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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

| May 12, 2021

Audacy Names Spike Eskin VP of Programming for WFAN, New York and CBS Sports Radio. Sports and radio programming pro Spike Eskin is being promoted to vice president of programming for Audacy’s WFAN-AM/FM, New York and CBS Sports Radio, effective July 1. Eskin, who has been brand manager for the company’s sports talk WIP-FM, Philadelphia, will take over for longtime WFAN programmer Mark Chernoff, who is stepping down from his roles with Audacy on June 30. Audacy New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Spike has the vision, creativity, and drive to craft the next chapter of the iconic and influential WFAN brand. Along with CBS Sports Radio, his experience will be ideal to fuel our sports production powerhouse of 48 hours a day of original audio, 12 hours of quality television, all alongside a vibrant digital and social experience for both New York and the nation. As a longtime colleague of Spike, I am excited that he has joined our all-star team and have no doubt that he will succeed.” Speaking about his new role, Eskin says, “I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity to help lead WFAN into its next chapter. It’s an iconic station with incredible talent, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m grateful to Chris Oliviero and Audacy for the opportunity. Working at 94WIP over the last decade has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’m grateful to David Yadgaroff for his belief in me and the staff who stepped up to every challenge.”

Urban One 2021 First Quarter Net Revenue Declines 3.6%. The 2021 first quarter financial results for Urban One, Inc. indicate net revenue was approximately $91.4 million, a decrease of 3.6% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $36.4 million, a decrease of 3.3% from the same period in 2020. The company reports operating income of approximately $23.8 million for Q1 of 2021 compared to an operating loss of approximately $27.3 million for the same period in 2020. Net income was $7,000 compared to a net loss of approximately $23.2 million during the first quarter of 2020. Adjusted EBITDA was approximately $28.8 million in Q1 compared to approximately $32.3 million for the same period in 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins III, states, “Normalizing for approximately $1.4 million of Richmond gaming chase costs, which were one-time in nature, our Adjusted EBITDA was down approximately 6.3% year-over-year, which was encouraging in the context of pre-COVID radio comparatives for January and February and a lack of political revenues. It is worth noting that compared to Q1 2019, which was a pre-pandemic and off-cycle political quarter, our Adjusted EBITDA was up by approximately 4.1% (and by 9.1% after normalizing for the Richmond gaming project). Our core radio advertising was down approximately 13.7% for the quarter, with January -28.4%, February -19.9% and March +8.8%. Currently for second quarter, core radio is pacing up over 70%, with April finishing at +89%. Our digital business had another strong quarter, with revenues up 64.6% and Adjusted EBITDA up by approximately $3.2 million. Cable TV revenues were down 2.6%, but Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $24.8 million was 14.5% higher than Q1 2019 (approximately $21.7 million), which is a more realistic comparison than the COVID-impacted Q1 2020, during which content production and marketing were effectively shut-off. Under the circumstances, we delivered a solid first quarter, and I anticipate further sequential improvements in Q2.”

Longtime WFAN, New York Programmer Mark Chernoff Named to New York State Broadcasters Association 2021 Hall of Fame Class. One of the four broadcasters joining the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame this year is longtime WFAN, New York program director Mark Chernoff, who’s been behind the programming helm of the legendary sports talk station for almost 30 years. The NYSBA says, “While known for his sports programming, Mark started his career at music stations including the legendary WNEW-FM from 1985-1989. He was the program director at ‘K-Rock 92.3 FM’ from 1989-1993 which included working with the legendary Howard Stern. Mark again worked as K Rock’s programming director from 2004-2006, where he helped develop the unique ‘Free FM’ format as a response to subscription-based satellite radio services and had the opportunity to work with  Opie and Anthony. He even worked as a rock music DJ for more than a decade. Mark joined ‘The Fan’ in 1993. At WFAN Chernoff oversaw iconic shows such as ‘Imus in the Morning’ and ‘Mike and the Mad Dog.’ Chernoff’s skills were put to the test as he rebuilt WFAN’s programming following Imus’s comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. He managed the legendary Mike Francesa and Chris Russo. Chernoff brought Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton to the station for a morning show that saw ‘Boomer & Carton’ reach No. 1 in the market during their decade-long run. In a recent Newsday interview, Audacy SVP and New York market manager Chris Oliviero stated, “When people think of WFAN, names like Imus, ‘Mike & The Mad Dog’ or Boomer [Esiason] often come to mind, but no name has been more responsible for the consistent excellence of THE FAN than ‘Chernoff.’”

Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights Release Podcast Download – Spring 2021. The sixth Podcast Download report from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights is “a comprehensive evaluation incorporating several studies that examine podcast audience and advertiser trends over the past five years.” This sixth installment was released to coincide with the IAB Podcast Upfront as part of Cumulus Media’s commitment to share insights and research findings with the podcast community. Cumulus Media EVP, marketing and president, Westwood One Suzanne Grimes says, “Our new Podcast Download Report underscores the power of the podcast. Listeners look to podcasts for stories, for entertainment, for learning, and for escape, especially in a year of such upheaval. Audiences soared as listeners experimented with a broader array of content genres and used more distribution platforms than ever to listen to their podcasts.” Some of the findings include the conclusion that the pandemic was a podcast listening accelerant. The study reports that among weekly podcast listeners, the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for increased podcast listening. In March 2021, 53% of weekly listeners reported spending more time with podcasts since the pandemic, up +29% from July 2020 (41%). See more about the study here.

WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids Programmer Randy Lee to Retire. According to a report by KGAN-TV, Cedar Rapids, longtime news/talk WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids program director and on-air personality Randy Lee will retire at the end of this month after a 46-year career in broadcasting. Lee has been the program director at iHeartMedia’s WMT-AM for the past 32 years.

SummitMedia Promotes Tom Scott to Vice President of Engineering. Radio engineer Tom Scott is promoted to vice president/engineering for SummitMedia, LLC. In this role, Scott will manage engineering for all SummitMedia Markets throughout the U.S. SummitMedia CEO Carl Parmer says, “We are delighted for Tom to direct all engineering efforts for SummitMedia. It is certainly a well-deserved promotion. His depth of knowledge and strategic vision will be invaluable to us as we continue to innovate and evolve the technical side of our business.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new weekly podcast from CNN Audio titled, “The Handoff,” and starring CNN anchors Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon debuts later this month. CNN says, “Each night during the primetime hours of CNN’s television programming, viewers witness the deep love, honest candor, and respect that these two anchors – and friends – have for one another in their unscripted ‘handoff’ conversations between shows. Now, with no broadcast clock to hold them back, they are stepping out from behind their anchor desks to come together and ignite even more personal and hot topic conversations. Nothing is off limits.”…..Actor Rainn Wilson and author Reza Aslan are teaming up with Kast Media to serve up their podcast, “Metaphysical Milkshake,” set to debut on June 15. Wilson, known for his Emmy-nominated role as Dwight Schrute on the NBC series “The Office,” and Aslan, author of three internationally best-selling books including bestseller, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, “bring their unique backgrounds, philosophies, and curiosities to create a podcast all about life’s big questions.”…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” – nationally syndicated by Talk Shows USA – adds radio stations KHOB-AM, Hobbs, New Mexico and WGAN-AM /FM, Portland, Maine to it roster of affiliates.

Voting Rights Bill Debate, Cheney vs GOP, COVID-19, Pipeline Hack, Israel-Gaza Fighting, Border Crisis, and Gates Divorce Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/11). The debate in the U.S. Senate over the For the People voting rights act; Liz Cheney addresses the U.S. House as the GOP prepares to strip her of her leadership role for challenging the “stolen election” narrative; COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the U.S., mask guidelines, and India’s soaring death toll; the gas shortage in the Eastern U.S. due to the DarkSide pipeline hack; the shelling between Israel and Hamas in Gaza; the migrant crush at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Joe Biden administration’s immigration policy; and the controversy over the Bill and Melinda Gates divorce and the Jeffrey Epstein connection were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, March 8, 2021

| March 8, 2021

Monday Memo: Staples’ Savvy. Whether you’re a broadcaster or podcaster – “and ESPECIALLY if you write promo or commercial copy or if you sell” – consultant Holland Cooke urges humility about the listener’s attention. In this week’s column, he shares success tactics from the office supply superstore. Read it here.

Pending Business: Habits. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa is a fan of those books and articles that detail the habits of successful people and in today’s column he boils them down to three that have been used by successful radio sellers but are not always practiced these days. Read more here.

Will Marotti Announces Exit from WTIC-AM, Hartford. On today’s radio program, Pastor Will Marotti told his listeners of Entercom’s news/talk WTIC-AM, Hartford that he’s leaving his radio program after this Friday’s show in order to focus on his role with the New Life Church in Meriden, Connecticut. Marotti hosts the late morning show (9:00 am to 12:00 noon) but he’s held numerous positions with WTIC over the years. He partnered with former Connecticut Governor John Rowland from 2010 to 2012 in the afternoon drive daypart. He took over that program hosting it solo after Rowland resigned from the station after being brought up on charges of campaign fraud and corruption. Marotti continued to serve as a fill-in personality but returned to WTIC to host late mornings full time after Jim Vicevich retired from his show in December of 2019 to focus on his battle with Lupus.

Debating Dr. Seuss.  The brand-new weekly podcast dedicated to tackling the education crisis in America – produced and hosted by WPHT, Philadelphia midday host Dom Giordano – is off to a flying start. In this week’s “Readin’ Writin’ and Reason” podcast, Giordano sits down with American University professor Omekongo Dibinga, one of America’s leading critics of Dr. Seuss. They debate Seuss, cancel culture, and critical race theory. Giordano also speculates on people who might still read Dr. Seuss to kids in public settings. This podcast series is particularly timely and potent drawing upon Giordano’s well-established reputation as one of the leading experts on education in talk radio. It can be heard at 1210WPHT.com and Radio.com.

January PPM Spoken-Word Summary. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his final analysis of Nielsen Audio’s January 2021 PPM survey with today’s report highlighting the news/talk, news, sports talk, and public radio news/talk stations that finished in the top five (weekly, 6+ AQH share) as well as the five stations in each of those four formats that  posted the highest AQH share. See his report here.

Bloomberg Radio Marks Pandemic Anniversary with Month-Long Daily Series. Radio news service Bloomberg Radio is launching a special daily series titled, “A Year Like No Other,” that examines how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed life and business in America. Syndicator Key Networks says the series “will draw upon Bloomberg’s vast resources to provide radio listeners with daily glimpses of what has changed over the past year, how it has changed, and whether it will ever again be the same.” The series debuts on Monday, March 15 and will take a look at a different industry or way of life that underwent a monumental change in the past year due to COVID-19. Al Mayers, global head of Bloomberg Television and Radio says, “The series will showcase the range of Bloomberg’s business journalism and our wide reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. We look forward to bringing this new content marking the past year to our audience.” Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “Bloomberg’s news team has once again produced content for our affiliates that provides an in-depth look at a story that impacts listeners across the country. This is the type of service and information that Bloomberg affiliates receive 24/7, 365 that is second to none.”

Hubbard Radio’s WTOP Launches PodcastDC. Washington, DC all-news WTOP and sister WFED-AM owner and operator Hubbard Radio announce the debut of PodcastDC – a new podcast app built specifically for the Washington DC region. Hubbard says the new mobile app, which soft launched in January, showcases podcasts that feature voices, topics and stories that are rooted in the nation’s capital. Hubbard Radio VP of digital strategy Jeremy Sinon says, “In a world with 800,000 podcasts available, it’s easy to understand how local can get lost. If your main source of discovery for podcasts is one of the big podcast apps, you would have a hard time knowing that local content even exists. We’re trying to solve that problem by giving Washingtonians an app that is dedicated to serving them audio that caters to their local interests.” Hubbard says the new app is also aimed at making locally produced audio more discoverable and more profitable for its creators. Users will find hundreds of podcasts from independent local content creators like PodcastDC’s own marketing strategist Elly Rowe, who also produces and hosts the podcast “Women-Owned Wednesday By Elly Jane,” which highlights local female entrepreneurs, artists, creators and more. “The sheer number of podcasts and audio content available makes it hard to stand out on a more local level,” Rowe says. “PodcastDC creates an excellent opportunity to help highlight independent D.C. podcasters with content that is not only relevant to local listeners but also deserves more national attention.”

WHBY-AM, Appleton, Wisconsin Talk Host Kathy Keene to Retire. Longtime WHBY-AM, Appleton, Wisconsin talk host Kathy Keene announces she’ll retire from the station and her role as host of the “Good Neighbor Show” on May 28. Keene joined the Woodward Communications station in January of 1981 and on September 6 of that year became the host of the “Good Neighbor Show.” Woodward Communications says that during her time with the station, she was awarded the Social and Digital Media “Best Personality” award at the 2016 Wisconsin Broadcasters Association awards. She was recently honored in 2018 with the Wisconsin Broadcasters Local Legend Award. Keene comments, “Time has come for me to leave my career in radio. It’s been 40 years and it’s been a great 40 years, let me tell you. I have met so many wonderful people along the way. I have spoken with thousands of people: authors, teachers, historians, community leaders, artists and entertainers, experts in every imaginable field. And you, the ‘Good Neighbor’ listeners have always been a large part of the essence of the show. And I will miss you.”

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Stimulus Bill, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Relaxed Mandates & School Openings, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, Voting Rights Issues, Chauvin Trial, and Harry & Meghan Interview Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The Joe Biden COVID stimulus bill passes the Senate and returns to the House for a final vote on Tuesday; the plateauing COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; worries about relaxed mask and gathering mandates and the opening of schools; the growing number of sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his refusal to resign; Joe Biden’s voting rights bill passes the House and Georgia’s bill to alter voting times and requirements; the looming trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin; and Sunday’s Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

| February 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 14, 2021

| January 14, 2021

Key Networks Names Deidra Hoye to Lead Expanded Sales Team. Syndication firm Key Networks appoints network advertising sales executive Deidra Hoye to the senior vice president, ad sales position in which she’ll lead the company’s newly expanded sales team. Los Angeles-based Hoye will supervise the enhanced sales team of veteran network radio sales professionals that includes recent hires Maggie Sisco, vice president, Eastern sales; Brian Pollina, vice president, Midwest sales; and Michelle McLynn, supervisor of sales support & operations. Hoye previously served as vice president, network sales, for Premiere Networks. Sisco joins Key Networks from PodcastOne, where she was vice president/director of sales, Eastern region. Pollina comes to Key Networks from United Stations Radio Networks, where he was vice president of digital assets and Midwest sales. McLynn joins Key from Westwood One, where she was affiliate services manager. Key Networks and Sun & Fun Media CEO Rob Koblasz says, “We are delighted to welcome Deidra to the Key Networks team. Her wealth of experience in the network ad sales arena will allow us to serve our partners now and as we grow our network. Deidra’s leadership along with the breadth of experience of our team is a winning combination for our customers.” Key Networks syndicates “The O’Reilly Update,” starring Bill O’Reilly to almost 250 radio stations. It also manages all network advertising sales, affiliate sales, and marketing for Bloomberg Radio and distributes “Shawn Parr’s Across The Country,” as well as news/talk program “The Jesse Kelly Show,” alt rock morning program, “The Billy Madison Show,” and Virtual Jock programming services.

KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh News Anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas to Retire. Pittsburgh news anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas is retiring from her PM drive anchor post at Entercom’s news/talk KDKA-AM after 45years in the broadcasting business. Ryan-Douglas has been with KDKA-AM since 2002. She joined KDKA-AM after anchoring the morning news at crosstown (current classic hits outlet) WWSW “3WS” for almost 20 years. Entercom Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “Rose has been the ultimate news professional. Not only will we miss her on the air but her calming influence in the newsroom is irreplaceable. On behalf of all of us at KDKA Radio and our listeners we thank her for the tremendous work she has done over the years.” Her last shift will be Friday, February 26.

Seth Goldberg Exits ‘ESPN Syracuse’ for Gig with the NBA. Syracuse.com reports that WTLA-AM, Syracuse “ESPN Radio Syracuse” host and producer Seth Goldberg is leaving the radio station to take a position with the NBA. Goldberg began working at WTLA in 2015 producing “Upon Further Review” with hosts Chris McManus and Steve Neikam while still a student at Syracuse University. Joining WTLA full time after graduating in 2016, Goldberg has been co-host and producer for “Orange Nation” (co-hosted with Steve Infanti), and produces “On the Block,” a program with Syracuse.com’s Brent Axe. Both programs also are featured on the WTLA-SU Twitch streaming channel ‘Cuse Sports Talk.’ Galaxy Media CEO Ed Levine says Goldberg’s on-air role on “Orange Nation” will be filled in the interim by Paulie Scibilia.

Beasley Media Group’s Preliminary Q4 Net Revenue Down 5.8%-6.5%. Releasing preliminary financial data from the fourth quarter of 20201, Beasley Media Group says it expects net revenue for the period to be approximately $67.4 million to $67.9 million. Compared to the same period in 2019, the figures represent a decrease of between 5.8% and 6.5%. The company says the change reflects a year-over-year decrease in commercial advertising revenue due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, partially offset by growth in digital, esports, and political revenue. Other data points include: fourth quarter 2020 Station Operating Income increased by approximately 23.1% to 28.8% year-over-year to approximately $19.2 million to $20.1 million; and fourth quarter 2020 EBITDA increased by approximately 25.0% to 33.8% year-over-year to approximately $17.0 million to $18.2 million. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “We expect to report top-line revenue improvement in the second half of the year, with sequential quarter-over-quarter growth in both the third and fourth quarters of 2020. Our preliminary fourth quarter performance also demonstrates the significant operating benefits from the actions we took earlier this year to address the pandemic, including reducing station operating expenses and negotiating discounts with landlords, service providers, and partners. Although it is difficult to predict what the impact of COVID-19 will be in the coming months, we remain optimistic that the commercial advertising market will return to more normalized revenue levels as we move further into the year, following broad vaccine distribution.”

CES2021: Technology Is Merely the Plumbing. As the (virtual) convention that reporters are scolded for calling “the Consumer Electronics Show” wraps today, consultant Holland Cooke urges broadcasters to focus on product, not package. Read his analysis here.

First Detroit Sports Talk Show Hosted by Frank Beckmann? Not So Fast… Former longtime Detroit Free Press writer John Smyntek reaches out to TALKERS magazine to let us know that legendary Detroit radio personality Frank Beckmann – who announced his retirement from Cumulus Media’s WJR-AM on Wednesday (it takes effect at the end of March) – was not the first to host a sports talk program on Detroit radio as the press release from WJR claims. Smyntek says, “WXYZ-AM (1270, now WXYT-AM) had the late Dave Diles hosting a daily sports talk and caller dial-in show from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm weeknights starting, I think, in 1967 and running through 1969 or 1970. Then Ron Cameron had a sports call-in format on WXYT-AM under the Chuck Fritz regime for several years in the 1970s, long before Beckmann’s show started.” Smyntek – who retired from the Free Press in 2008 – says Beckmann’s “Sportstalk” program, launched in 1981, was indeed the first sports show to air on WJR-AM.

WSB, Atlanta Talk Star Erick Erickson Is This Week’s Guest on the Harrison Podcast.  One of the rising stars of talk radio, Erick Erickson of WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” He’s one of the most important talk radio figures in the Peach State where, for the past eight years, he’s been hosting “Atlanta’s Evening News with Erick Erickson,” a 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm program on the Cox Media Group heritage station. He also hosts a recently launched, daily three-hour show airing from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon on his own independent network of almost 20 stations stretching across Georgia that many industry observers say is ready to expand nationally. His background is fascinating. Born 45 years ago in Jackson, Louisiana, he was raised between the ages of five and 15 in Dubai where his father worked for Conoco Oil as a production foreman. Returning to the U.S., he received a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and a J.D. degree from Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. He practiced law for six years at a major legal firm in Georgia. He served four years as an elected city councilman in Macon. He was one of the founders of RedState.com which he managed as editor-in-chief for 10 years. He’s been a regular contributor to CNN and FOX News Channel over the years. He’s currently attending a seminary where he is working on earning a theological degree and he’s one of the talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh turns to when he needs someone to fill in. Erickson is a conservative who has not been reluctant to tell his audience the truths he thinks they need to know as opposed to engaging in the daily dance of affirmation and only telling them what they want to hear – especially when it comes to his opinions about President Donald Trump. Don’t miss this extremely timely conversation about the state of talk radio and politics in America today recorded the day after the Capitol insurrection. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Report: Dan Le Batard and Former ESPN Boss John Skipper to Form New Sports Media Company. According to a report by Michael McCarthy at Front Office Sports, former ESPN radio and TV personality Dan Le Batard and former ESPN chief John Skipper are partnering for a new “politically progressive sports media company” that is “described as the strategic opposite of Clay TravisOutkick.” The Le Batard-Skipper partnership was first reported by the Miami Herald. McCarthy’s piece says that Le Batard and Skipper are seeking talent including former ESPN talent Jemele Hill, Bomani Jones, and Kate Fagan. Hill tells FOS, “We’re trying to figure out the most productive way to work together. Both John and Dan know I have such a deep level of respect for them. So, me working with them again always felt like it was inevitable.” Skipper is currently executive chairman of sports streaming platform DAZN. Hill, in the aftermath of her departure from ESPN, formed her own production company that produces the Vice TV show “Stick to Sports,” and the “Jemele Hill is Unbothered” Spotify podcast.

TALKERS News Notes. Detroit talk station WFDF “910 AM Superstation” announces that former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, who served as mayor during the city’s water scandal, joins the station as a talk host. She’ll appear Monday-Friday in the 8:00 am to 9:00 am hour. Adell Radio Group CEO Kevin Adell says that with former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder being criminally charged with willful neglect in conjunction with the Flint water crisis, bringing Weaver aboard is timely. “Mayor Karen Weaver watched this disgraceful water episode unfold firsthand and will have much to talk about as Rick Snyder works his way through our legal system”…..The Armstrong & Getty Show – starring Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty – announces that QBS Broadcasting’s talk WBQO-FM, Brunswick, Georgia adds the program to its lineup. WBQO program director Paul Andresen says, “There’s a reason Armstrong & Getty’s reputation precedes them. So, when tasked with finding a replacement for Clark Howard, it was a no-brainer. A&G brings a much-needed change of perspective and influx of personality to not only 93.7 WBQO, but our market as a whole. The listeners’ response, from the first show onward, has been nothing short of fantastic and I couldn’t be prouder to have Armstrong & Getty in our on-air lineup.”…..The “RMWorldTravel with Robert & Mary Carey and Rudy Maxa” announces that it has added 23 new affiliate stations in 2021 so far, bringing its affiliate roster to more than 460 stations!

U.S. House Votes to Impeach Trump, Capitol Attack Investigation, States Prep for More Attacks, Social Media and Free Speech, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, WHO Investigating COVID Origin in China, and Powerball Jackpot Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/13). The U.S. House of Representatives votes to impeach Donald Trump; the investigation into last week’s attack on the Capitol; states across the nation move to protect their capitals from potential future attacks; the removal of Donald Trump and others from social media platforms and questions about free speech; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the WHO enters China to investigate the origin of the coronavirus; and the record Powerball jackpot were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

| January 13, 2021

Detroit Talk Radio Legend Frank Beckmann to Retire. Detroit radio personality Frank Beckmann will retire from Cumulus Media’s WJR-AM on March 26, wrapping a 48-year career with the heritage Motor City station. Beckmann has hosted the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program on WJR for the past 18 years. During his career, he’s broadcast play-by-play for all four of Detroit’s professional sports teams and is credited for creating the market’s first sports talk program, “Sportswrap,” in 1981. Beckmann joined WJR in 1972. In 1981, he succeeded Bob Ufer as the University of Michigan football play-by-play announcer, a position he held for 33 seasons. Beckmann says, “I will be forever grateful to WJR for helping all of my boyhood dreams to come true. As a youngster growing up on the east side of Detroit, I always imagined sitting behind a microphone, announcing Lions and Tigers games. It was surreal for me to actually have been able to do that, along with experiencing the other great opportunities this radio giant known as WJR provided me. I only hope I’ve met some of the expectations of me, and I thank every person I’ve worked for, or with, at WJR… My co-workers and our clients are not only my friends; they are my family. I’d like to thank them, along with our loyal audience. Without their support, I would not have had this run. Finally, I’d like to give thanks to my family: my wife, Karen, son Jon, and daughter Tori, for the selfless sacrifices they’ve made through the years. And now that my professional sunset beckons, and while I say so long to my job, I say thanks to all of you for making my career and life more complete. My best wishes to my WJR colleagues and listeners.”

CES2021: “Eat, Drink, Play, Pay – Will We Ever be the Same?” Like many other events, the Consumer Electronics Show has gone virtual. Confessing that he misses the perennial January in Las Vegas trek, consultant Holland Cooke writes, “This session alone would have been worth the trip!” In today’s column: Data from a recent Harris Poll/MasterCard joint study about the pandemic shutdown’s impact on commerce. Four trends that on-air content should address and our advertisers’ messages should exploit. Read it here.

SRN News and TOWNHALL News Providing Coverage of Impeachment Debate. When the U.S. House of Representatives begins debate today over the Democrats’ Article of Impeachment against President Donald Trump, Salem Radio Network News and TOWNHALL News will provide unanchored, live coverage. SRN News begins coverage at 9:00 am ET and that will continue for an undetermined amount of time. Salem Radio Network says this live coverage is part of the Salem Radio Network’s ongoing commitment to provide O&Os and affiliates with complete coverage of breaking news 24/7.

KFI, Los Angeles Produces New Documentary on Kobe Bryant. Los Angeles news/talk KFI and correspondent Steve Gregory are launching a new iHeartRadio Original News Documentary and Podcast, “The Death and Life of Kobe Bryant.” This two-hour documentary will air Sunday, January 24, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on KFI-AM 640 and will be syndicated across iHeartMedia’s 24/7 News radio affiliates. The limited, eight-episode companion podcast will also debut on January 24 and be distributed via the iHeartPodcast Network and can be heard on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are available. It includes interviews and audio excerpts from live news coverage surrounding the helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his daughter and several others and will explore the void Bryant’s death left in the business world and the Black community. Exclusive program content also includes the NTSB’s investigation and controversies surrounding the incident, including illegal photos taken at the crash site by law enforcement. “The Death and Life of Kobe Bryant” is produced and hosted by award-winning journalist Steve Gregory. The series is co-produced by the KFI-AM 640 news department, Jacob Gonzalez, and Eric Sklar.

Entercom Study: Audio Has Highest Consumer Engagement Level. A recent study by market research firm Alter Agents and neuroscience experts at Immersion, commissioned by Entercom, concludes that audio content connects and engages audiences at a much deeper level than other media types, forming emotional connections and capturing attention. Entercom is presenting the results of the study during a session at the virtual CES2021 show this week called “Amplified Audio Defining Engaged Impressions.” Entercom SVP, research and insights Idil Cakim says, “In an uncertain world, and a cluttered media environment, people are seeking new experiences and looking for mediums that provide trust and certainty. Our study found that audio not only captures attention and moves people on an emotional level, but also inspires action through a sense of community and belonging.” The study consisted of a survey of a nationally representative population of adults, coupled with a neuroscience study by Immersion of individuals from the major U.S markets of Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Alter Agents compiled the data to result in an examination of consumer experiences with audio versus various other mediums such as TV, video, social, and pureplay platforms. The primary metric tracked in the study was immersion, a scientific measure of emotional connection and attention. Audio was found to have the highest level of immersion among all the platforms with a score of 57 out of 100. Entercom says additional key findings included that consumers are listening to or watching seven different media platforms in a given week; one-third of broadcast over-the-air listeners have taken action after hearing an advertisement or a host recommendation as part of a commercial or an audio show; and local audio content and host trust are the largest influencers of listenership.

AWMF Announces New Categories and Extended Deadline for 2021 Gracie Awards. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation announces that the deadline to submit entries for the 46th Annual Gracie Awards at the regular rate has been extended until January 21. AWMF is also offering a further extended deadline of January 28 at an additional cost. The Gracie Awards, presented by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation, celebrate programming and individual achievement by, for and about women in television, radio and digital media. Submissions from all facets of media are encouraged. The AWMF says that because of the tireless work and bravery of journalists covering the unprecedented events in the first two weeks of 2021, it has added 10 new categories specifically dedicated to January 2021 Frontline Special Reports for on-air talent and programming in television, radio and digital media. See the categories here. AWMF executive director Becky Brooks comments, “We know the circumstances of the past year led to delivering content to audiences in ways we never expected, which is why we are more committed than ever to honoring the remarkable work that has been created by, for and about women. As our biggest fundraiser of the year, the Gracie Awards enable the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation to deliver on its promise of furthering the connection, education and recognition of women in media, even during turbulent times.” The Gracie Awards Gala, previously scheduled for May 2021, has been postponed to September 20, 2021, and the Gracie Awards Luncheon, previously scheduled for June 2021, has been postponed to July 21, 2021.

TALKERS News Notes. Fresno news/talker KMJ-AM/FM helped raise more than $30,000 to combat human trafficking on Monday (1/11) – Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the U.S. The Cumulus Media station partnered with local non-profit Breaking The Chains for the fundraising event. KMJ general manager Patty Hixson says, “Our loyal listeners always amaze me how they generously step up for great causes, especially one like human trafficking which has brought so much heartbreak and violence into our community. Well done! We will not stop fighting.”…..At next week’s NobleCon17 – Noble Capital Markets’ Seventeenth Annual Investor Conference taking place on Tuesday (1/19) – Townsquare Media chief executive officer Bill Wilson will deliver a presentation at approximately 4:30 pm ET. The conference is virtual, with no cost, obligation or restrictions to attend…..CUMULUS MEDIA’s Westwood One – the official network radio partner of the NCAA – unveils its 2020-2021 broadcast schedule for coverage of 20 regular season men’s basketball games that begins with tonight’s Texas Tech at Texas contest and ends with the Final Four and National Championship games on April 3 and 5, 2021…..Cadence13, a part of Entercom’s Podcast Network, announces a partnership with bestselling author Sarah Knight for a weekly podcast based on her No F*cks Given Guides self-help book series (The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, etc.). Her “No F*cks Given” podcast is a series of 30-minute episodes on topics ranging from getting organized and surviving the daily grind to making big life changes and improving your relationships with family and friends that debuts on January 26…..AdLarge Media makes its first foray into the international market in an agreement with The Podcast Exchange for exclusive Canadian ad sales representation of its cabana podcast portfolio. AdLarge co-CEO Cathy Czukas says, “Working closely with the team at TPX, we are opening the door to international revenue for cabana podcasts. We’re enthusiastic about the opportunities this brings to our podcast partners.”

Trump Impeachment/25th Amendment Push, Capitol Attack Investigation/Arrests, State Capitals Increase Security, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Social Media and “Free Speech,” and U.S. Executes Lisa Montgomery Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/12). The U.S. House plans to move forward with Articles of Impeachment against Donald Trump in the absence of invoking the 25th Amendment by Mike Pence; the federal investigation into the assault on the U.S. Capitol and the arrests of some of those involved; state capitals across the country prepare for possible future attacks; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of the vaccines; YouTube joins Twitter and Facebook in banning Donald Trump plus the battle between Parler and app stores as Americans debate the concept of “free speech”; and the U.S. executes Lisa Montgomery, the first woman to be executed in 70 years were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.