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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

| August 18, 2021

RTDNA Announces Winners of 2021 National Edward R. Murrow Awards. The Radio Television Digital News Association announces the national winners of the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Awards that recognize more than 100 outlets for outstanding work in digital, radio and television journalism in technical and editorial categories. RTDNA executive director Dan Shelley states, “A core pillar of RTDNA is celebrating the best in journalism, and one of the ways we do that is through the Edward R. Murrow Awards. This year especially, we are honored to recognize outstanding achievements in broadcast and digital journalism. The past 18 months have been some of the most challenging in the history of our profession, and these recipients — among thousands of other journalists — clearly fulfilled their obligations to serve the public.” There were more than 5,200 entries this year. In May, RTDNA recognized more than 750 winners of the Regional Murrow Awards, which automatically advanced to the national competition. Eight organizations received national awards for Overall Excellence in their categories, including ABC News in the Radio Network category. ABC News was also honored with wins for: Breaking News – COVID-19: President Trump Tests Positive, for its overnight coverage of President Trump’s positive COVID test; Continuing Coverage – A Nation Divided, for its reporting on the murder of George Floyd and the protests and anger that swept the nation; News Series – Pandemic: A Nation Divided, which covered the pandemic’s significantly worse impact on communities of color and working class America; and Investigative Reporting – Truth and Lies: Jeffrey Epstein, for the ABC News Investigative Unit’s podcast on the investigation into Epstein. Two Audacy radio stations were winners with KRLD “Newsradio 1080” recognized for its coverage of the protests against the death of George Floyd and police brutality in the award’s Breaking News Coverage in Large Market Radio category and KMOX, St. Louis “News Radio 1120” receiving top honors in the award’s Newscast in Large Market Radio category for its “Total Information AM 7:00 a.m.” newscast on March 18, 2020. You can see the complete national winner list here.

iHeartMedia Flips KBRU-FM, Oklahoma City to Sports Talk as ’94.7 The Ref.’ In a deal with SportsTalk Media’s KREF-AM, Norman, Oklahoma, iHeartMedia flips its KBRU-FM, Oklahoma City from rock to sports talk and is simulcasting KREF’s 6:00 am to 6:00 pm schedule on KBRU and re-brands it “94.7 FM The Ref.” From 6:00 pm to 6:00 am, KBRU will air FOX Sports Radio programming including: Chris Broussard, Rob Parker, Jason Smith, Mike Harmon and Ben Maller. iHeartMedia area president for Oklahoma Jon Phillips states, “We are thrilled to enter the sports talk arena with such an outstanding lineup. This talent base is very aligned with Oklahoma University sports and we feel this will give us a unique advantage in creating content that is focused on the biggest sports entity in the state. Hats off to SportsTalk Media in Norman for collecting and producing such compelling radio. We feel this partnership will greatly benefit both parties and ensure that Sooner fans can get reliable, accurate and timely coverage.” The station’s lineup is: Toby Rowland and TJ Perry in AM drive, Chris Plank and Josh Helmer from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, Mike Steely and Parker Thune from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm, Teddy Lehman and Tyler McComas from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm, followed by FOX Sports Radio shows “The Odd Couple with Chris Broussard & Rob Parker,” “The Jason Smith Show with Mike Harmon,” The Ben Maller Show,” “Outkick The Coverage.”

Cumulus Media Dallas Announces Sales Promotions. There are a number of promotions and appointments to report from the Cumulus Media Dallas station group. With the retirement of the cluster’s director of sales Alec Drake at the end of this month, new positions effective September 1 include Dawn Girocco rising from her director of sales post for three of the cluster’s music outlets to VP of sales for the entire six-station group. Filling her role with the three music outlets is Dean Canter, who becomes general sales manager. On the spoken word side, RJ Lane rises from general sales manager for sports talk KTCK-AM/FM “The Ticket,” news/talk WBAP-AM, and news/talk KLIF-AM to director of sales for the stations. Also, Steve Holm is promoted from sales manager for the spoken word stations to general sales manager and Janet Dupree, digital sales manager, remains in charge of the station cluster’s digital sales efforts. Cumulus Dallas/Houston regional VP Dan Bennett says, “Dawn Girocco’s vast experience as a DOS and market manager made her a great choice to lead our Dallas sales operation as our new VP of sales. Dawn is an around-the-clock engaged manager who is accessible to our sellers 24/7. She has earned this opportunity and our sales team will benefit greatly from her leadership. I cannot begin to thank Alec Drake enough for his huge contributions over the years to our organization. He has been an incredible leader – especially through the Covid pandemic. Keeping Cumulus Dallas as the company’s top revenue market has always been our goal and Alec pushed the limits every day to ensure we kept that position. Thank you, Alec, from our entire team!”

Gracie Awards Gala Moves to Virtual Celebration. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation announces that the 46th annual Gracie Awards Gala, originally scheduled for Monday, September 27, is being moved to a fully virtual celebration. Details of the air date and streaming are being finalized to ensure the best experience to recognize all winners in an important year as AWM’s 70th anniversary. AWMF president Becky Brooks says, “Gracie winners are responsible for creating and telling the important stories of the most compelling content in our history. We were informed, enlightened, and entertained by women in media across all platforms. Our focus remains celebrating this incredible group of women who have demonstrated their commitment to sharing emotionally charged, timely, and compelling content. While our goal was to be in person in September, we are thrilled to bring our winners to the world.”

TALKERS News Notes. KIVA-AM, Albuquerque station owner and talk host Eddy Aragon is running for mayor of the city. According to KOAT-TV, Aragon has gathered enough signatures to run in this November’s election though he’s still waiting for certification from the county clerk. Aragon is challenging incumbent Mayor Tim Keller. Sheriff Manny Gonzales is also running as a Republican. If none of the three candidates get 50% of the vote, the two with the most votes face a run-off election. Aragon tells the station, “I just want to live in a better place. And, when there wasn’t anybody there that was speaking up for the conservatives, the Republicans and the independents out there, that’s when I immediately jumped on board.”…..Virtual News Center adds Legend Communications of Wyoming, LLC radio stations KLGT, KBBT, KZZS, and KHRW in Sheridan, Wyoming to its roster of affiliate stations. Virtual News Center will provide newscasts for all four stations anchored daily by Lisa Rodman and Jim Taylor. Virtual News Center CEO Joel Dearing says, “We are excited to expand with Legend Communications. We currently do news for their station in Gillette and have now added their stations that serve the Sheridan market. Brady Sasfranek has a strong cluster and we are thrilled to be a part of it.”…..Audacy and the NFL’s Washington Football Team have announced a new radio broadcast partnership in which Spanish hits WLZL, Washington “El Zol 107.9” will air the Spanish broadcast for all of the team’s regular and postseason games. Spanish broadcasts had previously aired on sister station WJFK-AM, “El Zol Deportes” for the past three seasons

Taliban Takes Afghanistan, COVID-19 Stats & Mandates, COVID Booster, Western Drought & Wildfires, and Gavin Newsom Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/17). The Taliban takes control of Afghanistan and former President Donald Trump’s media appearances blaming President Joe Biden; the rise of COVID-19 cases in numerous U.S. states and the controversy over mask and vaccine mandates; the expectation the U.S. will recommend COVID booster shots after eight months; the drought and wildfires plaguing the U.S. West; and the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

| June 24, 2021

Bill O’Reilly is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Longtime radio and TV commentator, as well as prolific author, Bill O’Reilly is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” The conversation took place during a “fireside chat” at the recent TALKERS 2021 conference held June 11 at Long Island’s Hofstra University. The conference was presented in association with Hofstra’s renowned student-run radio station, WRHU. Harrison and O’Reilly discuss topics geared to an audience of professional broadcasters and serious students of communication that include the state of the book publishing industry and its relationship to broadcasters; the shrinking attention span of the younger generations induced by digital technology; maintaining credibility with the core audience without compromising your values or the truth; the state of corporate media in America; and details about his forthcoming limited engagement arena “History Tour” with former President Donald Trump. Don’t miss this! To listen to the interview in its entirety, click here.

WVNN, Huntsville Announces New Program Lineup. Huntsville, Alabama news/talk WVNN-AM/FM announces the new program schedule that will take effect on July 5. Morning personality and station PD Dale Jackson will get a bit of a break as his program will air from 5:00 am to 9:00 am instead of ending at 11:00 am as it does right now. Moving from afternoons to the 9:00 am to 11:00 am slot is Michael Yaffee. Westwood One’s Dan Bongino will air from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on the Cumulus Media station and former Alabama State Senator Phil Williams will host the news 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm “Rightside Radio” show.

Video Coverage of TALKERS 2021 Begins Next Monday June 28. Every keynote speech, fireside chat, special presentation and panel discussion that took place at the recent 24th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running, largest and most important national convention – TALKERS 2021 at Hofstra University – was recorded under the direction of renowned industry videographer and chronicler Art Vuolo. These videos will be posted one per business day beginning next Monday June 28, right here on Talkers.com. If you were unable to attend the event in person, you will not want to miss the opportunity to take in some of the most pertinent industry conversation about the state of radio, talk programming, and related media to take place since the start of the pandemic.

RTDNA Local News Diversity Report Released. The latest segment of the RTDNA/Newhouse School at Syracuse University Survey has been released and it focuses on local news diversity in television and radio. The study concludes that “radio newsrooms now include the highest percentage of people of color in radio since 1998 – and the second highest percentage ever – but nearly 85% of the radio news workforce is still white. The local radio news workforce is 15.8% Black, Indigenous or people of color overall, up just under half a percent. Public radio is significantly more representative, for both women and people of color, than commercial radio news. Public radio newsrooms are 78.8% white compared to commercial newsrooms which are 91.7% white. Representation in radio news improved over the last year for news staff identifying as Native American or Hispanic/Latino, but slipped slightly for African American and Asian American radio staff.” When it comes to radio news management, the study finds that “representation of people of color increased marginally among radio news directors, from 7.1% to 7.2%. This year saw higher percentages of radio news directors who are African American or Hispanic/Latino, but fewer who are Native American.” Looking at women in radio news management, the study concludes that “there are fewer women radio news directors this year, down 3.5 percentage points from close to a third to just over a quarter. The public-commercial gap in representation grew, with women better represented than last year at public stations, but worse at commercial ones. Public radio women news directors now outpace commercial women radio news directors by 18 points.” See the study here.

Audacy Study: Optimizing Audio Increases Return on Ad Spend. The results of a recent study conducted in partnership between Audacy and Neustar titled, “The Audio Amplification: The Return on Ad Spend,” indicates that “a slight shift of advertiser dollars to optimize audio brings significant returns across various industries.” The study assessed the impact of optimizing audio elements, both over-the-air (OTA) and digital audio, of more than 40 national advertisers’ media mix performance. The analysis reveales that a 1.2% shift of media investment to audio would surge brands’ return on audio ad spend by as much as 23%. Across multiple industries, Audio is a high-performance player, having a direct and significant impact on results while boosting other media’s performance – primarily propelling TV, paid search, and online video. Audacy SVP, research and insights Idil Cakim says, “In today’s cluttered landscape, reach alone is not enough to break through, engage and convert. Brands need meaningful connections with their audiences through all the moments that matter and we know that audio powers up media plans. This study shows optimizing OTA and digital audio in the media mix catapults sales to new heights.” Neustar consultant Kayla Coutts adds, “Our findings revealed that there are still untapped ad opportunities in audio media, across key verticals that can be leveraged to drive marketing performance. As consumer needs continue to shift, it’s become increasingly critical that marketers ensure they are constantly evaluating their media spend in relation to these consumer trends so as to ensure they are maximizing the value of their media investments.”

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago sports talker WMVP-AM “ESPN 1000” announces that the station is available to listeners via a new HD2 channel at 100.3 FM. ESPN Chicago market manager Mike Thomas says, “HD Radio has been around since 2002, and today over 50% of new cars have HD Radio as standard equipment. Our partnership with Hubbard Chicago will allow fans to hear our ESPN 1000 shows and White Sox baseball in crystal clear, digital FM. As of today, you can listen to Chicago’s Home for Sports on ESPN 1000, 100.3 HD2 and on your phone from anywhere on the ESPN Chicago app!” The deal with Hubbard Radio allows “ESPN 1000” to broadcast on adult contemporary WSHE-FM’s HD2 channel…..Audacy and the NFL’s New England Patriots announce a multi-year extension to their broadcast partnership. The agreement includes the exclusive continuation of “Patriots Monday” and “Patriots Friday” programming, headlined by New England Patriots six-time Super Bowl champion head coach Bill Belichick and Patriots players on WEEI, Boston. The partnership between WEEI and the Patriots began in 1995. Audacy Boston SVP and market manager Tim Clarke says, “We’re delighted to extend our longstanding partnership with the New England Patriots and continue giving Patriots fans exclusive access to their favorite team every week. We look forward to Coach Belichick and multiple veteran leaders providing perspective and game analysis that only they can share every week on WEEI.”…..Boston public media outlet WBUR reveals Scott Tong is the new co-host of NPR and WBUR’s midday news program “Here & Now.” The program is syndicated to 477 NPR stations nationwide. Tong, who starts his new gig on July 12, has served with “Marketplace” for the past 16 years. “Here & Now” executive producer Carline Watson says, “I am thrilled and excited that Scott is joining our host lineup. The depth of his journalism, his extensive reporting experience and his willingness to be a guide for the listener will complete our already outstanding team comprised of Tonya Mosley and Robin Young.”…..PodcastOne announces that it is teaming up with writer/director Barbara Schroeder (Netflix’s “Evil Genius”) to produce and distribute another true crime podcast titled, “Bad, Bad Thing.”  The six-episode podcast, written and hosted by Schroeder, tells the story of a loving wife, Jennair Gerardot, who spirals into darkness when she suspects that her husband of 24 years, Mark, is having an affair with his dynamic, younger and beautiful boss…..2021 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves sits down for a one-on-one interview with former Indianapolis Colts All-Pro punter Pat McAfee for a special “virtual” SiriusXM Town Hall event with an audience of SiriusXM listeners and race fans. The hour-long broadcast event airs on tonight (6/24) at 6:00 pm ET.

Infrastructure Deal, COVID-19, Urban Crime Spike, Big Tech Censorship-Monopolies, Border Crisis-Harris Criticism, SCOTUS Cheerleader Ruling, Afghanistan Pullout, Britney Spears Guardianship Case, and Western Drought/Heatwave Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/23). The Senate and the White House agree on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill compromise; the rate of vaccinations in the U.S., concerns about the Delta variant, and worries about vaccine side effects; the soaring rate of violent crime in America’s urban areas; claims of bias against conservatives by big tech and the drafting of the Ending Platform Monopolies Act; the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and criticism of Vice President Kamala Harris’ failure to visit the border; the Supreme Court rule in favor of the high school cheerleader who was suspended for swearing in an off-campus social media post; the Taliban’s resurgence as the U.S. exits Afghanistan; the Britney Spears guardianship case; and the Western drought and heatwave were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

| May 13, 2021

Mary Walter Exits WMAL-FM, Washington. In a Facebook post, morning drive co-host Mary Walter announces she’s done her last show with Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM, Washington, DC. Walter says the news that Cumulus is bringing its air personalities back from their home studios to the radio studios forced her to make a lifestyle choice. She writes, “Before COVID I spent 4 years living in an apartment in MD, while my husband lived in NJ. Every Fri after the show, I would go back to my apartment (that had like 3 pieces of furniture), pack my car and drive the 4 hrs back to NJ.  I’d get in, collapse and be in bed by 7p. Saturday was spent unpacking, doing laundry, housework and all the other ‘stuff’ that needs to be done. Sunday morning I would start show prepping, pack and then it was back in the car for the 4 hrs back down to MD. Plus I think it’s the only morning show in the country that starts at 5am instead of 6am and getting up at 3 wears you down. Add in that I missed every funeral, graduation, Confirmation, birthday party or life event that didn’t take place on a Saturday and I decided it was time for a change. Being able to work remotely for the last 14 months really opened my eyes to quality of life and I chose living with my husband in the house I’m paying for, seeing friends again and living as opposed to money. Don’t know where I’m going from here, but for now, I just want to read a NON-POLITICAL book, turn off the news and attend to things that have been ignored for 4 years.”

Dan Bongino to Host FOX News Channel Weekend Show. Nationally syndicated talk radio host and regular FOX News Channel contributor Dan Bongino is getting his own weekend talk show on FOX News Channel. Bongino – whose 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET radio show is syndicated by Westwood One – will host a 10:00 pm ET Saturday show on FNC beginning June 5. Bongino is a former Secret Service agent who’s been serving as an FNC contributor since 2019. Additionally, Bongino’s Westwood One radio program will be streamed by FOX Nation beginning May 25.

RTDNA/Newhouse School Study: More Local Radio News in 2020. The first installment of this year’s RTDNA/Newhouse School at Syracuse University study has been released as it focuses on the quantity of local news in television and radio. With regard to radio, the study finds, “More radio stations report running local news in 2020, with an increase among AM stations offsetting a slight decrease among FM stations. 70.4% of radio survey respondents overall report airing local news, though stations with news may be more likely to participate in the survey.” Going a bit further in depth, the study finds that “the average number of weekday minutes of news went up overall by less than four minutes, with all market sizes except medium markets going up modestly. Last year, medium markets led a small overall increase in local news. Weekday median – or typical – number of minutes is now fairly close from one market size to the next… The reason that the average weekday minutes in major markets is so much higher than all others is because that’s where most of the all-news stations are. Note that those stations have little effect on the median or typical number of minutes. The percentage of stations that increased the amount of local news rose by more than 10 points compared to a year ago. The percentage decreasing local news stayed about the same. The bigger the staff and the bigger the market, the more likely that local news content increased. Non-commercial stations were twice as likely to increase the amount of local news (44.1% to 21.1%) compared to commercial ones. Stations in the West were more likely to increase local news than any other region. Otherwise, no other variable made any consistent difference one way or the other.” See more here.

IAB: Podcast Revenue to Exceed $1 Billion This Year, $2 Billion by 2023. This is the fourth annual IAB U.S. Podcast Advertising Revenue study, prepared for IAB by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (and sponsored by audio firms including Audacy, Cumulus Media, and iHeartMedia), and it predicts that podcasting revenue will “grow as much in the next two years as it did in the past decade.” The medium had a strong fourth quarter of 2020 (up 37% year-over-year). In 2020, podcast revenue was $842 million compared to $708 million in 2019. The study results in the prediction that podcast revenue will hit $1 billion by the end of this year and $2 billion by 2023. Among the study’s findings: dynamic ad insertion is growing rapidly – it accounted for 48% of revenue in 2019 and 67% in 2020. It also reveals that annual buys decreased by 5% from 2019 to 2020 while remnant buys increased by 6%. Cost-per-thousand is still king as 93% of podcast revenue was based on CPM while series ownership dipped from 10% of revenue in 2019 to 5% in 2020 (flat fee accounted for 2%). When it comes to podcast genre, news is still the top dog accounting for 22% of revenue in 2020. However, the genre of science jumped from just 3% of podcast revenue in 2019 to 12% in 2020. See the complete study here.

iHeartMedia and Catalina Partner for Measurement of Offline Sales. This partnership between iHeartMedia and Catalina will help the former “measure and attribute the impact of podcast advertising on offline sales in physical stores, which continue to represent the majority of CPG (consumer package goods) purchases.” Catalina describes itself as “a leader in shopper intelligence and omni-channel media solutions that personalize the shopper journey.” In a press release, the companies say, “To date, podcast measurement capabilities have helped advertisers understand the impact of an ad campaign on brand lift metrics like purchase intent or message recall, as well as attribution of digital user activity such as website visits from those listeners exposed to that campaign. Now, CPG partners will also gain visibility into the true offline sales impact of their marketing dollars within podcasting.” In addition, as part of this data partnership Catalina will provide iHeartMedia with audiences and measurement services within iHeartMedia’s SmartAudio platform, for CPG ad campaigns that air on the latter’s linear and streaming radio programming. iHeartMedia EVP of national research David Shiffman says, “We have been impressed with Catalina’s ability to deliver highly-scaled, extensive data and insights for CPG advertisers, enabling them to measure the effectiveness of their brand messaging on in-store sales. We continue to focus on cross-platform measurement and attribution capabilities for advertisers and now in partnership with Catalina we can provide CPG advertisers tools to maximize their podcast campaigns’ ROI, with measurement and attribution solutions to more effectively plan and execute their multi-platform audio campaigns.”

WABC ‘The Other Side of Midnight’ host Frank Morano Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Overnight host Frank Morano of WABC, New York is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne production, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Morano is one of the rarest species of on-air talent in the radio business today – he is the host of a live and local all-night radio show. There are several syndicated all-night shows that are heard on hundreds of stations by millions of listeners… but very few live and local for people working all-night or just spending what could be isolated or lonely time comforted by the intimate company of a radio delivering the voices of nearby people, in real time, right there in their local city or community. When business titan, former NYC mayoral candidate and radio broadcasting maverick John Catsimatidis took ownership of WABC in 2019, he began instituting a number of innovative programming changes including, in 2020, restoring the lost tradition of broadcasting overnights with a live, local, and extremely engaged host. Morano is the perfect radio broadcaster to carry out that mission. He’s a relatively young broadcaster with a long history of loving and studying radio and he sounds great on the air. Don’t miss this insightful conversation! To listen to the podcast in its entirety please click here.

GOP vs Cheney/Influence of Trump, COVID-19, Pipeline Hack, Israel-Hamas Fighting, Voting Rights Bill, Stocks Decline/Inflation Fears, and Border Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/12). Republicans oust U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership role in the party and former President Donald Trump’s influence on the GOP; the rate of COVID cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy, and CDC guidelines; the hack of the Colonial Pipeline and the resulting gas shortage in the Southeast; the violence between Israel and Hamas and concerns about an all-out war breaking out; the debate in the U.S. Senate over President Joe Biden’s For the People voting rights act; this week’s decline in the stock market and fears of inflation; and the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

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.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

| April 29, 2021

RTDNA/Newhouse School: 2020 A Dangerous Year for Journalists. The annual survey of broadcast newsrooms from the RTDNA and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University notes that during the past year, the job of seeking and reporting the truth became increasingly dangerous. “Journalists were threatened, assaulted and arrested at an alarming rate while on the job. We faced unprecedented levels of verbal and physical violence at the hands of civilians, police and the leaders we are meant to hold accountable.” This is the first year that the survey included a section on media safety. The survey’s research team says it wanted to understand how repeated, targeted acts of violence have impacted newsrooms across the country and learned that one in five television news directors reported attacks on employees. 86% of news directors changed newsroom procedures to protect employees. They purchased bullet-proof vests and gas masks and more often sent security teams with reporters. As far as radio is concerned, the study concludes, “Not surprisingly, the level of attacks at radio stations and on radio news people is much lower. Four percent of radio news directors and general managers reported attacks on newsroom employees. It was primarily a problem in major markets, with one million and more people, where 13.8% of news directors and general managers reported attacks on employees.” You can see the complete survey here. Commenting on the study, National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “Broadcast journalists play an essential role in documenting pivotal moments in American history from the front lines. That has never been more important than during the past year. NAB is gravely troubled by this study reporting the unprecedented level of harassment, intimidation and violence directed at journalists covering the historical events of 2020. These unacceptable attacks on our nation’s free press undermine our very democracy by preventing journalists’ ability to report the facts and keep the public informed. We are grateful to the dedicated broadcast journalists bringing the truth to Americans during these dangerous times.”

Nick Craig to Host Mornings on WAAV-AM, Cape Fear. Beginning May 3, Nick Craig begins hosting “Wilmington’s Morning News with Nick Craig” on Cumulus Media’s news/talk/sports WAAV-AM, Cape Fear, North Carolina “980 The WAAV.” The station says the show is “a live and local morning show hosted by fresh conservative talk personality Nick Craig. The show focuses on the day’s biggest stories including Wilmington and the Cape Fear region. The show will feature a wide variety of topics, guests, and listener interaction.” Cumulus Wilmington VP and market manager Eric McCart comments, “We’re excited to have Nick join our 980 WAAV Cumulus family! He brings a fresh new energy and excitement to weekday mornings that our listeners will really enjoy. If it’s happening in Wilmington and the Cape Fear region, it’s happening on Wilmington’s Morning News with Nick Craig!” Craig adds, “Traveling on the road paved by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, I’m excited to bring the next generation of conservative talk to the Wilmington region and beyond. To be part of a legacy talk station like WAAV and Cumulus Media is quite the opportunity at my age. Looking forward to using these platforms to engage and interact with traditional talk listeners and the next generation.”

Ron Slay Joins WGFX-FM, Nashville’s Afternoon Drive Show. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces that former University of Tennessee basketball star Ron Slay is joining the “3HL” afternoon drive program alongside current hosts Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport. Paul Mason is program director for the Cumulus Media station, and he says, “Our listeners have made it clear that they want us to hire Ron Slay. I am happy to say we listened, and we are thrilled Ron Slay will be joining Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport on ‘3HL.’ ‘3HL’ is already a great show and I look forward to seeing it go to even higher levels.” Slay comments, “I am both delighted and eager to join the ‘104.5 The Zone’ and ‘3HL’ families. I hope to bring joy, energy, and insight to Nashville sports enthusiasts each day.”

SiriusXM Reports 2021 Q1 Financials; Revenue Up 5%. Satellite radio and digital audio broadcaster SiriusXM releases its financial data for the first quarter of 2021 and reports total revenue of $2.06 billion, a 5% increase from the $1.95 billion reported during the same period a year ago. However, net income for the quarter was $219 million, a decline of 29% from the $293 million reported in Q1 of 2020. SiriusXM added 126,000 self-pay subscribers to hit its all-time high of 31 million self-pay subscribers. New chief executive officer Jennifer Witz comments, “I am pleased to announce SiriusXM has started the year impressively – we added 126,000 self-pay net subscribers, an 83% increase as compared to the period a year ago, saw a first quarter record-low churn rate of 1.6%, and are reporting a new record-high quarterly adjusted EBITDA figure.  These strong results reflect the value we bring to our listeners through the breadth and depth of our content. Our advertising revenue grew 24%, driven by robust monetization of both on- and off-platform opportunities, as well as the growing podcast market. While we are benefiting from the broader reopening of the economy and the acceleration of consumers’ digital adoption, the meaningful long-term investments we’ve been making are also paying off. This includes creating and delivering compelling content, strengthening our digital product experiences, and scaling a full suite of end-to-end distribution and monetization solutions for content creators and publishers. We are extremely focused on achieving our 2021 goals and reinforcing our long-term position as North America’s premier audio entertainment company. Across SiriusXM, Pandora and Stitcher, we have added new channels, shows, hosts, and podcasts, enhancing the expertly curated audio entertainment experience across all formats from music to sports… We are working with highly regarded creators on new podcasts; earlier this week we announced the acquisition of 99% Invisible, the acclaimed and popular podcast from Roman Mars and his creator team. This was our first year as the exclusive audio broadcaster of the Masters Tournament, and we have expanded our streaming rights with both the NBA and MLB. We also created special music and talk programming that honored both Black History and Women’s History months back-to-back.”

RAB Announces ‘Radio Works for Automotive’ Presentations. As part of RAB’s Business Accelerated initiative, it is presenting a two-part live series for May’s featured automotive category, one of radio’s most important advertising categories. The first presentation titled, “What’s Driving the Auto Industry?” takes place at 1:00 pm ET on May 19. As Americans return to school and work, the demand for vehicles grows. Parts shortages, as well as chip scarcity, are hindering inventory on lots and yet, auto sales remain high despite the supply-demand imbalance. In this presentation, hear from experts in both automotive and auto dealership industries including Tyson Jominy, vice president, data and analytics, J.D. Power, and Dick Parrish, dealership management consultant, NADA, who will share insights into the auto industry’s growth and challenges. The second live presentation will feature broadcasters discussing automotive client success stories to help sellers prospect and support their clients. The session, titled “Radio Works for Automotive Part 2,” takes place at 1:00 pm ET on May 26. The presentation will also be available for on-demand viewing. Both presentations are free for RAB members. You can register here.

TALKERS News Notes. The Media Sales Institute announces its strategic alliance with Media Staffing Network that will bring MSN’s media recruiter’s expertise to the MSI curriculum at the 2021 NABOB MSI, being held at the Atlanta University Center and hosted by Morehouse College from October 25 to November 4, 2021. Media Staffing Network founder and CEO Laurie Kahn comments, “With our tutelage, we can better prepare the MSI graduates to address the position for which they are applying. Sadly, many colleges and universities are not as up to date on what a recent graduate should include on their resumes. Nor do they teach their students how to best stand out and showcase their value when they have little to no work experience.”…..iHeartMedia and media personality Chelsea Handler have entered into a deal for a new podcast called “Dear Chelsea” to be produced as a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast.  The comedian, best-selling author, and television host will give listeners the opportunity to submit questions about life and get candid answers on the podcast. “Dear Chelsea” – also featuring Handler’s co-host and longtime assistant Brandon Marlo – debuts on May 6. Handler says, “iHeartRadio has been a great place for me to share all of my wild, unvarnished thoughts. I’m excited to start this journey with ‘Dear Chelsea’ to help people figure out what they need in life – I’m more than happy to be that kick in the pants or shove that will give someone a new perspective on a situation and help them to make a decision.”…..SiriusXM announces it is again offering listeners nationwide comprehensive coverage of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday (5/1). SiriusXM, through its broadcasting agreement with Horse Racing Radio Network, airs all Triple Crown races – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes – as well as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The wire-to-wire race broadcast of the Kentucky Derby is provided by NBC Sports Audio Network and produced in collaboration with HRRN.

Biden Addresses Congress, COVID-19, Police Violence, Fed Search Giuliani’s Home and Office, John Kerry Iran Allegation, Feds Investigate Direct Energy Attack, and Boris Johnson Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/28). President Joe Biden’s address to Congress and his wide-ranging $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the rate of COVID cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the exploding cases in India; the spate of high-profile cases of deadly police violence against citizens; the FBI’s search of former NYC mayor and former Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s home and office in an investigation of his ties to Ukraine; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry shared Israeli military intelligence with Iran; the Pentagon’s investigation into a mysterious “direct energy attack” near the White House; and the scandal over Boris Johnson’s refurbishing of 10 Downing St. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.