVID-19 will be in the coming months, we remain optimistic that the commercial advertising market will return to more normalized revenue levels as we move further into the year, following broad vaccine distribution.”

CES2021: Technology Is Merely the Plumbing. As the (virtual) convention that reporters are scolded for calling “the Consumer Electronics Show” wraps today, consultant Holland Cooke urges broadcasters to focus on product, not package. Read his analysis here.

First Detroit Sports Talk Show Hosted by Frank Beckmann? Not So Fast… Former longtime Detroit Free Press writer John Smyntek reaches out to TALKERS magazine to let us know that legendary Detroit radio personality Frank Beckmann – who announced his retirement from Cumulus Media’s WJR-AM on Wednesday (it takes effect at the end of March) – was not the first to host a sports talk program on Detroit radio as the press release from WJR claims. Smyntek says, “WXYZ-AM (1270, now WXYT-AM) had the late Dave Diles hosting a daily sports talk and caller dial-in show from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm weeknights starting, I think, in 1967 and running through 1969 or 1970. Then Ron Cameron had a sports call-in format on WXYT-AM under the Chuck Fritz regime for several years in the 1970s, long before Beckmann’s show started.” Smyntek – who retired from the Free Press in 2008 – says Beckmann’s “Sportstalk” program, launched in 1981, was indeed the first sports show to air on WJR-AM.

WSB, Atlanta Talk Star Erick Erickson Is This Week’s Guest on the Harrison Podcast.  One of the rising stars of talk radio, Erick Erickson of WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” He’s one of the most important talk radio figures in the Peach State where, for the past eight years, he’s been hosting “Atlanta’s Evening News with Erick Erickson,” a 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm program on the Cox Media Group heritage station. He also hosts a recently launched, daily three-hour show airing from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon on his own independent network of almost 20 stations stretching across Georgia that many industry observers say is ready to expand nationally. His background is fascinating. Born 45 years ago in Jackson, Louisiana, he was raised between the ages of five and 15 in Dubai where his father worked for Conoco Oil as a production foreman. Returning to the U.S., he received a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and a J.D. degree from Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. He practiced law for six years at a major legal firm in Georgia. He served four years as an elected city councilman in Macon. He was one of the founders of RedState.com which he managed as editor-in-chief for 10 years. He’s been a regular contributor to CNN and FOX News Channel over the years. He’s currently attending a seminary where he is working on earning a theological degree and he’s one of the talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh turns to when he needs someone to fill in. Erickson is a conservative who has not been reluctant to tell his audience the truths he thinks they need to know as opposed to engaging in the daily dance of affirmation and only telling them what they want to hear – especially when it comes to his opinions about President Donald Trump. Don’t miss this extremely timely conversation about the state of talk radio and politics in America today recorded the day after the Capitol insurrection. 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.

Report: Dan Le Batard and Former ESPN Boss John Skipper to Form New Sports Media Company. According to a report by Michael McCarthy at Front Office Sports, former ESPN radio and TV personality Dan Le Batard and former ESPN chief John Skipper are partnering for a new “politically progressive sports media company” that is “described as the strategic opposite of Clay TravisOutkick.” The Le Batard-Skipper partnership was first reported by the Miami Herald. McCarthy’s piece says that Le Batard and Skipper are seeking talent including former ESPN talent Jemele Hill, Bomani Jones, and Kate Fagan. Hill tells FOS, “We’re trying to figure out the most productive way to work together. Both John and Dan know I have such a deep level of respect for them. So, me working with them again always felt like it was inevitable.” Skipper is currently executive chairman of sports streaming platform DAZN. Hill, in the aftermath of her departure from ESPN, formed her own production company that produces the Vice TV show “Stick to Sports,” and the “Jemele Hill is Unbothered” Spotify podcast.

TALKERS News Notes. Detroit talk station WFDF “910 AM Superstation” announces that former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, who served as mayor during the city’s water scandal, joins the station as a talk host. She’ll appear Monday-Friday in the 8:00 am to 9:00 am hour. Adell Radio Group CEO Kevin Adell says that with former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder being criminally charged with willful neglect in conjunction with the Flint water crisis, bringing Weaver aboard is timely. “Mayor Karen Weaver watched this disgraceful water episode unfold firsthand and will have much to talk about as Rick Snyder works his way through our legal system”…..The Armstrong & Getty Show – starring Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty – announces that QBS Broadcasting’s talk WBQO-FM, Brunswick, Georgia adds the program to its lineup. WBQO program director Paul Andresen says, “There’s a reason Armstrong & Getty’s reputation precedes them. So, when tasked with finding a replacement for Clark Howard, it was a no-brainer. A&G brings a much-needed change of perspective and influx of personality to not only 93.7 WBQO, but our market as a whole. The listeners’ response, from the first show onward, has been nothing short of fantastic and I couldn’t be prouder to have Armstrong & Getty in our on-air lineup.”…..The “RMWorldTravel with Robert & Mary Carey and Rudy Maxa” announces that it has added 23 new affiliate stations in 2021 so far, bringing its affiliate roster to more than 460 stations!

U.S. House Votes to Impeach Trump, Capitol Attack Investigation, States Prep for More Attacks, Social Media and Free Speech, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, WHO Investigating COVID Origin in China, and Powerball Jackpot Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/13). The U.S. House of Representatives votes to impeach Donald Trump; the investigation into last week’s attack on the Capitol; states across the nation move to protect their capitals from potential future attacks; the removal of Donald Trump and others from social media platforms and questions about free speech; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the WHO enters China to investigate the origin of the coronavirus; and the record Powerball jackpot were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

| December 15, 2020

Ramsey Solutions Forgives $10 million in Debt for 8,000 Americans. Through his company Ramsey Solutions, Dave Ramsey has taken on the debt of 8,000 people across the United States and totally forgiven a total of $10 million in debt. Ramsey Solutions has purchased $10 million of unpaid medical and car debt from two private debt collection companies in order to forgive it. Starting on November 9, Ramsey and his 950 team members made phone calls to let the recipients know their debt had been forgiven. Recipients will also be notified by a letter in the mail within the next five weeks. Ramsey says, “This year has been one of the worst financially for so many Americans. Thirty years ago, my wife Sharon, and I were on the heels of a financial catastrophe ourselves. We know firsthand the pain of having creditors calling at all hours of the night and wondering how we were going to keep the lights on. But we said never again to living with debt. We worked our way out of bankruptcy, turned our finances around, and now we can have the most fun with money that we ever have – giving.” You can read more about Ramsey Solutions’ $10 million debt payoff here.

Charlie James Named Afternoon Drive Host at WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg. The new afternoon drive talk host at Entercom’s WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg “106.3 WORD” is Charlie James, who joins the station from his most recent post as morning host for Cumulus Media’s news/talk WTMA-AM, Charleston, South Carolina. James – who starts on December 23 – succeeds Bob McLain, who is retiring from the station. Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi says, “Charlie is a well-respected and seasoned talk show host and his track record of success in South Carolina with his award-winning program makes him a perfect fit for ‘106.3 WORD.’ Charlie’s experience informing and entertaining listeners through his style, knowledge, and influential opinions on topics that matter most will be a welcomed addition to our station’s programming and will build on the afternoon audience that has been well served by Bob McLain.”​

WHO-AM, Des Moines Names Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet New Morning Drive Show. Current WHO-AM, Des Moines morning drive host Van Harden announced yesterday (12/14) to listeners that market radio pros Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet will take over hosting the morning drive show after he retires from the station early next month. Schaeffer comments, “The weight of what we have ahead of us is not lost on me.” Schaeffer and Sweet previously worked as morning drive co-hosts at Saga Communications’ crosstown classic hits KIOA-FM until exiting in May of 2018. Harden announced his retirement from WHO back in January of this year, giving iHeartMedia a full year to plan for the new morning show.

Ken Kohl Announces Retirement. Radio programming and management pro Ken Kohl announces that he’s winding down his 50-plus year broadcasting career that’s seen him program news and talk stations in markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Sacramento. Kohl has been serving for the past 12 years with DirecTV managing broadcast and sales operations, project and talent management for the radio and TV simulcasts of “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and “The Artie Lange Show.” Kohl says, “It’s been an amazing 50-year career. From overnight jock on Long Island’s WBLI-FM to program director of legendary WLIR-FM, rockin’ the Rockies at KBPI-FM, great runs programming KOMO-AM and KFBK-AM, launching talk on KFI in Los Angeles and San Francisco’s ‘Free FM’ to the award-winning, wall-to-wall coverage of the OJ trial, and two sports Emmy nominations and a Marconi with ‘The Dan Patrick Show.’ I’ve been blessed with fantastic staffs, amazing talk talent and exceptional ownership but there are a handful of folks who championed my career to whom I am eternally grateful: Michael Harrison, Monty Grau, Jim Donahoe, Jimmy de Castro, Chris Long, and the best of the best, Gerryann Agovino.” Kohl says he remains available for a limited number of consulting clients in between bites of fresh salmon and can be reached at kenkohl@acquaintmedia.com

Townsquare Media Issues Preliminary Fourth Quarter Financial Results. While the fourth quarter of 2020 doesn’t wrap until December 31, Townsquare Media is issuing “preliminary estimated financial results” for the period. Chief executive officer Bill Wilson says, “We are pleased to pre-announce very strong fourth quarter estimated results that outperformed the expectations we had previously outlined on our third quarter earnings call. At that time, I stated that our goal for fourth quarter net revenue was a year-over-year decline of 7.5%, approximately half of our third quarter net revenue decline of 15%, which had been a material improvement from Q2’s decline of 35%. Today, I am proud to share that we expect fourth quarter net revenue will be between $107 million and $109 million, which equates to a decline of approximately 2.7% to 4.5%, materially outperforming our goal. In addition, we expect Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA will be between $27 million and $28 million, representing between 8.3% and 12.3% growth year-over-year. This far exceeds our previously stated goal (by at least $2 million) that Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA would approach Q4 2019 Adjusted EBITDA of $24.9 million.”

i4 Media Ventures Launches with Debut Podcast ‘We Interrupt This Broadcast.’ The new firm i4 Media Ventures announces its plans to “bring podcast listeners vividly memorable stories from the history of American broadcasting.” The 12-episode podcast series “We Interrupt This Broadcast” – the first season of six seasons planned for release over the next three years – debuts in February. The series will feature first-hand accounts, little-told anecdotes and insights recorded over the course of decades with such icons of broadcast journalism as David BrinkleyTom BrokawWalter CronkiteSam Donaldson, Don HewittDan Rather, and Tim Russert, among many contemporary correspondents, and with numerous news directors and producers, as well as with guests connected to broadcast journalism’s rich history such as Casey MurrowEdward R. Murrow’s son. Advertising sales and sponsorship for the series will be represented by New York and Los Angeles-based Crossover Media Group Sales. The series is based on the 1998 New York Times bestselling multimedia book We Interrupt This Broadcast by author Joe Garner, a co-founder of i4 Media Ventures. Legendary longtime CBS journalist and A&E and NPR host Bill Kurtis, the original narrator for the multimedia book, will reprise his role by introducing each episode. The narrator for the series will be announced in coming weeks. Garner says, “It’s our intention with this series to celebrate broadcast journalism’s crucial role in our society and in history. And while our inaugural podcast series will feature major news events throughout broadcast history, these stories – such as the Rodney King beating and the presidential-election dispute of 2000 – all have relevance and offer lessons today.”

Joe Piscopo to Host Sinatra Show on WABC, New York. Well-known TV personality and radio talk show host Joe Piscopo is joining Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York to host “Ramsey Mazda’s Sunday Nights with Sinatra” program that airs from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The show is being simulcast on WLIR-FM on Long Island. Piscopo played Sinatra in a recurring role during his time as a cast member of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” in the early 1980s. He says, “It’s an honor to bring the music of the most legendary icon of our time, Frank Sinatra, back to the legendary WABC Radio. I am thrilled and excited, and it’s gonna’ be swingin’ baby!” Red Apple CEO John Catsimatidis comments, “Throughout history, there has been no more iconic name in music than Frank Sinatra, nor has there been a more iconic name in radio than WABC. Bringing these two together again on Sunday nights with celebrity host Joe Piscopo, a crooner himself, is a one-of-a-kind way to honor ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ and celebrate what would-be his 105th Birthday with this show’s debut.” Piscopo hosts the morning drive program on Salem Media Group‘s WNYM, New York “970 The Answer.”

ESPN’s ‘30 For 30 Podcasts’ Looks Back at Beginning of Pandemic. The next installment of ESPN’s “30 for 30 Podcasts” debuts on December 21, is titled, “March 11 2020,” and tells the story “of a day that started in one reality and ended with a new one — the day the NBA shut down and the pandemic became real — as told by those who lived it.” ESPN says the experiential podcast features a mix of audio clips from news stories of the day and interviews with key figures in the NBA as well as from Dr. Anthony Fauci. Senior editorial producer Julia Lowrie Henderson says, “This has been the strangest, longest, and most challenging of years. It’s hard to process all we’ve been through, but it’s actually quite simple to identify the turning point, the moment where it felt like everything changed: March 11. All of our lives were impacted by the events of that day. At the time we had no idea how deeply, or how long this might last, but we felt the seismic shift when the first professional athlete tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA suspended its season. If our mission at ‘30 For 30’ is to tell stories that explore how sports, competition, athleticism, and adventure affect our lives and our world, then it felt crucial to us to find a way to tell the story of that day.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a story at GVWire.com, KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno program director Blake Taylor says Twitter blocked access to the station’s account because of comments made by U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes on KMJ. During Nunes’ interview with KMJ talk host Ray Appleton, he said he “tested positive for the COVID antibodies” causing some confusion and concern that he had contracted the COVID-19 virus. GVWire.com reports that Taylor fielded requests from consumer media outlets seeking to clarify what Nunes had said so he did so on Twitter. Taylor says that immediately the station’s Twitter account was suspended. He reached out to Twitter but received no response. The blackout lasted 20 minutes…..Entercom’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia “SportsRadio 94WIP” announces special coverage of the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2020-21 season. WIP’s coverage of the team will include “Trust The Pregame,” hosted by Joe Giglio. The station will continue airing “Rights To Ricky Sanchez Radio,” a one-hour show named after the popular podcast. That show will be hosted by Joe Giglio and feature Spike Eskin, as well as Rights to Ricky Sanchez writers Adam Aaronson and Mike O’Connor. The station also announces a collection of additional contributors for the upcoming season, including  WIP’s Jon Johnson and Billy KingDerek Bodner of The AthleticKevin O’Connor of The Ringer, and Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice…..Digital products and services provider Vipology moves its ad sales representation exclusively to AdLarge Media. AdLarge co-founder and co CEO Cathy Csukas says, “Where most digital companies simply create and sell what’s needed at the time, Vipology gets ahead of the constantly evolving media landscape to develop solutions that allow radio to increase ratings and revenue. We’re very excited about representing their advertising inventory from more than 1,000 top radio stations across America to our advertisers.”…..Erick Siqueira joins Focus360 as business development & planning specialist. In this role, Siqueira will work with the Focus team to deliver new revenue and inventory opportunities for clients. He will also continue relationships with agencies and buyers with whom he’s worked for all Focus360 network products and the Focus360 Podcast Network

Electoral College Votes Biden Winner, COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive, COVID Stats & Projections, Barr to Resign, Georgia Runoff Elections, and Stimulus Negotiations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14). The Electoral College votes Joe Biden the 46th president; the first COVID-19 vaccines begin arriving at U.S. hospitals; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for post-holidays outbreaks, and Dr. Tony Fauci’s estimation the U.S. will achieve herd immunity by late spring or early summer; Attorney General William Barr announces he’ll resign next week; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; and negotiations on a new pandemic stimulus package 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. According to a report at NewscenterMaine, former Saga Communications air personality Randi Kirshbaum – who was a program director and jock at country WPOR and triple A WCLZ in Portland, Maine is filing an employment discrimination complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company after she was dismissed for refusing to return to the stations’ offices due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kirshbaum says her mother passed away from pulmonary fibrosis and that she is genetically predisposed to getting it. She adds the disease can be triggered by a respiratory virus. When Kirshbaum was laid off in May, Saga Portland SVP Chris Forgy said Kirshbaum violated her signed agreement that she could be called back to the office by management and would lose her job if she refused…..Condolences to the family and friends of radio pro Steve Cooper, a.k.a. James Carr, who died on Sunday (12/13) at age 71 after several years of battling multiple illnesses. Cooper worked in the Indianapolis market for 32 years, working at such signals as WNDE, WIFE, WFBQ, and WTPI. You can see a tribute video made by good friend Art Vuolo here.