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Monday, October 26, 2020

| October 26, 2020

Monday Memo: Listeners’ Mindset, Advertisers’ Message. Notwithstanding the president’s hope that “pandemic fatigue” will buoy his message that “we’ve turned the corner,” survey data presented at the NAB/New York virtual convention – now underway and available on-demand – describes how Americans really feel, and how our advertisers can relate. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke’s conference notes, and specific tips for improving results from endorsement spots. Read it here.

Pending Business: A Secret of Success. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, writes in his column today, “Every dominant business understands how important it is to set a standard, stick to it, improve it, own it and infuse it into the culture of the organization. Does your radio station strive to set industry-leading sales standards? You don’t need the highest-rated radio station to set a standard for sales performance and service. You don’t need the highest rates, or the most revenue. You need commitment, and the relentless pursuit of setting and improving standard-setting performance.” Read more here.

Nexstar Media Group’s Operational Realignment Ups Sean Compton to President, Networks. On Thursday (10/22), Nexstar Media Group announced a combination of its two primary subsidiaries – Nexstar Digital LLC and Nexstar Broadcasting into a new subsidiary called Nexstar Inc. In this new alignment, Karen Brophy becomes president, digital; Timothy Busch is now president, broadcasting; and Sean Compton rises from executive vice president to president, networks in which he’ll oversee WGN America, Antenna TV, and WGN Radio. All three will answer to Nexstar Media Group president, COO and CFO Thomas Carter. He says, “The operational realignment we are announcing today will accelerate Nexstar’s growth by leveraging our leading local content and positioning the company to become an even more nimble and competitive organization, thereby creating new value for shareholders… We completed the highly accretive acquisition of Tribune Media a year ago and quickly and efficiently integrated their assets, resulting in first year operating synergies exceeding $185 million. At the same time, we converted the Tribune enterprise to Nexstar’s operating, sales and other protocols and successfully and cost-effectively launched ‘News Nation’ on WGN America. As a result, we are leveraging our industry leading scale, diversified business model and solid operating execution to deliver record 2020 financial results as we dynamically manage the business to offset the impacts of the pandemic, reduce leverage and return capital to shareholders through quarterly cash dividends and share repurchases. Our decision to reorganize the business’ operating structure at this time reflects our view that there remains tremendous upside to be realized by maximizing the value of our assets, content and strong consumer engagement with our digital properties.”

iHeartMedia Birmingham Launches ‘BIN 92.7.’ The Birmingham, Alabama market joins the growing number of iHeartMedia markets airing the BIN: Black Information Network format as the company unveils “BIN 92.7” on FM translator WW224CK, Vestavia Hills. The company says “BIN 92.7” will broadcast 24/7 national and local news focused on serving the Black community and providing an information window for those outside the community to help foster communication, accountability and a deeper understanding. The station will feature top national on-air anchors and correspondents including award-winning broadcaster Ed Gordon and renowned journalist Roland Martin. Black Information Network president Tony Coles says, “BIN’s goal has always been to be the most trusted source for news in the Black community, and part of that strategy is, of course, to be available on both broadcast and digital stations across America. We’re thrilled to bring BIN, a full-time news service by and for the Black community, to Birmingham and provide listeners there with both the national and local news that impacts their lives.”

TALKERS News Notes. The FCC issues a Public Notice announcing the Access to Capital Working Group of its Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment and the FCC’s Media Bureau will co-host a virtual symposium titled “Path to Media Ownership and Sustainability” on November 6, 2020 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET.  The symposium will examine access to capital for small and diverse broadcasters.  The event will be convened virtually via WebEx and will be available to the public streaming via the Internet at www.fcc.gov/live. It will feature broadcasters and lenders discussing how to obtain financing for broadcast station transactions in today’s challenging financial circumstances, as well as experts discussing the history of the previous broadcast tax certificate policy and the potential for a new tax certificate policy to increase broadcast ownership diversity.  The symposium will also include presentations from Nielsen Global Media on ratings measurements for multi-ethnic broadcast stations, and a discussion of how small and diverse broadcasters can attract increased advertising revenue.  Finally, congressional staff members will provide updates on pending legislation intended to increase diverse media ownership…..Talk media personality Tom Donahue announces he has returned to Tom Donahue Reports to produce his program as a podcast in which he’ll no longer conform to a formatted show, thereby allowing him “greater versatility and creativity in producing audio content.” He continues to stream his show on Talk Stream Live. Also, Donahue is launching a commentaries service in the form of capsules made available to stations as one- or two-minute episodes. “America’s First News with Matt Ray” recently added the reports to his show twice weekly…..Pictured below is Salem Radio Network syndicated talk radio personality Sebastian Gorka (center) with SRN V.P./news & talk programming Tom Tradup (left) and Breitbart Washington political editor Matt Boyle (right) at a celebration of Gorka’s birthday in Alexandria, Virginia. Among the guests were: Salem executives David Santrella and Phil Boyce; former White House press secretary (and Newsmax TV personality) Sean Spicer; WMAL-FM, Washington talk host Larry O’Connor; and KABC, Los Angeles radio and political commentator Joseph DiGenova.

New Orleans Talk Radio Pioneer Keith Rush Dead at 89. WWL-TV, New Orleans reports that Keith Rush, a conservative talk radio icon who worked in the market for 60 years, died last Thursday (10/22) at age 89. According to WWL-TV, Rush was best known for his talk radio program on WSMB-AM that aired during the 1970s and 1980s. Local politician Lawrence E. Chehardy is quoted in the piece saying of Rush’s program, “It was a great forum because you could go on and discuss the issues with him and take phone calls from listeners. It was a way for elected officials to be able to converse with their constituents, long before the days of social media.” Rush began his radio career in the mid 1950s as a disc jockey. He transitioned to talk in the 1970s.

The Presidential Election/‘60 Minutes’ Interviews, Early/Mail-In Voting, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Pence Office Outbreak, Hunter Biden Emails Case, Social Media ‘Censorship,’ Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation, California Power Outages and Wildfire Threats Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The November 3 presidential election and Sunday night’s appearances by Donald Trump and Joe Biden on “60 Minutes”; reports of record numbers of early and mail-in votes; the rising number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and around the world and projections for the fall/winter seasons, as well as the outbreak among the staff of Vice President Mike Pence; the leaked emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop; allegations by conservatives that Twitter and Facebook are censoring their political messages; the confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett; and the power outages in California as high winds threaten more wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Phoenix, Entercom promotes Chris Hernandez to operations manager for the cluster. In this role, Hernandez will lead operations efforts for classic hits KOOL-FM, country KMLE-FM, and CHR KALV-FM “LIVE 101.5.” At the same time, the company ups Daniel Valentine to music director for “LIVE 101.5.” Entercom Phoenix SVP and market manager Dave Pugh says, “Chris Hernandez has consistently shown amazing drive that leads to substantial results and I’m confident in his ability to take our collection of stations to higher levels. Daniel Valentine has proven his extensive music expertise over the years and I’m looking forward to watching his career grow as he leads LIVE’s music operations. Both are veterans in our company, and I’m honored to elevate two hard working individuals.”…..The programming lineup for iHeartMedia’s “HBCU Homecoming Celebration on iHeartRadio” is taking place on November 12. It will include Angela Yee, co-host of the morning show “The Breakfast Club,” and special guests exploring female entrepreneurship and the art of brand building as the modern-day self-CEO as part of the iHeartRadio Beautiful Possibilities presented by Ulta Beauty.  During the discussion, the panel participants will share their personal stories of success and explore how they rise above challenges to define their careers. The panel aims to uplift, inspire and pave the way for the next generation of Black women leaders and will be followed by a performance by singer and songwriter H.E.R. “Breakfast Club” co-host DJ Envy will emcee the iHeartRadio HBCU Homecoming Party on the Yard, presented by McDonald’s. The virtual event will include celebrity guest and McDonald’s owner/operator interviews, legendary HBCU Homecoming highlights, and several special surprise moments. The event will culminate with a performance from global superstar Khalid across all iHeartMedia hip hop and R&B stations…..Legendary Chicago jock Ron Britain, a.k.a. Ron Magel, has died in his hometown of Louisville at the age of 86. Chicago media writer Robert Feder writes about the career of the man who was known as King B on the radio. During his more than 50 year radio career, Britain worked at some 21 stations but achieved the peak of his fame at former CHR outlet WCFL-AM which he joined in 1965.

Monday Memo: Reinvent Yourself

| October 5, 2020

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Recently here, I reviewed WGN America’s “News Nation,” three live prime-time hours that test a novel concept: Simply tell me what’s happening, without telling me how to feel about it. ICYMI: read it here.

News Without Noise, Part 2

Read More

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

| June 17, 2020

TALKERS EXCLUSIVE:  A Conversation with Heidi Harris.  As reported in TALKERS yesterday (6/16), KMZQ, Las Vegas morning host Heidi Harris has tested positive for COVID-19.  She told her listeners on the air and via Facebook yesterday that she’s tested positive for COVID-19.  Harris writes that she started with a cough last Thursday and, after getting worse that night, called in sick on Friday. She says she got considerably sicker over the weekend with intense body aches but did not suffer breathing troubles or nausea. She attempted to do her show yesterday from bed via phone.  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison conducted a phone interview with Harris yesterday afternoon.  To listen to the entire conversation, please click here.

PPM Analysis: All-News. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s May 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on all-news. Kinosian notes that “whereas the highly unusual statistical oddity from the March 2020 sweep in which every news station meeting our ratings criteria managed to post a 6+ improvement, all but two eligible news outlets experienced some degree of erosion in the May 2020 survey period (April 23 – May 20).” Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington (+0.3) and Entercom’s business news WDCH, Baltimore (+0.1) were the two news stations to see weekly, 6+ AQH share gains. However, almost 70% of all-news stations saw their 6+ numbers rise from the May 2019 survey to the May 2020 survey. Just one all-news station – Entercom’s WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago ranked #1 in May, though three others ranked #2. See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

Art Bell’s Dark Matter Digital Network Re-Launches. The Dark Matter Digital Network that Art Bell created before his death in April of 2018 is re-launching through the efforts of Bell’s former show producer David Rubini who is now serving as DMDN’s operations director and executive producer. Rubini says that beginning today (6/17 – what would have been Bell’s 75th birthday) affiliates can pick up “Best of Art Bell” in addition to the new “Midnight in the Desert” show hosted by Nathan Stolpman on weeknights, Alexis Brooks on Friday nights, famed author and researcher Mike Bara (Ancient Aliens) on Saturday nights, and Hollywood director and actor Sean Stone (Born On The 4th of July, JFK, The Doors) hosting Sundays. Rubini says, “Dark Matter Digital Network has been intoxicating to many PDs who have a desperate need to find a traditionally unique, time-tested, and reliable programming alternative that can serve them both late nights and overnights. Dark Matter Digital Network and “Midnight in the Desert” fills this void.”

Beverlee Brannigan Exits SVP of Programming Post with SummitMedia. In an announcement via Facebook, radio pro Beverlee Brannigan says she’s left her SVP of programming position at SummitMedia less than six months after accepting the promotion from her previous Wichita market president and general manager position and corporate vice president of radio programming post. She writes, “Friday was my last day with SummitMedia. Business. It happens. Here’s what I don’t want you to say about that: ‘Radio sucks. I’ll never listen to those stations again.’ That’s dumb and mean. Business is hard, and my former colleagues and friends are putting their hearts into making their radio stations the best they can be. So please listen more. And advertise there, because it works… Another thing I’d like is more cat pictures and memes about punctuation and grammar showing up on my timeline. You know where to find me. See you soon.”

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WGN-AM, Chicago is in talks with Garry Meier to take over the afternoon drive daypart on the station after current PM drive host Roe Conn’s contract runs out at the end of this year. Feder says his sources confirm Nexstar Media Group EVP Sean Compton is talking Meier about the move. Meier has been off terrestrial radio since exiting WGN in 2014. He’s been podcasting since 2016. Meier and Conn worked together as “Roe & Garry” on Cumulus Media’s crosstown WLS-AM from 1996 to 2004. Meier left WLS after being unable to come to terms on a new deal…..Nationally syndicated “Free Talk Live” announces two new affiliate stations are adding the show to their program schedules. Missouri Ozarks Radio Network Inc’s KWPM-AM/K286CK, West Plains, Missouri is carrying the “Free Talk Live” Saturday evening show. Dimes Media Corp’s KWWV-HD2/K253BR “K-News 98.5” is adding the Saturday and Sunday programs…..Entercom reports that, according to comScore, RADIO.COM grew its U.S. monthly unique users by 6 million in May 2020 versus May 2019, calling it the “fastest growing digital audio platform in the United States in May.” The company adds that RADIO.COM’s “total monthly active users across (MAU) all platforms is now over 40 million, with strong MAU growth also contributing to the platform’s expanding first-party data set and rapidly growing addressable audio impressions across both streaming and podcast.”…..As reported by The Current, Chicago Public Media announced it has laid off 12 and is ending the production agreement with the music show “Sound Opinions” as a result of the “financial pressures from the pandemic.” “Sound Opinions” is hosted by Chicago-based music critics Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot. The program will continue to air on CPM’s WBEZ-FM, Chicago and its affiliates across the country, but CPM will cease to produce it after August 28…..Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media announces the two companies have laid off more than two dozen employees and have cancelled, “Live from Here,” the national program that evolved out of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” “Live from Here” was hosted by Chris Thile…..The NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers and Estrella Media have struck a deal for Estrella’s KRCA-TV, Los Angeles and KBUE-FM “Que Buena” to serve as the official Spanish-language TV and radio homes of the Los Angeles Chargers.

SiriusXM Acquires Simplecast Platform. The combination of SiriusXM’s newly acquired podcast management platform Simplecast with its monetization platform AdsWizz “creates an end-to-end solution that enables creators to publish and generate revenue from their podcasts, all in one place.” SiriusXM offers no details on the financial aspect of the acquisition but says, “The acquisition expands and strengthens SiriusXM’s and Pandora’s tools and monetization services for podcasters and publishers.”

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Beijing Coronavirus Flareup, BLM Protests/Statues Controversy, Trump’s Police Executive Order, John Bolton Book, Presidential Race/Tulsa Rally, Social Media Censorship, Financial Markets Activity, and China-India Himalayan Battle Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/16). The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., the states with rising and falling numbers, and projections for future cases and deaths; the outbreak of COVID-19 in Beijing; the Black Lives Matter protests, Seattle’s CHOP zone, and the controversy surrounding Confederate and Colonial-era statues; President Trump’s police training executive order; the Trump administration’s suit to prevent former national security adviser John Bolton from publishing his book; the presidential race and President Trump’s planned Tulsa rally; the reactions to Google’s and Facebook’s treatment controversial content and ads; the world’s financial markets react to the pandemic and racial strife; and the battle between China and India over a Himalayan border region were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The weekend country music radio show “Buckwild Saturday Night” – hosted by Bryan “B-Dub” Washington – changes its name to “B-Dub Radio Saturday Night as it transitions to distribution via Skyview Networks. B-Dub says, “I am beyond excited to partner with Skyview Networks for the rebrand into ‘B-Dub Radio Saturday Night.’ The team at Skyview Networks has shared detailed and impressive ideas that will continue growing the show and adding to the listener experience through our amazing affiliates.  I’m thrilled to be part of this new vision!” Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones says, “Country radio programmers are constantly seeking partners who offer high-quality content and talent.  B-Dub is the partner for them. With an ability to create a weekly party for his listeners, B-Dub will continue to grow his radio network and offer a smart investment return for his advertisers.”…..Nationally syndicated radio personality Tino Cochino is launching a new podcast titled, “The Aircheck,” in which he sits down with other radio stars from around the country to share stories about radio. Cochino’s recent guests have featured a who’s who of talent, including Bobby Bones, JoJo Wright, Ebro Darden, J-Si Chavez, and more. He says, “I love radio. To me, the personalities are and have always been the stars. The thing is, they’re the ones always doing the interview. No one ever interviews them! That changes now.”

Thursday, November 21, 2019

| November 21, 2019

Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder Out in New WGN, Chicago Program Schedule. Two months after new management ousted station manager Todd Manley from his role at WGN, Chicago and hinted more changes were on the horizon, the Nexstar-owned news/talk outlet announces its new programming lineup and late morning duo Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder are the odd couple out.  After the close of the Tribune-Nexstar deal, Sean Compton became executive vice president and director of news and operations Mary Sandberg Boyle was named interim programming manager.  Yesterday (11/20), Boyle announced the changes via internal email.  Among the changes effective December 2 are: Steve Cochran’s morning show starts an hour earlier, airing from 5:00 am to 9:00 am; John Williams moves from his current 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm slot to 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; Ji Suk Yi takes over hosting the 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm “Wintrust Business Lunch” show; and Anna Davlantes leaves the co-host role on the afternoon drive Roe Conn program to host her own 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm talk show.  Conn remains in afternoons, followed by Justin Kaufmann from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm, followed by Nick Digilio from 11:00 pm to 4:00 am.  WGN will simulcast the “WGN-TV Early Morning News” from 4:00 am to 5:00 am.  Read Chicago media writer Robert Feder’s coverage here.

WPHT, Philadelphia’s Rich Zeoli Interviews President Trump. Pictured above is WPHT, Philadelphia morning drive personality Rich Zeoli interviewing President Trump in the Oval Office as part of Tuesday’s White House Radio Row on the United States Mexico Canada trade deal.  The president also talked about the 2020 election and the impeachment hearings.  Zeoli says, “The president was incredibly gracious with his time and said how much he loves talk radio.”  Photo: Andrea Hanks

John Fredericks Show Interviews VP Mike Pence. At Tuesday’s White House Radio Row on the USMCA treaty, Virginia talk station owner and statewide talk radio personality John Fredericks (right) posed for a photo with Vice President Mike Pence (left) and Fredericks’ wife, Anne (center), who serves as CFO of the John Fredericks Network.

Cumulus Inks ‘The Ticket’ Morning Show ‘The Musers’ to Multiyear Extension. Dallas sports talkers George Dunham, Craig Miller, and Gordon Keith – collectively known as “The Musers” – sign contract extensions to continue hosting the morning drive show on Cumulus Media’s sports talk KCTK-AM/FM, Dallas “The Ticket.”  The Cumulus Dallas-Houston regional vice president Dan Bennett says, “For 25 years, the Morning Musers’ George Dunham, Craig Miller, and Gordon Keith have performed at a market dominant level and we are excited that will continue for many more years in Dallas!”  The Musers comment, “We are very pleased to continue our longstanding relationship with Cumulus and the wonderful leadership of the Dallas/Fort Worth market.  This company has made us feel appreciated and we are extremely thankful for their support of such a special station.  ‘The Ticket’ in Dallas/Fort Worth is our home and the bond that we have with our listeners is something we will cherish for as long as we breathe.”

Salem Covers A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Premiere. Above is Salem Radio Network VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup (left) interviewing director Marielle Heller (right) at last night’s premiere of the SONY Pictures film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.  The film stars Tom Hanks as television icon Fred Rogers.  The premiere took place in Pittsburgh where the “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” TV show was produced at WQED-TV.

Skyview Networks Sponsors Panels at MLB Rightsholders Conference. The photo above shows the participants in this year’s MLB Audio Rightsholders Conference in Las Vegas.  More than 20 teams and organizations participated in panels covering technology, audio sales strategies, and the future of emerging non-terrestrial mediums.  Digital content captured the main focus of the conversations as franchises shared strategies for monetizing this evolving platform.  Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones says, “Skyview Networks is proud to return as the title sponsor of this conference, which hosts an innovative group of baseball and broadcast executives as they discuss the critical role radio and digital audio play in fan engagement.  We look forward to developing additional technology to serve our partners in this evolving audio space.”  Additional panel topics included maximizing ad sales with an emphasis on innovative features and creating awareness for franchises’ ancillary digital content, especially concerning podcasts.  As the digital listenership rapidly increases, the franchises are hyper-focused on monetizing the platform.

TALKERS News Notes. The NM Political Report says that KIVA-AM/K229CL, Albuquerque owner Eddy Aragon is considering running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Tom Udall, who is not running for re-election.  Aragon – a staunch conservative – hosts the afternoon show on the station branded, “the Rock of Talk.”  He tells NM Political Report this is something he’s only considering at this point. “You have to imagine the tremendous sacrifice that I have to consider.  Being off [the air] during the year Donald Trump is running in 2020, that’s a sacrifice to my radio station.”…..KIDO, Boise morning drive talk host Kevin Miller is pictured below talking to KTVB-TV, Boise news about his annual Miller’s Mission Turkey Drive to help provide the hungry and homeless in Boise with a warm dinner for the holidays.  The goal is to collect 3,000 turkeys for the Boise Rescue Mission Ministries.  Each year Miller dons his turkey suit and broadcasts live from a local Walmart parking lot to collect turkeys and cash donations.

Impeachment Testimony, 2020 Presidential Race/Atlanta Debate, Epstein Case/Prince Andrew Troubles, U.S.-China Trade Talks/Hong Kong Human Rights Act, and Mexicans Sue Walmart Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/20). Wednesday’s impeachment hearing with testimony from EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020 and Wednesday’s Atlanta debates; the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s death and the aftermath of Prince Andrew’s BBC interview; U.S. trade talks with China and the U.S. House’s Hong Kong Human Rights Act; and Mexicans’ suit against Walmart over the mass shooting in El Paso were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Robyn Simone exits Cumulus Media’s urban contemporary WLXC, Columbia, South Carolina “Kiss 103.1” where she’d been serving as program director for the past year.  She says, “Working at Cumulus Media in Columbia was a challenge, but I gained a lot of knowledge in my short time there.  As the program director/air talent for ‘Kiss 103.1,’ I’m a stronger and more knowledgeable PD because the experience.  I would like to thank [VP programming operations] John Dimick and VP/urban programming Kenny Smoov for the opportunity and their commitment to set new standards for urban radio.”

Monday, September 23, 2019

| September 23, 2019

New Management Ousts Manley from WGN-AM Station Manager Position. Just a day after closing on its acquisition of Tribune Media, Nexstar begins making changes to news/talk WGN-AM’s operations, letting station manager and vice president of content Todd Manley go after six years in the position.  According to a report by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, new executive vice president Sean Compton hinted during a Friday meeting with staffers that there are more changes on the horizon.  Compton appointed news and operations director Mary Sandberg Boyle interim programming manager.  Feder notes, “In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, the station tied for 16th place overall, with mornings, middays, afternoons and evenings all out of the top 10.”

KQFN, Phoenix Debuts New Morning Show. Sports talk KQFN, Phoenix “The Fanatic” announces the launch of the new “Bruce Jacobs & Helly” morning show starring longtime Phoenix radio personality Bruce Jacobs and former Dallas Cowboys lineman Dale HellestraeCRC Broadcasting president and CEO Ron Cohen says, “We are so excited to have two well-known Phoenix sports radio veterans team up together every morning on ‘The Fanatic.’  With Bruce and Dale on board, we’re really looking forward to increasing our growth and popularity in the coming weeks and months.” Jacobs has served with sports talk KGME-AM, news/talk KFYI-AM in Phoenix and nationally with FOX Sports Radio.  In addition to winning three Super Bowls with the Cowboys, Hellestrae has been a color analyst for the Arizona Rattlers, high school football, and college football.

Monday Memo: 2 Magic Words for Weekend Talkers. If you’re an attorney, realtor, veterinarian, financial advisor, or other professional services provider brokering weekend talk radio time to round-up new clients, consultant Holland Cooke says there’s good news and bad news.  Read it here.

PPM Analysis: August 2019 Spoken-Word Pacesetters. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his analysis – based on data from Nielsen Audio’s August 2019 PPM survey – in which he gauges “the temperature of spoken-word stations as a complete entity in all 48 PPM-markets.”  In this report, Kinosian determines the top spoken-word markets by 6+ share; the spoken-word markets by 6+ share increases from July to August; and the top spoken-word markets by 6+ share increases from August 2018 to August 2019; plus more. See his entire report here.

WABC’s John Batchelor Show to Broadcast from Azerbaijan. All this week, the John Batchelor show – emanating from WABC, New York – will air live from the Republic of Azerbaijan. Sponsored by marketing technology company Scala Inc. and in conjunction with the Embassy of Azerbaijan, Batchelor travels to the busy neighborhood of the South Caucasus to broadcast from the military front lines of the troubled Nagorno-Karakakh region.  The press release states, “For 25 years Armenia has occupied Azerbaijan’s territory and abused the villagers, despite a ceasefire agreement.  The John Batchelor Show aims to interview the farmers, soldiers, and leaders who live in hope and fear.  Later in Baku, John Batchelor will attend the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan’s conference, ‘Impact Investing: Opportunities and Challenges for Institutional Investors.’ Azerbaijan is the critical nexus for oil and natural gas flowing out of the rich Caspian Sea Basin and along pipelines to the needs of Asia Minor, the Levant and now Europe.  Considering the recent attacks on the Persian Gulf energy production, developing and securing the Caspian Sea energy is most timely.” Batchelor says, “I look to help my audience to understand the now two-generations-long brutality in Nagorno-Karabakh that haunts the South Caucasus.  I also aim to report on how the energy producers of the region are planning to provide ever more reliable resources to their customers, especially in Europe.”  Next Tuesday morning (10/1), Batchelor will participate in the TALKERS magazine produced “Talk Media Forum on US-China Relations” at the Hellen Mills Theatre in New York City.  See the full story below for details.

TALKERS News Notes.  In Lynchburg, Virginia, Mari White leaves her role with Three Daughters Media’s news/talk WIQO to take on the public information officer position with the Lynchburg Department of Water Resources. She had been co-hosting the “Mari and Brian in the Morning” program with Brian Weigand for the past six years. Weigand is continuing to host the morning show on WIQO…..Legendary radio personality Joey Reynolds emceed the 4th Annual Meatball Eating Contest held on Saturday (9/21) at the Feast of San Gennaro in the Little Italy section of Lower Manhattan.  At right, Reynolds (left) is pictured with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (right), who appeared on stage during the competition…..Leighton Enterprises enters into an agreement to acquire three Alexandria, Minnesota signals from Paradis Broadcasting of Alexandria.  The group includes news/talk KXRA-AM, classic rock KXRA-FM, and hot AC KXRZ-FM…..The Dallas News reports on the new brewery and taproom being launched in part by KRLD-FM, Dallas midday hosts Ben Rogers and Jeff “Skin” Wade.  The brewery is being called Rollertown Beerworks located in suburban Celina and expects to open in 2020.  The piece notes that “Ben & Skin” have a passion for beer that “spawned an event series called the Brew Crew Tour, which invites hardcore fans known as TOLOs (turn on, leave on) to meet them for a pint at different taprooms in the area.”

Trump-Ukraine Controversy, 2020 Presidential Race, U.S.-Iran Tensions, UN Climate Action Summit, Trudeau Brownface Scandal, Netanyahu’s Future, and Sunday’s Emmy Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The controversy over President Trump’s conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky; the Democrats hoping to challenge President Trump in 2020, including Elizabeth Warren’s rise in the Democratic race; the military tensions between Iran and the U.S. over the nuclear deal and the attack on a Saudi oil installation; today’s United Nations General Assembly and the UN Climate Action Summit; the “brownface” scandal that is engulfing Canada’s Justin Trudeau; the close race between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz for prime minister of Israel; and Sunday evening’s Emmy Awards ceremony were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Gene Sandbloom is named operations manager for Alpha Media’s Portland stations and program director for triple A KINK-FM. Sandbloom was most recently operations manager for KROQ and adult hits KCBS-FM “93.1 JACK FM” in Los Angeles.  Alpha Media Portland SVP and market manager Lisa Decker says, “We are thrilled to have Gene join us. His leadership, creativity, experience and can-do attitude is a perfect fit. He will add a new dynamic to our team.”…..This past weekend, the ninth annual iHeartRadio Music Festival took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with performances by Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Cage The Elephant, Camila CabelloChance The Rapper, Def Leppard, French Montana, Green Day, Halsey, Heart, H.E.R., Hootie & The Blowfish, Marshmello with special guest Kane Brown, Miley Cyrus, Mumford & Sons, Steve Aoki with special guests Darren Criss and Monsta X, Tim McGraw, Zac Brown Band and more.  For fans not in attendance, iHeartRadio on-air talent hosted a live backstage broadcast featuring exclusive artist interviews and performances that aired across iHeartMedia radio stations throughout the country in more than 150 markets and on iHeartRadio.  The CW Network exclusively livestreamed both nights of the festival via CWTV.com and The CW App, and will broadcast a two-night television special on Wednesday, October 2 and Thursday, October 3 from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One announces the launch of two variety hits formats: Variety Hits-Pop and Variety Hits-Rock.  The two new formats will debut in October.  Variety Hits-Pop features artists including: JourneyMadonna, Michael Jackson, and Maroon 5; and Variety Hits-Rock skews toward artists such as: Aerosmith, Queen, Nirvana, and Fleetwood Mac.  Westwood One president of programming Kirk Stirland says, “The variety hits format checks a lot of boxes for many markets and the time is right for us to build a satellite-delivered version that enhances our successful, custom music-scheduled format.  We designed this to accommodate our customers who wanted an unbranded, flexible structure, with up to 13 opportunities an hour to make it their own.”…..Alternative WHHZ-FM, Newberry, Florida “100.5 The Buzz” in the Gainesville market announces Kaylan Moody adds music director duties to her morning host role with the Marc Radio-owned station…..Country singer/songwriter David Kroll is back in his hometown of Burlington, Iowa where he’s the new morning drive host on Pritchard Broadcasting’s KDMG-FM “Big Country 103.1.” Kroll spent the past 10 years in Nashville where he wrote songs and toured with his band.