Van Harden Announces Retirement from WHO-AM, Des Moines in January. Thirty-four-year WHO, Des Moines morning personality Van Harden announced he’s retiring from the station on January 8, 2021, capping a 50-year radio career. In a public statement, iHeartMedia notes that during Van Harden’s time at WHO, he’s won five Marconi awards for his work as the host of the morning show and has been inducted along with co-host Bonnie Lucas into the Iowa Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Harden says, “I know people will ask why I am retiring. My answer is, after 50 years, why not? For years people have asked me if I ever think about retirement and I have told them, ‘Yes, at 2:45 weekday mornings.’ Getting up has been the biggest challenge of the job and it has gotten more difficult as time has gone on, but I wouldn’t trade any of those past mornings for anything. I want to deeply thank my past co-hosts and good friends, Patti Christensen, Connie Murad, and Bonnie Lucas, especially Bonnie, after putting in 25 years of her own, for being such fabulous on-air partners. I could make a huge list of incredible co-workers from the past 50 years that have made this an amazing ride. Besides the on-air shows it was a great honor to be the program director of WHO for 30 years and of KXNO from the day we put it on the air as a sports station. It has been a privilege to have hired and worked with so many talented people on both stations.”
PPM Analysis: News/Talk. In today’s report from TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian, he notes that news/talk stations in PPM markets have been remarkably consistent in their 6+ AQH share increases this year over last. Based on Nielsen Audio’s data, 64% of news/talk outlets in PPM markets were up August 2019 – August 2020. For the two previous surveys, growth was very similar as is evidenced by the 65% up from July 2019 – July 2020 and the 68% up from June 2019 – June 2020. Returning to the August data, 55% of news/talk stations were up from July 2020 to August 2020 with iHeartMedia’s WLW, Cincinnati (+2.3), WTAM, Cleveland (+2.0), and WISN, Milwaukee (+1.8) leading gainers. Joining WLW and WISN as #1-ranked stations in their respective markets in August were Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta and Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle. Mike Kinosian also provides cume data in this report and notes that 54% of news/talk stations in PPM markets showed improved cume from the July 2020 survey to August 2020 with Nexstar Media Group’s WGN, Chicago leading the gainers. See his complete report here.
Minnesota Public Radio Reporter Quits in Solidarity with Victims of Air Personality. According to a report by WCCO-TV, Minneapolis, Minnesota Public Radio news reporter Marianne Combs resigned her position with the public media company after her editors did not run her investigative piece about the actions of an unnamed air personality at sister triple A station KCMP, Minneapolis “The Current.” Combs tells WCCO-TV that she spent two months speaking to eight women who were “sexually manipulated and psychologically abused” by the staffer. Combs says that she was told that although editors found the behavior “creepy,” it did not rise to the level of illegality and was therefore not worthy of news coverage. MPR president Duchesne Drew told WCCO-TV that they are “blindsided” by her resignation and believed she was continuing to work on it but that he stands by his editors’ decisions. He also adds that editors discussed with Combs how to strengthen the story to allow it to “meet our standards.”
Jim Meyer to Retire from SiriusXM CEO Position. After seven years as chief executive officer of SiriusXM, James E. Meyer announces he intends to retire on December 31, 2020. Meyer was named CEO in April of 2013 after serving as interim CEO since the previous December. Under his watch, revenue has more than doubled to an expected $7.7 billion and the number of subscribers has grown to 34.3 million. SiriusXM says that current president of sales, marketing and operations Jennifer C. Witz will become CEO. Meyer will remain on the company’s board of directors and will serve as vice chairman. Board chair Gregory Maffei says, “On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank Jim for his outstanding service, helping to create the leader in audio entertainment in North America. During his tenure as CEO, SiriusXM has grown to become a diversified audio entertainment provider that is poised to reach more than 150 million people, the largest addressable digital audio audience in North America. We are a better company for his stewardship. We look forward to continuing to work with him on the board and to build on SiriusXM’s strong momentum.” At the same time, SiriusXM announces that David J. Frear will leave the EVP and chief financial officer position to pursue other opportunities and Sean S. Sullivan is appointed to that role. Sullivan has been serving in a similar capacity for AMC Networks since 2011.
Salem Radio Network News Presents September 29 Debate Coverage. When the first presidential debate takes place on Tuesday, September 29 from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Salem Radio Network is presenting live coverage. SRN begins coverage with an hourlong “SRN Debate Preview” hosted by nationally syndicated SRN talk host Hugh Hewitt, joined by special guests and SRN News White House correspondent Greg Clugston. The debate itself runs with no commercial breaks from 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm and will be followed by a “SRN Debate Wrap-Up” at 10:30 hosted by Hewitt. SRN VP/News & Talk Programming Tom Tradup says, “Excitement in anticipation of this first 2020 debate has been building for months. With the polls tightening and no teleprompters on stage, our debate coverage promises to highlight the first gloves-off, no-holds-barred encounter between these two candidates for the highest office in America.”
Hurley in the Morning Charity Passes $1 Million Mark. With last Friday’s 13th Annual “Hurley in the Morning” Charity Golf Tournament at The Harbor Pines Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey in the books, the charity founded by WPGG, Atlantic City morning host Harry Hurley pushes the charity’s total funds raised since its inception past the $1 million mark. Hurley says, “The latest installment generated more than $50,000, which has enabled the ‘Hurley in the Morning’ Charity to surpass $1 million raised in our history. We are so grateful for the amazing support that we have received over the years. It’s also very gratifying that we have proven that you can safely and responsibly hold an outdoor event during the pandemic. The annual charity event was modified to respect social distancing and was made as contactless as is humanly possible.”
The Presidential Race, Western Wildfires/Climate Change Debate, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, PA Protests/BLM Movement, Facebook Whistleblower Memo, Iran Assassination Plot, and Hurricane Sally Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/14). The November presidential election; the wildfires raging in California, Oregon, and Washington and the debate over climate change and its effect on the wildfires; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the protests in Lancaster, Pennsylvania after police kill a knife-wielding man; a Facebook whistleblower’s memo about the company’s challenges dealing with voter manipulation; President Trump warns Iran after rumors of its intent to assassinate an American ambassador; and Hurricane Sally’s projected path into the Gulf Coast were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Jim Richmond Named Director of Sales for Bonneville Seattle. Sales pro Jim Richmond is named director of sales for the Bonneville Seattle Media Group. Richmond was most recently general sales manager for Entercom San Francisco and assumes the role held by Cathy Cangiano prior to her promotion to SVP and market manager. She says, “I believe Jim Richmond’s experience, combined with his business acumen and strong leadership skills are well aligned to capitalize on opportunities that we have identified as integral to our success. In addition to his responsibilities leading the sales teams, he will be a key contributor to our Leadership Team and our constant efforts to align with Bonneville’s purpose.”
TALKERS News Notes. Broadcaster and journalist Rita Cosby is named the chair of the Global Service Institute at Long Island University. In this role, Cosby will lead the Institute’s “game-changing and innovative educational initiatives to inspire a timely commitment toward volunteerism and elevate the importance and power of service. During this unprecedented moment with the economic devastation caused by the virus, the need for volunteers to assist drastically depleted nonprofit organizations has never been greater.” LIU president Dr. Kimberly R. Cline says, “The Global Service Institute established LIU as a premier destination for developing values-driven global citizens who will impact their communities. With her global experience exploring critical headlines and lifelong dedication to service, Rita Cosby is an exemplary leader who will elevate the Institute to even higher levels.”…..This week’s Westwood One blog examines a number of Nielsen case studies that indicate AM/FM radio ad campaigns lift TV viewership. The studies compare those who had been exposed to AM/FM radio ads for TV tune-in with people who had not heard the ads. The studies show that while on-network promos and paid TV buys reach heavy TV viewers, AM/FM radio TV tune-in campaigns reach medium and light TV viewers. In one case, the returning season of a scripted cable drama ran an AM/FM radio campaign that represented only 5% of the media plan but generated 20% of the total campaign impressions. 70% of the AM/FM radio impressions were from persons 18-54, while half of the paid TV and TV promo impressions were from persons 55+…..iHeartRadio and Treefort Media announce a new docuseries podcast titled, “DRAFTED,” that follows top college football players as they prepare to enter the NFL Draft. The program is produced in association with Klutch Sports Group and is narrated by Emmy-winning actor Keegan-Michael Key. He says, “I’m excited to be part of this series because it gives mega fans like myself intimate access and insight into the world of these incredible athletes. It’s really special to be able to hear everything they’re going through, and experience their nerves, excitement and tension leading up to one of the biggest events of their lives. I look forward to every moment.”
Music Radio News and Career Moves. An internal memo from Entercom chief operating officer Susan Larkin reveals the company’s “hub-and-spoke” programming philosophy for its alternative and country radio stations. As a reduction-in-force for air talent and programmers takes place, we learn that Entercom is creating national and regional program hosts for certain dayparts and is realigning its programming management. For country, Tim Roberts is named format captain/VP of country programming with John Foxx and Kevin Callahan serving as regional vice presidents. Marci Braun, Justin Cole, and Scott Roddy are named regional brand managers. On air, Katie Neal is the national midday host and “Rob and Holly” are national night hosts. In the alternative format, Mike Kaplan is format captain/SVP of alternative programming with Matt Malone, Christine Malovetz, and Leslie Scott serving as regional vice presidents of programming. Regional brand managers are Bailey and Bryce Segall. Kevan Kenney is the national night host and regional on-air personalities are: “Cane and Corey” for mornings, “Church of Lazlo” in afternoons, and morning shows “Dave and Mahoney,” “Gregr,” and “Stryker and Klein.”…..Country radio personality Shawn Parr begins hosting the Camping World Concert Series “Taking the Highways Across America” tonight, featuring the legendary country group Alabama. Parr hosts the Key Networks–syndicated “Shawn Parr’s Across the Country” program. He’ll host the 10-week virtual concert series that will feature such country acts as Martina McBride, Chris Young, Ricky Skaggs and Steven Curtis Chapman, Sugarland, Zac Brown Band, Lady A, Brett Young, Little Big Town, and Vince Gill and Amy Grant. Parr says, “I am SO excited to team up with Camping World and host their virtual concert series, ‘Taking the Highways Across America!’ We are having a ball bringing it to all of our affiliates and fans ‘Across The Country!’ Plus, we are hitting the road for some NEW adventures in the Parr-V very soon.”…..Beasley Media Group announces that Charlie Maxx is promoted to production director and assistant program director at country WXTU-FM, Philadelphia. She also hosts the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show. Program director Mark Razz says, “Charlie has a depth of experience that will be so helpful in her expanded role her at 92.5XTU. I look forward to putting our heads together to move the station forward.” In addition, WXTU promotes Jennifer “JJ” Scordo to production staffer and weekend personality.
Rumor: Anthony Weiner to Try Talk Radio. Here we go again! Another disgraced politician – this time it’s former congressman and former NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner – is rumored to be in the running for a talk show on one of two New York City radio signals. The New York Daily News is reporting that sources say Weiner is in talks to begin hosting a show on either Cumulus Media’s WABC (where the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot is opening in the New Year) or on Clear Channel’s WOR. WABC operations manager Tony Mascaro tells the paper they are looking at a lot of candidates for the slot but denies Weiner is one of them. The track record of former politicians – especially disgraced ones – succeeding in talk radio is not good. Most managers and programmers are either aware – or find out very quickly – that the tradeoff for hiring such a person is not usually worth it. Yes, one gets instant recognition of the person from the public, but the long hours, challenging work, glamorless working conditions and time needed to get traction in the ratings usually turns off former pols who are used to a different sort of workday. Oh, and then there’s the fact that they almost always have no broadcasting skills whatsoever. Stay tuned, the Weiner-watch is on!
Cumulus Media Holdings to Refinance $2.23 Billion in Debt. According to a Reuters report, Cumulus Media Holdings has set terms on a new $2.23 billion loan that would serve to reduce its interest payments over the course of the loan. The company is marketing a $200 million, five-year revolver and a $2.025 billion, seven-year, first-lien term loan. The proceeds would refinance Cumulus’ current first- and second-lien loans. Moody’s Investor Services VP and senior credit officer Carl Salas is quoted saying, “It’s a meaningful improvement in their annual debt service. They will save upwards of $30 million to $35 million in interest costs which adds nicely to their free cash flow generation.”
CBS Radio’s WJFK, Washington Hears It from Redskins About Game Broadcast Parodies. NFL fans are aware that the Washington Redskins – owned by the litigious and sensitive Dan Snyder – are having a tough season (3-9 right now) after making the playoffs last year. That’s been the source of much frustration on the part of fans and the source of material for WJFK host Danny Rouhier and producer Ajay Atayee who’ve been producing bits that are mock-ups of game broadcasts. Rouhier does the voices of Redskins radio play-by-play announcers Larry Michael and Sonny Jurgensen and splices in actual drops of color man and former ‘Skin Chris Cooley. The hysterically funny bits have been critical of the team’s play, the fan experience at FedEx Field and Snyder’s public image, so much so that, according to the Washington Post, WJFK Redskins beat reporter Grant Paulsen was told by team spokesman Tony Wyllie that the bits are so malicious that they could prompt legal action. This may be water under the bridge since the Post reports Wyllie says after talking with the station and being assured it’s all in good fun, the team has no problem with the station’s content. Since the station has no intention of stopping Rouhier from producing more similarly themed bits, we’ll see how the rest of the season plays out.
KYSR, Los Angeles Morning Personality Kennedy to Host Fox Business Net Show. Former MTV VJ and current morning drive host at Clear Channel’s alternative KYSR, Los Angeles, Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, will begin a new nightly current events talk show on Fox Business Network titled “The Independents” that will premiere on Monday, December 9. The Hollywood Reporter states that Kennedy will co-host with Reason magazine’s Matt Welch, America’s Future Foundation’s Kmele Foster and a rotating panel of money experts. Kennedy herself writes on her KYSR blog that the show will be “aimed at all the mealy-mouthed, partisan faithful out there. Has the 2 party system totally failed you? Yeah, me too! Tune in 4 nights a week on FBN, and just remember, music and politics go hand in hand. I will always hold hands with you.” Kennedy has been a contributor to FBN making regular appearances on “Stossel.”
Vali Named Interim GM of Ohana Broadcast, Hawaii. The name Austin Vali is widely-known in Hawaii radio and, as Ohana Broadcast Company‘s interim general manager, he will oversee four Oahu stations and five Kauai facilities. Owner/president Jason Wolff comments, “Austin brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and relationships in the Honolulu market. He will be a tremendous asset as we strive to produce the best possible radio for our listeners and clients.” Recently, Vali was vice president/general manager of Cox Media Group‘s three-station Long Island cluster. During his 40-year radio career, he has worked in Pittsburgh, Norfolk, and Louisville; however, Vali is perhaps best known for his experience in Hawaii. Since arriving there in 1978, he worked at Honolulu’s KIKI and KQMQ and he co-owned KRTR-FM and KXME in that market.
PodcastOne Adds Mariel Hemingway Program to Stable. Titled after her best-selling book Running with Nature, actress and author Mariel Hemingway, along with her partner, stuntman, actor, health and wellness expert, Bobby Williams, are launching their new podcast via PodcastOne. The podcast invites listeners to “join them on their adventures; from Hollywood to Holistic healing…transforming relationships to finding the most meaningful ways of living every day, Mariel and Bobby are here bringing laughter, wonder and awe with some great advice.” The first podcast episode “features nutrition tips, a review of her just released documentary called ‘Running from Crazy,’ and exercise tips from Bobby and Mariel’s ‘Meditation Moment.’” PodcastOne COO Greg Batusic says, “Mariel and Bobby offer a refreshing and unique take on life that their fans and new listeners will surely benefit from. We’re happy to have them join our stellar lineup.”
WTOP, Washington’s Bob Madigan to Retire. Drive time news anchor Bob Madigan will retire from his position at Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington, DC at the end of the year. Outgoing vice president of news and programming Jim Farley (also retiring, see next story) says in a memo to his DC staff, “Bob has been in this crazy business of ours for 50 years, 20 of them here at WTOP and WASH when both stations were co-owned. He and I worked for 11 years at NBC News….I have been inflicted on Bob for 27 of his 50 years in the business. By the way, if you are wondering how he got in 50 years ago, he started working in radio during high school.” Farley goes on to say that as WTOP’s “Man About Town,” he “was a one-person ‘good news’ department covering everything from charity galas to scholarship awards and chili cook-offs for a good cause. Bob covered so many events, that in less than a year on the beat, he was emcee, announcer or celebrity judge at many of them. He became a one-man marketing machine for WTOP, getting our name out there in a positive way that was priceless! He was chosen to announce the Inaugural Parade along Pennsylvania Avenue for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. At the Bush Inaugural Parade he was paired with…Meat Loaf. For years he announced the start of the Race for the Cure live on WTOP. He has a long, long list of awards and honors including a (rare for a journalist) RAMMY Award, “The Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award.” RAMMY’s are awarded by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.
A Farewell to Jim Farley. Radio consultant and TALKERS contributor Holland Cooke (right) poses for a selfie with outgoing vice president of news and programming Jim Farley at a retirement bash for the longtime WTOP, Washington programmer at the Newseum in Washington, DC. After 17 years with the station, Farley is “slowing down but not retiring” as he’ll step down from his current post but consult WTOP for the next two years. He’s also open to consult others with their news and/or digital strategies. Current WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo is stepping into the post at year’s end. Cooke reports that modern-day WTOP-ers, Hubbard execs and many alumni toasted Farley at the bash. Among other things said at the farewell party, Farley told staffers, “What a crowd! YOU did it. YOU GUYS do all the heavy lifting, and I got all the credit. I’m gettin’ out before they catch me.”
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. Usually that’s the case but at the Entercom AM transmitter site in Westwood, Kansas, just how a good fence is defined appears to be the issue. The towers for KMBZ and KUDL are surrounded by residential neighborhoods – that wasn’t the case in the 1930s when the towers went up. According to the Prairie Village Post, now neighbors are challenging the renewal of Entercom’s special use permit for the site claiming they want improvements there. After meeting with residents, a plan commission sub-committee is suggesting the current chain-link fence with barbed wire makes the property look “blighted” and recommends removal of the perimeter fence and replacement with fencing that complies with current code. Entercom fears liability issues without a perimeter fence. In 2008, a trespassing teenager was killed after falling from a tower on the site. Expect some sort of compromise on this issue since moving the station towers would be very difficult yet protection of the transmitters and towers needs to continue for obvious reasons.
Credit to WJFK-FM, Washington’s “Junkies” for Nabbing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Segment. He’s been one of the hot talk radio topics for the past several weeks (as documented in TALKERS magazine’s weekly top topics chart The Talkers TenTM), so why not book him as a guest? CBS Radio’s “The Junkies” did just that and got a cool 25-minute segment with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on WJFK-FM, Washington today. Ford, who’s obviously been in the news a bit lately and doesn’t seem to be very mic-shy, talked with the Junkies about football (he offered his NFL picks for the week), the drug use allegations against him, President Obama, and his run for re-election next fall (which he says he’ll win because he has the support of the people).
Odds & Sods. Entercom’s KGMZ, San Francisco is preparing to begin a listener giveaway of tickets and cool memorabilia for its six area pro sports teams. “95.7 The Game” is calling the promotion “The Six Teams of Christmas” and will give listeners a chance to win game ticket packages to see the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, Oakland As, Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks…..CBS Radio’s New York stations (including sports WFAN-AM/FM and all-news WINS and WCBS) are announcing a new promotion: The Firehouse Chili Cook-Off. After entries were submitted from all across the tri-state area, semi-finalists will compete to see whose chili recipe reigns supreme. At establishments in New Jersey and New York, the staple food of firefighters will be cooked, tasted and judged by local sports figures, and one fire company at each event will move into the final round of the competition. The grand prize winner will receive VIP tickets to a 2014 New York Yankees game…..Entercom’s Boston Red Sox flagship WEEI, Boston is broadcasting from the MLB Winter Meetings in Orlando next week. Live coverage of the meetings will begin with Salk & Holley from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm Monday through Wednesday. The Mut & Merloni show will also originate from the Swan and Dolphin Resort from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm Tuesday through Thursday.
Holiday Magic at KIRO-FM, Seattle. Pictured here is KIRO-FM, Seattle afternoon drive duo Ron & Don manning the tote board at last year’s “Holiday Magic Radiothon.” The Bonneville news/talk station, in partnership with Treehouse (a non-profit agency that ensures that kids in foster care have access to the essential services required to help them make it to high school graduation and beyond), are hosting the 25th Annual Foster Child Holiday Magic Radiothon today. The station set a record last year raising more than $500,000. The 12-hour “Holiday Magic Radiothon” helps local foster kids by raising money to provide each child in the program with one significant holiday gift along with support programs and services throughout the year.
Rusty Humphries on the Set in Bucharest. That’s talk show host and actor Rusty Humphries (left) with actor Michael Damian (right) on location in Bucharest, Romania on the set of the romantic comedy Love By Design. Humphries says he plays a reporter covering a big fashion show in New York City. He notes that Bucharest is a popular location to shoot NYC scenes since it can be made to look like the streets of New York and the production costs are much less. The movie also stars Jane Seymour. Humphries was in Bucharest for seven days filming. He tells TALKERS, “I had a blast. I love the fact that I’m having the opportunity to really live out my dreams: radio, TV and film. This is my third major motion picture, and it’s always an honor to be involved with a project as special as this.”
ObamaCare Criticism, NSA Cell Location Database, Obama Millennial Support Diminishing, Detroit Bankruptcy, Bashir Resignation, and Fast Food Minimum Wage Effort Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/5). Analysis of the implementation and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the NSA policy that reportedly gathers the location of cell phone users; the loss of support from Millennials for President Obama; the Detroit bankruptcy case ruling; Martin Bashir’s resignation from MSNBC after his Sarah Palin comments; and the move by organized labor to push for a national minimum wage for fast food workers were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.