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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

| March 17, 2021

Saga Adds New Talk Station to Clarksville, Tennessee Cluster. The Saga Communications station group in Clarksville, Tennessee – known as 5 Star Media Group – has acquired WNZE-AM and translator W288DQ from Consolidated Media (the AM’s previous calls were WJZM). According to the report at Clarksville Now, the news/talk station – called “NewZee 105.5 FM and 1400 AM” is airing a slate of nationally syndicated talk programming including: Compass Media Networks’ “This Morning with Gordon Deal,” Salem Radio Network’s Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager, Premiere NetworksSean Hannity, Westwood One’s Mark Levin, and more. Speaking about the acquisition, 5 Star Media Group general manager Katie Gambill says, “When this station became available, we saw it as a golden opportunity to round out our portfolio with radio talk while also expanding what we can do with local news. And it gives our business partners new ways to reach more customers.”

KTRS, St. Louis to Celebrate 25 Years Next Month. The CH Holdings-owned news/talk outlet KTRS-AM is preparing to celebrate its 25th anniversary next month. Current KTRS morning host and program director McGraw Milhaven says, “It was April 1996, when 550 KTRS radio signed on in St. Louis. At the time, the St. Louis business community, upset that corporate radio was gutting the fabric of St. Louis, started KTRS with the idea of bringing local back to local. The corporate radio reaction? ‘Local talk? All day long? With no syndication? We give it six months.’ Well 25 years later KTRS is celebrating 25 years of local talk radio. Some changes along the way. The general manager who put the deal together, longtime St. Louis radio executive Tim Dorsey, retired and was replaced by his brother Mark Dorsey, but the mission continues. Local talk, all day long. With great support from the local St. Louis community and local businesses, KTRS has only grown stronger over the years. Now, 25 years later, local talk is more important than ever and KTRS is here to prove once and for all that local radio can not only survive but thrive.”

Westwood One Blog: Podcasting Data from ‘Infinite Dial’ Most Compelling. Calling two of the slides from Edison Research’s and Triton Digital’s “Infinite Dial 2021” “the most compelling aspect of the study,” Westwood One’s Pierre Bouvard says in this week’s WWO blog that they’ve summarized “the most crucial data on the U.S. podcast audience.” Bouvard cites the following data as important to viewing the changes in the U.S. podcasting audience over the past five years: Nearly eight in ten 12+ Americans are familiar with the term podcasting, up from 60% in 2017; 57% of Americans have ever listened to a podcast, a near 50% increase since 2017 (40%); 41% of Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month, a 71% increase versus 2017 (24%); among persons 12-34, podcast usage has crashed through the 50% barrier with a monthly reach of 56%; The weekly podcast audience (28%) has nearly doubled over the same period from 15% in 2017; and podcast habituation is up with 68% of the monthly podcast audience having also listened in the past week, an 8% increase from 2017. Looking back 10 years, the study shows that 10 years ago, the podcast audience was 58% male and 42% female while today the monthly podcast audience is more evenly split between men and women. Over the past 10 years, the audience is diversifying as the persons 55+ proportion of the monthly podcast audience has grown from 14% to 21%; the persons 12-34 audience composition has increased from 46% to 50%; and the persons 35-54 audience composition has dropped from 40% to 29%. Also, the podcast audience is more diverse: The ethnic audience composition of monthly podcast listeners is up from 32% in 2011 to 43% in 2021. The Hispanic audience composition has surged from 11% to 16% over the 10-year period. See more here.

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WGN-AM morning drive personality Bob Sirott is being honored by the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois with the 2021 Diogenes Award for Excellence in Media. Sirott will receive the honor at the organization’s March 25 annual meeting…..iHeartMedia announces a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast hosted by actress and singer-songwriter Minnie Driver called, “Minnie Questions with Minnie Driver. ” iHeartMedia says in the intimate talk show-style podcast, Driver will ask a wide-range of celebrity guests the same seven “mini” questions to uncover larger truths and help us better understand ourselves and the world around us. Driver says, “I have wanted to share this crazy idea for a podcast for such a long time. I question everything about the world around me, and I’m so excited to share these questions I’ve discovered and host these conversations that can help other people find happiness, self-love and belonging, too.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One – as the official network radio partner of the NCAA – begins its presentation of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tomorrow (3/18) at 5:00 pm ET. WWO will present play-by-play from all 67 games, including eight first-round and second-round games, plus regional semifinals and finals. Games will air on more than 400 affiliate stations across the country and via SiriusXM…..Entercom’s Pittsburgh radio stations – including news/talk KDKA-AM and sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” – raised funds to provide more than 650,000 meals for people in need through the “Giant Eagle Feed the Need Radiothon” that took place yesterday (3/16). Entercom Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “This is a great example of Pittsburghers taking care of each other and using the power of radio to spread the message of the need in our region. Helping the community is part of the fabric of what we do. On behalf of our amazing team at Entercom Pittsburgh, I want to once again thank our listeners for stepping up to help our neighbors in need.”

Atlanta Spa Slayings, Migrant Border Crisis, Cuomo Allegations, Stimulus Package, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Dems Attack on the Filibuster, Newsom Recall Effort, U.S. Sanctions 24 Chinese and Hong Kong Officials, and the Oscar Nominations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/16). The shooting deaths of  eight Asians at several spas in the Atlanta area by a white suspect; the Biden administration’s immigrant problem as thousands of parentless children amass at the U.S.-Mexico border; 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 number of COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, the removal of mask mandates in some states, and the rollout of vaccines; Democrats fight with Republicans over the former’s attempt to kill the Senate filibuster; California Governor Gavin Newsom battles the recall effort against him; the U.S. sanctions 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act; and the unveiling of this year’s Oscar nominations were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pictured above is Michael Harrison contemplating lyrics to “I Know You’re Real” while walking in the woods that surround his Western Massachusetts home searching for The Tree Of To Be.

Calling All Animals! TALKERS founder Michael Harrison has put out an open “casting call” to the talk media industry readers of this publication to submit royalty free original photos of animals that are, as he puts it, “special in their lives.” Some of the photos submitted will be used in a music video project Harrison is developing for release next month about the animal welfare movement of which he is a longtime advocate. Harrison has co-written a song about the relationship between human beings and other species titled, “I Know You’re Real,” which addresses the subject of animal welfare in what he describes as an “inspirationally spiritual manner.” It has been recorded by the legendary rock band Gunhill Road of which Harrison is now an official member and will appear on the storied 50-year-old ensemble’s forthcoming 13-song album, What Year Is This! scheduled for release in April. Harrison says, “We are looking for photos of people’s domestic pets, farm animals or personal wildlife photography subjects to use in the video.” Please send JPG photo files of animals that are royalty free to Harrison at michael@talkers.com. Include the name of the animal (if it is a pet) and a statement that the photo and rights to its use are being donated to the Gunhill Road Video Project without expectation of payment or credit. (Attempts will be made to properly credit the animals and photographers if and where possible.) Two versions of the song will appear on the album. One will feature Harrison delivering the lyrics in spoken word fashion and the other will be a fully sung version featuring lead vocals by Gunhill Road member (and highly accomplished Broadway musician) Brian Koonin. The 2021 incarnation of Gunhill Road consists of founding members Steve Goldrich and Glenn Leopold, longtime member Paul Reisch, and recently added members Harrison and Koonin. Harrison and the other band members will be available for talk media interviews upon the release of the album. Stay tuned to TALKERS for more information about this project coming in early April.