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Friday, April 23, 2021

| April 23, 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, “The Air That We Breathe,” looks back at this past week of April 19-23. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Larry Elder, talk show host, Salem Radio NetworkJoe Madison, talk show host, SiriusXM Satellite RadioJoan Michelson, talk show host / producer, Green Connections Radio; and Holland Cooke, media consultant / talk show host, RT America.  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; 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; 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.

KMOX, St. Louis Unveils New Live and Local Midday Show. Legendary St. Louis news/talk outlet KMOX-AM/K254CR goes local in the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm daypart. Audacy’s “News Radio 1120AM / 98.7FM” will debut “St. Louis Talks” featuring KMOX personalities Carol Daniel, evening talk show host Ryan Wrecker, and longtime St. Louis radio personality Bo Matthews on May 3. Audacy St. Louis SVP and market manager Becky Domyan comments, “Now is the time to expand our local content offering for the people of St. Louis, and we are thrilled to have three established, well known and trusted St. Louis voices to help usher in this new era for our station. We look forward to Carol, Ryan, and Bo working in tandem with the KMOX newsroom to report and react on local, regional and national topics that affect our community as we continue building on our position as the voice of St. Louis.” Daniel says, “This is a dream come true for me to host a show on a historic radio station with talented, funny, and curious people like Bo and Ryan. My goal is to bring listeners stories about the people, places and things in the region we all love but want so much more out of.” Wrecker states, “This is our chance to do something new and exciting through one of the most significant radio stations in America. I can’t wait to work alongside Carol and Bo.” Matthews, who’s been serving with the station part-time since 2019, adds, “Getting the opportunity to share the stories of St. Louis and hear about the people that make it the special place that it is will be an honor. To get to do that with Carol and Ryan makes it even better. This is proof that you can dream big, but God dreams even bigger and makes them come true.”

Round Four of March PPMs Released. The fourth and final round of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s March 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen’s March 2021 sweep covered March 4 – 31. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Although it drops 1.1 shares, Waterloo Media’s KLBJ-AM, Austin remains ranked #4 in the market with a 5.1 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share). Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis is steady at #3 losing a full share and posting a 7.2 share. In Milwaukee, iHeartMedia’s WISN-AM declines 1.4 shares to finish the March survey with an 8.4 share and falls from #1 to #2 while Good Karma Brands’ crosstown WTMJ-AM sheds four-tenths and wraps the survey with a 5.6 share and stays in the #5 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets – along with his Takeaways from the first three rounds – here.

Midwest Communications’ WMBD, Peoria Makes Programming Changes. Peoria, Illinois news/talk WMBD-AM/W262BY is making changes to its program schedule. Effective May 3, the Peoria-based, Compass Media Networks-syndicated “Markley, Van Camp and Robbins” show – hosted by Jamie Markley, David Van Camp, and Scott Robbins – moves to the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm slot formerly occupied by Premiere NetworksRush Limbaugh and former “Markley, Van Camp and Robbins” producer Craig Collins returns to the station to host the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm show. Additionally, WMBD is adding Radio America’s “The Dana Show” starring Dana Loesch in the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight daypart. About the changes, Midwest Communications Peoria VP and market manager Mike Wild says, “Trying to replace Rush Limbaugh with a similar type program is a really tall order. The approach of ‘Markley, Van Camp and Robbins’ is differentiated from Rush and we can clearly point to their very successful ratings track record.” He also addresses Collins’ new role in afternoons. “Craig was the natural choice for us there. Craig is passionate, he’s already a part of the community, and because he was part of our group in the past, we know how he can contribute to the culture and success of our entire operation.”

Salem and Charlie Kirk Renew Podcast Deal. The deal between Salem Radio Network and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk in which SRN distributes and handles ad sales for “The Charlie Kirk Show” podcast is extended for multiple years. SRN says “The Charlie Kirk Show” podcast has become one of the top 10 news podcasts in the country on the Apple Podcast rankings amongst nearly 1.7 million podcasts on the platform. Salem first began selling ‘The Charlie Kirk Show’ podcast in November and now will sell and manage the program through the Salem Podcast Network for years to come. Kirk says, “I am thrilled and excited to extend our relationship with Salem. Salem has become a giant in conservative media and is the perfect partner for our team.” Salem SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce adds, “Charlie’s radio show is already doing a great job filling the void in the 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm ET daypart. This podcast already delivered over 100,000,000 downloads in the last 12 months, and is valiantly fighting the culture war that we face in conservatism.”

WKNR-AM, Cleveland Welcomes Back Danny Cunningham. Sports media pro Danny Cunningham is rejoining Good Karma Brands’ WKNR-AM, Cleveland “850 ESPN” as a content teammate in which he’ll handle producing, writing, hosting, reporting and social media duties. Cunningham comes to WKNR from his most recent position as Minnesota Timberwolves reporter and “Vikings Vent Line” co-host at Hubbard Radio’s KSTP-AM, Minneapolis “SKOR North.” After launching his career at WKNR in 2015, he served with Mid-West Family’s sports talk WOZN, Madison, Wisconsin. ESPN Cleveland director of content Matt Fishman says, “We’re thrilled to add someone of his skill and experience to the team.”

Roy Masters Dies at 93. According to a Facebook post from his son Alan Taylor, Roy Masters a pioneer in the self-help talk radio genre died yesterday (4/22) at the age of 93. Alan Taylor posted, in part: “It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my father Roy Masters, author, teacher and radio counselor to millions worldwide for nearly six decades. Following a storied American tradition, Roy was an immigrant who fell in love with this country from afar. Looking across the ocean from war-torn Britain, he was determined to make the ‘land of liberty’ his home. Since 1963 Roy Masters has been a radio counselor and for more than 50 years, the foundation he created has served and has continued to serve seekers worldwide on their journey to the eternal Truth that seeks us all.” Roy Masters was also the founder, along with now-retired radio executive Alan Corbeth, of Talk Radio Network which syndicated Roy Masters’ radio show for a period, and launched the syndication of Art Bell’s “Coast to Coast AM” as well as Michael Savage’s “Savage Nation. ” Masters’ son Mark Masters served as CEO of the company for many years.

Derek Chauvin Verdict and Race Relations Top News/Talk Story for Week of April 19-23. The trial and verdict in the case of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was a tie between police reform and the Columbus, Ohio police shooting death of knife wielding teen Ma’Khia Bryant and Lebron James’ threatening tweet, followed by mass shootings in America and gun control at #3. 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.

Monday, April 19, 2021

| April 19, 2021

Monday Memo: “And The Winner Is…” Like the Super Bowl, this Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast is one of the few remaining events so many of us still witness in real-time. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke bemoans poorly prepared acceptance speeches, and urges “radio talkers to take the hint.” Read his column here.

Pending Business: Rates, Rotation, Negotiation. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says that sellers focusing only on the packages management creates are not serving their clients as well as they could. “Ask the right questions, listen carefully and your advertiser will tell you how to sell them…or not. Yet most sellers are focused on their own goals pushing for the package of the week. They fail to listen, ignoring the advertiser’s goals.” Read his column here.

Morning Host Bob Flaherty’s Exit from WHMP-AM, Northampton, Massachusetts Prompts Programming Changes. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports that Bob Flaherty exited Saga Communications’ news/talk WHMP-AM, Northampton, Massachusetts in late March after what he describes as “a couple of rants” about his thoughts on punishment for the gunmen responsible for mass shootings. He tells the paper, “I was fired. From what I can understand, this came directly from corporate, which is Saga Communications. It had to do with a couple of rants, I guess you would call them, over the last few weeks.” Flaherty, who hosted the morning drive show on the station for the past 11 years, says, “I have nothing but respect and love for my colleagues in Northampton. These are great, great people. I’ve enjoyed every minute.” The station is now airing Compass Media Networks’ “This Morning with Gordon Deal” in the morning drive daypart. It moved “The Thom Hartmann Program” to the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot and added the Howie Carr Radio Network’s “The Grace Curley Show” for the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. Regarding the changes in the morning programming, WHMP general manager Mike Ekblom says ultimately, his goal is to have local programming from 7:00 am to 9:00 am daily.

Dickey Broadcasting Flips WFOM-AM/W292EV, Atlanta to News/Talk. Shucking the sports talk format, Dickey Broadcasting Company announces WFOM-AM/W292EV, Atlanta debuts its new talk format and branding as “XTRA 106.3FM – Atlanta’s Most Conservative News & Talk Station.” The program schedule includes programming from FOX News Radio and Premiere Networks. The lineup is: “Morning XTRA” (Mondays only), “FOX Across America with Jimmy Failla,” “The Glenn Beck Program,” “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” “The Guy Benson Show,” “The Buck Sexton Show,” and “Coast to Coast AM with George Noory.” Dickey Broadcasting president David Dickey comments, “We are excited to announce the return of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and FOX News, among many other great names, to the Atlanta market. These voices have entertained and informed generations of Atlantans and will now continue to do so on ‘XTRA 106.3FM’ and streaming on the XTRA app. Atlantans deserve great options for their news and information.  We are proud that we can deliver this popular content to millions of listeners who feel they’ve been disenfranchised by recent programming shifts.”

Ethics Board Rules in Favor of Valdosta, Georgia Mayor Scott James Matheson in Radio Show Complaint. The ethics complaint filed against Valdosta, Georgia Mayor Scott James Matheson has been dismissed by the city’s three-member ethics board by a 2-1 vote. Back in February, four Valdosta, Georgia community organizations petitioned the city clerk to look into what they called ethics violations by Matheson, who is also principal of Small Town Broadcasting, owner of talk outlet WDDQ-FM on which Matheson co-hosts the morning show. The organizations – Concerned Clergies of Valdosta, NAACP Lowndes Chapter, The Mary Turner Project, and Valdosta/Lowndes Community Alliance – say Matheson’s comments on his radio program included unsubstantiated claims of illegal voter canvassing and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and that qualified as a violation of six tenets of the City of Valdosta’s Code of Ethics for elected officials. The board ultimately ruled that Matheson engaged in speech protected by the First Amendment.

TALKERS News Notes. A new true crime series from PodcastOne is premiering tomorrow (4/20) called “Final Days on Earth” that features longtime CBS News journalist and producer Claire St. Amant. The program is an investigative podcast franchise from Cold Case Productions that examines mysterious deaths that have elements of an accident, murder, or suicide – and sometimes all three. In season one – “The Life and Death of Dammion Heard” – St. Amant investigates the baffling disappearance and mysterious death of Texas state champion wrestler Dammion Heard…..iHeartMedia announces its exclusive podcast partnership to launch the NFL’s podcast network that includes the distribution of NFL Media’s existing podcasts, (“Around the NFL,” “Move the Sticks,” “NFL Fantasy Football,” “Huddle and Flow,” “NFL Total Access: The Locker Room,” “Good Morning Football” and “NFL Legends”) as well as the co-production and distribution of two dozen new original podcasts. iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group CEO Conal Byrne comments, “Our partnership with the NFL is an incredible moment for iHeart – and the podcast industry, period. The NFL represents sports at its highest level – with the greatest athletes and the most heart-pounding games the world has seen. These are legendary stories, and we can’t wait to roll out a slate of incredible new podcasts to capture it all – for iHeart’s huge audience and the NFL’s massive fanbase alike.”…..Audacy reveals the launch of “Ultimate Mock Draft 2021,” a six-episode series leading up to the NFL Draft presented in partnership with the Locked On Podcast Network. The series will be released in 45-minute episodes, weekdays from today through next Monday (4/26). The series is hosted  by Brian Peacock and Matt Williamson and episodes include a dive-deep into each team’s needs, draft strategy, player short-list, and “Ultimate Mock Draft” pick for the first round of the NFL Draft. Audacy VP of sports Matthew Volk says, “No other sports platform has the unique combination of national voices combined with the localized and team-specific influencers and opinion leaders, and this series will help get football fans fully prepped for this year’s draft, no matter their favorite team. Each year, the NFL Draft helps turn the page to the upcoming season and we’re looking forward to previewing this year’s event alongside our partners at Locked On.”

Mass Shootings/Gun Control, COVID-19, Border Crisis/Immigration Policy, Daunte Wright Shooting/Derek Chauvin Trial, U.S. to Exit Afghanistan, Newsom Recall/Caitlyn Jenner Challenge Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The spate of mass shootings in the U.S., including at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis, in Austin, and at a Kenosha bar, as well as the related issue of gun control legislation; the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the lifting of restrictions in numerous states; the large number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; the police shootings that killed Daunte Wright in Minneapolis and Adam Toledo in Chicago and the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin; President Joe Biden’s order to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11; and the recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom and the report that Caitlyn Jenner is among potential challengers were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

| March 23, 2021

Premiere Networks to Continue ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’; WBOB, Jacksonville First New Affiliate. The 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET broadcast of “The Rush Limbaugh Show” will continue with archival audio from Limbaugh’s 30-plus-year syndicated program augmented by familiar talk hosts. Chesapeake-Portsmouth Broadcasting Corporation’s WBOB-AM/W266CX is the first new affiliate station. In making the announcement, Premiere Networks says, “No one can replace Rush Limbaugh, and Premiere Networks will continue to provide millions of loyal listeners with the voice of Rush for the long term. We have a variety of familiar voices who are guiding the audio of Rush for all of the important issues of the day, including recent guest hosts Todd Herman, Ken Matthews, and Brett Winterble.” WBOB general manager Jonathan McClellan states, “Rush Limbaugh is a pioneering force in broadcasting. He redefined talk radio and shaped the conservative political message for our country. WBOB is excited to add Rush’s program to our lineup. We value the future of his legacy, and we believe his talented team will drive the momentum of the movement far into the future. We welcome this monumental voice.” Limbaugh’s program launched into national syndication on August 1, 1988, with 56 radio stations, was heard on more than 600 stations at the time of the icon’s passing at age 70 on February 17. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison comments on this breaking story, “What an interesting turn of events. This is a multiple win for many elements of the industry. The winners include: 1) The fill-in hosts who’ve become familiar to the show’s regular listeners because they’ll continue to play a role in the show without having to carry the burden of being the ‘guy that followed the guy’ but never could fill his shoes; 2) Premiere, because they’ll continue to productively exploit the greatest brand in talk radio programming history and even though it could never be as big as it would have been with Rush alive, it certainly will maintain value and possibly evolve into something of lasting currency; 3) Other syndicated shows, because they now have a shot at being cleared in the valuable 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm space and get a viable piece of the pie. There are plenty of listeners and revenue to be shared in that huge mine; 4) Local hosts and programming because you can be sure many stations will turn inward during middays now that this big piece of real estate has opened; 5) Local stations, because they now have the options to choose from all of the above; and 6) the legacy of Rush Limbaugh, which will continue to live as a viable part of the national talk radio community. Bravo!”

Dana Loesch Inks New Multi-Year Deal with Radio America. Talk radio star Dana Loesch signs a new, multi-year contract extension with Radio America to continue to host her daily 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm program “The Dana Show” that she’s hosted since 2014. Radio America says Loesch is “the most listened to female talk show host in the country” and has “attracted a large and loyal following in syndication, expanding the news/talk audience to include more men and women in their 30s and 40s, something the aging format desperately needs.” Radio America COO Mike Paradiso says, “We’re excited to continue the explosive growth that Dana’s show has enjoyed over the last few years. Dana has done what few hosts have been able to do, expand the talk format’s audience to make it younger, while still performing very well with the core talk demo. We think she’s uniquely qualified to lead the way during this transitional time in the format.”

Round One of February PPM Ratings Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s February 2021 sweep covered February 4 – March 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets and reports that the unusual surge of listening to news and news/talk stations in January that was the result of the January 6 Capitol attack, its aftermath, and the beginning of the Joe Biden administration has leveled off. In New York, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOR was flat at a 2.5 share (weekly 6+ AQH share) and Red Apple Media’s WABC was up three-tenths to a 1.9 share. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia news/talk KFI was steady with a 5.0 share and the #3 rank while Entercom’s crosstown all-news KNX dipped four-tenths to a 2.9 share. Nexstar Media Group’s news/talk WGN-AM was flat with a 4.1 share but rises to the #6 rank and Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM lost two-tenths to finish with a 7.1 share but remains ranked #1. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaway for this group of markets here.

Report: WFAN’s Jastremski Leaving for The Ringer. According to a piece by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, WFAN, New York evening host John Jastremski is leaving the Entercom sports talk station to join Spotify’s The Ringer. As Marchard notes, Bill Simmons sold The Ringer to Spotify for a reported $200 million but continues to lead the platform. Jastremski’s deal with The Ringer will begin next month and will include him doing three to four podcasts per week.

WWO Blog: Podcasting Provides ‘Massive Head Start’ for New Radio Hosts. A study commissioned by Westwood One and conducted by Maru/Blue reveals “the extent to which Dan Bongino has used his podcast platform, social media presence, best-selling books, and TV appearances to build a strong brand among American talk radio listeners.” The study finds that a podcast star like Bongino enjoys a “massive head start and strong momentum” when launching an AM/FM radio show. It finds 64% of frequent news/talk radio listeners are aware of Dan Bongino and 78% of frequent news/talk radio listeners who are aware of Bongino rate him as excellent/good. Further the study finds, “An AM/FM radio show generates a new audience that is incremental to the podcast audience: the Maru/Blue study found that the Dan Bongino and Ben Shapiro audiences either listen to the podcast or the AM/FM radio show. Currently about 40% listen only to the podcast; 40% listen only to the Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino shows on AM/FM radio. About 20% indicate they have listened both to the podcast and the AM/FM radio show in the last month.” See the blog here.

TALKERS News Notes. The COVID stimulus is getting a radio sweepstakes treatment from iHeartMedia as the company presents the “Double Your Stimulus” contest in numerous participating markets. iHeartMedia is giving listeners the chance to win another $1,400 “stimulus check” that could result in up to six nationwide winners each weekday now through April 2. The company says that “given today’s challenging times due to the pandemic, iHeartMedia is seeing a nearly 20% higher response rate than any other cash contests in the past with winners benefiting from all across the nation.”…..USA Radio Network’s “Classic Radio Theater” adds three new affiliate stations for Wyatt Cox’s historical presentation of radio’s greatest programs of the 20th century. The show is now heard on WMIC, Sandusky, Michigan; KRVN-AM, Lexington, Nebraska; and KGUM-AM, Hagåtña, Guam. Cox says, “It’s a pleasure to give people a dose of history as it really happened – unsanitized and factual. While some stations may be pulling away from presentations of radio’s past, I view it as critical for understanding where we came from and how we got here today… our ‘Classic Radio Theater’ programs are not only great entertainment, but they are set in a background of history that puts all these programs in the context of the times.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One signs a deal with DCP Entertainment to distribute, market, and monetize the company’s new podcasts as well as its back catalogue. DCP Entertainment’s mission is to provide a platform for people of color, women, and LGBTQ communities, and to highlight stories around mental health, disability, and overcoming adversity. Current productions include “Say Their Name,” which was nominated for the 2021 Ambies Award “Podcast of the Year” and “Toure Show: The Central Park 5,” which was a 2020 Webby Award “Best Crime & Justice Episode” honoree.

‘The GRITIRON Show’ Starring Whitney Breaux Launches. The new podcast and YouTube show is being launched by former ESPN Baton Rouge radio host Jordy Culotta who expands his media network with the launch of “The GRITIRON Show” with Whitney Breaux – a show targeting women that premiered on International Women’s Day (3/8). The press release says “The GRITIRON Show” is a weekly podcast celebrating the perseverance, passion, and lifestyle of women on and off the football field. The show features Breaux and “a bevy of guests including women breaking the glass ceiling in sports from journalists, coaches, athletic administrators and sports executives to wives of players and coaches.” Breaux is a former Miss Teen Louisiana and global marketing executive. Culotta says, “We’re excited to add Whitney and ‘The GRITIRON Show’ to our network programming. I’m honestly shocked this is her first time behind a microphone. She’s a brilliant public speaker, her energy is infectious, and she’s always been passionate about sports.”

COVID-19/Spring Break, Border Troubles, Deadly Boulder Grocery Store Shooting, Biden Jobs & Infrastructure Proposal, Capitol Attack-Sedition Controversy, Cuomo on the Ropes, and Deshaun Watson Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/22). The rising number of COVID-19 cases in numerous states, worries about variants, the vaccine rollout, and the enormous spring break gatherings; the immigration problems at the U.S.-Mexico border; the mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado that’s left 10 dead; the Biden administration plans to introduce a $3 trillion jobs & infrastructure bill; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the report that sedition charges may be leveled at some; the allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; and the growing allegations of sexual impropriety by massage therapists against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

| March 17, 2021

Saga Adds New Talk Station to Clarksville, Tennessee Cluster. The Saga Communications station group in Clarksville, Tennessee – known as 5 Star Media Group – has acquired WNZE-AM and translator W288DQ from Consolidated Media (the AM’s previous calls were WJZM). According to the report at Clarksville Now, the news/talk station – called “NewZee 105.5 FM and 1400 AM” is airing a slate of nationally syndicated talk programming including: Compass Media Networks’ “This Morning with Gordon Deal,” Salem Radio Network’s Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager, Premiere NetworksSean Hannity, Westwood One’s Mark Levin, and more. Speaking about the acquisition, 5 Star Media Group general manager Katie Gambill says, “When this station became available, we saw it as a golden opportunity to round out our portfolio with radio talk while also expanding what we can do with local news. And it gives our business partners new ways to reach more customers.”

KTRS, St. Louis to Celebrate 25 Years Next Month. The CH Holdings-owned news/talk outlet KTRS-AM is preparing to celebrate its 25th anniversary next month. Current KTRS morning host and program director McGraw Milhaven says, “It was April 1996, when 550 KTRS radio signed on in St. Louis. At the time, the St. Louis business community, upset that corporate radio was gutting the fabric of St. Louis, started KTRS with the idea of bringing local back to local. The corporate radio reaction? ‘Local talk? All day long? With no syndication? We give it six months.’ Well 25 years later KTRS is celebrating 25 years of local talk radio. Some changes along the way. The general manager who put the deal together, longtime St. Louis radio executive Tim Dorsey, retired and was replaced by his brother Mark Dorsey, but the mission continues. Local talk, all day long. With great support from the local St. Louis community and local businesses, KTRS has only grown stronger over the years. Now, 25 years later, local talk is more important than ever and KTRS is here to prove once and for all that local radio can not only survive but thrive.”

Westwood One Blog: Podcasting Data from ‘Infinite Dial’ Most Compelling. Calling two of the slides from Edison Research’s and Triton Digital’s “Infinite Dial 2021” “the most compelling aspect of the study,” Westwood One’s Pierre Bouvard says in this week’s WWO blog that they’ve summarized “the most crucial data on the U.S. podcast audience.” Bouvard cites the following data as important to viewing the changes in the U.S. podcasting audience over the past five years: Nearly eight in ten 12+ Americans are familiar with the term podcasting, up from 60% in 2017; 57% of Americans have ever listened to a podcast, a near 50% increase since 2017 (40%); 41% of Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month, a 71% increase versus 2017 (24%); among persons 12-34, podcast usage has crashed through the 50% barrier with a monthly reach of 56%; The weekly podcast audience (28%) has nearly doubled over the same period from 15% in 2017; and podcast habituation is up with 68% of the monthly podcast audience having also listened in the past week, an 8% increase from 2017. Looking back 10 years, the study shows that 10 years ago, the podcast audience was 58% male and 42% female while today the monthly podcast audience is more evenly split between men and women. Over the past 10 years, the audience is diversifying as the persons 55+ proportion of the monthly podcast audience has grown from 14% to 21%; the persons 12-34 audience composition has increased from 46% to 50%; and the persons 35-54 audience composition has dropped from 40% to 29%. Also, the podcast audience is more diverse: The ethnic audience composition of monthly podcast listeners is up from 32% in 2011 to 43% in 2021. The Hispanic audience composition has surged from 11% to 16% over the 10-year period. See more here.

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WGN-AM morning drive personality Bob Sirott is being honored by the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois with the 2021 Diogenes Award for Excellence in Media. Sirott will receive the honor at the organization’s March 25 annual meeting…..iHeartMedia announces a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast hosted by actress and singer-songwriter Minnie Driver called, “Minnie Questions with Minnie Driver. ” iHeartMedia says in the intimate talk show-style podcast, Driver will ask a wide-range of celebrity guests the same seven “mini” questions to uncover larger truths and help us better understand ourselves and the world around us. Driver says, “I have wanted to share this crazy idea for a podcast for such a long time. I question everything about the world around me, and I’m so excited to share these questions I’ve discovered and host these conversations that can help other people find happiness, self-love and belonging, too.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One – as the official network radio partner of the NCAA – begins its presentation of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tomorrow (3/18) at 5:00 pm ET. WWO will present play-by-play from all 67 games, including eight first-round and second-round games, plus regional semifinals and finals. Games will air on more than 400 affiliate stations across the country and via SiriusXM…..Entercom’s Pittsburgh radio stations – including news/talk KDKA-AM and sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” – raised funds to provide more than 650,000 meals for people in need through the “Giant Eagle Feed the Need Radiothon” that took place yesterday (3/16). Entercom Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “This is a great example of Pittsburghers taking care of each other and using the power of radio to spread the message of the need in our region. Helping the community is part of the fabric of what we do. On behalf of our amazing team at Entercom Pittsburgh, I want to once again thank our listeners for stepping up to help our neighbors in need.”

Atlanta Spa Slayings, Migrant Border Crisis, Cuomo Allegations, Stimulus Package, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Dems Attack on the Filibuster, Newsom Recall Effort, U.S. Sanctions 24 Chinese and Hong Kong Officials, and the Oscar Nominations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/16). The shooting deaths of  eight Asians at several spas in the Atlanta area by a white suspect; the Biden administration’s immigrant problem as thousands of parentless children amass at the U.S.-Mexico border; the sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the fellow Democrats calling for his resignation; Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package becomes law; the number of COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, the removal of mask mandates in some states, and the rollout of vaccines; Democrats fight with Republicans over the former’s attempt to kill the Senate filibuster; California Governor Gavin Newsom battles the recall effort against him; the U.S. sanctions 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act; and the unveiling of this year’s Oscar nominations were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pictured above is Michael Harrison contemplating lyrics to “I Know You’re Real” while walking in the woods that surround his Western Massachusetts home searching for The Tree Of To Be.

Calling All Animals! TALKERS founder Michael Harrison has put out an open “casting call” to the talk media industry readers of this publication to submit royalty free original photos of animals that are, as he puts it, “special in their lives.” Some of the photos submitted will be used in a music video project Harrison is developing for release next month about the animal welfare movement of which he is a longtime advocate. Harrison has co-written a song about the relationship between human beings and other species titled, “I Know You’re Real,” which addresses the subject of animal welfare in what he describes as an “inspirationally spiritual manner.” It has been recorded by the legendary rock band Gunhill Road of which Harrison is now an official member and will appear on the storied 50-year-old ensemble’s forthcoming 13-song album, What Year Is This! scheduled for release in April. Harrison says, “We are looking for photos of people’s domestic pets, farm animals or personal wildlife photography subjects to use in the video.” Please send JPG photo files of animals that are royalty free to Harrison at michael@talkers.com. Include the name of the animal (if it is a pet) and a statement that the photo and rights to its use are being donated to the Gunhill Road Video Project without expectation of payment or credit. (Attempts will be made to properly credit the animals and photographers if and where possible.) Two versions of the song will appear on the album. One will feature Harrison delivering the lyrics in spoken word fashion and the other will be a fully sung version featuring lead vocals by Gunhill Road member (and highly accomplished Broadway musician) Brian Koonin. The 2021 incarnation of Gunhill Road consists of founding members Steve Goldrich and Glenn Leopold, longtime member Paul Reisch, and recently added members Harrison and Koonin. Harrison and the other band members will be available for talk media interviews upon the release of the album. Stay tuned to TALKERS for more information about this project coming in early April.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

| March 16, 2021

Cox Media Group’s ‘95.5 WSB’ Names Erick Erickson Early Afternoon Host. At news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta, Cox Media Group announces that the daypart long occupied by the “Rush Limbaugh Show” will be hosted by the station’s Erick Erickson, beginning on Monday (3/22). Erickson will move from his current 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot and the station’s early evening host Mark Arum will take over the 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm program. WSB will air an hour of Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity program live at 3:00 pm and will air the rest of the show delayed from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. WSB director of branding & programming Drew Anderssen says, “With these lineup changes, 95.5 WSB will better serve Atlanta with more local programming. Erick Erickson and Mark Arum are both tremendous talents, and the move will continue to strengthen the extraordinary brand that is 95.5 WSB.” Erickson also hosts his own self-syndicated 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET talk radio show that has garnered almost 20 affiliate stations in its first year (although speculation has already begun that other syndication developments could be in the works that take into account the host’s new schedule).  Erickson says, “I would never have gotten into radio without encouragement from Rush Limbaugh who has been gracious over the years with a lot of great advice and guidance. It was an honor to fill in for him on his show, and it is overwhelming and humbling to move into the slot Rush occupied with such distinction for so long. I appreciate and intend to live up to the responsibility that comes with this time slot.” Mark Arum, who’s been with WSB since 1997, also serves as traffic anchor for WSB-TV’s “Channel 2 Action News This Morning.” Arum says, “When I was hired at 95.5 WSB over 23 years ago, I could never have envisioned that I would ever get the opportunity to host a drive time show on the best news and talk station in the nation. It’s a cliché, but this is truly a dream come true.”

WOKV-FM, Jacksonville Goes Local in the ‘Rush Daypart.’ As sister news/talk giant WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta is doing (see story above), Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville is filling the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart occupied by Rush Limbaugh for so many years with a local host, in this case current late morning personality Mark Kaye. CMG says that Kaye “has been growing his audience on 104.5 FM from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon for multiple years. Mark has gained a national following through multiple video streaming platforms, as well as a show on Newsmax TV.” Cox will fill Kaye’s current daypart with FOX News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade whose radio show will air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Kaye comments, “As a life-long fan of Rush Limbaugh, I am still adjusting to a world without his voice. Producing a daily show in ‘Rush’s timeslot’ is a daunting task for any broadcaster, but I am grateful to the leadership team at CMG and 104.5 WOKV for placing their trust in me. With the audience’s help I promise to do my best to keep Rush’s spirit, energy, and unique brand of conservative entertainment alive. This is an incredibly bittersweet opportunity.”

iHeartMedia Names Paul Rogers Area President for North Florida. Media executive Paul Rogers is named area president for iHeartMedia’s newly configured North Florida area that includes Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Panama City. Rogers takes over for Nicky Sparrow who was recently promoted to SVP of multicultural sales for iHeartMedia Markets Group. Rogers reports to division president Linda Byrd. She says, “I’ve worked with Paul for over 35 years, in many different roles. His integrity, judgment, professionalism, and competitiveness are what any manager would look for in a market leader. He is the perfect choice as a successor, and I have no doubt that he will take this area to the next level. I also want to thank Nicky for the great work she has done in getting Jacksonville to where we are today and congratulate her on this exciting new opportunity to expand her role in iHeartMedia.” Rogers has been serving iHeartMedia as market president for Tallahassee and Panama City since 2017.

Townsquare Media 2020 Q4 Net Revenue Down 3.2%; Full Year Revenue Declines 15%. Compared the second quarter of 2020 when Townsquare Media’s net revenue was down 35% compared to 2019, the fourth quarter’s decline of just 3.2% was a source of joy for CEO Bill Wilson. While Q4 net revenue was $108.5 million (down 3.2%), net revenue for the full year was $371.3 million, down 15% from the full year 2019 ($431.4 million). What has Wilson pumped is Townsquare’s digital assets. He says, “Townsquare Interactive, our digital monthly subscription business, excelled throughout the year, accelerating year-over-year net revenue growth in Q4 to +16% and generating over $70 million of revenue for the full year (+14% YoY) at a profit margin of approximately 30%. In total, digital net revenue increased +6% year over year, driven by both Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite (our digital programmatic advertising platform), which grew net revenue by +11% year over year.  With $162 million of 2020 digital net revenue, digital now accounts for approximately 44% of our total net revenue, further differentiating us in the local media marketplace.” Wilson says that the company is proud of its roots and DNA in local radio, “2020 was the year Townsquare became a ‘Digital First’ company.” He says, “I am also pleased to reaffirm our expectation that Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite will each generate $100 million in revenue in two to three years. 2020 served to accelerate Townsquare’s transformation into a premier local media and digital marketing solutions company proudly super-serving markets outside the top 50 markets.”

TALKERS News Notes. One of WFAN, New York afternoon co-host Craig Carton’s fraud victims is petitioning the court asking that Carton’s restitution order be rewritten because Carton has returned to the Entercom sports talk station in what petitioner Gerard LoDuka says “is almost surely an extremely lucrative job,” according to a piece in the New York Post. LoDuka claims that the restitution order requiring him to pay 15% of his yearly income toward the nearly $5 million he owes victims should be rewritten because of his new, high-profile job. But Carton’s attorney says Carton makes “a fraction” of his previous salary as morning drive co-host…..Cumulus Media announces that for the second year in a row, news/talk KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno’s “Morning News” takes home the Golden Mike Award for “Best Newscast under 15 minutes” (Division B) from the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California. KMJ news anchors Matt Otstot, Tony Manes, Liz Kern and Aaron Abeytia – along with sports anchor George Takata and weather anchor Kimberly Kolliner – teamed up for the winning newscast…..The National Association of Broadcasters is offering a new online training course for radio stations containing critical information and guidelines for complying with Federal Communications Commission regulations. The Radio Rules! A Guide to FCC Regulations for Radio Stations course is now available here. The scenario-based training course tests participants’ understanding of acceptable practices for FCC regulation compliance. The guide outlines compliance related to content, advertising, station operation and management, copyright, and public files and reporting in four learning activities.

Mildred Carter Mentoring Program Announces 2021 Participants. The Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group, a volunteer organization dedicated to developing management and leadership skills for women in radio broadcasting, introduces the MIW Group Mildred Carter Mentoring Program’s Class of 2021. They are (pictured above from left to right) The 2021 class is comprised of the following professionals, listed in alphabetical order: Lisa Kirkman, national accounts director, Ruby Radio, Northeastern Nevada; Jenna Miller, integrated sales manager, Cox Media Group, Tampa; Tonee Roper, on-air personality and promotions director, Neuhoff Media, Springfield, Illinois; and Ashley Wilson, director of country programming, iHeartMedia, Kentucky/Indiana Region. The program, now in its 20th year, matches up-and-coming women in radio with female professionals recognized as leaders in all aspects of the industry. vCreative is serving as the lead sponsor of this year’s program. The MIW Group Mildred Carter Mentoring Program is named in the memory of Mildred Carter who, along with her husband Andrew “Skip” Carter, founded the first African American-owned radio station in the U.S. in 1950, when they turned on KPRS, Kansas City.

Migrant Border Crisis, COVID-19, Cuomo Allegations, Stimulus Package, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Voting Bills, Georgia’s Trump Investigation, Gavin Newsom Recall Effort, North Korea Warns U.S., and the Grammy Awards/Oscar Nominations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/15). The Biden administration’s immigrant problem as thousands of parentless children amass at the U.S.-Mexico border; the number of COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, the removal of mask mandates in some states, and the rollout of vaccines; the sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the fellow Democrats calling for his resignation; Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package becomes law; the voting bills in various states critics say will make voting more difficult; the investigation into Donald Trump’s call to the Georgia Secretary of State asking for more votes; California Governor Gavin Newsom battles the recall effort against him; the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un warns the U.S. about military exercises with South Korea, and Sunday night’s Grammy awards and the unveiling of this year’s Oscar nominations were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, February 26, 2021

| February 26, 2021

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, “Feeding an Environment of Fear,” looks back at this past week of February 22-26, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Gary Sutton, talk show host, WSBA, York, PA; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Dr. Renee Kohanski, podcaster, Clinical Correlation, Medscape‘s MDEdge Psychcast / forensic psychiatrist; Rush Limbaugh, late talk radio icon; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. 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, MD; 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; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; 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.

iHeartMedia 2020 Q4 Revenue Down 8.8%; Full Year Revenue Declines 20%. Reporting its financial data for the fourth quarter and for the full year of 2020, iHeartMedia fares a little better than its two major competitors (based on the number of radio stations owned) Cumulus Media and Entercom Communications. Fourth quarter revenue was $935.5 million, a decline of 8.8% from the same period in 2019. For the full year, revenue was $2.9 billion, down 20% from the full year 2019. Although the company reports net income of $2.9 million in Q4 2020, that’s down 95% from the $62.1 million net income reported in Q4 of 2019. For the full year 2020, iHeartMedia reports a net loss of $1.9 billion. It reported net income of $11.2 billion in 2019. iHeartMedia says that strong sequential improvement is continuing since the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. It also reports that digital revenue increased 26% year-over-year, including a 91% increase in podcasting revenue. Company chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are pleased that the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn – and it’s particularly rewarding to see the impressive performance from our areas of strategic investment, like podcasting, SmartAudio, digital, and Ad Tech. In addition, with our new reportable segments, we will be able to provide additional insights into both our largest segment and our fastest-growing segment, and help highlight the key metrics and impressive performance of each.” iHeartMedia COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our swift response to the COVID pandemic and our diligent management of expenses throughout the year enabled us to successfully achieve approximately $250 million of savings in 2020. This cost management enhanced our operating leverage and helped us to achieve adjusted EBITDA of $265 million in the fourth quarter, which was an improvement of 64% over the third quarter. The continued sequential improvement of our revenue, adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow over the past three quarters has us well positioned for continued recovery into 2021, and our commitment to make the majority of the $200 million of COVID-19 related savings permanent will further enhance the company’s operating leverage as revenue recovers.”

iHeartMedia Unveils New Business Operating Structure. Saying that this new structure reflects the “increasing size and importance” of its digital businesses, iHeartMedia announces that its two divisions – the Digital Audio Group and the Multiplatform Group – will publicly report their financial data separately and will have dedicated management. The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the iHeartRadio digital service and its podcasting business while the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group includes its broadcast radio assets. The company says that as of the fourth quarter of 2020, the Digital Audio Group encompassed almost 20% of the company’s consolidated revenue and 23% of its earnings, and during that quarter grew revenue by 53% year-over-year and Adjusted EBITDA by 74% year-over-year. The company expects the Digital Audio Group will continue to grow as an increasing proportion of its business in the future. It adds that separate reporting of these two operating segments will provide “improved visibility into the underlying performances, results and margin profiles of these distinct audio-driven businesses.” Here’s how it breaks down: The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the podcasting business; the iHeartRadio digital service; the company’s digital sites, newsletters, digital services and programs; and its digital advertising technology companies, including Jelli, RadioJarUnified and Voxnest, and will also include the recently-announced Triton Digital upon completion of the acquisition. Leading the division will be Conal Byrne as CEO and Darren Davis as COO, with Carter Brokaw serving as the president of digital revenue and Jessica Jerrick as EVP of digital distribution and platform partnerships. Meanwhile, iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group – representing almost 75% of the company’s revenue – includes the 860-plus radio stations in 160 markets; the company’s live and virtual events business; and its national sales organization (which will use iHeartMedia’s full array of products, from broadcast radio and events to its SmartAudio suite of data targeting and attribution products, which allows informed digital-like planning against targeted audiences with the benefit of broadcast scale and impact, as well as using all of the products from the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group). Premiere Networks, which includes the Total Traffic and Weather Network; and BIN: Black Information Network, will also join this group. Leading the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group will be Greg Ashlock as CEO and Tim Castelli as chief revenue officer.  Julie Talbott joins this group as president of Premiere Networks; Hartley Adkins becomes president of the Markets Group; Jeff Howard remains president of national sales and Tony Coles as president of BIN: Black Information Network. Bob Pittman says, “These new reportable segments will enable us to strengthen the mission and tighten the focus of both the iHeart Digital Audio Group and the iHeart Multiplatform Group, while accelerating our ability to deliver industry-leading products and services to our listeners and advertising partners across all of our platforms. Creating these two business reportable segments will allow us to provide the investment community with increased visibility into the financial results of each segment – enabling them to better appreciate the strong growth and success of our digital businesses, including our industry-leading podcast business, as well as the continued strength of our broadcast radio and marquee events businesses.”

Entercom Announces New Programming Leadership Structure. This enhancement of Entercom’s programming leadership structure for its central programming team leaves Pat Paxton in his current position as chief programming officer. He says, “This enhanced leadership team will supplement our premium content offering throughout our portfolio and ensure we have the premier collection of personalities engaging deeply with our audiences nationwide. It will also allow us to best integrate the innovation of new products and content so we are continuously growing the impact and reach of our offering and super serving our 170 million listeners each month.” In this new structure EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano continues to manage Entercom’s sports, all-news, and news/talk brands. He is also being charged with growing Entercom’s content insights and analytics capabilities and overseeing its network and syndicated content development. Dave Richards joins the central programming leadership team as senior vice president of programming, rising from his SVP of programming of KISW, Seattle for the last 19 years and having developed programs like “The Men’s Room” and concepts like KISW’s annual “Live Day.” In his new role, Richards will be responsible for original content ideation, talent development, and coaching. He’ll spearhead Entercom’s efforts to support its expanding business portfolio, which includes RADIO.COM, Cadence13, and Pineapple Street Studios, through the generation of cross-platform content. Michael Martin continues to serve as SVP of programming and music initiatives and oversees Entercom’s relationships with artists, management, and record labels and lead its efforts to collaborate with the artist community on event, digital, and social opportunities. The company also announces the following members of its executive committee, who will collaborate to develop and oversee programming strategy across the company: Pat Paxton; Jeff Sottolano; Michael Martin; Dave Richards; Pam Russo, SVP and general manager, RADIO.COM; Bill Smee, VP of news; Matt Volk, VP of sports; Nikki Nite, VP of programming and brand manager, Entercom Austin; and Reggie Rouse, urban format captain, Entercom, and brand manager, Entercom Atlanta.

Round Three of January 2021 PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. The January 2021 survey covered January 7 – February 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland jumps from the #6 rank to #3 on the strength of 1.4 share increase that helped it finish the January survey with a 6.2 share. Urban One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte tacks on 1.6 shares for a 6.6 share finish and a jump from #5 to #3. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK, Sacramento regains the #1 rank after adding 2.4 share to wrap the survey with a 10.2 share. In Salt Lake City, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-FM also claims the #1 rank after adding 1.9 shares to post a 7.9 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report for this round or markets (as well as his Takeaways from the first two rounds) here.

TALKERS News Notes. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM, Chicago is honoring the memory of former morning drive host Bob Collins, who would have been 79 on Sunday (2/28). Collins died in a small plane collision in 2000. On today’s Bob Sirott morning show, staffers WGN toasted Collins this morning (2/26) at 7:48 and, according to tradition, poured from the bottle of Jack Daniel’s found in Collins’s office. Also on the air with Sirott today were retired WGN morning host Spike O’Dell (who succeeded Collins) and retired agribusiness reporter Orion Samuelson.…..The nationally syndicated “Dan Bongino Show” hits the 100 affiliate station mark a year after its launch. Cumulus Media’s Westwood One says that – in addition to being heard on stations like KABC-AM, Los Angeles; KSFO-AM, San Francisco; and KSEV-AM, Houston – from the November election through February 22, the Dan Bongino Show podcast “boasted more than 51 million downloads on Apple, Spotify and other major platforms, rising 27% during that period.” Bongino says, “Growing up a fan of conservative talk radio makes this moment extra special for me. To be able to reach people across the country with a strong pro-liberty, pro-freedom message is the honor of a lifetime. Special thanks as well to the affiliates partnering with us in this venture.”…..A new sports radio imaging service called Game Plan is being offered to stations from SPLAT! and is syndicated by Sun Broadcast Group. SPLAT! says GAME PLAN is “a new kind of sports radio imaging service, designed specifically to sharpen the competitive edge of local stations, while simultaneously complementing the power of network sports brands. With GAME PLAN, a local station’s imaging sounds just as bold and powerful as their network imaging, maybe even better.”…..Entercom and Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates announce a multiyear radio broadcast contract extension for sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” to continue to serve as the Pirates’ flagship radio station. Under the terms of the new deal, all Pirates weekday afternoon games will air on “93.7 The Fan” and sister news/talk KDKA-AM/W261AX.

COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines and Variants Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 22-26, 2021. The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines and the concern about variants creating another wave of cases combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the U.S. economy tied with the education crisis. Following at #3 was the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s nominees for attorney general, interior secretary, and White House budget office, tied with Donald Trump’s planned speech at CPAC on Sunday. 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.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

| February 25, 2021

Nielsen Publishes ‘Podcasting Today: Insights for Podcast Advertisers.’ This new report from Nielsen presents demographic data about podcast listeners and indicates what kinds of podcasts are being consumed by listeners based on ethnicity, age, and other factors. Nielsen says, “After a decade of audience growth, podcasts have become an extremely appealing advertising platform. And with broadening appeal and strong listener engagement, brands should be looking to them as a more personalized way to connect with audiences who are maxed out on visual inputs. Importantly, podcast advertising – particularly when delivered by the podcast host – drives stronger brand recall punch than more traditional forms of advertisements. For example, Nielsen’s podcast effectiveness studies have found that host-read ads drive a brand recall rate of 71%, which subsequently creates high levels of consumer interest, purchase intent and recommendation intent.”  Nielsen says that regardless of demographic breakdown, podcast listeners – both light and heavy users – are “among the most desirable audiences across the entire media landscape. That’s because of two key factors: Podcast audiences are very engaged with the content they listen to and podcast listeners have much higher household incomes than the general population. The growing base of 22 million light podcast listeners have a median annual household income of just over $80,000, while the 14 million heavy podcast listeners have a median income of $88,600.” But figuring out which podcasts will be most effective for marketers is the challenge. Nielsen says, “Unlike it does with traditional forms of media, traditional audience measurement does not provide brand advertisers with enough guidance for reliable podcast targeting. Advertising with a well-known title can certainly provide reach, but it doesn’t guarantee resonance or that listeners will take action. The world is moving away from cookies, bots, and anonymous impressions, and that elevates the importance of actual people. And when it comes to podcast advertising, there is no substitute for knowing what actual people are listening to, what they respond to and how to best engage them as a brand.”

Round Two of January PPM Ratings Released. The second of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, DC; Boston; Miami; Seattle; Detroit; Phoenix; Minneapolis; San Diego; Tampa; Denver; Baltimore; and St. Louis. The January 2021 survey period covered January 7 – February 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. In Washington, Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM adds 1.3 shares to finish the survey with a 5.9 share and jumps to the #5 rank while Hubbard Radio’s crosstown all-news WTOP-FM rises to the #2 rank on the strength of a 1.8 share jump to a 9.9 share finish. iHeartMedia’s all-news WBZ-AM, Boston claims the #1 rank after tacking on 1.7 shares to finish the survey with an 8.2 share. Sister news/talk WRKO also improves – by nine-tenths to a 5.2 share – but remains ranked #8. Sinclair Broadcast Group’s all-news KOMO-AM/FM, Seattle rises to the #4 rank after adding 1.1 shares for a 5.7 share finish, but Bonneville’s crosstown news/talk KIRO-FM remains ranked #1 after adding two-tenths and posting a 7.4 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Premiere Networks’ Buck Sexton and Ben Ferguson to Broadcast from CPAC. The Conservative Political Action Conference takes place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Orlando today through Sunday and Premiere Networks-syndicated personalities Buck Sexton and Ben Ferguson will broadcast from the event. The nightly “Buck Sexton Show” and “The Ben Ferguson Podcast” will remote broadcast today and tomorrow and will feature interviews with speakers and special guests. Additionally, Ferguson will emcee a speaker series titled, “The Left’s Assault on a Free People: How Government, Big Tech and Media are Colluding to Deprive Us of Our Humanity,” on Friday at 1:40 pm, which will be followed by an appearance by Sexton on a panel titled, “Big Tech is for Sale, and Russia and China are Buying” at 2:55 pm ET.

Dan Proft to Give Up SRN Syndicated Evening Show. According to a report by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, Dan Proft will end his role as host of the Salem Radio Network evening show after the March 5 edition and will focus on his daily morning radio show on the company’s WIND “AM 560 The Answer.” He may transition the night show into a podcast to be offered via the Salem Podcast Network. Proft took over the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight syndicated program after former host Joe Walsh left to run for the White House as a Republican.

Rare Rush Limbaugh Interview from 1990 Posted on Harrison Podcast. A clean audio copy of an interview Michael Harrison conducted over the phone with Rush Limbaugh during the Summer of 1990 emerged in 2016 after spending more than a quarter century stuffed in a forgotten dust-covered box marked “misc.” in the storage bins of the TALKERS archives. It is the historic centerpiece of this week’s installment of the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison had just launched TALKERS magazine – the talk media trade publication – in July of that year. Rush was the hottest up-and-coming talent in the business on the air with his national program that launched less than two years earlier. He was cleared at that time on about 240 stations which was a huge deal based on the standards of that era. According to Harrison, “Rush was still the new kid in town – provocative, exotic and controversial – not only politically but industrially as well. And the jury was still out – in terms of radio industry opinion – about whether or not a syndicated show could make it in prime daytime slots on the biggest stations in America. At that point, syndication was reserved largely for off-hour filler shows – mostly overnights and weekends.” Harrison adds, “I was talking with Rush for a print interview that ran in the third issue of TALKERS dated August 20, 1990 – almost 31 years ago! The recording was slapped together on Radio Shack equipment with one microphone, a cassette deck and one of those speaker boxes that were popular in that era. It was never intended for airplay – only as a transcription for reference to be used in print. And I didn’t conduct the conversation for the purposes of it actually being a show unto itself. It was just a utilitarian recording designed to be transcribed for print. I guess that’s why I eventually tossed it in a box of miscellaneous items… because, from my perspective in those days, it had served its purpose in helping produce the print product. But now, more than three decades later, it is radio history gold! Knowing what we know now, it is pretty amazing! It contains the seeds of the concepts, opinions, and seminal intelligence that set the stage for the modern era of talk radio.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Broadcsters Foundation of America Assisting Broadcasters Hit by Extreme Weather. The Broadcasters Foundation of America is providing emergency aid to broadcasters who’ve been hit hard by the recent extreme weather conditions in Texas and the surrounding states. BFoA says more than 20 requests have come in over the past five days from employees of TEGNA, Nexstar, Radio One, Entercom, FOX, and more, with the first of those checks going out to qualifying individuals today.  BFoA vice president Peter Doyle says, “Broken pipes, power outages, displacement, and more have brought devastation to many of our colleagues. The Foundation’s Emergency Grant Program is set up with a streamlined vetting process that allows us to move quickly and get checks to those in desperate need. We’re asking every broadcaster in affected areas to help us get the word out to those who may need our assistance.” Broadcasters interested in applying for aid may visit the Apply for Aid section of the Broadcasters Foundation website here and select Emergency Grants on the right, which will take them to the Emergency Grant & Disaster Information Request Form. The Broadcasters Foundation has disbursed over $1 million to qualifying broadcasters through its Emergency Grant Program. One-time emergency grants are awarded for up to $2,000 each to qualifying broadcasters recovering from a natural disaster, such as hurricanes, tornados, fires, floods, or other serious misfortune.

TALKERS News Notes. Marketing pro Brian Swarth joins Entercom in the newly created position of head of marketing, podcasts. In this role, Swarth will lead and oversee all marketing and PR for Entercom’s premium podcast division including Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios. He’ll report directly to Cadence13 chief content officer Chris Corcoran. Swarth was most recently with SHOWTIME Networks as SVP of digital media and marketing…..iHeartMedia’s BIN: Black Information Network is working with the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative to help kick off their “It’s Up To You” COVID-19 vaccine education initiative. This effort is designed to combat the high rates of vaccine hesitancy among communities of color. BIN president Tony Coles says, “Based on research, the Black community is the least likely group to be receptive to taking a COVID-19 vaccine. Our goal is to present the most accurate news and information to help curb the future impact of COVID-19 on the communities we serve, by both answering questions around vaccination and providing resources for the public to get informed.”…..Media software solutions firm vCreative announces that it has entered into a long-term agreement with Alpha Media to provide its vPPO service as well as adding the vTrade service to all Alpha Media stations nationwide…..SiriusXM is launching the new “Jess Cagle Podcast with Julia Cunningham” today (2/25). The new weekly podcast will feature interviews with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Jodie Foster, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Regina King, Jared Leto and Aaron Sorkin. New episodes drop every Thursday on the SiriusXM app, Pandora and Stitcher…..ABC News kicks off Women’s History Month with its new podcast, “In Plain Sight: Lady Bird Johnson,” co-produced with Best Case Studios and hosted by author Julia Sweig. The podcast is drawn from more than 123 hours of the former first lady’s mostly unheard daily audio diaries and presents a surprising and original portrait of Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson, told in her own words. The first two episodes of the eight-part series debut on Monday, March 1.

Cool Operations Manager Opportunity. Locally owned southern-based radio group seeking a full-time Operations Manager with strong technical and digital skills. The ideal candidate MUST have experience operating OP-X and managing satellite operations for syndicated programs. Applicant must have at least 5 years of experience. Proven experience in managing social media branding, digital marketing, and video production. Proficient in digital automation systems, digital audio editing and production is a must. EEO. Send resumes to dalton@starnesmediagroup.com

Former Arkansas Talk Host Pat Lynch Dies at 70. According to a story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, former KARN, Little Rock talk radio personality Pat Lynch has died at age 70. Lynch was a talk host at KARN-AM from 1983 to 2000. He later worked at KABZ-FM and KDXE-FM in the Little Rock market. He was also a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from 2000 through August of 2011. After leaving the broadcasting business, Lynch became a member of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church and went on to earn a diploma in theological studies from the Anglican School of Ministry in Little Rock.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, New Stimulus Package, Trump to Speak at CPAC-State of the GOP, Biden Cabinet Confirmation Hearings, Capitol Insurrection Testimony, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, and Tiger Woods Car Crash Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/24). The falling number of COVID cases in the U.S., concern about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the negotiations over Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package; the Conservative Political Action Conference and Donald Trump’s Sunday speech; the confirmation hearings for Biden nominees Merrick Garland, Neera Tanden, and Deb Haaland; the Senate testimony about the January 6 Capitol riot; the sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; and the Tiger Woods car crash were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, February 19, 2021

| February 19, 2021

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, “Forks and Bumps,” looks back at this past week of February 15-19, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Brett Winterble, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte; Joe Madison, talk show host, SiriusXM Satellite RadioHowie Carr, talk show host, WRKO, Boston / Howie Carr Radio NetworkDave Congalton, talk show host, KVEC, San Luis Obispo, CA; and Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, talk show host, the Joe Pags Show. 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, Delmarva; 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; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio 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.

Wisconsin Radio Host Len Nelson Suspended for Limbaugh Post. Rock WAPL-FM, Appleton, Wisconsin morning personality Len Nelson has been suspended indefinitely by station owner Woodward Communications for a now-deleted message he posted to his personal Facebook page that was critical of Rush Limbaugh. Nelson’s missive blamed Limbaugh for causing “damage to public discourse in America” and charged that his radio program was “steeped in bigotry, misogyny, hypocrisy, lies and malice.” He closed the post saying, “I will not celebrate his death, but I will not feel sorry for it, either. The world is a better place without Rush Limbaugh in it.” Woodward Communications posted the following to the WAPL website: “Recently we were made aware of a social media post placed on a personal Facebook page by one of our employees, Len Nelson. His personal views are not reflective of the core values of WAPL nor of Woodward Radio Group. We are deeply committed to being good people. We appreciate our listeners, sponsors and advertisers and want to assure each one of you this matter is being addressed swiftly. Thank you for reaching out to us with your concerns, we are listening.” Nelson posted an apology to his Facebook page in which he acknowledges he may ultimately be fired as a result of his actions. He also says he regrets not taking the time to consider how his actions may have affected others.

Rush Limbaugh’s Voice to Be Heard on Radio for the Long Term. According to Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott, “Our plan is to provide the millions of loyal listeners with the voice of Rush Limbaugh for the long term. No one can replace Rush Limbaugh. We will have a variety of hosts that will guide the audio of Rush for all of the important issues of the day, including recent guest hosts Mark Steyn, Todd Herman, and Ken Matthews. With over 30 years of audio, Rush has a definite view on all of these issues. Every single element of Rush Limbaugh-branded assets will continue, including his daily show and podcast, daily update, weekend ‘best of’ three-hour show and digital/printed offerings.”

TALKERS News Notes. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand is reporting that WFAN, New York afternoon drive co-host Craig Carton is talking with the MLB Network about hosting a daily, morning TV show. Marchand says MLB Network declined to comment about the story…..The NAB announces new appointments to its NAB Television Board of Directors and its NAB Radio Board of Directors. On the TV side, RaMona Alexander, vice president and general manager of WDBD-TV, Jackson, Mississippi and Cox Media Group president and CEO Dan York join. On the radio side, Cox Media Group SVP and head of radio Rob Babin becomes a board member…..iHeartMedia announces the launch of “Calm Down with Erin and Charissa,” a talk show-style podcast hosted by sportscasters and longtime friends Erin Andrews and Charissa Thompson. The podcast features Andrews and Thompson discussing their lives and careers and “pulls back the curtain on the lives of two successful women at the top of their field.”…..Cadence13 unveils the first three audio movies under its new scripted studio, C13Features, that is “focused on creating and owning compelling fictionalized feature-length audio stories of all genres that appeal to a wide audience.” Cadence13, part of Entercom, says that while the podcast space has traditionally used the serialized multi-episode approach, C13Features aims to tighten the storytelling experience with compelling and dramatic creative arcs, and not force listeners to have to wait for more episodes to find out what happens next. C13Features aspires to give listeners gripping stories with a beginning, a middle and an end, all in one feature-length 90-minute episode, for listeners to experience however and whenever they’d like.” It has three audio movies lined up for release this year…..Podcast producer Ramble, a division of Cadence13, is launching Marc & Heidi: The Other D’Amelios, a new weekly podcast hosted by Marc and Heidi D’Amelio, entrepreneurs and parents of worldwide social media phenoms Charli and Dixie D’Amelio. Known as “the first family of TikTok,” Marc and Heidi D’Amelio have a combined social media following of nearly twenty-three million followers. They are the parents of Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, the Gen-Z content creators who quickly evolved into a worldwide social media phenomenon with a combined social following of nearly 300 million followers.

#LovePup Working with Grocery Stores to Promote Animal Welfare. The animal welfare charity #LovePup founded by syndicated radio personality Johnjay Van Es (pictured here with his wife Blake) and his family is working with the Safeway and Albertsons grocery chains (operating in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah) to help save homeless animals in their communities. People visiting Safeway or Albertsons stores this month can donate at the PIN pad to benefit several animal welfare organizations in Arizona, Las Vegas and Las Cruces with the goal of raising $1 million. #LovePup says that homeless dogs and cats are a huge problem in the Southwest with more than 50,000 animals entering shelters every year. Those shelter organizations need funds to help with medical care, vaccinations, spay/neuter, and microchipping.

Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Possession. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that former KMOX, St. Louis personality Harry Hamm has pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of child porn and one count of access with intent to view child porn. Hamm was a longtime entertainment editor for KMOX, most recently appearing on the station’s “Total Information AM Weekend Edition” reporting on theater openings and movies. He was fired from the station after his arrest. The 79-year old Hamm is also being charged with felony charges of second-degree statutory sodomy, incest and possession of child pornography, to which he’s pleaded not guilty. Sentencing on the guilty plea has been delayed for two months.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 15-19. The declining number of positive COVID cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was a tie between the related power struggle in the Republican Party, the investigation into the Capitol insurrection, and the aftermath of the Donald Trump impeachment. Following at #3 was the death of talk radio legend Rush Limbaugh at age 70. 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.

He’s Was Talk Radio’s Premiere Songwriter

| February 18, 2021

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS magazine
Managing Editor

 

LOS ANGELES — Arguably the leading voice of the conservative movement over the last several decades, 70-year-old Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday (2/17) after a battle with advanced lung cancer.

His diagnosis was announced to listeners of his radio show exactly one year ago (February 2020).

News of his passing was delivered by his wife, Kathryn, on Wednesday’s Premiere Networks radio broadcast.

Read More

Thursday, January 14, 2021

| January 14, 2021

Key Networks Names Deidra Hoye to Lead Expanded Sales Team. Syndication firm Key Networks appoints network advertising sales executive Deidra Hoye to the senior vice president, ad sales position in which she’ll lead the company’s newly expanded sales team. Los Angeles-based Hoye will supervise the enhanced sales team of veteran network radio sales professionals that includes recent hires Maggie Sisco, vice president, Eastern sales; Brian Pollina, vice president, Midwest sales; and Michelle McLynn, supervisor of sales support & operations. Hoye previously served as vice president, network sales, for Premiere Networks. Sisco joins Key Networks from PodcastOne, where she was vice president/director of sales, Eastern region. Pollina comes to Key Networks from United Stations Radio Networks, where he was vice president of digital assets and Midwest sales. McLynn joins Key from Westwood One, where she was affiliate services manager. Key Networks and Sun & Fun Media CEO Rob Koblasz says, “We are delighted to welcome Deidra to the Key Networks team. Her wealth of experience in the network ad sales arena will allow us to serve our partners now and as we grow our network. Deidra’s leadership along with the breadth of experience of our team is a winning combination for our customers.” Key Networks syndicates “The O’Reilly Update,” starring Bill O’Reilly to almost 250 radio stations. It also manages all network advertising sales, affiliate sales, and marketing for Bloomberg Radio and distributes “Shawn Parr’s Across The Country,” as well as news/talk program “The Jesse Kelly Show,” alt rock morning program, “The Billy Madison Show,” and Virtual Jock programming services.

KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh News Anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas to Retire. Pittsburgh news anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas is retiring from her PM drive anchor post at Entercom’s news/talk KDKA-AM after 45years in the broadcasting business. Ryan-Douglas has been with KDKA-AM since 2002. She joined KDKA-AM after anchoring the morning news at crosstown (current classic hits outlet) WWSW “3WS” for almost 20 years. Entercom Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “Rose has been the ultimate news professional. Not only will we miss her on the air but her calming influence in the newsroom is irreplaceable. On behalf of all of us at KDKA Radio and our listeners we thank her for the tremendous work she has done over the years.” Her last shift will be Friday, February 26.

Seth Goldberg Exits ‘ESPN Syracuse’ for Gig with the NBA. Syracuse.com reports that WTLA-AM, Syracuse “ESPN Radio Syracuse” host and producer Seth Goldberg is leaving the radio station to take a position with the NBA. Goldberg began working at WTLA in 2015 producing “Upon Further Review” with hosts Chris McManus and Steve Neikam while still a student at Syracuse University. Joining WTLA full time after graduating in 2016, Goldberg has been co-host and producer for “Orange Nation” (co-hosted with Steve Infanti), and produces “On the Block,” a program with Syracuse.com’s Brent Axe. Both programs also are featured on the WTLA-SU Twitch streaming channel ‘Cuse Sports Talk.’ Galaxy Media CEO Ed Levine says Goldberg’s on-air role on “Orange Nation” will be filled in the interim by Paulie Scibilia.

Beasley Media Group’s Preliminary Q4 Net Revenue Down 5.8%-6.5%. Releasing preliminary financial data from the fourth quarter of 20201, Beasley Media Group says it expects net revenue for the period to be approximately $67.4 million to $67.9 million. Compared to the same period in 2019, the figures represent a decrease of between 5.8% and 6.5%. The company says the change reflects a year-over-year decrease in commercial advertising revenue due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, partially offset by growth in digital, esports, and political revenue. Other data points include: fourth quarter 2020 Station Operating Income increased by approximately 23.1% to 28.8% year-over-year to approximately $19.2 million to $20.1 million; and fourth quarter 2020 EBITDA increased by approximately 25.0% to 33.8% year-over-year to approximately $17.0 million to $18.2 million. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “We expect to report top-line revenue improvement in the second half of the year, with sequential quarter-over-quarter growth in both the third and fourth quarters of 2020. Our preliminary fourth quarter performance also demonstrates the significant operating benefits from the actions we took earlier this year to address the pandemic, including reducing station operating expenses and negotiating discounts with landlords, service providers, and partners. Although it is difficult to predict what the impact of COVID-19 will be in the coming months, we remain optimistic that the commercial advertising market will return to more normalized revenue levels as we move further into the year, following broad vaccine distribution.”

CES2021: Technology Is Merely the Plumbing. As the (virtual) convention that reporters are scolded for calling “the Consumer Electronics Show” wraps today, consultant Holland Cooke urges broadcasters to focus on product, not package. Read his analysis here.

First Detroit Sports Talk Show Hosted by Frank Beckmann? Not So Fast… Former longtime Detroit Free Press writer John Smyntek reaches out to TALKERS magazine to let us know that legendary Detroit radio personality Frank Beckmann – who announced his retirement from Cumulus Media’s WJR-AM on Wednesday (it takes effect at the end of March) – was not the first to host a sports talk program on Detroit radio as the press release from WJR claims. Smyntek says, “WXYZ-AM (1270, now WXYT-AM) had the late Dave Diles hosting a daily sports talk and caller dial-in show from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm weeknights starting, I think, in 1967 and running through 1969 or 1970. Then Ron Cameron had a sports call-in format on WXYT-AM under the Chuck Fritz regime for several years in the 1970s, long before Beckmann’s show started.” Smyntek – who retired from the Free Press in 2008 – says Beckmann’s “Sportstalk” program, launched in 1981, was indeed the first sports show to air on WJR-AM.

WSB, Atlanta Talk Star Erick Erickson Is This Week’s Guest on the Harrison Podcast.  One of the rising stars of talk radio, Erick Erickson of WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” He’s one of the most important talk radio figures in the Peach State where, for the past eight years, he’s been hosting “Atlanta’s Evening News with Erick Erickson,” a 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm program on the Cox Media Group heritage station. He also hosts a recently launched, daily three-hour show airing from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon on his own independent network of almost 20 stations stretching across Georgia that many industry observers say is ready to expand nationally. His background is fascinating. Born 45 years ago in Jackson, Louisiana, he was raised between the ages of five and 15 in Dubai where his father worked for Conoco Oil as a production foreman. Returning to the U.S., he received a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and a J.D. degree from Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. He practiced law for six years at a major legal firm in Georgia. He served four years as an elected city councilman in Macon. He was one of the founders of RedState.com which he managed as editor-in-chief for 10 years. He’s been a regular contributor to CNN and FOX News Channel over the years. He’s currently attending a seminary where he is working on earning a theological degree and he’s one of the talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh turns to when he needs someone to fill in. Erickson is a conservative who has not been reluctant to tell his audience the truths he thinks they need to know as opposed to engaging in the daily dance of affirmation and only telling them what they want to hear – especially when it comes to his opinions about President Donald Trump. Don’t miss this extremely timely conversation about the state of talk radio and politics in America today recorded the day after the Capitol insurrection. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Report: Dan Le Batard and Former ESPN Boss John Skipper to Form New Sports Media Company. According to a report by Michael McCarthy at Front Office Sports, former ESPN radio and TV personality Dan Le Batard and former ESPN chief John Skipper are partnering for a new “politically progressive sports media company” that is “described as the strategic opposite of Clay TravisOutkick.” The Le Batard-Skipper partnership was first reported by the Miami Herald. McCarthy’s piece says that Le Batard and Skipper are seeking talent including former ESPN talent Jemele Hill, Bomani Jones, and Kate Fagan. Hill tells FOS, “We’re trying to figure out the most productive way to work together. Both John and Dan know I have such a deep level of respect for them. So, me working with them again always felt like it was inevitable.” Skipper is currently executive chairman of sports streaming platform DAZN. Hill, in the aftermath of her departure from ESPN, formed her own production company that produces the Vice TV show “Stick to Sports,” and the “Jemele Hill is Unbothered” Spotify podcast.

TALKERS News Notes. Detroit talk station WFDF “910 AM Superstation” announces that former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, who served as mayor during the city’s water scandal, joins the station as a talk host. She’ll appear Monday-Friday in the 8:00 am to 9:00 am hour. Adell Radio Group CEO Kevin Adell says that with former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder being criminally charged with willful neglect in conjunction with the Flint water crisis, bringing Weaver aboard is timely. “Mayor Karen Weaver watched this disgraceful water episode unfold firsthand and will have much to talk about as Rick Snyder works his way through our legal system”…..The Armstrong & Getty Show – starring Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty – announces that QBS Broadcasting’s talk WBQO-FM, Brunswick, Georgia adds the program to its lineup. WBQO program director Paul Andresen says, “There’s a reason Armstrong & Getty’s reputation precedes them. So, when tasked with finding a replacement for Clark Howard, it was a no-brainer. A&G brings a much-needed change of perspective and influx of personality to not only 93.7 WBQO, but our market as a whole. The listeners’ response, from the first show onward, has been nothing short of fantastic and I couldn’t be prouder to have Armstrong & Getty in our on-air lineup.”…..The “RMWorldTravel with Robert & Mary Carey and Rudy Maxa” announces that it has added 23 new affiliate stations in 2021 so far, bringing its affiliate roster to more than 460 stations!

U.S. House Votes to Impeach Trump, Capitol Attack Investigation, States Prep for More Attacks, Social Media and Free Speech, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, WHO Investigating COVID Origin in China, and Powerball Jackpot Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/13). The U.S. House of Representatives votes to impeach Donald Trump; the investigation into last week’s attack on the Capitol; states across the nation move to protect their capitals from potential future attacks; the removal of Donald Trump and others from social media platforms and questions about free speech; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the WHO enters China to investigate the origin of the coronavirus; and the record Powerball jackpot were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.