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Tuesday, November 16, 2021

| November 16, 2021

Audacy Names Brand Managers for Pittsburgh’s News/Talk KDKA-AM and Sports Talk KDKA-FM. Programming pro Dave LaBrozzi leaves his position as vice president of programming for Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York to join Audacy’s legendary Pittsburgh news/talk outlet KDKA-AM as brand manager. At the same same, Audacy announces it is promoting afternoon drive producer Kraig Riley to brand manager for sister sports talk station KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan.” Both begin their new positions on November 29. Audacy Pittsburth SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “As both KDKA and ‘The Fan’ continue to evolve into full multi-platform operations serving our listeners in new ways every day, it is clear that both stations need focused leadership. The addition of Dave and promotion of Kraig will help us continue that evolution. There is an expectation of excellence at both stations from the city of Pittsburgh that I have no doubt Dave and Kraig will continue to build on every day.” LaBrozzi says, “I am thrilled to be back in my favorite city and second home. I consider it an honor to lead KDKA, a true legend in the industry. Thank you to Michael Spacciapolli for the opportunity to return to the city I love and lead an amazing group of talent on such a legendary station.” Riley comments, “I’ve had a passion for ‘93.7 The Fan’ since joining the team as a producer on its first day on the air in 2010. Growing into a role that now gives me an opportunity to influence the station and move it into the future is something I’m equally excited about and proud of.”

Alex Jones Loses Connecticut Defamation Cases by Default. This story is being reported by a number of consumer news outlets, including this story by The New York Times. In this suit, the families of eight victims of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut sued media personality Alex Jones and his Infowars organization for defamation after they were cruelly harassed by Jones’ fans who believed Jones’ consistent claims that the mass shooting was a “false flag” to assist the government in taking away citizens’ guns. The victims’ families claimed in their suit that Jones’ business profited from his conspiracy theory – something that Jones denied but didn’t back up after failing every time to comply with the rules of discovery by not turning over requested documents. For that reason, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled in favor of the plaintiffs based on default. Jones also lost a similar case in Texas. Juries in both cases will decide how much Jones will pay the families in damages. Jones said through his attorneys that he will appeal and that this is a First Amendment case. Attorney Chris Mattei, lawyer for the Connecticut families, is quoted in the Times piece saying that Jones had every opportunity to argue his First Amendment strategy but chose to be defaulted. “He deliberately chose to prevent us from collecting evidence that would prove how his business works and why he engaged in this extended campaign against the families, and the relationship between that and his profitability.”

Alpha Media Names Brian Foster and Les Tuttle to Regional VP Posts. Radio executives Brian Foster and Les Tuttle are being named to regional vice president positions with Alpha Media. In their new roles, Foster will oversee Alpha markets in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan, while Tuttle will handle Missouri, Minnesota, and select markets in Iowa. Both will report to chief operating officer Larry Bastida. (Alpha recently announced that Zoe Burdine-Fly has joined the company as a regional president.) Bastida – who has served in the Chicago market as a GSM and market manager for the past 20 years – says, “We are excited to have Brian and Les join Zoe as we continue to evolve the senior leadership team. Throughout our extensive search to fill the regional president position, it became clear that Brian and Les could play crucial roles. In recent weeks, the added collaboration from these three has enhanced the discussion as the company gains momentum going into 2022.” Foster comments, “Years ago, I discovered my passion, not for radio or digital, but for telling our clients’ stories. This message-first approach has led to sustainable growth inside my market, and I am thrilled to continue this endeavor with my new role.” Tuttle has been market manager for Alpha’s Moberly-Farmington-Festus, Missouri market for the past 11 years. He states, “Having worked for many companies during my 45 years in this business, I enjoy the style of the Alpha leadership team. Their commitment to people sets them apart from other companies, and I look forward to being part of the senior management group.”

Gonsales Appointed SVP and Market Manager for Audacy Twin Cities. Radio sales and management pro Jeff Gonsales joins Audacy as senior vice president and market manager for the Minneapolis market. He’ll oversee the station group that includes news/talk WCCO-AM and two music brands, beginning December 6. Prior to joining Aduacy, Gonsales served with Hubbard Radio’s Twin Cities cluster as director of sales. Audacy regional president Rachel Williamson says, “We are thrilled to welcome Jeff Gonsales to oversee our Minneapolis market and the operations of our three stations. Throughout his tenure in the Twin Cities, Jeff has built a strong reputation as a leader with integrity who cares about his people and his business partners. We trust that invaluable quality coupled with his rich experience in this area will set Audacy Minneapolis up for continued growth and success under his leadership.” Gonsales comments, “I am excited to join the Audacy team in Minneapolis. After starting my radio career at 830 WCCO, I look forward to returning to move this group of local favorites forward in the digital audio world.”

Nadia Cowart Rejoins Cumulus Media as Digital Sales Manager. Media sales pro Nadia Cowart is back with Cumulus Media as digital sales manager for the company’s Beaumont, Texas and Lake Charles, Louisiana clusters. She served as promotion manager for the clusters from 2002 through 2008 and was most recently marketing director for KBMT-TV, Beaumont. The Beaumont cluster includes sports talk duo KIKR-AM/KBED-AM and the Lake Charles group includes news/talk KAOK-AM “Super Talk 1400” and sports talk KXZZ-AM. Cumulus Beaumont/Lake Charles VP and market manager Elizabeth Blackstock says, “Nadia is an experienced marketing and sales professional in both of our markets, and we are excited that she is returning to Cumulus to help lead our digital sales department. She understands what our communities need to grow and has worked with area businesses and non-profit organizations to achieve their objectives through effective digital strategies.”

SportsMap Radio Network Launches ‘Fred Nation’ Program. A new midday sports talk program from SportsMap Radio launches titled “Fred Nation” starring Fred Davis (right) and Fred Faour (left). The program is scheduled to debut on November 29 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Faour says, “I’m excited to bring our unique style to SportsMap Radio. It will be a combination of great sports talk with a big gambling slant. Our irreverent approach will create something very special for the network.” Faour was a co-host on Gow Media’s KFNC-FM “ESPN Houston” until August of 2021 and served as the editor of SportsMap Houston. Former KILT-AM Houston personality Fred Davis says, “The show will be fun, informative, and fast-paced. And what’s better than one Fred? Two Freds.” Gow Media CEO David Gow adds, “These two have amazing chemistry. Locally, they each have a huge following and I expect similar success all throughout the Fred Nation.”

iHeartMedia Renews ‘BOB & TOM Show’ on 17 Stations. The Westwood One nationally syndicated “BOB & TOM Show” renews its agreement with iHeartMedia to continue airing on 17 of the company’s radio stations across the U.S., including: WFBQ-FM, Indianapolis; WKQQ-FM, Lexington, Kentucky; WIBA-FM, Madison; and WTUE-FM, Dayton. iHeartMedia national programming group COO Brad Hardin says, “It’s an honor to continue our great relationship with Tom Griswold and his team. How often do you get to say you’ve worked together for decades? Listeners across the country have become accustomed to starting their day laughing along with The BOB & TOM Show’s irreverent humor, and we’re excited that they are continuing to bring the laughs with this extended partnership.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a report from FOX News Media that cites Comscore data, FOX News Digital notches the number one spot for the month of October in multiplatform minutes and multiplatform views, reaching over 1.8 billion multiplatform views and over 3.3 billion multiplatform minutes. FOX says its digital network surpassed CNN.com in multiplatform minutes for the eighth consecutive month and outperformed all other news brands in the news competitive set. Further, FOX says that for the 86th consecutive month, it continued as the most engaged news brand on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), driving 49 million total social interactions. FOX News was also the top performer in Facebook and Instagram interactions among news competitors, with more than 19 million Facebook interactions and over 27 million on Instagram, according to Socialbakers. FOX News also finished the month as number one among news competitors with YouTube video views, with over 319.8 million, up 37% year over year, delivering the network’s second highest month in history in YouTube video views…..Newsmax is reporting “tremendous growth” in its social media audience, viewership, and engagement for the month of October. Newsmax says it finished third on Twitter in overall monthly interactions (2.14M), behind only CNN (2.39M) and NY Times (2.34M). For 2021 so far, Newsmax is fifth in total Twitter interactions (17.6M), behind CNN (30.8M), NY Times (28.58M), MSNBC (20.53M) and ABC News (17.76M). Newsmax says it finished third in monthly Facebook impressions (10.58M), behind only FOX News (20.09M) and Breitbart (17.56M). For 2021 so far, Newsmax is third in total Facebook impressions (153.84M), behind only FOX News (331.8M) and Breitbart (194.16M). Newsmax says it set a new all-time monthly high in Instagram monthly interactions in October with 9.33 million. It finished third on Instagram in total Interactions (9.33M), behind only FOX News (27.2M) and CNN (18.9M)…..Public media organizations GBH and PRX announce the appointment of Dan Lothian as executive producer of “The World,” public radio’s daily global news program. Lothian assumes the role of executive editor after serving as interim editor since March 2021. GBH president and CEO Jon Abbott comments, “Dan brings a wealth of experience and leadership to ‘The World.’ Over the past eight months, he has demonstrated his exceptional journalistic skills and deep commitment to the mission of GBH and public media. We’re excited to support the continued development of ‘The World’ with Dan’s vision and dedication.”…..FEMA and Bonneville Seattle are hosting the unveiling of an all-hazards upgrade to the “Primary Entry Point” facility at the KIRO-AM PEP Transmitter site on Friday (11/19). The modernization to the emergency studio increases Bonneville Seattle’s KIRO-AM 710 resiliency to continue broadcasting under all conditions, including natural disasters and acts of terrorism. This facility is one of 77 across the country that serve as a National Public Warning System Primary Entry Point (PEP) station, participating with FEMA to provide emergency alert and warning information to the public before, during and after incidents and disasters. KIRO-AM is the 14th station in the country to work with FEMA to complete the all-hazards upgrade, which includes increased sheltering capabilities, expanded broadcast capacity, and sustainable power generation for all types of hazardous events.

Funeral Services Set for Al Herskovitz on Thursday, November 18. The funeral for industry veteran Al Herskovitz who passed away last week (11/11) at the age of 90 will take place on Thursday, November 18 at 11:00 am at Skyway Memorial Gardens, 5200 US Hwy 19 N, Palmetto, FL 34221.  For more details about Al Herskovitz’s passing, please see the story below originally posted 11/12.

January 6 Investigation, Inflation/Supply Chain, COVID-19, Biden-Xi Summit, Infrastructure Bill, Russia’s Military Intentions, the Poland-Belarus migrant conflict, and Rittenhouse Case Goes to Jury Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/15). The investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and Steve Bannon is formally charged with contempt of Congress; soaring retail, food, and fuel prices and the broken supply chain; the rising rate of COVID-19 cases in parts of the U.S. and the court battle over President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate; Monday’s virtual meeting between Biden and China’s Xi Jinping; Biden’s trillion dollar Infrastructure bill and its implementation to be handled by former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; concerns over Russia’s military build-up at the Ukraine border; the migrant crisis at the Poland-Belarus border; and the jury gets the Kyle Rittenhouse case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

| October 19, 2021

Bongino: ‘Me or the Vaccine Mandate.’ Nationally syndicated talk radio personality Dan Bongino told listeners to his Monday (10/18) program that he’s issuing an ultimatum to Westwood One owner Cumulus Media that he will quit the radio show he’s been hosting since May 24 of this year if the company insists on mandating that workers return to the offices/studios after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The Washington Examiner reports that the author and media personality is vaccinated but he is “standing up against the company’s ‘political decision’ so that people without platforms could make a ‘private and personal medical decision.’” He tells his employer, “You can have me, or you can have a vaccine mandate, but you can’t have both.” He added, “I have no intentions of letting these guys get let go, get harassed, because they made a private and personal medical decision on only one of the biggest issues of our time. There is a real thing called natural immunity. There is an even realer thing called freedom and liberty. This is a constitutional republic. People have the right to make their own medical decisions.” There’s been no public response from Cumulus Media management so far.

Salem Radio Network Host Dennis Prager Contracts COVID-19. According to a story by KUSA-TV, Denver, Salem Radio Network talk host Dennis Prager has contracted COVID-19, missing three days of his program last week. Prager was back on the air on Monday (10/18) and told his listeners that he had hoped to get COVID to achieve natural immunity. Prager attended a campaign event in Colorado Springs hosted by Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl on October 10. He said, “That is what I hoped for the entire time. I engaged with strangers, constantly hugging them, taking photos with them, knowing that I was making myself very susceptible to getting COVID – which is, indeed, as bizarre as it sounded.” Obviously, it’s difficult to tell where Prager contracted the virus, be it at the event, traveling to or from Colorado, or elsewhere. Ganahl’s campaign issued the following statement: “The campaign was not aware Dennis had contracted COVID until the announcement on his show. We have not been made aware of anyone who attended the event outside of Dennis’ inner circle getting the virus. We are reaching out to all those who attended to make sure they are informed. We encourage those who attended, and all Coloradans for that matter, to get tested and follow CDC guidelines if they experience any COVID-like symptoms.” Prager told his listeners he credits his recovery to treatments including ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.

Porretti to Lead Katz Digital Audio.  Radio sales pro Scott Porretti is promoted to president of Katz Digital Audio where he’ll continue to oversee all Katz Digital Audio offerings, manage relationships with an expansive roster of publishing and technology partners, and further the growth of podcasting and programmatic digital audio on behalf of current and new partners. He was most recently EVP of Katz Digital Audio. Porretti says, “We have seen an explosion of growth in the digital audio space that is not slowing, with more people listening on their various devices than ever before. In addition, an increasing number of data attribution companies have shown undeniable validation of the unique and positive impact digital audio has on advertisers looking to reach their consumers. I am so proud of what our team has accomplished and extremely excited to help shape where our industry is heading to support Katz’s ever-expanding position in the digital marketplace and help our clients execute effective digital audio campaigns.” Katz Media Group CEO Mark Gray comments, “Katz excels at helping brands reach and engage with consumers in meaningful, impactful ways. Scott’s in-depth knowledge and vast background in developing audio solutions across a variety of platforms has helped Katz grow its diverse digital offerings and proprietary technologies. Scott’s effective team leadership style, and his extraordinary vision in this marketplace, has catapulted Katz Digital to a place where it is now viewed by advertisers as a one-stop-shop to reach diverse audiences with unparalleled scale.”

TALKERS News Notes. The Radio Advertising Bureau announces that iHeartMedia president, multiplatform group and president, Black Information Network Tony Coles joins its board of directors. Coles takes over the seat from iHeartMedia’s Darren Davis, who is retiring from the company at year’s end…..FOX News Media announces that its FOX News Digital closed out the third quarter of 2021 earning the top spot in both multiplatform minutes and multiplatform views, reaching over 5.2 billion multiplatform views (+10 percent vs Q2’21) and nearly 10.6 billion multiplatform total minutes (+8 percent vs Q2’21) for the second consecutive quarter, according to Comscore. The company goes on to say that in September, the digital network surpassed CNN.com in total multiplatform minutes for the seventh month in a row and outperformed all other news brands in the news competitive set, with 3.6 billion minutes, also according to Comscore. In September, the digital network notched over 1.8 billion total multiplatform views, outpacing CNN.com in the metric yet again and delivering over 100 million multiplatform unique visitors…..Connoisseur Media’s news/talk WICC-AM, Bridgeport, Connecticut adds FM translator W297CP at 107.3 FM as an additional frequency. Program director Allan Lamberti says, “With the addition of an FM frequency, we will really be able to get local news and information to more of the listeners of Bridgeport and beyond. This is a community that is underserved by local television news and really WICC is the only radio station that delivers it.”…..PodcastOne inks a “high seven-figure renewal deal” with podcast host and former Wall Street attorney Jordan Harbinger that keeps him and his eponymous program with the network for the foreseeable future. “The Jordan Harbinger Show” launched with the network in 2018 and PodcastOne says the show’s download numbers are nearing 11 million monthly and over 300 million all-time. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Jordan embodies what podcasting is all about. His impeccable interviewing skills, his unmatched rapport with guests, his integrity and his knowledge of marketing and the business of podcasting are keystones in the growth of ‘The Jordan Harbinger Show’ and his audience is ever expanding. Not only is Jordan a dream partner in podcasting, he’s also a dear friend and we are looking forward to, and anticipating, even bigger things in 2022 and beyond.”

Global Supply Chain/Inflation, January 6 Investigation/Bannon Contempt, COVID-19, Afghanistan Withdrawal Investigation, and Colin Powell Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/18). Concerns about the effects the global supply chain breakdown will have over the winter and of soaring retail prices; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s risking criminal contempt over his refusal to testify; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and mask & vaccine mandates; the State Department inspector general’s probe of the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan; and former Secretary of State Colin Powell dies at 84 after complications from COVID were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

WBZ-AM and FEMA Unveil Emergency Studio. Pictured above at the WBZ-AM emergency broadcast facility in Hull, Massachusetts are WBZ’s Ben Parker (left) and FEMA’s IPAWS division director Antwane Johnson (right) at a ceremony for the refurbished facility on Friday (10/15). iHeartMedia‘s WBZ-AM facility serves as a Primary Entry Point (PEP) station for FEMA’s National Public Warning System (NPWS), maintained under FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), and provides critical information to the public before, during and after incidents and disasters. Under the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act enacted in 2015, Congress required FEMA to upgrade PEP stations across the country to ensure continuity of terrestrial broadcast services under all hazards. PEP stations are specially designated NPWS broadcast stations that serve as the primary intake source of initial broadcasts for a national alert. FEMA equips these stations, which are operated by local station personnel, with backup communications equipment and power generators that enable them to continue broadcasting information to the public during and after an emergency, including conveying official alerts to communities regionally and nationwide.