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Thursday, December 16, 2021

| December 16, 2021

Cumulus to Flip R&B WNBM-FM, New York to Talk as ‘Talk FM 103.9.’ Beginning on January 3, 2022, Cumulus Media’s R&B WNBM-FM, New York will flip to news/talk as WFAS-FM “Talk FM 103.9.” The station is being billed by Cumulus as “the only all-talk FM station in the New York metropolitan area.” The station will simulcast the programming on WFAS-AM “AM1230Digital” the first all-digital AM station to broadcast in the New York metropolitan area. Programming will be Westwood One’s lineup, including: “The Dan Bongino Show,” “The Ben Shapiro Show,” “The Chris Plante Show,” “The Michael Knowles Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and “The Jim Bohannon Show.” Also heard on the station will be “America in the Morning,” “First Light,” “Red Eye Radio,” “America this Week/Week in Review,” and “Real Estate Today.” Cumulus Media president of operations Dave Milner says, “Extending our marquee talk programming into New York City is a win-win for Cumulus. The addition of the WFAS-FM signal will allow us to reach even more listeners with the well-known talk shows they expect from us and also provide our advertising partners with premium opportunities in the number-one metro area.” Cumulus says that with the addition of WFAS-FM’s footprint, the signal will reach well beyond Westchester County, and into large portions of New York City (Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan), the north shore of Long Island, and northern New Jersey.

WGN-AM, Chicago and Bob Sirott Sign Extension. WGN-AM, Chicago morning drive personality Bob Sirott and the Nexstar Media news/talk station have agreed to a two-year contract extension to keep Sirott in the morning drive daypart. WGN Radio VP and general manager Mary Boyle says, “We are delighted to announce that Chicago’s Very Own Bob Sirott and his uniquely entertaining morning show will continue to be heard on Chicago’s Very Own WGN Radio 720. Bob has been an iconic voice in Chicago since 1973 and we’re fortunate to have his voice and talent as we head into our 100th year and beyond.”  Sirott says, “The station calls it work. I call it fun. It’s a forgotten commodity at most radio and TV stations today. But [Nexstar president, networks] Sean Compton, a true fan of radio, gets it. And who knows, someday I may turn into a morning person.”  The one change is that the show will start an hour later, airing from 6:00 am to 10:00 am.

WaPo: ‘Sports Junkies’ Celebrate 25 Years. A piece by Scott Allen in the Washington Post’s D.C. Sports Blog column profiles “The Sports Junkies” radio show as it celebrates 25 years on the air. The WJFK-FM, Washington morning show starring J.P. Flaim, John “Cakes” Auville, Eric “E.B.” Bickel and Jason “Lurch” Bishop began life as a cable access show on Bowie Community Television in August 1995. A year later, after a positive review from the Washington TimesDick Heller, “The Sports Junkies” got picked up for a weekend show on WJFK-FM. From there they transitioned to AM drive after Howard Stern’s move to satellite radio. Flaim recently authored a chronicle of the program titled, Still Barking. Flaim tells the Post, “The book is about the radio show and friendship and brotherhood, but none of it would’ve happened but for having an amazing audience. We have been very lucky to have people that have followed us and supported us for 25 years. Without them, we’re nothing.”

FOX News Channel Tops Competitors for 2021 in Nielsen’s Primetime and Total Day. According to data from Nielsen Media Research, FOX News Channel was the highest rated cable news channel for 2021 (12/28/20-12/09/21) in both primetime and total day. In primetime, FOX News Channel averaged 2,365,000 viewers and 374,000 with A25-54 along with 233,000 in A18-49. Meanwhile, in total day, the network delivered 1,328,000 viewers and 223,000 in the younger 25-54 demo and 135,000 in A18-49. Also, according to data from Nielsen/MRI Fusion, this year, “more independents and democrats tuned into FNC than CNN while delivering the largest independent audience in cable news, making FNC’s audience the most politically diverse in cable news.” FNC holds 44% of the cable news audience in total day viewership and 41% of the audience with A25-54. In primetime, the network holds a 47% audience share in total viewers and 43% in the younger A25-54 demo. As a result, FNC increased its share of the cable news audience with A25-54 from 2020 to 2021. FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott says, “As we embark on our 20th year as the leader in cable news, the last six of which as number one in all of cable, I am incredibly proud of the unrivaled success we’ve had at FOX News Channel. Not only were we the only network to grow our audience share, but we did so while changing our lineup and transforming the entire late-night television landscape in the process, ensuring our continued momentum for many years to come.”

Newsmax Names Rich Grenell VP, Analyst. The former Acting Director of National Intelligence and U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, is joining Newsmax Media as a national security contributor and executive for international partnerships. Newsmax says that Grenell, a former FOX News contributor, “will play a key role in offering security and international analysis for the network.” He’ll also serve as vice president for international development, helping the company’s foreign branding and content expansion. Newsmax currently licenses its brand and content in eight European nations. Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy says, “Ric Grenell is a master of politics, media and government and we believe our viewers will gain great insight from his broad experience and public service.”

The ‘Coast to Coast AM Paranormal Podcast Network’ Launches. “Coast to Coast AM” host George Noory and Premiere Networks are partnering for the launch of the Coast to Coast AM Paranormal Podcast Network.  This new project will focus on producing a slate of podcasts focused on the paranormal, supernatural, and unexplained. Co-produced by Noory and his long-time “Coast to Coast AM” senior producer Tom Danheiser, the network debuts with three new podcasts: “Shades of the Afterlife with Sandra Champlain,” “Strange Things with Joshua P. Warren,” and “Dark Becomes Light with Heidi Hollis.” Noory comments, “With these new programs, and more to come, we’re focused on producing the best content for paranormal fans. There’s so many facets of this entertaining and intriguing format, and we’re excited to kick off the network with three fan favorite guests from ‘Coast to Coast AM’ who are experts in their fields – Sandra Champlain, Joshua P. Warren and Heidi Hollis.” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott adds, “We’re excited to partner with George to expand the ‘Coast to Coast AM’ brand with this new podcast network, creating a platform for new programing focused on the fascinating world of the paranormal. This new network will provide us with the opportunity to further engage and entertain George’s broad-reaching, worldwide audience.”

KBOI, Boise and USMC Collect Toys and Cash in 10-Day Drive. Pictured above is an unidentified staff member of Cumulus Media’s news/talk KBOI, Boise at the fifth “Idaho’s Largest Toy Drive” done in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps. Held November 26 through December 6, this was the longest toy drive of the past five years, collecting 38,822 toys and $36,213. KBOI program director Nate Shelman says, “With supply chain concerns and inflation being possible negative factors, we decided to extend this year’s efforts. The Treasure Valley residents came through in fine fashion to support the USMC and kids in the area.”

COVID-19, January 6 Investigation, Economy/Supply Chain, Software Flaw, Build Back Better Negotiations, S.F. Mayor Actions/Urban Crime, and Extreme Weather Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/15). The spread of the Omicron variant, vaccines, and mandates; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack, the release of media personalities’ texts, and the contempt of Congress charge against former Donald Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows; the high rate of inflation, the Fed’s plan to raise interest rates, and the supply chain breakdown; a pervasive software flaw that’s giving foreign hackers an entrance into crucial systems; the negotiations between the Biden administration and Senator Joe Manchin over the Build Back Better plan; San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s promise of strong actions to combat crime issues and urban crime spikes in other cities; and the aftermath of the Kentucky and Illinois tornadoes and the threat of more violent weather were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

| October 20, 2021

Liberty Media Sells All Shares of iHeartMedia Stock. The company is exiting the broadcast radio business after selling 5.94 million shares of iHeartMedia’s Class A common stock – a trade that’s worth about $150 million. Variety has the story and reports that “between November 2017 and February 2018, Liberty Media purchased $600 million of iHeartMedia debt for a total of $490 million. After iHeartRadio reduced its debt load through a bankruptcy settlement, the bonds were converted into about 6.9 million shares.” iHeartMedia issued the following statement: “We appreciate Liberty’s support for iHeartMedia, originally as a holder of debt which then converted into a meaningful equity stake, and we are delighted that they received a good return on their investment.” The iHeartMedia stock was part of the company’s Liberty SiriusXM Group that owns 78.1% of SiriusXM stock, 32% of Live Nation stock, plus small percentages of Formula One Group and the Atlanta Braves.

Audacy Acquires WideOrbit. There are no financial details included in the Audacy press release as the company announces its acquisition of “an exclusive, perpetual license to WideOrbit’s digital audio streaming technology and the related assets and operations of WO Streaming. This acquisition gives Audacy control of its product roadmap to deliver enhanced consumer-facing streaming features for its 170 million monthly listeners.” At this time, it’s unclear if this deal is the “small digital acquisition for approximately $40 million” that Audacy referenced last week when it announced it was offering $45 million in senior secured second-lien notes to raise capital, but it appears likely. Audacy will operate WO Streaming under the name AmperWave. The entire WO Streaming team, led by John Morris, SVP streaming, joins Audacy. Audacy chairman, president and CEO David Field comments, “The WideOrbit digital audio tech business perfectly complements our organic investments to make Audacy’s digital platform the top choice for listeners, clients and partners.”

Boston Sports Talkers ‘Toucher & Rich’ Launch Syndication Effort. WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” morning drive duo “Toucher & Rich” Fred Toucher (left) and Rich Shertenlieb (right) – along with cast member Jon Wallach – begin a regional syndication effort on Monday (10/25). Beasley Media Group says the show recently celebrated 12 years on ‘98.5 The Sports Hub’ as the dominant program for Male and Adult audiences 25-54. Beasley Boston VP and market manager Mary Menna says, “We are thrilled to be able to bring Toucher & Rich’s unique brand of content and humor to sports fans throughout New England through this syndication initiative. The T&R team is already a favorite with their passionate audience. We look forward to expanding that loyal audience through this new affiliation!” Toucher says, “Being syndicated has always been a career goal and I am very excited to start this new challenge.” Rich adds, “I couldn’t be more excited to launch ‘Toucher & Rich’ into syndication. Our listeners have always been the most loyal in radio, and I’m thrilled to introduce our show to a whole new audience of potential T&R lifers.”

Bob Kessler to Anchor Midday News at WGN-AM, Chicago. Longtime WGN Radio news reporter Bob Kessler is now anchoring midday news Tuesdays through Fridays. Kessler joined WGN in 1994 as a producer and became a weekend newsroom anchor in 1997. Kessler’s work has been recognized with an award from the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters’ Association in 2019. WGN news director Ryan Burrow says, “Bob’s been an integral part of the WGN family for decades. He’s a great newsman and capably leads the anchor desk. A true teammate, he brings a positive energy and personality to the newsroom. I’m glad we’re able to expand his role on the news team.”

WWO: WARC Study on the Value of Audio to Marketers. In this week’s blog from CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One’s Audio Active Group, a study from marketing advisory firm WARC and iHeartMedia is examined. Titled, “The Investment Gap: Understanding the Value of Audio,” it reveals “a major audio investment gap for marketers.” It notes that 1) Consumers spend 31% of their media time with audio, yet audio is only allocated 8.8% of media budgets. Other media represent 91.2% of ad spend and 69% of consumer media use; 2)  Marketers overspend on digital and TV, and underspend on audio: WARC’s analysis reveals brands are overspending on TV and digital by 32%, and underspending on audio by a factor of 3X; 3) AM/FM radio generates a +36% increase in monthly reach for the average brand: An incremental reach analysis of 15 P&G brands conducted via Nielsen Media Impact, the media optimization platform, reveals the average P&G brand experiences a +36% increase in reach to their TV plan through the use of AM/FM radio; 4) The younger the demographic, the greater the lift in reach: Across P&G’s 15 brands, the lift in reach generated by AM/FM radio keeps growing in younger demographics. Among persons 35-44, the average P&G brand realizes a +63% increase in reach due to AM/FM radio. Among persons 25-34, AM/FM radio doubles the TV reach. See the blog here.

Cumulus Podcast Network to Join Strata Platform. A new partnership between Comcast’s FreeWheel, Cumulus Media, and Triton Digital brings Cumulus Podcast Network’s premium podcast inventory into the Strata media stewardship platform. The FreeWheel’s Strata allows agencies to automate the podcast buying process within their existing platform workflow, including receiving electronic proposals and sending electronic orders. Through this partnership, Strata users will be able to find and buy impression-based premium podcast inventory from Cumulus Media that is validated by metrics including downloads, as measured by Triton Digital’s Podcast Metrics measurement service. FreeWheel says this will mark the first time a podcast publisher has surfaced titles and lineups, which are curated groups of podcasts designed to reach specific desired demographics and psychographics, with metrics measured by industry leader Triton Digital, in a media buying platform. Cumulus SVP, digital operations and business development Larry Linietsky says, “Cumulus Media is pleased to expand its partnerships with FreeWheel and Triton to provide current and future marketing partners efficient access to the Cumulus Podcast Network’s vast offering of premium podcasts spanning entertainment, news, sports, politics, business, money and technology as well as the voices from our 413 stations.” Triton president of marketing development John Rosso adds, “Triton is pleased to be partnering with FreeWheel and Cumulus Media to provide advertisers with streamlined access to trustworthy, aggregated podcast data within their media buying system for the first time. Our IAB-accredited Podcast Metrics lineups provide advertisers with consistent data across networks and publishers, making the process of discovering, planning, analyzing and ultimately buying podcasts at scale seamless and efficient.” Strata users will be able to access Cumulus Podcast Network’s premium podcast inventory in the Strata system beginning in the 4th quarter of 2021.

Stonecom Adds Sports Talker to Livingston, Tennessee Market. The Overton County News reports that Stonecom debuts a new sports talk radio station for the Livingston, Tennessee market. “Sports Radio 104.7 emanates from WKXD-HD3 and is heard on translator W282AG at 104.7 FM. Stonecom president and GM Larry Stone says, “We know sports fans in this area are passionate about our local teams. During all the years doing Titans Caravan stops in Cookeville and Crossville, I saw that first-hand. It’s Big Orange Country with a huge love of everything orange. We love our championship high school sports around the region, and support the hard work of Tech athletes. ‘Sports Radio 104.7’ will serve that passion.” Programming will include “Outkick 360” featuring Jonathan Hutton, Chad Withrow and Paul Kuharsky, “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and more.

January 6 Investigation/Bannon Held in Contempt, COVID-19, Supply Chain Woes/Inflation, Biden Reconciliation Bill, Afghanistan Withdrawal Investigation, Chinese Military Aggression, Southern Border Crisis, Kidnapped Missionaries, and Facebook Rebrand Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/19). The investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the committee’s vote to refer Stephen K. Bannon to the DOJ for criminal prosecution; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., booster shots, and mask & vaccine mandates; the effects of the supply chain breakdown on the availability of consumer goods and soaring retail prices; President Joe Biden considers reducing his $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill to $1.9 trillion; the State Department inspector general’s investigation into the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan; China’s development of hypersonic weapons and its aggression against Taiwan; the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border; the 17 missionaries being held for $17 million ransom in Haiti; and rumors that Facebook is planning a rebrand were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Fresh Edition of ‘The Fisher House Story’ Available for Veterans Day and the Holidays. There’s new programming from the Fisher House Foundation for this Veterans Day as well as for the holiday season. The Jeff Wyatt Group has produced a fresh edition of “The Fisher House Story” for 2021 available for download. “The Fisher House Story – Peace of Mind and a Place to Heal” is a radio special provided in varying lengths for news/talk radio stations as well as a 30-minute public affairs show for all formats in the U.S. and around the world. Fisher House Foundation provides a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. Fisher Houses provide temporary free lodging so families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis because “A Family’s LOVE is Good Medicine.” The program is available in three-hour, one-hour, 25- and 30-minute radio special versions and is hosted by long-time radio personality Jeff Wyatt. It features stories of America’s heroes, the families who serve by their side, and how Fisher House plays a role in their journey. This informational talk show will leave listeners feeling inspired during Veterans Day weekend (Veterans Day is Thursday, November 11) and through the holiday season, sharing stories of amazing service members, veterans, and their families. Host Jeff Wyatt’s love and respect for our military will only amplify these radio specials, scheduled to deliver Oct. 28 for potential airing Veterans Day weekend, during the holiday season, and for Memorial Day and 4th of July weekends as well. You can hear a demo and see the clock at: radio.fisherhouse.org. For more information on this radio special, available cash and barter free, contact Jeff Wyatt at 301-518-3640 or jw@thejeffwyattgroup.com.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

| April 27, 2021

Shari Gonzalez Promoted to Market President for iHeartMedia Miami. Radio sales pro Shari Gonzalez is promoted to market president for iHeartMedia’s Miami/Fort Lauderdale station group that includes news/talk WIOD, sports talk WINZ, WXBN “Black Information Network,” and eight music brands. She was most recently regional SVP of sales for the cluster. iHeartMedia division president Linda Byrd says, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to promote Shari into her first market president role. In the short time that we have worked together, I have seen her competitiveness, work ethic and ability to move her team in the direction we need to go. Shari has the experience and smarts to make a great market president of iHeartMedia Miami/Fort Lauderdale. She will be a great leader in one of our most important markets.” Gonzalez comments, “I am honored and thrilled for this opportunity. To continue to work with and now lead this incredible portfolio of brands and this ‘best-in-class’ team of talented, passionate colleagues is a dream come true. Miami/Fort Lauderdale is experiencing a boom like no other market in the country and the South Florida market is filled with a culture and uniqueness that is second to none. As our market continues to grow as a multi-cultural, global economic and entertainment destination, we at iHeartMedia Miami/Fort Lauderdale remain committed to being the largest and most meaningful connection to millions in South Florida.”

‘The Rich Eisen Show’ Joins Audacy for Live Streaming and On-Demand Service. Sports media personality Rich Eisen enters into a content distribution partnership with Audacy to add his “The Rich Eisen Show” to the Audacy digital platform. “The Rich Eisen Show” streams live daily from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. The show, as well as his new podcast, “Just Getting Started,” are available on-demand on the Audacy digital platform. “The Rich Eisen Show” emanates from Los Angeles and is simulcast on NBC Sports on Peacock. Audacy EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano states, “Rich’s show is a terrific addition to our Audacy platform and reinforces our position as the unrivaled leader in local and national sports audio content. We’re thrilled to bring Rich’s mix of sports and culture to our audience, just in time for this week’s NFL Draft.”

Tricia Gallenback to Lead Cumulus Media’s Eugene Stations. Sales and management pro Tricia Gallenback is named the new vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media’s Eugene, Oregon station group that includes news/talk KUGN-AM, sports talk KUJZ-FM, and three music brands. She most recently held the same position at Reno Media Group’s stations in Reno, Nevada. Prior to that she was director of sales for Beasley Media Group’s Fayetteville, North Carolina operations. Gallenback says, “It’s an exciting time to work in radio! Cumulus is a dynamic and innovative company and I’m honored that [Cumulus RVP] Don Morin invited me to join the talented team in Eugene. The Cumulus stations in Eugene are iconic brands and have a history of commitment to community and partnership success. I’m looking forward to discovering how much more we can accomplish together.”

Ernest Fears III Rises to Director of Sales at Radio One Washington, DC. Radio sales pro Ernest Fears III is promoted to director of sales for Radio One’s Washington, DC station group that includes sports talk WTEM-AM “The Team 980” and news/talk WOL-AM/W240DJ. Fears was most recently general sales manager for the station group. Fears says, “During my 40 years in the business in the DC market, I’ve had the chance to work with so many professionals that I have learned from. If not for them, I would not stand where I am today. I look forward to paying forward the help and guidance that I received to my team and their clients.” Radio One senior regional vice president Jeff Wilson adds, “For decades, Ernie has been one of the most respected leaders in Washington, DC media.  But today, we celebrate his leadership and innovation moving forward as we blaze new trails while creating unprecedented solutions for our business partners.”

WWO Blog: What Changes in TV Viewing Mean for Radio. In this week’s Westwood One blog, chief insights officer Pierre Bouvard addresses the changes taking place in the television industry as viewers shift from linear TV to ad-free streaming options. This is a massive challenge for advertisers who’ve made TV a big part of their media plans. The piece is peppered with ominous stats, including: Nielsen’s just-released Total Audience Report reveals linear television’s weekly reach among persons 25-54 has dropped from 85% in Q3 2018 to only 77% in Q3 2020; pay TV lost 5.5 million subscribers in 2020; MoffettNathanson reports that residential penetration of traditional pay TV is down to 61% of occupied households. This is sharply reduced from pay TV’s peak 89% penetration in 2009; and according to MoffettNathanson, in Q4 2020, 67% of all broadcast network viewership was from the 50+ audience. So how does radio advertising play into this? Bouvard says that putting AM/FM radio in the plan generates triple the reach of connected TV – for example, adding 50 points of AM/FM radio to 250 points of TV (225 linear TV GRPs and 50 connected TV GRPs) generates a +24% increase in reach, triple the incremental reach lift that connected TV can add alone.

TALKERS News Notes. A deal between direct mail firm We Mail America.com and the Independent Broadcasters Association to “bring the We Mail America.com business model to independently owned radio markets of all sizes.” A press release says, “We Mail America.com is reinventing the traditional direct mail model by coupling it with a full suite of digital advertising services that works precisely and in conjunction with each radio ad campaign and mail deployment. This comprehensive view of advertising fortifies audio marketing strategies across all mediums, screens, and devices.” IBA president (and Adams Media CEO) Ron Stone says, “Independent radio has never had so many competitors, and direct mail is certainly one of them.  We Mail America.com brings a no-nonsense approach to direct mail and provides radio operators a new tool for their clients. The model that [We Mail America.com founder] Gary [Pizzati] has created enables independent stations to add a new source of revenue to their cluster that does not just move money from one pocket to the other.”…..Audacy’s C13Originals is expanding its longtime partnership with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jon Meacham to launch Shining City Audio, a podcast studio co-venture focused on creating a wide-ranging slate of audio documentaries and series centered around history with some of the most well-respected historians and voices joining at launch. The Shining City Audio initial 2021 slate features two new series written and narrated by Meacham: “Fate of Fact,” a limited-run series examining the question of how and why so many conservative Americans have become prone to disinformation and anti-democratic narratives, and a daily podcast focused on this day in history…..SiriusXM today announced that it has acquired 99% Invisible Inc., the company owned by Roman Mars, the creator, host, and executive producer of the “99% Invisible” podcast. The acquisition brings the podcast host and his team to SiriusXM, where they will continue to operate 99% Invisible, the podcast “What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law,” and develop new podcast projects…..Observing the reaction to the “Saturday Night Live” cast’s befuddlement at the news that Elon Musk will host an upcoming episode of the sketch comedy show, KZRG, Joplin, Missouri program director Peter Thiele is inviting Musk to appear as guest host on “KZRG Morning News Watch.” He says, “Elon Musk is one of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs! We are proud to invite him to be the guest host of the ‘KZRG Morning News Watch!’ Joplin, Missouri’s convenient location on two major freeways with a fantastic airport makes this offer even more tantalizing.”

COVID-19, Biden 100 Days Address, Deadly Police Shootings/Race Relations, Iran-Israel Tensions/John Kerry Allegation, Southern Border Crisis, Newsom Recall, and Oscars Show Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/26). The rates of positive COVID cases in U.S. states, the rollout of and concerns about vaccines, and the overwhelming cases and deaths in India; President Joe Biden’s Wednesday address before Congress marking his first 100 days; protests over recent deadly police shootings of Black citizens and the call for a complete release of body camera video in the death of Andrew Brown Jr.; the military tensions between Iran and Israel and the allegation former Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Israeli air strikes with Iran’s foreign minister; the mass of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; petitioners gather enough signatures to put the recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom on the ballot; and Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

| December 15, 2020

Ramsey Solutions Forgives $10 million in Debt for 8,000 Americans. Through his company Ramsey Solutions, Dave Ramsey has taken on the debt of 8,000 people across the United States and totally forgiven a total of $10 million in debt. Ramsey Solutions has purchased $10 million of unpaid medical and car debt from two private debt collection companies in order to forgive it. Starting on November 9, Ramsey and his 950 team members made phone calls to let the recipients know their debt had been forgiven. Recipients will also be notified by a letter in the mail within the next five weeks. Ramsey says, “This year has been one of the worst financially for so many Americans. Thirty years ago, my wife Sharon, and I were on the heels of a financial catastrophe ourselves. We know firsthand the pain of having creditors calling at all hours of the night and wondering how we were going to keep the lights on. But we said never again to living with debt. We worked our way out of bankruptcy, turned our finances around, and now we can have the most fun with money that we ever have – giving.” You can read more about Ramsey Solutions’ $10 million debt payoff here.

Charlie James Named Afternoon Drive Host at WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg. The new afternoon drive talk host at Entercom’s WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg “106.3 WORD” is Charlie James, who joins the station from his most recent post as morning host for Cumulus Media’s news/talk WTMA-AM, Charleston, South Carolina. James – who starts on December 23 – succeeds Bob McLain, who is retiring from the station. Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi says, “Charlie is a well-respected and seasoned talk show host and his track record of success in South Carolina with his award-winning program makes him a perfect fit for ‘106.3 WORD.’ Charlie’s experience informing and entertaining listeners through his style, knowledge, and influential opinions on topics that matter most will be a welcomed addition to our station’s programming and will build on the afternoon audience that has been well served by Bob McLain.”​

WHO-AM, Des Moines Names Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet New Morning Drive Show. Current WHO-AM, Des Moines morning drive host Van Harden announced yesterday (12/14) to listeners that market radio pros Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet will take over hosting the morning drive show after he retires from the station early next month. Schaeffer comments, “The weight of what we have ahead of us is not lost on me.” Schaeffer and Sweet previously worked as morning drive co-hosts at Saga Communications’ crosstown classic hits KIOA-FM until exiting in May of 2018. Harden announced his retirement from WHO back in January of this year, giving iHeartMedia a full year to plan for the new morning show.

Ken Kohl Announces Retirement. Radio programming and management pro Ken Kohl announces that he’s winding down his 50-plus year broadcasting career that’s seen him program news and talk stations in markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Sacramento. Kohl has been serving for the past 12 years with DirecTV managing broadcast and sales operations, project and talent management for the radio and TV simulcasts of “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and “The Artie Lange Show.” Kohl says, “It’s been an amazing 50-year career. From overnight jock on Long Island’s WBLI-FM to program director of legendary WLIR-FM, rockin’ the Rockies at KBPI-FM, great runs programming KOMO-AM and KFBK-AM, launching talk on KFI in Los Angeles and San Francisco’s ‘Free FM’ to the award-winning, wall-to-wall coverage of the OJ trial, and two sports Emmy nominations and a Marconi with ‘The Dan Patrick Show.’ I’ve been blessed with fantastic staffs, amazing talk talent and exceptional ownership but there are a handful of folks who championed my career to whom I am eternally grateful: Michael Harrison, Monty Grau, Jim Donahoe, Jimmy de Castro, Chris Long, and the best of the best, Gerryann Agovino.” Kohl says he remains available for a limited number of consulting clients in between bites of fresh salmon and can be reached at kenkohl@acquaintmedia.com

Townsquare Media Issues Preliminary Fourth Quarter Financial Results. While the fourth quarter of 2020 doesn’t wrap until December 31, Townsquare Media is issuing “preliminary estimated financial results” for the period. Chief executive officer Bill Wilson says, “We are pleased to pre-announce very strong fourth quarter estimated results that outperformed the expectations we had previously outlined on our third quarter earnings call. At that time, I stated that our goal for fourth quarter net revenue was a year-over-year decline of 7.5%, approximately half of our third quarter net revenue decline of 15%, which had been a material improvement from Q2’s decline of 35%. Today, I am proud to share that we expect fourth quarter net revenue will be between $107 million and $109 million, which equates to a decline of approximately 2.7% to 4.5%, materially outperforming our goal. In addition, we expect Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA will be between $27 million and $28 million, representing between 8.3% and 12.3% growth year-over-year. This far exceeds our previously stated goal (by at least $2 million) that Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA would approach Q4 2019 Adjusted EBITDA of $24.9 million.”

i4 Media Ventures Launches with Debut Podcast ‘We Interrupt This Broadcast.’ The new firm i4 Media Ventures announces its plans to “bring podcast listeners vividly memorable stories from the history of American broadcasting.” The 12-episode podcast series “We Interrupt This Broadcast” – the first season of six seasons planned for release over the next three years – debuts in February. The series will feature first-hand accounts, little-told anecdotes and insights recorded over the course of decades with such icons of broadcast journalism as David BrinkleyTom BrokawWalter CronkiteSam Donaldson, Don HewittDan Rather, and Tim Russert, among many contemporary correspondents, and with numerous news directors and producers, as well as with guests connected to broadcast journalism’s rich history such as Casey MurrowEdward R. Murrow’s son. Advertising sales and sponsorship for the series will be represented by New York and Los Angeles-based Crossover Media Group Sales. The series is based on the 1998 New York Times bestselling multimedia book We Interrupt This Broadcast by author Joe Garner, a co-founder of i4 Media Ventures. Legendary longtime CBS journalist and A&E and NPR host Bill Kurtis, the original narrator for the multimedia book, will reprise his role by introducing each episode. The narrator for the series will be announced in coming weeks. Garner says, “It’s our intention with this series to celebrate broadcast journalism’s crucial role in our society and in history. And while our inaugural podcast series will feature major news events throughout broadcast history, these stories – such as the Rodney King beating and the presidential-election dispute of 2000 – all have relevance and offer lessons today.”

Joe Piscopo to Host Sinatra Show on WABC, New York. Well-known TV personality and radio talk show host Joe Piscopo is joining Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York to host “Ramsey Mazda’s Sunday Nights with Sinatra” program that airs from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The show is being simulcast on WLIR-FM on Long Island. Piscopo played Sinatra in a recurring role during his time as a cast member of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” in the early 1980s. He says, “It’s an honor to bring the music of the most legendary icon of our time, Frank Sinatra, back to the legendary WABC Radio. I am thrilled and excited, and it’s gonna’ be swingin’ baby!” Red Apple CEO John Catsimatidis comments, “Throughout history, there has been no more iconic name in music than Frank Sinatra, nor has there been a more iconic name in radio than WABC. Bringing these two together again on Sunday nights with celebrity host Joe Piscopo, a crooner himself, is a one-of-a-kind way to honor ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ and celebrate what would-be his 105th Birthday with this show’s debut.” Piscopo hosts the morning drive program on Salem Media Group‘s WNYM, New York “970 The Answer.”

ESPN’s ‘30 For 30 Podcasts’ Looks Back at Beginning of Pandemic. The next installment of ESPN’s “30 for 30 Podcasts” debuts on December 21, is titled, “March 11 2020,” and tells the story “of a day that started in one reality and ended with a new one — the day the NBA shut down and the pandemic became real — as told by those who lived it.” ESPN says the experiential podcast features a mix of audio clips from news stories of the day and interviews with key figures in the NBA as well as from Dr. Anthony Fauci. Senior editorial producer Julia Lowrie Henderson says, “This has been the strangest, longest, and most challenging of years. It’s hard to process all we’ve been through, but it’s actually quite simple to identify the turning point, the moment where it felt like everything changed: March 11. All of our lives were impacted by the events of that day. At the time we had no idea how deeply, or how long this might last, but we felt the seismic shift when the first professional athlete tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA suspended its season. If our mission at ‘30 For 30’ is to tell stories that explore how sports, competition, athleticism, and adventure affect our lives and our world, then it felt crucial to us to find a way to tell the story of that day.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a story at GVWire.com, KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno program director Blake Taylor says Twitter blocked access to the station’s account because of comments made by U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes on KMJ. During Nunes’ interview with KMJ talk host Ray Appleton, he said he “tested positive for the COVID antibodies” causing some confusion and concern that he had contracted the COVID-19 virus. GVWire.com reports that Taylor fielded requests from consumer media outlets seeking to clarify what Nunes had said so he did so on Twitter. Taylor says that immediately the station’s Twitter account was suspended. He reached out to Twitter but received no response. The blackout lasted 20 minutes…..Entercom’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia “SportsRadio 94WIP” announces special coverage of the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2020-21 season. WIP’s coverage of the team will include “Trust The Pregame,” hosted by Joe Giglio. The station will continue airing “Rights To Ricky Sanchez Radio,” a one-hour show named after the popular podcast. That show will be hosted by Joe Giglio and feature Spike Eskin, as well as Rights to Ricky Sanchez writers Adam Aaronson and Mike O’Connor. The station also announces a collection of additional contributors for the upcoming season, including  WIP’s Jon Johnson and Billy KingDerek Bodner of The AthleticKevin O’Connor of The Ringer, and Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice…..Digital products and services provider Vipology moves its ad sales representation exclusively to AdLarge Media. AdLarge co-founder and co CEO Cathy Csukas says, “Where most digital companies simply create and sell what’s needed at the time, Vipology gets ahead of the constantly evolving media landscape to develop solutions that allow radio to increase ratings and revenue. We’re very excited about representing their advertising inventory from more than 1,000 top radio stations across America to our advertisers.”…..Erick Siqueira joins Focus360 as business development & planning specialist. In this role, Siqueira will work with the Focus team to deliver new revenue and inventory opportunities for clients. He will also continue relationships with agencies and buyers with whom he’s worked for all Focus360 network products and the Focus360 Podcast Network

Electoral College Votes Biden Winner, COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive, COVID Stats & Projections, Barr to Resign, Georgia Runoff Elections, and Stimulus Negotiations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14). The Electoral College votes Joe Biden the 46th president; the first COVID-19 vaccines begin arriving at U.S. hospitals; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for post-holidays outbreaks, and Dr. Tony Fauci’s estimation the U.S. will achieve herd immunity by late spring or early summer; Attorney General William Barr announces he’ll resign next week; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; and negotiations on a new pandemic stimulus package 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. According to a report at NewscenterMaine, former Saga Communications air personality Randi Kirshbaum – who was a program director and jock at country WPOR and triple A WCLZ in Portland, Maine is filing an employment discrimination complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company after she was dismissed for refusing to return to the stations’ offices due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kirshbaum says her mother passed away from pulmonary fibrosis and that she is genetically predisposed to getting it. She adds the disease can be triggered by a respiratory virus. When Kirshbaum was laid off in May, Saga Portland SVP Chris Forgy said Kirshbaum violated her signed agreement that she could be called back to the office by management and would lose her job if she refused…..Condolences to the family and friends of radio pro Steve Cooper, a.k.a. James Carr, who died on Sunday (12/13) at age 71 after several years of battling multiple illnesses. Cooper worked in the Indianapolis market for 32 years, working at such signals as WNDE, WIFE, WFBQ, and WTPI. You can see a tribute video made by good friend Art Vuolo here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

| December 2, 2020

Entercom Names Rick Dayton Afternoon Host at KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh. Almost three months after former afternoon drive talk host Wendy Bell was taken off news/talk KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh’s air for suggesting park rangers shoot people caught defacing public monuments (she was officially fired on October 16), Entercom names local news pro Rick Dayton host of “KDKA Radio Afternoon News hosted by Rick Dayton,” effective December 7. Dayton has worked in television news in North Carolina, at WOWK-TV, Charleston, West Virginia; and at KDKA-TV, Pittburgh. He’s most recently been a fill-in host for the station. Entercom Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “Rick is ingrained in the local community and has a tremendous news reputation in the market. He is a beloved personality who will engage the listeners daily with content and information and I’m excited to welcome him to our weekday lineup.” Dayton adds, “After spending more than a decade back home in western Pennsylvania, I am honored to join KDKA Radio and build on its iconic legacy. To talk with KDKA’s loyal listeners each day and to discuss important issues is something I do not take lightly. I cannot wait to get those conversations started on Monday afternoon.”

WPEN-FM, Philadelphia Fires Morning Host Marc Farzetta. According to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, morning drive host Marc Farzetta is out at Beasley Media Group’s sports talk WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “97.5 The Fanatic” after a little more than two years in the daypart. Farzetta let fans know about his departure via Twitter in which he said: “I was informed a few hours ago that today was my last day hosting the Morning Show at 97.5 The Fanatic… I’m so proud of the work we did taking that time slot to heights it hadn’t seen in the station’s 15-year history in the sports format.” Farzetta had been hosting the show with Bob Cooney and producer Jamie Lynch. At this time, it’s not clear if they remain with the station or not.

OPINION: Broadcasting’s Free Speech Responsibility. In the response to the on-air statement by Trump campaign attorney Joe diGenova about former cybersecurity official Chris Krebs, WYD Media Management and Crossover Media Group Sales president Ron Hartenbaum pens a piece for TALKERS explaining his take on the responsibilities of broadcasters who find themselves in such a position. diGenova, while appearing as a guest on “The Howie Carr Show,” said, “Anybody who thinks the election went well, like that idiot Krebs who used to be the head of cybersecurity. That guy is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.” Read Hartenbaum’s response here.

UNCF First Recipient of iHeartMedia’s Media Grant Program. The new iHeartRadio Communities Spotlight Media Grant Program from iHeartMedia is designed to “support organizations that are making a positive impact within the communities iHeart serves and to use iHeart’s multi-platform media network to deliver messaging that is timely, relevant and hyper-targeted to most effectively serve impacted communities.” The company says that the inaugural Spotlight Grants will provide a nationwide platform for Black-focused community organizations to “inspire, educate, and empower listeners to take a stand against systemic racism and promote social justice; celebrate Black excellence, achievement, and culture; help members of the Black community express themselves and address the unique needs of their communities; and invest in educational programs and individuals that are inspiring the next generation of Black journalists and leaders.” Long-time partner UNCF, an organization that helps fund 37 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), has been named the first partner and will receive a minimum media grant of $350,000 to be used through the end of the year. The all-new PSA airs now through the end of the year across all iHeartMedia radio stations and will bring attention to the many social, financial, educational and mental health challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has caused to communities of color and the threat to America’s progress for a more equitable society. UNCF is asking listeners to donate $10 online at UNCF.org/donate to help HBCU students who had to withdraw from school because of COVID-19 challenges get back to college in the spring. Additionally, iHeart will again host UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax as a guest on the iHeartRadio Communities public affairs show in the coming weeks.

TALKERS News Notes. There’s a new sports channel coming to SiriusXM as the satellite radio company and NBC Sports have partnered to create NBC Sports Audio on SiriusXM that will launch tomorrow (12/3). Sirius XM SVP of sports programming Steve Cohen says, “The NBC Sports Audio channel is a terrific addition to the SiriusXM lineup. Fans of NBC Sports’ great programming and talent will get access to an outstanding sports talk lineup every weekday, and our subscribers will get access to live play-by-play of many top events on the sports calendar.” Shows airing on the channel will include: “PFT Live featuring Mike Florio and Chris Simms,” “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” “Brother From Another with Michael Holley and Michael Smith,” and more…..Entercom Chicago is presenting its 25th annual “Good Neighbor Radiothon” on all-news WBBM Newsradio (WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM) to raise money for The Salvation Army. Hosted by WBBM Newsradio news anchor Pat Cassidy, the live program will encourage listeners to donate through the station’s phone bank or online via the station’s website…..Prior to Thanksgiving, Cox Media Group Atlanta’s radio stations – including news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM – partnered with the Atlanta Community Food Bank to collect food and monetary donations to supply holiday meals for local families in need and collected a grand total of 2,127 pounds of dry food, 1,325 pounds of frozen turkey, and monetary donations that will provide 25,816 meals for hungry children, hardworking families and struggling seniors…..Entercom Milwaukee is presenting WSSP-AM  1250AM The Fan’s 14th annual “FAN Toy Drive,” to benefit Children’s Wisconsin. This year’s 24-hour virtual on-air event will aim to raise funds and toys for the hospital’s patients. Listeners will be encouraged to donate via the station’s website…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One, Imperative Entertainment’s Podcast Division and Pegalo Pictures are premiering the podcast, “American Coyote” that tells the true story of America’s most successful coyote, Elden Kidd. While active, Elden was responsible for ushering over a thousand people across the border — and was unfazed even after cheating death multiple times and spending two years incarcerated in a Mexican prison…..iHeartMedia Stockton’s “Fox Sports AM1280, Stockton’s Only Sports Station,” announces an extension of its broadcast agreement with the University of the Pacific to continue to broadcast the university’s men’s and women’s Pacific Tiger basketball games through the 2020-2021 basketball season.

COVID-19/Vaccines, Trump Tactics/Barr Statement, DOJ Pardon Bribery Investigation, Georgia Runoff Elections, Iran Nuke Scientist Death, and the NFL’s COVID Problem Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/1). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, concerns about private gatherings fueling the pandemic, and the promise of soon-to-be-available vaccines; Donald Trump’s ongoing attempts to call the election results into question and Attorney General William Barr’s public statement that his agency had found no evidence of widespread election fraud; the DOJ’s investigation into a possible bribery scheme involving pay for pardons; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the fallout from the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear weapons scientist; and the NFL’s strategy for dealing with growing COVID-positive players 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. In a move that’s not too surprising to the staffers at the Pohlad family’s Northern Lights Broadcasting, the company’s two radio stations – hip hop KZGO-FM and alternative KQGO-FM in Minneapolis – are being sold to religious broadcaster Educational Media Foundation for an undisclosed sum. The Pohlad family owns MLB’s Minnesota Twins and until 2018 games were broadcast on KQGO. Now, with Twins broadcasts on WCCO-AM, the family has little use for the signals. Both stations will flip to religious formats in the New Year. KALIL & CO., INC. is the exclusive broker for this transaction…..SiriusXM and the family of Bob Marley announce a new, exclusive year-round channel dedicated to the legacy of Bob Marley. Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Radio launches tomorrow (12/3) and will feature the cultural icon’s entire music catalog, both live and recorded, including rare recordings, some of which have never been made available to the public. The channel is being curated by the Marley family and will include a wide range of Caribbean music from its inception to present day.