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Audacy Names Spike Eskin VP of Programming for WFAN, New York and CBS Sports Radio. Sports and radio programming pro Spike Eskin is being promoted to vice president of programming for Audacy’s WFAN-AM/FM, New York and CBS Sports Radio, effective July 1. Eskin, who has been brand manager for the company’s sports talk WIP-FM, Philadelphia, will take over for longtime WFAN programmer Mark Chernoff, who is stepping down from his roles with Audacy on June 30. Audacy New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Spike has the vision, creativity, and drive to craft the next chapter of the iconic and influential WFAN brand. Along with CBS Sports Radio, his experience will be ideal to fuel our sports production powerhouse of 48 hours a day of original audio, 12 hours of quality television, all alongside a vibrant digital and social experience for both New York and the nation. As a longtime colleague of Spike, I am excited that he has joined our all-star team and have no doubt that he will succeed.” Speaking about his new role, Eskin says, “I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity to help lead WFAN into its next chapter. It’s an iconic station with incredible talent, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m grateful to Chris Oliviero and Audacy for the opportunity. Working at 94WIP over the last decade has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’m grateful to David Yadgaroff for his belief in me and the staff who stepped up to every challenge.”
Urban One 2021 First Quarter Net Revenue Declines 3.6%. The 2021 first quarter financial results for Urban One, Inc. indicate net revenue was approximately $91.4 million, a decrease of 3.6% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $36.4 million, a decrease of 3.3% from the same period in 2020. The company reports operating income of approximately $23.8 million for Q1 of 2021 compared to an operating loss of approximately $27.3 million for the same period in 2020. Net income was $7,000 compared to a net loss of approximately $23.2 million during the first quarter of 2020. Adjusted EBITDA was approximately $28.8 million in Q1 compared to approximately $32.3 million for the same period in 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins III, states, “Normalizing for approximately $1.4 million of Richmond gaming chase costs, which were one-time in nature, our Adjusted EBITDA was down approximately 6.3% year-over-year, which was encouraging in the context of pre-COVID radio comparatives for January and February and a lack of political revenues. It is worth noting that compared to Q1 2019, which was a pre-pandemic and off-cycle political quarter, our Adjusted EBITDA was up by approximately 4.1% (and by 9.1% after normalizing for the Richmond gaming project). Our core radio advertising was down approximately 13.7% for the quarter, with January -28.4%, February -19.9% and March +8.8%. Currently for second quarter, core radio is pacing up over 70%, with April finishing at +89%. Our digital business had another strong quarter, with revenues up 64.6% and Adjusted EBITDA up by approximately $3.2 million. Cable TV revenues were down 2.6%, but Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $24.8 million was 14.5% higher than Q1 2019 (approximately $21.7 million), which is a more realistic comparison than the COVID-impacted Q1 2020, during which content production and marketing were effectively shut-off. Under the circumstances, we delivered a solid first quarter, and I anticipate further sequential improvements in Q2.”
Longtime WFAN, New York Programmer Mark Chernoff Named to New York State Broadcasters Association 2021 Hall of Fame Class. One of the four broadcasters joining the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame this year is longtime WFAN, New York program director Mark Chernoff, who’s been behind the programming helm of the legendary sports talk station for almost 30 years. The NYSBA says, “While known for his sports programming, Mark started his career at music stations including the legendary WNEW-FM from 1985-1989. He was the program director at ‘K-Rock 92.3 FM’ from 1989-1993 which included working with the legendary Howard Stern. Mark again worked as K Rock’s programming director from 2004-2006, where he helped develop the unique ‘Free FM’ format as a response to subscription-based satellite radio services and had the opportunity to work with Opie and Anthony. He even worked as a rock music DJ for more than a decade. Mark joined ‘The Fan’ in 1993. At WFAN Chernoff oversaw iconic shows such as ‘Imus in the Morning’ and ‘Mike and the Mad Dog.’ Chernoff’s skills were put to the test as he rebuilt WFAN’s programming following Imus’s comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. He managed the legendary Mike Francesa and Chris Russo. Chernoff brought Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton to the station for a morning show that saw ‘Boomer & Carton’ reach No. 1 in the market during their decade-long run. In a recent Newsday interview, Audacy SVP and New York market manager Chris Oliviero stated, “When people think of WFAN, names like Imus, ‘Mike & The Mad Dog’ or Boomer [Esiason] often come to mind, but no name has been more responsible for the consistent excellence of THE FAN than ‘Chernoff.’”
Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights Release Podcast Download – Spring 2021. The sixth Podcast Download report from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights is “a comprehensive evaluation incorporating several studies that examine podcast audience and advertiser trends over the past five years.” This sixth installment was released to coincide with the IAB Podcast Upfront as part of Cumulus Media’s commitment to share insights and research findings with the podcast community. Cumulus Media EVP, marketing and president, Westwood One Suzanne Grimes says, “Our new Podcast Download Report underscores the power of the podcast. Listeners look to podcasts for stories, for entertainment, for learning, and for escape, especially in a year of such upheaval. Audiences soared as listeners experimented with a broader array of content genres and used more distribution platforms than ever to listen to their podcasts.” Some of the findings include the conclusion that the pandemic was a podcast listening accelerant. The study reports that among weekly podcast listeners, the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for increased podcast listening. In March 2021, 53% of weekly listeners reported spending more time with podcasts since the pandemic, up +29% from July 2020 (41%). See more about the study here.
WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids Programmer Randy Lee to Retire. According to a report by KGAN-TV, Cedar Rapids, longtime news/talk WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids program director and on-air personality Randy Lee will retire at the end of this month after a 46-year career in broadcasting. Lee has been the program director at iHeartMedia’s WMT-AM for the past 32 years.
SummitMedia Promotes Tom Scott to Vice President of Engineering. Radio engineer Tom Scott is promoted to vice president/engineering for SummitMedia, LLC. In this role, Scott will manage engineering for all SummitMedia Markets throughout the U.S. SummitMedia CEO Carl Parmer says, “We are delighted for Tom to direct all engineering efforts for SummitMedia. It is certainly a well-deserved promotion. His depth of knowledge and strategic vision will be invaluable to us as we continue to innovate and evolve the technical side of our business.”
TALKERS News Notes. A new weekly podcast from CNN Audio titled, “The Handoff,” and starring CNN anchors Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon debuts later this month. CNN says, “Each night during the primetime hours of CNN’s television programming, viewers witness the deep love, honest candor, and respect that these two anchors – and friends – have for one another in their unscripted ‘handoff’ conversations between shows. Now, with no broadcast clock to hold them back, they are stepping out from behind their anchor desks to come together and ignite even more personal and hot topic conversations. Nothing is off limits.”…..Actor Rainn Wilson and author Reza Aslan are teaming up with Kast Media to serve up their podcast, “Metaphysical Milkshake,” set to debut on June 15. Wilson, known for his Emmy-nominated role as Dwight Schrute on the NBC series “The Office,” and Aslan, author of three internationally best-selling books including bestseller, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, “bring their unique backgrounds, philosophies, and curiosities to create a podcast all about life’s big questions.”…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” – nationally syndicated by Talk Shows USA – adds radio stations KHOB-AM, Hobbs, New Mexico and WGAN-AM /FM, Portland, Maine to it roster of affiliates.
Voting Rights Bill Debate, Cheney vs GOP, COVID-19, Pipeline Hack, Israel-Gaza Fighting, Border Crisis, and Gates Divorce Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/11). The debate in the U.S. Senate over the For the People voting rights act; Liz Cheney addresses the U.S. House as the GOP prepares to strip her of her leadership role for challenging the “stolen election” narrative; COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the U.S., mask guidelines, and India’s soaring death toll; the gas shortage in the Eastern U.S. due to the DarkSide pipeline hack; the shelling between Israel and Hamas in Gaza; the migrant crush at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Joe Biden administration’s immigration policy; and the controversy over the Bill and Melinda Gates divorce and the Jeffrey Epstein connection were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Podcasting: Steady growth continues, as other new-tech audio media plateau. You hear promos in network spots on-air, inviting listeners to listen to something else (without the controversy we remember from when stations accepted-or-refused advertising as satellite radio launched). And cover-up spots on Tune-In and Alexa are a parade of podcast promos.
Podcasting is an expression of a trend already-in-motion, accelerated by pandemic #StayHome: Consumption is moving from analog/real-time to digital/on-demand. A Vanity Fair article notes that, “during lockdown, news and comedy podcast listening spiked as people searched for both accurate political updates and distraction;” and predicts that, “after COVID, scripted content like children’s podcasts and Spanish-language programming will continue to rise.”
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 “The New Abnormal” looks back at this past week of March 8-12, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Michael Berry, talk show host, KTRH, Houston / Michael Berry Network; Grace Curley, talk show host, WRKO, Boston / Howie Carr Radio Network; Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia / “Readin’ Writin’ and Reason” podcast; Rob Carson, talk show host, Newsmax TV / “What in the World?”; Thom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD Media; 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 (“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; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; 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; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast 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.
Saga Communications Reports Q4 2020 Net Revenue Down 10%; Decline of 24.9% for Full Year. In reporting its financial data for the fourth quarter of 2020 and the full year, Saga Communications, Inc says fourth quarter and year-end 2020 revenue and the related net income continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Net revenue was $28.8 million for Q4 2020, a 19.1% increase over net revenue for the third quarter, but a decline of 10% compared to Q4 2019. For the full year of 2020, net revenue was $95.8 million, a decrease of 24.9% from the $123.1 million in net revenue it posted in 2019. Back to the fourth quarter of 2020, station operating expense decreased $1.9 million to $21.1 million compared to the same period last year. Station operating income was $9.1 million for the quarter compared to $10.5 million for the fourth quarter last year and operating income was $5 million for the quarter compared to $5.4 million for the same period last year. Saga posted a net loss of $1.9 million for the full year 2020 that included a non-cash impairment charge of $5.2 million. Without the impairment charge the company would have reported net income of $1.7 million for the period. Saga Communications’ balance sheet reflects $51.4 million in cash on hand as of December 31, 2020 and $56 million as of March 8, 2021. The company’s total bank debt remained at $10 million as of year-end 2020.
WEEI, Boston’s Dale Arnold to Leave Sports Talk Station. Boston sports media personality Dale Arnold – a staple at Entercom’s WEEI-FM since its inception as a sports talk outlet 30 years ago – will leave the station and his role as co-host of the “Dale and Keefe” midday program after today’s show. The Boston Globe has the story here. Although the soon-to-be-65-year-old Arnold on Thursday told listeners, “I’m going to retire from the radio business. I am not going to be coming back after tomorrow’s show,” he’ll continue his role as studio host for Boston Bruins hockey broadcasts on cable TV’s NESN. The Globe’s Chad Finn says it’s expected that Andy Gresh – who exited Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence in January of this year – will be partnered with Rich Keefe for middays going forward. Arnold told listeners his decision to leave WEEI – and not accept the offer to do part-time work there – was personal. “Some of you know this and some of you don’t. My wife had to retire from her employment in September, she’s had some medical issues. And you start thinking about things. You start thinking about, you know, ‘I’d like to spend some more time with her. I’d like to have one full-time job instead of two. I’d like to have summer months to go back to my home state of Maine and enjoy myself more.’”
Salem New York Debuts Evening ‘Bring Back NYC’ Show. Hosted by regular evening personality Kevin McCullough, Salem Media Group’s New York news/talker WNYM-AM “AM 970 The Answer” is launching a new nightly broadcast that “will be a deep dive into areas of life relevant to relaunching arguably the most important city on planet earth.” Salem New York says the program will feature specific expertise designed for this unique moment in the nation’s recovery. Monday nights will feature the expertise of “Millionaire Maker” Hilary Kramer in the markets and money. Tuesday nights the journey will be guided by veteran travel expert Valerie D’Elia. Wednesday nights focus on the medical expertise of Nicole Saphier MD, FOX News senior medical contributor and physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Medical Center. The law is the focus of Thursday nights with Arthur Aidala Esq. Friday nights will play host to PR pro Cristyne Nicholas, who serves as chair of the 109-year-old Broadway Association. McCullough says, “Given the mighty struggle our city and people have faced in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, political mismanagement, criminal riots, and the longest extended closures of business in the city, we asked ourselves the question of how we could best answer the needs of the city, and I’m here to let them know, ‘help is on the way!’ What greater good can we do with the airwaves than help turn on the lights, smiles, and lives again in the city that never sleeps?”
Edison Research ‘Infinite Dial 2021.’ It’s “the longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior in America – tracking mobile behaviors, internet audio, podcasting, social media, smart speakers, and more.” Noting that, “‘more’ now includes radio,” consultant Holland Cooke summarizes the latest findings, and includes a download link to the report. Read it here.
Jonathan Hutton Ousted from Tennessee Titans Radio Team. Former WGFX-FM, Nashville “104.5 The Zone” radio personality Jonathan Hutton will not be part of the radio broadcast team for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans for the 2021 season. Hutton recently left “The Zone” to become part of Clay Travis’ Outkick digital platform on which he’ll co-host the “Outkick 360” program with fellow former “Zone” hosts Chad Withrow and Paul Kuharsky. On his website, Kuharsky quotes Cumulus Nashville VP and market manager Allison Warren, who says, “Jonathan Hutton has certainly been a big part of 104.5 The Zone’s Titans Radio broadcast over the years. However, regrettably Jonathan declined our offer to continue with 104.5 The Zone deciding to pursue other opportunities which has impacted his role on the Titans Radio broadcast.”
TALKERS News Notes. The anniversary of the official beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. is the impetus behind the CBS News Radio series that reflects on the past year. The series will be featured on CBS News top-of-the-hour and “World News Roundup” broadcasts airing Monday through Friday of next week (3/15-19)…..Entercom announces the launch of “BetQL Countdown to Tip-Off,” a six-episode series of special NCAA men’s college basketball tournament programming that launches tomorrow (3/13). Led by Nick Kostos, host of BetQL Audio Network podcast “You Better You Bet,” “BetQL Countdown to Tip-Off” will serve as breakdowns of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, featuring a mix of sports betting insight. The show will also welcome talent from across Entercom’s portfolio of sports stations, including Travis Thomas, WTEM, Washington; Mike Valenti, WXYT, Detroit; Danny Parkins, WSCR, Chicago; and Marc Malusis, WFAN, New York…..PodcastOne, a subsidiary of LiveXLive Media, announces the debut of “The Rock Podcast with Denny Somach.” Rock historian and radio producer Somach goes deep undercover on “The Rock Podcast” to shine new light on the soundtrack of the most exciting decades in music, bringing on guests to talk about their career experiences and using Somach’s own personal library of thousands of interviews to bring the lives of the most legendary rock stars who matter to the forefront. Upcoming guests include Nancy Wilson from Heart, Steve Lukather from Toto, Jon Anderson of Yes, and John Densmore of The Doors. PodcastOne chairman Norm Pattiz says, “Denny is a fantastic producer with a track record that goes back decades. His knowledge of music history and love of rock ‘n’ roll is second to none. I love his work and now millions will be able to access that work on PodcastOne,”…..New York City was hit early and hard by the pandemic, and during those first bewildering days and weeks, WNYC’s call-in news program “The Brian Lehrer Show” was a life raft for New Yorkers seeking information, answers, and companionship. To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the shutdown that forever altered New York City, the program plans two special events: a broadcast on Tuesday (3/16) at 10:00 am called “Reading Their Names” in which, for 90 minutes, 484 listeners who will read the names of 1,780 people in the New York listening region who have died from the virus. The second is “WNYC’S 2020 Time Capsule” – broadcast on Thursday (3/18) that culminates the programs assemblage of its 2020 time capsule that is a repository of listener calls, news reports, and personal submissions by New Yorkers sharing what they have been through that’s saved on a hard drive to be safely stored alongside the transmitter atop the Empire State Building. The capsule will be opened in 2031.
iHeartMedia Names Nicky Sparrow SVP of Multi-Cultural Sales. Moving from her current position as market president for iHeartMedia Jacksonville to the new corporate position SVP of multicultural sales is Nicky Sparrow. In this role, Sparrow will be responsible for leading multicultural ad sales revenue for the Markets Group division. Sparrow will apply her deep knowledge of multicultural audiences and strong relationships with multicultural ad agencies and brands to build, drive, influence, and execute strategic multicultural initiatives across the iHeartMedia sales organization. She says, “I’m thrilled for this next step in my career. I’ve been with iHeartMedia for more than 20 years, and I can’t wait to take my experience and strong relationships with partners and advertisers to further deliver and create innovative and effective multicultural opportunities for our consumers that will not only grow our portfolio of assets, but represent and truly connect with our diverse audiences.”
Stimulus Package and the Economy Tie for Top News/Talk Story This Week. The Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill and the state of the U.S. economy combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio for the week of March 8-12, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and Joe Biden’s immigration policy. Coming in at #3 was the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants and the rollout of vaccines. 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.
Producer Wanted for Syndicated Morning Show. A nationally syndicated morning show is searching for an experienced producer to help generate content and show prep. The successful candidate will have 3-5 years’ experience producing a lifestyle-based show. The individual we’re looking for will have the ability to check their ego at the door and dig deep to provide show prep and occasionally deliver on-air content. Although we’re a national show with a significant nationwide and worldwide footprint, we’re a small operation and very much a family. The successful candidate will understand the high-pressure nature of the business but also understand how to operate with minimal direction with strong personalities. This is a full-time, remote position; relocation is not required. Salary is commensurate with experience. Finalists will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Learn more about this position here and send materials to: Dtc_exec@yahoo.com.
Morning Drive News Anchor-Host at Top 25 Market East Coast Station. Looking for a news air talent who can write and read news for a local, current events issue-driven morning show. Prefer an air talent who is comfortable expressing an opinion on the hot topics of the day. Interested? Submit a demo mp3 and resume ASAP. Apply confidentially to firstname.lastname@example.org. The radio station is an EOE and females are encouraged to apply.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Applause to Edison Research for their “Infinite Dial” series, “the longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior in America…tracking mobile behaviors, internet audio, podcasting, social media, smart speakers, and more.” “More” includes radio.
Here’s the whole thing: http://www.edisonresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/The-Infinite-Dial-2021.pdf
As previous reports have, this national telephone survey of 1,507 Persons 12+ is a useful snapshot of what’s changing, and what isn’t-much.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — The email subject line from Staples.com included one of the two magic words that I nag…er, “recommend” radio hosts use when they ask for callers: “Want Your Marketing Materials to Work Harder?”
You (the other magic word) can learn from Staples’ marketing, whether you’re on-air or podcasting asking listeners’ precious time, and especially if you write promo or commercial copy, or if you sell.