This Massachusetts “Marathon” Is Forced To Run Elsewhere. In what TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison describes as “one of the most knuckle-headed public relations mis-steps” he’s ever witnessed in a local situation, the Springfield, MA-based Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has kicked up a dust-storm of bad will for itself. (Note: TALKERS headquarters are also based in Springfield, MA.) For over two decades, a charitable Thanksgiving initiative known as the Mayflower Marathon has held its November charity event to raise money for the Open Pantry at the famed hoops museum in the Western Massachusetts city where basketball was invented. A consistent partner and main engine for the event over the years has been Saga Communications’ WAQY “Rock 102 – Springfield’s Classic Rock,” which does its own “marathon” by broadcasting from the venue for 52 consecutive hours. The long-running goodwill synergy though seems to have hit a speedbump. Citing “capacity issues,” the Basketball Hall of Fame says the event will no longer be held at its location. Declaring he’s in “shock” by the HOF’s decision, “Rock 102” morning talk show co-host and local radio legend Mike Baxendale (“Bax”) points out that – for 28 years- the station has helped the Mayflower Marathon raise several million dollars for the Open Pantry. Mirroring Baxendale’s astonished sentiment is Open Pantry executive director Terry Maxey who elaborates, “We are the largest food pantry in Western Massachusetts.” Not having the Mayflower Marathon in Springfield, he laments “would be truly disappointing.” Replying in a prepared statement to Western Mass News, Basketball Hall of Fame president/chief executive officer John Doleva notes, “The Hall of Fame has been pleased to offer this space at no charge for over 20 years for the Mayflower Marathon. As a ‘landlord,’ the Hall of Fame’s first obligation is to make certain that [the needs of our tenants], including adequate and convenient parking, are met. The growth in our tenant base and the very positive organic growth of existing tenants has made this change necessary.” Things further escalated in the last several days when Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno sent a letter to the Basketball HOF, asking Doleva to reconsider. Part of Sarno’s letter reads, “This event has been held for over 25 years and has caused no prior disruptions and/or complaints from your establishments.” It’s Doleva’s contention that the choice to pull the plug on housing the event was actually made nine months ago. To show support for the event as it establishes a new home, Doleva responded on behalf of Hall of Fame board chair Jerry Colangelo and Colebrook Realty’s Jack Dill by writing that the HOF is “happy to commit a gift of $5,000 to the Marathon. Our property management group, Colebrook, has committed an additional $2,500 for a total of $7,500 to the event.” Meanwhile, Baxendale maintains to Western Mass News that the Mayflower Marathon “is going to happen one way or another. We are looking at alternative sites [and] have a lot of suggestions. [Unfortunately], this shows that there’s a disconnect between the Hall of Fame and the community.”
GCN Vindicated in Sandy Hook Case. A defendant in Alex Jones’ Connecticut defamation case – Ted Anderson-owned Genesis Communications Network – was vindicated when the plaintiffs unilaterally withdrew all legal claims against GCN. The action was taken one month prior to jury selection and effectuated without settlement, release, or other consideration by GCN. According to Anderson, “This means we can continue to serve the hundreds of radio programs as we have over the years, programs from a wide array of political viewpoints. Including us in the suit was an attack on talk radio as an institution. It was totally unjustified. My heart breaks for those families – but yes – I feel this was the right result.” GCN attorney Mario Cerame states, “We are, of course, pleased with the recognition that GCN was not a proper defendant. Genesis does not monitor the content of the radio shows it works with. These are the sound engineers, ensuring professional sound quality, balance, and the like. They make space in the recording for commercials. They do not factcheck the words any more than your phone company does, or the people who sell you a keyboard check to see what you type. They just deliver the sound, like a radio version of the United States postal worker. We had to vigorously litigate the case up to the eve of jury selection but, the plaintiffs ultimately acknowledged this and walked away on their own, without a dime from GCN. We were caught in a battle between two Goliaths [but] after a lot of hard work, we managed to come out unscathed.”
Ippolito In As iHeartMedia San Diego Market President. Concurrent with iHeartMedia San Diego market president Melissa Forrest transitioning to a consultant role on August 1, senior vice president of sales Noreen Ippolito becomes her successor. Ippolito will report to division president Tom McConnell who comments, “Noreen is an incredible talent with an outstanding track record. She has strong business acumen and understands how to build and cultivate high performing teams. She is the perfect choice to lead our San Diego and Riverside markets.” In addition to San Diego news/talk outlets KOGO “News Radio 600” and KGB-AM “AM 760”; sports talk KLSD “Fox 1360”; and Riverside Black Information Network news outlet KFOO “BIN 1440”, Ippolito will oversee San Diego classic rock KGB-FM; rock KIOZ; CHR KHTS; hot AC KMYI; and rhythmic CHR KSSX.
Steele To Receive MIW’s Annual Airblazer Award. Five-year cancer survivor/Audacy New York classic hits-oldies WCBS-FM morning drive co-host Patty Steele is the recipient of the eighth annual Mentoring and Inspiring Women’s Airblazer award. Steele will be honored during next month’s (8/18) Morning Show Boot Camp in Chicago. MIW board president Ruth Presslaff comments, “It’s such a privilege to be the conduit for this very special award recognizing top on-air talent. Congratulations to Patty Steele, a wonderful talent and an even better human.” As is tradition, the “Airblazer” is carefully selected by the prior year’s honoree. The recipient is recognized for her dedication/contributions to the broadcast industry and to the communities she serves. Syndicated “DeDe in the Morning” host/2021 MIW “Airblazer” DeDe McGuire remarks, “It is my honor to select Patty Steele as the next recipient of the MIW Airblazer award. Patty has worked on some of the most successful radio shows alongside some of the biggest names in our industry. Her voice, humor, and insights were key to the successes of these shows on some of the country’s most legendary stations. So many of us in the industry admire her ability to always be the best and work through difficult times, both personally and professionally. She always comes out on top.” Steele adds, “I can’t tell you how proud and delighted I am to be chosen as this year’s recipient of the Airblazer award. My passion for radio and for the young women coming up in this business make this a truly special honor. Being chosen by DeDe is icing on the cake – she’s a survivor and [thrives] in our ever-changing business.” At WCBS-FM, Steele is reunited with Scott Shannon. She has also worked with Elvis Duran, Danny Bonaduce, and John Lander at a number of other well-known New York City stations, including news/talk WOR, news WCBS-AM, WHTZ, and WPLJ. In April, Steele was one of thirteen podcasters to receive a 2022 Gracie award for her “Deep Six” series. The two-part episode featured Steele’s interview with her 26-year-old son, Jake, about his heroin addiction and his journey to recovery. Three other Audacy-owned stations aired the show. Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio (MIW) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to the advancement of female leadership in radio broadcasting. In addition to DeDe McGuire, previous “Airblazers” include: Angela Yee (2020); Kellie Rasberry (2019); Mercedes Martinez (2018); Roula Christie (2017); Angie Martinez (2016); and class of 2022 Radio Hall of Fame inductee Ellen K (2015).
iHM Portland Boosts Burgess To Market President. The promotion of iHeartMedia Portland senior vice president of sales Marshal Burgess to market president for the company’s eight-station Oregon cluster is effective immediately. He will report to iHM Multiplatform Group division president/Black Information Network president Tony Coles, who states, “It has been incredible to witness Marshal’s growth and success over the years. Few leaders [have] the kind of experience, integrity, and vision that Marshal brings to the table. We look forward to Marshal building upon our history of success in Portland.” University of Oregon alum Burgess notes, “I’ve spent my entire life in Portland and grew up listening to [several stations in this iHM cluster]. The support and positive energy I’ve received from Tony Coles and the entire team here in Portland have been unbelievable. I’m very excited for the future and am truly humbled by the opportunity.” Burgess began his career at CBS Radio in 1996. He joined iHeartMedia the following year and has been with the company (then known as Clear Channel) ever since. In that time, he has progressed from being an account executive; local sales manager; general sales manager; and vice president of sales. In addition to news/talk KEX “News Radio 1190” and sports talk KPOJ “Rip City Sports Radio 620,” iHeartMedia Portland consists of adult contemporary KKCW; classic hits-oldies KLTH; classic rock KFBW; CHR KKRZ; alternative KKRZ-HD2; and rhythmic CHR KXJM.
Cannabis Advertising Legislation Introduced. The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Advertising Act, would clarify that local radio and television broadcasters can air cannabis ads without the threat of FCC administrative action in states where pot is legal. SAFE was introduced by Senator Ben Ray Luján (Democrat-New Mexico) and follows the House passage of FY 2023 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill. Language in that bill would prevent the FCC from taking administrative action against broadcasters that accept cannabis commercials. In a prepared statement, NAB president/chief executive officer Curtis LeGeyt notes, “Due to outdated government regulations, only local radio and television broadcasters face legal exposure for advertising cannabis products permitted under state law. The SAFE Advertising Act would finally level the playing field and create necessary regulatory certainty for broadcasters. We thank Senator Luján for his leadership on this issue and we will continue working with policymakers to ensure there is a permanent resolution to this competitive disparity.” New Mexico Broadcasters Association president/chief executive officer Paula Maes comments, “The members of the NMBA appreciate the efforts of Senator Luján and his staff. Their work on this bill which would allow cannabis advertising to air on New Mexico broadcasting is in step with state law and [is] long overdue. The Senator’s legislation helps remedy this unfair situation by recognizing the importance of state law in addressing cannabis issues.” New York State Broadcasters Association president/Safe Advertising Coalition member David Donovan adds, “We applaud Senator Luján’s efforts to allow local radio and television broadcasters to accept cannabis advertisements consistent with the law of the state in which they are licensed. We look forward to working with the Senator’s office to move this important legislation forward.”
Horowitz Headed To Raiders P-B-P Booth. The search to find a successor for the iconic Brent Musberger as radio play-by-play announcer for the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders concludes: Jason Horowitz is the choice. Horowitz, who will be this year’s game-caller with returning analyst Lincoln Kennedy, reflects that, “As a kid, I used to pretend I was the voice for a team calling an epic interception, or the game-winning touchdown. I want to thank [Raiders controlling owner/managing general partner] Mark Davis and the Raiders organization for making that dream become a reality. I am humbled to join an historic franchise, following in the footsteps of the legends who have called games of the ‘silver and black’ to the sport’s greatest fanbase.” Horowitz most recently has been Westwood One’s NCAA football and basketball studio host and CBS Sports Network’s announcer of Army football games. Musberger signed a contract four years ago (July 2018), making him the radio voice of the Oakland Raiders and the inaugural season (2020) when the franchise relocated to Las Vegas. He continued those duties through the 2021 season. Compass Media Networks syndicates Raiders games which air on Las Vegas sports talk flagship, Lotus Communications-owned KRLV “Raider Nation Radio 920 AM.”
BIN Listeners Offered Free Career Coaching. A “100,000 Careers” service from CareerBuilder will provide Black Information Network (BIN) listeners with a gratis 45-minute session. BIN and CareerBuilder have joined forces to launch the platform created to connect 100,000 BIN listeners looking to advance their careers. As part of the initiative, jobseekers have access to personalized career guidance through a complimentary coaching session. BIN listeners will have the opportunity to meet with an expert within their industry and receive individually tailored advice and actionable feedback to help promote their career growth. According to iHeartMedia Multiplatform group division president Tony Coles, “The Black Information Network and CareerBuilder are committed to giving jobseekers the tools and resources they need to stand out from the crowd. These sessions help match jobseekers and experts to help [them] prepare for [their] interview. We are excited to offer this service to get one step closer to helping 100,000 listeners find the career of their dreams.” CareerBuilder chief marketing officer Kristin Kelley comments, “We are thrilled to offer this hyper-customized experience in hopes that the community will receive practical feedback relevant to their industry to help them either find a job filled with purpose, or grow into their current role. Careers start with mentors and support, which is why expert coaching is one of the many ways that the 100,000 Careers initiative can transform the way job seekers find a role.” Through the use of AI technology and responses from an initial questionnaire, jobseekers will be matched with more than 5,000 available coaches. During the one-on-one session, jobseekers can ask questions, identify strengths, and work to define a career path that fits their needs. Participants will receive an individualized report that includes actionable advice and a video recording following the online session.
Newsmax Signs Multiple International Programming Distribution Deals. Through one of the agreements, Zee Entertainment’s Zee5 will carry Newsmax’s news feed 24/7, as well as VOD content. Zee will also post content from Newsmax.com in its news section. Zee5’s initial distribution of Newsmax content will be in India, with eventual expansion to the Middle East and North Africa. Earlier this month, Newsmax signed a distribution pact with Canal+-owned European satellite, cable, and OTT provider M7 and is now available in The Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Romania, and Hungary. Rounding out Newsmax’s recent global expansion efforts is its July 19 deal in Australia with Foxtel-owned streaming platform Flash News. Newsmax chief executive officer Chris Ruddy states, “The demand for high-quality journalism is growing worldwide as citizens everywhere look for real news to help understand a complex world. We are delighted to be working with Zee, M7, and Foxtel to deliver our content to the world’s largest democracies and we are looking forward to continuing to expand our global reach.” M7 group vice president/platform content services Bill Wijdeveld remarks, “We are welcoming Newsmax on board of our TV platforms, allowing the channel to launch into multiple European markets in ‘one go.’ We thank Newsmax for its trust in our service provisioning and look forward to a fruitful cooperation over the coming years.”
TALKERS News Notes. Former Baltimore Ravens defensive back Rod Woodson will join play-by-play voice Gerry Sandusky this season on the NFL team’s broadcasts on Hearst Baltimore news/talk WBAL. According to Sandusky, “Rod brings the unique perspective of someone who has both played and coached at the highest level of the game. He does it in a down-to-earth way that is approachable, likable and just plain fun. It’s a privilege to work with a broadcast partner like Rod.” Woodson states that, “Being a part of the Ravens’ gameday broadcast team is a blessing. To be back with the team that I won my only Super Bowl with will be fun.”
Monday Memo: Is Your On-Air Product Old-School? Podcasting delivers on consumers’ expectation for on-demand EVERYTHING and consultant Holland Cooke calls it “an opportunity to let retailers sponsor pertinent special interest topics.” But, in this week’s column, he cautions that “these are still digital dimes, compared to the analog dollars solid live programming and painstakingly-crafted commercials will earn us.” To read what makes your station special, please click here.
Pending Business: Going Up. In this week’s “Pending Business” column, radio sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, discusses the state of your “elevator pitch.” Will it work in less than the 60 seconds it takes to go to the eighth floor? Try this: Create one sentence that describes what your station does better than any of your competitors. Ask yourself is there a payoff for the advertiser in that one sentence or is it all product information? Are you connecting a #1 with an advertiser benefit? Have you taken the time to update your elevator pitch to put a more contemporary feel to the language? Lapa discusses these important points and more in an article that touches on the very basics of cutting right to the chase in presenting your station in a clear and positive light to a potential advertiser when time is of the essence. To read more, please click here.
Davis Sets Departure From iHeartMedia. Nashville-based iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group chief operating officer Darren Davis will exit at the end of this year, but will continue with the company as an advisor. In a memo to the staff, iHeartMedia chair/chief executive officer Bob Pittman and iHM president/chief operating officer/chief financial officer Rich Bressler write, “Darren has a deep love for iHeart and a true passion for our business and our success. [He] has grown up through our organization continually taking on new roles and more responsibility, becoming a critically important contributor as part of our senior team. After almost 30 years with iHeart, Darren is looking forward to spending more time on a variety of other projects he’s passionate about, including real estate development; local community projects; and traveling with his family. Although his day-to-day operating expertise will be missed, we appreciate all he’s done for our company and are very pleased that he will continue his association with us, albeit on a more limited basis. Darren will be working closely with Digital Audio Group CEO Conal Byrne through the balance of 2021 to continue our momentum and to effectively organize the Digital Audio Group for the future.” Davis has been with iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) since 1992 when he joined adult contemporary WASH, Washington, DC as a programming intern.
iHM, Sports Illustrated, and SI Studios Partner For Multi-Year, Audio Content Deal. The agreement includes eight co-produced Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated Studios, and iHeartRadio podcasts, as well as distribution of Sports Illustrated’s existing podcasts through the iHeartPodcast Network. Mutual marketing and promotion commitments will apply to all joint projects; two of the eight original podcasts are scheduled to launch by the first quarter of next year. iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group chief executive officer Conal Byrne comments, “We are thrilled to partner with Sports Illustrated to introduce a brand-new slate of sports podcasts – limited series and ongoing shows alike. It’s an iconic brand that sports fans instantly trust, knowing that they will get the most credible and in-depth industry coverage. We look forward to expanding that footprint into the audio space where we uniquely have the reach and scale to bring Sports Illustrated the audience and monetization they deserve.” According to Sports Illustrated & Maven chief executive officer Ross Levinsohn, “Storytelling is at the core of what SI stands for. The opportunity to partner with iHeartMedia to create and distribute dynamic stories and shows featuring our incredible voices further expands our footprint.” Chief operating officer of 101 Studios, David Hutkin, adds, “While traditionally sports are very visually focused, this venture allows us to introduce audiences to the most memorable events in sports history in unexpected ways. With this new partnership, we have the unique opportunity to tell these historic, remarkable stories to audiences globally.” Set to debut later this year, “Sports Illustrated Weekly” will feature the best of Sports Illustrated’s journalism in an audio magazine. Each 45-minute episode will feature deep-dive segments on the biggest news of the week and the most compelling personalities, trends and themes in sports. Developed by SI Studios, “Lateral Damage” will offer an innovative take on the true-crime genre. Publishing early next year, the podcast tells the story of University of California, Berkeley football player Mariet Ford, who was convicted of viciously murdering his young son and pregnant wife; Ford has maintained his innocence for almost 25 years. The podcast will explore the indelible effect the murder has had on the core group of people in Ford’s sphere.
Local Journalism Sustainability Act Has NAB Support. Introduced by Democratic Senators Maria Cantwell (Washington State); Mark Kelly (Arizona); and Ron Wyden (Oregon), the Local Journalism Sustainability Act of 2021 would aid local news organizations through tax credits to incentivize hiring more journalists, subscriptions and advertising from local small businesses. In a prepared statement, National Association of Broadcasters president/chief executive officer Gordon Smith notes, “At a time when misinformation and disinformation plague online platforms, broadcast radio and television continue to serve as reliable beacons of news that keep local communities informed and connected. We urge congressional passage of this legislation.” According to Senator Cantwell, “The COVID-19 pandemic made it crystal clear that local reporters and newsrooms are essential to keeping the public informed and safe, but their importance spans well beyond health emergencies. At its core, local news is about holding the powerful accountable. The strength of our democracy is based in truth and transparency. Local newsrooms are on the ground in our communities asking the critical questions, countering misinformation, and telling our stories. We have to protect these vital parts of our communities – once they’re gone, they’re gone.” Senator Kelly comments, “Local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations are pillars of our community, bringing trusted local news [and] information about community events and the latest on public health updates in their area. The pandemic made an already difficult financial situation for these news providers even harder, which is why I support the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. By providing tax credits for individuals to support local news outlets, they can continue to provide important coverage for readers, listeners, and viewers.” Senator Wyden adds, “The decline of local news has had devastating effects on our communities. Local news has often been the only window into the city council or mayor’s office. Without these outlets, these important institutions in our communities go uncovered. Further, the decline of local news has only fueled the growth of misinformation as Americans lose their most trusted sources of information. As the son of a journalist, these developments trouble me greatly. Our bill would provide financial support to local news at this critical time for our democracy.”
WMVP To Repeat A $50,000 Ad Giveaway. It’s part of an ongoing “Supporting Small Business” campaign by Good Karma Brands Chicago sports talk outlet WMVP “ESPN 1000” and First Midwest Bank. Good Karma Brands Chicago market manager Mike Thomas comments, “We’re excited to continue our partnership with First Midwest Bank to help a local small business see success. Supporting local businesses in our community is central to both ‘ESPN 1000’ and First Midwest Bank. This is a great way for us to introduce the passionate sports fans in our area to a small business.” First Midwest Bank chief marketing and communications officer Jim Stadler adds, “This past year has reminded us of the importance of small businesses and the role they play in creating employment opportunities and momentum for economic growth in their local neighborhoods. We are proud to partner with ‘ESPN Chicago’ for the second year to bring valuable and well-deserved public exposure to these important businesses.” Last year’s “Supporting Small Business” award benefitted Breaking Bread Catering & Deli.
TALKERS News Notes. Former 13-year Tampa Bay Lightning director of broadcasting & programming Matt Sammon is appointed manager/business development & strategy for Skyview Networks. Sammon joined Skyview last September as an executive producer overseeing Notre Dame sports broadcasts and spent two years freelancing with Sammonsez, LLC … After reporting part-time for NPR the past several months, David Gura will join the network next Monday (8/2) as business correspondent. Most recently the host of MSNBC’s weekend morning show “Up With David Gura,” he previously was a Bloomberg anchor. Gura began his career as an intern at University of North Carolina news/talk WUNC, Raleigh … The next installment of the “Gracie Interview Series – Virtual Gatherings” will be this Thursday (7/29) at 2:00 pm (ET). “The Breakfast Club” co-host/“Angela Yee’s Lip Service” host Angela Yee moderates the interview of Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott. Registration is free at https://allwomeninmedia.org/events/gracie-interview-series-virtual-gatherings/ … iHeartMedia Des Moines news/talk WHO “News Radio 1040” afternoon drive talent Simon Conway took his show on the road to Groton, Connecticut for several broadcasts aboard the USS Nautilus. Conway received a tour of the USS Iowa (pictured), guided by captain James Quintin. According to Conway, “The two shows we did from our submarine base at Groton were very exciting. All my questions were answered and the feedback from my audience has been incredible.” In addition to WHO, Conway’s afternoon drive show is heard on iHeartMedia stations in Cedar Rapids (WMT) and Davenport (WOC) … Nexstar Media Group promotes Ron Romines to senior vice president and regional manager. Romines will oversee the company’s broadcast and digital operations in various markets and will report to Nexstar Media Group president of broadcasting Andrew Alford.
Top Talk Topics This Past Weekend Headed By COVID-19. As has been the case in recent years, the news cycle no longer slows down on the weekends. The most-discussed topic on news/talk radio this past weekend has been COVID-19 with a focus on the Delta variant, vaccine hesitancy, controversy over mask mandates and the potential for more shutdowns. This was followed by intense partisan bickering over the formulation of the January 6 committee, followed by climate change, 2020 election denial, and the Olympics.
Acción Adds Tampa and Jacksonville. Effective immediately, Star Over Orlando’s WRSO “Acción 97.9 – La Primera En Noticias” will be simulcast in Tampa on iHeartMedia-owned WHNZ which had been English-language news/talk; a West Tampa translator at 105.9 that was simulcasting English-language news/talk WFLA; and WMTX-HD2. In addition, it will be heard in Jacksonville on iHM’s WFXJ and WKSL-HD2. iHeartMedia senior VP/Hispanic Strategy Hector Marcano comments, “Acción represents a solution for the Hispanic audience eager for a Spanish-speaking newscast and companies that are looking for this fast-growing audience interested in developing a life in the USA.” Division president Linda Byrd notes, “I’m excited to expand the Acción brand to other important Hispanic markets in Florida. Getting the news and information to Florida’s growing Hispanic population in their native language will be very impactful.” Area president for iHeartMedia West Central Florida Chris Soechtig remarks, “We are very excited to deliver a first of its kind Spanish language news platform to the Tampa Bay Hispanic community. With the changing demographics in our area, this is a natural addition to our diverse portfolio.” iHeartMedia North Florida area president Paul Rogers contends, “No other media company can truly help our advertisers, brands, and community organizations reach the full spectrum of the First Coast’s diverse populations like iHeart. We are thrilled to [bring] the first full-service Hispanic news/talk station to Northeast Florida.” Acción – La Primera En Noticias launched in 2018 and news director Jesús Manuel Torres states, “For the past few years, we’ve worked as a team to keep our Hispanic community informed of the events that have changed history. This time, our commitment continues to grow, and our team is ready to continue bringing relevant information and analysis to each market.” Among persons 6+, WRSO is trending 1.0 – 1.3 – 1.8 (April – May – June) and ranks #16 (Nielsen Audio, June 2021). Star Over Orlando-owned WRSO is operated by iHeartMedia under an LMA.
Shari Gonzalez Promoted to Market President for iHeartMedia Miami. Radio sales pro Shari Gonzalez is promoted to market president for iHeartMedia’s Miami/Fort Lauderdale station group that includes news/talk WIOD, sports talk WINZ, WXBN “Black Information Network,” and eight music brands. She was most recently regional SVP of sales for the cluster. iHeartMedia division president Linda Byrd says, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to promote Shari into her first market president role. In the short time that we have worked together, I have seen her competitiveness, work ethic and ability to move her team in the direction we need to go. Shari has the experience and smarts to make a great market president of iHeartMedia Miami/Fort Lauderdale. She will be a great leader in one of our most important markets.” Gonzalez comments, “I am honored and thrilled for this opportunity. To continue to work with and now lead this incredible portfolio of brands and this ‘best-in-class’ team of talented, passionate colleagues is a dream come true. Miami/Fort Lauderdale is experiencing a boom like no other market in the country and the South Florida market is filled with a culture and uniqueness that is second to none. As our market continues to grow as a multi-cultural, global economic and entertainment destination, we at iHeartMedia Miami/Fort Lauderdale remain committed to being the largest and most meaningful connection to millions in South Florida.”
‘The Rich Eisen Show’ Joins Audacy for Live Streaming and On-Demand Service. Sports media personality Rich Eisen enters into a content distribution partnership with Audacy to add his “The Rich Eisen Show” to the Audacy digital platform. “The Rich Eisen Show” streams live daily from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. The show, as well as his new podcast, “Just Getting Started,” are available on-demand on the Audacy digital platform. “The Rich Eisen Show” emanates from Los Angeles and is simulcast on NBC Sports on Peacock. Audacy EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano states, “Rich’s show is a terrific addition to our Audacy platform and reinforces our position as the unrivaled leader in local and national sports audio content. We’re thrilled to bring Rich’s mix of sports and culture to our audience, just in time for this week’s NFL Draft.”
Tricia Gallenback to Lead Cumulus Media’s Eugene Stations. Sales and management pro Tricia Gallenback is named the new vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media’s Eugene, Oregon station group that includes news/talk KUGN-AM, sports talk KUJZ-FM, and three music brands. She most recently held the same position at Reno Media Group’s stations in Reno, Nevada. Prior to that she was director of sales for Beasley Media Group’s Fayetteville, North Carolina operations. Gallenback says, “It’s an exciting time to work in radio! Cumulus is a dynamic and innovative company and I’m honored that [Cumulus RVP] Don Morin invited me to join the talented team in Eugene. The Cumulus stations in Eugene are iconic brands and have a history of commitment to community and partnership success. I’m looking forward to discovering how much more we can accomplish together.”
Ernest Fears III Rises to Director of Sales at Radio One Washington, DC. Radio sales pro Ernest Fears III is promoted to director of sales for Radio One’s Washington, DC station group that includes sports talk WTEM-AM “The Team 980” and news/talk WOL-AM/W240DJ. Fears was most recently general sales manager for the station group. Fears says, “During my 40 years in the business in the DC market, I’ve had the chance to work with so many professionals that I have learned from. If not for them, I would not stand where I am today. I look forward to paying forward the help and guidance that I received to my team and their clients.” Radio One senior regional vice president Jeff Wilson adds, “For decades, Ernie has been one of the most respected leaders in Washington, DC media. But today, we celebrate his leadership and innovation moving forward as we blaze new trails while creating unprecedented solutions for our business partners.”
WWO Blog: What Changes in TV Viewing Mean for Radio. In this week’s Westwood One blog, chief insights officer Pierre Bouvard addresses the changes taking place in the television industry as viewers shift from linear TV to ad-free streaming options. This is a massive challenge for advertisers who’ve made TV a big part of their media plans. The piece is peppered with ominous stats, including: Nielsen’s just-released Total Audience Report reveals linear television’s weekly reach among persons 25-54 has dropped from 85% in Q3 2018 to only 77% in Q3 2020; pay TV lost 5.5 million subscribers in 2020; MoffettNathanson reports that residential penetration of traditional pay TV is down to 61% of occupied households. This is sharply reduced from pay TV’s peak 89% penetration in 2009; and according to MoffettNathanson, in Q4 2020, 67% of all broadcast network viewership was from the 50+ audience. So how does radio advertising play into this? Bouvard says that putting AM/FM radio in the plan generates triple the reach of connected TV – for example, adding 50 points of AM/FM radio to 250 points of TV (225 linear TV GRPs and 50 connected TV GRPs) generates a +24% increase in reach, triple the incremental reach lift that connected TV can add alone.
TALKERS News Notes. A deal between direct mail firm We Mail America.com and the Independent Broadcasters Association to “bring the We Mail America.com business model to independently owned radio markets of all sizes.” A press release says, “We Mail America.com is reinventing the traditional direct mail model by coupling it with a full suite of digital advertising services that works precisely and in conjunction with each radio ad campaign and mail deployment. This comprehensive view of advertising fortifies audio marketing strategies across all mediums, screens, and devices.” IBA president (and Adams Media CEO) Ron Stone says, “Independent radio has never had so many competitors, and direct mail is certainly one of them. We Mail America.com brings a no-nonsense approach to direct mail and provides radio operators a new tool for their clients. The model that [We Mail America.com founder] Gary [Pizzati] has created enables independent stations to add a new source of revenue to their cluster that does not just move money from one pocket to the other.”…..Audacy’s C13Originals is expanding its longtime partnership with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jon Meacham to launch Shining City Audio, a podcast studio co-venture focused on creating a wide-ranging slate of audio documentaries and series centered around history with some of the most well-respected historians and voices joining at launch. The Shining City Audio initial 2021 slate features two new series written and narrated by Meacham: “Fate of Fact,” a limited-run series examining the question of how and why so many conservative Americans have become prone to disinformation and anti-democratic narratives, and a daily podcast focused on this day in history…..SiriusXM today announced that it has acquired 99% Invisible Inc., the company owned by Roman Mars, the creator, host, and executive producer of the “99% Invisible” podcast. The acquisition brings the podcast host and his team to SiriusXM, where they will continue to operate 99% Invisible, the podcast “What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law,” and develop new podcast projects…..Observing the reaction to the “Saturday Night Live” cast’s befuddlement at the news that Elon Musk will host an upcoming episode of the sketch comedy show, KZRG, Joplin, Missouri program director Peter Thiele is inviting Musk to appear as guest host on “KZRG Morning News Watch.” He says, “Elon Musk is one of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs! We are proud to invite him to be the guest host of the ‘KZRG Morning News Watch!’ Joplin, Missouri’s convenient location on two major freeways with a fantastic airport makes this offer even more tantalizing.”
COVID-19, Biden 100 Days Address, Deadly Police Shootings/Race Relations, Iran-Israel Tensions/John Kerry Allegation, Southern Border Crisis, Newsom Recall, and Oscars Show Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/26). The rates of positive COVID cases in U.S. states, the rollout of and concerns about vaccines, and the overwhelming cases and deaths in India; President Joe Biden’s Wednesday address before Congress marking his first 100 days; protests over recent deadly police shootings of Black citizens and the call for a complete release of body camera video in the death of Andrew Brown Jr.; the military tensions between Iran and Israel and the allegation former Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Israeli air strikes with Iran’s foreign minister; the mass of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; petitioners gather enough signatures to put the recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom on the ballot; and Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Audacy Extends Contract with CFO Richard Schmaeling. The company and chief financial officer Richard Schmaeling sign a new contract set to begin on May 1 that keeps Schmaeling in his CFO role and adds the position of executive vice president, strategic initiatives to his duties. The new contract runs through April 30 of 2025 and pays Schmaeling an annual base salary of $800,000 that will be increased by not less than three percent annually beginning in May of 2022. Other aspects of the contract include: a target annual cash performance bonus at 90% of his annual base salary, to be earned based on Audacy’s performance; a grant of 60,000 restricted stock units as soon as practicable following May 1, 2021 which will vest 50% on May 1, 2023; 25% on May 1, 2024; and 25% on May 1, 2025; and restricted stock unit grants of 50,000 in 2021; 40,000 in 2022; 30,000 in 2023; and 20,000 in 2024, with vesting 50% on the second anniversary of the grant date and 25% on each of the third and fourth anniversaries of the grant date.
Galaxy Media Promotes Maine to Chief Revenue Officer; Greenlar to Chief Content Officer. Two Galaxy Media managers are rising to new positions within the company. Nick Maine is promoted to chief revenue officer from his current director of sports marketing position. In this new role, Maine will oversee the sales operations for both the Syracuse and Utica markets. Galaxy Media president and CEO Ed Levine says, “Nick Maine is a force of nature. It’s rare to have somebody that has been so engaged, so excited, and so competent all in one package. I can’t wait to see where he takes our sales effort over the next many years.” At the same time, Marissa Greenlar – brand manager for rock WKRL “KROCK” – is promoted to chief content officer for the company. She’ll continue in her role as brand manager for “KROCK” and will oversee all of the Galaxy brands and digital content. Levine comments, “Marissa’s contribution to Galaxy has been extraordinary. From starting as a sales assistant to working with the events team, to overseeing much of our social media and then assuming day-to-day programming responsibilities for ‘KROCK,’ she has impacted every aspect of Galaxy over the past 12 years. This newly created position is a reflection of the respect she has from her peers and an acknowledgement of her massive contributions to Galaxy.”
Cumulus Launches ‘104.5 The Zone TV’ in Nashville. The new “104.6 The Zone TV” will be more than just cameras in the WGFX-FM, Nashville studios for its daily radio programs. The Cumulus Media sports talk station says original sports programming on “104.5 The Zone Podcast Network,” original shows, and instant reaction specials every evening – including “The Ultimate Tennessee Podcast” – will be available on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch. The station also says that after a big game or a huge event in Nashville, hosts will be live on “104.5 The Zone TV” to instantly react with fans from their home studios. WGFX-FM program director Paul Mason says, “‘104.5 The Zone TV’ is going to offer our fans a whole new experience when consuming ‘104.5 The Zone.’ Our listeners will now have the option to watch and interact with their favorite ‘104.5 The Zone’ personalities as they video stream their shows live on a variety of different social media platforms. With our recent partnership with A to Z Sports, the launch of ‘104.5 The Zone TV,’ and with more to come, ‘104.5 The Zone’ is continuing our reputation as the gold standard for sports content.” Will Boling is digital content producer for the station, and he says, “‘104.5 The Zone TV’ gives the listener a behind-the-scenes and in-depth look at the faces and voices behind the microphone from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. It also provides sports fans with a chance to skip the call-in line and instantly react to the biggest headlines with our hosts in the chat. Whether it’s watching the shows on our daily lineup during the week, reacting to digital exclusives in the evenings, or pregame/postgame shows centered around the biggest events in Nashville sports, ‘104.5 The Zone TV’ will expand Zone coverage – and that’s a huge win for sports fans. There is more excitement to come, so stay tuned!”
Audacy: Audio Is Driving Force Behind Vaccination Willingness. Citing results from a recent study it commissioned, Audacy says the S. Radoff Associates research that tested audio’s trust and influence during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic indicates audio is the leading media source in the fight against COVID-19 and a driving force behind Americans’ willingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. The study concludes that for the vaccine hesitant population, audio is the most trusted source of information about COVID vaccination (46%), ahead of TV news shows (42%), friends and family (40%), articles in a local (37%) or national (36%) newspaper, and social media (27%). The study also found that the vast majority of vaccine hesitant U.S adults (81%) say they will take some form of action if they hear a local radio or podcast host provide information about the benefits of COVID vaccines and recommend that listeners receive a COVID vaccine. Audacy SVP of research and insights Idil Cakim says, “Since the onset of the pandemic, audio has served as a trusted companion for listeners seeking vital information, local news and sports and entertainment. As America slowly but surely returns to normal life, the vaccine is a major step towards doing what we all love again – going to sports events, dining at our favorite restaurants, or creating memories with loved ones – and our study shows how big of a role audio is playing in inspiring Americans to make a plan to get their shot.”
Noel Paul Stookey is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. A true, elder statesmen of American folk music, as well as an iconic popularizer of the civil rights movement going back to the protest songs of the early 60s, Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Stookey discuss the evolution of the civil rights movement from the freedom marches of the early 60s to the current reckoning of the early 20s among a number of other fascinating topics. Stookey also discusses his latest charitable project. Don’t miss this extraordinary conversation between two extremely articulate individuals that spans the decades and connects the dots. 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.
The Todd Starnes Show Adds Affiliate in Salem, Oregon. The Memphis-based programs featuring conservative talk media personality and best-selling author Todd Starnes are being added to the program schedule at Willamette Broadcasting’s KYKN-AM, Salem, Oregon. The station is putting “The Todd Starnes Show” in the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot long held by Rush Limbaugh. It is also airing the “Todd Starnes Weekend Edition” as well as the “Todd Starnes News & Commentary” feature.
COVID-19, U.S. to Exit Afghanistan, Minneapolis Protests/Chauvin Trial, Democrats’ Court-Packing Bill, Russia Sanctions/China Threats, Reparations Bill, Matt Gaetz Case, and Bernie Madoff Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/14). The “pause” on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the high COVID numbers in Michigan, and the variant running wild in Brazil; President Joe Biden’s move to end U.S. operations in Afghanistan; the protests in Minneapolis over the police shooting death of Daunte Wright, the manslaughter charges against former cop Kim Potter, and the ongoing Derek Chauvin trial; Democrats’ plans to introduce a “court-packing” bill to expand the Supreme Court to 13 justices; the expected sanctions against Russia for hacking and election interference and FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony before Congress about China’s threats to the U.S.; U.S. House Democrats file a bill to study slavery reparations; the allegations of paying for sex with minors against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz; and Ponzi scheme orchestrator Bernie Madoff dies in prison were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ – Day 2. Pictured above is conservative writer and media figure Ann Coulter (left) speaking on the air with Bill Meyer of KMED-AM, Medford, Oregon (right) at the 13th annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row, presented by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill. This year, 72 talk radio hosts are taking part in the radio row, debating immigration policy, interviewing members of Congress, law enforcement officials, experts, activists, administration officials, and those who live and work along the Southern border.
WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans Talk Host Seth Dunlap to Sue Entercom; Company Brings Police into Anti-Gay Slur Incident. WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans owner Entercom released a statement yesterday (9/25) regarding its investigation into the use of the station’s Twitter account to publish a gay slur about station sports talk host Seth Dunlap on September 10. At the same time, Dunlap’s lawyer – Megan Kiefer – released a long public statement implying that Entercom has not shown Dunlap any proof of its investigation into trying to find the perpetrator and concludes saying they are preparing a suit against Entercom. (Read that in Kevin Allman’s piece in Gambit.) Dunlap has been on leave from the station since September 12. However, Entercom says in its statement, in part: “WWL has completed its investigation into the highly offensive, unauthorized tweet sent from WWL’s Twitter account on September 10, which directed a homophobic slur at Seth Dunlap. WWL conducted this investigation with the assistance of and external digital forensic firm and outside counsel, and expended considerable internal resources both in New Orleans and on our corporate staff. We determined that the most appropriate next step is to involve law enforcement. At this point, the investigation is in the hands of law enforcement and it is not appropriate for us to comment any further on the substance of our findings.” Kiefer says in her statement that Dunlap has taken and passed a polygraph test indicating he is not responsible for the tweet and, in promising the lawsuit, she adds that Dunlap has endured a “history of discrimination” during his eight years with the station.
Alpha Media and Salem Media Group Content to Be Available on Entercom’s RADIO.COM. The content distribution partnerships between Entercom’s RADIO.COM and broadcasting companies Alpha Media and Salem Media Group will put live channels for all of Alpha’s and Salem’s radio stations on the digital platform and provide a destination for the companies’ on-demand audio and podcasts. Entercom’s growth of the RADIO.COM platform beyond hosting just its own content is seen in recent content distribution agreements with CNN, Bloomberg Media, Cox Media Group, and Bonneville. Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley says, “These partnerships further position RADIO.COM as the premiere destination for live and on-demand audio news, entertainment, music and sports content in markets all across the U.S.” Alpha Media content to be available on RADIO.COM includes livestream broadcasts from 183 stations in 12 markets. Salem Media Group content to be available on the digital platform includes livestreams from their portfolio of 115 radio stations, including 73 stations in the nation’s top 25 markets and 25 stations in the top 10, and over 700 podcasts. Salem Media Group will also partner with RADIO.COM to reach listeners directly and share information about local events, programming and promotions from their portfolio of stations.
‘WOR Live’ at The Cutting Room. Pictured above are WOR, New York personalities and their guests who appeared in the second installment of “WOR Live,” yesterday (9/25) at The Cutting Room in New York City. They had a spirited conversation about some of the day’s top stories, their radio careers, what has changed in radio in recent years, and how news reporting has changed in the wake of 9/11. From left to right are: WABC-TV reporter Toni Yates, WOR personalities Mark Simone, Joe Bartlett, Len Berman, Michael Riedel, Joe Concha, and WABC-TV reporter N.J. Burkett.
Seen and Heard at the NAB/RAB Radio Show. TALKERS magazine special features correspondent Jeff McKay checks in from the NAB/RAB Radio Show in Dallas in which he reports on the “2020 and Beyond: Insights from the Top” session with executives from top radio companies, as well as thoughts about monetizing podcasting and terrestrial radio in the era of media convergence. Read his report here.
TALKERS News Notes. On the same day that e-cigarette manufacturer Juul announced it is suspending all marketing efforts in the wake of the recent deaths being attributed to vaping, Entercom sent an internal email to its sales force that it is no longer accepting advertising for vaping products. Earlier this week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a public health emergency and banned the sale of all vaping products for four months…..The new podcast from Lemonada is titled, “Last Day,” and is hosted by Lemonada co-founder Stephanie Wittels Wachs. The program addresses the opioid crisis – reported to have taken 72,000 lives in the U.S. in 2017 – focusing on the last day of a victim’s life. Wachs lost her brother Harris to opioid addiction. She says, “We’re telling my brother’s story because it’s emblematic of so many stories of people taken too soon by this disease, and we think demystifying one person’s last day and their overall experience will help remove the stigma and shine light on solutions.”…..Season 4 of iHeartRadio’s Original Music Podcast, “Disgraceland” – produced and hosted by Jake Brenan – premieres today (9/26) on the iHeartPodcast Network. iHeartMedia says, “In the first episode of the musical true crime podcast, Brenan covers hip hop legends N.W.A., the self-proclaimed, ‘most dangerous hip hop group in America.’ Other programs this season include and examination of: Led Zeppelin and the dangers of the band’s guitarist, Jimmy Page; the story behind Madonna’s difficult and deeply saddening rise to fame; and even explores Eric Clapton’s drug addiction and his murderous drummer.”
Trump-Ukraine Controversy/Impeachment Inquiry, 2020 Presidential Election, Brexit Chaos, Jacques Chirac Dies, and Joker Screening Threats Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/25). The controversy over President Donald Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the Democrats’ move to begin an impeachment inquiry; the Democrats vying to challenge Trump in 2020; the political chaos in Britain over Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy; the death of former French President Jacques Chirac; and the reports of possible threats of violence and public screenings of the new film, The Joker, were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Charlotte Job Opportunity. In the Charlotte, North Carolina market, Entercom is seeking a part-time news anchor for news/talk WBT-AM/FM. The company posts the following job description: “You’re an engaging, experienced on-air personality. You’re a great storyteller. You know how to get to the heart of a story and make it relatable to the listener. You’re never satisfied with knowing just the “Who?, What?, Where?, and When?” of a story; you always seek to know, “Why?” If this sounds like you, News Talk 1110 & 99.3 WBT Charlotte would like to hear from you.” Get more information and apply here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In New York City, iHeartMedia names Greg T the new co-host for the morning show on hot AC WTKU. The new “Carolina with Greg T in the Morning Show” debuts on October 9. Carolina Bermudez says, “After a summer of having the opportunity to share the studio with some of the best and brightest on-air hosts across the country, it just made sense to welcome my brother Greg T to the KTU family. I couldn’t be happier and can’t wait to welcome him to his new radio home!” Greg T has been a part of the Elvis Duran show for the past 23 years. As he moves across the hall to his new gig, Duran says, “Greg T is a major part of our show’s 25-year success story and I will miss him dearly. We applaud his courage and determination to keep moving forward. I am so proud of him!”…..iHeartMedia adult contemporary KSNR, Las Vegas “Sunny 106.5” names AJ Maguire morning drive personality in which he joins the station’s Joanna Baumann for the “AJ and Joanna Morning Show.” iHeartMedia SVP of programming Tony Matteo says, “We’re excited to have AJ anchoring morning drive on ‘Sunny 106.5.’ Adding AJ’s skill as a storyteller and entertainer to the already strong ‘Sunny 106.5’ Las Vegas brand puts the station in the perfect position for growth and success.” Maguire joins the station from Cox Media Group, where he most recently served as the afternoon host for country WWKA and classic hits WMMO in Orlando for the past three years…..Entercom’s hot AC WSTR, Atlanta “Star 94.1” names programming pro Jerry McKenna program director, effective September 30. McKenna was most recently with Cape Cod Broadcasting as director of programming. He previously served with Entercom in Springfield and Boston, Massachusetts. Entercom Atlanta SVP and market manager Rick Caffey says, “I am excited for Jerry McKenna to bring his breadth of knowledge to ‘Star 94.1.’ His insight and experience will be invaluable as we continue to deliver the engaging content Atlanta listeners deserve and expect from our station.”…..Skyview Networks announces “The Dana Cortez Show” is added to the program schedule at Riviera Broadcast Group’s hip hop KKFR-FM, Mayer, Arizona (Phoenix market). This is the first top 15 market station to add the show to its lineup…..Sun Broadcast Group reports the Michael Baisden show is back on the air in his hometown of Chicago on dance-formatted W236CF, Chicago/W236CG, Bolingbrook “95.1 FM Club Steppin.”…..Townsquare Media Billings, Montana brings Michael Foth aboard as brand manager for classic rock KMHK “103.7 The Hawk.” He says, “Reaching people on digital platforms is something that was only imagined by most terrestrial broadcast companies 10 or 15 years ago. Radio is in the middle of a unique transformation and Townsquare Media is a leader in the industry. I’m excited to be a part of this evolution.”