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Monday Memo: Listeners Kidnapped!

| May 17, 2021

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Notice how often transmitters invite listeners and viewers to leave?

NBC uses affiliates’ air to ask viewers to watch Peacock instead. They even cannibalize their own linear channels. As President Trump recently addressed Congress, Lester Holt anchored on NBC, while MSNBC “Morning Joe” stars anchored coverage on Peacock. As if Brian Williams + talking-heads on MSNBC and Shepard Smith + talking-heads on CNBC weren’t splintering viewership already.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

| April 26, 2021

Monday Memo: Help Wanted, Local Host. “Radio’s best years were between network programming that ended at the end of the 1950s and syndicated longform that now dominates talk programming and robotic music formats that displaced local DJs.” And, in this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke suggests how that same business model can restore the local programming “which will always be broadcasters’ silver bullet against digital competitors.” Read it here.

Pending Business: Pack Your Bags. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says the demand for summer travel is very high and this category of advertiser is still adjusting to new protocols. “Consider the total packaging concept you can deliver. Many marketers in the travel industry look for strong inquiry and booking accountability. Be prepared with multiple options always considering easy access for your audience to respond. As categories regroup from pandemic business paralysis new opportunities will emerge. Adjust your thinking, planning and preparation now.” Read his column here.

KVI, Seattle Names Ari Hoffman Afternoon Drive Host. After joining Sinclair Broadcast Group’s news/talk KVI, Seattle earlier this year to fill in after Kirby Wilbur’s retirement, Ari Hoffman is officially named the permanent afternoon drive host, effective today (4/26). The station says Hoffman is a local businessman and civic activist who ran for Seattle city council in 2020 who has also appeared on FOX News, Newsmax, “The Dr. Drew Show,” “60 Minutes,” and the KOMO News documentary “Seattle is Dying.” He also reports regularly on Northwest issues in The Post Millennial. He says, “I am thrilled to be joining the amazing team at KVI. If I had known how much fun this gig would be, I would have started 20 years ago. I look forward to bringing common sense ideas and a fresh take on news, politics, and the culture wars to our listeners.” KVI program director Rick Van Cise says, “Our new afternoon host was right under our nose. What’s important to you is important to Ari. He has an engaging and entertaining perspective on local and world issues that’s enlightening and fun to hear!”

Rhode Island News/Talk Pro Ron St. Pierre Launches New Podcast. A story at RINewstoday.com highlights the new podcast being launched by Rhode Island talk radio pro Ron St. Pierre (right). The new program, “Ron and Jen’s Great Escape” – co-starring Jen Brien (left) – launches on May 3. St. Pierre was most recently hosting the morning drive show on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ, Providence until the company declined to renew his contract back in December and, in an effort to save money, put the WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based Jim Polito show in WHJJ’s morning drive slot. During his career, St. Pierre has also served with crosstown WPRO-AM and WABC, New York, among other media outlets. Of his new podcast, St. Pierre says, “Our goal is to provide an escape from the negativity that can overtake conversation about the day’s hot topics…an escape from the banal repetition all too often associated with talk radio. Our goal is a positive approach to news and lifestyle topics with an infusion of humor across the board.”

Westwood One’s Hoops Coverage Generates 19.2 Million Listeners. Citing an IPSOS national audience study conducted April 9-11, Cumulus Media’s Westwood One says its exclusive live coverage of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship generated 19.2 million listeners to the play-by-play action from all 66 men’s basketball games, including eight first-round and second-round games, plus regional semifinals and finals. WWO president Suzanne Grimes comments, “We are thrilled that audio audiences for our NCAA March Madness audio coverage returned so strongly. College basketball fans were excited to experience NCAA Men’s basketball and listened across our streaming, smart speaker, and broadcast platforms.” The IPSOS study also found that listening audiences were equally distributed across demographics with 31% of listeners aged 18-34, 41% 35-64 and 27% over the age of 65. Additionally, the coverage attracted a highly educated audience that was 6% more likely than average to be college graduates and 46% more likely to have an advanced degree. 56% of the audience was employed and nearly half (47%) had household incomes of $75,000 or more.

TALKERS News Notes. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden will deliver his first speech to a Joint Session of Congress marking his 100th day in office. Salem Radio Network News is covering the speech for affiliate stations. SRN coverage will be anchored by SRN News U.S. Senate correspondent Bob Agnew and he’ll be joined by TOWNHALL News Capitol Hill correspondent Bernie Bennett…..Coverage of this year’s NFL Draft begins this week and ESPN“SportsCenter” anchors Elle Duncan and Kevin Negandhi are kicking off the network’s coverage on their “Get Up” morning show on April 29 and 30. They will also lead ESPN Radio’s NFL Draft broadcasts alongside NFL Front Office Insider Mike Tannenbaum, ESPN Radio’s Bart Scott and reporter Ian Fitzsimmons. ESPN Radio’s coverage will continue Saturday, May 1, with host Jason Fitz, NFL Draft analyst and Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy, Tannenbaum and Fitzsimmons…..C13Originals, a division of Audacy’s Cadence13, has signed on critically acclaimed bestselling author Shawn Levy for “Glitter and Might,” a documentary podcast franchise about power and influence originating from Hollywood. Season One will explore the relationship between legendary Hollywood mogul Lew Wasserman, a young actor named Ronald Reagan, and notorious labor lawyer Sidney Korshak, and the story of how they came together, and rose to become, respectively, the most powerful executive in Hollywood, the most powerful man in the world, and the most powerful lawyer in the country, forever changing the entertainment industry and the country itself.….The Independent Broadcasters Association is supporting COVID Remembrance Day on May 25 as a day of honor and reflection for those who have been lost to the pandemic. A special IBA members-only webinar is set for 2:00 pm ET on Thursday, April 29 to provide how-to instructions and outline the tools and resources that will be available to participating radio stations. COVID Remembrance Day is being produced by Paige Nienaber and CPR Promotions, in conjunction with partners MannGroup Radio, Benztown and P1 Media Group. Nienaber, who will host the webinar, says, “On COVID Remembrance Day participating stations and their listeners can reflect on the events of the past year, honor and give tribute to the victims, heroes, and people in their communities who have stepped up and been a part of the response effort. We hope every radio station in America will join us.”

Free-Form Radio Pioneer Bob Fass Dies at 87. The New York Times has the obit for legendary free-form radio personality Bob Fass, who died on April 24 at his home in Monroe, North Carolina. Fass hosted the “Radio Unnameable” overnight program on WBAI, New York for more than 50 years. Fass’s program could include any program element – avant-garde music, political talk, calls from listeners, and drop-in guests. He would have guests such as Abbie Hoffman or a young, still-largely unknown Bob Dylan.  He once told an interviewer, “I’d put anyone on, because the idea was if you didn’t like what I was doing, three minutes later I’d be doing something else.”

COVID-19, Biden’s First 100 Days, Chauvin Verdict Aftermath, Border Crisis, and Oscars Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the severe outbreak in India; President Joe Biden’s administration approaches its 100-day mark; the aftermath of the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict and the larger issue of race relations in the U.S.; the crush of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; and Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, March 15, 2021

| March 15, 2021

Monday Memo: Radio Has a 100-Year Head Start. Who ISN’T doing a podcast? “Your advertisers,” who consultant Holland Cooke notes, “are, increasingly, diverting radio dollars to digital shiny objects much less productive than assets stations can craft.” In this week’s column, HC outlines a strategy. Read it here.

Pending Business: Attitude Is Everything. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa writes in today’s column that a seller’s attitude is even more important now. “Negotiating any deal to a win-win can be delicate surgery. The economic variables, personalities, and now the lack of body language feedback can make the process frustrating.  As we move to a hybrid sales-work environment of online, in-person, Zoom, and mobile, negotiating takes on a new dimension.” Read his piece here.

Rita Cosby Returns to WABC, New York for Late Night Show. Talk and news media pro Rita Cosby makes a return to the WABC, New York airwaves as host of the 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight show, effective tonight. She fills the slot that opened when Red Apple Media recently dropped the “John Batchelor Show” from the late-night slot. Red Apple CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Rita Cosby is the best in the business, with a tremendous following and incredible background. ‘The Rita Cosby Show’ will bring a new and exciting dynamic to our important evening programming, with Rita’s top-notch interviewing skills, impeccable record in journalism, and deep ability to connect with our listeners. We are proud to welcome such a respected host to 77 WABC Radio and anticipate big success for ‘The Rita Cosby Show.’” Cosby – an Emmy-winning TV host who’s anchored programs on FOX News Channel and MSNBC – previously served with WABC from 2014-18 as a host and political editor. She says, “I am honored to be joining 77 WABC’s terrific lineup and working with legendary New York icon John Catsimatidis and his team. During this pivotal and unpredictable moment in our nation and communities, 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight will be a nonstop voice of reason and truth you will not want to miss.”

WEEI Officially Names Andy Gresh Midday Co-Host. As TALKERS reported last week, longtime Boston sports media personality Dale Arnold’s replacement on the midday show at Entercom’s sports talk WEEI-FM is Andy Gresh, the company announces. Arnold left the station after Friday’s program, capping a 30-year career on WEEI. Gresh partners with Rich Keefe for the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm “Gresh & Keefe” show, starting today (3/15). Entercom Boston regional president Mark Hannon says, “Andy Gresh has a vast amount of experience covering the Boston sports scene, making him a perfect addition to our midday programming. We’re excited to team him up with WEEI’s Rich Keefe to bring listeners a dynamic midday show that will reflect what sports fans are talking about day in and day out.” Gresh, who exited Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence earlier this year, says, “I’m excited to be back on the radio in Boston. I think people know I’m pretty familiar with this time slot, but it’s time to present something new and fresh, with energy, focus and fun. Rich Keefe and I have always had a cool relationship that I truly believe will translate through the speakers.” During his career, Gresh has hosted at “790 The Score” in Providence; WFAN, New York; ESPN Radio; SiriusXM; WTIC-AM, Hartford; and WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub.”

Sponsored Story: Take The Work Out Of Creating Sponsor Recaps And Airchecks. Leading networks and syndicated hosts effortlessly track key sponsor and advertiser campaigns. You can do so too by providing recaps that highlight in-show integrations, sponsorships and endorsements. Share detailed reports of when and where sponsors’ messages are delivered, complete with airchecks. Show off your talent and take your advertiser relationships to the next level.  Level Up My Insights

TALKERS News Notes. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Stephanie Miller’s first Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour show in Madison, Wisconsin, the entire cast is getting together on April 10 at 8:00 pm ET for an online Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour show featuring a look back at the last 10 years (plus all-new comedy just for the occasion). Joining Miller on the live event will be John Fugelsang, Frangela, and Hal Sparks…..Skyview Networks – the exclusive radio network sales and affiliate sales partner of VSiN, the sports betting network, announces six new stations in Phoenix, Palm Springs, Jacksonville, and Toledo sign on for VSiN’s content…..Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants and Cumulus Media’s sports talk KNBR, San Francisco agree to a multi-year extension to keep Giants games on KNBR through 2025. Cumulus San Francisco VP and market manager Doug Harvill says, “We’re elated that Giants baseball and KNBR will continue to be the Bay Area’s favorite summer soundtrack for years to come. Between KNBR’s powerful AM/FM signals and our streaming platforms, we look forward to providing fans with multiple options to enjoy every Giants game.”

Migrant Crisis at the Border, Cuomo on the Ropes, Stimulus Package, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Breonna Taylor Marches, Voting Bills, Georgia’s Trump Investigation, Everard Vigil Arrests, Deadly Myanmar Violence, and the Grammy Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. 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; the protests in Louisville and other cities on the one-year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s slaying; the voting bills in various states critics say will making voting more difficult; the investigation into Donald Trump’s call to the Georgia Secretary of State asking for more votes; the violence at the UK vigil for Sarah Everard; the deadly violence in Myanmar; and Sunday night’s Grammy awards were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

| February 4, 2021

Round Four of Holiday 2020 PPM Ratings Takeaways. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from the fourth and final round of Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2020 PPM survey that covered the period of December 3 – January 6. The 2020 election aftermath created news and controversy that largely kept news/talk listeners tuned to their favorite stations during the month of December, a period that typically reflects lower 6+ weekly AQH share for talk stations due to Christmas music listening and altered listening habits due to the holiday season. Although Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis lost more than two full shares from the December to the Holiday surveys (10.0 – 7.6), it still finished as the #2 station in the market. In Milwaukee, iHeartMedia’s WISN-AM finished in the #3 spot on the strength of an 8.2 share and Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ-AM wrapped the Holiday survey with a 6.0 share good for the #4 rank. Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence dipped just one-tenth to a 5.4 share but rises to the #4 spot. Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville slid from #1 to #2 after losing 1.6 shares to finish the month with an 8.4 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways report for this group of markets here.

Brian Mitchell and JP Finlay to Host Middays on WJFK-FM, Washington. On the heels of the promotion of Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier to the afternoon drive daypart, Entercom announces that Washington, DC sports media pros Brian Mitchell (right) and JP Finlay (left) are the new midday co-hosts. Mitchell – who played 10 of his 14 NFL seasons with the Washington Football Team – served for years as a host on Entercom’s recently acquired WTEM “980 The Team.” He also serves as an analyst on NBC Sports Washington’s Washington Football Team pre-game and post-game coverage. Finlay has been NBC Sports Washington’s Washington Football Team beat reporter since 2016, and created and hosted the “Washington Football Talk Podcast.” Entercom Washington SVP and market manager Ivy Savoy-Smith says, “Brian Mitchell and JP Finlay are two of the most high-profile, opinionated, and respected sports voices in the DC area. True friends off the air, ‘BMitch’ and JP’s show will feature natural chemistry, great sports information and opinion, and a lot of fun.”

New WTEM, Washington “980 The Team” Schedule Revealed. Concurrent with the story above regarding Brian Mitchell’s move to WJFK-FM, Entercom announces the new weekday program schedule for recently acquired sister sports talk station WTEM-AM “980 The Team” that goes into effect on Monday (2/8). Joining the station is Washington and Baltimore sports media pro Travis Thomas who will host the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program. Thomas most recently hosted “DC Sports Live” and “Wizards Extra” on NBC Sports Washington, as well as a Saturday afternoon radio show on “106.7 The Fan.” Reese Waters is the new host of the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm program. He hosted “Get Up DC” for WUSA-TV since 2017 before transitioning to a new nightly show this month. He was previously a correspondent for ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and a host on the Versus network. For afternoon drive, market pros Chris Russell and Pete Medhurst join together for the “Russell and Medhurst” program. Russell has appeared in a variety of roles for “106.7 The Fan” and “980 The Team” since 2009 and is Sports Illustrated’s Washington Football Team correspondent. Medhurst joined “106.7 The Fan” as an update anchor in 2009 and has been the station’s primary fill-in host, Nationals post-game show host and fill-in play-by-play talent. Longtime market pro Kevin Sheehan remains in morning drive joined by a rotating cast of contributors.

Cumulus Media San Francisco Exec Doug Harvill to Retire. Radio executive Doug Harvill announces that he will retire from his vice president and market manager position with Cumulus Media’s San Francisco cluster – news/talk KGO-AM, news/talk KSFO-AM, sports talk KNBR-AM/FM, and classic rock KSAN-FM – on May 14. Harvill’s 46-year radio career includes spending the past 24 leading station groups in San Francisco and Sacramento. Harvill comments, “I’m leaving a wonderful and satisfying career in an industry I’ve wanted to be a part of since I was a kid. Local radio has been and continues to be a tremendous and enriching experience, but I’ve achieved my goals and exceeded my dreams. Whoever steps into the market manager role at Cumulus San Francisco is going to inherit a tremendous team of professionals and lead some of the most legendary radio stations in broadcast history.” Cumulus Media EVP of operations Dave Milner states, “Doug Harvill has had an amazing career in our industry and I was lucky to have had the opportunity to work with him these past three years. His talents run deep and he has helped so many grow and flourish in radio over the years. Congratulations, Doug – we wish you the very best in the next chapter of your life!”

Emmis Promotes James Connor to VP of Sales for Indianapolis. Rising to the vice president of sales position at Emmis Communications’ Indianapolis cluster is James Connor. He takes over for Taja Graham, who was elevated to market president last month. Connor will oversee sales efforts for news/talk WIBC-FM, sports talk WFNI-AM “The Fan,” plus adult contemporary WYXB “B105,” country WLHK “Hank FM,” and Network Indiana. Graham says, “We are fortunate to have James’ expertise as a GM with a track record of maintaining positive cash flow and delivering creative client solutions. James’ focus on details has helped us in the restructuring of our sales force and optimizing of our inventory, which has resulted in higher market share. He is a well-known and a well-respected figure in Indiana radio, and I’m thrilled he will be leading our sales efforts.” Connor spent 20 years in Terre Haute, leading the former Emmis stations there first in sales and then as general manager, before returning to Indianapolis in 2017 to continue with Emmis when the Terre Haute Emmis cluster was sold. He has been serving as general sales manager of the Indianapolis cluster and as general manager of Network Indiana since early 2017. He will retain the title of general manager for Network Indiana. He comments, “I’m excited to lead the most dedicated, talented sales team in Indiana radio. I have tremendous respect for Taja, who has positioned us for enduring success, and I know the transition will be seamless as we continue to grow our market share despite the global challenges the pandemic presents.”

Roe Conn and Richard Roeper Partner for New Podcast. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, Roe Conn and Richard Roeper are getting back together to host a new podcast backed by the global digital agency AmericanEagle.com. That company recently built state-of-the-art studios at its world headquarters in suburban Des Plaines where the podcast will be recorded. The “Roe and Roeper” program will be produced twice weekly with new episodes on Tuesday and Thursday focusing on pop culture and current events. Feder quotes Roeper saying, “We’ll have new shows covering pop culture, movies, TV, streaming shows, sports, and interviews with major filmmakers and actors every Tuesday and Thursday, with the goal of expanding to a daily podcast later in 2021.” The two first teamed up together co-hosting afternoon drive at WLS-AM, Chicago in 2010. Conn recently exited Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM after a five-year stint. Roeper is a long-time film critic for the Sun-Times and contributes to WLS-TV. AmericanEagle.com CEO Tony Svanascini says, “It’s fitting a long-time client like Richard Roeper is part of the first podcast launched from AmericanEagle.com Studios. He and Roe Conn are true talents that will bring their unique sense of humor and wit to what I’m sure will be an extremely popular podcast.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas “The Ticket” personality Mike Rhyner is moving into the video streaming space via VOKAL Media Inc where he’ll host a program called “Your Dark Companion.” VOKAL says, “This weekly series features Rhyner’s musings and tales covering a wide range of topics and a variety of guests including Rangers general manager Chris Young and Dallas Morning News reporter David Moore, to name a few.” Rhyner says, “‘Your Dark Companion’ is a show I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. Streaming is the wave of the future, so when I saw the technology that VOKAL has developed I knew this is what I wanted to do. I look forward to engaging with my audience again and working with the great team at VOKAL.” The first episode premieres on February 11 at 5:00 pm CT…..iHeartMedia and the Clinton Foundation announce a new podcast hosted by President Bill Clinton titled, “Why Am I Telling You This? with Bill Clinton.” The first episode, “How Jazz Explains Democracy” with guest Wynton Marsalis, drops today (2/4). iHeartMedia says each episode will feature Clinton’s “wide range of interests and well-known intellectual curiosity through conversations and stories with some of the most interesting people he knows about the ideas and issues that shape our interconnected world.”…..ESPN is reporting that its podcasts experienced strong growth in 2020, with downloads growing 28% to nearly half a billion. ESPN senior director, digital audio programming Pete Gianesini says, “It was another big year for ESPN Podcasts, yet another with new records and offerings. As sports return to their customary place on the calendar, we expect our momentum to continue.”…..Condolences to the family and friends of longtime Cleveland sports media personality Les Levine, who passed away recently at the age of 74 after complications from diabetes and Parkinson’s Disease. Levine began his sports media work handling play-by-play at WHK, Akron. He later started hosting his own sports talk show on WTAM-AM (then WWWE) following Ohio State games and Indians ballgames. Later he developed the “More Sports & Les Levine” program that was heard on WERE and WHK. The program later moved to local television. Most recently, Levine was hosting his program on Cleveland.com and was handling fill-in work at Entercom’s sports talk WKRK-FM “92.3 The Fan.”

THE ABCs of GAMESTOP MADNESS: Cybercrime Expert Steve Weisman Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Law professor Steve Weisman of Bentley University in Boston, founder of the groundbreaking website Scamicide.com, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Weisman provide a basic overview of the situation that led up to the events last week that rocked Wall Street by exposing just how vulnerable the stock market is to the manipulation of bad actors on social media, shady rigging by the big players, and the stark shortcomings of algorithms that dominate the second-to-second decisions that drive prices up and down – often without any regard for the actual value of companies based on their actual merits. According to Weisman, this is a very dangerous set of circumstances that threatens to create a disastrous situation potentially worse than the events of 2008. Harrison states, “I am not an expert on the stock market, and I suspect by the way that this story is being covered in the media that most reporters, commentators, and talk show hosts aren’t either. Nor am I a big fan of investing in markets I don’t reasonably understand, and I am even more averse to the idea of gambling – which I suspect is the basis of much of today’s Wall Street trading on the part of small, individual investors. So I turned to one of my most valued resources and go-to guys in the media – respected attorney Steve Weisman – for a point-by-point explanation about just what the hell is going on regarding this story and its meaning to our nation’s wealth, economy, and financial stability… not to mention what it says about the state of our values and ethics.” 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.

Biden-GOP Stimulus Negotiations, Trump Impeachment, Capitol Insurrection Investigation, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, GOP on Cheney and Greene, Social Media and Censorship, Deadly Florida FBI Raid, Putin Jailing Critics/Navalny Sentenced, Morgan Wallen Dropped by Label & Radio Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/3). The negotiations between the Joe Biden administration and GOP leadership over a new stimulus package; the looming Donald Trump impeachment trial; the investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol; the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of the vaccines; Republican leadership in Congress deals with the attacks on Senator Liz Cheney and the conspiracy theories of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene; complaints from conservatives that they are being censored by Big Tech; the deaths of two FBI agents and wounding of three others in a Florida investigation into child porn; Vladimir Putin increases the arrests of his critics and Alexei Navalny is sentenced to two years in prison; and country artist Morgan Wallen is dropped by his record label and many U.S. radio stations for a racial slur incident were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

| December 8, 2020

Howard Stern Signs Renewal with SiriusXM for Five More Years. During previous investor conference calls, outgoing SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer said he believed Howard Stern and SiriusXM would come to terms on a new deal and today’s announcement bears that out. Under the new agreement, Stern will continue to produce and host “The Howard Stern Show” exclusively for SiriusXM for the next five years, and the Howard Stern archive of audio and video will continue to be licensed to SiriusXM for an additional seven years. Stern says, “Fifteen years ago, I joined SiriusXM, a fledgling group of broadcasters. I had been in a toxic relationship with terrestrial radio. And no matter how well I treated the medium, no matter how successful I made them, they abused me. Going to SiriusXM liberated me. I felt like Tina Turner freeing myself from Ike. And despite the naysayers and the ridicule, we have persevered, and are thriving. I’ve been proven right about satellite radio over and over again. With this contract renewal, I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be right about. Certainly, I have a lot more to say about Metamucil crackers and stepmom porn. Plus, now that I can work from home, I simply don’t have an excuse to quit.” Meyer says, “As the leading audio entertainment company, we couldn’t be happier to have Howard, the leading host in all of radio and audio, continue to make SiriusXM the home for his show, channels, and archives while at the peak of his broadcasting career. Howard’s home has been SiriusXM and it will remain that way, but we’ve expanded SiriusXM in recent years too, and we are excited about finding the right ways that select content from Howard can find audiences on additional platforms. May I add, I consider Howard a close friend and look forward to listening to him for years to come.”

Ron St. Pierre Out at iHeartMedia’s WHJJ, Providence; Jim Polito Takes Over Morning Show. Longtime Providence air personality and programmer Ron St. Pierre has exited iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence where he hosted the morning drive show. Filling the programming gap is WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based morning personality Jim Polito. In 2016, iHeartMedia dropped the local morning show hosted by Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan on WHYN-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts and began simulcasting Polito’s show there. The WHJJ move puts the Jim Polito show in three of iHeartMedia’s New England markets.

Salem’s KRLA and KTIE Cut Ties with Brian Whitman. Southern California radio pro Brian Whitman exits Salem Media Group’s morning drive show “The Morning Answer” that he co-hosted with Jennifer Horn that was simulcast on KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino. Whitman shared the news on his Facebook page on Friday (12/4). He wrote, “I was provided the following from folks at Salem/KRLA this morning. The announcement was sent by the general manager to their kind and hardworking staff, making this news public. I’ll have very personal thoughts to share with members of the ‘Morning Answer Listening Family’ (as I came to know and regard you over many years) very soon. It will be in this space at a time that is more appropriate and comfortable. With all of my love and with the warmest gratitude for every moment that we’ve shared together, I offer words that I know fall far short of my heart’s sentiment. Thank you, thank you, thank you guys.” The message from management was as follows: “After eight years hosting ‘The Morning Answer,’ Brian Whitman will no longer be with us. We wish Brian all the best in the future. Chuck [Tyler] and I echo Phil Boyce who said, “Brian has been a hard-working and extremely talented employee for us for many years. We will always cherish his friendship, and our opportunity to work together at KRLA and KTIE.” Whitman was the liberal counterpart to conservative Horn.

Hubbard Radio Drops Sports Talker Chris Rongey; Re-Aligns Host Lineup. According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar, afternoon drive sports talk personality Chris Rongey has been let go from Hubbard Radio’s WXOS-FM, St. Louis. Rongey had been part of “The Fast Lane” afternoon show since replacing D’Marco Farr in 2017. The station moves midday host Jamie Rivers into afternoons alongside Anthony Stalter and Brad Thompson and promotes Alex Farrario to the midday show co-hosting with Brandon Kiley.

Talk Radio Host Michael Berry’s Good Month Includes Raising $1.3 Million for PTSD Foundation. KRTH, Houston-based, nationally syndicated talk host Michael Berry had a very good month in which his program helped raise $1.3 million for Camp Hope, the residential treatment center run by the PTSD Foundation of America, of which Berry is the national spokesman. The organization was laying off staff, including the vital folks who counsel suicidal veterans who struggle with re-integration after war. Berry teamed up with sponsor Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture chain, to raise funds. During the whole of 2020, Berry’s efforts have raised $3 million for the organization, almost its entire budget. Additionally, Berry made national news on Monday (12/7) for his interview with Houston-based Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue, during which Unanue said he gave U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez the company’s “employee of the month” award. This came after Ocasio Cortez called for a boycott on Goya products because Unanue publicly praised President Trump. However, Unanue says the boycott call produced a counter-protest in which supporters flocked to buy Goya goods. On top of that, Berry has added new affiliates, WPNN, Pensacola, Florida, and KNUW, Silver City, New Mexico and hopes to roll out seven new affiliates before the New Year. In case you missed it, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian profiled Berry back in October. Read it here.

PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. The Nielsen Audio PPM ratings survey in the month prior to the November election (October 8 – November 4) was not as generous to sports talk radio stations as it was to news/talk, still TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian reports that 46% of sports talkers were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the October 2020 survey. Gainers from October to November were led by RadiOhio’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “97.1 The Fan” (+0.7, 6.2 share) and Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville (+0.7, 6.0 share). Due to the pandemic’s effect on live sports, year-over-year comparisons have not been kind to the sports talk format and November 2019 to November 2020 is not different. 68% of sports talk outlets in PPM markets were down. However, 23% of stations gained with Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas leading the pack (+1.6, 2.8 share). While no sports talkers claimed the #1 rank in their market during the November survey, iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis came close, posting a 7.6 share good for the #2 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

WJR, Detroit News Director Dick Haefner to Retire. After a 51-year career in radio news, WJR, Detroit news director Dick Haefner is retiring. Haefner, an award-winning newscaster, reporter, and news director, has been WJR news director since 1989. Cumulus Media says that “his tenure is unmatched by any other Detroit broadcast news director. He is one of the most recognizable news voices in his hometown of Detroit, signing on to radio news in 1969 and signing off on December 11, 2020, Haefner’s last day on-air.” The company goes on to note that “under Haefner’s leadership, WJR News has been honored with nearly every national and local news award in the broadcast business, including: the Peabody Award, Associated Press national award for Best Broadcast Reporting, Edward R. Murrow Awards, and numerous state news awards… Some of Haefner’s projects have changed laws. A series on suburban toxic waste dumps resulted in tighter rules for handling waste. An investigation of fraud at gas stations brought about new regulations on service station inspections and fuel hauling, and even changed the way the IRS taxes the fuel hauling industry. Among the biggest stories Haefner has broken are Coleman Young’s baby, the Nancy KerriganTonya Harding incident heard around the world, and Detroit’s two side-by-side sports stadiums.” Haefner comments, “Anything I may have accomplished is because of other people, my wife Judy, and my family who allowed me to pursue adventures in broadcast news, and especially my co-workers. My most important job was to put them in position to do their best work. What they accomplished every day is my greatest reward. I have had the best job in Detroit radio news for almost 32 years. I’m the luckiest person I know.”

Susan O’Connell Retires from Compass Media Networks; Robert Blum Rises to Senior Manager of Affiliate Sales. Affiliate sales pro Susan O’Connell is retiring from her position as vice president of news/talk affiliate sales with Compass Media Networks, effective December 31. At the same time, the company announces that Robert Blum – a Compass Media staffer since 2011 – is being promoted to senior manager of affiliate sales for news/talk/sports. O’Connell has been in the news/talk affiliate sales business for the past 40 years, the last six with Compass Media. She previously served with the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, ABC Radio Networks, CBS News, and the Progressive Radio Network. She comments, “The best part of my job has always been working with great broadcasters. Thank you all for sharing your time, talent, and friendship over the years. Compass Media Networks was the perfect place to wind up. Representing our stellar news/talk lineup and being part of this team has been an honor and a privilege.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “Susan is a total superstar, friend, and treasured colleague. Through hard work, perseverance, and cunning, Susan established Compass Media Networks as a dominant player in news/talk programming with over 750 leading news/talk stations airing over a dozen hours of our daily, live, and original news-talk programming.”

COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Trump Challenges, Biden Transition, Stimulus Package, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pornhub Allegations, and Presidential Pardons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/7). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the pleas from authorities to follow mask and gathering mandates, and the status of vaccines; Donald Trump continues legal challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues his administration’s transition; the debate in Congress over a new stimulus package; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the allegations that porn giant Pornhub has promoted underage actors; and reports of Donald Trump’s pardon plans were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro and urban media personality Charlamagne Tha God, a.k.a. Lenard McKelvey, and iHeartMedia renew and extend their relationship. The deal means the co-host of the WWPR, New York “Power 105.1”-based, nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” will continue to work with iHeartMedia for the next five years.  He says, “I give my sincerest thanks to iHeart for empowering me over the past decade to be the best talent that I can be, and for honoring me as an owner and executive. I love the audio business and iHeart is the biggest and best audio company in the world. As co-founder and chief creative officer of the Black Effect Podcast Network and now senior creative officer of cultural content and programming at iHeart, all I want to do for the next five years is continue to move the culture of radio and podcasting forward by curating a new era of voices, programming, and events. GOD IS GREAT! Now, it’s time to get back to work.”