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NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, 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, “Dead Lives Matter,” looks back at this past week of October 19 – October 23, 2020. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Mike Siegel, talk show host, KFNX, Phoenix; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder, Scamicide.com; Dr. Renee Kohanski, psychiatrist / commentator, MDedge Psychcast; Bob Costantini, chief correspondent, Ear on the White House; and Victoria Jones, executive editor, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio 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 (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; 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; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; Pioneer 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.
iHeartMedia Acquires Voxnest. This acquisition brings podcast programmatic platform Voxnest into the iHeartMedia fold (iHM previously owned a minority stake in Voxnest). Voxnest is described by iHeartMedia as “the leading consolidated marketplace for podcasts and the best-in-class provider of podcast analytics, enterprise publishing tools, programmatic integration and targeted ad serving.” iHeartMedia says that now it is able to provide podcast advertisers with additional targetable inventory at scale by allowing the effective and efficient monetization across an entire range of podcast inventory on this one-of-kind programmatic platform. This additional inventory will increase the monetization of iHeartMedia’s full range of podcasts and advance the podcast marketplace for both buyers and sellers. iHeartMedia will also be able to drive greater monetization for creators of podcast content – wherever they currently publish their shows – by connecting Voxnest’s advanced ad technology with multiple publishing platforms across the industry. Voxnest ad technology capabilities also includes: Dynamic ad insertion; audience and content targeting to the right listeners based on demographics, territories, devices and interests; programmatic podcast buying across all audio platforms by providing native support of VAST and OpenRTB. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “This is an important addition to the iHeart digital product ecosystem, which includes our SmartAudio suite of data-driven broadcast radio advertising solutions; our position as the No. 1 commercial podcast publisher with massive distribution and promotion across all our broadcast assets; and the iHeartRadio digital platform. The addition of iHeart’s offerings to Voxnest will ensure critical mass for the platform and accelerate its growth. As we continue to invest in podcasting and lead the industry, we anticipate this acquisition will have an important impact on iHeart’s ability to more fully monetize its podcast inventory, and will also benefit the other podcast publishers that are part of the Voxnest network and the advertisers who are using it.”
KZRG, Joplin Adds Two to News Department. KZRG, Joplin, Missouri program director Peter Thiele says that in a continued commitment to Joplin and the Four-State area, the Zimmer Radio news/talk outlet is expanding its news team with the hiring of multimedia journalists Steve Scott and Dalton Evans. Thiele says Zimmer Radio is committed to local news on-air, online, and on app, focusing on breaking news, severe weather, and operating a 24-hour newsroom. Market manager Chad Elliot states, “We are excited to grow our news team at a time when other media companies are cutting their commitment to local news. Zimmer is making a stronger commitment to breaking news and weather coverage for the communities we serve.” Thiele adds, “The long-term growth of KZRG is tied to being the first stop for news, weather, and opinion and being a listener-focused destination.”
VP Broadcasting Launches New Talk Outlet in Allentown. The simulcast of WHOL-AM and W295CR in Allentown, Pennsylvania flips from a tropical music format to news/talk featuring local personality Joe Ligotti in morning drive, followed by Radio America’s Chad Benson from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, Dana Loesch from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, Westwood One’s Ben Shapiro from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm and Mark Levin from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The station will air classic rock on weekends. VP Broadcasting CEO Victor Martinez names “Diamond Boy” Luis Torres program director for the station. Torres says, “I’m excited for the trust Victor has in me and for the opportunity VP Broadcasting is giving me to bring a new outlet and style to the Lehigh Valley. I believe this mix of the new generation of talk combined with classic rock music is what the area had been missing.”
SiriusXM’s Jim Meyer Confident in New Howard Stern Deal. During Thursday’s third quarter earnings call, SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer addressed the current contract negotiations with Howard Stern. He said, “Howard tells me he’s never been happier. And our relationship with Howard is very strong. He is producing fantastic content and his show has never been better. We had very productive conversations regarding a long-term renewal of this agreement. From my perspective, we are far along, but it’s never done until it’s done. I am very confident we will have an agreement soon to announce shortly.” When asked for details on what a new deal might entail, he said, “I can tell you that where we are in the discussions today, we have a set of economics that Howard’s team is happy with and I’m happy with. Obviously, we’ve got to get the deal completed. And it would certainly be a long-term arrangement.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript. Members can read or listen to the entire earnings call here.
TALKERS News Notes. A message to subscribers from Nielsen Audio notes that the October 2020 PPM survey is the first monthly PPM data release that will see the results of its headphone adjustment and outlier mitigation enhancements. Nielsen will host a client webinar on Tuesday, October 27 to review the data (set to be released early next week). Nielsen will also spotlight insights from the October data, along with a recent consumer sentiment study “to provide context for the organic growth we’re seeing beyond the headphone enhancement.”…..Sun Broadcast Group announces two new additions to its staff. Amanda Stetzy joins the company as media research analyst and Alyson Tiller is named assistant traffic coordinator. SBG says the new hires come on the heels of the recent expansion of the sales team, with the addition of Jackie Cardillo and Angela Codella. Chief operating officer Danno Wolkoff says, “As advertising demand continues to grow at Sun, we needed more people to support the sales team and ensure that our advertisers’ and agencies’ needs are met, and campaigns run as ordered. Amanda and Alyson will help our salespeople deliver exceptional client service and 100% accountability. I am delighted to welcome them both to Sun.” Previously, Stetzy served with Regional Reps and Tiller served with CBS Radio.
Presidential Election Issues Top News/Talk Story for October 19-23. The related presidential race, Thursday’s debate, ballot issues, the polls, and foreign election tampering all came together to make the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was COVID-19 stats & projections, health care, vaccines, and psychology. Coming in tied at #3 was accusations, scandals & corruption, the Hunter Biden emails, and Donald Trump’s Chinese bank account, followed by the economy, stimulus package, business openings, and the education crisis all tied at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. The new chairman of the BMI board of directors is Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley. Beasley, who joined the board in 2014, most recently served as vice chairman of the BMI board. She succeeds Michael J. Fiorile, chairman of the Dispatch Printing Company, who has been elected presiding director of the BMI Board. Beasley says, “It is truly an honor to have the privilege of serving as chair of the BMI board of directors. Many thanks to Michael Fiorile for his innovative vision, tireless collaboration, and insightful leadership over the past several years in his role as chairman of the organization. I look forward to working together with the board, Mike O’Neill, and the outstanding BMI team to continue to serve the evolving needs of music creators, publishers, and licensees in today’s dynamic marketplace.”…..iHeartMedia Milwaukee’s urban contemporary WKKV “V100.7” is hosting “Your Vote is Your Voice,” a special broadcast with vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris on the importance of voting, what to expect at the polls, deadlines for voting absentee, and more. The special airs Monday (10/26) from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm and is being hosted by “V100.7” air personalities Bailey Coleman and Reggie Brown.
Bill McMahon: Perhaps We Should Focus on What We are Good at and That Which the Public Still Wants and Needs. In a new opinion piece posted in TALKERS today (9/23) by veteran radio consultant and talent coach Bill McMahon, the following questions are presented to radio broadcasters: What business are you in? Does your business have a future? He says, “These seem like fundamental questions radio broadcasters should be asking themselves right now.” In it McMahon adds his voice to the chorus of industry opinions supporting the preservation of audio-only media as one of — if not the — major products of “radio” in the emerging unified multi-media platform marketplace. McMahon sarcastically says, “This vision for the future seems perfect for radio broadcasters who create precious little content of any kind. It makes total sense to go compete with everyone in the entertainment business. Sure, why not? Go take on Disney and Live Nation. You have all kinds of talent and experience creating video entertainment. You’ll be great at creating and promoting massive concert events. This is the kind of stuff your current customers have come to expect from you. You have lots of resources ready to commit to these enterprises. They’ll no doubt drive lots of additional listening to your AM and FM radio stations. Like Nike says, you should ‘just do it!’” He concludes on a serious note, “Yikes! Let’s get real! What’s wrong with the business you’re in right now? What’s wrong with the audio entertainment business? Doesn’t it have a future? Audio entertainment is unique and powerful. It involves the consumer in creating the experience it provides. Sound generates pictures and emotions in minds and hearts. The effect is deeper and more memorable than anything on a screen. When you hear someone laughing or crying you don’t need to see them to fully experience their joy or sorrow. Music can change your mood instantly. The sound and the lyrics create a vibe. Music is mind altering, heart penetrating, and memory making. Audio entertainment can be consumed while you’re doing other things like walking, running, driving, or making love. Audio entertainment will never go out of style. Americans spend more than four hours per day with audio entertainment according to the “Share of the Ear” study from Edison Research. Audio entertainment has an enduring future as long as great audio entertainment is created. Radio broadcasters are in the audio entertainment business. Why not stay there? Why not focus your limited resources on creating extraordinary audio entertainment? Why not be really good – even exceptional – at something, rather than average or mediocre at everything. Your current consumers are predisposed to using and appreciating audio entertainment. Why not concentrate on creating new audio entertainment content that surprises, amazes, and delights them. Hire gifted artists who love creating content for the theater of the mind. Create content in all shapes and sizes and distribute it on the platform that fits it best. That’s a future that makes sense for radio broadcasters. To read Bill McMahon’s entire piece, please click here.
iHeartMedia Goes Business Talk with Bloomberg on KNEW, San Francisco. With the move of Premiere Networks talk shows Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck to Cumulus Media’s crosstown KSFO on Monday, September 29, the fate of the shows’ soon-to-be former affiliate station – KNEW, San Francisco – is now known. The station will begin carrying Bloomberg Radio programming on Monday. The station will also be simulcast on KOSF-FM’s HD2 channel. Bloomberg Radio’s Al Mayers comments, “As part of Bloomberg’s new consumer media strategy, we’re excited about expanding Bloomberg Radio into the San Francisco Bay Area, a vital market for those who create, move global business and shape conversations about the innovations of tomorrow.” iHeartMedia San Francisco market president Kathryn Wilcox adds, “Teaming up with Bloomberg was a natural fit. It provides high-quality content and aligns nicely with the local business talk on KKSF 910.”
iHeartMedia Takes on More Debt. The company formerly known as Clear Channel Communications – iHeartCommunications (and its radio-centric subsidiary iHeartMedia) – announces it is selling $250 million of 9.0% Priority Guarantee Notes (PGNs) that will come due in 2022. Rating agency Fitch Ratings reports that the “notes are being issued as part of the same series as the $750 million of PGNs due 2022 that were issued on September 10, 2014, and rated ‘CCC/RR4’. Proceeds from the offering are expected to be used to prepay $245.9 million in Term Loan B due 2016 and $4.1 million in Term Loan C due 2016 and to pay fees and expenses related to the offering.” The iHeartCommunications debt stands at approximately $21.1 billion according to Fitch but the rating company reports it believes that the company has “adequate liquidity (including cash on hand, monetization of repurchased and outstanding notes, and asset sales) to meet its debt service obligations,” although it does foresee free cash flow to be negative over the next few years.
Lionel to Make Return Appearance at The Cutting Room in New York City. Multimedia talker Lionel of LionelMedia.com has again been booked to play an evening of what he calls “Outspoken Word” sprinkled with bluegrass music at New York City’s famous nightclub, The Cutting Room. The iconoclastic radio performer presents his difficult-to-categorize brand of stand-up commentary/observations along with several musical numbers by his Americana roots trio, Lock-n-Load in a program described by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison as “fascinatingly original and intelligently eclectic to the core.” The booking is set for Saturday, October 11 at 7:30 pm at the mega-hip showcase venue located at 44 East 32nd Street in the Big Apple. Tickets are on sale, $30 in advance, $35 day of show, with a $20 food/drink minimum. To reserve tickets, call 212-691-1900. To view a video of Lionel discussing the forthcoming performance, please click here.
Celebrating Success. Getting together to celebrate a year of success at Salem Communications’ New York properties news/talk WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” and Christian talk WMCA (and to celebrate the latter’s anniversary as a Christian talk station) are four talk hosts heard on the stations (from left to right): talk personality and XtreMedia CEO Kevin McCullough; Salem Radio Network host Mike Gallagher; GCN-syndicated host Dr. Joy Browne; and WNYM morning personality Joe Piscopo. McCullough comments, “While the style and content of the shows couldn’t be more different nor come from more diverse perspectives, the camaraderie instilled by GM Jerry Crowley and VP Phil Boyce could not be more clear! Fun people, doing fun radio, and having fun doing it!”
Odds & Sods. Houston sports talk personality Barry Warner joins Yahoo! Sports Radio where he’ll serve as a national contributor and host of the “Barry Warner Classic Minute” daily feature heard on KGOW and KFNC-FM in Houston…..WGN, Chicago announces the WGN Radio Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony honoring Chicago Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes to take place on Wednesday, September 24 from 3:30 pm – 4:00 pm. The ceremony will include a live broadcast interview with Hughes conducted by host Dave Eanet…..Internet talk radio platform LA Talk Radio announces it is adding live streaming video to its content options. Founder Sam Hasson says LA Talk Radio “has waited until it could define how to deliver a polished radio broadcast that also appeals to the audience visually, with professional studios and eye-popping graphics. The results are great-looking as they are streamed smoothly in high-definition to any computer or mobile device.” The video function debuts October 1.
White House Intruder Case, Hillary Clinton 2016 Prospects, Mid-Term Elections/Congressional Majority, NFL Domestic Violence Troubles, U.S. ISIS Policy, Iran Nukes Talks, Ebola Pandemic Threat, and Lois Lerner Politico Story Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/22). The man with a criminal past who hopped the White House fence and entered the building before being stopped; the prospects for a presidential bid by Hillary Clinton in 2016; the looming mid-term elections and discussion about the potential for majority changes in Congress; the NFL’s domestic violence issues; the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, Secretary of State John Kerry’s nuclear talks with Iran; the threat of an Ebola virus pandemic; and the Lois Lerner Politico interview addressing the IRS scandal were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.