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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.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

| March 16, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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