WIP-FM, Philadelphia Names Rod Lakin Program Director. Philadelphia sports talk WIP-FM goes outside the Philly area for its new program director naming KMVP, Phoenix “Arizona Sports 98.7 FM” PD Rod Lakin as its new brand manager. Lakin will take over for Spike Eskin, who recently joined Audacy’s WFAN, New York as program director on October 4. Audacy Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “I’m pleased to welcome Rod Lakin to the WIP team and begin the next chapter for our iconic station. Rod brings a breadth of experience and deep understanding of what works in the sports audio format, which I trust will position WIP for much success as the home for Philadelphia sports fans.” Lakin has spent nearly two decades in the spoken-word format in Phoenix, first joining “ESPN Radio 860″ and “Newsradio 620” KTAR in 2003. He was a founding member of “Sports 620 KTAR” upon its launch in 2007, serving in a variety of roles over the next several years including director of the Arizona Diamondbacks Radio Network. In 2014, Lakin was named executive producer for KMVP-FM “Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.” In 2018, Lakin added programming duties for “ESPN 620 AM” and was named program director of “Arizona Sports 98.7 FM” in 2019.
iHeartMedia Denver Announces Programming Changes at KOA and KHOW. A number of changes at iHeartMedia Denver’s news/talk stations take place, effective September 20. First, Ross Kaminsky moves from KHOW where he’s been hosting the morning drive show to the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon show on sister KOA. He displaces the “Logan & Lewis” show but both Dave Logan and Rick Lewis move to the afternoon drive daypart for the all-new “The KOA Sports Zoo” that will also feature current PM drive personalities Alfred “Big Al” Williams and JoJo Turnbeaugh. At KHOW, Michael Brown moves from his early afternoon show to the morning drive daypart where he’ll host “The Situation with Michael Brown.” Filling the 2:00 pm to 4:00 slot on KHOW is regular KOA and KHOW fill-in host Leland Conway, who joins the ranks of the full-time personalities. Regarding Kaminsky, iHeartMedia notes that he’s been named “Best Talk News/Talk Show” by the Colorado Broadcasters Association and “Best Radio Talk Show Host” by Westword. “The KOA Sports Zoo” – in addition to its four main personalities – will feature Denver Broncos players and coaches, and other celebrities and will cover the MLB’s Colorado Rockies and University of Colorado Buffaloes. Michael Brown is “a fan-favorite and described by many as smart, funny and connected. As the Former Under Secretary of Homeland Security and Director of FEMA, Brown provides provocative insight into culture, current events and politics.” New full-time host Leland Conway is known as “a ‘happy libertarian,’ and has an uncanny ability to interview news makers, putting them at ease while cutting to the heart of the issue.” iHeartMedia Denver president Brenda Egger says, “Both KOA and KHOW have been serving Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West for close to a century. These enhancements further cement our position as the leading destination for unmatched news, talk and sports programming.”
Round Four of August 2021 PPM Data Released. The fourth of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s August 2021 PPM survey has been released for the group of markets including: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen’s August 2021 sweep covered July 22 – August 18. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Indianapolis, Emmis Communications’ news/talk WIBC-FM dips two-tenths to an 8.0 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and slides from the #2 to the #3 rank. Good Karma Brands’ news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee loses seven-tenths for an 8.2 share finish but remains ranked #1 while iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talk WISN tacks on four-tenths for a 7.2 share finish and rises to the #3 rank. In Nashville, Cumulus Media’s WWTN-FM, “SuperTalk 99.7” rises to the #2 rank on the strength of a 1.5 share jump to a 7.8 share finish. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets (as well as the previous three rounds) here.
‘104-9 FOX Sports Upstate’ Launches in Greenville, SC. Gone from the 104.9 FM signal of WROO-FM, Greenville, South Carolina is the rock format and in is sports talk. iHeartMedia unveils “104-9 FOX Sports Upstate” that is airing the complete FOX Sports Radio national programming lineup with the addition of the two-hour afternoon drive show hosted by longtime South Carolina sports broadcaster Phil Kornblut. His program, “Sports Talk with Phil Kornblut,” airs from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm nightly in addition to “Outkick The Coverage,” “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” “The Doug Gottlieb Show,” “The Odd Couple with Chris Broussard & Rob Parker,” “The Jason Smith Show” and “The Ben Maller Show.” iHeartMedia Asheville/Greenville SVP of programming Brian Hall says, “We’re excited to bring back the FOX Sports Radio brand to the Upstate. Our listeners will have access to the best names in sports talk, plus regional coverage. It’s also a natural pairing with the South Carolina Gamecocks. Game on Upstate!”
Cumulus Media Studies NFL Fans’ Use of Radio vs. TV. This study from Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is based on research from GfK MRI, Ipsos, the NFL “Fan Tracker,” and a special Nielsen Portable People Meter analysis of NFL listening to national broadcasts and reveals the season-long reach of Westwood One’s NFL play-by-play broadcasts to be 56 million listeners. Cumulus Media chief insights officer Pierre Bouvard says, “The research indicates the profile of the radio sports play-by-play audience is surprisingly different from the TV audience. The TV audience consists of casual sports fans while the audio audience is far more passionate and engaged – they are far more likely to be seen as sports experts by their friends, play fantasy sports, and attend games – this provides brands with a highly attentive audience.” Other key findings from the study indicated that: sports betting is more prevalent among AM/FM radio sports listeners versus the TV sports audience; in the car, the AM/FM radio NFL play-by-play broadcast is the ‘best available screen’ for employed and upscale sports fans and according to GfK MRI, the profile of the AM/FM radio NFL audience is much more upscale; compared to average Americans, NFL AM/FM radio audiences spend 16% more. See the study results here.
Salem Media Group Closes Refinancing of 2024 Senior Secured Notes. In a statement released on Monday (9/13), Salem Media Group announces it has closed the refinancing of $112.8 million of its senior secured notes due 2024 by way of exchange and/or sale and purchase of $112.8 of such 2024 Notes into $114.7 (reflecting a call premium of 1.688%) of newly issued 7.125% Senior Secured Notes due 2028. After the refinancing, only $103.5 million of the 2024 Notes remain outstanding. At the same time, Salem has obtained commitments from the holders of the 2028 Notes to purchase up to $50 million in additional 2028 Notes, contingent upon Salem satisfying certain performance benchmarks, the proceeds of which are to be used exclusively to repurchase or repay 2024 Notes. Salem believes that the extended maturity of the 2028 Notes, the ability under the indenture governing the 2028 Notes to use certain asset sale proceeds and casualty loss proceeds to repurchase or repay the 2024 Notes, and the commitments to purchase up to $50 million in additional 2028 Notes, as well as certain other features of the refinancing, all contribute to the ability of Salem to pay the remaining 2024 Notes in full prior to or at maturity. Salem CEO Edward G, Atsinger III says, “With this refinancing and our expected future free cash flow generation, we believe Salem has a clear path to ultimately push out all of the rest of our outstanding debt maturities. It also provides flexibility to opportunistically invest in our business.”
TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Chicago-born stand-up comic Brian Babylon, a.k.a., “Prince of Bronzeville,” is named the new host of the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight show on Tavis Smiley’s talk outlet KBLA, Los Angeles. Feder notes that Babylon hosted “The Morning AMp” from 2011 to 2015 on Chicago Public Media’s Vocalo platform…..ABC Audio announces that Derricke Dennis is promoted to staff correspondent. In this role, he’ll report for all ABC Audio platforms, continue to anchor newscasts – as well as coverage of breaking news and special events – and he’ll be instrumental in the company’s efforts to build new products and reach new audiences. Dennis has been serving the company as a freelancer and anchoring ABC’s flagship I-NET newscast…..VSiN announces that Stormy Buonantony joins the sports betting network as the new host of “My Guys in the Desert.” In addition to covering college football for ESPN, Buonantony joins VSiN from AT&T SportsNet, where she was the rinkside reporter for the Vegas Golden Knights over the past two seasons. She says, “I’m so excited to expand my role and join the incredibly talented and knowledgeable team at VSiN full time. I’ve always joked that I grew up in a household where it didn’t matter who won or lost the game but rather by how many points they won or lost. This represents a special opportunity for me to combine my personal and professional backgrounds in my hometown of Las Vegas on a network committed to providing the best sports betting analysis out there.”…..Pet behaviorist and humorist Warren Eckstein celebrates 40 years in radio hosting, “The Pet Show With Warren Eckstein,” that is syndicated internationally by Radio America in 150 additional markets, including Guam and Canada.
COVID-19, California Recall, Afghanistan, January 6 Investigation/Justice for J6 Rally, Met Gala, Prince Andrew Case, California Wildfires/Tropical Storm Nicholas Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/13). The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and the battle over vaccine mandates, and school mask requirements; today’s recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom; the aftermath of the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the looming Justice for J6 rally in Washington; U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez wears a dress that says “tax the rich” to the Met Gala; Prince Andrew’s attorneys claim Jeffrey Epstein-related complaint is improper; and the wildfires in California and the threat of heavy rain in the Gulf south from Tropical Storm Nicholas were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Cumulus Renews Rush Limbaugh Through 2019. The news/talk icon is heard on 33 of Cumulus Media’s news/talk outlets across the country and today’s announcement insures he’ll be heard there through 2019. Premiere Networks and Cumulus Media are extending the affiliation agreement for the Rush Limbaugh show and the deal is what the latter calls a “multi-million dollar” one that “represents Limbaugh’s increased power and audience appeal as the most-listened-to national radio talk show host in America.” Cumulus throws some ratings data into the presser as well, noting that the Limbaugh show “experienced combined audience growth of +49 % with Persons 12+ and +23% with Adults 25- 54 on Cumulus-owned stations in Chicago (WLS-AM), Detroit (WJR-AM), Washington, DC (WMAL-FM), Dallas (WBAP-AM) and San Francisco (KSFO-AM). Nationwide, the program has experienced significant year-over-year audience growth in 2016 with Persons 12+ (+21%), Adults 25-54 (+13%), Adults 18-34 (+12%) and Women 25-54 (+17%).” All data is credited to Nielsen Audio. Cumulus Media SVP of operations and co-head office of programming Bob Walker comments, “Rush is a unique and true broadcaster, and we’ve had a successful partnership for many years. We’re pleased to continue offering the Rush Limbaugh show on our market-leading brands, which connect with millions of consumers and drive positive results for our partners.”
KABC, Los Angeles and Doug McIntyre Ink Two-Year Extension. Los Angeles radio personality Doug McIntyre and Cumulus Media sign a deal that will keep him hosting the “McIntyre in the Morning” show on KABC-AM for at least two more years. KABC operations director Drew Hayes comments, “We’re thrilled Doug will be with us for at least another two years given the dramatic growth he has achieved for us over the past year.” In the press release, Hayes says McIntyre has achieved “an impressive 61% increase in weekly listeners in the third quarter of 2016 over 2015 and 70.6% growth year-to-year in the key 25-54 demographic. Doug has also been a hit with women listeners.” McIntyre says, “I think we’ve found success by evolving talk radio away from stridency; by striking the right balance between today’s headlines and laughs without beating people over the head with ginned-up outrage and demoralizing partisanship.” McIntyre also writes a popular weekly column for the Los Angeles Daily News and is a regular contributor to The Daily Beast and numerous other publications. He is also a much-in-demand emcee, helming the annual “L.A. Political Roast,” “The Cinema Audio Society Awards,” and the annual “Timothy Coughlin Dinner” in New York, a 9-11 related charity. Next month, McIntyre will host four evenings with comedy legend Steve Martin as part of the Southern California Distinguished Speakers Series. In past years he has performed with Monty Python icon John Cleese, Betty White, Ron Howard and Robert Redford among others.
Joe Bell Returns to Beasley to Lead Philly Cluster. Radio sales and management pro Joe Bell worked for Beasley Media Group for 16 years leading its Fort Myers and Miami operations. Now, almost three years after leaving the company, he returns to serve as market manager of the Philadelphia station group. Beasley president Bruce Beasley states, “Joe made us proud as he served at the helm of our Miami cluster in charge of an iconic heritage sports station WQAM, in addition to his experience with major personalities at WPOW ‘Power 96,’ and Miami’s ‘Kiss Country.’ As our company has grown, we have benefitted tremendously from Joe’s successful team management skills. Joe will hit the ground running in Philly!” In Philadelphia, Beasley operates sports talker WPEN-FM and WTEL-AM, rock WMMR, adult hits WBEN-FM, classic rock WMGK, and talk WWDB-AM.
Cumulus Suing JP Morgan Chase for Hindering Refinancing. In this suit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, Cumulus Media is asking the court to take action forcing creditor JP Morgan Chase to follow through on steps that will allow Cumulus’ debt-for-equity refinancing to happen before the January 27 deadline. Cumulus recently announced that it has reached an agreement with bondholders that would allow it to deleverage by as much as $305 million. But the refinance of those senior notes requires borrowing from Cumulus’ $200 million revolving line of credit and JP Morgan has not allowed the transfer of the revolving line of credit to the new lenders and extended a loan amendment giving the company access to the credit line. In the suit, Cumulus says it is being affected by an industry-wide decline in business and its heavy debt load is affecting its prescription for improving ratings and revenue. This refinancing would help ease that burden. There’s been no public comment by JP Morgan Chase on the suit.
iHeartMedia Announces Strategy in Not Repaying 2016 Legacy Notes. Saying that as part of its “ongoing efforts to proactively address its capital structure,” iHeartMedia reports that a Special Committee of independent directors has decided not to repay the $57.1 million of the 5.50% Senior Notes due tomorrow (12/15) held by affiliate Clear Channel Holdings, Inc. It says it will pay the $192.9 million of 2016 Legacy Notes held by other holders. With this, iHeartMedia will continue to have at least $500 million of legacy notes outstanding on December 15 and will therefore not be obligated to grant certain additional security interests in favor of certain of its debtholders under a so-called “springing lien” set forth in relevant debt agreements. The company announces that it also filed lawsuits in the State District Court in Bexar County, Texas, seeking a declaration that the $57.1 million of 2016 Legacy Notes remains outstanding and that the Company is not currently obligated to grant any of its debtholders the “springing lien” on any of its assets.
Baltimore Talk Personality Allan Prell Dead at 79. Longtime WBAL, Baltimore radio personality Allan Prell passed away on Saturday (12/10) at the age of 79. Prell worked at several stations in Baltimore but made his mark in the talk radio business hosting a show in middays on WBAL from 1982 through the early 2000s, according to Prell’s obit on WBAL.com. Prior to his talk host career, Prell was a newsman who won two Edward R. Murrow awards for investigative journalism. As a talk show host, Prell was named to the TALKERS magazine Heavy Hundred (The 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America) for three years straight (1999, 2000, and 2001). He also co-hosted a specialty weekend program called “The Movie Show on Radio” for several years in the early 2000s. Check out David Zurawik’s memories of Prell in the Baltimore Sun here.
David Field Sells $1.2 Million of Entercom Stock. In a legal filing disclosed to the SEC, Entercom Communications Corp. reports that company president and CEO David J. Field sold 79,607 shares of Entercom stock in a December 12 transaction valued at $1,268,935.58. Field sold the shares at an average price of $15.94. After the transaction, Field’s stock ownership stands at 2,053,161 shares valued at $32,727,386.
Odds & Sods. Last month, programmer Bob Shomper quietly exited CBS RADIO’s Twin Cities news/talk WCCO-AM. The company is presently searching for WCCO’s new program director…..Westwood One is now serving as the exclusive ad sales rep for the weekly podcast “The Pollsters,” featuring Democratic pollster/political consultant Margie Omero and Republican pollster/political consultant Kristen Soltis Anderson. The program is available via audioBoom, iTunes, Google, Spotify, and others…..College basketball legend John Calipari is the host of a new, weekly podcast on the Midroll platform, owned by E.W. Scripps. The “Cal Cast” gives Calipari “a new way for me to connect with people and to talk honestly with high profile guests who all have very interesting stories and bold opinions.”
Trump Transition/Kanye West Visits Trump Tower, Trump Cabinet Nominees, the Syrian Civil War/Allegations of Atrocities in Aleppo, New Abortion Legislation, Election Recount/Russian Influence Allegations, New Star Wars Flick, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/13). The transitioning of the Trump Administration and rapper Kanye West’s visit to the Trump Tower in NYC; President-Elect Donald Trump’s choices of ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, former Texas Governor Rick Perry as Energy Secretary, and U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke for Secretary of the Interior; the Syrian civil war and allegations that Bashar al Assad’s forces are randomly killing civilians; the 20-week abortion limit passed in Ohio and an attempt to put restrictions on abortions in Oklahoma; the failed election recount started by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and questions about the extent of Russian influence in the recent elections; chatter about the new Rogue One installment in the Star Wars film franchise; and the week’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.