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Remembering G. Gordon Liddy

| March 31, 2021

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS magazine
Managing Editor

 

WASHINGTON, DC — At approximately the same time as William Jefferson Clinton was methodically engineering one of the biggest political upsets in recent memory, a national radio network hired a colorful, complex intellectual – if not totally eccentric – character to host a daily talk show.

That was part of the shape of our landscape just over 29 years ago (February 1992).

In the swing of it

Twelve years later in 2004, a toned G. Gordon Liddy was still behind the Westwood One microphone when he recalled with infinite energy to Inside Radio’s then Special Features editor Mike Kinosian, “I hope I’ve changed for the better and have [improved] at what I do. It’s like playing golf: The more you do something, the better you get at it. If I spend as many hours playing golf each day as I do with the radio show, I might have a fair game.”

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Friday, March 26, 2021

| March 26, 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 Borders of Our Lives,” looks back at this past week of March 22-26, 2021.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Walter Sterling, talk show host, “Sterling On Sunday”; Dana Loesch, talk show host, Radio AmericaBernadette Duncan, author/former talk show producer; Lee Habeeb, talk show host/producer, “Our American Stories”; Bobbie Winston, artist/American ex-pat, Brazil; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, 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.

Round Four of Nielsen Audio’s February PPM Ratings Released. The fourth and final round of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s February 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 February 2021 survey covered February 4 – March 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Waterloo Media’s news/talk KLBJ-AM, Austin adds a half share to finish the survey with a 6.2 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and remains ranked #4 in the market. In Raleigh, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTKK-FM falls to the #5 rank after losing a full share to finish with a 6.0 share, while Curtis Media Group’s crosstown news/talk WPTF dips two-tenths for a 2.3 share and the #14 rank. Emmis Communications’ news/talk WIBC-FM, Indianapolis falls from #1 to #3 after shedding seven-tenths for an 8.2 share finish. And in Milwaukee, despite losing 1.6 shares, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WISN-AM remains in first place on the strength of a 9.4 share while Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ-AM slides down a half share for a 6.0 share finish good for the #5 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways for this round of markets – as well as the previous three rounds – here.

NYPost: Carton’s Restitution Out of Her Hands. The New York Post reports that one of WFAN, New York afternoon drive personality Craig Carton’s fraud victims will not get restitution any quicker – at least for the time being. Gerard LoDuca – owner of Dukal Corp – had petitioned the court to increase Carton’s restitution to him since he’s employed at Entercom’s sports talk outlet and therefore making substantial money. But federal Chief Judge Colleen McMahon ruled that because Carton is still in custody of the Bureau of Prisons while serving his year of home confinement, it’s out of her hands. Carton has a restitution debt of $4.8 million, of which LoDuca is owed $435,000. So far, LoDuca has received $25,000. Carton’s attorney told the court that 15% of Carton’s paycheck goes to his restitution responsibilities. He also must pay property liens and child support payments for his four children. Carton’s home confinement ends on June 9, after which he’ll be supervised by the Southern District Probation Department.

KNZR-AM/FM, Bakersfield Adds Dennis Prager for Late Mornings. Bakersfield news/talk KNZR-AM/FM fills the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart previously occupied by the Rush Limbaugh program with Salem Radio Network’s Dennis Prager. Alpha Media Bakersfield general manager Jeremy Price says, “KNZR is thrilled to announce that ‘The Dennis Prager Show,’ along with the massive PragerU audience, has now been added to the lineup.” Prager’s nationally syndicated program is heard on more than 400 affiliate stations nationwide. Prager is also the founder of PragerU – an online video channel with more than five million subscribers.

iHeartMedia Colorado Raising Funds for Boulder Shooting Victims. All day today (3/26), the 26 iHeartMedia radio stations in the state of Colorado will conduct the “We are iHeart Colorado. Boulder Strong” on-air broadcast fundraiser to benefit the victims and the families of Monday’s mass shooting. Funds raised from the event will be distributed through the Community Foundation of Boulder County, a local nonprofit responding to immediate needs and anticipating future challenges of the community. The iHeartMedia stations will encourage listeners to help the victims of Monday’s tragic event and their families through monetary donations. iHeartMedia Denver Region president Brenda Egger says, “Words cannot express the grief that our community has experienced as a result of this horrific event. Together, with Community Foundation of Boulder County, we are proud to help with the healing process and provide assistance to those who were impacted by Monday’s tragedy.”

Entercom Announces Deal with Rush Street Interactive. Online casino operator Rush Street Interactive and Entercom are partnering for a number of sports betting audio initiatives. RSI operates the BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse mobile platforms and as part of this deal, BetRivers will be the official title sponsor of the “You Better You Bet” podcast hosted by Nick Kostos and Ken Barkley that recently relaunched as part of Entercom’s “BetQL Audio Network.” Kostos will also be a brand ambassador for BetRivers and serve as the voice of the “BetRivers Sports Betting Minute,” heard on Entercom’s sports talk stations in legalized sports betting markets across the country. Entercom president of sports Mike Dee says, “RSI is an ideal partner for ‘You Better You Bet.’ The company’s authentic approach to the sports betting marketplace aligns well with Nick, Ken, and the hardcore betting audience that consume the nation’s No. 1 fully dedicated daily sports betting podcast.”

WTMJ, Milwaukee to Air and Stream Brewers Games. When the Major League Baseball season opens next Thursday (4/1), Good Karma Brands’ Milwaukee news/talk outlet WTMJ will air the games and will make them available via WTMJ.com and the WTMJ app. The streaming will be available in the five-county Milwaukee metro area — Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Ozaukee and Washington counties only, due to MLB restrictions on audio streaming. Good Karma Brands VP and market manager Steve Wexler says, “We’re thrilled to offer fans in the Milwaukee metro area another way to enjoy the excitement of Brewers baseball with Bob Uecker, Jeff Levering, and Lane Grindle. Brewers baseball is the soundtrack of summer, and now it will be available in more ways than ever before.”

WWOJ, Sebring Morning Host John Meder to Retire. Capping a 62-year radio career and 35 years on WWOJ, Sebring, Florida is morning host John Meder. He’ll hang up his headphones after his final program on April 1 – his 85th birthday. Radio pro Jay Clark serves as programming consultant to Highlands Radio Group’s four stations in the Sebring market. He says, “John is a true professional who has entertained and informed his listeners in Highlands County Florida for years. He is the last of the breed of great hometown morning personalities, a true neighbor and community leader for 35 years. He will be sorely missed by his listeners and me.”

Shooting Violence and Gun Control Top News/Talk Story for March 22-26. The shooting deaths in Atlanta and Boulder and the larger topic of gun control combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was COVID-19, vaccines, variants, prevention, and stats. Following at #3 was the border crisis and the related topic of immigration reform. 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.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

| March 24, 2021

Wendy Bell Promoted to Full Time Talk Host at WJAS-AM, Pittsburgh; Rose Tennent Added to Afternoons. According to a story in the Beaver County Times, St. Barnabas Health System-owned news/talk WJAS-AM, Pittsburgh bumps talk personality Wendy Bell to full time in which her 9:00 am to 12:00 noon show will air Monday through Friday. The station has also added Pittsburgh media personality Rose Tennent to the program schedule in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. Bell was a host on Entercom’s KDKA-AM until she and the company agreed to part company early last fall. Bell had been criticized for suggesting on her show that park rangers shoot anyone seen defacing a monument in a public park. Tennent co-hosted “The War Room” morning show on former talk outlet WPGB-FM, Pittsburgh with Jim Quinn. St. Barnabas Health System SVP J.D. Turco says, “Both women have very distinctive styles. WJAS is the only station featuring six hours of back-to-back conservative female programming. We are proud to have strong, intelligent, and informed talk radio with Wendy from 9:00 am – 12:00 noon and Rose from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm.”

Round Two of February PPM Ratings Released. The second of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s February 2021 survey period covered February 4 – March 3. All-news and news/talk stations benefitted from the January 6 Capitol attack and its aftermath as well as from the transition from the Trump administration to the Biden administration during the post-holidays period that is traditionally down from a ratings standpoint. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM, Washington rose by one-tenth to a 6.0 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and the #4 rank while Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM was unchanged with a 9.9 share good for the #2 rank. In Boston, iHeartMedia’s WRKO was steady at a 5.2 share and the #8 rank while sister all-news WBZ-AM dipped seven-tenths but remained ranked #1. In Seattle, Bonneville’s KIRO-FM lost just one-tenth, finishing the survey with a 7.3 share good for a repeat at the #1 rank. Sinclair Broadcast Group’s crosstown all-news KOMO-AM/FM dropped half a share to a 5.2 and slipped to the #5 rank. See all of Mike Kinosian’s Ratings Takeaways for this round of markets here.

Former WFLA-AM, Tampa Morning Host Tedd Webb Enters Hospice. Longtime Tampa Bay radio personality Tedd Webb has entered hospice, according to a statement from his son Lee Ruiz. He says his father’s dialysis and dementia have been “particularly taxing.” Webb co-hosted “AM Tampa Bay with Jack Harris from 1994 through 2017 when he retired. Webb has been dealing with health issues for some time. Ruiz says, “This wasn’t an easy decision for him to make and obviously no one wants to lose him, but there’s only so much one person can endure. He feels the time is right and, ‘that’s how he sees it’ as he would say… I know a lot of people would like to spend one more time with him, and as much as we would like to accommodate all of those wishes, it’s just not possible. Given his current state, and that this came about rather abruptly, we have a very tight window of time left which makes it difficult to pull off.”

Jeanna Berge Rises to Market President for iHeartMedia Eau Claire/Rochester. Radio sales pro Jeanna Berge is promoted to market president for iHeartMedia’s Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota markets, effective April 1. She takes over the role from Rick Hencley who is retiring after 27 years with iHeartMedia. Berge will retain her role as SVP of sales for the Eau Claire market. She says, “I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and I am beyond ecstatic to lead and learn from these incredible, dedicated, multi-talented teams in the Eau Claire and Rochester markets. Rick has been an inspiring leader throughout my career at iHeartMedia and I’m honored to have had him as my mentor. His passion to have his employees always strive to be the best is evident with the success of his career, and I am determined to share that same motivation, positivity and creativity to help these ambitious teams excel. My mission is to continue to build on our already strong connection while having a positive impact on our employees, listeners, advertisers and our communities.”

Gaby Dunn Partners with Westwood One for Podcast. Comedian and New York Times best-selling author Gaby Dunn is partnering with Cumulus Media’s Westwood One to bring her podcast “Bad With Money” to the Westwood One Podcast Network. The podcast will “unapologetically examine the intersection of finances and social justice. Every week, Gaby will bring a queer, feminist, and unabashedly radical point of view to conversations with top journalists, student loan experts, tax specialists, and mutual aid organizers.” Dunn says, “At a time when so many people are scared and out of work, I’m thrilled to be able to provide helpful and actionable advice for long-term financial security. Furthermore, ‘Bad With Money’ will now sit alongside other like-minded shows on Westwood One, where it can reach those who need to hear it most.”

Cumulus Media’s WSBN-AM, Washington to Air Baltimore Orioles Games. When the 2021 Major League Baseball season begins, Baltimore Orioles games will be heard in Washington, DC on Cumulus Media’s sports talk WSBN-AM “ESPN 630 AM The Sports Capitol.” Cumulus says the multi-year deal keeps the Orioles Radio Network on the Washington, DC airwaves and adds to ESPN 630 AM’s stable of sports broadcasts – which also includes the Washington Football Team and the University of Virginia. Cumulus Washington SVP and market manager Ken Roberts says, “We are thrilled to be associated with the Baltimore Orioles. From their classic venue, Oriole Park at Camden Yards to their Hall of Fame heritage, the Orioles have a rich history with the League and with the City of Baltimore.”

Traveling with 46. Pictured above (back to the camera, wearing headphones) is Salem Radio Network White House correspondent Greg Clugston covering President Joe Biden’s tour of the new, state-of-the-art Radiation Oncology Department at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State University yesterday (3/23). Clugston traveled frequently on Air Force One during the Trump administration. Tuesday was his first flight accompanying the 46th president.

Deadly Colorado Grocery Shooting/Gun Control, COVID-19-Spring Break, Border Crisis-Immigration, Capitol Attack-Sedition Controversy, and Deshaun Watson Sexual Assault Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/23). The shooting at a Boulder, Colorado grocery store that left 10 dead and the related issue of gun control; the rising number of COVID-19 cases in numerous U.S. states, concern about variants, the rollout of vaccines, and the chaos in Florida related to spring break revelers; the large number of child migrants appearing at the U.S.-Mexico border and the pressure on the Biden administration to deal with immigration policy; the investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the controversy over a justice department lawyer’s suggestion sedition charges may be leveled against some; and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson faces 14 sexual misconduct lawsuits were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, 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.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

| February 23, 2021

Cumulus Media Reports 2020 Q4 Net Revenue Down 13.9%; Net Revenue for Full Year of 2020 Declines 26.7%. The second major radio company to report financial figures from the fourth quarter and the full year of 2020 (Beasley was first back on February 10), Cumulus Media reports net revenue of $245.8 million for the fourth quarter – a decline of 13.9% compared to the same period in 2019 – and full year 2020 net revenue of $816 million, down 26.7% from $1.1 billion reported in 2019. For Q4, Cumulus posted a loss of $249,000 a year after 2019’s Q4 income of $1.6 million. For the full year of 2019, the company posted a loss of $57.9 million compared to 2019’s full year income of $62.2 million. On the positive side, Cumulus reports that quarterly revenue improved sequentially from Q2 to Q4, both in total and excluding political; it achieved 9.4% year-over-year digital revenue growth (12.1% on a same station basis), driven by podcasting growth of nearly 40%; it generated $33.2 million of cash from operations for the full year; it completed two significant M&A transactions generating aggregate gross proceeds of $282 million; paid down $54.3 million of term loan and retired $47.2 million of senior notes; and finished the year with $271.8 million of cash on hand (an increase of $256.6 million compared with December 31, 2019). President and CEO Mary Berner comments, “Given 2020’s extenuating circumstances, I am extremely proud of the company’s performance and the efforts of the entire Cumulus team to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19. In the face of the pandemic, we maximized revenue performance, materially reduced expenses, generated cash through strong working capital management, and executed highly accretive divestitures that strengthened our balance sheet. As a result of these efforts and with a recovering economy, we believe that we are well-positioned to return our business to its pre-pandemic trajectory and to capitalize on strategic and financial options to best drive shareholder returns.”

Chad Benson Welcomes New Affiliate Stations. The Radio America-syndicated “Chad Benson Show” welcomes four new radio stations to its roster of affiliate stations: WP Broadcasting’s news/talk KRSY-AM, Alamogordo, New Mexico; WCED Rsdio’s news/talk WCED-AM, Du Bois, Pennsylvania; Fieldview Broadcasting’s news/talk KWBG-AM, Boone, Iowa; and VP Broadcasting’s news/talk WHOL-AM/W295CR Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Chad Benson Show is also heard on such signals as Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix; iHeartMedia’s KSTE-AM, Sacramento; and Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville. Radio America says, “Listeners love Chad’s explanation of the day’s hard news delivered in a thoughtful and entertaining way. And that explains why Chad is featured on some of the most highly rated talk stations in the country and delivers the demos that talk radio needs most.”

Entercom and Pro Sports Teams Cooperate on ‘Vaccinate Michigan’ Effort. The Entercom Detroit station cluster that includes sports talk WXYT-FM “97.1 The Ticket,” all-news WWJ-AM “Newsradio 950,” and three music brands are partnering with the Detroit Lions, the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Pistons to launch a new community initiative called “Vaccinate Michigan.” All five stations are airing state-approved public service announcements about the COVID-19 vaccination and its availability for Michigan residents. The “Vaccinate Michigan” announcements are voiced by various Entercom Detroit on-air personalities, show hosts, and news anchors, as well as some of the city’s key sports figures, including Tigers manager AJ Hinch, Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd, Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, Lions head coach Dan Campbell, and Pistons head coach Dwane Casey. Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “Our company and sports partners understand the importance of getting Michigan businesses open, as well as the need of our listeners and fans to get back to work and feel some sense of normalcy. Radio serves as a crucial lifeline for the communities it serves and we’re proud to lend our influential voice in the community and our citywide footprint to deliver the important message of COVID-19 vaccinations to our listeners and fans.”

SummitMedia Enters into Podcast Deal with CurtCo Media. This strategic partnership between SummitMedia and CurtCo Media is SummitMedia’s first formal alliance with a third-party content creator for the podcast audience. SummitMedia owns and operates 47 radio stations in nine states. Los Angeles-based CurtCo Media currently produces cutting-edge quality scripted and unscripted podcast programming. SummitMedia chairman and CEO Carl Parmer comments, “SummitMedia’s partnership with CurtCo Media provides us with an exciting opportunity to develop and explore the rapidly growing podcast medium. We’ve known and watched CurtCo create engaging and innovative content for years, and we value the integrity and quality they bring to the media industry.” CurtCo Media CEO Bill Curtis says, “Having a strategic alliance and investment from SummitMedia makes this partnership the most powerful moment to date in our business development. We’re so excited to work with Greg Kelly, Carl and their team to create new dynamic programming and combine Summit’s powerful radio platform with CurtCo Media in the fast-growing world of podcasting. We believe this strategic partnership will provide sustainable value for our business and expand our audience.”

TALKERS News Notes. Longtime radio and television consumer advocate Clark Howard will receive the 2021 “Andrew Ashwood Award” at the 12th annual Talk Show Boot Camp, presented by Don Anthony’s Talentmasters and Gabe Hobbs Media being held virtually this year on March 18 and 19.  Howard, who wrapped his nationally syndicated radio program after 23 years at the end of 2020, will be presented with the award by last year’s recipient, Greg Moceri. He says, “When I was given the privilege of selecting someone who exemplified the positivity that Andrew did for our industry, it took me two seconds to say Clark Howard. Having worked and associated with him for 30 years, he was an instant selection on how many ways he has demonstrated that positivity and has helped millions through the years. ‘In Clark we trust’ impacted his knowledge and authenticity in our industry for decades and it continues today. Clark was an instant choice to carry on this great tradition of honoring Andrew.”…..The 2nd Annual Radio Cares – Feeding America is off to a great start with new and returning partners signing on in support of the nationwide radio event that raises money to provide meals for individuals and families facing hunger in America. Radio Cares is presented by Feeding America and the Independent Broadcasters Association and takes place on April 14 on radio stations across the country. Last year, in its inaugural event, Radio Cares raised enough money to purchase 5 million meals.”…..The Philadelphia Phillies and Entercom announce a new, multi-year radio deal with the MLB’s Phillies to keep sports talk WIP-FM the flagship station for the club’s radio broadcasts. The play-by-play team of Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen will be joined by Kevin Frandsen this season. Entercom Philly SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We’re eagerly awaiting the return of Phillies baseball and are happy to announce a new broadcast extension with the club. As the undisputed voice of the Philadelphia sports fan, we look forward to putting listeners right in the middle of the action through premier game day coverage and keeping them caught up with their favorite team throughout the season.”

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, SCOTUS Trump Tax Returns Ruling, Capitol Riot Investigation, Cabinet Confirmation Hearings, Dominion Sues Mike Lindell, and Facebook Australia News Deal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/22). The United States passes the 500,000 COVID death mark and the rollout of vaccines continues; the Supreme Court rules New York prosecutors can have access to Donald Trump’s tax records; today’s first Senate hearing on the January 6 Capitol insurrection; Monday’s first confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland, and the coming hearings for embattled White House budget office nominee Neera Tanden and Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland; voting systems firm Dominion sues MyPillow chief Mike Lindell for $1.3 billion for defamation; and Facebook agrees to Australian news deal that will pay news organizations were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.