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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

| March 30, 2021

Entercom Changes Corporate Name to Audacy. This change was teased by Entercom on Monday in a tweet but makes the news official today, marking the change from Entercom Communications Corp to Audacy, effective immediately. In a press release, the company says: “Over the past three years, the company has purposefully evolved into a scaled, multi-platform audio content and entertainment organization with the country’s best radio broadcasting group and a leadership position in virtually every segment of the dynamic and growing audio market—including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, network, live experiences, music, sports and news. Audacy is also the #1 creator of original, premium audio content.” Chairman, president and CEO David Field adds, “We have transformed into a fundamentally different and dramatically enhanced organization and so it is time to embrace a new name and brand identity which better reflects who we have become and our vision for the future. ‘Audacy’ captures our dynamic creativity, outstanding content, and innovative spirit as we aspire to build the country’s best audio content and entertainment platform.” The company says its evolution has been fueled by: the acquisition of the CBS Radio group, the launch of RADIO.COM and building the fastest growing digital audio platform, the acquisition of Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, enhancing its sports platform with the acquisition of QL Gaming Group and its partnership with FanDuel, and more. The company’s ticker symbol will change from ETM to AUD effective on or about Friday, April 9. Along with the name Entercom, effective today, the company will also sunset the RADIO.COM brand and align its direct-to-consumer platform under Audacy.

Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM, Saginaw Adds ‘Markley, Van Camp & Robbins’ for Early Afternoons. Saginaw, Michigan news/talk WSGW-AM/FM announces it is filling the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart previously occupied by the Rush Limbaugh program with Compass Media Networks’ “Markley, Van Camp & Robbins Show” featuring Jamie Markley, David Van Camp, and Scott Robbins. The Alpha Media station says in mid-March it switched “from the Rush recordings to this new, live show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. WSGW wanted a show that would serve conservatives on the hot topics of the day in an informative and entertaining style. The MVC&R Show does that perfectly because they include a Millennial, Gen Xer, and a Baby Boomer. The range of audience listenership this trio brings closes the generation gap and provides a unique perspective that no other show can do. At the end of the day, it’s three friends hanging out and talking about everything! It is a great show and 100.5 & 790 Newsradio WSGW is excited to announce their addition to the lineup.”

WDUN-AM/FM, Gainesville, Georgia to Air Todd Starnes Show in Noon to 3:00 pm Slot. The Gainesville, Georgia news/talk outlet announces it will fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart with the “Todd Starnes Show.” Jacobs Media’s WDUN-AM/FM is overseen by EVP and general manager Bill Maine, who says, “We know our listeners will miss Rush. He was the absolute best at what he did, and no one can replace him. But we are fans of Todd Starnes and we think moving Todd into that time slot, as well as adding more locally produced programs gives WDUN an exceptionally strong lineup of news/talk programs.”

KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City Expands Local Shows in Talent Shuffle. Salt Lake City news/talk KSL-AM/FM announces a series of changes in its lineup that includes the expansion of three programs. The Bonneville station says that with the departure of Lee Lonsberry from this station, Boyd Matheson’s “Inside Sources” program moves from the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon slot to the new 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daypart. The “Utah’s Noon News” show expands from 30 minutes to a full hour from 12:00 to 1:00 pm and “The Dave and Dujanovic Show” grows by an hour to air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. KSL program director Kevin LaRue says, “Boyd is just too important of a voice to the community to only have him on KSL one hour a day. We’re excited to provide listeners a longer program to cover important issues. The thinking he offers about the news and current culture is unparalleled.” Matheson also serves as the opinion editor of the Deseret News. He says, “Having spent most of my career as an international business consultant really gave me a look at how things work, what leadership looks like, and how you pull people together. Then my time in Washington DC as a chief of staff understanding the behind-the-scenes things that go on where the real levers of power are in DC and of course our connection to politics here locally. ”

‘Free Talk Live’ Host and Co-Founder Ian Freeman Awaits Bail Ruling; Faces Fraud and Money Laundering Charges. The lead host and co-founder of the nationally syndicated talk radio program “Free Talk Live” – Ian Freeman– is awaiting a ruling from federal Judge Magistrate Andrea Johnstone on a bail request from his attorney, according to an article in the Manchester Union-Leader. Freeman is being charged with money laundering, fraud and conspiracy after a recent raid on his home by federal authorities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Georgina MacDonald alleges that Freeman and others operated a Bitcoin-dollar exchange program through churches with which they are affiliated and called Freeman a “sophisticated cybercriminal.” The Union-Leader reports the feds allege that Freeman used Shire Free Church accounts to convert dollars to Bitcoin and that those dollars came from “romance fraud, investment fraud, and your-friend’s-in-jail fraud.” MacDonald says Freeman “offered anonymity, didn’t ask questions and charged a 10% exchange fee” when “legitimate” exchange services charge 3% or less. In requesting bail, Freeman’s attorney, Mark Sisti, argued that Freeman is not a flight risk and that he’s known about the federal investigation for years because people agents interviewed would tell Freeman about their encounter with authorities. Sisti says Freeman could have fled before his arrest. Industry observers who follow this TALKERS Heavy Hundred program know that its main freedom-based theme and Freeman’s ongoing antagonistic position on laws he considers unconstitutional have provided it with provocative and compelling “reality show” type material even though it has been a source of irritation to both local Keene, New Hampshire (where the show is based) and federal law enforcement agencies. Part of the show’s formidable appeal to an ever-growing number of affiliates and loyal listeners has been the willingness of its primary host to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”

Sam Tatum Promoted to VP, Integrated Marketing & Partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media. Rising from his director of sales for Radio One’s Washington, DC cluster to the newly created position of vice president, integrated marketing & partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media is Samuel Tatum. In this new role, Radio One and Reach Media say they are further unifying their sales and integrated marketing efforts across both divisions to help brands and agency partners effectively connect with the coveted and influential Black consumer through authentic and powerful multiplatform touchpoints. Tatum will lead a team of marketers and project managers in developing and implementing new innovative marketing solutions for national advertisers and agencies utilizing all of the Radio One and Reach Media assets. As the primary liaison between the national sales teams and other departments within Radio One, Reach Media, and other Urban One divisions, Tatum will streamline communications, ensure the continuity of national and corporate partnerships, and make sure the sales teams continue to provide their advertising partners with the absolute best-in-class cross-platform solutions. Tatum states, “I am humbled by the confidence Reach Media and Radio One has placed in me and am excited to continue to grow the legacy of our founder, Cathy Hughes, in this new role. Radio One and Reach Media have a rich portfolio of assets, and I am passionate about the opportunity to create, develop, and execute unique, on-brand, and culturally appropriate solutions that provide reach and engagement with the Black consumer for our advertisers and partners. Let’s blaze new trails!”

Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville Announces Content Partnership with A to Z Sports. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces it has entered into a content partnership agreement with popular online sports information and entertainment destination, A to Z Sports. Cumulus Media says, “The agreement brings together the two biggest sports entertainment brands in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, allowing them to create and share unique, deep-dive sports content across their respective digital platforms, including streaming and on-demand content, podcasts, social media, and much more, plus live and local on-air programming on ‘104.5 The Zone’ and high-engagement live events for area sports fans.” Per the terms of the agreement, “104.5 The Zone,” the flagship home for the Tennessee Titans and Nashville affiliate for University of Tennessee Volunteers, will regularly feature A to Z Sports personalities, while “104.5 The Zone” personalities will appear regularly on A to Z Sports’ popular programs. The partnership will create shared and complementary original programming between the brands and their platforms to give fans more and better sports news and talk than ever before. WGFX program director Paul Mason says, “We are truly excited to partner with A to Z Sports! This opens up more doors for both WGFX and A to Z to be more creative and implement new ideas in the market. The true winner in this partnership is the Nashville sports fan.” A to Z Sports is co-owned by Zach Bingham and Austin Stanley. Earlier this month, “104.5 The Zone” signed sports journalist Buck Reising as its midday air personality (10:00 am to 1:00 pm). Reising had previously been a frequent guest host on WGFX, but is mostly known for his “615 Sessions” podcast and live weeknight show, “A to Z Sports Primetime,” heard on A to Z Sports Nashville.

Audacy Unveils New Relationship with BetMGM. The new Audacy, formerly Entercom, unveils another sports betting deal, this time with BetMGM. This relationship is a multi-year deal designating BetMGM as a betting partner of Audacy across its sports broadcast stations, the Audacy, and Bet QL apps and digital platforms, and the “BetQL Audio Network.” The partnership will bring BetMGM’s sports betting content to Audacy sports talk listeners and gives BetMGM preferred access to Audacy talent. The partnership comes on the heels of several recent moves made by Audacy in the sports betting space, including the acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group and the launch of the “BetQL Audio Network, both of which are fundamental components of this deal. Audacy president of sports Mike Dee says, “The advent of legalized mobile sports betting has presented an unprecedented opportunity to bring the action closer to the audience than ever before and, as a result, provide our partners with a direct line of sight to tap into an attentive, fully engaged audience of potential sports bettors. We are proud to partner with BetMGM and wish to thank them for their confidence in us as we become one of their largest media partners. In light of our BetQL acquisition and related offerings, we believe this commitment is the latest validation that no other media company offers the wide variety of ways to connect with the sports betting audience the way that we do on a multi-platform basis.”

COVID-19 Cases Rising/Vaccines, WHO Virus Origin Report, Derek Chauvin Trial, Biden Economic Stimulus Plan, Suez Ship Freed, Lil Nas X Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/29). The rising number of COVID-19 cases and the CDC’s warning of a fourth wave, plus the rollout of vaccines; the World Health Organization’s COVID origin report that suggests the coronavirus jump to humans from animals; the beginning of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the Biden administration’s multi-trillion dollar economic plan that first focuses on infrastructure; the container ship that blocked the Suez canal for almost a week is freed; and the controversy over the new song from Lil Nas X and the accompanying “Satan Shoes” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

| March 25, 2021

Cumulus Fires One and Suspends Two at WGRF-FM, Buffalo After Racists Remarks on ‘Morning Bull Show.’ One member of the “The Morning Bull Show” at Cumulus Media’s classic rock WGRF-FM, Buffalo “97 Rock” has been fired and two other members have been suspended after they did a bit that involved comparing the color of famous Black women’s skin to burnt toast. Spectrum News reports that Cumulus fired Rob Lederman and suspended Rich Gaenzler and Chris Klein. Gaenzler also lost his gig as arena announcer for Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits games and the University of Buffalo says Gaenzler will not be considered for stadium announcer next fall (a position he’s held in the past). At least two advertisers pulled their ads from the station as Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the West Herr Auto Group canceled their current ad schedules. Cumulus issued the following statement: “Cumulus Media operates from a clearly defined set of programming principles and there is no question that Rob Lederman’s comments made on The Morning Bull Show are in direct violation of those principles. We swiftly terminated him and suspended the remainder of the show’s on-air talent. We apologize and deeply regret the incident.”

WBEN-AM, Buffalo Extends Bauerle and Bellavia Shows to Cover Limbaugh Daypart. According to a report in the Buffalo News, Entercom’s Buffalo news/talk WBEN-AM is going to fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart long occupied by “The Rush Limbaugh Show” by expanding the midday David Bellavia and afternoon drive Tom Bauerle shows. Beginning on April 5, the David Bellavia show air from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and Tom Bauerle’s program will air from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The station will add a 9:00 am to 10:00 am program hosted by AM drive co-host Brian Mazurowski and producer and fill-in host Joe Beamer. To fill the 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm hour created by Bauerle’s move, WBEN will air “The News Hour with Tom Puckett and the WBEN News Team.” Program director Tim Wenger says in a memo to staff, “This lineup gives us the ability to super-serve the market with the most compelling stories and topics on the minds of people in Buffalo and Western New York and establishes us as THE go-to outlet for full LIVE coverage all day long.”

Dana Loesch Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The leading female news/talk radio host in America, Dana Loesch, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Loesch has been syndicated by Radio America in the 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm ET time slot for the past seven years and is considered one of the leading players in a growing field of competitors seeking to be cleared on stations looking to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Rush Limbaugh. Loesch, a staunch conservative described as a “next generation” talker, is the author of three highly influential books: Hands Off My Gun: Defeating the Plot to Disarm America (Hachette, 2015), Flyover Nation: You Can’t Run a Country You’ve Never Been To (Sentinel, 2016), and Grace Canceled: How Outrage is Destroying Lives, Ending Debate, and Endangering Democracy (Regnery, 2020). Harrison and Loesch discuss the state of the talk radio industry as it enters the post-Limbaugh era along with her views on the gun control debate in the wake of the latest wave of mass murders in the news.  They also tackle the big questions about the future of the Republican Party, Donald Trump and the conservative movement in America.  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.  Don’t miss this!

Round Three of Nielsen Audio’s February PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s February 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen’s February 2021 sweep covered February 4 – March 3. All-news and news/talk stations that typically see a decline in listening following a presidential election kept the attention of listeners due to the chaos that followed the elections and that continued into the new year with the January 6 Capitol attack and the incoming Biden administration. In this report, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM drops from #1 to #2 after losing two-tenths to finish the February survey with a 6.0 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share). Urban One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte sheds 1.1 shares to finish with a 5.5 share and slides to the #4 rank. In Sacramento, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK remains ranked #1 even while losing six-tenths and wrapping the survey with a 9.6 share. There’s a second-place tie in Salt Lake City as iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-FM dips nine-tenths and Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM is flat – both posting 7.0 shares. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets – as well as the first two rounds – here.

Nielsen: Women Make Up 45% of Podcast Consumers; Kids & Family Most-Listened-To Genre. The new Podcasting Today report from Nielsen indicates that the top genre among female podcast listeners in the U.S. is ‘kids & family,’ with a 77% audience composition while true crime is fourth with a 60% audience composition (health & fitness and arts are second and third, respectively). The rest of the top 10 is: religion and spirituality (58%), education (54%), society and culture (53%), fiction (50%), and TV, film, and music (48%). “Perhaps what this tells us is that regardless of characteristics such as gender, podcasts listeners are a diverse group with diverse interests and that women are among the most voracious consumers of podcasts of all types and subjects.” Nielsen states, “Women are savvy consumers of news, information, and other media across devices. They also make up 45% of all podcast consumers over-indexing in podcasts across all genres. This is a coveted demographic for marketers and advertisers, as female-led households in the U.S. increased 41% in the last five years. No matter what media they’re consuming, truth, transparency, and real representation matter.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new podcast deal is announced in which iHeartMedia partners with Will Packer Media for a slate of original scripted and unscripted podcasts to the iHeartPodcast Network. iHeartMedia says, “The new partnership builds on the success of the true crime podcast ‘Fight Night,’ which launched on the iHeartMedia platform in October 2020 and was co-produced by Will Packer and James Lopez, president of Will Packer Productions. ‘Fight Night’ examined one of Atlanta’s most infamous armed robberies from the night of Muhammad Ali’s historic 1970 return to boxing.”…..ABC Audio unveils its new podcast “Inside the Oscars,” hosted by ABC News’ Ginger Zee. ABC says the six-part series dives into everything listeners want to know in the one-month countdown to an Oscar Sunday that will be like no other, including how filmmaking and the way we enjoy movies has changed. The first episode of “Inside the Oscars” is available today (3/25) with new episodes posting Thursdays…..Entercom and Global Music Rights announce a long-term partnership that allows Entercom to perform GMR’s catalog of hit songs across all of its platforms. Entercom says the multi-year deal starts immediately and paves the way for a strong partnership between the rapidly growing audio content and entertainment platform and the boutique performing rights organization featuring some of music’s most talented hitmakers. Entercom chief David Field adds, “We are excited to partner with Irving [Azoff] and the team at GMR. They represent some of the top talent on radio today. The combination of Entercom’s reach and GMR’s music is a huge win for our audience.”

Biden’s Immigration Policy, COVID-19, Cuomo Troubles, Georgia Voting Bill-Dem’s For the People Act, Suez Canal Blocked, Deadly Boulder Shooting/Gun Control, Biden Press Conference, and Chinese Cotton Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/24). The growing crush of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s response; the rising number of COVID-19 cases in some U.S. states, concern about variants, and vaccine rollouts; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is accused of giving his family priority in COVID testing, he faces allegations of sexual harassment, and engineering a cover-up over nursing home COVID deaths in the state; the Georgia bill that would restrict voting and the House Democrats’ For the People voting expansion bill; the freighter creating a roadblock in the Suez Canal; the slaying of 10 at a grocery in Boulder, Colorado and the larger issue of gun control; today’s first live press conference for President Joe Biden; and the allegation that Xinjiang cotton is made in Chinese detention camps were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, February 26, 2021

| February 26, 2021

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Feeding an Environment of Fear,” looks back at this past week of February 22-26, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Gary Sutton, talk show host, WSBA, York, PA; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Dr. Renee Kohanski, podcaster, Clinical Correlation, Medscape‘s MDEdge Psychcast / forensic psychiatrist; Rush Limbaugh, late talk radio icon; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, MD; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines and Variants Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 22-26, 2021. The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines and the concern about variants creating another wave of cases combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the U.S. economy tied with the education crisis. Following at #3 was the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s nominees for attorney general, interior secretary, and White House budget office, tied with Donald Trump’s planned speech at CPAC on Sunday. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

| February 3, 2021

Key Networks and Bloomberg Offer ‘Tax Tips’ Daily Feature. Tax season is upon us and beginning Monday (2/8), Bloomberg Radio is making its daily feature “Bloomberg Tax Tips” available to stations. Bloomberg and syndicator Key Networks say in a press release, “2020 was a year like no other, and that makes the 2021 tax season one that requires special attention. Bloomberg Radio is meeting listeners’ needs with a special series of daily tax tips designed to air in the 10 weeks leading up to April 15, at the height of when listeners are preparing their personal income tax filings for 2020.” The 30-second daily reports are hosted by Bloomberg tax reporter Laura Davison and among the topics covered this season are: If listeners have been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, they may need to pay state taxes differently this year; if listeners are still missing some or all of the stimulus payments Congress approved last year, they can claim that on their tax return this year; and more people have worked from their homes during COVID-19, leading many to wonder if they can claim the home office deduction on their taxes. Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green says, “So much is different this year, and people have so many questions about their taxes. It’s a topic that interests listeners across all radio formats.” Bloomberg Tax Tips anchor Laura Davison reports on taxes for Bloomberg News from its Washington bureau. She frequently interviews members of Congress, policymakers, and tax professionals about how the tax code affects businesses and families. She has been with Bloomberg since 2014 and has also covered the insurance industry.

Round Three of Holiday 2020 PPM Ratings Takeaways. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from the third round of Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2020 PPM survey that covered the period of December 3 – January 6. Due in large part to the chaotic events that followed the November election, the Holiday PPM survey from Nielsen reveals radio listeners remained more interested in news and opinion during the month of December than in previous years. In Sacramento, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK was steady with a 7.8 6+ weekly, AQH share, though it slid from #2 to the #3 rank. Entercom’s news/talk KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh added three-tenths to finish the survey with a 5.3 share and remained in the #6 spot. Although both Bonneville’s news/talk KSL-AM/FM (6.1 share) and iHeartMedia’s KNRS-FM (6.0 share) in Salt Lake City were down from the December survey, both remained in the respective #2 and #3 ranks. And in Las Vegas, Entercom’s news/talk KXNT lost just one-tenth (2.7 share), it rose from #14 to #11 while Beasley Media Group’s KDWN shed three-tenths but remained in the #17 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets here.

WFDF-AM, Detroit Owner Bans Mention of Kwame Kilpatrick’s Name After Spurned Offer. According to a piece in the Detroit News, WFDF-AM, Detroit “910 Superstation” owner Kevin Adell is banning the mere mention of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s name on his airwaves because Kilpatrick ghosted Adell after the latter made him an offer to host his own talk show on the station. Kilpatrick’s 28-year prison sentence for corruption was commuted by President Trump last month and, hearing that Kilpatrick was interested in hosting a show on the station as a step toward launching a ministry, Adell offered him either the morning drive or afternoon drive program plus a 30-minute show on his Word Network international religious radio operation. But after a week of waiting and not hearing from Kilpatrick, Adell lashed out, saying, “For wasting my time, now no one’s going to breathe your name. And any guests you have on, if they talk about him, you’re off. Is that mean-spirited? Sure. But it shows he is not going to jerk me around.” The Detroit NewsRobert Snell says Kilpatrick has about $11.5 million in debts, including the $1.7 million in restitution he must pay the IRS and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Pollnow to Lead Cumulus Montgomery. Former iHeartMedia Wichita market president Don Pollnow is re-joining Cumulus Media to serve as vice president and market manager for that company’s Montgomery, Alabama station group that includes news/talk WLWI-AM, sports talk WMSP-AM and four music brands. Prior to his work with iHeartMedia, Pollnow managed Cumulus’ Green Bay, Wisconsin cluster. Pollnow says, “I would like to thank Mary Berner, Bob Walker and Mark Sullivan for this opportunity. I am beyond thrilled to be returning to Cumulus and to be joining the experienced team in Montgomery. With the great culture, support and resources of Cumulus, we will continue to be a top-performing market for the company.”

Radio Reveals Super Bowl Coverage. During this week leading up to Super Bowl LV and for the game on Sunday evening, Cumulus Media’s Westwood One announces its plans to cover the contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kevin Harlan will handle the play-by-play duties for the 11th straight year, while Super Bowl XXXIV MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner will return for the third consecutive year as the lead analyst. Tony Boselli will be back for a fifth straight year as sideline reporter and will be joined by longtime field reporter Laura Okmin, who will return to the Super Bowl crew for the second time. Jim Gray will anchor the pregame and halftime coverage for the 20th consecutive year. FOX Sports Radio, a division of Premiere Sports Network, is bringing its entire 24/7 lineup of sports talk shows to its Super Week coverage, including “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” “The Dan Patrick Show,” “Outkick The Coverage with Clay Travis,” and more. SiriusXM is presenting coverage from Super Week, including on its pop-up channel Super Bowl LV Radio with lead host Danny Kannell. Broadcasts from Tampa will include the voices of numerous SiriusXM NFL Radio personalities such as Gil Brandt, Tim Brown, Bill Polian, Mark Dominik, Charlie Weis, Solomon Wilcots, Erik Coleman, David Diehl, Bruce Gradkowski, Torry Holt, Brad Hopkins, Ed McCaffrey, Kirk Morrison and Brady Quinn. Super Bowl-focused content from “The Pat McAfee Show,” hosted by the former NFL punter who has become one of sports media’s most popular personalities, will appear on the SiriusXM app.

TALKERS News Notes. Philadelphia talk radio host Dom Giordano scored an exclusive interview with the newest addition to the Donald Trump impeachment defense team, Bruce Castor, the former Montgomery County, Pennsylvania DA. Castor tells Giordano how he got involved in the representation team, and explains why he’s willing to represent the former president in a very heated political climate. Castor also discusses the potential argument of ‘dereliction of duty’ from the impeachment managers, and how that argument shouldn’t hold up in court…..PodcastOne says it is airing the brand-new episode of “Mea Culpa with Michael Cohen” featuring Stormy Daniels. The company says that in their first interaction ever, Daniels unveils her personal feelings about what transpired between her and the former president and “the relationship that changed political history.” The program launched in September of 2020 and has since featured a wide variety of guests, ranging from actors like Ben Stiller and Rosie O’Donnell, with whom Trump had a well-documented history of malevolence, as well as members of federal law enforcement and political scientists and consultants. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Podcasting is the only medium that gives its audience the full story and not just the headlines. ‘Mea Culpa with Michael Cohen’ is giving us the content that polarized news media censors and this episode with Stormy Daniels is not to be missed.”

Trump Impeachment, Fractured GOP/Unapologetic Greene, Biden-GOP Stimulus Negotiations, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Big Tech & Political Censorship, GameStop and the Reddit Rebellion, Deadly Florida Child Porn Raid, Putin Critic Sent to Prison, and Jeff Bezos to Exit Amazon CEO Role Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/2). The Article of Impeachment against Donald Trump; the Republican Party’s attempts to coalesce in the aftermath of Trump and criticism of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s rhetoric; President Joe Biden and the GOP negotiate over a new COVID stimulus package; the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; criticism of Big Tech over what some perceive as political censorship; the Reddit crowd’s GameStop, AMC, and silver ploy and repercussions on Wall Street; two FBI agents are killed and three wounded in a raid on a child porn suspect’s Florida residence; Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny is sentenced to two years in prison; and Jeff Bezos’ leaving Amazon’s CEO role were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

| February 2, 2021

iHeartMedia Launched ‘Business 99.1 FM’ in Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake City market now has a full-time business talk station as iHeartMedia begins simulcasting “Business 99.1 FM” on KJMY-HD2/K256AE using content from Bloomberg Radio. iHeartMedia Salt Lake City says, “‘Business 99.1 FM’ will feature ‘Bloomberg Daybreak’ and ‘Bloomberg Businessweek’ to keep listeners informed on national and global economic climates as well as notable Bloomberg hosts including Lisa Abramowicz, Jonathan Ferro, and Carol Massar. The station will also provide in-depth interviews with some of the world’s most successful business executives and analysts.” iHM Salt Lake City market president Stu Stanek adds, “Because market news from across the world can impact our Utah economy, we are proud to offer content and analysis to help keep investors and business owners informed. Partnering with Bloomberg Radio, a leader in business and financial news, makes for the perfect formula in building a great audience for our advertisers.”

Round Two of Holiday 2020 PPM Ratings Takeaways. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from the second round of Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2020 PPM survey that covered the period of December 3 – January 6. Traditionally, the Holiday PPM survey reveals a significant drop off in listening for news/talk and all-news stations due to altered listening habits during the holiday season. This year, due to the post-election chaos, many news/talk stations either didn’t see a dramatic drop in weekly, AQH share or even saw an increase. In Detroit, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WJR-AM dipped just four-tenths to a 4.2 share and the #9 rank. Entercom’s WCCO-AM, Minneapolis added five-tenths to finish with a 5.2 share good for the #5 rank. In San Diego, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KOGO was up two-tenths to wrap the survey with a 5.1 share and climbs from #6 to #4. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways report for this round of markets here

The Trevor Carey Show Returns to KFIV, Modesto for Afternoon Drive. Joining iHeartMedia’s KFIV, Modesto “PowerTalk 1360” is Trevor Carey, who is hosting the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot in afternoon drive. Carey served as a host on the station in 2015-16 and the station says Carey will interview “a variety of well-known national guests including the movers and shakers from Sacramento, Fresno, and the entire San Joaquin Valley.” On his return to the station, Carey says, “It’s great to be back on KFIV to reconnect with all my listeners in the Modesto area. They are some of the most politically active people in the state, and if I may say, GREAT CALLERS! I’m energized to bring my message back to these fine folks.”

SiriusXM Reports 2020 Q4 and 2020 Full Year Financial Statements. While SiriusXM reports revenue of $2.19 billion for the fourth quarter of 2020, it also is reporting a loss of $677 million for the quarter, compared to the income of $243 million it reported in the fourth quarter of 2019. For the whole of 2020, revenue was $8.04 billion, an increase of 3% over 2019. SiriusXM reports income of $131 million for 2020 compared to income of $914 million reported for all of 2019. The company says the decrease in net income was a result of a $976 million non-cash impairment charge associated with Pandora. SiriusXM CEO Jennifer Witz says, “SiriusXM turned in strong operating and financial results in 2020: we grew SiriusXM self-pay subscribers, revenue, adjusted EBITDA, and free cash flow despite the pandemic. Our new car penetration reached approximately 80% in the fourth quarter and is set to rise above 80% this year, and the incorporation of 360L, our next generation in-car entertainment platform, is accelerating. SiriusXM, Pandora, and Stitcher, together with our investment in SoundCloud, now reach an audience of more than 150 million people. We are bolstering our position as North America’s leading audio entertainment company with new innovative talk shows and podcasts, streaming music channels targeting younger audiences, and extended deals with major media brands, such as NBCUniversal News Group.  We signed an exclusive audio agreement with The Masters and secured additional digital sports rights with the NFL and NBA to benefit our streaming products. We are also thrilled Howard Stern extended his agreement to continue live broadcasts of his amazing show.”

Connecting Communities Through Radio. This Saturday evening (2/6), Boston public radio station WGBH and The Huntington Theatre Company are presenting a radio broadcast of the play Tiger Style! by Mike Lew. WGBH general manager for news Pam Johnston says, “The pandemic has challenged us to find new ways to build community and connections. Although this often means gathering in digital spaces, radio has emerged as a vital player in the local community, with the power to connect audiences around a shared experience.” The station is partnering with the Massachusetts Restaurant Association for a “tune in and take out” campaign encouraging listeners to order take out from their favorite restaurant to eat while they enjoy the production. Read more here.

TALKERS News Notes. There are a number of staff additions at Skyview Networks as Kristin Krahl is named director of network sales, Nicholas Maniscalo and Hailey Hole become managers of traffic audio, Chuck Rowe and Julie Whitlow join as managers of production services, Lani Martinez becomes manager of business analytics and executive services, and Thor Black is appointed associate of research. Additionally, the company retains the services of Ron Rivlin and Chris Martinez for affiliate sales and Raul “Rico” Colindres as vice president of content development and syndication…..Hubbard Radio’s WTOP News and PodcastOne announce the return of the award-winning podcast, “American Nightmare Series.” The new season titled, “American Nightmare Series: Murder in a Safe Place,” debuts on February 22 and focuses on a cold case that has haunted the D.C. region for over 23 years – the brutal rape and murder of 50-year-old nurse Sherry Crandell inside the hospital where she worked. Veteran D.C. crime reporter Paul Wagner hosts the podcast in which he speaks with Crandell’s children, former colleagues, and the detective who has been in charge of this case since the beginning. Wagner also brings to light evidence that has never been made public before this podcast…..iHeartMedia partners with Propagate Content and Brian Baumgartner, the actor behind The Office’s Kevin Malone, to co-produce the new podcast, “The Office DeepDive with Brian Baumgartner.” Each week, Baumgartner will be joined by his former coworkers and pals, including: Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fischer, Angela Kinsey, and writer, director & creator Greg Daniels…..SiriusXM is celebrating Black History Month via programming on its talk and comedy channels. SiriusXM Urban View will feature specials including Joe Madison hosting a virtual event with the Ford Men of Courage National Leadership Forum in partnership with Morehouse College. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, professor, publisher, and SiriusXM host Karen Hunter will feature an original content series, “Black History Changemakers,” weekdays this month showcasing Black heroes and hidden figures in history, science, law, banking, politics, sports, TV, film, music, and more. This special daily segment can be heard on “The Karen Hunter Show.”…..Public radio news/talk WNYC, New York announces that Michael Hill is named the new voice of “Morning Edition.” He was most recently with New Jersey PBS station NJTV/NJ Spotlight News where he has worked as anchor, correspondent, and multimedia journalist since 2014. WNYC also announces that Sean Carlson moves from interim to permanent host of “All Things Considered” on the station. He takes over for Jami Floyd, who left the role to lead the company’s new Race & Justice unit…..Radio America announces that the Chad Benson Show adds new affiliate WSKY-FM, Gainesville, Florida which is airing the program from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

COVID-19/Vaccine Rollout, Biden and GOP COVID Stimulus Deals, Trump Impeachment, GOP Election Deniers/‘Country First’ Drive, GameStop Trading/Financial Markets Activity, and Myanmar Coup Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/1). The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll and the rollout of the vaccines; the negotiating in Washington between the Biden and GOP COVID stimulus deals; the February 9 impeachment of Donald Trump; the Republican election deniers and the “Country First” move being launched by U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger; the Reddit crowd trading of GameStop, AMC and silver, and the world’s financial markets activity; and the Biden administration’s response to the Myanmar military coup were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.