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Monday, January 4, 2021

| January 4, 2021

Monday Memo: Who Will Replace Rush? Consultant Holland Cooke says the short answer is, of course, nobody. However, he points out that affiliate stations may soon have to find a solution for those 15 hours per week that they didn’t have to worry about before. He also asks, “Who will replace Clark Howard?” Find out what he has to say here.

Pending Business: This Year in Review. Sales and marketing pro, and Lapcom Communications Corp president, Steve Lapa says that just many aspects of our daily lives changed after 9/11, so too has the pandemic changed much about our lives – including how we work and consume media. In today’s column, he offers some thoughts about how selling radio will be different this year. Read it here.

WTIC, Hartford’s Joe D’Ambrosio Exits Morning Show. After stating back in early November that he was disillusioned with management’s directives about political opinion on the air, WTIC-AM, Hartford, morning drive co-host Joe D’Ambrosio said he would leave the station when his contract was up in June of 2021 after 28 years with the Entercom station. However, he and management reached an agreement on an early buyout and D’Ambrosio’s last shift was December 31. D’Ambrosio co-hosted the morning drive show with Ray Dunaway. The Hartford Courant reports D’Ambrosio saying he never adapted to waking up for the program’s 5:30 am start and he found it difficult to work within station’s conservative political framework.

Chris Ryan Takes Over ‘New Hampshire Today’ Morning Show. New Hampshire radio pro Chris Ryan is named the new host of the “New Hampshire Today” program heard on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WGIR-AM, Manchester and WQSO-FM, Portsmouth. Ryan fills the role previously held by Jack Heath, who exited “NH Today” to join Binnie Media’s three-station simulcast in New Hampshire for the late morning daypart back in October. iHeartMedia says that Ryan is an award-winning talk show host and political commentator based in Concord who most recently served as general manager for New Hampshire Family Radio’s news/talk WKXL, Concord. iHeartMedia New Hampshire market president Joe Graham says, “It was of utmost importance that the new host of ‘NH Today’ would be a person of integrity and character, someone who would hold themselves to the highest professional standards. We are thrilled that Chris will be joining our iHeart NH team!” The “New Hampshire Today” program is also heard on WKXL.

Leila Rahimi Named Co-Host for WSCR, Chicago’s Late Morning Show. Radio and television sports personality Leila Rahimi is promoted to regular co-host of the late morning program alongside Dan Bernstein on Entercom’s WSCR, Chicago “670 The Score.” Entercom Chicago regional president and market manager Rachel Williamson says, “We are thrilled to be amplifying Lelia’s role at ‘The Score.’ She’s a seasoned professional with experience engaging with sports fans across multiple platforms and cities and has built a great reputation with Chicago’s sports fans. Adding her voice and perspective consistently creates a more dynamic midday lineup for ‘Score’ listeners.” She assumes the role left vacant when Entercom let co-host Connor McKnight go back in April. Rahimi has appeared on “670 The Score” both as a contributor to various shows on the station, and as a co-host since 2017. She’s also hosted, reported and anchored for NBC Sports Chicago. She was a rink-side reporter for NBC Sports’ coverage of the Women’s Hockey Tournament at the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018. She’s also served with NBC Sports Philadelphia, CSN Houston, the San Diego Padres, FOX Sports Southwest, and KLIF-AM and KTCK-FM/AM in Dallas.

Ian Beckles & Jay Recher New Afternoon Hosts on Sports Talk WDAE, Tampa. Sports talk WDAE, Tampa announces that Ian Beckles and Jay Recher are the new afternoon drive program co-hosts, taking over the daypart from retiring Tampa Bay radio icon Ron Diaz. WDAE program director John Mamola says, “We are thrilled to announce our new afternoon drive program featuring Ian Beckles and Jay Recher. Teaming Ian’s long-standing history in the market both as a player, entrepreneur, and radio personality with the knowledge and passion for Tampa Bay sports from Jay Recher will provide a dynamic program for sports fans in Tampa Bay to embrace. This announcement further enhances and strengthens WDAE’s standing as the voice for Tampa Bay sports fans.” Beckles was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles during his eight-year NFL career and he joined WDAE in 2002. Recher began his career at WDAE in 2014 and has served as executive producer of multiple programs including the previous “Ron and Ian Show.”

David Rubini Launches Conspiracy Radio Network. Former Art Bell and John B. Wells producer David Rubini is launching the Conspiracy Radio Network. Rubini officially leaves Dark Matter Digital Network and “Midnight In The Desert” to begin “his own unique vision” and take his “pioneering spirit to the all-new 24/7 digital streaming platform and subscription archive service in the new radio landscape of 2021.” Rubini is now hosting his own program titled “David Rubini After Midnight AM” that will broadcast “two to three live shows each week on alternating days from 1:00 am to 5:00 am ET with “The Best of David Rubini After Midnight AM” on all Rubini off days. He says, “Unlike what we did with Art, we will get political at CRN, that’s for sure. The political climate has drastically changed since we left ‘Dark Matter.’ And with the 2020 election confusion and rise of ‘fake news’ awareness and questioning, uncensored alternative news, info, and talk are more in-demand right now than any time in modern history. Our staff of professionals are convinced CRN will absolutely fill this void in the digital content delivery space.” Terrestrial radio affiliate relations expert Ted Edwards says, “What programmers have to realize is that variety in political talk is hot right now and the political landscape has never been more fascinating to discuss and to share opinions about both like-minded and dissenting talk radio voices. CRN should have remarkable growth over the next four to eight years. I love David Rubini’s pioneering vision and I plan to help see it all the way through to fruition, responsibly performed by Rubini on-air in terrestrial syndication.” Joining this new venture are: Jordan Maxwell, Dr. Richard Alan Miller, Flat Earther Math Powerland, and controversial and polarizing YouTube sensation, Russianvids, as well as former Art Bell Network News anchor Leo Ashcraft, Ross Mitchell, Dr. John Illias, Michael Decon, Blake Walley, and Joshua Chaires

TALKERS News Notes. At Starnes Media Group’s KWAM, Memphis, Brodee Scott joins to serve as operations director. Scott previously served at iHeartMedia in Memphis. He is a longtime Memphis radio pro having also served at Flinn Broadcasting and Rebel Radio in Oxford, Mississippi. In this new role, Scott will also oversee KWAM’s growing podcast and digital platforms. KWAM general manager Dalton Glasscock says, “Brodee was born and raised in Memphis and he understands how important it is to have a locally owned, locally run news/talk radio station.”…..Indianapolis talk radio personality Tony Katz shifts his syndicated “Tony Katz Today” program from the late morning daypart to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. Katz is host of the morning drive show at Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis. He says, “The numbers in Indianapolis have been incredible. The show has been doing great in its current setup, it was just in a weird place, bridging two standard time slots being 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. This move shows a lot of faith in the show from WIBC and opens up a lot of opportunity.”…..WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte afternoon drive talk host Brett Winterble achieved what he calls a career milestone on December 30 when he filled in for Rush Limbaugh. About sitting in for Limbaugh on his Premiere Networks syndicated show, Winterble says, “I am just overjoyed at the chance to connect with the greatest audience in all of talk radio. It is a homecoming. I have kept in close touch with everyone at the Rush Limbaugh show over these years and nothing could be more special than to sit in that legendary seat for a man I consider a friend and mentor.” Winterble started his career with Limbaugh’s original syndicator EIB/EFM Media in 1995 and was with the show until early 2006…..Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago is adds an hour to Big John Howell’s afternoon drive show. The program now airs from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Howell takes the 4:00 pm hour from Westwood One’s syndicated Ben Shapiro program that continues to air from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm…..iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston announces the new program schedule that takes effect with the new year that includes the addition of Grace Curley and Jesse Kelly. Curley’s program airs from 12:15 pm to 3:00 pm and Key Networks’ syndicated Jesse Kelly airs from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am (Kelly’s show will move to the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm daypart effective February 15. iHeartMedia Boston VP of news, talk, and sports Rob Sanchez says, “We’re excited about the addition of Grace and Jesse to WRKO’s lineup. Their talents complement the established success of Jeff Kuhner in the morning and the legendary Howie Carr in afternoons.”…..Cumulus Media promotes Jon Laing to vice president and market manager for its Cincinnati cluster. Laing rises from his previous role as vice president of sales for the station group. He takes the market leadership reins from Dave Crowl, who retired in December…..Salem Radio Network and TOWNHALL news White House correspondent Greg Clugston is traveling aboard Air Force One with President Trump today (1/4) to cover a campaign rally for the Republican U.S. Senate candidates ahead of tomorrow’s runoff elections. In addition to filing special reports for SRN News and TOWNHALL News, Clugston will also serve as White House pool reporter for all other national radio networks…..VSiN, The Sports Betting Network, expands its partnership with iHeartMedia by moving its dedicated streaming radio station to digital platform iHeartRadio. VSiN had previously broadcast its content via SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

Skyview Networks OM Andy Luberda Passes After COVID Battle. Condolences to the family, friends, and co-workers of Skyview Networks operations manager Andy Luberda, who died on December 29 of complications from COVID-19. Luberda joined Skyview Networks in the broadcast operations department as a board operator in 2012. In 2015, Luberda was promoted to operations manager in which he focused on managing one of the company’s largest clients, TuneIn. In 2016, Luberda’s son, Kade, joined Skyview’s operations team as a board operator. Aaron Mellis, Luberda’s longtime friend and manager shares, “We were fortunate to have Andy on the team, and as his role grew, it made a positive impact on our company and our clients. Andy’s warm heart and genuine care for his colleagues will continue to be a part of the Skyview Networks culture.” Skyview has set up a GoFundMe page for his family to help raise funds for medical and memorial costs and to provide financial support for Kade during this difficult time.

GOP Senators to Challenge Election Results/Trump Georgia Phone Call, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pelosi Keeps Speaker Post, and Texas Church Shooting Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The move by a group of GOP senators to challenge the election results and the recording of President Trumpasking the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” votes in his favor; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the Georgia runoff election for its two U.S. Senate seats; Nancy Pelosi retains her House Speaker position; and the fatal shooting at a Texas church were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

| September 16, 2020

Entercom’s WSCR, Chicago Fires Dan McNeil After Sexist Tweet. Chicago sports talk personality Dan McNeil has been let go by Entercom after his Monday evening tweet criticizing the wardrobe of ESPN sideline reporter Maria Taylor. His tweet suggested that Taylor’s outfit made her appear as if she were hosting a porn awards show. McNeil co-hosted the afternoon drive show with Danny Parkins. Entercom regional president Rachel Williamson issued the following in a memo to staff: “Dan McNeil is no longer an employee at ‘The Score.’ For each one of us our words have power. For our brands and on-air personalities that is amplified and brings increased responsibility how we choose to use our voices. Last night’s tweet, and its degrading and humiliating tone to a fellow female broadcaster, was unacceptable. We have the best teams in Chicago, and we must continue to hold ourselves to high expectations to continue to be leaders in our organization, our industry and our community. We apologize to all who were offended by Dan’s words, especially Maria.” Danny Parkins continues to host the afternoon show solo for now.

Salem Radio Network Distributing Christian Networks Special Broadcast. The title of this Saturday’s program is “Where Is America Headed? Finding Faith in a Time of Fear” and airs live from 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm ET (9/19). Salem Radio Network tells TALKERS magazine that a nationwide coalition of Christian radio networks are joining forces to present the program. “The title of the broadcast was prompted by uncertainty and unrest in our country, and the need for all Americans to hear how they can have faith and hope in a time of fear by following 2 Chronicles 7:14.” Guests will include Vice President Mike Pence and Joel C. Rosenberg, New York Times bestselling author of Implosion, Can America Recover from Its Economic, and Spiritual Challenges In Time?, both of whom will be interviewed by David Brody of CBN.

‘Our American Stories’ Passes 260 Affiliate Mark.  The two-hour daily talk show “Our American Stories” continues to show steady growth on news/talk stations across America.  The show is a highly produced, storytelling narrative hosted by Lee Habeeb that breaks the mold of most shows programmed on commercial talk radio. Habeeb who is also CEO of the program’s distributor, American Private Radio, tells TALKERS, “‘Our American Stories’ is a celebration of our rich heritage through the power of storytelling. On each broadcast we profile Americans from all walks of life, past and present, who have made a positive impact in American culture. ‘Our American Stories’ tells the stories of innovators in the arts, sports, business and music world, along with technology, science, and the military. Listeners hear stories of business leaders big and small, of what people of faith do in the public square, of leadership in sports and in your family, and the celebration of hard work and risk-taking, all presented in a non-partisan manner.” The show has proven to be a successful ratings-getter as evidenced by the impressive numbers it is gathering at heritage station WHO, Des Moines.  According to iHeartMedia, Des Moines VP/programming Mike Dorwart, “In the last four quarters, ‘Our American Stories’ has averaged just over a 13-share in Persons 12+ in their timeslot on NewsRadio 1040 WHO.”  For more information about the show, please click here.

MPR Parts Ways with KCMP, Minneapolis Jock Eric Malmberg. Public media firm Minnesota Public Radio has let triple A KCMP-FM, Minneapolis air personality Eric Malmberg go in the aftermath of the unexpected resignation of MPR reporter Marianne Combs, who left because editors did not approve her story that investigated alleged inappropriate behavior toward eight women by Malmberg. When this story broke earlier this week, Malmberg was not named by Combs. But MPR said in a piece on its own website, “Our hosts have to be able to attract an audience that wants to listen to them and trusts them and over the last 36 hours those conditions have changed for Malmberg.” Initially, Combs’ public resignation seemed to imply that the story had been spiked, but in a subsequent tweet she stated, “While the editors have not gone so far as to cancel the story, they have shown such a complete lack of leadership that I no longer have any confidence they will handle the story appropriately.”

Skyview Networks to Handle Ad Sales for AP’s Radio News. Effective January 1, 2021, Skyview Networks will begin exclusively representing The Associated Press’ network audio sales. In this multi-year deal, Skyview will rep AP’s 15-second advertising units that radio affiliates run adjacent to their program content. AP vice president and general manager for Americas media Michael Fabiano says, “As a longtime supporter of the broadcast radio industry, The Associated Press is pleased to supply our premium radio station inventory to support the best media mix advertisers seek. We are excited about working with Skyview and the potential to increase our brand presence across radio stations and advertisers.”

2020 Radio Mercury Finalists Announced. The Radio Advertising Bureau announces that the finalists for the 2020 Radio Mercury Awards have been announced and 94 radio spots made the cut, covering 12 awards in nine categories created by advertising agencies, production companies, radio stations, streaming companies and students. Finalists range from regional to large advertising agencies and radio stations, as well as national and local advertisers. The spots cover categories including automotive, consumer packaged goods, entertainment, government services, healthcare, insurance, quick-serve restaurants, telecommunications, travel and hospitality. This year’s entries were judged on their creativity, originality, execution and effective communication of a brand’s message. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber says, “We felt strongly that the Radio Mercury Awards must go on this year. This year’s finalists prove that creativity does and can flourish no matter what, and we are so excited to celebrate this year’s work at the virtual awards presentation.” You can see (and hear!) all of the finalists here. The winners will be announced virtually on October 6.

TALKERS News Notes. A new election-themed podcast is being co-produced by CNN Audio and iHeartRadio. The show, “Election 101,” demystifies the American political system while offering a unique perspective on the inner workings of the electoral process. It’s hosted by CNN correspondent Kristen Holmes and “answers questions that are weighing heavy on the minds of Americans as we approach this unprecedented presidential election. Each episode of this 10-part series serves as an explainer for listeners who may be overwhelmed by our current political environment, while offering a ‘back-to-basics’ narrative that explains the stakes and consequences of our long-standing institutions and how they play into American elections, including: the two-party system, mail-in voting, voter security, gerrymandering, the Electoral College, political conventions, and campaign finance.”…..AdLarge Media’s digital audio division, cabana, is exclusively representing the fictional fantasy podcast “Carcerem” for ad sales. AdLarge says, “‘Carcerem’ is an original audio fantasy series from Shane Salk Productions that features a star-studded cast, original music, and immersive sound design. More like a movie than an audio play, the captivating series puts listeners in the middle of the action. Featuring sword fights, monster attacks, giant battles, heartbreak, and humor, the first season of ‘Carcerem’ launches September 22 with 32 episodes and more than 120 characters.”…..UNINTERRUPTED, the all-digital sports programming network founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, and SiriusXM are launching season two of the weekly football podcast series, “17 Weeks.” This year the show features Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams, New Orleans Saints receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron. The series will again be narrated by former NFL receiver Nate Burleson, with new episodes made available on the SiriusXM and Pandora apps starting September 17…..The Talk Shows USA-syndicated “Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk” program adds three new affiliate stations. Now airing the weekend program are: East Arkansas Broadcasters’ KBTM-AM/K267AS, Jonesboro, Arkansas; Townsquare Media’s KFYO-AM/K236CP, Lubbock, Texas; and iHeartMedia’s KCOL-AM, Fort Collins, Colorado.

The Presidential Election/Mail-In Voting, COVID-19 Stats/Schools and Colleges Outbreaks, Western Wildfires, Hurricane Sally, Attacks on Police, Breonna Taylor Settlement/BLM Movement, New COVID Stimulus Deal, and Google Senate Anti-Trust Hearing Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/15). The November presidential election and the controversy over mail-in voting procedures; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the outbreaks at schools and on college campuses; the deaths and destruction from the numerous wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington; Hurricane Sally’s impending landfall in the Gulf Coast; the spate of attacks on police officers; the city of Louisville settles with the family of Breonna Taylor for $12 million; the congressional battle over a new COVID stimulus deal; and Tuesday’s Google anti-trust hearing before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee 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. WEZN-FM, Bridgeport, Connecticut “Star 99.9” morning team Anna Zap and Jay Raven (below) are being syndicated via a deal between Connoisseur Media and Compass Media Networks. Connoisseur airs “The Anna & Raven Morning Show” on both WEZN and its WALK-FM, Patchogue, New York (Long Island). Connoisseur CEO Jeffrey Warshaw says, “The response to Anna & Raven in Long Island really confirmed our belief that their sense of humor, benchmarks, and likability are universal. Anna & Raven have proven they can win in PPM markets, diary markets, and against the best local and national morning drive talent in the country.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann adds, “The time is right for Anna & Raven to go national. Stations are hungry for a proven morning show with universal appeal from a marketing partner ready to help them win.”…..Premiere Networks extends its partnership with national radio host and R&B legend Keith Sweat. He’ll continue to host the evening R&B show “The Sweat Hotel,” currently heard on more than 60 affiliate stations. Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott says, “Keith Sweat’s name is synonymous with R&B. His unparalleled connection to the music, the artists and listeners has been the driving force behind our successful partnership for the last 13 years.  We couldn’t be happier to extend our relationship for years to come.”…..The three-hour, weekly classic R&B program “The Classics With Mr. & Mrs. R” (at left) joins Fishnet Syndication. As part of this deal, Fishnet will handle all marketing, advertising, and affiliate sales beginning immediately. Fishnet says, “‘The Classics With Mr. & Mrs. R’ brings radio stations the best of R&B from back in the day, like Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Mary J, Janet Jackson, and of course Whitney along with the amazing Al Green.”…..Townsquare Media’s country WITL-FM, Lansing brings aboard Cadillac Jack and Erica Gray for morning show duties. Townsquare Media Lansing market president Zoe Burdine-Fly says, “We are beyond excited to have Caddy & Erica joining our team in Lansing as the morning show of our heritage WITL brand. Their experience and passion to deliver local content to our dedicated audience will be instrumental in the continued success of the station.”