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Friday, September 24, 2021

| September 24, 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, “French Disconnection,” looks back at this past week of 9/20 – 9/24. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Gary Sutton, talk show host, WSBA, York, PA; Murray Sabrin, Ph.D., professor emeritus of finance, Ramapo College of New Jersey; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/physician; Joe Garner, author, historian, president, Garner Creative Concepts and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

 

USA Radio Networks CEO Fred Weinberg Passes. Broadcasting executive Fred Weinberg, CEO of USA Radio Networks passed away last night (9/23). Weinberg had a distinguished career as an owner of stations in the Tulsa/Claremore area of Oklahoma, Las Vegas, and other smaller Nevada markets. His company was also the operator of KBDT-AM, Dallas; KXEG, Phoenix; KQSP, Minneapolis; and KNNR-AM, Reno. He acquired USA Radio Networks in 2018. TALKERS founder Michael Harrison states, “Fred Weinberg was an outstanding example of the special breed of independent radio station owner/operator that has kept this increasingly corporatized industry rooted in its communities and accessible to entrepreneurial business visionaries motivated by their love of the medium. He operated two of our affiliates for “The Michael Harrison Wrap” – KBDT-AM in Dallas, and KQSP in Minneapolis. We are proud to have been associated with this colorful individual and to be carried on his fine stations.” Janet Bro, USA COO and longtime friend of Weinberg’s said, “Fred was one of the smartest guys in the business. In 1974 Fred’s father, dean of engineering at Bradley University, fired him from his position of station manager at campus radio station WCBU-FM where we worked. He told him, ‘If you want your own effin radio station, go buy your own effin radio station.’ So he did and never looked back.” Weinberg is survived by his wife, Charlotte, son Stephen and daughter Randi Alarid. A memorial service will be held in Reno on November 6. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Weinberg Family Scholarship fund at Bradley University in Fred’s name.

 

Saga Communications Adds Markley, Van Camp & Robbins to Five Talk Stations. The Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated “Markley, Van Camp & Robbins” show – co-hosted by Jamie Markley, David van Camp and Scott Robbins – is being added to the programming lineup at five news/talk stations owned by Saga Communications. WHCU-AM, Ithaca; WINA-AM, Charlottesville, Virginia; WNZE-AM, Clarksville, Tennessee; WSVA-AM, Harrisonburg, Virginia; and WTAX-AM, Springfield, Illinois are airing the show as part of their daily lineup. Saga Communications group program director Scott Chase says, “We’re excited about welcoming ‘Markley, Van Camp & Robbins’ to the Saga family. They have a fresh approach and do a great job covering the important topics while being upbeat, professional, and entertaining.”

 

Katie Hoyt Promoted to Market President for iHeartMedia Salisbury. Sales and management pro Katie Hoyt is promoted to market president for iHeartMedia’s Salisbury, Maryland station group that includes news/talk WJDY-AM and sports talk WTGM-AM “FOX Sports 960” and four music brands. Hoyt rises from her most recent position with the Salisbury cluster as SVP of sales. iHeartMedia area president for Pennsylvania Brit Goldstein says, “Katie has done an incomparable job inspiring and leading the Salisbury sales team. This elevation is much deserved, and I look forward to partnering with Katie and the market team in achieving even greater accomplishments.” Hoyt comments, “I’m excited for what the future has in store for the Salisbury and the Eastern Shore markets. I also want to give kudos to my staff and most importantly my mentors along the way who have helped me get where I am today.”

Podcaster’s Grant Aids in Arrest of Serial Rape Suspect. The efforts of audiochuck network founder and CEO Ashley Flowers have helped arrest a suspect in a series of rapes in Indiana. Flowers, who is also host of the popular “Crime Junkie” podcast, founded the non-profit Season of Justice that provides financial grants to law enforcement agencies and victims as well as their families to help solve cold cases. One of these grants, provided to Central Indiana Law Enforcement, assisted in the arrest of serial rape suspect Darrell Goodlow, who was arrested on September 17 in connection with the sexual assaults of at least eight women dating back to August 2020. The grant enabled law enforcement to pursue advanced DNA testing resources for these cases. Flowers says, “I started Season of Justice to help bring some sense of closure to crime victims and their families. I’m beyond appreciative of the passionate and engaged fans that follow our podcasts. Their support of our victim advocacy efforts continues to propel the mission forward.” audiochuck podcasts are represented by AdLarge Media in the audio ad marketplace.

TALKERS News Notes. Four new programs are added to the Sunday lineup at SiriusXM’s Urban View channel, effective 9/26. “The Qasim Rashid Show,” focusing on racial, economic, and gender justice airs at 10:00 am ET. “The Dr. Robin Show” – hosted by Dr. Robin Smith – addresses today’s “most pressing societal challenges through fearless, soulful conversations” and airs at 11:00 am ET. “The Shelly Bell Show” features the entrepreneur and founder of Black Girl Venture speaking about entrepreneurship, career growth, all things money, wellness, and pop culture. It airs at 12:00 noon ET. And “Bigger Than Politics with Shermichael Singleton” addresses issues at the intersection of politics and culture. It airs at 1:00 pm ET…..Audacy’s newly launched 2400Sports podcast studio presents the first original podcast in partnership with Major League Baseball titled, “The Run: 2016 Chicago Cubs.” The documentary podcast, from executive producer Jody Avirgan, is hosted by comedian and “The Daily Show” correspondent Roy Wood Jr. and baseball analyst and WSCR “670 The Score” host Matt Spiegel…..Audacy’s Cadence13 launches “Tell Me with Ellen Pompeo,” in which the star of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” has “candid conversations with a wide range of guests – celebrity and otherwise – giving a platform to important voices and shining a light on people and topics important to her and the world-at-large.”…..Public media organization GBH names Lee Hill the first executive editor for GBH News. Hill is the executive producer for “The Takeaway,” produced by WNYC in which he oversees editorial strategy, production, and planning of content across platforms for the daily national news program…..WABC, New York is welcoming local crooner and entertainer Vinnie Medugno to its music radio weekend lineup. His show “Your Cousin Vinnie” airs 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm beginning this Saturday, with hits from the 60s and 70s. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Vinnie has been a terrific fill-in talent for WABC, and our music radio listeners love him. Bringing Vinnie on board for a weekly Saturday show was the natural next step. Vinnie playing the hits from the 60s and 70s is a perfect lead-in to ‘Cousin Brucie’s Saturday Night Rock & Roll Party’ and ‘Saturday Nights withTony Orlando.’”

COVID-19 Boosters, Vaccines, Masks, Mandates & Politics Top News/Talk Story for Week of September 20-24. The approval of booster shots for some Americans, the large unvaccinated population, mask & vaccine mandates, and the politics of COVID-19 combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the meeting of the UN General Assembly and President Joe Biden’s address, tied with the strained U.S.-France relations over the Australian nuclear sub deal. Following at #3 was the state of the U.S. economy and the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion spending plan. 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.

 

 

Audacy Seeks Co-Host for Boston Red Sox Podcast. A podcast co-host is being sought for a yet-to-be-titled Boston Red Sox show that will launch as a result of Audacy’s partnership with Major League Baseball and the launch of Audacy’s third podcast studio 2400Sports. The co-host will be paired alongside newly hired host Steven Perrault, who joins Audacy from Barstool Sports, and will be counted on to provide their unique, engaged, and passionate perspective during each show. The show will break down some of the top storylines, rumors, and subplots happening in and around the team. Additionally, with access to current and former Red Sox personnel, the show will look to reach fans with unparalleled affection and vigor. See more about the position and apply here.

Alpha Media Portland Seeks Content Director. There’s an excellent opportunity for an experienced content director at Alpha Media Portland. The company is looking for a content director for news/talk 101.1 KXL, sports talk 750 KXTG – “The Game” and talk 970 AM KUFO – “Freedom” and for a corporate executive with involvement of key talk talent and stations. Alpha says, “We’re looking for someone with experience programming winning news/talk, talk and sports stations that thrive with content and entertainment in the digital world. The ideal candidate must possess an extremely good work ethic, be a self-starter who is highly organized with the ability to work in a fast-paced environment and have strong leadership skills. Alpha Media owns or operates 207 radio stations in 44 markets across the United States and is a diverse, multimedia company sharing music, sports and news across a variety of platforms. We believe in creating progressive products, world-class events and building strong relationships in our communities. See more about this position and apply here.

Pensacola News/Talk Outlet NewsRadio 92.3/ AM1620 WNRP Seeks Program Director. Pensacola, Florida news/talk outlet WNRP “NewsRadio 92.3/AM1620” has an immediate opening for a program director. ADX Communications says, “Enjoy life working in a beach paradise on the pristine Gulf Coast of Florida’s NW panhandle. Lead our award-winning, full-service news/talker “NewsRadio 92.3/ AM1620” WNRP in Pensacola, Florida to the next level. We have an immediate opening for a forward-thinking program director. We’ve won seven Murrow Awards, nine Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists awards, and this year we’re nominated for a Marconi. We’re ready to take our experienced talk and news pros to the next level and grow our presence on-air, promotionally and on our social media platforms. News-based talk hosting/producing, creative production and technical trouble shooting are plusses. Must be organized, detail-oriented and with good staff communication skills. Our locally owned, independent owners are committed to live, local news and talk programming, and community-oriented promotions. The ADX Communications group also includes CatCountry98.7, 1330 ESPN Pensacola and Playlist 94.5. 401k/health/dental/vision plans available. Send audio or audio link with resume to aschiller@newsradio1620.com. EOE.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

| August 5, 2021

Beasley Broadcast Group Second Quarter Net Revenue Up 96%. Reporting its financial data for the second quarter of 2021, Beasley Broadcast Group (parent company of Beasley Media Group) indicates net revenue was $59.6 million, an increase of 96.1% over the same period in 2020. The company posts operating income of $5.8 million compared to the $17.6 million operating loss it reported in Q2 of 2020. Station operating income also rebounded to $11.1 million compared to the $11 million SOI loss it posted in the same period a year ago. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Beasley’s strong 2021 second quarter financial results reflect growing momentum across our media platform, as the continuing broad-based economic recovery accelerated demand from consumers and advertisers for our premium content and marketing and advertising services. With the significant rebound in the commercial advertising market, second quarter net revenue of $59.6 million increased 24% over first quarter 2021 levels and 96% over the comparable prior year period. Top line growth combined with the meaningful actions we have taken over the past year to permanently reduce costs and improve operating efficiencies, resulted in a significant rebound in net income to $0.2 million and SOI to $11.1 million, as well as positive free cash flow of approximately $1.0 million. Throughout the second quarter, the resumption of advertising in key categories combined with the success of our content monetization strategies resulted in year-over-year revenue growth across all fifteen of our markets, with healthy double-digit revenue increases in Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia and Wilmington. Notably, our continued emphasis on strong local content and consumer engagement drove best-in-industry ratings performance for our station clusters, according to Nielsen. Our cumulative on-air audience share approached pre-pandemic levels in the second quarter, having grown consistently since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. While second quarter non-traditional revenue (NTR) and events revenue was minimal, we made the strategic decision to fully re-open our events business in the third quarter, given the continued strengthening of commerce and consumer activities in our markets, and expect incremental revenue from this source in the second half of 2021. As we work to return all of our revenue sources to pre-pandemic levels of operation, we are closely tracking potential impacts from the Delta variant and the uncertainty it may bring to businesses we serve and our future operating results. Our ongoing focus on digital innovation and the strategic investments we are making in our digital and esports infrastructure and content production capabilities are delivering positive results and continue to highlight the value of our long-term revenue and cash flow diversification strategies. Growing consumer and advertiser demand for Beasley’s digital audio content drove a 96% year-over-year increase in digital revenue, with digital accounting for approximately 13.4% of total second quarter revenue, compared to 13.4% in the prior year period and 12% in the 2021 first quarter. With growing audience share and engagement, Beasley’s digital network delivered record digital audience impressions in the second quarter, with total digital impressions growing 29% over the prior year period.”

Salem Media Group Q2 2021 Total Revenue Rises 20.6%. The total revenue for Salem Media Group’s second quarter of 2021 was $63.8 million, an increase of 20.6% over the same period in 2020. Salem posted operating income of $5.6 million for the quarter, compared to the operating loss of $900,000 it reported during the second quarter of 2020. The company’s net income for Q2 of this year was $2.3 million compared to the net loss of $2.5 million it reported for the second quarter of 2020. Salem Media Group reports data for its three business segments and the Broadcast segment’s net revenue for this quarter was $46.8 million, up 18.5% from the same period a year ago. Station operating income rose 66.6% to $10.6 million. The Digital Media segment saw revenue rise 9.5% to $10.3 million and the Publishing segment revenue was $6.7, an increase of 68.3%. As of June 30, 2021, the Salem Media Group had $216.3 million outstanding on the 6.75% senior secured notes due 2024, no balance outstanding on the Asset Based Revolving Credit Facility, and $11.2 million outstanding on Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans from the Small Business Administration.

Saga Communications Q2 Net Revenue Up 49.7%. Second quarter financial data from Saga Communications, Inc. reveals that the company’s net revenue was $28 million, an increase of 49.7% over the same period in 2020. The company posted operating income of $4.6 million compared to the operating loss of $8.6 million it reported in the second quarter of 2020.  Station operating expense increased $2.4 million to $21.0 million for the quarter compared to the same period last year. Station operating income was $8.4 million for the quarter compared to a loss of $181,000 for the second quarter of 2020. Free cash flow was $4.2 million for the quarter compared to a negative $1.8 million for the same period last year. Saga’s balance sheet reflects $59.4 million in cash on hand as of June 30, 2021 and $59.6 million as of August 2, 2021.  The company’s total bank debt remained at $10 million as of the end of the second quarter 2021.

Urban One Second Quarter Net Revenue Climbs 41.6%. Today’s second quarter 2021 financial report from Urban One, Inc., parent company of Radio One, indicates the company’s net revenue was approximately $107.6 million, an increase of 41.6% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $49.6 million, an increase of 64.3% from the same period in 2020. Urban One reports operating income of approximately $37.9 million for Q2 of 2021, compared to approximately $20.4 million for the same period in 2020. Net income was approximately $17.9 million compared to approximately $1.4 million for the second quarter of 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins, III says, “Overall we had an extremely strong second quarter; not only was Adjusted EBITDA up 82.4% year-over-year, but we also surpassed our Q2 2019 pre-pandemic Adjusted EBITDA. We are experiencing unprecedented advertiser interest in our audience across the entire Urban One platform. The radio advertising business saw a robust rebound from the worst impacts of the pandemic in Q2 2020, with segment revenues up by 73% and radio syndication revenues up 50.2%. We also benefitted from strong TV scatter markets, with TV advertising revenues up 21.3% in the quarter; furthermore, registered interest in our 2021-22 TV upfront sales presentations has also been extremely encouraging, which will help our fourth quarter revenue performance. Demand for our digital products remains high, with digital revenues up by 147.9% for the quarter and Adjusted EBITDA up by over $6 million; a significant help to our top and bottom-line growth. For Q3, our core radio business excluding political is currently pacing up by over 40%, and we are comfortable increasing our FY21 Adjusted EBITDA guidance to mid-$130 million, excluding casino chase costs. During the quarter we completed the second tranche of our Class A ATM share sale program, which yielded $21.2 million net of fees. This cash influx further strengthened our balance sheet, and we ended the quarter with $129.8 million of cash on hand, which is a healthy place to be ahead of the exciting new investment opportunity in the One Casino & Resort in Richmond, Virginia.”

Ralph Nader is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  Legendary consumer advocate, political activist, prolific author, Pacifica radio talk show host and five-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Nader engage in a fascinating discussion about “left/right political thinking” in America as well as social and business changes influenced by advancements in technology, plus more. Nader says working class Democrats and Republicans alike have far more in common than they have differences and that unbridled corporatism is the true enemy of the poor and working class regardless of race or political ideology. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

NAB Announces 2021 Marconi Finalists. The finalists for the 2021 Marconi Awards have been announced. The news/talk Station of the Year finalists are: WSB-AM, Atlanta; WTOP-FM, Washington; KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri; WLW-AM, Cincinnati; and KNX-AM, Los Angeles. (NAB lumps all-news and news/talk stations into the same category.) WSB-AM, Atlanta is also up for Legendary Station of the Year. Talk radio hosts making the finals include, for Major Market Personality of the Year, George Dunham, Craig Miller, and Gordon Keith from sports talk KTCK-AM, Dallas “The Ticket.” In the Large Market Personality of the Year category, finalists include: WFLA-AM, Tampa’s Jack Harris; WBAL-AM, Baltimore’s C4 and Bryan Nehman; WHPT-FM, Tampa’s Mike Calta; and WWTN-FM, Nashville’s Dan Mandis. Medium Market Personality of the Year category finalists include: KRMG-FM, Tulsa’s Dan Potter; KIDO-AM, Boise’s Kevin Miller; KYKX-FM, Tyler, Texas’ Harlen the Sports Guy and Pigskin Bob; and WHO-AM, Des Moines’ Simon Conway. See all the finalists here.

TALKERS News Notes. Next Tuesday (8/10), McVay Media’s Mike McVay is joining Loyd Ford from Rainmaker Pathway Consulting Works, LLC for “The Radio State Of The Union Live Event” on The Encouragers on Clubhouse. It’s being billed as “a frank discussion about employment, job search, career management, corporate & local radio and the future” and takes place at 7:00 pm ET. Ford says, “We have been discussing the people we love in this business, the talent. This is a unique time in our history. If you are on the talent side of the business, it takes some skill to navigate your way through what is happening. I reached out to Mike because he really does have such deep experience and knows radio as a talent, a consultant and someone who ran programming for one of the largest broadcasters in the country. Plus, he’s willing (like I am) to be candid. This will be a conversation with red meat and a lot of helpful hacks to get ahead, stay balanced and help others.”…..Legendary WGN-AM and WGN-TV sports producer Jack “Rosey” Rosenberg will be recognized by the City of Chicago with an honorary street sign. The southeast corner of E. Illinois Street and Cityfront Plaza Drive will double as “Jack Rosenberg Way.” Rosenberg’s career at WGN began in 1954 where he was a producer, news writer, and sports editor and worked with celebrated sports voices including Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, Vince Lloyd, Lou Boudreau, and others. WGN says, “Rosey was a pioneer in modern sports production and broadcasting and is credited with its development. While Rosey himself was rarely heard on-air, the sound of his typewriter clacking in the background was unmistakable.” Rosenberg died December 26, 2020 at the age of 94…..Futuri announces the launch of AdMatic, “a revolutionary system that helps podcast platforms and creators make their content more discoverable and monetizable using advanced metadata sorting and deployment.” Futuri CEO Daniel Anstandig adds, “Two million podcasts all have the same problem: poor metadata sorting that leads to mismatched recommendations for listeners and ineffective advertising for businesses. AdMatic solves this by using Futuri’s AI-driven technology to individually categorize podcast episodes and align with the businesses and products that best match on a case-by-case basis, rather than the hopelessly broad one-size-fits-all approach we currently see in the market.”

COVID-19 Delta Variant/Outbreaks & Mask Policies, Eviction Moratorium, Cuomo Allegations-Impeachment Possibility, Infrastructure Bill, January 6 Investigation, the Tokyo Olympic Games, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/4). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in numerous U.S. states, governors under fire and mask policies; President Joe Biden’s moratorium on evictions; the allegations of sexual impropriety against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the possibility of his being impeached; the bi-partisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; the Tokyo Olympics; and the California wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

| June 22, 2021

Round Four of May PPM Survey Results Released. The fourth and final round of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM sweep has been released for 12 markets: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Mike Kinosian presents his “Ratings Takeaways” from these markets. After ballooning by more than four full-shares in April 2021 (5.6 – 9.7, +4.1, 6+), the highest (6+) gain by any station in all 48 PPM markets (March 2021 – April 2021), Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ relinquishes one-half share to 9.2 (6+). Even so, “Wisconsin’s Radio Station” is the solitary mainstream news/talker from these 12 metros to achieve #1 status (May 2021, 6+). Cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WISN “News Talk 1130” forfeits eight-tenths (7.4 – 6.6, fourth to third, 6+). In other head-to-head news/talk battles, iHeartMedia Raleigh’s WTKK “106.1 FM Talk” improves by two-tenths (5.0 – 5.2, seventh to sixth, 6+), while Curtis Media Group-owned WPTF “News Radio 680” gains three-tenths (1.8 – 2.1, #16 to #14, 6+). Nashville’s format share dips a combined seven-tenths: Cumulus Media’s WWTN “Super Talk 99.7” (7.1 – 6.7, third to fourth, 6+) and iHeartMedia-owned WLAC “Talk Radio 1510” 2.2 – 1.9, flat at #17, 6+) drop four-tenths and three-tenths, respectively. At the same that Cumulus Media Providence’s WPRO-AM & WEAN “News Talk 630 AM & 99.7 FM” sheds two-tenths (4.8 – 4.6, sixth to seventh, 6+), cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WHJJ “News Radio 920” improves by that margin (.7 – .9, #21 to #19, 6+). West Palm Beach is a completely mixed bag: iHeartMedia’s WJNO “News Radio 1290” is up one-half share (3.0 – 3.5, ninth to seventh, 6+); cluster-mate WZZR “92.1 Real Radio” surrenders eight-tenths (2.0 – 1.2, #13 to #17, 6+); and Hubbard Broadcasting-owned WFTL “News Talk 850” is flat at 2.0 (steady at #13, 6+). Three Hartford news/talk facilities populate the top 20: Audacy’s WTIC-AM “News Talk 1080” (5.1 – 4.7, -.4, flat at #8, 6+); Red Wolf Broadcasting-owned WDRC-AM “The Talk of Connecticut” (1.0 – .8, -.2, stays at #15); and iHeartMedia’s WPOP “News Radio 1410 AM & 100.9 FM” (unchanged at .2, #18 to #17, 6+).  Read Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (and the three previous market groups) here.

Saga Communications Declares A Quarterly Cash Dividend Of $.16 per share. The dividend will be paid in about four weeks (7/16) to shareholders of record on June 30, 2021. It will be funded by cash on the company’s balance sheet. Including this dividend, Saga Communications will have paid over $72 million in dividends to shareholders since the first special dividend nine years ago (2012). Saga currently intends to pay regular quarterly cash dividends as declared by the board of directors. Going forward, the board may also consider declaring special cash dividends, stock dividends, and stock buybacks.

Media Consultant (and TALKERS columnist) Holland Cooke Ties-the-Knot.  Moments after filing this week’s TALKERS Monday Memo column, noted media consultant and TV talk show host Holland Cooke was married to his longtime friend, Sarah Collins. The happy couple is pictured at their private ceremony in Key West, Florida. Ms. Collins is a financial analyst and fellow New Englander.

Audacy Expands Crooked Media Partnership. It does so by carrying “Lovett or Leave It” across Audacy original station Channel Q and the LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network. The podcast will be heard each Monday from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm on Channel Q stations in 32 markets and via the Audacy app, effective next week (6/28). “Lovett or Leave It” is hosted by former President Barack Obama’s speechwriter Jon Lovett and features guests that include comedians, actors, journalists, activists, and politicians. Audacy executive vice president of programming Jeff Sottolano remarks, “The show’s quick and witty flair for discussing the most relevant topics surrounding today’s political and pop culture landscapes is what differentiates itself; we look forward to welcoming the show to the Channel Q family.” Crooked Media senior vice president of programming Sandy Girard states the podcast is “where Jon Lovett talks about everything from the most pressing political and social issues to what everyone is bingeing on TV, to the latest trends in scientific advancement – all with his incredibly intelligent and hilarious point of view. We’re so excited to expand our partnership with Audacy to bring ‘Lovett or Leave It’ to even more listeners around the country and to kick it off with our special Pride episode ‘Out of The Closets and Into the Streets.’” Popular “Lovett or Leave It” segments include “The Rant Wheel,” where each guest delivers a prepared rant to a hot cultural topic, and “The High Notes,” where listeners share personal anecdotes about finding optimism in these challenging times. Lovett co-founded progressive media company Crooked Media with Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor in 2017. He co-created the NBC-TV comedy “1600 Penn” and wrote speeches for former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Newsmax Adds Ellis, Gidley. Former senior legal adviser/personal counsel to Donald Trump Jenna Ellis – and onetime top official in the Trump White House – J. Hogan Gidley – join Newsmax as on-air television contributors. Newsmax chief executive officer Christopher Ruddy comments, “Jenna Ellis brings a sharp mind and pointed legal commentary and constitutional analysis to the workings of our court system as it works to defend our liberties and freedoms. She is a strong addition to our growing lineup. Few know the media, Washington and the future of the GOP better than Hogan Gidley – we’re glad to have him on Newsmax to offer our viewers his valuable insights.” Ellis opines, “Newsmax consistently gives viewers an independent perspective on the news of the day. I look forward to continuing to be part of their coverage and bringing the truth as Americans strive to have their voices heard.” Gidley adds, “I’m extremely grateful to Mr. Ruddy and Newsmax for this new and exciting opportunity. I will draw from my experiences in public service to provide Newsmax viewers my detailed analysis and unvarnished opinion regarding so many difficult issues facing the American people.” Ellis is special counsel with the Thomas More Society and allied attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom. Once the deputy district attorney in Colorado’s Weld County, she hosts a daily podcast, “Just The Truth.” Gidley was deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy White House press secretary in the Trump Administration. In 2020, he joined the Trump re-election campaign as national press secretary. He previously was communications director to Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, senators Elizabeth Dole and Rick Santorum; and was executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party.

Komando To Deliver More Tech Insider Tips. Stemming from an increase in listener demand, Kim Komando will debut a one-minute “Komando Digital Life Tech Tip” in three weeks (7/21). The daily vignette will be offered to stations and streaming services without charge and will carry a 60-second commercial. Komando’s digital insider tips will reportedly include: how to stop robocalls by changing one smartphone setting; ransomware prevention secrets; and the best parental control smartphone apps. Talent management firm Sound Mind’s founder/president Kraig Kitchin comments that Komando – who writes a column for “USA Today” – is “entertaining and helpful; Kim continues to make great radio.” In addition to her weekend three-hour call-in “Kim Komando Show,” which airs on 420 stations (and the American Forces Radio Network) to an estimated 6.5 million listeners, she hosts “Daily Tech Update” seven mornings a week on 389 stations.

TALKERS News Notes: A three-hour CBS Audio Independence Day Special will be available for airing July 2 – 5. Among the topics/guests on the Gil Gross-hosted celebration of America’s Birthday are: Family-safe alternatives to DIY fireworks; behind the scenes of the Capitol Fourth of July Concert with the National Symphony; “The Men Who Lost America” author Andrew O’Shaughnessy on how Great Britain’s bad decision-making helped us win The Revolutionary War; Broadway/TV star Betty Buckley shares her thoughts about “1776, The Musical” reopening with an all-female cast; and  Polish General Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s role in winning the war and his attempt to buy Thomas Jefferson’s slaves in order to set them free … Meanwhile, one of three ABC Audio specials to affiliates for use over the July 4th weekend includes ABC News Radio entertainment correspondent Jason Nathanson-hosted “Press Play.” The three-hour special deals with ways  Americans are having fun this summer as the country begins to reopen. It explores how people are entertaining themselves through the shows they’re watching, the music they’re listening to, and the activities they’re doing. In addition, “Press Play” highlights America’s most rapidly growing sport—Pickleball—and introduces listeners to some of its biggest fans.

Facebook Establishes Live Audio Rooms. Next steps were revealed yesterday (Monday, 6/21) as Facebook pushes into the social audio and podcasting spaces, taking aim at (among others) Clubhouse, iHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter Spaces. Per an Adweek report, the social media platform is “rolling out Live Audio Rooms on iOS for public figures and select Facebook groups in the United States, as well as making select podcasts available to U.S. listeners.” Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms offer a standard set of features. Event hosts appear in profile icons at the top of the screen; listeners appear in the bottom half as smaller icons. There is no limit on the number of listeners allowed in and as many as 50 people are able to speak at once. In addition to live captions, notifications are made when friends or followers join a room. Facebook will use automated technology and human reviewers to moderate content in Live Audio Rooms. According to CNET, “Users who repeatedly violate Facebook’s rules won’t be allowed to create or speak in a Live Audio Room.” Facebook is building new audio tools for creators to develop and launch “Soundbites,” or short-form audio clips that will launch later this year.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

| June 1, 2021

Audacy and Radio America Reach Deal to Syndicate ‘The Dana Show’ to 11 Stations in Multi-Platform Deal. As had been rumored a couple of weeks ago, Audacy and Radio America have agreed to a new, multi-platform deal that will put “The Dana Show,” starring Dana Loesch, on 11 Audacy news/talk stations. In addition to the affiliate clearances, Audacy will become the exclusive audio streaming provider for “The Dana Show” and Loesch will collaborate with Audacy on the development and production of her first-ever, original on-demand podcast. “The Dana Show” will fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart previously held by the late Rush Limbaugh on: KMBZ-AM, Kansas City; KXNT-AM, Las Vegas; WRVA-AM/WTVR-HD2, Richmond; KNSS-AM/FM, Wichita, WSKY-FM, Gainesville, Florida; and WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg. The show will also re-air during various times on WPHT-AM, Philadelphia; KJCE-AM, Austin; WBEN-AM, Buffalo; KFTK-FM, St. Louis; and WTIC-AM, Hartford. Audacy EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano says, “We’re thrilled to partner with Radio America and welcome Dana Loesch to our broadcast and digital platform. Dana is a leading conservative voice and influencer and both her daily live show and future original podcast are terrific additions to our best-in-class news and talk offerings.” Radio America COO Mike Paradiso adds, “During this pivotal moment in talk radio, the partnership with Audacy and Dana’s show is exciting because it represents our shared vision on radio’s future for the news/talk format. Audacy’s leading digital platform is also the perfect fit for Dana’s growing digital audience. We look forward to working closely with Audacy’s content team, led by Jeff Sottolano, to make ‘The Dana Show’ a key element on each of their hugely successful Audacy news/talk stations.” Dana Loesch says of the new deal, “I look forward to working with the great team at Audacy. Their digital platform is a great fit for my streaming and podcast audience and their top-rated radio stations are a phenomenal addition to my loyal radio fan base.”

Pending Business: New Talent, New Rules. Sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, writes in today’s column about the challenges sellers face when a longtime talk talent leaves your station and you are pitching a new program. “This round will be different as many stations try and replace a proven ratings winner with new talent, never before tested in the time period in your market. An audience that has been built up over years may start dial surfing with a newfound curiosity. What happens if audience levels wobble through the short term as your competitor pushes the emergency stop button?” Read his advice here.

Shelby Cassesse to Host Weekend Show on ‘98.7 The Fan’ in Pittsburgh. A piece by Joshua Axelrod in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profiles KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh news anchor Shelby Cassesse who is launching a Sunday morning sports talk show on Audacy’s sister KDKA-FM “98.7 The Fan.” Cassesse will be the first (and only) woman to host a sports talk show on KDKA-FM who was not a contest winner. Her new show will air from 7:00 am to 9:00 am on Sundays on a scattered schedule that is expected to become an every-other-Sunday program. She tells the paper, “When the opportunity was presented to me, it was an instant, ‘Well, yeah, of course I’m going to do this!’ It’s one of the greatest professional opportunities I’ve been given. It’s something I never anticipated doing in my career because I always saw myself as a reporter. It’s truly incredible, and I’m beyond thrilled to be doing it. It’s definitely not lost on me that few women have had this opportunity, especially here in Pittsburgh. I don’t want that to be what people see me as. I’m happy to take on that title, and I’m glad to celebrate it, too, because it needs to be celebrated.”

Saga’s WTAX, Springfield, Illinois Getting New FM Frequency. According to a story in the State Journal-Register, Saga Communications’ news/talk WTAX-AM is getting a full market FM signal as the company will move the station’s programming from FM translator W228DL at 93.5 to the 93.9 frequency occupied by classic hits WQQL-FM. The company has requested a call letter change with the FCC and WQQL will become WTAX-FM. The classic hits format will continue on the 93.5 frequency as “Rewind 93.5” but the station feeding W228DL is not revealed in the story.

Sports Talk ‘ESPN Southwest Florida’ Moves to AM Band. As a result of the growing Hispanic population in Southwest Florida, Beasley Media Group moves the “Playa” adult Hispanic format from WRXK-HD2/W251AL to the 99.3 FM frequency. That bumps the sports format “ESPN Southwest Florida” from 99.3 to WBCN-AM and two FM translators at 101.5 and 104.3.

NPR Brings A Martinez Aboard “Morning Edition.” The NPR program “Morning Edition” is adding A Martínez to its talent on the AM drive news magazine, effective July 6. Martínez has been serving with KPCC-FM, Pasadena and he takes over for David Greene who left the program in 2020. Martínez – who will be based at NPR West in Culver City, California – will join Steve Inskeep, Noel King, and Rachel Martin on the syndicated program that airs on 835 stations. NPR VP of news programming Sarah Gilbert says, “He brings a remarkable record of journalism and empathy that allows him to truly connect with audiences and stories. He brings intelligence, a sense of humor and a deep curiosity that will fit right in with the show’s commitment to telling distinctive stories that make a difference to our understanding of the world.”

WYPR, Baltimore to Acquire WTMD, Towson. Public radio station WYPR, Baltimore “Your Public Radio” is acquiring WTMD, Towson, Maryland from Towson University. According to a report at The Current, WYPR is an “independent community licensee and a top-ranking news/talk station in the market airing local, national and international radio content. WYPR excels in local programming and journalism through outstanding shows like ‘Midday,’ ‘On the Record’ and ‘Out of the Blocks’ as well as its award-winning newsroom.” The station also feeds signals in Frederick, Maryland (WYFP-FM) and Ocean City, Maryland (WYPO-FM). WTMD has been a triple A-formatted station since 2002.

COVID-19/Wuhan Lab Theory, Memorial Day, Miami Concert Shooting, Tulsa Massacre Anniversary, Meat Company Hack, Infrastructure Plan, January 6 Commission, Osaka Withdraws from French Open Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The declining rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about vaccine hesitancy, and growing acceptance of the possibility the coronavirus came from the Wuhan Virology lab; the Memorial Day holiday and honoring those who made the “ultimate sacrifice”; the shooting at a Miami concert venue the killed 2 and wounded dozens of others; the 100th anniversary of Tulsa “Black Wall Street” massacre; the hack of JBS’ U.S. and Australian meat plants; the GOP’s counter-offer to President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan; Senate Republicans kill the January 6 Commission; and Naomi Osaka pulls out of the French Open after refusing to take part in press conferences were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

| May 11, 2021

Saga Communications 2021 First Quarter Net Revenue Down 15.5%. The 2021 first quarter financial report from Saga Communications reveals net revenue for the period was $22.3 million, a decrease of 15.5% from the same period in 2020. Net income was $758,000, a decline of 75% from the net income of $1.68 million posted in Q1 of 2020 (although Saga was one of the few audio companies to post income and not a loss). Station operating expense decreased $3.3 million to $18.9 million for the quarter compared to the same period in 2020. Station operating income was $4.7 million for the quarter compared to $5.5 million for the first quarter last year.  Free cash flow increased 21.4% to $1.8 million for the quarter. Saga Communication’s balance sheet reflects $56.3 million in cash on hand as of March 31, 2021 and $57.4 million as of May 3, 2021. The company’s total bank debt remained at $10 million as of the end of the first quarter 2021.

KCBS-AM, San Francisco Sports Anchor Steve Bitker Announces Retirement. After 30 years as morning drive sports anchor for Audacy’s KCBS-AM, San Francisco, Steve Bitker is retiring after the May 14 broadcast. After graduating from University of California Berkeley, Bitker served as a news writer for KSFO, San Francisco. He worked in Tokyo for three years as a news/sports anchor for Japan’s only English-language TV station – Japanese Cable Television. After returning to the States, he worked for seven years at KNBR, San Francisco before joining KCBS in April of 1991.

Wendy Bell Off WJAS-AM, Pittsburgh for Now. According to a story by WPXI-TV, talk host Wendy Bell is off the air of St. Barnabas Broadcasting’s WJAS-AM, Pittsburgh and Premiere NetworksGlenn Beck show is airing in its place. Bell was an anchor at WTAE-TV, Pittsburgh until 2016 when she was let go after making racially insensitive comments in the wake of a shooting that left five dead. She hosted a talk show at KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh and agreed to exit that station after being suspended for suggesting park rangers “shoot on sight” anyone seen defacing park monuments. The story quotes St. Barnabas Health System director of marketing Michele Bradac saying Bell is off the air due to a personnel matter. “Until the company and she resolve their personnel matter, there’s no way to say” when she might return.

Newsmax TV to Launch ‘Cortes & Pellegrino’ Prime Time Show; Produce Town Hall with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. There’s a new prime-time program launching on Newsmax TV this evening (5/11) at 9:00 pm ET starring former presidential advisor, commentator, and financial expert Steve Cortes and former White House correspondent Jenn Pellegrino. About the new “Cortes & Pellegrino” show, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy says, “We were the only major cable news network to see an overall ratings increase from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, and we did it without a full prime-time. ‘Cortes & Pellegrino’ completes our nightly lineup and will continue our unprecedented growth.” Also at Newsmax, “Spicer & Co” co-hosts Sean Spicer and Lyndsay Keith will air an exclusive Town Hall with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tomorrow (5/12) at 6:00 pm ET. The event takes place at The Villages – the 55-plus community in Sumter County, Florida that boasts almost 80,000 residents – and will feature discussions with a live studio audience of American voters. Sean Spicer says, “Governor DeSantis has proved his resolve and confounded his skeptics over the past year, leading his state to excellence in fostering a thriving economy, rolling out the COVID vaccine, and guarding religious liberty. This Town Hall will give Newsmax viewers deeper insight into the reasons why DeSantis is a true governor of the people.”

TALKERS News Notes. This Memorial Day weekend ABC Audio has the special program “Honor, Hope and Healing,” hosted by correspondent Aaron Katersky, available for affiliate stations. The special honors America’s heroes including military members who died in the line of duty, pandemic front-line workers, grieving families, and others affected by last year’s events. The program dives into the significance of Arlington National Cemetery and features interviews with its regular visitors who come to pay respects to their family and friends…..SiriusXM announces the launch of the “Let’s Get After It with Chris Cuomo Podcast” culled from Cuomo’s SiriusXM show on the P.O.T.U.S. channel that airs daily from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm. The podcast will be available three times a week and features the opening longform segment from the program as a podcast…..Audacy is partnering with independent podcaster Aaron Lammer on today’s release of the first two episodes of his newest project, “Exit Scam: The Death and Afterlife of Gerald Cotten,” a documentary podcast series exploring the 2018 death of Cotten, the founder of Canadian digital currency platform QuadrigaCx. The first episode is available right now everywhere podcasts are available, while the second episode is available exclusively on Audacy. This unique windowing strategy will allow listeners who want more of this thrilling true crime series to get their fix immediately on Audacy where listeners will get early access to episodes before all other platforms…..Blavity Inc., the diversified digital media company behind “AfroTech,” “21Ninety,” “Travel Noire,” “Shadow and Act,” and “Blavity News,” partners with Charlamagne Tha God’s and iHeartMedia’s The Black Effect Podcast Network to distribute its podcast for Black entrepreneurs and moguls in the making titled, “Black Tech Green Money with Will Lucas.” Lucas is an entrepreneur, content creator, and the brand manager at Black tech digital platform AfroTech, the world’s largest Black tech digital platform. The podcast presents the stories of successful Black entrepreneurs and technologists, as well as actionable advice and wealth-building strategies from a Black perspective…..Audacy’s Cadence13 is partnering with bestselling author, activist, and thought leader Glennon Doyle for her “We Can Do Hard Things,” podcast on which she will share stories of her life and explore topics including love, relationships, parenting, mental health, recovery and more.

COVID-19, Cheney vs GOP/Influence of Trump, Pipeline Hack, Gaza Strikes, Gates Divorce Controversy, Golden Globes Troubles Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/10). The rate of positive COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, vaccine hesitancy, and India’s death toll; U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s battle with the GOP over the “stolen election” and Donald Trump’s influence over the party; the hack of the Colonial Pipeline Networks by DarkSide and the effect on gas supplies in the Eastern U.S.; the battle between Israel and Hamas over the potential eviction of Palestinians from Jerusalem; the growing controversy over the divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates and the Jeffery Epstein connection; and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe Awards lose NBC’s broadcast in 2022 over diversity problems were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.