Cumulus Media Names Two Execs to Multi-Platform Content Development Positions. The new title SVP, sports, content and audience is a promotion for Bruce Gilbert, who has been serving with Cumulus Media for the past seven years. This new title formalizes Gilbert’s role following “consistent accomplishments leveraging the company’s massive sports portfolio to build compelling new franchises and successful partnerships.” Gilbert continues to direct all sports programming for Cumulus radio stations and Westwood One Sports, which also entails overseeing key partnerships with iconic brands including the NFL, the NCAA, the Masters, and the PGA Championship/Ryder Cup. Cumulus also brings Doug Cohn aboard as SVP, music & entertainment, content and audience in which he’ll “lead new content development across the company’s platforms, including broadcasting, podcasting, streaming, social media, digital, and live events.” He was previously with ViacomCBS as SVP, music & talent for Nickelodeon. Cumulus EVP of content and audience Brian Philips says, “Today’s audio ecosystem provides us with infinite opportunities to break talent out of their traditional lanes and our consumers with the ability to access our products whenever they wish, on an ever-widening array of platforms. Cumulus is bursting at the seams with creative chops and the ambition to thrive in this exciting environment. Doug has shown a Midas touch in understanding what the next generation will want, and Bruce has forged groundbreaking partnerships for years and will now have more runway to innovate – these two leaders possess the vision to produce a surge of remarkable new Cumulus content.”
Broadcast for Broadway. Pictured above at The Hunt & Fish Club on W 44th Street in the heart of the Theater District are (from l-r): The Broadway Association’s Cristyne Nicholas, Broadway historian, NYPost columnist, and WOR morning host Michael Riedel, and WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” afternoon host Kevin McCullough. Salem’s “AM 970 The Answer” and McCullough presented the “Broadcast For Broadway” show from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm last Friday night as Broadway shows were staged for the first time since the pandemic began in March of 2020. The program was presented in conjunction with Nicholas & Lence Communications, The Broadway Association, and The Actors Fund.
WARC and iHeartMedia Study Underscores Gap in Audio Investment from Marketers. According to data from a study by WARC and iHeartMedia, although consumers spend 31% of their media time with audio, brands only allocate 8.8% of their media budget to audio, while 25% of brands eschew audio entirely. The study concludes that consumers of every generation are spending more and more time with audio content across radio, streaming and podcasts driven by audio’s ease and accessibility with the growth of wireless headphones and smart speakers adding to in-car, at home and at work listening. WARC Data forecasts audio advertising spend in the US to reach $13.9 billion this year, a double-digit recovery (+10.9%) from the pandemic’s 2020 cuts, yet the report highlights a large audio investment gap and the vast opportunity that exists in this mass reach and high engagement audio advertising market. The study identified four key types of advertiser attitudes towards audio: 1) Audio Avoiders, the 25% of advertisers who do not invest in audio at all; 2) Broadcast Believers, who have seen the benefits of radio and are beginning to delve into more forms of audio; 3) Digital Only, those who have started to invest but are missing out on the full suite of audio options, particularly the 90% reach of broadcast radio; and 4) Cross-Platform Champions, who explore audio’s full potential and continue to test, learn from and optimize their investments across platforms. iHeartMedia chief marketing officer Gayle Troberman says, “The Audio Investment Gap is the single-biggest growth opportunity for brands. With the growth of wireless headphones and smart speakers paired with in-car listening, audio is everywhere, and consumers are listening in more places, more times throughout the day. But too many brands are on mute. Brands that right-size their audio investments and begin spending and innovating across radio, streaming and podcasts outpace competitors in finding new audiences, building brand affinity and driving sales.” See the full report here.
NuVoodoo: Delta Variant Keeping the Vaccinated at Home. A recent study from NuVoodoo Media Services on public attitudes toward attending large indoor gatherings indicates the unvaccinated are “nearly twice as likely to attend large indoor gatherings with no COVID restrictions, when Compared to their vaccinated counterparts.” Among the people 18-64 surveyed, 47% were fully vaccinated, with another 10% having had the first of the two-shot vaccines – meaning 57% of the subjects are at least partially vaccinated. There’s another 5% who say they’re trying to find time to get vaccinated. There are 20% who are not interested in getting vaccinated at all and another 18% who say they’re still researching facts about the vaccines or aren’t sure about getting vaccinated. The study found “only 4 in 10 people would attend a large public indoor gathering that didn’t require prior COVID-19 vaccination or other safety measures.” NuVoodoo president Carolyn Gilbert says, “As always, the devil is in the details – and the results change with age. In our sample, which includes only pre-retirement demographics and excludes the vaccination status of seniors, 55-64s are the only age cell in our study where a solid majority are fully vaccinated. Vaccination rates hover around 40% among young women and fall well below that level among young men.” NuVoodoo EVP of research Leigh Jacobs adds, “Our study results indicate that Delta’s impact on event attendance is significant. For example, better than 2 in 5 either will not (or might not) attend business conferences or trade shows. Requiring proof of vaccination lifts attendance among the vaccinated while disenfranchising the unvaccinated. Potential attendance is limited either way. Last week’s cancellation of the October NAB event underscored the value of virtual attendance options wherever possible. Virtual won’t work to replace every event experience, but it can be an attendance-widening addition in many cases – and an insurance policy in others.”
TALKERS News Notes. The new podcast from retired NBA All-Star Metta World Peace debuts on PodcastOne today (9/21). “Mettaphorically Speaking” features Metta World Peace as he interviews a variety of people from the worlds of athletics, music, film and television, and business covering topics including sports, business, mental health and community, with a goal of inspiring and empowering listeners to pursue their own passions and dreams.” PodcastOne president Kit Gray comments, “Metta World Peace was a force to be reckoned with on the hardwood courts of the NBA and he’s a force to be reckoned with in the world of podcasting. His drive to search for the deeper purpose and meaning in life matches the drive that shone in his career as a professional athlete, and we couldn’t be more pleased to be hosting his podcast.”…..iHeartMedia announces a new iHeartPodcast slate of true-crime shows in collaboration with KT-Studios after their first successful venture together produced, “The Piketon Massacre.” The new slate of podcasts begins with, “The Dougherty Gang.” iHeartPodcast Network COO Will Pearson says, “iHeartMedia is excited to join forces with KT-Studios to co-produce this brilliant new slate of true-crime podcasts. We’ve seen incredible success with KT-Studios and are excited to offer listeners a full slate of new podcasts that delve into everything from unsolved murders to some of the most bizarre crimes in the name of love.”…..This Thursday, WMVP-AM, Chicago “ESPN Chicago” personality David Kaplan steps off on the second annual Walk As One Chicago charity walk to benefit Bernie’s Book Bank, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing book ownership. During the 24-mile walk, Kaplan and Bernie’s Book Bank CEO Darrin Utynek will distribute free books to K-6th grade students at James Ward Elementary. Since 2009, Bernie’s Book Bank has distributed more than 19 million books to Chicagoland children ages birth through sixth grade.
COVID-19, Debt Ceiling Debate, Biden UN Address, Immigration Woes/Border Agents Violence, U.S.-Australia Sub Deal, Canadian Election, and Gabby Petito Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/20). U.S. COVID-19 deaths match the number of those who died from 1918-21 Spanish Flu pandemic, boosters, masks & mandates; the debate in congress over raising the U.S. debt ceiling; President Joe Biden to make first address to UN; the immigrant situation at the U.S.-Mexico border and the video of border agents on horses rounding up Haitian migrants; the controversy over the U.S.-Australia nuclear sub deal; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wins re-election but fails to gain a majority in parliament in Canada; and the case of Gabby Petito and missing fiancé Brian Laundrie were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
WIP-FM, Philadelphia Names Rod Lakin Program Director. Philadelphia sports talk WIP-FM goes outside the Philly area for its new program director naming KMVP, Phoenix “Arizona Sports 98.7 FM” PD Rod Lakin as its new brand manager. Lakin will take over for Spike Eskin, who recently joined Audacy’s WFAN, New York as program director on October 4. Audacy Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “I’m pleased to welcome Rod Lakin to the WIP team and begin the next chapter for our iconic station. Rod brings a breadth of experience and deep understanding of what works in the sports audio format, which I trust will position WIP for much success as the home for Philadelphia sports fans.” Lakin has spent nearly two decades in the spoken-word format in Phoenix, first joining “ESPN Radio 860″ and “Newsradio 620” KTAR in 2003. He was a founding member of “Sports 620 KTAR” upon its launch in 2007, serving in a variety of roles over the next several years including director of the Arizona Diamondbacks Radio Network. In 2014, Lakin was named executive producer for KMVP-FM “Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.” In 2018, Lakin added programming duties for “ESPN 620 AM” and was named program director of “Arizona Sports 98.7 FM” in 2019.
iHeartMedia Denver Announces Programming Changes at KOA and KHOW. A number of changes at iHeartMedia Denver’s news/talk stations take place, effective September 20. First, Ross Kaminsky moves from KHOW where he’s been hosting the morning drive show to the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon show on sister KOA. He displaces the “Logan & Lewis” show but both Dave Logan and Rick Lewis move to the afternoon drive daypart for the all-new “The KOA Sports Zoo” that will also feature current PM drive personalities Alfred “Big Al” Williams and JoJo Turnbeaugh. At KHOW, Michael Brown moves from his early afternoon show to the morning drive daypart where he’ll host “The Situation with Michael Brown.” Filling the 2:00 pm to 4:00 slot on KHOW is regular KOA and KHOW fill-in host Leland Conway, who joins the ranks of the full-time personalities. Regarding Kaminsky, iHeartMedia notes that he’s been named “Best Talk News/Talk Show” by the Colorado Broadcasters Association and “Best Radio Talk Show Host” by Westword. “The KOA Sports Zoo” – in addition to its four main personalities – will feature Denver Broncos players and coaches, and other celebrities and will cover the MLB’s Colorado Rockies and University of Colorado Buffaloes. Michael Brown is “a fan-favorite and described by many as smart, funny and connected. As the Former Under Secretary of Homeland Security and Director of FEMA, Brown provides provocative insight into culture, current events and politics.” New full-time host Leland Conway is known as “a ‘happy libertarian,’ and has an uncanny ability to interview news makers, putting them at ease while cutting to the heart of the issue.” iHeartMedia Denver president Brenda Egger says, “Both KOA and KHOW have been serving Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West for close to a century. These enhancements further cement our position as the leading destination for unmatched news, talk and sports programming.”
Round Four of August 2021 PPM Data Released. The fourth of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s August 2021 PPM survey has been released for the group of markets including: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen’s August 2021 sweep covered July 22 – August 18. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Indianapolis, Emmis Communications’ news/talk WIBC-FM dips two-tenths to an 8.0 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and slides from the #2 to the #3 rank. Good Karma Brands’ news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee loses seven-tenths for an 8.2 share finish but remains ranked #1 while iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talk WISN tacks on four-tenths for a 7.2 share finish and rises to the #3 rank. In Nashville, Cumulus Media’s WWTN-FM, “SuperTalk 99.7” rises to the #2 rank on the strength of a 1.5 share jump to a 7.8 share finish. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets (as well as the previous three rounds) here.
‘104-9 FOX Sports Upstate’ Launches in Greenville, SC. Gone from the 104.9 FM signal of WROO-FM, Greenville, South Carolina is the rock format and in is sports talk. iHeartMedia unveils “104-9 FOX Sports Upstate” that is airing the complete FOX Sports Radio national programming lineup with the addition of the two-hour afternoon drive show hosted by longtime South Carolina sports broadcaster Phil Kornblut. His program, “Sports Talk with Phil Kornblut,” airs from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm nightly in addition to “Outkick The Coverage,” “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” “The Doug Gottlieb Show,” “The Odd Couple with Chris Broussard & Rob Parker,” “The Jason Smith Show” and “The Ben Maller Show.” iHeartMedia Asheville/Greenville SVP of programming Brian Hall says, “We’re excited to bring back the FOX Sports Radio brand to the Upstate. Our listeners will have access to the best names in sports talk, plus regional coverage. It’s also a natural pairing with the South Carolina Gamecocks. Game on Upstate!”
Cumulus Media Studies NFL Fans’ Use of Radio vs. TV. This study from Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is based on research from GfK MRI, Ipsos, the NFL “Fan Tracker,” and a special Nielsen Portable People Meter analysis of NFL listening to national broadcasts and reveals the season-long reach of Westwood One’s NFL play-by-play broadcasts to be 56 million listeners. Cumulus Media chief insights officer Pierre Bouvard says, “The research indicates the profile of the radio sports play-by-play audience is surprisingly different from the TV audience. The TV audience consists of casual sports fans while the audio audience is far more passionate and engaged – they are far more likely to be seen as sports experts by their friends, play fantasy sports, and attend games – this provides brands with a highly attentive audience.” Other key findings from the study indicated that: sports betting is more prevalent among AM/FM radio sports listeners versus the TV sports audience; in the car, the AM/FM radio NFL play-by-play broadcast is the ‘best available screen’ for employed and upscale sports fans and according to GfK MRI, the profile of the AM/FM radio NFL audience is much more upscale; compared to average Americans, NFL AM/FM radio audiences spend 16% more. See the study results here.
Salem Media Group Closes Refinancing of 2024 Senior Secured Notes. In a statement released on Monday (9/13), Salem Media Group announces it has closed the refinancing of $112.8 million of its senior secured notes due 2024 by way of exchange and/or sale and purchase of $112.8 of such 2024 Notes into $114.7 (reflecting a call premium of 1.688%) of newly issued 7.125% Senior Secured Notes due 2028. After the refinancing, only $103.5 million of the 2024 Notes remain outstanding. At the same time, Salem has obtained commitments from the holders of the 2028 Notes to purchase up to $50 million in additional 2028 Notes, contingent upon Salem satisfying certain performance benchmarks, the proceeds of which are to be used exclusively to repurchase or repay 2024 Notes. Salem believes that the extended maturity of the 2028 Notes, the ability under the indenture governing the 2028 Notes to use certain asset sale proceeds and casualty loss proceeds to repurchase or repay the 2024 Notes, and the commitments to purchase up to $50 million in additional 2028 Notes, as well as certain other features of the refinancing, all contribute to the ability of Salem to pay the remaining 2024 Notes in full prior to or at maturity. Salem CEO Edward G, Atsinger III says, “With this refinancing and our expected future free cash flow generation, we believe Salem has a clear path to ultimately push out all of the rest of our outstanding debt maturities. It also provides flexibility to opportunistically invest in our business.”
TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Chicago-born stand-up comic Brian Babylon, a.k.a., “Prince of Bronzeville,” is named the new host of the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight show on Tavis Smiley’s talk outlet KBLA, Los Angeles. Feder notes that Babylon hosted “The Morning AMp” from 2011 to 2015 on Chicago Public Media’s Vocalo platform…..ABC Audio announces that Derricke Dennis is promoted to staff correspondent. In this role, he’ll report for all ABC Audio platforms, continue to anchor newscasts – as well as coverage of breaking news and special events – and he’ll be instrumental in the company’s efforts to build new products and reach new audiences. Dennis has been serving the company as a freelancer and anchoring ABC’s flagship I-NET newscast…..VSiN announces that Stormy Buonantony joins the sports betting network as the new host of “My Guys in the Desert.” In addition to covering college football for ESPN, Buonantony joins VSiN from AT&T SportsNet, where she was the rinkside reporter for the Vegas Golden Knights over the past two seasons. She says, “I’m so excited to expand my role and join the incredibly talented and knowledgeable team at VSiN full time. I’ve always joked that I grew up in a household where it didn’t matter who won or lost the game but rather by how many points they won or lost. This represents a special opportunity for me to combine my personal and professional backgrounds in my hometown of Las Vegas on a network committed to providing the best sports betting analysis out there.”…..Pet behaviorist and humorist Warren Eckstein celebrates 40 years in radio hosting, “The Pet Show With Warren Eckstein,” that is syndicated internationally by Radio America in 150 additional markets, including Guam and Canada.
COVID-19, California Recall, Afghanistan, January 6 Investigation/Justice for J6 Rally, Met Gala, Prince Andrew Case, California Wildfires/Tropical Storm Nicholas Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/13). The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and the battle over vaccine mandates, and school mask requirements; today’s recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom; the aftermath of the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the looming Justice for J6 rally in Washington; U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez wears a dress that says “tax the rich” to the Met Gala; Prince Andrew’s attorneys claim Jeffrey Epstein-related complaint is improper; and the wildfires in California and the threat of heavy rain in the Gulf south from Tropical Storm Nicholas were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
KIRO-AM, Seattle Launches Mike Salk Morning Show. Seattle sports talk outlet KIRO-AM “710 ESPN Seattle” announces the launch of “The Mike Salk Show” that takes over the morning drive daypart on September 7. The move ousts the “Danny & Gallant” show hosted by Danny O’Neill and Paul Gallant. Salk is the station’s former program director. His show will air from 6:00 am to 10:00 am and the “Jake & Stacy” show hosted by Jake Heaps and Stacy Rost adds an hour, starting at 10:00 am and airing until 2:00 pm. Bonneville says, “‘The Mike Salk Show’ will regularly feature influential and notable voices, past and current, within the Seattle sports landscape such as Jerry Dipoto, Scott Servais, Pete Carroll, Matt Hasselbeck, Brock Huard, Shannon Drayer, Michael Bumpus, and many more.” KIRO-AM program director Kyle Brown comments, “We’re excited and fortunate to be able to add such a talented host back into our daily lineup. Mike is a passionate, opinionated broadcaster with long-standing connections to Seattle’s teams and fans. With daily appearances from Brock Huard and John Clayton and weekly interviews with Pete Carroll, Matt Hasselbeck and Jerry Dipoto, this show will be a can’t-miss destination for sports fans in the region.” Salk is also co-host of the “Brock & Salk” podcast with Brock Huard. The “Brock & Salk Show” aired in various dayparts on “710 ESPN Seattle” from 2009-2019 and continues exclusively as a weekly podcast. For the new show, Salk will be joined by executive producer and on-air contributor Justin Barnes and producer Maura Dooley.
Michigan Sports Network Hosts Move to ‘The Game.’ A report at MLive.com says two of the Michigan Sports Network’s sports talk radio programs moved to a new flagship station – iHeartMedia’s WMAX-FM, Grand Rapids “The Game 96.1.” “The Huge Show” featuring Bill Simonson and “X’s & Bro’s” with Anthony Bellino moved to “The Game 96.1” from Cumulus Media’s sports talk WJRW-AM/W291DJ this week. Simonson says in a statement, “The move to 96.1 means that I get back to reaching a wider audience on the FM dial. It’s good for all the listeners in West Michigan, our marketing partners based in West Michigan, the local charitable organizations we support and the community. The show hasn’t changed since I came on the air September 23, 2001, and I’ll always offer my Huge opinions on local, state, national and world-wide topics.”
Orlando Franklin Leaves KKFN, Denver to Join 49ers Coaching Staff. Former Denver Broncos offensive lineman Orlando “Big O” Franklin is leaving Bonneville’s KKFN, Denver “104.3 The Fan” to take a coaching position with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. Denver TV station KUSA reports Franklin told his audience that he’s leaving the late morning show he’s been co-hosting with Sandy Clough for the past two years. Franklin said, “My coaching internship with the 49ers was a tremendous experience, and I was honored that Coach Shanahan offered me the opportunity to continue with the team this season. While it’s bittersweet leaving my radio show here on ‘The Fan,’ the chance to continue learning from Coach Shanahan and working closely with my father-in-law Bobby Turner was one I just couldn’t pass up.”
G-Networks Responds to Wolkoff Suit; Requests Complaint Be Dismissed. In a 12-page response to Danno and Laura Wolkoff’s breach of contract suit against it, G-Networks LLC basically says it stands by its actions when it terminated the Wolkoffs from their positions and accused them of costing the business some $1.8 million in damages due to “gross negligence” and “gross incompetence” in the performance of their duties as chief development officer and VP of business operations, respectively. The Wolkoffs sold their company Envision Networks to then-Sun Broadcast Group and entered into employment agreements to serve in the positions noted above. The Wolkoffs say in their complaint that they are owed $2.1 million based on the deal to sell Envision and their employment contracts. G-Networks is asking that the complaint be dismissed with prejudice and that the Wolkoffs be ordered to pay all costs, expenses and attorney’s fees.
TALKERS News Notes. Nationally syndicated talk radio host Todd Starnes delivered a speech at the recent Donald Trump rally in Alabama. The former president also appeared on Starnes’ radio program on Monday (8/30) and made news by announcing that “he’s heading to Iowa,” hinting that he’s already considering a run for president in 2024…..Audacy Buffalo announces multi-year radio broadcast contract extensions with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. As part of the partnership sports talk WGR-AM will continue as the flagship radio station for the Bills and Sabres, airing all pre-season, regular and post-season games for both teams. Audacy Buffalo SVP and market manager Tim Holly says, “We’re delighted to extend our partnerships with the Bills and Sabres to continue delivering premier gameday and supporting content. These partnerships will allow WGR 550 to continue to serve as the home for everything fans need to stay up to date surrounding these two iconic franchises and we look forward to entertaining and informing our listeners throughout both teams’ seasons.” WGR 550 will kick off its Bills gameday broadcasts with three pregame shows, “Breakfast with the Bills Fantasy Style,” “Bills Game Day,” “Countdown to Kickoff,” and wrap up with two postgame shows “Bills Network Postgame Show” and “The Overtime Show.” In addition to gameday content, the station will air “Buffalo Bills Football Monday” and “Football Friday,” which will feature team-focused content with special guests. Morning show “Howard and Jeremy” will welcome Bills play-by-play announcer John Murphy on Monday and Friday mornings and Bills head coach Sean McDermott each Friday morning. Afternoon show “Schopp & Bulldog” will speak with former Bills center Eric Wood every Monday and professional football writer John Clayton every Thursday. WGR 550 will also air pregame and postgame shows for its Sabres gameday broadcasts. “Howard and Jeremy” will welcome head coach Don Granato each Tuesday morning. “Schopp and Bulldog” will speak with Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams each month…..The nationally syndicated “Motley Fool Money” radio program hosted by Chris Hill adds new affiliate New Hampshire Family Radio’s WKXL-AM/W280EC, Concord to its roster of stations…..Pictured below donating blood is GCN-syndicated talk radio host Dr. Daliah Wachs. Regular donating of blood – as well as the promotion of National Blood Donation Day (Sept. 4) and National Blood Donation Week (Sept. 1-7) – is something Dr. Wachs is passionate about and she encourages her fellow talk hosts to use their platforms to stress the importance of keeping our nation’s blood banks stocked.
Afghanistan Withdrawal, COVID-19, Ida Aftermath, California Wildfires, Texas Abortion Law, January 6 Investigation, and Jeopardy’s Mike Richards Fired Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/31). The criticism of President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan; the rate of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., states dealing with full ICUs, and mask & vaccine mandates; the Caldor wildfire threatens the California resort town of Lake Tahoe; the Texas law outlawing abortion after six weeks goes into effect; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens telecom companies that comply with the January 6 committee’s request for phone records; and Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards is fired were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
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.
WSB-AM & WSBB To Host Its 21st Annual Care-A-Thon. Beginning tomorrow (Thursday, 7/29) at 5:00 am and extending through 6:00 pm Friday (7/30), Cox Media Group Atlanta news/talk WSB-AM & WSBB’s 37-hour event benefits the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The “Care-A-Thon” helps fund family support services and research at the facility’s fellowship program. It will feature stories of hope and inspiration from patients, families and staff from throughout Georgia. WSB-AM & WSBB director of branding & programming Drew Anderssen comments, “Community service is at the heart of what we do at WSB-AM & WSBB. Our entire team looks forward to this event year after year because of the uplifting and emotional positivity it generates in all of us – including our generous listeners.” On-air talents including Scott Slade, Clark Howard, Erick Erickson, Eric Von Haessler, Mark Arum, and Brian Kilmeade will focus on the positive impact the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center has on patients and their families. Listeners can donate by phone (888-750-2772); texting WSB-AM & WSBB “Atlanta’s News & Talk” (24587); or online (wsbradio.com/careathon/).
WKXW’s “Help Wanted, Help Needed” Airs Tomorrow Night. That’s the title of the latest in a series of town hall broadcasts by Townsquare Media Middlesex-Somerset-Union news/talk WKXW “New Jersey 101.5.” The one-hour program begins tomorrow (Thursday, 7/29) at 7:00 pm and is presented to help New Jersey deal with the ongoing pandemic. Eric Scott – who hosts WKXW’s early-morning news show “New Jersey’s First News With Eric Scott,” as well as its monthly “Ask the Governor” – will lead the conversation in helping New Jersey businesses and workers navigate the ongoing labor shortage. He states, “The economic recovery is underway, yet many businesses are struggling to hire; many workers face challenges reentering the workforce.” Scott and his guests will explore what can be done to help both businesses and workers who are struggling in a post-pandemic world. The program’s on-air expert panel will feature: Rutgers University professor/economist Dr. James W. Hughes; New Jersey Business & Industry Association chief government affairs officer Chrissy Buteas; and New Jersey Policy Perspective senior policy analyst Peter Chen. In addition, the program will feature experts from New Jersey’s struggling restaurant, hospitality, and daycare industries. Scott and his guests will answer call-in questions throughout the hour.
NPR Boosts Lara To CCO. Executive director/media relations Isabel Lara is elevated to NPR’s chief communications officer. NPR president/chief executive officer John Lansing comments “[Lara] is known across the organization for her deep commitment to NPR’s staff and mission. Her tenure at NPR is evidence of a communications expert who understands the unique needs of a media organization. She is always ready to take on a complex communications challenge and find strategic solutions that will benefit our brand and future.” Lara notes, “NPR and its member stations bring millions of listeners the news they need about the world and their communities, as well as art, music and science stories that enrich and give meaning to their lives. It is a privilege to support the people who work around the clock to ensure this. Transparent, accurate, and timely messaging is vital in a media organization. I am eager to continue working with our very strong and effective internal and external communications teams in this new role.” With NPR since 2014, Lara previously worked at The National Education Association; Smithsonian; and Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation/Univision.
UNC Football and Men’s Basketball Shifting To WPTF. Under a multi-year agreement with Learfield’s Tar Heel Sports Properties, Curtis Media Group Raleigh news/talk WPTF “AM 680 – FM 98.5” will become the flagship for the University of North Carolina radio network. Curtis Media Group president/chief operating officer Trip Savery remarks, “As the largest privately-owned radio group in North Carolina, we understand the power of the Carolina brand. We are very pleased to welcome Carolina alumni and fans to listen to Tar Heel football and basketball on WPTF this fall.” UNC associate athletic director for external communications Robbi Pickeral Evans adds, “We are excited about this partnership with Curtis Media Group, which will help us tell the great stories of Carolina athletics in the Triangle area and across the state. We know that Carolina fans are excited about the year to come; Curtis Media’s wide reach will help us connect and stay connected with our supporters.” The first gameday broadcast on WPTF will be September 3, when UNC plays Virginia Tech. The station will broadcast coaches’ shows for football and men’s basketball, and the weekly show “Primetime in the ACC.” Longtime Tar Heels radio voice Jones Angell will return to call the games. WPTF takes over as UNC’s flagship from iHeartMedia-owned crosstown news/talk WTKK “106.1 FM Talk.”
Top News/Talk Radio Story for Tuesday July 27: January 6 Congressional Committee Hearings. The launch of the January 6 Congressional Hearings dominated conversation on the nation’s news/talk radio stations yesterday (7/27), followed by the COVID-19 Delta Variant, Vaccine Hesitancy/Denial, and debate over mask mandates. This was followed by conversation about the Olympics and U.S.- China Relations. 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 updated and published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.
TALKERS News Notes. Per Robert Feder (RobertFeder.com), changes at Salem Media Group Chicago news/talk WIND “AM 560 The Answer” as of August 16 include Charlie Kirk (1:00 pm – 3:00 pm); Sebastian Gorka (3:00 pm – 4:00 pm); Shaun Thompson (4:00 pm – 7:00 pm); Sean Hannity (moves from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm – 12:00 midnight); and Sebastian Gorka (12:00 midnight – 2:00 am) … To recognize unique circumstances, the Radio Mercury Awards is presenting two new categories: “Purpose-Driven Spot” or campaign to celebrate efforts that advance cause-related and societal issues, and “Insightful Voices Spots” that portray the values, culture, and lifestyle of specific audiences in an authentic voice. Call-for-entry deadline for all categories is (Monday) August 23; the awards ceremony takes place (Wednesday) November 17 … To be streamed on August 25, “All Audio Is Not Alike: What Each Type Brings To Listeners And Advertisers” is the next webinar in the Radio Advertising Bureau‘s “Business Accelerated” program. To be presented by Signal Hill Insights president Jeff Vidler, the webinar will offer data from the company’s “Radio On The Move 2021 Update” survey of Canadian listeners … Welcoming seven new affiliates, Robert & Mary Carey-hosted “RMWorldTravel” now airs weekly on over 480 stations across the country. As part of its “Let’s Go America Tour,” the show will soon do remote broadcasts from Chicago for the 150th anniversary of the Palmer House Hotel; Washington, DC; and from the Four Seasons Maui. There will be ten stops on the tour through late-February 2022 … Added to the affiliate roster of Radio America’s “The Dana Show” are: WMBD, Peoria, Illinois; WRTA AM & FM, Altoona, Pennsylvania; WNWS, Jackson, Tennessee; WTIB, Williamston, North Carolina; WRHT, Morehead City, North Carolina; and WKST, New Castle, Pennsylvania. She replaces Rush Limbaugh in three Pennsylvania markets: WPSN, Honesdale; WNTI, Somerset; and WNTJ, Johnstown … Former WFSU, Tallahassee state government reporter Blaise Gainey will join Nashville Public Radio news/talk WPLN, Nashville on August 16 as political reporter. WPLN news director Emily Siner comments, “Blaise’s experience covering the Florida legislature, and his reporting interests outside of that, will be a huge asset to WPLN News listeners.” Gainey notes, “I can’t wait to become fully immersed in Tennessee government and start relaying news to Middle Tennessee listeners about what’s taking place at the Capitol.”
Cumulus Media, WynnBET Agree To Multi-Platform Sponsorship Deal. The multi-year advertising and sponsorship pact includes broadcast, podcast, digital, social, and on-site elements. It will enable Wynn Resorts to promote its WynnBET sports betting app on Cumulus Media radio stations and Westwood One. Cumulus Media chief executive officer Mary Berner comments, “With Wynn’s focus on exceptional quality and high-touch customer experiences, we believe WynnBET will be a leader among the sports betting apps. We are excited to deploy our unique assets to grow its business. The sports betting market is now the fastest-growing advertising category – this innovative partnership solidifies Cumulus’ position in this exciting arena.” Wynn Interactive chief executive officer Craig Billings remarks, “This partnership with Cumulus Media provides WynnBET the ability to deliver specific, customized messaging to targeted markets throughout Cumulus’ network of hundreds of stations. In addition, WynnBET will have a significant advertising presence on Westwood One’s nationally syndicated programming, including football pre-game and play-by-play. We will work with Cumulus to create some exciting, branded content over the life of the partnership.” Under the terms of the deal, WynnBET becomes one of Cumulus Media’s largest advertising and marketing partners.
SiriusXM’s NFL Training Camp Tour Kicks Off Today. The annual SiriusXM series will feature 32 two-hour shows, one for each of the NFL’s 32 teams. SiriusXM hosts will interview players, coaches and franchise executives as they deliver breakdowns of every roster. The tour commences today (Wednesday, 7/28) with a visit to New York Jets training camp. Hosts Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan broadcast from Florham Park, New Jersey (4:00 pm – 6:00 pm, ET). Tomorrow, Miller and Kirwan will be in Flowery Branch, Georgia for an update from the training facility of the Atlanta Falcons. This Saturday (7/31) at 1:00 pm (ET), the satcaster will air a special edition of “Training Camp Today: Back Together Saturday.” Hosted by Bill Lekas, it will feature appearances by NFL Network talent and guests from team camps across the country. The show will lead into James Lofton and Alex Marvez broadcasting from the Los Angeles Chargers camp in Costa Mesa, California (4:00 pm – 6:00 pm, ET). Meanwhile, SiriusXM NFL Radio will broadcast induction ceremonies of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Classes of 2020 (Saturday, 8/7) and 2021 (Sunday, 8/8) from Canton, Ohio. Coverage of the Centennial Class of 2020 Enshrinement was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic; an historic class of 20 will be enshrined. Eight more of football’s finest will be inducted in the Class of 2021 ceremony.
The Sons of Liberty and Bradlee Dean are looking for an affiliate relations person to take over the current line-up. Having 153 affiliates nationwide – as well as broadcasting into over 53 countries – The Sons of Liberty and Bradlee Dean rank as the #1 and # 2 show on the Genesis Communications Network (out of 65 show hosts); they seek to build even more. If interested please call 1-866-233-0747 www.sonsoflibertymedia.com.