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Monday, August 30, 2021

| August 30, 2021

Anti-Vaxxer Bernier Loses Three-Week COVID Fight. This time last week, we reported news/talk WWTN-FM, Nashville afternoon drive personality Phil Valentine’s COVID-19-related death. Now, another conservative radio host who publicly spoke out against COVID-19 vaccines has died from the coronavirus: Marc Bernier, 65, passed away Saturday (8/28) after a nearly month-long battle against the virus. A Daytona Beach market fixture for more than three decades, the Rhode Island native who characterized himself as “Mr. Anti-Vax” did a morning commentary; a three-hour afternoon program; weekend shows; and specials for Southern Stone Communications news/talk WNDB “AM 1150 & FM 93.5.” The station released news of Bernier’s death on its Twitter account by stating, “It is with great sadness that [we] announce the passing of Marc Bernier, who informed and entertained listeners on WNDB for over 30 years.” After being off-the-air for a week, Bernier entered the hospital on August 7.  In an article published in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Mark Harper points out that Bernier, “interviewed countless governors, senators, mayors, sheriffs, journalists, historians and authors. He also was an outspoken opponent of vaccinations.” Sports Network International vice president Justin Gates co-hosted “Weekend Around the House” with Bernier and was the best man at Bernier’s wedding. Gates was quoted as saying that Bernier gave “all sides” and wouldn’t “bully, throw punches, do potshots, or anything for ratings – that’s why he [was] so popular.” A guest on Bernier’s WNDB radio show the past 15 years, Volusia County sheriff Mike Chitwood comments, “I’m numb – this is a death in the family to me. You don’t have to agree with everything a person says for them to be your friend – I don’t think a lot of people get that. [Our] off-the-air banter was priceless. A great stress reliever for me was the things we would talk about, laugh about, and the jokes we would exchange. More than anything, I will miss how funny he could be, and how we’d try to one-up each other with funny anecdotal stories.” Florida-based CBS News Radio correspondent Peter King’s first radio news job was at WNDB and included anchoring on Bernier’s afternoon show. On his Facebook page, King writes, “I enjoyed working with him and we remained in touch for a while after that. Marc was the proverbial big fish in a small pond, becoming an integral and influential force in the community and really turning himself into a cottage industry that allowed him a wonderful quality of life in Daytona Beach. Whether you agreed with his points or not, he was always interesting; engaging; well-informed; involved; and a fine broadcaster. There was always room for more than just his opinion. I’m pretty sure that he helped make a lot of money for his radio station during his 30 years there. I was saddened to read reports that he was very publicly anti-vaccine on-air and was hospitalized with COVID; I’m even more saddened by his death.” After Bernier was hospitalized, WNDB operations director Mark McKinney was uncertain if the talk host was vaccinated. According to progressive news website/online tabloid Raw Story, McKinney remarked, “If you’ve listened to his show, you’ve heard him talk about how anti-vaccine he is on the air.” In his final tweet published on July 30, Bernier wrote that the United States government was “acting like Nazis because officials were urging people to get vaccinated.” WNDB emphasizes on Twitter, “We kindly ask that privacy is given to Marc’s family during this time of grief.”

Monday Memo: Which of These 7 Mistakes Are You Making On-Air? Validating the consultant caricature, Holland Cooke ticks-off what ticks-off listeners. Most of these are not intentional on the part of the talk host but they can signal a host who is not completely prepared, doesn’t hear things through the ears of the listener, or has acquired a bunch of bad habits, probably due to a lack of coaching. Read his column here.

 

Pending Business: Checking In. You’ve noticed how so many retailers “check-in” with you after your purchase – usually via email or text – to make sure you’re happy. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa writes in today’s column about sales managers checking in with sales leads to make sure they are being served by the sales rep. He says this is not about micro-managing and most managers trust most of their reps, but there are several reasons the “Check-In” plays an important role in the sales process. Read his column here.

Dawn Stensland to Host Late Mornings at WPHT, Philadelphia. WPHT morning drive co-host Dawn Stensland is getting her own two-hour radio talk show from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon beginning September 7. She is currently co-anchor of the Audacy station’s morning drive “Rich Zeoli Show” and will continue in that role. Audacy Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We’re excited to grow Dawn’s role with the station with the launch of her new midday show, where she will speak with top local newsmakers for in-depth analysis of stories that affect the Philadelphia region. Dawn’s show, along with an extra hour of Rich Zeoli, and Dom Giordano’s new program time extends our local content to nine hours, which allows us to best serve our local listeners, while continuing to deliver some of the biggest names on the national stage.” Stensland says, “I’m grateful to Rich Zeoli and his ‘army’ of loyal listeners for believing in me since I joined the show six years ago. I am so proud to work with Audacy and I’m also so thankful for their commitment to showcase a diverse collection of local voices as we engage with people across our region about the issues of the day and the news that impacts us here at home.”

KMVP-FM, Phoenix Makes AM Drive Change; Replaces ‘Doug and Wolf’ with ‘Bickley and Marotta.’ A series of programming changes at Bonneville’s Phoenix sports talk outlet KMVP-FM “Arizona Sports 98.7 FM” has the midday team of Dan Bickley (left) and Vince Marotta (right) moving to morning drive, taking over for the current morning show hosted by Doug Franz and Ron Wolfley, effective September 7. Wolfley moves to middays with a new show (in addition to his current role as Arizona Cardinals radio broadcast analyst) joined by Luke Lapinski for “The Wolf and Luke Show.” Doug Franz remains with the station as he transitions to digital contributor on ArizonaSports.com. Bonneville Phoenix SVP and market manager Scott Sutherland says, “I cannot say thank you enough to both Doug Franz and Ron Wolfley, who along with being great broadcasters, are both first-class people that have made tremendous contributions to the Arizona Sports brand and our community.  Vice president of programming Ryan Hatch adds, “Doug and Wolf had the longest, most successful run in Valley sports radio history, and we are so appreciative of all of their great efforts over the years. But now is the time to bring a new energy to mornings with an ensemble cast that will jumpstart each day with strong opinions and plenty of laughs.” Bickley and Marotta state, “We are so pumped up to start the Valley sports conversation every morning on one of the biggest sports brands in the country. This is going to be a blast.”

WEEI/NESN Radio-Telethon Raises More than $3.8 million to Fight Cancer. The 19th annual “WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon” raised more than $3.8 million for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The Audacy sports talk outlet has been partnering with New England Sports Network to present the event since 2003 and since WEEI launched the fundraiser in 2002 has raised more than $62 million for the cause. The 36-hour live broadcast took place on August 24 and 25. Audacy Boston SVP and market manager Tim Clarke states, “We’re completely inspired to see the New England community from so many different walks of life come together to support Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s selfless mission. The annual ‘Jimmy Fund’ event is synonymous with this region and, in a year where we’ve faced adversity unlike any other, being able to unite with our audience to help strike out cancer is a true testament to our resiliency.”

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” adds new affiliate station WRVA, Richmond, Virginia in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. With this addition, the Starnes Media Group program is now heard on more than 110 affiliate stations…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WSCR-AM, Chicago “The Score” and WSSP-AM, Milwaukee “The Fan” brand manager Mitch Rosen is also adding the title director of operations for BetQL Network, which is providing sports betting programming to Audacy’s sports talk stations. Audacy VP of sports Matt Volk says, “Mitch Rosen has been at the forefront of all the planning, operations and execution of this seamless expansion. He has been a trusted leader and point of contact for so many important BetQL Network initiatives. We are thrilled with Mitch’s daily dedication to all of his stations, its people and Audacy.”…..Radio programmer and consultant Mike McVay is being inducted into the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame on October 16. The ceremony will take place at the Museum of Radio and Technology in Huntington, West Virginia. McVay began his radio career at WEIF, Moundsville in 1974. He also served with WNEU, Wheeling and WCHS, Charleston…..PodcastOne announces the launch of Doug Ellin’s “Hollywood Wayz” weekly podcast and vodcast with co-host, rapper and actress BRE-Z. “Hollywood Wayz” debuts September 9. The vodcast is available on LiveXLive and YouTube. The production includes a partnership with actor and director Kevin Connolly’s Action Park Media, where the show will be recorded weekly.

Afghanistan Pullout, COVID-19, Hurricane Ida Hits Louisiana, Global Supply Chain Troubles, North Korea Re-Starts Nuclear Program, Gavin Newsom Recall, Talk Host Marc Bernier Dies from COVID-19, and Ed Asner Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The U.S.’s deadly exit from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden’s meeting the return of the slain military personnel at Dover, and the Taliban’s terrorist strategies; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the battles over mask and vaccine mandates; Hurricane Ida hits Louisiana leaving New Orleans without power; the effect COVID-19 is having on global supply chains; U.S. intelligence indicates North Korea is again producing plutonium; California Governor Gavin Newsom is on the ropes as the recall election looms; Daytona Beach talk host Marc Bernier dies after a battle with COVID-19, and actor Ed Asner dies at 91 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, August 27, 2021

| August 27, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Holding the Bag of Blame,” looks back at this past week of August 23-27. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Andrew Langer, talk show host, WBAL, Baltimore; Larry Elder, (on leave) talk show host, Salem Radio Network/gubernatorial candidate, California; Phil Valentine, (deceased) talk show host, WWTN-FM, Nashville; Scott James Matheson, talk show host, WDDQ, Valdosta, GA/Mayor of Valdosta; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

WEEI, Boston’s Glenn Ordway Does Last Regular Show with the Station. Boston sports talk radio legend Glenn Ordway did his last regularly scheduled show with Audacy’s WEEI-FM on Thursday (8/26). Earlier this summer he announced he would be retiring from his regular afternoon drive hosting role with the station after some 50 years on the air on the market. (He will do some fill-in and special projects for the station going forward.) In addition to being one of the most-listened-to sports talk hosts in Boston radio history, Ordway was the programmer responsible for building WEEI-AM into a sports talk station when then-owner American Radio Systems flipped it in September of 1994. He launched his radio career as a commentator for Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics games. The WEEI website has some of the comments Ordway received during yesterday’s farewell show from sports luminaries, including New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who said, “You’re a true sports radio legend and professional. I know you had everybody’s respect, including mine. I was very fortunate to have the amount of opportunity to work with you that I did. You’re one of the real trailblazers in the industry.”

TALKERS News Notes. Broadcasting company Connoisseur Media worked with the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater, Hartford HealthCare, and the City of Bridgeport to provide free COVID vaccinations on Wednesday (8/25). The free COVID vaccination clinic was hosted at the brand-new Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater in Bridgeport where listeners who received their vaccination were given a $25 gift card courtesy of the radio stations, funded by Connoisseur Media CEO Jeff Warshaw. In addition, attendees had the opportunity to win free concert tickets to shows at the new amphitheater. This came after a number of recent clinics in the area struggled to even administer 10 vaccines in a day, Connoisseur Media says it stepped up to utilize radio and its team of personalities to get the word out. The “Shot to Win” Vaccination Clinic administered 135 vaccines…..C13Features, the new scripted audio movie division of leading premium podcast studio Cadence13, an Audacy company, announces that award-winning actress Kiernan Shipka has signed on to star in “Treat,” the first feature-length project from the newly created studio. “Treat” is in production now and will premiere on Monday, October 25, as a Halloween week worldwide release and will be available on all podcast platforms. It tells the story of a seemingly perfect American town that makes a deal with a mysterious outsider possessing supernatural powers to help it recover from social turmoil. When the town falls behind on its payments, a trio of teenagers must unlock the secret of his powers. Shipka will play protagonist and narrator Allie West…..SiriusXM is offering subscribers an extensive play-by-play schedule for the 2021 college football season’s opening weeks, airing 86 live games from August 28 through September 6. Throughout the season, SiriusXM’s college sports coverage will feature dozens of live college football games each week from the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, American Athletic and other conferences, plus Notre Dame, Army, Navy, and more. SiriusXM is also expanding its HBCU coverage and will air multiple HBCU football games every week on the SXM App.

Former WKBN-AM, Youngstown Host Pete Gabriel Dies. Former longtime WKBN-AM, Youngstown, Ohio talk host and programmer Pete Gabriel has died. Gabriel worked in the Harrisburg, Kansas City, and Columbus markets before joining WKBN. He was responsible for the station’s transition from a music outlet to a talk radio station. The WKBN website says Gabriel brought talent to WKBN such as Dan Rivers, Ron Verb, Rich Morgan and the late Dan Ryan. Gabriel is known for starting the local St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It began with an on-air conversation in 1979 and has continued each year since. Gabriel was inducted into the Ohio Broadcasters Hall of Fame after his retirement in 2005.

Afghanistan Withdrawal Chaos Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 23-27. The deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops, civilians and Afghanis from Afghanistan was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant and mask & vaccine mandates. Following at #3 was the January 6 investigation tied with the ongoing claims by Donald Trump and some supporters that the 2020 election was fraudulent. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

| August 24, 2021

Emmis Announces Promotions at ‘The Fan’ and WIBC-FM in Indy. At Emmis Communications in Indianapolis, the company announces a series of promotions and changes in the programming department that largely affect sports talk “93.5 FM & 107.5 FM The Fan.” David Wood remains vice president of programming for the entire Emmis Indianapolis cluster and he adds programming responsibilities of both “The Fan” and news/talk WIBC-FM. Wood previously programmed “The Fan” from 2010-2013. Todd Meyer is promoted to assistant program director of “The Fan” from his previous role as executive producer. Matt Hibbeln continues in his role as assistant program director for WIBC-FM and will assume additional programming responsibilities. Emmis Indianapolis market president Taja Graham states, “Collectively, these three Emmis programming veterans have more than 60 years of experience at Emmis Indianapolis and have all shown an enduring commitment to these iconic Indianapolis brands. The continuity they bring, coupled with their creativity and hard work, will ensure Emmis Indianapolis continues to grow and serve as the market leader.”

Rachel Vigil Named Digital Host/Producer at ‘104.3 The Fan’ in Denver. Sports talk outlet KKFN-FM, Denver “104.3 The Fan” announces that Rachel Vigil joins the station as its new digital host/producer. Bonneville Denver says Vigil’s content will be distributed on the station’s social media platforms and website, DenverFan.com. She’ll also be making regular radio appearances with 104.3 The Fan’s on-air talent. Vigil was most recently serving with the Western Athletic Conference, where she spent the past three years as their on-air talent and broadcasting coordinator. Also, during the past three years, she worked as host and reporter for Kroenke Sports and Entertainment’s Colorado Rapids, including with Altitude Sports. KKFN-FM program director Raj Sharan says, “Rachel’s infectious personality and lifelong passion for Denver sports just explodes through the camera and onto your screen. We can’t wait to watch her creativity run wild creating all types of content as the face of The Fan’s digital brand.”

Edison Research: Streaming Accounts for 12% of Radio Listening. According to data from the most recent Share of Ear study from Edison Research, 12% of all AM/FM radio listening is being done via streaming, while 88% of listening is to an over-the-air radio signal. Edison Research director of research Laura Ivey says, “There are many outlets for Americans to listen to free broadcast radio, including the smartphones that we know are ubiquitous in our population. To realize growth, radio has to capitalize on its content being available beyond just a traditional radio receiver. We know that the pandemic has shifted U.S. listeners from their cars, where traditional radio is easily available, to their homes, where radio must be accessed on different devices. The challenge is how to convince listeners to follow radio content on different devices – radio not on ‘a radio.’” See more about Share of Ear here.

Radio Hall of Fame Announces 2021 Inductees Plus 33 Legends of Radio to Take Their Place in the HoF. The Museum of Broadcast Communications reveals the eight new inductees into the Radio Hall of Fame for 2021 as well as a new class of Legacy inductees. The 2021 Radio Hall of Fame inductees will be honored at the in-person 2021 Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Thursday, October 28, at Chicago’s Wintrust Grand Banking Hall. This year’s inductees are: Brother Wease Radio 95.1, Rochester, Longstanding Network/Syndication (20 years or more); Elliot Segal – DC 101, Washington, Active Local/Regional (10 years or more); Dan Patrick – The Dan Patrick Show,  Longstanding Networks/Syndication (20 years or more); Kim Komando – The Kim Komando Show, Active Network/Syndication (10 Years or more); Javier Romero – WAMR-FM/Amor 107.5, Music Format On-Air Personality;  Preston & Steve – 93.3 WMMR, Philadelphia, Spoken Word On-Air Personality; Erica Farber, President and CEO, Radio Advertising Bureau; and Bill Siemering, Founding Director of Programming and Founding Member of the Board of Directors, NPR. In addition, to honor the 100th year of radio, the Radio Hall of Fame has established a Legends induction, recognizing the talents and efforts of air personalities, programmers and operators who although they have died, spent their lives contributing their talents to the industry. While the industry celebrates 100 years of existence, the industry’s Hall of Fame is only 33 years into existence. The centennial milestone provides an opportunity to recognize the talents and efforts of 33 individuals in 2021, as well. Late spoken-word broadcasters in this group include: Dr. Joy Browne, syndicated talk radio air personality based from WOR-AM, New York; Barry Gray, talk radio air personality in 1940-1980s in New York on WOR and WMCA; and Toni Grant, talk radio air personality in Los Angeles in 1970-1980s on KABC-AM and others via syndication. Radio Hall of Fame chairman Kraig T. Kitchin states, “I’m thrilled to welcome this deserving Class of 2021 and look forward to celebrating their inductions in late October in Chicago. In addition, it’s my honor to announce and recognize the talents of individuals who provided the foundation for so much of our industry’s success but have not been yet recognized by this institution. These individuals have earned their place within the Radio Hall of Fame. We used the opportunity of this medium’s 100th anniversary to undertake a review of the industry’s past performers and operators, to identify a select group of industry legends that left us before they could be properly recognized. We honor their contributions and their memory by these inductions.” See more about the inductees here.

Glenn Beck Show Helps Raise $27 million for Rescue of Christians in Afghanistan. The nationally syndicated “Glenn Beck Program” is working with his Nazarene Fund to raise money to rescue the estimated 5,000 Christians – mostly women and children – trapped in Afghanistan. Last week, Beck asked listeners to his Premiere Networks show to “give until it hurts” with the goal of raising $20 million by Friday. Through Beck’s non-profit Mercury One, The Nazarene Fund works to rescue Christians and other religious minorities from persecution and slavery in the Middle East and across the globe. His listeners responded and by the end of Thursday’s radio program, donations reached $13 million, and by Friday morning, they exceeded $20 million. To date, the total raised is $27 million. Beck says, “In times like these, what I believe to be the greatest audience ever assembled, has given me, the Afghan people, and the world, something so important right now – HOPE. It’s the power of one.”

TALKERS News Notes. This Thursday (8/26), at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the latest in a series of Town Hall broadcasts to help New Jersey deal with the ongoing pandemic. New Jersey 101.5’s Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments in helping New Jersey get ready to return to the classroom after more than a year of remote and hybrid learning. He says, “From learning loss to social anxiety, students will be dealing with many issues as they go back to school. We will provide clarity on a variety of topics from mask mandates to after-school activities and sports.” The program’s on-air panel will feature: Richard Bozza, executive director at the New Jersey Association of School Administrators; Dr. Steven Tobias, a noted child psychologist and the director of the Center for Child & Family Development in Morristown; and representatives from the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union. Scott and his guests will also answer live, call-in questions from listeners throughout the hour…..Independent Broadcasters Association members will have the opportunity to hear from Michael Doyle “The Sales MD” this Thursday (8/26) at 4:00 pm ET during a sales webinar. IBA CEO Ron Stone says, “Michael Doyle is the man behind many of radio’s biggest sales success stories over the past 25 years and he will share his thoughts on how radio can take advantage of the sales landscape post COVID-19 in this IBA members only webinar.”…..SiriusXM talk personality Joe Madison will co-emcee this weekend’s March On For Voting Rights in Washington DC with R&B singer and radio host Al B. Sure! The two hosts will lead a day-long march through Washington, DC and the speaker’s program which will include human and civil rights leaders like Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, and many others who will issue a call to action to pass federal voting rights legislation.

Broadcasters Foundation of America Announces 2021 Leadership Awards. The Broadcasters Foundation of America announces the recipients of the 2021 Leadership Awards that are given annually in recognition of career contributions to the broadcast industry and the community at-large. The Awards will be presented at the Broadcasters Foundation Annual Breakfast, 7:00 am, Tuesday, October 12 in the Brahms Room of the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas, during the NAB Show. This year’s honorees are: Byron Allen, founder, chairman, and CEO, Allen Media Group; Pierre Bouvard, chief insights officer, Cumulus Media; Ralph Oakley, president and CEO, Quincy Media; Christine Travaglini, president, Katz Radio Group; and Dennis Wharton, retired, EVP, media relations, National Association of Broadcasters. The Broadcasters Foundation will also present the Lowry Mays Excellence in Broadcasting Award during the Breakfast. That honoree will be announced shortly.

Afghanistan, COVID-19, Global Shipping Woes, Flooding & Wildfires, Newsom Recall, and Hochul Replaces Cuomo Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/23). The U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban’s takeover, and the blame being laid on President Joe Biden; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the battle over mask and vaccine mandates, and the Pfizer vaccine gets FDA approval; the COVID-affected global shipping network and its effect on retail supplies; the deadly flooding in Middle Tennessee and the wildfires ravaging California; the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom; and Kathy Hochul takes over for Andrew Cuomo as governor of New York were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, August 23, 2021

| August 23, 2021

Remembering Phil Valentine. “We are saddened to report that our host and friend, Phil Valentine, has passed away. Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers.” That’s how Cumulus Media Nashville news/talk WWTN “Super Talk 99.7 WTN” shared the news of Valentine’s death. Having spent the past several weeks in a Nashville-area hospital battling COVID-19, the 61-year-old conservative talk show host – and coronavirus vaccine skeptic – died Saturday afternoon (8/21). Last month, his brother, Mark Valentine, told The Tennessean, “I know if [Phil] were able to tell you this, he would [say], ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories. He regrets not being more adamant about getting the vaccine. Look at the dadgum data.” In a July 26 (2021) interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Mark said Phil was “still very deep in the woods” and breathing with assistance. “He recognizes now that him not getting the vaccination has probably caused a bunch of other people not to get vaccinated. This is a real threat – it is a real public health crisis. His cavalier attitude wouldn’t have been what it was and he would have gotten vaccinated and encouraged everybody to get vaccinated.” Tennessee has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country with only 50.1% of adults fully-vaccinated. Modifying the lyrics to the Beatles’ song “Taxman,” Valentine wrote/performed “Vaxman,” which included such lyrics as, “Let me tell you how it will be, and I don’t care if you agree, ‘cause I’m the Vaxman. If you don’t like me coming round, be thankful I don’t hold you down.” In a December 2020 blog, the “Super Talk 99.7 WTN” afternoon drive personality wrote that his chance of dying from COVID-19 was “probably way less than 1%.” He had said of the vaccine, “I have a very low risk of getting COVID and dying of it if I do. Why would I risk getting a heart attack or paralysis by getting the vaccine?” He said  he’d been taking ivermectin, an anti-parasite medication that comes in different forms for animals and humans. Acknowledging on July 11 (2021) that he had COVID-19, Valentine claimed it would not be a problem, saying that as a “precaution,” he might take a day off from his radio show. In fact, his Facebook post that day read: “Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I’m going to make it. Interesting experience. I’ll have to fill you in when I come back on the air. I’m hoping that will be tomorrow.” Valentine’s health, however, quickly deteriorated and his family issued a statement saying that “the experience” had changed the radio host’s mind on vaccination. “Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine.’ [He] looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon. PLEASE GO GET VACCINATED!” TALKERS founder Michael Harrison states, “This is a tragic loss for Phil’s family as well as the people of Nashville; WWTN; the talk radio industry; and the national conversation. His track record as a nationally known, super-successful, longtime radio personality is among the best. It is painfully ironic that his position on COVID-19 became the headline component of his sad passing. May his courage to reverse his stance during his final days serve as an effective influence to save lives.” On “The TALKERS magazine 2021 Heavy Hundred,” Valentine appears at #47. Tennessee Republican senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted that, “Phil Valentine was a visionary for the conservative movement, and he made an enormous impact on the lives of many Tennesseans. My deepest condolences and prayers are with Phil’s wife, Susan, and his family. May they be comforted and surrounded by love during this difficult time.” The junior senator from Tennessee, Republican Bill Hagerty, noted that, “Tennessee has lost a strong conservative voice that will be sorely missed.” That state’s governor, Republican Bill Lee, tweeted, “Maria and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Phil Valentine and pray for his family as they navigate the difficult days ahead.” Meanwhile, lieutenant governor Randy McNally also took to social media, writing, “Deeply saddened that we have lost Phil Valentine to COVID-19. He was an inspirational and persuasive conservative voice. He will be greatly missed. If you haven’t yet done so, please consider vaccination. It is the only way to defeat this scourge.” Even though Valentine was a conservative talk show host, he was the son of former six-term North Carolina Democratic representative Tim Valentine. A radio personality since he was 20, Valentine – who attended East Carolina University and the Charlotte branch of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting – protested against a state income tax proposed by Tennessee’s governor at the time, Republican Don Sundquist. Valentine signed a three-year deal in 2019 that would have kept him on “99.7 WTN” through next year. He  authored three books: “The Conservative’s Handbook: Defining the Right Position on Issues from A to Z”; “Right from the Heart: The ABC’s of Reality in America”; and “Tax Revolt: The Rebellion Against an Overbearing, Bloated, Arrogant, and Abusive Government.” Valentine and his son, Campbell, joked about their relationship via the podcast “PodGOATs.”  Reiterating a vaccination plea, Cumulus Nashville vice president/market manager Allison Warren comments, “Phil Valentine was a charismatic broadcaster who entertained millions and enriched countless lives throughout his career. A beloved friend and mentor to many, his contributions to our city and his passion for his listeners cannot be overstated. We know he will be missed. We send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to Phil’s family and wish them peace during this difficult time. If you aren’t yet vaccinated, we fervently hope that you will honor Phil’s memory by taking to heart the urgent plea he made in the last weeks of his life – please go get vaccinated.” Funeral arrangements for Valentine are pending.

Monday Memo: Empathy? Sympathy? While the parents of school-age children – “the mega-shoppers that our advertisers want to meet” – are confronting “the school year we hoped we would never repeat,” consultant Holland Cooke cautions against what he regards as “a media/consumer disconnect.” And in this week’s column, he recommends an urgent message that can literally be a matter of life and death. Read it here.

 

Pending Business: Is Radio Still the Frequency Medium? Do you remember your sales training that suggested a formula for getting results included your message hitting the target audience X number of times? What was that number? Maybe the number isn’t so important. Sales pro Steve Lapa says in today’s column, “Do you remember the thousands of daily ads you hear and see? Somehow your brain filters out what you don’t want to process. But when you’re hungry, thirsty, not feeling well, need a new computer, car, couch, or more cash, the appropriate ad jumps out of the jungle, demanding your attention. And that’s what great talk radio hosts are all about: owning the listener’s attention.” Read more here.

Cumulus Chicago Promotes Mallory Vor Broker to Reporter Covering City Hall and Politics. At news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago, Cumulus Media announces it has promoted Mallory Vor Broker to reporter for 890 WLS-AM. In this role, she’ll cover Chicago City Hall and the political beat for the station, filling the role vacated by Bill Cameron, who retired on August 20 after a 51-year career. Vor Broker was been serving with the station as executive producer for the “The John Howell Show.” In the past, she’s served as a producer for Steve Dahl, Roe Conn and Lauren Cohn during her nearly 10 years as a producer for Cumulus Chicago. WLS-AM program director Stephanie Tichenor comments, “As our new City Hall reporter, Mallory will tell the latest local news stories that matter to Chicago. She brings a fresh perspective and deep experience as a storyteller to this integral role. We look forward to continuing WLS’ superb coverage of City Hall and welcome Mallory to the 890 News Team.” Vor Broker says, “I am thrilled to begin my new role as City Hall reporter for WLS-AM 890. It’s a great opportunity to cover the dynamic political landscape in Chicago and Illinois after years of producing high-profile shows. I look forward to continuing to bring high-quality, thoughtful reporting to WLS-AM 890.”

Nate Weaver Named Promotions Director for iHeartMedia Wilmington-Salisbury. Joining iHeartMedia to serve as promotions director for the Wilmington, Delaware and Salisbury, Maryland markets is Nate Weaver. He comes to the company from his most recent position with Audacy’s WBEB, Philadelphia. iHeartMedia VP of programming Josh Wolff says, “We are so excited to have Nate join our team. From the first time we spoke, we knew he was the perfect fit. Nate’s impressive background will only serve to improve our portfolio of already strong brands.” Weaver says, “I am super excited to join iHeartMedia Salisbury and Wilmington’s amazing and hard-working teams. Not only am I looking forward to growing brand engagement amongst our portfolio of market-leading stations, but now that I’m in Delaware, I get to really indulge in tax-free shopping – this is great!” The markets include news/talk WILM-AM, Wilmington; news/talk WDOV, Dover; sports talk WWTX-AM, Wilmington; news/talk WJDY-AM, Salisbury; and sports talk WTGM-AM, Salisbury.

iHeartMedia’s BIN: Black Information Network to Expand News Efforts; Three Promotions Announced. The BIN: Black Information Network, iHeartMedia’s “24/7 comprehensive national audio news network dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news with a Black voice and perspective,” announces plans to expand local news coverage in all 32 affiliate markets beginning January 2022. The network is also promoting three staffers: Tanita Myers, previously director of news operations, is now vice president of news operations; Chris Thompson, previously director of network operations, is now vice president of network operations; and Lauren Crawford, previously associate editor, is now senior director of digital and social strategy, effective immediately. The company says the expanding local news coverage will create new employment opportunities including multiple news anchor and reporter positions, a managing editor, and a podcast managing editor. BIN president Tony Coles states, “We are incredibly proud of the growth and success of BIN during our first year. We are thrilled to continue our leadership in providing the most trusted news source for the Black community, offering even more local news coverage to the communities we serve. BIN’s success has been, in no small part, due to our dedicated and talented team. I look forward to seeing how Tanita, Chris and Lauren continue to grow within BIN, and I am excited to add even more experienced talent to our team.”

Nexstar Media to Acquire The Hill. The politics and Washington, DC publication The Hill is being acquired by Nexstar Media for $130 million. Nexstar is primarily a television company but also owns news/talk WGN-AM, Chicago. A press release from Nexstar says, “The acquisition marks a continuation of Nexstar’s content-first strategy, focused primarily on news, designed to further leverage and monetize its expansive digital reach… With more than 100 journalists who cover political news and events and provide a wide variety of engaging content to its users, The Hill’s business model is primarily advertising supported by direct, programmatic, and licensing revenue. Nexstar’s omni-channel approach to content distribution will allow it to expand The Hill’s reach and revenue channels while creating synergistic opportunities with Nexstar’s growing national cable news network, NewsNation, and its leading local news gathering platform, which counts 5,500 journalists producing over 275,000 hours of local and national news annually.”

Red Table Talk and iHeartMedia Strike Content Deal. The EMMY Award-winning talk show “Red Table Talk” enters into a deal with iHeartMedia to launch the Red Table Talk Audio Network. The venture will include a slate of co-produced podcasts, including its two current audio series: “Red Table Talk,” hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris; and “Positively Gam,” a podcast hosted by Banfield-Norris. The newly formed network will launch five new series over the next two years with iHeartMedia that will allow listeners to go deeper into topics covered at the table, with all-new original podcasts from Red Table Talk hosts and regular show contributors. The first show to launch on the slate will be the podcast version of the EMMY and GLAAD Media Awards-nominated RTT spinoff, “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” hosted by Gloria Estefan, Emily Estefan, and Lili Estefan.

Afghanistan, COVID-19, Extreme Weather/Wildfires, Arizona Vote Audit, Staffing & Shipping Woes, Trump in Alabama, and Portland Protest Skirmish Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan and criticism of President Joe Biden’s handling of the move; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the battle over mask and vaccine mandates; the flooding in Tennessee, Hurricane Henri hits the Northeast, and the California wildfires; the anticipated release of the controversial audit of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2020 election votes; the ongoing troubles employers are having finding workers and filling orders and the chaos affecting the world’s shipping industry; former President Donald Trump is booed in Alabama for suggesting people get COVID vaccines; and the violence in Portland between Proud Boys and Antifa protesters were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

| August 17, 2021

Ramsey Solutions’ Film Borrowed Future Debuts on October 14. The first documentary film from Ramsey Solutions will premiere on digital platforms on October 14. Titled, “Borrowed Future: How Student Loan Debt Is Killing the American Dream,” and produced by Dave Ramsey, it “uncovers the dark side of the student loan industry, exposes how it’s built to work against the 45 million Americans currently in debt for their education, and shows that it’s possible to beat the student loan system.” The film is directed by David DiCicco and features experts such as Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, Seth Frotman, Kristina Ellis, Dr. John Delony and Anthony ONeal, as well as CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, Mike Rowe. The main subjects of the documentary are college graduates who owe between $9,000 and $1 million in student loan debt, a debt-free college graduate, and high schoolers who haven’t yet questioned the norm of student loans. DiCicco says, “This film is a warning for kids and teenagers who aren’t victims of the student loan industry yet. I want viewers to walk away from this film with eyes wide open to the true cost of student loans. Teens need to know that they can have the American Dream — they just shouldn’t listen to America on how to get it.” Dave Ramsey adds, “The student loan problem is out of control, and it’s messed up millions of lives. Smart young people got sucked into a false narrative about what success looks like, and it’s left them paralyzed. It’s time to call the student loan industry what it is: an epic failure.” See more about the film here.

Phil Valentine Update: Family Says He Remains in ‘Grave Condition.’ The status of WWTN-FM, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7” afternoon drive talk host Phil Valentine has not improved as his family provided an update last night (8/16) asking his fans to “pray for a miracle” as he remains in “grave condition.” Valentine contracted COVID-19 in mid-July and initially Valentine told his listeners that while he was pretty sick, he believed he was “on the other side of it.” His family revealed on July 22 that he’d been hospitalized and was eventually put on a ventilator due to his suffering from COVID pneumonia. Although Valentine had expressed concerns over the safety of the vaccines and disagreed with mask mandates, his family says he was never an “anti-vaxxer,” but he does regret not being more “pro-vaccine.” His family is urging his fans to get vaccinated.

Salem Media Group Promotes Jamie Cohen to SVP of Broadcast Digital. Digital media pro Jamie Cohen is promoted to senior vice president, broadcast digital for Salem Media Group. The company says that in his new role he’ll oversee all aspects of the digital operations for Salem’s local and national/network digital efforts. Salem Broadcast Media president David Santrella comments, “Jamie has done a tremendous job building Salem’s digital enterprise for our local stations. Overseeing all aspects of our digital operations, both locally and nationally, will open more channels of opportunity and unify our efforts in reaching our audiences through digital avenues and monetizing our digital assets.” Cohen says, “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and am bullish on our future. With the emergence of platforms like Salem Now, the Salem Podcast Network and other innovations, our audience has never been bigger. We have an amazing opportunity ahead of us and I can’t think of a better place to be.”

Phil Cianciola to Host Mornings on WOSH-AM, Oshkosh. Radio pro Phil Cianciola is named morning drive host for Cumulus Media’s WOSH-AM, Oshkosh, Wisconsin “NewsTalk 1490,” effective August 23. The station says, “It is important for WOSH that we retain a local voice in mornings and provide a show that will be uniquely Oshkosh. We wanted to find someone who would get what Oshkosh and the Valley are all about and would be able to entertain our listeners while also providing the news and community information that matters most. That’s a lot to ask of someone, but we’re confident that Phil fits our needs perfectly.” During his career Cianciola has served at Milwaukee news/talk outlets WISN and WTMJ. He comments, “I believe in LOCAL radio. The magic of radio is the relationships we build with listeners over the air. It’s all I’ve ever done. I guess you could say radio is in my blood.”

Brian Hauswirth Named News Director at KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri. News pro Brian Hauswirth joins Zimmer Communications to serve as news director for news/talk KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri “93.9 The Eagle.” In this role, he becomes the newest member of the “Wake Up Columbia” morning drive program. Zimmer Communications operations manager Jeremy Washington states, “We’re thrilled to have Brian Hauswirth be part of our Zimmer News Network. Brian shares our vision for excellence in broadcasting and will strongly enhance our award-winning local news coverage in Mid-Missouri.” Hauswirth most recently served with Missourinet where he was a senior capitol reporter, covering the Missouri statehouse in Jefferson City. His radio station experience includes time spent working at KMZU, Carrollton; KTRS, St. Louis; and KRES-KWIX, Moberly. In addition to his new role, Hauswirth will continue his 23rd season as a college football scoreboard host at Learfield, where he handles the updates for five major colleges across the nation, including Mizzou, Alabama, Texas Tech, Purdue, and Wyoming.

Audacy and Urban One Enter into Digital Platform Relationship. A content distribution partnership between Audacy and Urban One will put audio from the latter’s 57 stations in 13 markets onto the Audacy digital platform. Audacy VP of business development Corey Podolsky comments, “This partnership underscores our unwavering commitment to amplifying diverse voices and delivering premier audio content to the communities in which we serve. We’re delighted to unite with a power player in the audio space to expand and enhace our content offering and add dozens of dynamic brands to our library.”

iHeartMedia Launches Progressive Podcast Network Cool Zone Media. The launch of Cool Zone Media will highlight “vital voices often overlooked in today’s rapidly changing political landscape,” according to iHeartMedia. The progressive podcast network is being powered by investigative journalist and podcaster Robert Evans. The company says Cool Zone Media will provide an “in-depth look at topics including climate change, the Capitol insurrection, and uncovering QAnon – offering listeners a place unique from others in the political sphere by melding media and politics with storytelling.” The network debuts with the first episode of the new daily podcast, “It Could Happen Here,” that focuses on climate change and picks up where Evans’ 10-episode weekly podcast by the same name left off. Evans, who is serving as the head of content for Cool Zone Media, will be joined by the iHeartPodcast Network’s executive producer, Sophie Lichterman, who will become Cool Zone Media’s head of creative, to help curate and elevate other vital voices in today’s progressive political landscape for the network.

TALKERS News Notes. Canton radio stations WHBC-AM “News/Talk 1480” and WHBC-FM “Mix 94.1” wrapped their 14th Annual Aultcare Wish-a-thon to benefit Wishes Can Happen on Friday August 13 and the Alpha Media outlets helped raise a record $334,928. The charity grants wishes to children with severe and terminal illnesses in Northeast Ohio. The record number was an increase of almost $145,000 over last year’s event, thanks in large part to the many businesses, individuals and foundations who stepped up…..PodcastOne announces it has secured the exclusive sales and distribution rights for B-Real’s “Dr. Greenthumb” podcast and the sales rights to the show in its vodcast form. “Dr. Greenthumb” launched in January of 2020 as a program dedicated to all things entertainment, music, and cannabis and now has more than 300 recorded episodes to date that include guests such as Tommy Chong, George Lopez, Tony Hawk, Matt Barnes, John Sally and Ricky Williams. B-Real says, “PodcastOne has set the bar for what podcasts have become. With their amazing roster of shows, best-in-class distribution and advertising approach, there is no other platform for the ‘Dr. Greenthumb’ podcast. I am excited to partner with Norm Pattiz and the PodcastOne family.”…..Pictured below are staffers from the Audacy Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina operations celebrating their honors from the 2021 State Television and Radio (STAR) Awards presented by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association. News/talk WYRD-FM “106.3 WORD” was honored with four STAR Awards including: Radio Station of the Year, Radio Personality of the Year (Tara Servatius), Best News Talk Show (Tara Servatius), and Production PSA.

Benztown West Coast Commercial Production Director Jeff Kelly Dies at 50. The company announces the untimely death of Jeff Kelly, who had joined Benztown in January as West Coast Commercial Production Director. Kelly passed away unexpectedly on August 13 at the age of 50. He and his fiancé had recently moved to L.A. to work with the Benztown team in its Glendale studios. Benztown president Dave “Chachi” Denes says, “We are deeply saddened we were not able to spend more time with Jeff and we will miss him very much. Jeff was incredibly energized and excited about working for Benztown and his recent move to L.A. from Albuquerque, and his positive attitude and tremendous talents were inspiring. His production, writing and VO skills were among the very best in the business and I am incredibly grateful for his contributions to our company, the Commercial Production Department and YamanAir.”

Biden on Taliban in Afghanistan, COVID-19 Stats & Mandates, New Trump Book, Western Drought/Wildfires, and Newsom Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/16). President Joe Biden defends his Afghanistan pullout amidst the Taliban’s resurgence and the social chaos; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rate of vaccination, and mask mandates for schoolchildren; the new book from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa titled, Peril, that chronicles the final days of the Donald Trump administration; the drought and wildfires plaguing the U.S. West; and the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom heats up were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.