The “Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation” Marks its Second Anniversary with This Weekend’s Show. 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, “Smokin’ a Joint Session,” looks back at this past week of April 26-30. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Jim Bohannon, talk show host, Westwood One; Thom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD Media; Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, Gainesville, GA; Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; 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 Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; Pioneer 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
KFNS-AM, St. Louis Expands Charlie Marlow’s Role in Middays. Following the exit of former 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm host Steve Savard, who recently left the station for an out-of-market television gig, sports talk KFNS-AM, St. Louis is turning over hosting of the 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm hour to Charlie Marlow, who co-hosts the lead-in show with Cam Janssen. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar reports that the station is airing a sports gambling show from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm, currently hosted by station general manager John Hadley. Speaking about the changes, Hadley says, “The intent is to give Cam and Charlie an opportunity to grow and also give Charlie a chance to cut it on his own merits. It’s two guys, one concept, two shows. I’m a big Janssen fan, I’m a big Marlow fan. Charlie never has been the big dog. We have the time to give him to grow into the role. He’s naturally talented with a good sense of humor and wit. He can be a big factor in this (radio) market.” Marlow also serves as a sportscaster at KTVI-TV, St. Louis.
Vicki Thomas Exits Full-Time Role at WWJ-AM, Detroit After 30 Years. There’s a nice piece in the Detroit Free Press by Julie Hinds about WWJ-AM, Detroit city beat reporter Vicki Thomas, who left her full-time position with the station yesterday (4/29) after a 30-year run with the Audacy all-news outlet. Thomas will continue to host the weekly “Black Business Minute” segment for the station. During her career Thomas has been honored by such organizations as the Detroit Press Foundation, the Michigan Associated Press and the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. She was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame two years ago. Thomas is also a longtime member of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Detroit chapter and credits the organization for helping her get the gig at WWJ back in 1991.
Today Is Dave Lee Day in Minnesota. Governor Tim Walz issued a proclamation making today (4/30), Dave Lee Day in Minnesota, in honor of the WCCO-AM, Minneapolis morning host who is retiring from the station after today’s program. Lee served with WCCO for more than 30 years. Lee first joined WCCO-AM as a weekend and fill-in host and gradually became part of the Charlie Boone and Roger Erickson morning show. He took over sole hosting duties of the morning show in 1997. During his career he’s also done play-by-play for the Minnesota Gophers and he filled in as a Minnesota Twins announcer from 1991 to 1996. He continues to do play-by-play for the television broadcasts of the Minnesota State High School Boys and Girls basketball tournaments, while serving as the radio voice of the University of St. Thomas football on WCCO. He’s been named Minnesota’s Sportscaster of the Year six times and has won three Emmys for his television work.
Live365 Inks Deal to Place Content on iHeartRadio. A deal between Live365 and iHeartMedia will allow for select Live365 stations to be available on the iHeartRadio platform. Calling the agreement one of the first steps in Live365’s efforts to expand its listening network, Live365 general manager Jason Stoddard says, “As we focus on growing the Live365 listening network, we are excited to announce we now have an agreement in place to list select Live365 stations on iHeartRadio’s distribution network. Being able to showcase some of our standout stations on iHeart is a testament to the hard work our broadcasters put in to programming quality stations that are not traditionally represented on the radio dial. We will continue to work with world-class distribution companies to help listeners discover the top-notch content available on Live365.”
Beasley Names Patti Taylor Director of Sales in Detroit. Radio sales pro Patti Taylor is promoted from general sales manager for Beasley Media Group’s WCSX-FM and WRIF-FM in Detroit to director of sales for the entire Detroit station group. Beasley Media Group vice president of sales Tina Murley says, “We could not be more excited to have Patti leading our sales effort in Detroit. Patti is collaborative, strategic, and extremely well respected. She is exactly what we need to drive revenue for Beasley and for our valued clients.” Taylor adds, “I’m thrilled for this opportunity to lead the sales efforts for Beasley Media Detroit. We have an unmatched team of account executives, market-leading brands, and an impressive suite of products and tools to offer advertisers today. I am truly enthusiastic for what we’ll achieve in 2021 and beyond.”
TALKERS News Notes. A new weekend program is being added to the lineup on SiriusXM’s Volume channel. “Lunch on the Deck” is hosted by Bill Evans and Jessica Ambrose and will air live at 12:00 noon each Sunday, beginning May 1. The show was first launched on Sag Harbor, New York outlet WLNG-FM in 2019. SiriusXM says the program includes “unique and exclusive interviews with celebrity guests as [Evans and Ambrose] share their stories and play music that they love. This two-hour program takes listeners on a journey of candid conversations paired with hand-picked, favorite music selected by the show’s weekly guests.”…..The GCN nationally syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs” show picks up new affiliate WLDS-AM, Jacksonville, Illinois.
COVID-19 Top News/Talk Story for Week of April 26-30. The COVID-19 vaccines, variants, politics and the crush of cases in India combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was President Joe Biden’s 100-day address before Congress tied with Washington party politics. Following at #3 was the economy, the Biden $1.8 trillion infrastructure package, and stimulus initiatives. 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.
WCBS-AM, New York News Pro Rich Lamb to Retire. After 50 years as a radio news pro, Rich Lamb announces that he’s retiring from Entercom’s all-news WCBS-AM on February 26. Lamb is currently city hall reporter for WCBS 880. WCBS news director Tim Scheld says, “Rich is a one of a kind reporter and human being. He will be missed not just for his broadcast journalism and eloquent story telling but Rich is a selfless friend, colleague and mentor whose influence and friendships can be seen across the New York City landscape in business, journalism and politics. Rich may be leaving, but he has left each one of us at WCBS 880 with something to help us carry on his legacy.” Lamb says in an internal memo to fellow staffers, “My career began in 1970 in the Detroit market. After working at 3 stations there, in 1974 I landed at WXLO, New York, known then as 99X, a rock station. In the course of doing street work, the legendary WCBS political reporter Steve Flanders, after whom the plaza in front of City Hall is still named, urged me to try out for the reporter’s position being vacated by the renowned Jerry Nachman. I assured Steve there was ‘no way’ that would happen. But, in December of 1977, news and program director Lou Adler hired me. His first assistant Rob Sunde called to say the station had a budget issue, and that my start date would be February 26, 1978. Thus, I have requested that my last day will be February 26, 2021, 43 years to the day after my first assignment covering the ‘Polar Bear Plunge’ in Coney Island.”
Sandra Golden Leaving Atlanta’s ‘The Fan’ Next Month. According to a report by Rodney Ho in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, morning drive personality Sandra Golden announces she’s leaving Dickey Broadcasting’s sports talk WCNN-AM/W229AG “93.7/680 The Fan” after the February 19 program. Station owner David Dickey tells the AJC, “It was Sandy’s decision. She recently got married. Her folks are older and she wanted to focus on family. As she put it, she has done tremendous things in sports radio and sports journalism. She has been fantastic.” Golden is married to former “Regular Guys” personality Larry Wachs, who worked for two rock stations in the market but now works in the mortgage industry, according to Ho’s report. Golden says she’s leaving the station on “great terms” but says, “The show with me, Steak [Shapiro] and Brian [Finneran] was the best one I’ve ever been a part of.” But says that the COVID-related departures of Shapiro and [midday personality] John Kincade in the fall caused her to assess her situation. “I didn’t like Steak and John leaving. They were legends at the station, two of the best voices in the market. It shook me. I had to do a reset.” John Michaels and Brian Finneran will continue to host the morning show as a duo.
‘America’s Healthcare Advocate’ Expands to Two Hours. The Radio America-syndicated health advice program, “America’s Health Advocate” adds an hour and now airs from 8:00 am to 10:00 am ET on Saturdays. Radio America says, “‘America’s Healthcare Advocate’ is a weekly program that helps listeners understand the complexities of America’s healthcare industry, navigate the system, and make informed choices.” Guests include prominent experts and industry leaders in medicine, insurance, health and wellness. “America’s Healthcare Advocate” – hosted by nationally recognized healthcare policy expert and Benefits By Design president Cary Hall – currently airs on more than 100 stations across the U.S.
iHeartMedia Names Yesenia Bello SVP of Diversity and Inclusion. This is a lateral move into a newly created position at iHeartMedia for Yesenia Bello, who’s been serving as senior vice president of multicultural sales since October of 2019. In this new role as SVP of diversity and inclusion, Bello will work closely with chief human resources officer and chief diversity officer Michele Laven “and iHeartMedia’s executive leadership and Human Resources divisions to drive comprehensive long-term and measurable diversity and Inclusion strategies across iHeartMedia, as well as develop and implement specific Diversity and Inclusion goals and solutions for employee, community, client and agency engagement that drive inclusive behaviors and business practices.” Bello states, “I’m excited to move into this critical new role at iHeart at such an important time for our company and our country. I’ve seen iHeart’s commitment to diversity and inclusion up close since joining the company in 2019, and I’m looking forward to working closely with our entire company on new, exciting initiatives to continue to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion at iHeart.” Prior to joining iHeartMedia, Bello served at Telemundo Network, Hulu’s Latino division and Google, where she focused on Multicultural strategy and sales for YouTube advertisers.
Application Deadline Extended for MIW’s Mildred Carter Mentoring Program. The Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group announces the application window for the 2021 Mildred Carter Mentoring Program is being extended through Friday, February 5. The MIW’s annual mentoring initiative connects mentees with accomplished women recognized as leaders, mentors, and game-changers within all aspects of radio broadcasting. This year’s program is being sponsored by vCreative. Four candidates from the radio broadcasting industry within the sales, marketing, programming, and digital disciplines will be selected for the 2021 program. Mentee criteria and instructions on how to apply can be found here. Entercom VP, national partnerships Lindsay Adams – who also serves as chair of the mentoring program and was a 2009 mentee – says, “The MIW’s Mildred Carter Mentoring Program has been instrumental in providing guidance, leadership, and bridging connections within the industry. From personal experience, I can attest it’s an invaluable experience that helps shape and curate career paths and potential.”
COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Issues/New Strain Concerns, Trump Impeachment, Capitol Attack Investigation, Biden-Putin Phone Call, Conway Family Social Media Mess, and Runup to Super Bowl Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/26). The problems plaguing the efficient rollout of vaccines across the U.S. and concerns about their effectiveness against new virus strains; the process of the second impeachment of Donald Trump; the investigation into the attack on the Capitol building; President Joe Biden’s first phone call with Russian leader Vladimir Putin; the chaotic social media messages from the Conway family and allegations Kellyanne Conway may have posted a semi-nude picture of daughter Claudia; and the runup to Super Bowl LV were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Howard Stern Signs Renewal with SiriusXM for Five More Years. During previous investor conference calls, outgoing SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer said he believed Howard Stern and SiriusXM would come to terms on a new deal and today’s announcement bears that out. Under the new agreement, Stern will continue to produce and host “The Howard Stern Show” exclusively for SiriusXM for the next five years, and the Howard Stern archive of audio and video will continue to be licensed to SiriusXM for an additional seven years. Stern says, “Fifteen years ago, I joined SiriusXM, a fledgling group of broadcasters. I had been in a toxic relationship with terrestrial radio. And no matter how well I treated the medium, no matter how successful I made them, they abused me. Going to SiriusXM liberated me. I felt like Tina Turner freeing myself from Ike. And despite the naysayers and the ridicule, we have persevered, and are thriving. I’ve been proven right about satellite radio over and over again. With this contract renewal, I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be right about. Certainly, I have a lot more to say about Metamucil crackers and stepmom porn. Plus, now that I can work from home, I simply don’t have an excuse to quit.” Meyer says, “As the leading audio entertainment company, we couldn’t be happier to have Howard, the leading host in all of radio and audio, continue to make SiriusXM the home for his show, channels, and archives while at the peak of his broadcasting career. Howard’s home has been SiriusXM and it will remain that way, but we’ve expanded SiriusXM in recent years too, and we are excited about finding the right ways that select content from Howard can find audiences on additional platforms. May I add, I consider Howard a close friend and look forward to listening to him for years to come.”
Ron St. Pierre Out at iHeartMedia’s WHJJ, Providence; Jim Polito Takes Over Morning Show. Longtime Providence air personality and programmer Ron St. Pierre has exited iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence where he hosted the morning drive show. Filling the programming gap is WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based morning personality Jim Polito. In 2016, iHeartMedia dropped the local morning show hosted by Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan on WHYN-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts and began simulcasting Polito’s show there. The WHJJ move puts the Jim Polito show in three of iHeartMedia’s New England markets.
Salem’s KRLA and KTIE Cut Ties with Brian Whitman. Southern California radio pro Brian Whitman exits Salem Media Group’s morning drive show “The Morning Answer” that he co-hosted with Jennifer Horn that was simulcast on KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino. Whitman shared the news on his Facebook page on Friday (12/4). He wrote, “I was provided the following from folks at Salem/KRLA this morning. The announcement was sent by the general manager to their kind and hardworking staff, making this news public. I’ll have very personal thoughts to share with members of the ‘Morning Answer Listening Family’ (as I came to know and regard you over many years) very soon. It will be in this space at a time that is more appropriate and comfortable. With all of my love and with the warmest gratitude for every moment that we’ve shared together, I offer words that I know fall far short of my heart’s sentiment. Thank you, thank you, thank you guys.” The message from management was as follows: “After eight years hosting ‘The Morning Answer,’ Brian Whitman will no longer be with us. We wish Brian all the best in the future. Chuck [Tyler] and I echo Phil Boyce who said, “Brian has been a hard-working and extremely talented employee for us for many years. We will always cherish his friendship, and our opportunity to work together at KRLA and KTIE.” Whitman was the liberal counterpart to conservative Horn.
Hubbard Radio Drops Sports Talker Chris Rongey; Re-Aligns Host Lineup. According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar, afternoon drive sports talk personality Chris Rongey has been let go from Hubbard Radio’s WXOS-FM, St. Louis. Rongey had been part of “The Fast Lane” afternoon show since replacing D’Marco Farr in 2017. The station moves midday host Jamie Rivers into afternoons alongside Anthony Stalter and Brad Thompson and promotes Alex Farrario to the midday show co-hosting with Brandon Kiley.
Talk Radio Host Michael Berry’s Good Month Includes Raising $1.3 Million for PTSD Foundation. KRTH, Houston-based, nationally syndicated talk host Michael Berry had a very good month in which his program helped raise $1.3 million for Camp Hope, the residential treatment center run by the PTSD Foundation of America, of which Berry is the national spokesman. The organization was laying off staff, including the vital folks who counsel suicidal veterans who struggle with re-integration after war. Berry teamed up with sponsor Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture chain, to raise funds. During the whole of 2020, Berry’s efforts have raised $3 million for the organization, almost its entire budget. Additionally, Berry made national news on Monday (12/7) for his interview with Houston-based Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue, during which Unanue said he gave U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez the company’s “employee of the month” award. This came after Ocasio Cortez called for a boycott on Goya products because Unanue publicly praised President Trump. However, Unanue says the boycott call produced a counter-protest in which supporters flocked to buy Goya goods. On top of that, Berry has added new affiliates, WPNN, Pensacola, Florida, and KNUW, Silver City, New Mexico and hopes to roll out seven new affiliates before the New Year. In case you missed it, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian profiled Berry back in October. Read it here.
PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. The Nielsen Audio PPM ratings survey in the month prior to the November election (October 8 – November 4) was not as generous to sports talk radio stations as it was to news/talk, still TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian reports that 46% of sports talkers were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the October 2020 survey. Gainers from October to November were led by RadiOhio’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “97.1 The Fan” (+0.7, 6.2 share) and Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville (+0.7, 6.0 share). Due to the pandemic’s effect on live sports, year-over-year comparisons have not been kind to the sports talk format and November 2019 to November 2020 is not different. 68% of sports talk outlets in PPM markets were down. However, 23% of stations gained with Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas leading the pack (+1.6, 2.8 share). While no sports talkers claimed the #1 rank in their market during the November survey, iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis came close, posting a 7.6 share good for the #2 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.
WJR, Detroit News Director Dick Haefner to Retire. After a 51-year career in radio news, WJR, Detroit news director Dick Haefner is retiring. Haefner, an award-winning newscaster, reporter, and news director, has been WJR news director since 1989. Cumulus Media says that “his tenure is unmatched by any other Detroit broadcast news director. He is one of the most recognizable news voices in his hometown of Detroit, signing on to radio news in 1969 and signing off on December 11, 2020, Haefner’s last day on-air.” The company goes on to note that “under Haefner’s leadership, WJR News has been honored with nearly every national and local news award in the broadcast business, including: the Peabody Award, Associated Press national award for Best Broadcast Reporting, Edward R. Murrow Awards, and numerous state news awards… Some of Haefner’s projects have changed laws. A series on suburban toxic waste dumps resulted in tighter rules for handling waste. An investigation of fraud at gas stations brought about new regulations on service station inspections and fuel hauling, and even changed the way the IRS taxes the fuel hauling industry. Among the biggest stories Haefner has broken are Coleman Young’s baby, the Nancy Kerrigan–Tonya Harding incident heard around the world, and Detroit’s two side-by-side sports stadiums.” Haefner comments, “Anything I may have accomplished is because of other people, my wife Judy, and my family who allowed me to pursue adventures in broadcast news, and especially my co-workers. My most important job was to put them in position to do their best work. What they accomplished every day is my greatest reward. I have had the best job in Detroit radio news for almost 32 years. I’m the luckiest person I know.”
Susan O’Connell Retires from Compass Media Networks; Robert Blum Rises to Senior Manager of Affiliate Sales. Affiliate sales pro Susan O’Connell is retiring from her position as vice president of news/talk affiliate sales with Compass Media Networks, effective December 31. At the same time, the company announces that Robert Blum – a Compass Media staffer since 2011 – is being promoted to senior manager of affiliate sales for news/talk/sports. O’Connell has been in the news/talk affiliate sales business for the past 40 years, the last six with Compass Media. She previously served with the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, ABC Radio Networks, CBS News, and the Progressive Radio Network. She comments, “The best part of my job has always been working with great broadcasters. Thank you all for sharing your time, talent, and friendship over the years. Compass Media Networks was the perfect place to wind up. Representing our stellar news/talk lineup and being part of this team has been an honor and a privilege.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “Susan is a total superstar, friend, and treasured colleague. Through hard work, perseverance, and cunning, Susan established Compass Media Networks as a dominant player in news/talk programming with over 750 leading news/talk stations airing over a dozen hours of our daily, live, and original news-talk programming.”
COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Trump Challenges, Biden Transition, Stimulus Package, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pornhub Allegations, and Presidential Pardons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/7). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the pleas from authorities to follow mask and gathering mandates, and the status of vaccines; Donald Trump continues legal challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues his administration’s transition; the debate in Congress over a new stimulus package; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the allegations that porn giant Pornhub has promoted underage actors; and reports of Donald Trump’s pardon plans were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro and urban media personality Charlamagne Tha God, a.k.a. Lenard McKelvey, and iHeartMedia renew and extend their relationship. The deal means the co-host of the WWPR, New York “Power 105.1”-based, nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” will continue to work with iHeartMedia for the next five years. He says, “I give my sincerest thanks to iHeart for empowering me over the past decade to be the best talent that I can be, and for honoring me as an owner and executive. I love the audio business and iHeart is the biggest and best audio company in the world. As co-founder and chief creative officer of the Black Effect Podcast Network and now senior creative officer of cultural content and programming at iHeart, all I want to do for the next five years is continue to move the culture of radio and podcasting forward by curating a new era of voices, programming, and events. GOD IS GREAT! Now, it’s time to get back to work.”