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Friday, October 22, 2021

| October 22, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled “What, Me Work?” looks back at this past week of 10/18 – 10/22. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSDr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/physician; Joyce Kaufman, talk show host, WFTL, Fort Lauderdale/Miami/Palm Beaches; Steve Weisman, law professor, Bentley University, Boston/founder, Scamicide.com; Howard Monroe, talk show host/station owner, WVLY, Wheeling; 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; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; 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; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Armstrong & Getty Podcast Hits 100 Million Download Mark. Podcasts from the syndicated news/talk morning duo of Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty have surpassed the 100 million mark, according to “The Armstrong & Getty Show.” They say tracking of Armstrong & Getty podcasts began in 2019, meaning the show reached this milestone in less than three years. The total includes Armstrong & Gettty’s “One More Thing,” “On Demand,” and “Extra Large” podcasts. The duo says they see podcasting as a natural extension of their show. “We love the podcasting era. Now our listeners can come back to the show after dealing with life. They don’t turn off the radio, they just hit pause.” The Armstrong & Getty podcasts average more than 3.4 million downloads each month.

Miller & Moulton Launches on Beasley’s Tampa and Ft. Myers Stations. Florida sports talk personalities Mark Miller (left) and David Moulton (right) are back together on Beasley Media Group stations as the company partners with the Florida Sports Network to bring the “Miller & Moulton” show to WBCN-AM/W251AL, Fort Myers “ESPN Southwest Florida” and business talk WHFS-AM, Tampa “Money Talk 1010” for morning drive. Beasley says Miller and Moulton have produced an entertaining and informative show with national guests since 2006 and have been consistently ranked among top rated sports shows in the history of Southwest Florida radio. Beasley Southwest Florida VP and market manager AJ Lurie says, “It’s great to have ‘Miller & Moulton’ back where they started. Our audience has missed them.” Florida Sports Network president Marty Booher comments, “We have a great relationship with Beasley in Detroit with the Michigan Sports Network and are thrilled to partner with them again in their hometown of Naples and across the state of Florida. We already know that sports fans love the ‘Miller & Moulton’ brand and we’re proud to put them back on the air as we expand their show across the state. Listening to the show is like being in your favorite Florida sports bar for four hours in the morning!”

iHeartMedia Execs Reveal New Workplace Plan. In a memo to all staffers, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman and CFO/COO Rich Bressler explain their plans for the future of working from the office and from home. Saying that at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown, they believed all staffers would return to the office when it was safe to do so, they say now, however, “that construct fails to take into consideration everything we’ve learned in the last year and a half – from new skills and new ways of working to maximizing our technology to enable us to communicate, innovate and work together as a team. So, we will never ‘return to the office’ as we all knew it; instead, we’ll be returning to a ‘New Work Environment’… Although we’ll start as a hybrid of working from home and some use of the office, we know it will evolve as we learn together. We should all think about the office as a productivity tool, vs that more rigid ‘home base’ we’ve been used to – and the office will always be open for your use.” They go on to say that “overall we think most people will have a hybrid approach, one in which they’ll spend a period of time in the office every week, depending on what their team’s needs are. And even that schedule may vary week to week, or even month to month, depending on what you are working on… On a practical note, your individual schedule will be developed with your managers, built around the needs and timetables of each location and function, and hopefully tailored to everyone’s specific talents and jobs. In this process, the most important thing we can do is protect your well-being. To that end, we would encourage you to follow the latest recommendations for both vaccines and office protocols. We’ll remain committed to providing you support through all our office and company policies.”

WFAN, New York’s Steve Somers to Retire from Full-Time Show. According to Andrew Marchand’s story in the New York Post, WFAN, New York night host Steve Somers will retire from his full-time position sometime this fall. The 74-year-old sports talk host has been with the station for the entirety of its 34 years as a sports talk outlet. Somers told listeners to his show that he doesn’t want a farewell tour as some hosts who’ve left the station have done saying he would find it embarrassing. Audacy SVP Chris Oliviero tells the Post, “Yes, sadly it is true. Steve will be wrapping up his full-time run at WFAN sometime this fall. He is without a doubt one of the most important building blocks in the history of WFAN. Steve and the FAN became stars together in this town. The voice, the wit, the humor, the catchphrases all iconic. Now we have to convince him to give us all, especially the listeners, a chance to celebrate him because he is worthy of the accolades.”

iHeartMedia Washington, DC Names Jen Richer APD. Programming pro Jen Richer is named assistant program director for iHeartMedia’s Washington DC cluster that includes news/talk “104.7 WONK-FM,” WUST-AM “DMV BIN 1120,” and six music brands. Richer was most recently executive producer for WMAL-FM, Washington’s “Vince Coglianese Show.” In the past she’s also served as executive producer for 104.7 WONK- FM’s “Reaction Zone,” news director for iHeartMedia Washington D.C., co-host and executive producer of “The Tommy Show” on WIAD-FM, and host and executive producer of “The Fresh Perspective Show” on WIAD-FM. She says, “I am so excited to rejoin the team at iHeartMedia Washington, DC for this incredible new opportunity to work with such a talented team of programmers and talent. There couldn’t be a more important time for radio to connect with our listeners as we start transitioning into the ‘new normal,’ and I am looking forward to helping deliver an awesome experience for the Washington DC community through these landmark stations.”

Former KHTK, Sacramento Sports Personality Grant Napear Sues Bonneville for Wrongful Termination. KOVR-TV, Sacramento is reporting that former Sacramento Kings play-by-play announcer and sports talk personality Grant Napear is filing a suit against station owner Bonneville International for firing him in June of 2020. Bonneville fired Napear after he tweeted a response to former Kings player DeMarcus Cousins who asked him for his take on the Black Lives Matter movement in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing. Napear replied, “All Lives Matter… every single one.” At the time, Napear said, “I had no idea that when I said ‘All Lives Matter’ that it was counter to what BLM is trying to get across.” Now, he says he’s filing the lawsuit because he believes he’s been wronged, and he wants to be “vindicated.” Bonneville has not commented on the lawsuit.

Triton Digital Releases September 2021 Podcast Report. This report for the period of August 30 to October 3 from Triton Digital ranks the top 20 podcast networks in the U.S. based on average weekly downloads and the top 100 podcasts, also based on average weekly downloads. SiriusXM’s Stitcher ranks as the #1 network for September with 38.4 million AWD. Some broadcast companies whose podcast networks ranked in the top 20 include: NPR at #2 (32 million), Audacy Podcast Network at #3 (29.1 million), Cumulus Podcast Network at #4 (17.7 million), FOX News Podcasts at #10 (3.6 million), and Salem Podcast Network at #12 (3.2 million). The top podcast on Triton’s chart is NPR’s “NPR News Now.” Other podcasts of note on this chart include: Cumulus Podcast Network’s “Ben Shapiro Show” at #4, Cumulus’ “Dan Bongino Show” at #8, Salem’s “Charlie Kirk Show” at #12, and FOX News’ “FOX News Radio Newscast” at #13. See the complete charts here.

77 WABC Radio Backs the Blue. Pictured above are a number of New York City police officers with Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis and his wife Margo. Red Apple’s news/talk 77 WABC dedicated yesterday (10/21) to the men and women in blue with an all-day, on-air salute that included current and past police dignitaries. Photo: Jillian Nelson jillpics.com

TALKERS News Notes. The broadcast team for iHeartMedia Seattle’s coverage of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken is complete. Sports talk KJR-AM serves as the official flagship station for the Kraken Audio Network and will debut its broadcast team tomorrow (10/23) when the Vancouver Canucks come to town. The broadcast team includes: Everett Fitzhugh as the network’s play-by-play voice, retired NHL player Dave Tomlinson as broadcast analyst, and former voice of the Everett Silvertips, Mike Benton, as the network’s studio host…..Audacy’s C13Features releases a video trailer for its new, scripted audio movie, “Treat.” C13Features partnered with Babak Anvari and Lucan Toh of Two & Two Pictures, and Best Case Studios, to co-produce the story written by Nathan Ballingrud. “Treat” tells the story of a seemingly perfect American town that makes a deal with a mysterious outsider possessing supernatural powers to help it recover from social turmoil. When the town falls behind on its payments, a trio of teenagers must unlock the secret of his powers. Actress Kiernan Shipka plays protagonist and narrator Allie West…..CNN Audio debuts its first episode of “Tug of War” – a new limited-series podcast hosted by CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward. In this series, Ward travels to some of the most volatile corners of the world to document the greatest power struggles of our time. The first episode has her taking listeners onto the streets of Afghanistan and into the homes of its citizens as they watch the balance of power start to tip — and the Taliban tries to keep order with truncheons and whips. She shares firsthand accounts from Afghan citizens who witness the United States military withdrawal – after two decades of war – escalate into the Taliban swiftly toppling the Afghan government watching their 20 years of hard-earned freedoms crumble…..Chick Pallotta, creator, executive producer, and host of the nationally syndicated radio series titled, “The Inside Stories Behind the Christmas Songs,” signs a two-year agreement with Orbyt Media, a division of Bell Media Inc. of Canada, to syndicate his series to Canadian radio stations. Programs feature many legendary songwriters who explain how their holiday hits originated. The series comes in two forms: the original short-forms (structured where all the verses of the song are wrapped around the songwriter’s narrative) and the two-minute versions. The series now totals 39 programs. They have aired on SiriusXM and hundreds of radio stations across the U.S., including WCBS-FM, New York City and news/talk KXEL-AM, Waterloo, Iowa. Some 15 different radio formats have aired the holiday series that’s now in its 11th year of syndication.

Budget Debate/Infrastructure/Inflation/Supply Chain/Labor Issues Combine at Top News/Talk Story for Week of October 18-22. The negotiation among Democrats over President Joe Biden’s social spending and infrastructure bills, the world’s supply chain woes and labor shortages came together as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the January 6 investigation tied with the House voting to hold Stephen Bannon in criminal contempt and former President Donald Trump’s ongoing claims of election fraud. Coming in at #3 was the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the debate over boosters, mask & vaccine mandates and SRN talk host Dennis Prager’s intentional COVID case. 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.

Program Director/News Director. iHeartMedia is seeking a program director/news director to oversee news/talk WHAM, Rochester; news/talk WSYR, Syracuse and “FM Talk” WAIO-FM, Rochester. This person will “lead all aspects of the radio stations’ on-air experience in a leadership and operations role, responsible for talent, content, news operations, programming, and online presence.” This is a Rochester-based position. To find out more about this role and to apply, click here.

Morning News Reporter. News/talk WSYR, Syracuse seeks a morning news reporter. This role is based in Syracuse and the position requires the news reporter gather and verify factual information through interviews, observation and research; Monitor sources for breaking news, e.g., wires and social media; Plan, write, edit, and voice news broadcasts; Finalize content using digital audio editing software; Maintain crucial deadlines in order to provide news stories in a timely fashion; and more. Find out more about this position and apply here.

Monday, July 26, 2021

| July 26, 2021

Monday Memo: Is Your On-Air Product Old-School? Podcasting delivers on consumers’ expectation for on-demand EVERYTHING and consultant Holland Cooke calls it “an opportunity to let retailers sponsor pertinent special interest topics.” But, in this week’s column, he cautions that “these are still digital dimes, compared to the analog dollars solid live programming and painstakingly-crafted commercials will earn us.” To read what makes your station special, please click here.

Pending Business: Going Up.  In this week’s “Pending Business” column, radio sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, discusses the state of your “elevator pitch.” Will it work in less than the 60 seconds it takes to go to the eighth floor? Try this: Create one sentence that describes what your station does better than any of your competitors. Ask yourself is there a payoff for the advertiser in that one sentence or is it all product information?  Are you connecting a #1 with an advertiser benefit?  Have you taken the time to update your elevator pitch to put a more contemporary feel to the language? Lapa discusses these important points and more in an article that touches on the very basics of cutting right to the chase in presenting your station in a clear and positive light to a potential advertiser when time is of the essence.  To read more, please click here.

Davis Sets Departure From iHeartMedia. Nashville-based iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group chief operating officer Darren Davis will exit at the end of this year, but will continue with the company as an advisor. In a memo to the staff, iHeartMedia chair/chief executive officer Bob Pittman and iHM president/chief operating officer/chief financial officer Rich Bressler write, “Darren has a deep love for iHeart and a true passion for our business and our success. [He] has grown up through our organization continually taking on new roles and more responsibility, becoming a critically important contributor as part of our senior team. After almost 30 years with iHeart, Darren is looking forward to spending more time on a variety of other projects he’s passionate about, including real estate development; local community projects; and traveling with his family. Although his day-to-day operating expertise will be missed, we appreciate all he’s done for our company and are very pleased that he will continue his association with us, albeit on a more limited basis. Darren will be working closely with Digital Audio Group CEO Conal Byrne through the balance of 2021 to continue our momentum and to effectively organize the Digital Audio Group for the future.” Davis has been with iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) since 1992 when he joined adult contemporary WASH, Washington, DC as a programming intern.

iHM, Sports Illustrated, and SI Studios Partner For Multi-Year, Audio Content Deal. The agreement includes eight co-produced Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated Studios, and iHeartRadio podcasts, as well as distribution of Sports Illustrated’s existing podcasts through the iHeartPodcast Network. Mutual marketing and promotion commitments will apply to all joint projects; two of the eight original podcasts are scheduled to launch by the first quarter of next year. iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group chief executive officer Conal Byrne comments, “We are thrilled to partner with Sports Illustrated to introduce a brand-new slate of sports podcasts – limited series and ongoing shows alike. It’s an iconic brand that sports fans instantly trust, knowing that they will get the most credible and in-depth industry coverage. We look forward to expanding that footprint into the audio space where we uniquely have the reach and scale to bring Sports Illustrated the audience and monetization they deserve.” According to Sports Illustrated & Maven chief executive officer Ross Levinsohn, “Storytelling is at the core of what SI stands for. The opportunity to partner with iHeartMedia to create and distribute dynamic stories and shows featuring our incredible voices further expands our footprint.” Chief operating officer of 101 Studios, David Hutkin, adds, “While traditionally sports are very visually focused, this venture allows us to introduce audiences to the most memorable events in sports history in unexpected ways. With this new partnership, we have the unique opportunity to tell these historic, remarkable stories to audiences globally.” Set to debut later this year, “Sports Illustrated Weekly” will feature the best of Sports Illustrated’s journalism in an audio magazine. Each 45-minute episode will feature deep-dive segments on the biggest news of the week and the most compelling personalities, trends and themes in sports. Developed by SI Studios, “Lateral Damage” will offer an innovative take on the true-crime genre. Publishing early next year, the podcast tells the story of University of California, Berkeley football player Mariet Ford, who was convicted of viciously murdering his young son and pregnant wife; Ford has maintained his innocence for almost 25 years. The podcast will explore the indelible effect the murder has had on the core group of people in Ford’s sphere.

Local Journalism Sustainability Act Has NAB Support. Introduced by Democratic Senators Maria Cantwell (Washington State); Mark Kelly (Arizona); and Ron Wyden (Oregon), the Local Journalism Sustainability Act of 2021 would aid local news organizations through tax credits to incentivize hiring more journalists, subscriptions and advertising from local small businesses. In a prepared statement, National Association of Broadcasters president/chief executive officer Gordon Smith notes, “At a time when misinformation and disinformation plague online platforms, broadcast radio and television continue to serve as reliable beacons of news that keep local communities informed and connected. We urge congressional passage of this legislation.” According to Senator Cantwell, “The COVID-19 pandemic made it crystal clear that local reporters and newsrooms are essential to keeping the public informed and safe, but their importance spans well beyond health emergencies. At its core, local news is about holding the powerful accountable. The strength of our democracy is based in truth and transparency. Local newsrooms are on the ground in our communities asking the critical questions, countering misinformation, and telling our stories. We have to protect these vital parts of our communities – once they’re gone, they’re gone.” Senator Kelly comments, “Local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations are pillars of our community, bringing trusted local news [and] information about community events and the latest on public health updates in their area. The pandemic made an already difficult financial situation for these news providers even harder, which is why I support the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. By providing tax credits for individuals to support local news outlets, they can continue to provide important coverage for readers, listeners, and viewers.” Senator Wyden adds, “The decline of local news has had devastating effects on our communities. Local news has often been the only window into the city council or mayor’s office. Without these outlets, these important institutions in our communities go uncovered. Further, the decline of local news has only fueled the growth of misinformation as Americans lose their most trusted sources of information. As the son of a journalist, these developments trouble me greatly. Our bill would provide financial support to local news at this critical time for our democracy.”

WMVP To Repeat A $50,000 Ad Giveaway. It’s part of an ongoing “Supporting Small Business” campaign by Good Karma Brands Chicago sports talk outlet WMVP “ESPN 1000” and First Midwest Bank. Good Karma Brands Chicago market manager Mike Thomas comments, “We’re excited to continue our partnership with First Midwest Bank to help a local small business see success. Supporting local businesses in our community is central to both ‘ESPN 1000’ and First Midwest Bank. This is a great way for us to introduce the passionate sports fans in our area to a small business.” First Midwest Bank chief marketing and communications officer Jim Stadler adds, “This past year has reminded us of the importance of small businesses and the role they play in creating employment opportunities and momentum for economic growth in their local neighborhoods. We are proud to partner with ‘ESPN Chicago’ for the second year to bring valuable and well-deserved public exposure to these important businesses.” Last year’s “Supporting Small Business” award benefitted Breaking Bread Catering & Deli.

TALKERS News Notes. Former 13-year Tampa Bay Lightning director of broadcasting & programming Matt Sammon is appointed manager/business development & strategy for Skyview Networks. Sammon joined Skyview last September as an executive producer overseeing Notre Dame sports broadcasts and spent two years freelancing with Sammonsez, LLC … After reporting part-time for NPR the past several months, David Gura will join the network next Monday (8/2) as business correspondent. Most recently the host of MSNBC’s weekend morning show “Up With David Gura,” he previously was a Bloomberg anchor. Gura began his career as an intern at University of North Carolina news/talk WUNC, Raleigh … The next installment of the “Gracie Interview Series – Virtual Gatherings” will be this Thursday (7/29) at 2:00 pm (ET). “The Breakfast Club” co-host/“Angela Yee’s Lip Service” host Angela Yee moderates the interview of Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott. Registration is free at https://allwomeninmedia.org/events/gracie-interview-series-virtual-gatherings/  … iHeartMedia Des Moines news/talk WHO “News Radio 1040” afternoon drive talent Simon Conway took his show on the road to Groton, Connecticut for several broadcasts aboard the USS Nautilus. Conway received a tour of the USS Iowa (pictured), guided by captain James Quintin. According to Conway, “The two shows we did from our submarine base at Groton were very exciting. All my questions were answered and the feedback from my audience has been incredible.” In addition to WHO, Conway’s afternoon drive show is heard on iHeartMedia stations in Cedar Rapids (WMT) and Davenport (WOC) … Nexstar Media Group promotes Ron Romines to senior vice president and regional manager. Romines will oversee the company’s broadcast and digital operations in various markets and will report to Nexstar Media Group president of broadcasting Andrew Alford.

Top Talk Topics This Past Weekend Headed By COVID-19.  As has been the case in recent years, the news cycle no longer slows down on the weekends. The most-discussed topic on news/talk radio this past weekend has been COVID-19 with a focus on the Delta variant, vaccine hesitancy, controversy over mask mandates and the potential for more shutdowns.  This was followed by intense partisan bickering over the formulation of the January 6 committee, followed by climate change, 2020 election denial, and the Olympics.

Acción Adds Tampa and Jacksonville. Effective immediately, Star Over Orlando’s WRSO “Acción 97.9 – La Primera En Noticias” will be simulcast in Tampa on iHeartMedia-owned WHNZ which had been English-language news/talk; a West Tampa translator at 105.9 that was simulcasting English-language news/talk WFLA; and WMTX-HD2. In addition, it will be heard in Jacksonville on iHM’s WFXJ and WKSL-HD2. iHeartMedia senior VP/Hispanic Strategy Hector Marcano comments, “Acción represents a solution for the Hispanic audience eager for a Spanish-speaking newscast and companies that are looking for this fast-growing audience interested in developing a life in the USA.” Division president Linda Byrd notes, “I’m excited to expand the Acción brand to other important Hispanic markets in Florida. Getting the news and information to Florida’s growing Hispanic population in their native language will be very impactful.” Area president for iHeartMedia West Central Florida Chris Soechtig remarks, “We are very excited to deliver a first of its kind Spanish language news platform to the Tampa Bay Hispanic community. With the changing demographics in our area, this is a natural addition to our diverse portfolio.” iHeartMedia North Florida area president Paul Rogers contends, “No other media company can truly help our advertisers, brands, and community organizations reach the full spectrum of the First Coast’s diverse populations like iHeart. We are thrilled to [bring] the first full-service Hispanic news/talk station to Northeast Florida.” Acción – La Primera En Noticias launched in 2018 and news director Jesús Manuel Torres states, “For the past few years, we’ve worked as a team to keep our Hispanic community informed of the events that have changed history. This time, our commitment continues to grow, and our team is ready to continue bringing relevant information and analysis to each market.” Among persons 6+, WRSO is trending 1.0 – 1.3 – 1.8 (April – May – June) and ranks #16 (Nielsen Audio, June 2021). Star Over Orlando-owned WRSO is operated by iHeartMedia under an LMA.

Friday, May 7, 2021

| May 7, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “The Knock on the Door,” looks back at this past week of May 3-7.   The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, talk show host, Compass Media NetworksSteve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder, scamicide.com; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkTodd Starnes, talk show host / owner, KWAM, Memphis; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company; and Brian Koonin, Broadway musician / member, Gunhill Road. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here.

iHeartMedia First Quarter 2021 Net Revenue Down 9.5%. The company reports net revenue for the first quarter of 2021 of $707 million, a dip of 9.5% compare to the $781 million reported in the first quarter of 2020. iHeartMedia also reports an operating loss of $76 million compared to 2020’s operating loss of $1.7 billion. The company reports financial data by segment and the positive aspects of the report are its digital and podcast segments which reported revenue of $119 million (up 55%) and $38.4 million (up 141.9%), respectively. Broadcast radio’s revenue was $358.5 million (down 22.3%); networks revenue was $115 million (down 14.5%); and sponsorship and events revenue was $22.4 million (down 23.7%). iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman states, “The first quarter outperformed our expectations on all financial metrics as the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn, which is not just a continuation of the positive trends we’ve seen across the business – we believe it’s a validation of our long-term multiplatform product and revenue strategy and the investments we have made in growth areas like podcasting, ad tech, and the continued expansion of broadcast radio on digital devices. As a company we continue to prioritize identifying new opportunities across the audio, advertising, and data analytics sectors to expand our Total Addressable Market from just the $15 billion of Radio TAM to include the $160 billion of Digital TAM, providing us with new revenue opportunities for meaningful and sustainable growth for all our operating segments.” Company president, COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our ability to adapt and innovate, as well as our strategic allocation of capital, during the COVID-19 pandemic have set the stage for strong growth in 2021. Our cost management, investments in key areas of growth, and focus on our core-competencies helped us to achieve Adjusted EBITDA of $102 million in the first quarter, and we remain confident that we will be back to 2019 Adjusted EBITDA levels by the end of 2021.”

Audacy Net Revenue for First Quarter of 2021 Declines 19%. Reporting its first quarterly financial report after rebranding from Entercom to Audacy, the company says net revenue for Q1 of 2021 was $240.8 million, a decrease of 19% over the same period in 2020. Audacy also reports a net loss of $21.6 million compared to the Q1 2020 net loss of $9.1 million. Breaking the company down by segments: local and national spot revenue was $154.3 million (down 27.5%); digital – including podcasting – revenue was $49.9 million (up 15.9%); and network revenue was $17.6 million (down 19.1%). Audacy president and CEO David Field says, “The year has gotten off to an active start as we successfully completed the rebranding of the company to Audacy, reflecting our transformational progress into a leading, multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with scaled audience reach and a leadership position in virtually every key segment of the dynamic and growing audio market. We are in the midst of a strong, albeit uneven, advertising recovery reflecting the nature of our business mix. First quarter digital revenues grew 17% and national revenues rebounded to prior year levels, but local ad revenues remained behind as many of our customers continue to be impacted by the pandemic. Because the local radio advertiser base is weighted toward later-stage recovery categories including restaurants, concerts and entertainment, movies, travel, and theme parks, we anticipate a strong recovery of local advertising across these businesses during the third and fourth quarters. Our second quarter pacings are up more than 60% over 2020 reflecting massive improvements across all segments of our business from the depressed levels of the prior year. In another strong sign of recovery, our average local customer spending levels are now exceeding their average 2019 spending levels. Total local ad spending is down because of a decline in the number of customers with a significant majority of those inactive accounts concentrated in later-stage recovery business categories. During the quarter, we announced and completed the acquisition of Podcorn, the country’s #1 podcast influencer marketplace hosting over 44,000 podcast creators, substantially bolstering our customer product offerings. We also announced a multi-year agreement with BetMGM making them a preferred sports betting partner of the company. We are emerging from the pandemic as a meaningfully stronger and better positioned company with significantly enhanced growth potential and are excited by the opportunities ahead as we continue to drive innovation and development of new products, content, and capabilities.”

Salem Media Group Reports Q1 Revenue Growth of 1.9%. Reporting its financial data for the first quarter of 2021, Salem Media Group, delivers positive numbers as total revenue for the company was $59.4 million, an increase of 1.9% over the same period in 2020. The company reports that total operating expenses decreased 27.9% to $55 million from $76.3 million and operating expenses – excluding gains or losses on the disposition of assets, stock- based compensation expense, changes in the estimated fair value of contingent earn-out consideration, impairments, depreciation expense and amortization expense – decreased 6.2% to $51.4 million from $54.8 million. Salem also reveals operating income of $4.4 million compared to the operating loss of $18 million it posted in the first quarter of 2020. Salem Media Group reports its business segments and says net broadcast revenue was $44 million, a decline of 2.5% compared to the first quarter of 2020; same station net broadcast revenue was $43.9 million, a dip of 1.9%; digital media revenue was $9.6 million, an increase of 5.7%; digital media operating income rose 21.6% to $0.9 million from $0.8 million; and publishing revenue increased 43.4% to $5.7 million from $4.0 million.

‘1010XL’ in Jacksonville Celebrates Alumni Week. Jacksonville sports talk WJXL-AM/FM “1010XL” is taking a look in the rearview mirror next week as it celebrates Alumni Week beginning on Monday (5/10). The Seven Bridges Radio LLC-owned station is bringing back popular hosts of the past, is “re-pairing” hosts who formerly worked together and is taking a journey back through the memories of the station’s first 15 years. Frank Frangie, the station’s afternoon drive host, and Rick Ballou will reunite in afternoon drive for the entire week. The duo handled afternoon drive together for more than seven years beginning in 2009. They also will be joined periodically throughout the week by Jessica Blaylock, a mainstay on the show during much of the time Frangie and Ballou were together. Mike Dempsey, the host of “Jaguars Today,” will be reunited for the entire week with his former co-host, former Jags’ linebacker Tom McManus. Guest during the week include Jeff Lageman, David Garrard, Jason Godbee and Ryan O’halloran. “Helmets and Heels,” the station’s weekly show featuring all-female hosts, will air every night during the week from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Current hosts Lauren Brooks and Donna Murphy, who have been on the show since its inception, will be joined by show regular Taylor Doll as well as former cast members Jessica Blaylock, Blythe Brumleve, Amanda Borges and others. “The Drill,” the station’s morning show, will have interview segments with former co-hosts Jordan DeArmon, Mackenzie Thirkill, as well as Tony Boselli and some surprise guests. Hays Carlyon, currently an afternoon drive co-host, will sit in on “XL Prime Time” with Joe Cowart, Matt Hayes, and Leon Searcy. “XL Prime Time” guests include Chad Scott, Terry Norvelle, Scott Manze and more. While Frangie and Ballou will have segments with Joe Block, Pat Dooley, Amanda Borges, former program director Jason Dixon, and others.

RTDNA Presents Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. The RTDNA announces the regional winners of the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Awards and bestows more than 750 awards in recognizing more than 350 local radio and television stations. RTDNA chair Andrea Stahlman says, “The regional RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award recipients we announce today produced extraordinary journalism that brought clarity and context to 2020’s biggest news stories. The winning work demonstrates dedication, determination, and a commitment to the highest ethical standards enshrined in RTDNA’s Code of Ethics.” In a new category for 2021, more than 40 news outlets earned regional Murrow Awards for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, including examples of bilingual reporting, contextual coverage of inequality and discrimination, and newsroom-convened community discussions. RTDNA executive director and COO Dan Shelley comments, “Local journalists across the country guided Americans through a pandemic, ongoing racial reckoning and a fraught election cycle, despite facing unprecedented operational challenges and an astonishing number of physical attacks during 2020. The persistence of the regional Murrow Award winners we recognize today is a testament to these journalists’ commitment to their First Amendment duty.” See the complete list of winners here.

Edison Research Releases ‘Moms and Media 2021’ Study Results. The results of Edison Research’s “Moms and Media 2021” study have been released and the company says some of the highlights include that 46% of U.S. moms own a smart speaker, up from 33% last year. Sixty-three percent of U.S. moms now use voice-operated personal assistants of any kind, including smart speakers, smart phones, tablets, computers, and other devices. Of those moms who own a smart speaker, they own an average of 2.7 of the devices. Edison Research vice president Melissa DeCesare says, “The past year during COVID has been about adjustment, especially for moms. The pandemic uprooted everything we knew and were familiar with and it forced a new at-home lifestyle for the entire family. Moms are tasked with keeping it all on track and they do it with help from modern technology. Our 2021 report shows that moms have not only maintained their commitment to devices and mobile tendencies, but they’ve actually adjusted their habits to better suit their needs during the pandemic.” Other noteworthy data include: More moms are consuming online audio with 82% of U.S. moms being monthly online audio listeners compared with 76% in 2020, and 76% of U.S. moms being weekly online audio listeners compared with 70% in 2020; and more moms are listening to podcasts with 64% of U.S. moms having ever listened to a podcast (up from 57% in 2020) – 40% having listened in the last month and 28% having listened in the last week. See more about the study here.

TALKERS News Notes. After nearly three years of hosting and producing “Bagels and Broadway with Valerie Smaldone” on WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer,” Smaldone says she’s ending the radio edition of the food and theatre-themed program but will continue the show as a podcast this fall when Broadway reopens. Smaldone recently began a new position as executive vice president and producer at multiplatform content company Audio Drama Initiative…..PodcastOne announces a multi-year first look deal with Picture Perfect Federation, the joint venture between Picture Perfect Entertainment and Federation Entertainment led by Patrick Wachsberger, for the development of scripted serial podcast content. Under the development deal, Wachsberger and his team will introduce scripted content across multiple genres with an eye to package the resulting audio IP for television, film, and streaming platforms. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Patrick and his team are true professionals with unparalleled success in the movie, television and scripted world. The partnership with PodcastOne will complement their expertise with over 10 years of experience in the audio space developing weekly interview styles and successful scripted programming. Together, we are going to supercharge our story telling and fan development capabilities to create a slate of programs that will be exciting for audiences, advertisers and production houses looking to be involved with our amazing IP.”…..Advertising mogul and veteran TV personality, Donny Deutsch is teaming up with Kast Media to launch his first-ever podcast titled, “On Brand with Donny Deutsch,” on May 13. Deutsch has hosted television shows such as CNBC’s long running series, “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch” and MSNBC’s “Saturday Night Politics.”…..Alpha Media Canton announces that news/talk WHBC-AM is the new home of “Tangled Up In Blues with Cornel Bogdan.” Bogdan’s show first aired in September 2000 in Youngstown. He says, “When I started ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ over 20 years ago, I had no idea it would be so greatly accepted. It’s very humbling. My listeners are passionate about this music like no other. WHBC is a cornerstone in Canton. I wanted to be part of that heritage. ‘Tangled Up In Blues’ on WHBC is really good mojo!”…..“The Motley Fool” radio show host Chris Hill is the narrator of the audio book edition of Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money (2021 Harriman House) that is enjoying having just hit the milestone of 100,000 audiobook sales.

COVID-19 Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 3-7. The COVID-19-related issues including vaccines, variants, politics, the soaring death toll in India, and statistics combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Facebook’s Oversight Board keeping Donald Trump’s page suspended and the broader issue of censorship, followed by party politics and Liz Cheney’s battle for her status in the GOP at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

| March 9, 2021

WJFK-FM, Washington at Center of Washington Football Team Investigation Controversy. As Mike Florio reports in Yahoo! Sports, Entercom’s sports talk WJFK-FM, Washington reported on Friday (3/5) that the NFL-ordered investigation into the culture of the Washington Football Team organization – especially regarding allegations of sexual harassment from women – led by attorney Beth Wilkinson has concluded that owner Daniel Snyder should be forced to sell the team. However, yesterday (3/8) the station issued a retraction because the NFL says the story is untrue and it has not yet received the Wilkinson report. The question is whether WJFK-FM received a stolen copy of the report or if Wilkinson herself tipped the radio station. In its statement, WJFK-FM said, “We do believe in the authenticity of the documents we reviewed, and that they are from the Wilkinson investigation, but we are unable to confirm that the report was a final draft or that it had been delivered to the League Office. As soon as we are able to report anything further on this, we will let you know — both as to what occurred in our Friday report and regarding the Wilkinson investigation generally.”

Radio Hall of Fame Announces Nomination Period Is Open. The Museum of Broadcast Communications announces that the Radio Hall of Fame nominating committee is now accepting suggestions for 2021 nominees through March 31. Suggestions for Radio Hall of Fame nominees can be made in the following categories: Longstanding Local/Regional (20 years or more); Active Local/Regional (10 years or more); Networks/Syndication (10 years or more); Longstanding Network/Syndication (20 years or more); Music Format On-Air Personality; and Spoken Word On-Air Personality. Radio Hall of Fame chairman Kraig T. Kitchin says, “We’re looking forward to celebrating the lifelong talents and career milestones of some of radio’s greatest! The first part of our annual process is fielding suggestions from listeners and industry members alike. It’s our priority to provide everyone the opportunity to be a part of this process.” Inductees will be honored at the annual Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony, with plans to be held live in Chicago at a date to be announced later this year.

AdLarge Promotes Two Executives. Two AdLarge vice presidents are being promoted to senior vice president. Donelle Brown rises to SVP of marketing insights & client relations and Ilwira Marciszek becomes SVP, head of revenue operations and digital sales. In her new role, Donelle Brown will continue to drive marketing strategy and messaging across terrestrial and digital audio channels, as well as overall company branding and communications. Ilwira Marciszek will continue to focus on sales operations, tech, and partner relationships that drive revenue for the company. AdLarge co-CEO Cathy Csukas says, “[Co-CEO] Gary [Schonfeld] and I are so fortunate to have not only one but two phenomenal leaders on our team that have played such a significant role in the success of this company. Their enthusiasm and diligence have been instrumental in our growth in both radio and podcasting. We could not be prouder to recognize their hard work, talent, and dedication.”

Edison Research: Ownership of Smart Speakers Up 22%. According to data from Edison Research’s Infinite Dial 2021, 33% of all Americans now own a smart speaker, a 22% increase from 2020, with those working from home even more likely to own one of the devices. Forty-nine percent of Americans who work from home own at least one smart speaker such as an Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or other brand. Edison will reveal more data from the research project at Thursday’s 2:00 pm ET webinar. It says The Infinite Dial 2021 report “provides the most up-to-date research on U.S. digital audio and podcast consumption, while reflecting the effects of a global pandemic and quarantine restrictions on audio and other digital media behaviors.” You can register here.

‘New Jersey 101.5’ to Hold Unemployment Town Hall. News/talk WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting a digital-exclusive town hall this Thursday (3/11) at 7:00 pm to address the issue of out-of-work residents struggling to get unemployment benefits. The half-hour program will be hosted by New Jersey 101.5 morning news anchor and director of special projects Eric Scott featuring New Jersey Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo answering previously submitted questions from residents. Scott says, “Despite New Jersey distributing over $30 billion in jobless aid since the pandemic began, there are still tens of thousands who have received no benefits. Our goal is to connect those individuals with the help they need to get their claims processed.”

TALKERS News Notes. Nationally syndicated talk host Larry Elder is the subject of a piece in the monthly magazine Chronicles, published by the Charlemagne Institute – dedicated to “defending and advancing Western Civilization.” Salem Radio Network’s Elder is profiled in the piece and author Roger D. McGrath praises Elder’s recent documentary film Uncle Tom…..According to a story in the New York Post, Greg Kelly is joining Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York to serve as early afternoon host while Curtis Sliwa is on a leave of absence while he runs for mayor of New York. Kelly is currently also host of the “Greg Kelly Reports” program seen at 7:00 pm ET on Newsmax TV…..iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman and president, COO and CFO Rich Bressler will participate in a question and answer session during Deutsche Bank’s “29th Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference 2021” tomorrow (3/10) at 1:00 pm ET.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Stimulus Bill, Voting Rights Issues, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, Migrant Surge, Capitol Riot Investigation, Derek Chauvin Trial, Harry & Meghan Interview Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/8). The rate of positive COVID cases in the U.S., worries about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the Biden COVID stimulus bill goes back to the House for a final vote; Joe Biden’s voting rights bill and bills being written to curtail voting accessibility in several states; the growing number of sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol riot; the Minneapolis trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin; and the Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan interview were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, February 26, 2021

| February 26, 2021

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, 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, “Feeding an Environment of Fear,” looks back at this past week of February 22-26, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Gary Sutton, talk show host, WSBA, York, PA; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Dr. Renee Kohanski, podcaster, Clinical Correlation, Medscape‘s MDEdge Psychcast / forensic psychiatrist; Rush Limbaugh, late talk radio icon; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. 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 (“Freedom 93.7”), 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, MD; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

iHeartMedia 2020 Q4 Revenue Down 8.8%; Full Year Revenue Declines 20%. Reporting its financial data for the fourth quarter and for the full year of 2020, iHeartMedia fares a little better than its two major competitors (based on the number of radio stations owned) Cumulus Media and Entercom Communications. Fourth quarter revenue was $935.5 million, a decline of 8.8% from the same period in 2019. For the full year, revenue was $2.9 billion, down 20% from the full year 2019. Although the company reports net income of $2.9 million in Q4 2020, that’s down 95% from the $62.1 million net income reported in Q4 of 2019. For the full year 2020, iHeartMedia reports a net loss of $1.9 billion. It reported net income of $11.2 billion in 2019. iHeartMedia says that strong sequential improvement is continuing since the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. It also reports that digital revenue increased 26% year-over-year, including a 91% increase in podcasting revenue. Company chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are pleased that the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn – and it’s particularly rewarding to see the impressive performance from our areas of strategic investment, like podcasting, SmartAudio, digital, and Ad Tech. In addition, with our new reportable segments, we will be able to provide additional insights into both our largest segment and our fastest-growing segment, and help highlight the key metrics and impressive performance of each.” iHeartMedia COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our swift response to the COVID pandemic and our diligent management of expenses throughout the year enabled us to successfully achieve approximately $250 million of savings in 2020. This cost management enhanced our operating leverage and helped us to achieve adjusted EBITDA of $265 million in the fourth quarter, which was an improvement of 64% over the third quarter. The continued sequential improvement of our revenue, adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow over the past three quarters has us well positioned for continued recovery into 2021, and our commitment to make the majority of the $200 million of COVID-19 related savings permanent will further enhance the company’s operating leverage as revenue recovers.”

iHeartMedia Unveils New Business Operating Structure. Saying that this new structure reflects the “increasing size and importance” of its digital businesses, iHeartMedia announces that its two divisions – the Digital Audio Group and the Multiplatform Group – will publicly report their financial data separately and will have dedicated management. The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the iHeartRadio digital service and its podcasting business while the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group includes its broadcast radio assets. The company says that as of the fourth quarter of 2020, the Digital Audio Group encompassed almost 20% of the company’s consolidated revenue and 23% of its earnings, and during that quarter grew revenue by 53% year-over-year and Adjusted EBITDA by 74% year-over-year. The company expects the Digital Audio Group will continue to grow as an increasing proportion of its business in the future. It adds that separate reporting of these two operating segments will provide “improved visibility into the underlying performances, results and margin profiles of these distinct audio-driven businesses.” Here’s how it breaks down: The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the podcasting business; the iHeartRadio digital service; the company’s digital sites, newsletters, digital services and programs; and its digital advertising technology companies, including Jelli, RadioJarUnified and Voxnest, and will also include the recently-announced Triton Digital upon completion of the acquisition. Leading the division will be Conal Byrne as CEO and Darren Davis as COO, with Carter Brokaw serving as the president of digital revenue and Jessica Jerrick as EVP of digital distribution and platform partnerships. Meanwhile, iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group – representing almost 75% of the company’s revenue – includes the 860-plus radio stations in 160 markets; the company’s live and virtual events business; and its national sales organization (which will use iHeartMedia’s full array of products, from broadcast radio and events to its SmartAudio suite of data targeting and attribution products, which allows informed digital-like planning against targeted audiences with the benefit of broadcast scale and impact, as well as using all of the products from the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group). Premiere Networks, which includes the Total Traffic and Weather Network; and BIN: Black Information Network, will also join this group. Leading the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group will be Greg Ashlock as CEO and Tim Castelli as chief revenue officer.  Julie Talbott joins this group as president of Premiere Networks; Hartley Adkins becomes president of the Markets Group; Jeff Howard remains president of national sales and Tony Coles as president of BIN: Black Information Network. Bob Pittman says, “These new reportable segments will enable us to strengthen the mission and tighten the focus of both the iHeart Digital Audio Group and the iHeart Multiplatform Group, while accelerating our ability to deliver industry-leading products and services to our listeners and advertising partners across all of our platforms. Creating these two business reportable segments will allow us to provide the investment community with increased visibility into the financial results of each segment – enabling them to better appreciate the strong growth and success of our digital businesses, including our industry-leading podcast business, as well as the continued strength of our broadcast radio and marquee events businesses.”

Entercom Announces New Programming Leadership Structure. This enhancement of Entercom’s programming leadership structure for its central programming team leaves Pat Paxton in his current position as chief programming officer. He says, “This enhanced leadership team will supplement our premium content offering throughout our portfolio and ensure we have the premier collection of personalities engaging deeply with our audiences nationwide. It will also allow us to best integrate the innovation of new products and content so we are continuously growing the impact and reach of our offering and super serving our 170 million listeners each month.” In this new structure EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano continues to manage Entercom’s sports, all-news, and news/talk brands. He is also being charged with growing Entercom’s content insights and analytics capabilities and overseeing its network and syndicated content development. Dave Richards joins the central programming leadership team as senior vice president of programming, rising from his SVP of programming of KISW, Seattle for the last 19 years and having developed programs like “The Men’s Room” and concepts like KISW’s annual “Live Day.” In his new role, Richards will be responsible for original content ideation, talent development, and coaching. He’ll spearhead Entercom’s efforts to support its expanding business portfolio, which includes RADIO.COM, Cadence13, and Pineapple Street Studios, through the generation of cross-platform content. Michael Martin continues to serve as SVP of programming and music initiatives and oversees Entercom’s relationships with artists, management, and record labels and lead its efforts to collaborate with the artist community on event, digital, and social opportunities. The company also announces the following members of its executive committee, who will collaborate to develop and oversee programming strategy across the company: Pat Paxton; Jeff Sottolano; Michael Martin; Dave Richards; Pam Russo, SVP and general manager, RADIO.COM; Bill Smee, VP of news; Matt Volk, VP of sports; Nikki Nite, VP of programming and brand manager, Entercom Austin; and Reggie Rouse, urban format captain, Entercom, and brand manager, Entercom Atlanta.

Round Three of January 2021 PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. The January 2021 survey covered January 7 – February 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland jumps from the #6 rank to #3 on the strength of 1.4 share increase that helped it finish the January survey with a 6.2 share. Urban One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte tacks on 1.6 shares for a 6.6 share finish and a jump from #5 to #3. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK, Sacramento regains the #1 rank after adding 2.4 share to wrap the survey with a 10.2 share. In Salt Lake City, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-FM also claims the #1 rank after adding 1.9 shares to post a 7.9 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report for this round or markets (as well as his Takeaways from the first two rounds) here.

TALKERS News Notes. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM, Chicago is honoring the memory of former morning drive host Bob Collins, who would have been 79 on Sunday (2/28). Collins died in a small plane collision in 2000. On today’s Bob Sirott morning show, staffers WGN toasted Collins this morning (2/26) at 7:48 and, according to tradition, poured from the bottle of Jack Daniel’s found in Collins’s office. Also on the air with Sirott today were retired WGN morning host Spike O’Dell (who succeeded Collins) and retired agribusiness reporter Orion Samuelson.…..The nationally syndicated “Dan Bongino Show” hits the 100 affiliate station mark a year after its launch. Cumulus Media’s Westwood One says that – in addition to being heard on stations like KABC-AM, Los Angeles; KSFO-AM, San Francisco; and KSEV-AM, Houston – from the November election through February 22, the Dan Bongino Show podcast “boasted more than 51 million downloads on Apple, Spotify and other major platforms, rising 27% during that period.” Bongino says, “Growing up a fan of conservative talk radio makes this moment extra special for me. To be able to reach people across the country with a strong pro-liberty, pro-freedom message is the honor of a lifetime. Special thanks as well to the affiliates partnering with us in this venture.”…..A new sports radio imaging service called Game Plan is being offered to stations from SPLAT! and is syndicated by Sun Broadcast Group. SPLAT! says GAME PLAN is “a new kind of sports radio imaging service, designed specifically to sharpen the competitive edge of local stations, while simultaneously complementing the power of network sports brands. With GAME PLAN, a local station’s imaging sounds just as bold and powerful as their network imaging, maybe even better.”…..Entercom and Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates announce a multiyear radio broadcast contract extension for sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” to continue to serve as the Pirates’ flagship radio station. Under the terms of the new deal, all Pirates weekday afternoon games will air on “93.7 The Fan” and sister news/talk KDKA-AM/W261AX.

COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines and Variants Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 22-26, 2021. The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines and the concern about variants creating another wave of cases combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the U.S. economy tied with the education crisis. Following at #3 was the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s nominees for attorney general, interior secretary, and White House budget office, tied with Donald Trump’s planned speech at CPAC on Sunday. 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.