By Steven J.J. Weisman
BOSTON — On August 11, Federal Judge Carl Nichols denied the motions to dismiss filed by Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Lindell in regard to the defamation lawsuits filed against them by Dominion Voting Systems. The defamation lawsuits stem from false claims Powell and Giuilani, both attorneys who had worked on the Trump presidential campaign and Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow, Inc and a frequent media commentator each had made about fraud in the 2020 presidential election, specifically related to baseless claims that Dominion had altered votes in favor of President Biden.
Phil Valentine Update: Doctors Focusing on Lungs. The latest update on the status of WWTN-FM, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7” afternoon drive host Phil Valentine published by Newsweek indicates that doctors “are focusing on treating the lungs of conservative talk radio host Phil Valentine, in what his family has described as a ‘critical issue.’” Valentine contracted COVID-19 in mid-July and as the viral infection got worse, he was hospitalized and eventually put on a ventilator. Dan Mandis is the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm host on the station and has been communicating with Valentine’s listeners on behalf of his family. He wrote on Monday, “They are working on his lungs, that’s the critical issue right now. Other problems will come along but right now the focus is on his lungs. I’m hoping to have another update soon. #PrayForPhil.” The day before, Mandis posted, “Phil remains in critical condition this morning. There isn’t much new to report, but your continued prayers and support are appreciated. #PrayforPhil,” and later added that Valentine’s atrial fibrillation had improved, as well as his blood pressure. “The hope now is that his dependence on the vent will decrease and his lungs will improve.” The Newsweek piece also quotes Valentine’s longtime producer Johnny B saying, “I know I’d be emotional about this, but not to the point that I have. It’s been a very dark period, actually. I’ve really had to talk to myself, and my wife has helped me tremendously, my family’s helped me, and it’s not been easy. And my co-workers too have been very wonderful,” adding that Valentine is “just the nicest guy and loves to help people out.”
Round Two of July 2021 PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s July 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s July 2021 survey period covered June 24 – July 21. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets. In Washington, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM remains ranked #11 after tacking on one-tenth for a 3.7 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) finish. Meanwhile, Hubbard Radio’s crosstown all-news WTOP-FM rises to #1 on the strength of a 1.1 share uptick and an 8.8 share finish. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston stays in the #9 position after dropping two-tenths and wrapping the survey with a 3.5 share. Sister all-news WBZ-AM is also steady at #5 after adding two-tenths for a 5.9 share finish. In Seattle, Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM takes over the #1 rank after climbing 1.9 shares to a 7.8 share while Sinclair Broadcast Group’s KOMO-AM/FM drops from #1 to #4 after falling two-tenths to a 6.3 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets (as well as the first round) here.
Nielsen’s Audio Today 2021 Study Says AM/FM Listening Hits Highest Level in Over a Year. The just released Audio Today 2021 study from Nielsen Audio – from June 2021 online survey data based on a weighted sample of 1,000 among persons 18-plus – indicates “nine in 10 now feel life is becoming more normal, and they’re resuming pre-pandemic activities, spending and listening.” The study also finds that, “among the employed, two thirds are now working outside the home, up more than 70% since the height of lock-down in the spring of 2020. As a result, the AM/FM radio audience just recorded its highest levels in over a year across Nielsen’s PPM markets.” Nielsen Audio managing director Brad Kelly adds, “Listening may have migrated into the home during the past year via smart speaker or mobile device, but now we’re tracking the audience shift back to pre-pandemic habits with in-car and out-of-home consumption increasing. All the while, radio’s value proposition for marketers hasn’t budged: it specializes in reaching consumers who are ready to spend right now, while they’re in the marketplace, and does so in a controlled environment which protects the advertiser’s reputation… Elsewhere in the audio universe, podcast usage — which flat-lined last year — is also growing again as millions of new listeners are engaging with the hottest new audio marketing opportunity. We’re approaching one million available podcasts, with something literally for everyone including radio broadcasters who are nimbly using on-demand audio as an extension of their on-air brands. The question now is how can advertisers reach the right audience in the right podcast?”
Gow Media’s SportsMap Radio Network Adds Three New Shows. The SportsMap Radio Network announces the launch of three new programs to its weekday lineup. They are: “Just Sayin It with Cole Thompson” (5:00 am to 7:00 am ET), “In My Opinion with Denton Day” (9:00 am to 11:00 am ET), and “High Frequency with Kevin Dziepak” (6:00 pm to 8:00 pm ET). Thompson, who covers the NFL and college football for Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation, says, “This is the start of something special. I just can’t thank the staff here at SportsMap enough for giving me the chance. Not everyone is lucky enough for this opportunity, but I will certainly make the most of it.” Day states, “I’m extremely thankful for the chance to host a weekday show. I started at the company nearly three years ago doing one live hour on Sunday mornings. Craig Larson and David Gow allowed me the creative freedom to grow and it’s very rewarding to have all that hard work lead to this exciting opportunity.” Dziepak, who spent the last eight years with WSCR, Chicago “670 The Score,” comments, “My goal is really simple: just have fun and try to provide an entertaining and enjoyable product for those listening. I want to widen the scope of the show beyond sports as well, integrating pop culture, TV, music and whatever else can spark conversation; sort of a cosmic gumbo.” Gow Media CEO David Gow states, “We have a number of partners who produce fabulous content for our network. I’m very excited about each of these new shows. The opportunity to produce original, informative and entertaining programs will always be an indispensable part of our core business model.”
Paul Mason to Lead Titans Radio for Cumulus Nashville. Programming pro Paul Mason is appointed to lead programming operations for Titans Radio for Cumulus Media Nashville. The company says that Mason will continue to serve as program director for sports talk WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” and Middle Tennessee sports audio. The appointment comes after Cumulus and the NFL club extended their multi-year partnership for WGFX to serve as the official radio broadcasting home of the Tennessee Titans and Titans Radio. Longtime executive producer Rhett Bryan remains in his role with Titans Radio. Cumulus Nashville vice president and market manager Allison Warren comments, “From the beginning, we were seeking a creative visionary with a passion for sports entertainment to lead ‘104.5 The Zone,’ the dominant sports destination in Middle Tennessee. Clearly, Paul has stepped into that role and done exceptional work. Adding programming operations oversight to Titans Radio is a natural next step for Paul and we are confident he’ll continue to deliver the best live and local sports content to fans on both WGFX and Titans Radio.” Mason states, “I am excited to work with this amazing group of broadcasters. Mike Keith, coach Dave McGinnis, executive producer Rhett Bryan, and the entire Titans Radio team are among the best in sports, and I’m humbled to be a part of it. I also want to thank Allison Warren and [VP of programming operations] Charlie Cook for their confidence in me.”
TALKERS News Notes. Electronic voting firm Dominion Voting Systems is suing conservative video platforms OAN and Newsmax for defamation, alleging that they “manufactured, endorsed, repeated, and broadcast a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies” about the company, relative to the presidential election of 2020. The complaint says they did so despite knowing the claims were false. Newsmax has issued the following statement regarding the suit: “While Newsmax has not reviewed the Dominion filing, in its coverage of the 2020 presidential elections, Newsmax simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the president, his advisors and members of Congress — Dominion’s action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press.”…..Focus360 announces that Forever Media is now a client as 29 Forever Media brands will be included in Focus360’s exclusive Jelli Plus networks including Jelli Male Plus, Jelli Female Plus and Jelli Music Plus. Focus360 CEO Phil Brown comments, “I’m elated to welcome such a storied media company to our Jelli Plus lineups. Forever Media covers some of the largest markets on the East Coast with incredible brands that super-serve their local audience. I’m honored that they have given us the opportunity to share that relationship with our advertising partners.”…..Edison Research unveils the results of its U.S. Top 50 Podcast chart for Q2 of 2021. The list ranks the 50 biggest podcasts by audience size, based on the Podcast Consumer Tracking Report (which Edison says is the only measurement based on actual listening, not downloads). The top three shows based on measurement from Q3 2020 – Q2 2021 are: “The Joe Rogan Experience,” “The Daily,” and “Crime Junkie.” You can see the rest of this Top 50 report here…..Public radio outlet WVXU, Cincinnati – operated by Cincinnati Public Radio – is dropping its music programming and will go all news/talk as of August 14, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. The organization says its goal is to “bring a wider diversity of voices to Cincinnati airwaves.” It will use NPR, American Public Media, and other programming to fill its schedule.
Longtime Public Radio Broadcaster Neal Conan Dies at 71. The NPR website has Neal Conan’s obituary here. Conan passed away in Hawaii after a battle with glioblastoma. He was host of NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” for 11 years, until NPR cancelled the show in 2013. During his lifelong public radio career, he served with WBAI, New York and with NPR in numerous capacities, including as executive producer of “All Things Considered” and as news director.
COVID-19 Delta Variant & Masks Controversy, Cuomo Resigns, Infrastructure Bill/Dems’ Budget Resolution, Senate GOP Blocks Voting Bill, Social Media Suspensions, Dominion Lawsuit, and Prince Andrew Sued Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/10). The rate of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. and the hotly debated mask policies for school children; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigns yet maintains innocence; the U.S. Senate passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution; Republicans in the Senate block Democrats’ attempts to revive the For the People voting act; Twitter suspends Marjorie Taylor Greene and YouTube suspends Rand Paul for “pandemic misinformation”; electronic voting firm Dominion sues OAN and Newsmax over “stolen election” broadcasts; and Britain’s Prince Andrew is sued by Virginia Giuffre for sexual abuse were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
TALKERS 2021 Conference Video Posted – “Welcome to the ‘20s” and “A Fireside Chat with Bill O’Reilly.” The third video, under the direction of Art Vuolo, from the TALKERS 2021 Conference that took place at Hofstra University on June 11 is posted. This installment contains two consecutive sessions conducted by TALKERS founder Michael Harrison. The first segment features a greeting from Harrison in which he reflects upon his 54-year career in radio and his view of the state of the industry. The second segment features a one-on-one conversation (“fireside chat”) he conducted with Key Networks commentator and talk media icon, Bill O’Reilly. Both segments are chock full of interesting and productive takeaways. TALKERS will be posting a new video from TALKERS 2021 each business day until all 10 are archived and available for on-demand viewing.
Townsquare Media Consolidates Digital and Programming Teams; Jared Willig Named Chief Content Officer. Leading the newly consolidated radio and digital platforms is Jared Willig, who has been serving Townsquare Media as digital leader. In his new role as chief content officer, Willig will oversee all content for the company across all its radio and digital platforms and consumer touchpoints, including all platforms for 322 local radio stations, over 350 local websites and mobile apps, and national music and entertainment brands XXL Magazine, Taste Of Country, Loudwire, Ultimate Classic Rock, ScreenCrush, and PopCrush. He will also continue to oversee AMPED, the monetization of the digital platforms of the company’s owned and operated local and national brands. Willig will oversee the newly created Townsquare content team, consisting of team members with varied expertise across platforms, formats and disciplines, in order to drive the company’s 360-degree strategy in radio, digital, on demand, mobile apps, social, and video. Additionally, longtime Townsquare radio programming head Kurt Johnson expands his role across all media to become SVP, content and programming, while continuing to lead the company’s music industry relations. Jackie Corley, who had been overseeing Townsquare’s digital content team, also widens her purview to become the VP of local content and programming. Willig says, “For over 10 years now, I’ve had the great privilege of running Townsquare’s digital content strategy and operations, and while our company is Digital First, radio has always been at our core. So, by merging all platforms into one content team, we are simply making official what we’ve already been doing for over a decade. There is no better programmer in the industry than Kurt Johnson, and no better local digital content expert than Jackie Corley, so with their expanded roles, I couldn’t be more excited and confident for our continued success in audience and brand growth across all forms of media.”
Lee Habeeb’s ‘Our American Stories’ Joins Premiere Networks. The nationally syndicated “Our American Stories” franchise is joining the Premiere Networks radio lineup, effective August 2. The program, created and hosted by radio pro Lee Habeeb, will continue to be available to stations Monday through Friday for two hours to air between 7:00 pm and 12:00 midnight. Additionally, the show will feature separate two-hour Saturday and Sunday options for weekend clearance. “Our American Stories” will also be available as a podcast on the iHeartRadio Podcast Network. The program is currently heard on some 200 affiliate stations across the country. Habeeb says, “We have spent the last five years telling stories about all that is good and decent in America, and why millions of people from around the world still wish to call our country home. The show has grown because Americans want more than conflict and bad news: they crave positive, redemptive stories from our past and present – many from our listeners – that lift their spirits and inspire them, and that’s what we do each and every day on our show.” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott adds, “We’re excited to offer this entertaining and compelling program to even more stations nationwide. Lee and his team are masterful storytellers and they’ve created a unique and inspiring program that resonates widely with audiences.”
WEEI, Boston’s Glenn Ordway Retires from Afternoon Show. Boston sports radio personality Glenn Ordway – one of the architects of the station when it flipped to sports in 1991 – announces he’s retiring from the afternoon drive show after 34 years. Ordway will leave the show he currently hosts with Christian Fauria and Lou Merloni but will remain with the Audacy station as host of “The Real Post Game Show” following every Patriots’ game in the fall, in addition to making other station appearances and developing a podcast. He says, “To be able to do something I’ve loved doing daily for nearly five decades has been a blessing, but to do it in the best sports city during the best championship run in the history of sports…what more can you ask for. I’ve had the opportunity over the years to do it with some of the best talent in the business on a legendary radio station. Though I’m walking away from the daily hosting role, I’m excited about new opportunities and my continued presence at WEEI and maybe a little free time every once in a while.” Audacy regional president Mark Hannon says, “Glenn has been an ever-present force at WEEI, both on air and off air, for over three decades. He was the station’s first program director and oversaw some of the most dominant years in Boston radio. He has been an enduring on-air presence and has been side-by-side talking to Boston sports fans through the best and worst times. Glenn will go down as one of the most influential players in sports radio format history, and thankfully his presence will continue on the station into the future.”
Bill O’Reilly Announces New Book, Killing the Killers. The next book in Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing” series is slated for release in November and it titled, KILLING THE KILLERS: The
Secret War Against Terrorists (St. Martin’s Press, 2021). Co-authored with Martin Dugard, this 11th book in the series “reports on America’s intense global war and manhunt against the terrorist extremists that not only carried out the attacks on 9/11 but also executed hundreds of others both on American soil and globally. The authors trace America’s efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and ISIS worldwide. In addition, O’Reilly and Dugard have gained access to top secret national security documents as well as interviewed the highest national security officials in the United States.” St. Martin’s says the current book in the “Killing” series, Killing the Mob, topped the New York Times hardcover nonfiction best-seller list for six weeks and sales of the series are approaching 19 million copies worldwide. O’Reilly’s radio program – “The O’Reilly Update” – is syndicated nationally via Key Networks.
Kim Komando’s Cryptocurrency 101 eBook Tops Amazon Best-Sellers List. The
new ebook Cryptocurrency 101 by digital technology radio host and entrepreneur Kim Komando hit the #1 position on Amazon’s Money & Monetary Policy best-seller list. According to Amazon, the book “breaks down the basics of the cryptocurrency boom. If you want to invest in cryptocurrency, it can be very complicated to know where to even begin. Kim goes through your options when it comes to buying and storing digital currency and gives you pro tips to keep you safe from hackers and scammers. In this quick, thorough guide, you’ll learn what you need to know to get started, the safe way.”
Salem’s David Santrella Elected NAB Joint Board Chair. Broadcasting executive David Santrella – president of broadcast media for Salem Media Group – has been elected chairman of the NAB Joint Board of Directors. He assumes the role previously held by Hearst Television, Inc. president Jordan Wertlieb. At the same time, Bill Wilson, chief executive officer of Townsquare Media Group, has been elected Radio Board chair by the NAB Radio Board. John Zimmer, president and owner of Zimmer Radio of Mid-Missouri, Inc., was elected Radio Board first vice chair, while Kevin Perry, vice president and chief operating officer of Perry Publishing and Broadcasting Company, was elected Radio Board second vice chair. Collin Jones, senior vice president of corporate development & strategy for Cumulus Media, was elected to the Radio Board’s major group representative seat on the NAB Board’s Executive Committee.
Newsmax Adds Eric Bolling to Talent Roster. Television host and best-selling author Eric Bolling joins the talent roster at Newsmax. Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy says, “Eric Bolling is a consummate media professional who isn’t afraid to ask tough questions, get provocative answers and challenge establishment thinking. His background in business and politics separates him from the competition.” Bolling has begun his work with Newsmax as a guest host for shows and is slated to host a new program in July with details to be announced soon. Most recently, Bolling hosted “America This Week With Eric Bolling” airing on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s 200 television stations. He’s also served with FOX News Channel, having filled in for Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Bolling says, “Like myself, Newsmax is concerned with the direction that Big Tech and Big Corporate Media have taken journalism and our nation. I’m excited to join an organization that delivers programming you can trust.”
COVID-19, Condo Collapse, Northwest Heatwave, NYC Mayoral Voting Snafu, Big City Gun Violence Spike, House January 6 Investigation, and Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/29). The spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the rate of vaccinations in the U.S., and mask controversy; the search for victims of the Florida condo collapse and the building’s safety history; the deadly heatwave affecting the Pacific Northwest; the New York City mayoral race is hit by a voting counting problem; the spiking gun violence in America’s large cities; the U.S. House moves to investigate the January 6 Capitol attack; and the bipartisan infrastructure deal were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.