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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

| April 7, 2021

Gordon Smith to Leave NAB Leadership Role at Year’s End. The National Association of Broadcasters announces that president and CEO Gordon H. Smith will leave his position and transition to an advisory and advocacy role effective December 31, 2021. NAB’s chief operating officer Curtis LeGeyt will become the next president and CEO of NAB effective January 1, 2022. In a video message to members, Smith said, “It has been my great honor to give the lion’s roar for broadcasters – those who run into the storm, those who stand firm in chaos to hear the voice of the people, those who hold to account the powerful – and to stand with those of the fourth estate who have the hearts of public servants.” Smith joined NAB as president and CEO in November 2009. Previously, he served as a two-term U.S. senator from Oregon and later as senior advisor in the Washington offices of Covington & Burling, LLP. NAB joint board of directors chairman Jordan Wertlieb (president of Hearst Television) thanked Smith for his service to the industry. “Gordon is the ultimate statesman, bringing people together from both sides of the aisle to discuss ideas, find common ground and lead NAB to success on countless fronts. On behalf of the leadership of NAB, we extend our sincere gratitude for more than a decade of service to the broadcast industry. We look forward to continuing to work with Gordon and benefiting from his guidance for years to come. I am also delighted to share that NAB is in the enviable position of having cultivated top talent within the organization to provide for a smooth and stable transition in leadership. Curtis LeGeyt has the utmost confidence of the NAB leadership and staff to lead our association into the future.” LeGeyt has been with NAB for nearly a decade, during which time he led several highly successful legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of broadcasters, including the permanent reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR), inclusion of $1 billion in RAY BAUM’s Act to reimburse stations impacted by the spectrum auction repack, and successful passage of the Music Modernization Act. Prior to assuming his current role as chief operating officer, LeGeyt served for five years as NAB’s executive vice president, Government Relations. Before joining NAB, LeGeyt was senior counsel to then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (VT). He says, “I am honored and humbled to be named the next leader of this great organization. To represent the broadcast industry and the local stations that bind our communities together in a moment of such tremendous change across the media landscape is a privilege. Our stations’ role in communities across this country has never been more important, and I look forward to working every day to ensure their ability to grow and thrive.”

SCOTUS Declines to Hear Alex Jones Appeal. According to numerous media reports, including this one from NBC News, the U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the appeal requested by radio and internet personality Alex Jones of his sanction by a Connecticut court. Jones was sanctioned in 2019 for what he said on his radio show about an attorney for the relatives of the victims of the Newtown massacre and for violating numerous court orders to turn over documents to the families’ lawyers. Judge Barbara Bellis also barred Jones from filing a motion to dismiss the case and added she would order Jones to pay some of the families’ legal fees. Jones argued that his words were the exercising of his First Amendment rights. Jones is being sued by some of the families who lost loved ones in the shooting after Jones claimed that the shootings were a hoax and who consequently suffered harassment and threats from Jones’ fans. Jones earned the sanction after claiming on his radio show that an attorney for the families tried to plant child porn on his computer by sending it in encrypted email files. In Connecticut, that state’s Supreme Court ruled that sanctions were proper because Jones’ words were an “imminent and likely threat to the administration of justice.”

WHCU, Ithaca Adds SRN’s Dennis Prager to Early Afternoon Daypart. Ithaca, New York news/talk WHCU is adding Salem Radio Network’s Dennis Prager show to the lineup in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. Joe Salzone is news director at the Saga Communications station, and he says, “We polled our listeners on a Rush Limbaugh replacement show over the past month and Prager was their top choice. While they know that Rush’s show was great, they also understand that radio is best as a live, topical medium and that running repeats of Rush segments was not what they ultimately wanted to listen to.” WHCU operations manager Chris Allinger adds, “Dennis will be a good fit for WHCU. He is intelligent, educated, and will bring those assets to the regional airwaves. Replacing a legend like Rush is not easy, but Dennis has been successfully doing his nationally syndicated weekday show in the exact same time period for over 20 years, so his track record is already proven.”

Todd Starnes Show Joins WMLB, Atlanta. The nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” is joining the program lineup on WMLB, Atlanta “Freedom 1690” in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. The station is owned by Delmarva Educational Association but is being operated under an LMA by the Virginia-based John Fredericks Radio Network that owns conservative talk duo WJFN-AM/FM in the Richmond, Virginia market. John Fredericks says, “Now more than ever, as Leftist elites continue their unprecedented power grab and assault on Christians, Todd stands at the beachhead of defending people of faith everywhere.”

Nielsen: Consumer Sentiment About COVID-19 Recovery Improving. According to a new study by Nielsen that addresses American consumer sentiment about COVID-19 and media usage, people 18 and older are showing “increased confidence with respect to consumer behavior.” Nielsen says the survey looked at three segments reflecting attitudes about the pandemic. People who are “Ready to Go,” those who “Proceed with Caution,” and consumers who “Wait and See” when it comes to resuming normal behavior. The “Ready to Go” segment peaked at 61% in the March 2021 survey compared with 34% in April 2020. The more pessimistic group of Wait and See consumers dropped to 9% in March 2021 compared with 29% a year ago. Other key consumer sentiments include: 82% now say that stores that were closed have started to open again compared with only 40% in April of last year; 64% agree that it is safer than it was a month ago, compared to 38% in April 2020; and 72% agree that their town is starting to emerge from the crisis versus 44% a year ago. The study showed that heavy radio listeners are more likely to make big-ticket purchases within a year. Heavy radio listeners are 18% more likely to purchase or lease a new or used vehicle in the next year, and 64% are more likely to buy a house in the next twelve months, compared to total adults. Nielsen Audio managing director Brad Kelly comments, “As Americans continue to navigate the pandemic, the future looks promising. Consumers are becoming more optimistic and resuming more normal activities, especially heavy radio listeners. AM/FM listeners are more likely to be out and about and spending more time in their vehicles.” You can see more in a Nielsen webinar here.

‘The Biz Tape’ Launches on Nashville Podcast Network. The Bobby Bones-led Nashville Podcast Network is launching a new program called “The Biztape” hosted by Colin McKay and Joe Wasilewski. “The Biztape,” formerly known as “That’s Showbiz Baby,” is a weekly podcast covering all things music business and media. Hosts McKay and Wasilewski are music industry professionals who provide insight into the business and technical side of these closed-curtain industries. McKay and Wasilewski say, “We searched for a long time to find a podcast that discussed the music business from the business side. We wanted more advice and more depth than just ‘work hard.’ We decided to fill the void by creating ‘The Biztape’ so we could get as nerdy as we always wanted to with it. Thankfully, with the help of Bobby Bones and the Nashville Podcast Network, we have the opportunity to continue that dream and we can’t wait to start creating with such a passionate and unique brand.”

iHeartMedia Debuts New Podcast ‘In Fact with Chelsea Clinton.’ A new iHeartRadio Original Podcast is being launched titled “In Fact with Chelsea Clinton” and hosted by the former First Daughter and public health expert. The podcast joins the iHeartPodcast Network that is already home to “You and Me Both with Hillary Clinton” and “Why Am I Telling You This? with Bill Clinton.” iHeartMedia says, “‘In Fact with Chelsea Clinton’ will pull back the curtain on some of the biggest public health challenges of our time. Each week on the podcast, Clinton — who holds a doctorate in international relations, a masters in public health, and teaches at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health — will sit down with experts, activists, and an assortment of surprising guests who share her passion for science, evidence and, of course, facts.” In the podcast’s debut episode, Clinton sits down with Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, who has been a vocal advocate for people with HIV/AIDS since publicly sharing his own HIV-positive status in 2019; activist Peter Staley; and Dr. Oni Blackstock, an HIV physician and health equity advocate, to explore the trajectory of HIV/AIDS from the early days of activism through modern day.”

New Kelly Osbourne and Jeff Beacher Show to Launch on PodcastOne. A new, eponymous podcast starring Kelly Osbourne and Jeff Beacher is debuting on PodcastOne in which Osbourne and Beacher will create a live theater experience and feature their dynamic and outrageous personalities and uncensored conversations with a diverse list of celebrity guests and famous friends. They will discuss everything from the latest current events to fitness, weight-loss, fame, stories of inspiration and beyond. Osbourne and Beacher will be joined by regular co-host Donny Davis, original star of “Beacher’s Madhouse” and one of the most well-known activists for little people. The podcast will record and film from the penthouse of the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel – former home to “Beacher’s Madhouse” theatre. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Kelly and Jeff together are a showstopping dynamic. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome them to PodcastOne and know that their show will be destination programming for podcast audiences.”

‘104.5 The Team’ in Albany Names Dan Bahl Brand Manager. Two months after previous brand manager and on-air host Tom Gozlowski was let go from the station, Townsquare Media’s WTMM-FM, Albany “104.5 The Team” announces that Dan Bahl joins as the new brand manager and afternoon drive co-host. Bahl partners with incumbent air personality Jeff Levack on the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm program. Bahl has been operating his own sports website and podcast network. He says, “I am extremely honored and excited to join ‘104.5 The Team’ and the Townsquare Media family. I am really looking forward to having great debates and conversations with Jeff Levack and the ‘104.5 The Team’ listeners, as well as strengthening the brand on-air, online, and across social media.” Townsquare Media director of content Matty Jeff comments, “We are thrilled to welcome Dan to the Townsquare Media local team here in Albany. Dan’s leadership, acumen across all platforms, and passion for sports will broaden the reach of the great local on-air and digital content we create daily on ‘104.5 The Team.’”

COVID-19, Voting Legislation/McConnell Threat, Matt Gaetz Investigation, Biden Infrastructure Plan, Border Crisis, Derek Chauvin Trial, and China Military Exercises Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/6). The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; Georgia’s vote restriction law, the Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill, and Mitch McConnell’s threats to businesses that protest Georgia’s law; allegations U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz had relationships with underage girls; the battle in Washington over President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan; the large number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; and China’s military exercises near Taiwan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

| January 20, 2021

Nick Gale Named News Director at WLS-AM, Chicago. Award-winning journalist Nick Gale is promoted to the news director position at Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago. Gale is elevated into the role on the heels of the retirement of news director John Dempsey. Gale also serves as morning drive news anchor, a position in which he’ll continue. During his career, Gale has served as news director at a five-station radio group in LaSalle-Peru, Illinois, as a reporter and anchor at Cox Media Group’s WOKV-AM, Jacksonville, and a reporter with the Illinois Radio Network before joining WLS-AM full time in 2013. WLS program director Stephanie Tichenor says, “There’s a spot in Chicago, below Michigan Ave, where the sun rarely shines, and the conversation is always flowing. It’s the Billy Goat Tavern, a haven for the kings and queens of Chicago print and on-air journalism, and it’s where for the past eight years, Nick Gale has ordered a fried egg sandwich to go as he began the short walk to the NBC Tower to start his news shift at 890 WLS-AM. Nick, like the Billy Goat Tavern, is reliable, relatable, and fulfilling. That is why he’s the perfect person for the news director position at 890 WLS-AM. He is exactly what Chicago news needs right now and I look forward to working with him to enhance our news product for our listeners.” Gale comments, “I have big shoes to fill and look forward to working with our newsroom team in keeping the ‘Big 89’ a place where Chicago can turn to for all the news and information they need through the day. Thank you to Stephanie, Marv [Nyren] and the rest of the management team at Cumulus for the opportunity.”

Emmis Indianapolis Names Taja Graham to Take Over for Bob Richards as Radio Market Manager. Current vice president of sales for Emmis Communications’ Indianapolis radio stations Taja Graham is being promoted to market president effective on March 1. Until that date, Graham will be deputy market manager as she and current market president Bob Richards work together to make the transition. Emmis owns and operates news/talk WIBC-FM, sports talk WFNI-AM “The Fan,” adult contemporary WYXB, and country WLHK-FM. Emmis chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan says, “Bob approached us last year with this plan and strongly endorsed Taja to succeed him in the role. Taja has been a huge part of creating our winning culture at Emmis. Her commitment to building and developing great teams is directly correlated with our top-ranked position in the Indianapolis market. I’m thrilled to see our home-grown talent like Taja succeed and look forward to the impact she will have on our great brands in the years to come.” Richards has been with Emmis for 11 years, the past three-and-a-half years as market manager. Smulyan says of Richards, “I can’t thank Bob enough for his contributions over the past decade and in particular his leadership as market manager. His passion and desire to win have been hallmarks of his leadership and positioned our team for a great future. I wish Bob every success as he charts the course for his next career adventure and thank him for all he’s meant to Emmis.”

USA Radio and Todd Starnes Partner. Author and talk media personality Todd Starnes and USA Radio Networks enter into a partnership for the latter to syndicate Starnes’ eponymous talk radio program and his commentaries. USA Radio assumes this syndication role effective Monday, January 25.

Doug Schoen Joins Newsmax TV as Analyst. Democratic political strategist Doug Schoen is joining Newsmax TV as an analyst. In a press release, Newsmax says, “Schoen, a longtime Democrat who helped shape Bill Clinton’s successful 1996 campaign and who has worked on dozens of major senate and gubernatorial races, will be a regular on Newsmax TV giving vital analysis on the new Biden administration and the national political landscape.” Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy adds, “Doug is a Democrat who plays it fair and square and calls it as he sees it. Since our founding over two decades ago, Newsmax has striven to give our readers and viewers ‘both sides’ and we’re now lucky to have one of the very best joining our roster.” Schoen, who has served as a contributor to FOX News and has been a frequent columnist for Newsmax, comments, “In a short time, Newsmax TV has become one of America’s leading news networks, and I am glad to join such a strong group of news professionals.”

SAG-AFTRA Board Orders Disciplinary Hearing for Donald Trump. The union representing television and radio employees announces that its national board has voted to hold a disciplinary hearing for Donald J. Trump. SAG-AFTRA says that national board “voted overwhelmingly to find probable cause of a violation of SAG-AFTRA’s constitution by member Donald J. Trump and ordered the matter to be heard by SAG-AFTRA’s disciplinary committee as required by the SAG-AFTRA constitution. If found guilty by the committee, possible penalties include reprimand, censure, fines, suspension from the rights and privileges of membership, or expulsion from membership in SAG-AFTRA.” In a press release, SAG-AFTRA says the board acted on charges initiated by national executive director David White at the request of president Gabrielle Carteris. “The charges specifically cite Trump’s role in inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and in sustaining a reckless campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting and ultimately threatening the safety of journalists, many of whom are SAG-AFTRA members. The charges request the imposition of the most severe penalty available to SAG-AFTRA: expulsion from membership.” Carteris comments, “Donald Trump attacked the values that this union holds most sacred – democracy, truth, respect for our fellow Americans of all races and faiths, and the sanctity of the free press. There’s a straight line from his wanton disregard for the truth to the attacks on journalists perpetrated by his followers.”

Programming Changes at Sports Talk ‘Sports Talk 99.5’ in Mobile. Monday (1/25) will see a number of programming changes take place at iHeartMedia’s sports talk WRKH-HD2/W258AY, Mobile “Sports Talk 99.5.” AL.com reports the station’s current morning drive program, “The Randy Kennedy Show” – with co-host Creg Stephenson of AL.com – is moving to the afternoon drive daypart (3:00 pm to 6:00 pm) and debuting in morning drive will be “The Press Box,” hosted by broadcasters Mike Grace, Chris Stewart (the voice of Alabama Crimson Tide basketball and host of  the Nick Saban and Nate Oats TV shows), and J.D. Byars (the voice of the South Alabama Jaguars). Kennedy, who is also program director for the station, says, “We couldn’t be more excited about our new lineup and the opportunity to partner with three tremendously talented and entertaining broadcasters like Mike, Chris and J.D. Creg and I always thought our show was best suited for the afternoon. Now that we have a chance to introduce ‘The Press Box,’ we feel great about the chance to make the move without missing a beat during the morning drive time slot.”

John Skipper and Dan Le Batard Reveal New Firm is Meadowlark Media. According to a piece in The Hollywood Reporter, the new venture from former ESPN president John Skipper and longtime ESPN radio and television personality Dan Le Batard will be called Meadowlark Media. Financing for the new media brand comes from Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, the company behind the DAZN sports streaming service at which Skipper had served as chairman. Skipper tells THR that their first goal is to “to find Dan a new home for his wildly popular audio programs.” Le Batard is quoted in a statement saying, “We hear the term ‘free agency’ a lot, but our fans, as loyal and rabid as any in sports, just gave us the freedom to exert the agency. John Skipper is a visionary, an industry leader and also the most powerful person in sports across the decade when our show rocketed to national acclaim. I can’t wait to see what he builds, and what we build together.”

TALKERS News Notes. Production pro Jeff Kelly is named West Coast commercial production director for Benztown. Kelly was most recently production director for iHeartMedia’s Albuquerque station group where he was honored with nine New Mexico Broadcasters Association Awards over the course of four years…..ESPN Podcasts is launching a new weekly offering, “First Take, Her Take,” featuring three prominent female sports media figures – ESPN’s Charly Arnolt, Kimberley A. Martin, and Chiney Ogwumike. ESPN says the three will discuss “the biggest sports stories but also provide insight into their unique backgrounds and personalities as they delve into other topics about their lives and culture.” Additionally, Jalen Rose and David Jacoby are returning to their podcast roots with the relaunch of “Jalen & Jacoby” as a twice-weekly offering. This is in addition to the podcast version of their daily ESPN TV show…..The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in partnership with the AmerisourceBergen Foundation and iHeartMedia, are launching “Sharing Solutions: A Virtual Nationwide Tour” to drive business-led solutions to the opioid epidemic as more than 40 states report increases in opioid-related mortality amid COVID-19. As part of the campaign, the Foundation and its partners will convene 50 virtual events in 50 states to showcase innovative workforce solutions and support employers as they tackle growing substance misuse in their communities and in the post-COVID workplace. iHeartMedia vice president of strategic partnerships & government initiative Alexandra Cameron says, “As a co-founder of the National Opioid Action Coalition, iHeart has been committed to combating the opioid crisis affecting communities across America. By collaborating closely with the U.S. Chamber Foundation, we are bringing public and private sectors together in this mission, and including pop culture influencers who can bring attention to this important issue.”

Trump’s Final Day in Office/Pardons and Commutations, Trump Impeachment, Biden Inauguration Prep, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Capitol Attack Investigation, and Social Media & Free Speech Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/19). The final day in office for Donald Trump and his issuing of pardons and commutations; the impeachment of Donald Trump; the preparation and security process for today’s inauguration ceremonies for Joe Biden; the number of COVID cases in the U.S., the 400,000 death mark, and the rollout of vaccines; the ongoing investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; and the suspensions and bans of some by social media platforms and the issue of free speech were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

| December 8, 2020

Howard Stern Signs Renewal with SiriusXM for Five More Years. During previous investor conference calls, outgoing SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer said he believed Howard Stern and SiriusXM would come to terms on a new deal and today’s announcement bears that out. Under the new agreement, Stern will continue to produce and host “The Howard Stern Show” exclusively for SiriusXM for the next five years, and the Howard Stern archive of audio and video will continue to be licensed to SiriusXM for an additional seven years. Stern says, “Fifteen years ago, I joined SiriusXM, a fledgling group of broadcasters. I had been in a toxic relationship with terrestrial radio. And no matter how well I treated the medium, no matter how successful I made them, they abused me. Going to SiriusXM liberated me. I felt like Tina Turner freeing myself from Ike. And despite the naysayers and the ridicule, we have persevered, and are thriving. I’ve been proven right about satellite radio over and over again. With this contract renewal, I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be right about. Certainly, I have a lot more to say about Metamucil crackers and stepmom porn. Plus, now that I can work from home, I simply don’t have an excuse to quit.” Meyer says, “As the leading audio entertainment company, we couldn’t be happier to have Howard, the leading host in all of radio and audio, continue to make SiriusXM the home for his show, channels, and archives while at the peak of his broadcasting career. Howard’s home has been SiriusXM and it will remain that way, but we’ve expanded SiriusXM in recent years too, and we are excited about finding the right ways that select content from Howard can find audiences on additional platforms. May I add, I consider Howard a close friend and look forward to listening to him for years to come.”

Ron St. Pierre Out at iHeartMedia’s WHJJ, Providence; Jim Polito Takes Over Morning Show. Longtime Providence air personality and programmer Ron St. Pierre has exited iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence where he hosted the morning drive show. Filling the programming gap is WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based morning personality Jim Polito. In 2016, iHeartMedia dropped the local morning show hosted by Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan on WHYN-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts and began simulcasting Polito’s show there. The WHJJ move puts the Jim Polito show in three of iHeartMedia’s New England markets.

Salem’s KRLA and KTIE Cut Ties with Brian Whitman. Southern California radio pro Brian Whitman exits Salem Media Group’s morning drive show “The Morning Answer” that he co-hosted with Jennifer Horn that was simulcast on KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino. Whitman shared the news on his Facebook page on Friday (12/4). He wrote, “I was provided the following from folks at Salem/KRLA this morning. The announcement was sent by the general manager to their kind and hardworking staff, making this news public. I’ll have very personal thoughts to share with members of the ‘Morning Answer Listening Family’ (as I came to know and regard you over many years) very soon. It will be in this space at a time that is more appropriate and comfortable. With all of my love and with the warmest gratitude for every moment that we’ve shared together, I offer words that I know fall far short of my heart’s sentiment. Thank you, thank you, thank you guys.” The message from management was as follows: “After eight years hosting ‘The Morning Answer,’ Brian Whitman will no longer be with us. We wish Brian all the best in the future. Chuck [Tyler] and I echo Phil Boyce who said, “Brian has been a hard-working and extremely talented employee for us for many years. We will always cherish his friendship, and our opportunity to work together at KRLA and KTIE.” Whitman was the liberal counterpart to conservative Horn.

Hubbard Radio Drops Sports Talker Chris Rongey; Re-Aligns Host Lineup. According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar, afternoon drive sports talk personality Chris Rongey has been let go from Hubbard Radio’s WXOS-FM, St. Louis. Rongey had been part of “The Fast Lane” afternoon show since replacing D’Marco Farr in 2017. The station moves midday host Jamie Rivers into afternoons alongside Anthony Stalter and Brad Thompson and promotes Alex Farrario to the midday show co-hosting with Brandon Kiley.

Talk Radio Host Michael Berry’s Good Month Includes Raising $1.3 Million for PTSD Foundation. KRTH, Houston-based, nationally syndicated talk host Michael Berry had a very good month in which his program helped raise $1.3 million for Camp Hope, the residential treatment center run by the PTSD Foundation of America, of which Berry is the national spokesman. The organization was laying off staff, including the vital folks who counsel suicidal veterans who struggle with re-integration after war. Berry teamed up with sponsor Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture chain, to raise funds. During the whole of 2020, Berry’s efforts have raised $3 million for the organization, almost its entire budget. Additionally, Berry made national news on Monday (12/7) for his interview with Houston-based Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue, during which Unanue said he gave U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez the company’s “employee of the month” award. This came after Ocasio Cortez called for a boycott on Goya products because Unanue publicly praised President Trump. However, Unanue says the boycott call produced a counter-protest in which supporters flocked to buy Goya goods. On top of that, Berry has added new affiliates, WPNN, Pensacola, Florida, and KNUW, Silver City, New Mexico and hopes to roll out seven new affiliates before the New Year. In case you missed it, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian profiled Berry back in October. Read it here.

PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. The Nielsen Audio PPM ratings survey in the month prior to the November election (October 8 – November 4) was not as generous to sports talk radio stations as it was to news/talk, still TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian reports that 46% of sports talkers were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the October 2020 survey. Gainers from October to November were led by RadiOhio’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “97.1 The Fan” (+0.7, 6.2 share) and Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville (+0.7, 6.0 share). Due to the pandemic’s effect on live sports, year-over-year comparisons have not been kind to the sports talk format and November 2019 to November 2020 is not different. 68% of sports talk outlets in PPM markets were down. However, 23% of stations gained with Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas leading the pack (+1.6, 2.8 share). While no sports talkers claimed the #1 rank in their market during the November survey, iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis came close, posting a 7.6 share good for the #2 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

WJR, Detroit News Director Dick Haefner to Retire. After a 51-year career in radio news, WJR, Detroit news director Dick Haefner is retiring. Haefner, an award-winning newscaster, reporter, and news director, has been WJR news director since 1989. Cumulus Media says that “his tenure is unmatched by any other Detroit broadcast news director. He is one of the most recognizable news voices in his hometown of Detroit, signing on to radio news in 1969 and signing off on December 11, 2020, Haefner’s last day on-air.” The company goes on to note that “under Haefner’s leadership, WJR News has been honored with nearly every national and local news award in the broadcast business, including: the Peabody Award, Associated Press national award for Best Broadcast Reporting, Edward R. Murrow Awards, and numerous state news awards… Some of Haefner’s projects have changed laws. A series on suburban toxic waste dumps resulted in tighter rules for handling waste. An investigation of fraud at gas stations brought about new regulations on service station inspections and fuel hauling, and even changed the way the IRS taxes the fuel hauling industry. Among the biggest stories Haefner has broken are Coleman Young’s baby, the Nancy KerriganTonya Harding incident heard around the world, and Detroit’s two side-by-side sports stadiums.” Haefner comments, “Anything I may have accomplished is because of other people, my wife Judy, and my family who allowed me to pursue adventures in broadcast news, and especially my co-workers. My most important job was to put them in position to do their best work. What they accomplished every day is my greatest reward. I have had the best job in Detroit radio news for almost 32 years. I’m the luckiest person I know.”

Susan O’Connell Retires from Compass Media Networks; Robert Blum Rises to Senior Manager of Affiliate Sales. Affiliate sales pro Susan O’Connell is retiring from her position as vice president of news/talk affiliate sales with Compass Media Networks, effective December 31. At the same time, the company announces that Robert Blum – a Compass Media staffer since 2011 – is being promoted to senior manager of affiliate sales for news/talk/sports. O’Connell has been in the news/talk affiliate sales business for the past 40 years, the last six with Compass Media. She previously served with the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, ABC Radio Networks, CBS News, and the Progressive Radio Network. She comments, “The best part of my job has always been working with great broadcasters. Thank you all for sharing your time, talent, and friendship over the years. Compass Media Networks was the perfect place to wind up. Representing our stellar news/talk lineup and being part of this team has been an honor and a privilege.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “Susan is a total superstar, friend, and treasured colleague. Through hard work, perseverance, and cunning, Susan established Compass Media Networks as a dominant player in news/talk programming with over 750 leading news/talk stations airing over a dozen hours of our daily, live, and original news-talk programming.”

COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Trump Challenges, Biden Transition, Stimulus Package, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pornhub Allegations, and Presidential Pardons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/7). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the pleas from authorities to follow mask and gathering mandates, and the status of vaccines; Donald Trump continues legal challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues his administration’s transition; the debate in Congress over a new stimulus package; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the allegations that porn giant Pornhub has promoted underage actors; and reports of Donald Trump’s pardon plans were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro and urban media personality Charlamagne Tha God, a.k.a. Lenard McKelvey, and iHeartMedia renew and extend their relationship. The deal means the co-host of the WWPR, New York “Power 105.1”-based, nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” will continue to work with iHeartMedia for the next five years.  He says, “I give my sincerest thanks to iHeart for empowering me over the past decade to be the best talent that I can be, and for honoring me as an owner and executive. I love the audio business and iHeart is the biggest and best audio company in the world. As co-founder and chief creative officer of the Black Effect Podcast Network and now senior creative officer of cultural content and programming at iHeart, all I want to do for the next five years is continue to move the culture of radio and podcasting forward by curating a new era of voices, programming, and events. GOD IS GREAT! Now, it’s time to get back to work.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

| December 1, 2020

WLS-AM, Chicago News Pro John Dempsey to Retire. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WLS-AM, Chicago news director and afternoon drive anchor John Dempsey is retiring – or as Feder phrases it, “voluntarily stepping down” – after 38 years in broadcast journalism and the last 13 years with the Cumulus Media news/talk station. In a memo to fellow staffers, Dempsey says, “My career in news has been one of the highlights of my life, one that has allowed me to cover thousands of stories and meet people from every walk of life. The entire experience has made me a better person and enriched my life beyond anything I could have imagined, but now I want to step aside to give myself more time to think about my next chapter.”

Report: Clark Howard to End His Radio Show. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho reports that consumer advocate Clark Howard is putting the wrap on his WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta-based, nationally syndicated talk radio program at the end of the year. Howard tells Ho, “Not being under the gun every week with how much content I have to generate for radio is something I’m so relieved not to do anymore. I’m at a point in my life I don’t need the money.” Howard will continue to contribute to WSB’s programming via commentaries and will also continue his WSB-TV work as well as his weekly column for the AJC. His program is syndicated by Westwood One and has approximately 250 affiliate stations.

Ratings Takeaways from Final Round of November PPM Survey. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Takeaways from the fourth and final round of Nielsen Audio’s November 2020 PPM survey that covered October 8 through November 4 and included the markets of Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Some of the moves of note include iHeartMedia’s WTKK-FM, Raleigh adding 0.8 shares to finish with an 8.5 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) good for the #2 rank. Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis claims the #1 rank after rising 1.7 shares to a 10.9 share. iHeartMedia’s WISN-AM, Milwaukee was #1 for the third straight survey after tacking 1.5 share on in November for a 12.7 share finish. Cumulus Media’s WWTN-FM, Nashville climbs from #6 to #3 after adding 1.2 shares to post a 6.8 share for the month. Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville remains #1 with a full share addition to wrap the survey with an 11.7 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways here.

TALKERS News Notes. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Atlanta news radio pro Jamie Dupree is exiting Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM after 30 years with the station. Dupree has been affected by the medical condition tongue protrusion dystonia for the past four-plus years that has robbed him of his ability to speak. He’s remained with CMG handling reporting duties and, through a text-to-speech program, has been filing reports for the station. He announced via Facebook, “I am looking for work. I had a great run, working with fantastic colleagues at our radio and TV stations. I may not be able to speak, but I can still report.”…..Sun Broadcast Group is now handling affiliate sales and distribution for i-News, a service that offers twice hourly news reports to radio stations. Sun Broadcast Group COO Danno Wolkoff says, “i-News Network has been specifically designed to help radio stations stay relevant in the news cycle. The network news service delivers content that your listener’s want and need every hour with a fresh new sound from experienced journalists. Plus, sales departments can still sell local advertising and sponsorships for each newscast delivered.”…..WTOP partners with local entrepreneur Elly Rowe – founder of Elly Jane Collective – for a new podcast called, “Women-Owned Wednesday By Elly Jane.” Rowe says, “I’ve always been passionate about supporting small business and, specifically, female-founded brands and the incredible women behind them. My podcast provides a platform where I can talk to those women about their journey and what motivates them to continue pursuing their dreams. My hope is that it inspires other women to do the same.” WTOP director of news and programming Julia Ziegler adds, “I have been a fan of Elly Jane Collective and everything the brand stands for since its launch earlier this year. When Elly approached WTOP about partnering with her on this podcast, it was an easy decision. WTOP is proud to work with an exceptionally gifted local entrepreneur like Elly.”

Alliance for Women in Media Foundation Announces Year-End Fundraising Campaign. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation launches a year-end fundraising campaign to continue its mission of using the media to create positive change while supporting educational programs and scholarships that benefit students of the media and allied fields. AWMF executive director Becky Brooks states, “The Alliance for Women in Media is approaching its 70th anniversary in 2021, and we hope to continue recognizing, educating, and connecting women in media for another 70 years. You can help us do that by donating to the Foundation. We still have work to do.” Donations can be made online at: https://allwomeninmedia.site-ym.com/donations/.

COVID-19 and Thanksgiving Effect, Vaccines, Biden Transition, Trump Tactics, SCOTUS Congressional Reapportionment Case, Georgia Runoff Elections, Australia-China Spat, and Iranian Scientist Death Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/30). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and concerns the Thanksgiving holiday will amplify the spread; Moderna applies for emergency use authorization for its COVID vaccine; Joe Biden adds more names to his administration and Neera Tanden nomination appears dead in the water; Donald Trump continues to argue the election was invalid; the Supreme Court hears arguments on Trump’s wish to keep undocumented workers from congressional reapportionment figures; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; Australia and China spar over a Chinese official’s sharing of a deep fake video of an Australian solider killing an Afghan child; and the assassination of Iran’s chief nuclear weapons scientist 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. This Christmas season Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is presenting the 14th annual broadcast of “An American Country Christmas” with Kix Brooks. Appearing on this year’s program are country superstars Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, and Kelsea Ballerini…..Beasley Media Group’s WMGK, Philadelphia “Classic Rock 102.9” and  morning star John DeBella announced a record- breaking grand total for this year’s John DeBella Turkey Drop: 12,509 turkeys! Beasley says the annual event is the largest one-day food gathering event in Philadelphia. DeBella says, “11,000 turkeys in 2019 was the biggest year we ever had. 12,509 turkeys truly proves that ‘The City of Brotherly Love’ is not just a saying… it’s a fact!”

Thursday, November 12, 2020

| November 12, 2020

WGY, Albany’s Chuck Custer to Retire Next Month. Albany radio personality Chuck Custer is retiring from iHeartMedia’s news/talk WGY-AM/FM on December 18. He currently hosts the morning drive program with Kelly Lynch. Before taking on that role in 2011, he served as news anchor on Don Weeks’ radio show. Custer also previously served as news director and program director for “News Radio 810 & 103.1.” Custer began his WGY career as evening news anchor in 1984. iHeartMedia Albany SVP and market manager John Cooper says, “For over 36 years, Chuck Custer has been synonymous with WGY. From his time as the leader of the award-winning WGY news department, his outstanding work with ‘Don Weeks in the Mornings’, his current co-host position with Kelly Lynch, and most importantly all the time he’s contributed to the people of the Capital District. Chuck has been the consummate professional. He’s a great broadcaster who will long be remembered.” Custer comments, “It was a lifelong dream to work at WGY, a powerful, influential station with a great history and heritage. I’ve been very fortunate to have such a great run here. I’ve worked with many tremendous and talented people, made many friends, and I have had an opportunity to take on many different challenges. For 36-plus-years, I’ve loved what I was doing and loved coming to work. Not many people can say that.”

Urban One Posts Third Quarter Net Revenue Decrease of 17.2%. Reporting results from the third quarter of 2020, Urban One, Inc says net revenue was approximately $91.9 million, a decrease of 17.2% from the same period in 2019. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $44.2 million, an increase of 1.3% from the same period in 2019. Urban One posted a net loss of approximately $12.8 million in Q3 of 2020 compared to a net income of approximately $5.4 million for the same period in 2019. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins, III says, “During the third quarter, we saw continued sequential improvements in radio revenues: compared to Q2 2020, our radio segment revenues were up 54.3%. This improvement will continue into fourth quarter where same station radio division revenues are currently pacing down only mid-single digits compared to Q4 2019, including political advertising. Most remarkably, despite the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to grow our Q3 2020 Adjusted EBITDA by 2.3% compared to Q3 2019 and by 61.3% compared to Q2 2020. This was largely driven by impressive performance in our TV, Digital and Reach Media divisions, all of which grew their Adjusted EBITDA by double digit percentages, or better, year-over-year. During this 2020 election cycle we have seen record-breaking political advertising revenues, in excess of $20 million across our entire platform of radio, digital and TV assets. I believe this reflects the increasing recognition of the importance of our audience, and the trusted platform we provide our clients to reach Black America… Our cash and liquidity position remains robust, with approximately $102.2 million of cash on hand at September 30. We received strong support from lenders for our recent bond exchange offer, which extends the maturity of both our secured notes and unsecured term loan, thereby giving the Company more flexibility to opportunistically access capital markets during the course of 2021. As part of the exchange agreement we will also reduce our outstanding debt by $25 million.”

KKAT, Salt Lake City Welcomes Dave Ramsey. Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey is joining the program schedule at Cumulus Media’s news/talk KKAT-AM, Salt Lake City in the 11:00 am to 1:00 pm slot, effective November 16. Cumulus Salt Lake City VP and market manager Patrick Reedy says, “Now, more than ever, Dave Ramsey’s insights and solutions for life and money bring clarity and straight talk to improving listeners’ financial lives. We are incredibly excited to welcome ‘The Dave Ramsey Show’ to the powerful 860AM lineup.” KKAT program director Chris Hoffman adds, “I’ve personally seen the power of Dave’s message change people’s lives. I can’t wait for our audience to experience it for themselves. I look forward to hearing their debt-free screams!”

KYW, Philadelphia Announces New On-Air Lineup. The retirement of morning drive co-anchor Brandon Brooks sets in motion a series of changes at Entercom’s all-news outlet KYW, Philadelphia that take effect November 23. Current afternoon drive co-anchor Ian Bush is moving to mornings to serve as co-anchor alongside Carol MacKenzie. Jay Scott Smith rises from his part-time anchor position to co-anchor afternoons with co-anchor Michelle Durham. Also, fill-in anchor Denise Nakano is named midday anchor. Entercom Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “As KYW Newsradio broadens its reach on crystal-clear 103.9 FM, we are happy to expand the roles of these outstanding journalists. Ian, Jay, and Denise bring invaluable experience and insight that will help Philadelphia’s most-trusted news team serve our region at this critical time and beyond.” Bush, Smith, and Nakano will all contribute to KYW Newsradio’s growing array of digital offerings, including original podcasts.

Jim Bohannon Goes Back to College. Pictured above on the campus of Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia is Westwood One nationally syndicated talk show host Jim Bohannon (second from right) along with a group of students from the school’s student-run radio station “Z87.7.” Bohannon visited the school to conduct a radio seminar and speak to individual audio production classes about his industry experience as a talk show host. Bohannon also appeared as a guest on the station’s “1:35” program. Pictured with Bohannon are (from l-r) students Christopher Barker, Cameron Verona,Savannah Richards, Zach Swindell, Brett Loftis, Bohannon, and faculty member Dale Van Cantfort.

Harrison Podcast Presents a Special Salute to the Broadcasters Foundation of America. Taking a brief departure from its usual format of spotlighting a single individual, the Broadcasters Foundation of America is the subject of this week’s installment of the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison states, “This past week’s election and its aftermath continued the drama, intensity and anxiety that have made 2020 one of the most challenging years in modern history – and thus, one of the most difficult in the lifetimes of those of us born after World War II. The economic crisis sparked by COVID-19 has certainly added to the problems facing millions of people in our country who have either lost their jobs or their businesses and many more who are living with the uncertainty of whether they will still have their jobs and businesses in 2021.” Harrison continues, “All that aside, the radio industry has been hard hit by economic challenges for years leading up to 2020 – through good times and bad – due to a variety of reasons… some unavoidable and some, unfortunately, of its own making… none of which can be blamed on its day-to-day working people. Escalating cutbacks in the radio business are nothing new in the 21st century. The COVID-19 era has only made difficult matters even worse. Firings have primarily targeted the working folks in the trenches, including engineers, producers, programmers, news reporters, DJs, talk show hosts, salespeople, programmers, and mid-level managers.” Harrison adds, “It is important to note radio is always on the front lines of supporting charities and initiatives that rush to the aid of victims suffering from just about every hardship inflicted by disease, natural disasters, and economic calamity. But the only humanitarian organization that I know of that for decades has consistently been standing up for broadcasters facing personal disasters is the Broadcasters Foundation of America.” The Broadcasters Foundation of America derives most, if not all, of its revenues from individuals and companies, large and small, in the radio and television industries creating a process by which broadcasters can support broadcasters in their time of need. 2020 has proven to be a difficult year for the organization due to the economic impact of the corona virus upon its individual donors – and especially with COVID-19 forcing the cancellation of many of the organization’s annual fund-raising events. Harrison concludes, “Keeping in mind that a significant portion of this podcast’s audience are members of the professional broadcasting community, and to personally take a momentary break from the stresses of today’s political turmoil, this installment of our podcast will diverge from its usual path and be devoted to raising awareness of the Broadcasters Foundation of America.” The podcast’s guests this week are WPG, Atlantic City morning host Harry Hurley, Broadcasters Foundation of America president Jim Thompson and Foundation board member and longtime host of TV’s “Inside Edition,” Deborah Norville. 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.

Trump Refuses to Concede/Biden Transition Process, Georgia Recount/Senate Runoff Elections, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccine, Trump Media Ambitions, Veterans Day, and Tropical Storm Eta to Hit Florida Again Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/11). The refusal on the part of Donald Trump and a fair number of Republican members of Congress to admit that Joe Biden won the election and the transition process to President-Elect Biden; the state of Georgia’s intent to do a hand recount of the ballots and the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, projections for winter cases, and Pfizer’s statement its vaccine appears to be 90% effective; speculation about Donald Trump’s post-White House media ambitions; the Veterans Day holiday; and Tropical Storm Eta to hit Florida again 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. Condolences to the family and friends of classic rock WIMZ-FM, Knoxville afternoon drive personality Billy Kidd, a.k.a. William Winningham, who died unexpectedly yesterday (11/11). No details of his passing are available but the station posted the following to its website: “It is with the very heaviest of hearts that we here at 103.5 WIMZ bring you the terrible news of the passing of our friend and colleague, William Winningham, also lovingly known as Billy Kidd. We know you have many questions, as do we. Just remember how much Billy loved this community and the people who made it so great! We will be posting and airing tributes to Billy in the days to follow. We appreciate the many friends and listeners who have expressed their concern and love for Billy. Thank you all from the depths of our hearts. We love you Billy!”…..Alpha Media and Superadio, LLC announce an affiliation agreement to bring the “Ebro in the Morning with Laura Stylez and Rosenberg” to its hip hop-formatted stations in Portland, Oregon; San Antonio; and Amarillo, Texas. Alpha Media VP of content Phil Becker says, “I admire and appreciate the talent and perspectives of Ebro, Laura, and Rosenberg and I’m proud of Alpha for continuing to be trendsetters in the media space by becoming the flagship affiliate. The radio industry has become too reliant on phony phone calls and the assumption that listeners want characters over authenticity. ‘Ebro in the Morning’ understands that and will be a wonderful addition to our portfolio of stations, and I look forward to working closely with them.”…..Team Jubal Productions announces its formation to independently launch “The Jubal Show” in national syndication. The program debuts today on iHeartMedia stations KXJM-FM, Portland “JAM’N 107.5”; KSLZ-FM, St. Louis “Z107.7” and WMKS-FM, Greensboro “100.3 KISS FM.” Team Jubal Productions is led by Alex Fresh, Jubal Fresh and Eric Weiss. Craig Whetstine is handling affiliate sales for the show.