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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

| October 24, 2018

Steve Dahl to End WLS-AM, Chicago Show on December 21.  After yesterday’s report from Chicago media maven Robert Feder that Cumulus Media news/talk outlet WLS-AM will undergo programming changes in 2019, legendary Chicago radio personality Steve Dahl reached out to Feder in an email to announce his time with the station will end on December 21.  He’s been hosting the afternoon drive show for the past four years.  He says his podcast – that is still growing in terms of subscribers – will continue and will retain its relationship with Cumulus Media Chicago.  Dahl writes, “WLS-AM was always going to be an uphill battle, and circumstances just didn’t lend themselves to us being able to breakout like we hoped we would.  The podcast numbers continue to grow every day, so that’s encouraging.”  Read his entire email here.

SiriusXM Reports Q3 Net Income Up 24%. Satellite radio provider SiriusXM releases its third quarter 2018 numbers today and reports its revenue for the period was $1.5 billion, up 6% over the same period in 2017.  Net income was $343 million in the third quarter – up 24% over the same quarter last year.  Looking at subscriber numbers, SiriusXM says that it added 298,000 net new self-pay subscribers during the quarter to raise its self-pay subscriber total to 28.5 million. CEO Jim Meyer comments, “SiriusXM’s standout third quarter saw continued strength in subscriber additions and churn performance while adjusted EBITDA reached a quarterly record-high $589 million. Our revenue growth, adjusted for the change in generally accepted accounting principles that was effective January 1, totaled 8% in the quarter.  In addition to our operational excellence, we were thrilled this quarter to announce an agreement to acquire Pandora Media, which we expect to close in the first quarter of 2019.  With the end of the year in sight, we are increasing our full-year guidance for self-pay net additions, revenue and adjusted EBITDA.  We have a relentless focus on creating and curating content our subscribers will love — our limited-run Dave Matthews Band Radio was a perfect example.  We also presented fiery live performances just for subscribers, like our recent show by The Killers in New York.  We’ve added provocative talent in talk and sports with a daily show from CNN’s Chris Cuomo, a new show from Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, the return of Brett Favre’s popular show, and a new program highlighting women in sports hosted by journalist Christine Brennan and retired tennis pro Rennae Stubbs.”

Phil Valentine Voted Best Conservative in Nashville. That’s right, not Best Talk Show Host (there is no such category), but Best Conservative, as voted by the readers of Nashville ScenePhil Valentine’s afternoon drive show is based at Cumulus Media’s WWTN, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7” and is syndicated nationally via subsidiary Westwood One.  He is also an award-winning filmmaker and bestselling author whose latest book, Barbican: A Sterling McQueen Spy Story, was released earlier this year.  Cumulus Nashville VP and market manager Allison Warren says, “Every year, the editors of Nashville Scene ask their readers what they love best about Nashville and it’s no surprise that Phil Valentine is at the top of the list.  We agree wholeheartedly that Phil brings his best to ‘SuperTalk 99.7 WTN’ and our listeners every afternoon.  His common-sense approach to talk radio cuts through the hype of the day’s news, challenging conventional wisdom on both sides and presenting actionable solutions that people respond to.  It’s gratifying that Nashvillians love Phil as much as we do and we congratulate him on this well-deserved honor.”

Midterm Elections, Migrant Caravan, Mega Millions Jackpot, Khashoggi Murder Aftermath, O’Connor Dementia Diagnosis, Financial Markets Activity, Gender Definition Issue, Trump Threatens to Exit INF Treaty, Trump-Russia Investigation, NFL Action, and the World Series Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/23). The November elections and the battle for control of the House and the Senate; the Honduran migrant caravan headed for the U.S. border; the $1.6 billion Mega Millions lottery jackpot; the aftermath of the slaying of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and U.S.-Saudi relations; former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announces she’s been diagnosed with dementia; the wild swings in the financial markets and fears of a looming debt bubble; the Trump Administration’s plan to require legal gender based on genitalia at birth; President Trump threatens to exit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia; the Robert Mueller-led Trump-Russia investigation probes Roger Stone’s Wikileaks contacts; the weekend’s NFL action; and the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox were some of the most-talked about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. Almost seven weeks after announcing that he would be taking a leave from his morning drive duties at Entercom’s WEEI-FM, Boston, Kirk Minihane Tweets that he’ll “be back soon.” Minihane took a brief leave in early August after experiencing suicidal thoughts and checked himself into a hospital. In his September 7 message, Minihane said that he would this time take indefinite leave to deal with depression issues, he admitted that he came back to work too soon after the August hospital stay.  However, he Tweets that all is not necessarily well between him and Entercom management. “…I’ve been ready to work for the last week or so and have been kept off the air.  You build a show, take it to number one, step aside to get healthy and expect to be welcomed back. Hasn’t happened.”  During Minihane’s absence, WEEI personality Mike “Mut” Mutnansky has been sitting in with regular co-host Gerry Callahan…..From the podcast world, Westwood One Podcast Network adds the “Team Never Quit” podcast – co-hosted by former Navy SEALs Marcus Luttrell and David Rutherford .  WWO says “Team Never Quit” is “an authentic, positive, and inspiring show that implores listeners to face their greatest challenges” and features “the incredible camaraderie between Mr. ‘Never Quit’ Marcus Luttrell and energetic ‘Instructor Rut’ David Rutherford, that not only comes from their time together on SEAL Teams but also due to their mutual 10 years of inspiring audiences of all types.”…..MSNBC star Rachel Maddow is host of a new podcast from the network titled, “Bag Man: A Rachel Maddow Original Podcast.” The weekly podcast will launch on October 30 with ad sales being handled by TuneIn.  The first episode will center on the corruption scandal that took down Vice President Spiro T. Agnew…..Nationally syndicated radio star Elvis Duran reveals his 4thAnnual Carney Awards – named in honor of the late Art Carney and dedicated to honoring Hollywood’s great character actors – is getting some help from legendary actor Harrison Ford, who will attend the October 28 ceremony in Santa Monica to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to M. Emmett Walsh with whom Ford appeared in 1982’s Blade Runner.

TalkersRadio’s Meg McDonald Active in Los Angeles Community Beautification Projects — Studio City-based media figure Meg McDonald, who hosts the short-form feature titled “MEG!” on TalkersRadio, has become increasingly involved in Los Angeles beautification projects.  She recently played a role at a major fund-raising initiative.  California Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian secured $150,000 in the 2018 – 2019 fiscal year state budget for the long-needed revitalization of the Studio City Greenway along the Los Angeles River from Whitsett Ave. to Laurel Canyon Blvd.  The project will improve bike and pedestrian access points, restore the landscaping by eliminating invasive species, and enhance public health and safety along the Los Angeles River.  Pictured (l-r) joining in the funding celebration is Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy executive director Joe Edmiston; Assemblyman Nazarian; Studio City Beautification Association board member and host of MEG! on TalkersRadio Meg McDonald and Los Angeles City Councilor Paul Krekorian.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In the Fayetteville, North Carolina market, Kenny J is named program director and brand manager for Beasley Media Group hip hop WZFX-FM “Foxy 99” and brand manager for sister rhythmic oldies WUKS “Old School 107.7.” He most recently served with Cumulus Media as program director at urban contemporary KMJK, Kansas City.  Beasley Fayetteville VP and market manager Erika Beasley comments, “I’m so excited to have Kenny J on the Beasley Fayetteville team.  We welcome his expertise and knowledge in programming both formats in large and small markets.  Kenny’s ability to coach and grow on-air personalities really sets him apart for this position.  We look forward to having his energy and positive attitude in our building and continuing to lead our brands to success!”…..Programming pro Nick Fox joins Cumulus Media as program director and midday personality at country WXBM, Pensacola, Florida “NASH FM 102.7.”  He comes to Cumulus from Saga Communications’ country WVVR, Clarksville, Tennessee where he was an air personality and APD.  He says, “I’m ecstatic to be back home as the PD of WXBM!  This station has a rich legacy and passionate listeners.  I am ready to hit the ground running in Pensacola.”…..SummitMedia is tweaking the format at WJSR, Richmond from classic hits as “Star 100.9” to adult hits as “Jack FM.”

Thursday, February 1, 2018

| February 1, 2018

iHeartCommunications Declines to Make $106 Million Cash Interest Payment. This move, like Cumulus Media’s similar tactic last fall, is designed to spur action in the company’s efforts to restructure its debt.  Today, iHeartCommunications, Inc. (iHeartMedia is the parent company of iHeartCommunications) announced that its board of directors elected not to make a cash interest payment of $106 million (due today, 2/1) to holders of its 14% senior unsecured notes due 2021 as active discussions continue among its lenders, noteholders, and financial sponsors regarding a comprehensive debt restructuring.  “The board elected not to make the payment in connection with ongoing efforts to proactively and comprehensively address the company’s capital structure.  The decision will not trigger an event of default under the indenture as the company will utilize a 30-day grace period under the indenture during which it retains the right to make the interest payment to the holders of the notes and remain in compliance with the indenture governing the notes.  The board is considering options as part of its strategy to achieve a comprehensive restructuring of the company’s debt.”

SiriusXM Q4 Revenue Up 8%.  The satellite radio company did take a loss of $37 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, but that was due to a $185 million charge associated with the revaluation of the company’s deferred tax assets as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. For the year of 2017, SiriusXM’s net revenue was positive to the tune of $648 million.  In the fourth quarter, SiriusXM recorded a decrease of approximately $72 million in the fair value of its investment in Pandora, reversing the prior quarter’s unrealized gains.  The satcaster reports that it gained 1.56 million self-pay subscribers during 2017 to put its total self-pay subscribers at approximately 27.5 million.  SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer says, “The fourth quarter capped a strong year for SiriusXM and was our best quarter for self-pay subscriber growth in five years. We exceeded all of our 2017 subscriber and financial guidance, even after increasing these targets during the year.  I am particularly pleased that we achieved this growth in an environment of slowing auto sales.”

‘Radio War’ Gets KBME, Houston Booted from Super Bowl Radio Row.  A good old-fashioned radio war tactic escalated tensions between iHeartMedia’s KBME, Houston “SportsTalk 790” and Entercom’s KILT-AM “Sportsradio 610,” resulting in KBME losing its credentials to broadcast from the Super Bowl LII radio row.  It all started when KBME morning host Josh Innes sent his producer, Jim Mudd, to video KILT-AM’s Seth Payne and Mike Meltser as they did their show.  It had the intended consequence of riling up Payne, who soon was in a verbal argument with Innes.  Audio from the confrontation ended up on both stations’ airwaves.  WEEI, Boston’s Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane (mornings on the Entercom sports talk station) were broadcasting their show nearby and captured the donnybrook on video.  After it was all over, the NFL removed KBME from the radio row.  See the Houston Chronicle’s story and the WEEI-shot video here.

KXL, Portland Announces New Afternoon Team. The new afternoon drive team for Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland “FM News 101” is Lucinda Kay and Cooper Banks.  Kay is promoted from her part-time position with the station.  She has an extensive background in radio and television news.  She launched her career in journalism in 1994, working as a TV news anchor and reporter – in both English and Spanish – for several years.  She hosted her own talk show in Spokane.  She started freelancing for KXL in 2016.  Cooper Banks worked as an afternoon DJ at KWKJ, Warrensburg, Misourri in 2004.  He was hired as news director for KMXL/KDMO, Joplin, Missouri two years later.  He later jumped to KMBZ, Kansas City as a producer, reporter, and news anchor.  Alpha Media Portland content director Bruce Collins says, “I am extremely excited to work each day with Cooper and Lucinda.  They have the talent that will take KXL to a new level in pm drive.”

Westwood One at Super Bowl LII.  The official network radio partner of the NFL and Super Bowl LII reports that it is on the scene in Minneapolis preparing for its coverage of the game.  Westwood One says it’s been busy taping interviews and special features for the coverage.  In addition, its personalities (and some from partner NBC Sports Radio) have been visiting radio row.  Above is Super Bowl XXXI-winning coach Mike Holmgren (center), one of Westwood One’s Super Bowl LII analysts, doing an interview with KKFN, Minneapolis “K-FAN” personalities Dan Barriero (right) and Justin Gaard (left).

26th Wing Bowl Takes Place Tomorrow Morning.  With SportsRadio 94WIP’s Wing Bowl 26 taking place tomorrow morning at the Wells Fargo Center, the official weigh-in takes place tonight, live on WIP, Philadelphia from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm from Chickie’s and Pete’s.   The Entercom sports talk station has scheduled 29 eaters to record their official “eating” weight and record their age, height, and hometown.  Members from each eater’s entourage and Wingettes will be on hand to cheer on their favorite eaters to victory.  This year, WIP personalities Marc Farzetta, Ava Graham, Al Morganti, and Rhea Hughes will also compete in Wing Bowl 26.  The Overall Winner of Wing Bowl 26 gets a 2018 Hyundai Sonata courtesy of Colonial Hyundai of Downingtown, plus Steven Singer Jewelers is presenting $5,000 cash and a custom Championship Medal and Ring.  The First Responders Champion Prize is a Harley Davidson XL 883N Iron Sportster Motorcycle courtesy of Barb’s Harley Davidson.  The Wingette of the Year walks away with $5,000 Courtesy of Dr. Steven Davis & Davis Cosmetic Surgery, and Best Wing Bowl 26 Entourage wins $5,000 cash, courtesy of Steven Singer Jewelers.

NRG Media Names New General Managers in Omaha and Wausau.  There are new general managers at NRG Media’s Omaha and Wausau station groups.   Kurt Luchs leaves the Wausau, Wisconsin station group where he’s been GM for almost five years to lead the Omaha cluster that includes news/talk KOIL and sports talkers KOZN and KOZT.  In Wausau, Aleese Fielder is promoted from director of sales to general manager.  NRG Media president/CEO Mary Quass says, “The goal of NRG Media is to be a destination company for our team to build a career, so I am very excited to be able to promote from within.  These promotions are well deserved, together Kurt and Aleese turned Wausau around and helped make it one of the most successful markets in the company.  We like to reward a job well done and these moves are a definite win-win for two very talented teams.

Major National Programming Executives Set to Speak at TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! The roster continues to grow as the 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most-important national convention continues to name what will be a stellar list of some 50 or more leaders from the programming, talent, sales, management, ownership and technical sectors of the field. Convention organizers have named (in alphabetical order): Canadian radio giant Bell Media national news/talk format head (and PD of NEWSTALK 1010, Toronto), Mike Bendixen; iHeartMedia SVP of news/talk/sports programming, Chris Berry; Salem Media Group SVP/director, spoken word format, Phil Boyce; and Cumulus Media EVP of content and programming, Mike McVay. These outstanding individuals join (in alphabetical order) Beasley Broadcasting CEO, Caroline Beasley; Premiere Networks/FOX News Channel star Sean Hannity; Westwood One president, Suzanne Grimes; PodcastOne founder/executive chairman Norm Pattiz; and Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott as conference speakers. More speakers will be announced here in the days and weeks ahead leading up to the event. For more information about TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! see story below.

TALKERS Convention Early Bird Discount Ends Tomorrow! The opportunity to attend the 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important convention at a significantly reduced registration fee comes to an end tomorrow (Friday, February 2 at 5:00 pm ET). Those registering before the deadline will save $50. TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! will take place on Friday, June 8 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater located in the colorful Chelsea district of Manhattan. The conference will feature more than 50 top speakers from all aspects of the spoken-word media industry – including talent, programmers, managers and owners – with a focus on talk radio and its role in the new digital age and at the dawn of a rapidly accelerating era. This will include programming, sales, marketing, and technology – the full spectrum of concerns, challenges and opportunities facing the modern-day talk broadcaster and broadcasting organization. It will feature keynote addresses, panel discussions, fireside chats, and exhibits of the latest services and equipment available to broadcasting professionals. Like its predecessors, TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! will also provide its attendees with unparalleled networking opportunities and social mixers including breakfast, lunch, and a closing cocktail reception — all in a single power-packed day! Full agenda details, speaker roster and hotel information will be posted in TALKERS during the days and weeks ahead. As is customary with TALKERS conventions, TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! is only open to members of the professional media industry and communications students. Because seating is limited, and the event has been an early sellout every year since the 1990s, in order to maintain this policy, non-refundable registrations can only be purchased via telephone with a credit card. Full registration, including all functions, meals, and refreshments costs $329 per person. To register or obtain sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

TALKERS News Notes. In the Winchester, Virginia market, Centennial Broadcasting changes the simulcast of classic country on WZFC-FM, Strasburg, Virginia and will instead simulcast its news/talk WINC, Winchester “Newstalk 1400” on WZFC’s 104.9 FM signal.   Company market manager Larry Weiss says, “Centennial Winchester is excited about the prospects of extending the reach of our highly regarded ‘Newstalk 1400’ station programming further south in the Shenandoah Valley, utilizing the powerful WZFC signal.  This move will allow us to extend the news/talk brand, including our roster of well-established national hosts, south of Winchester into the Warren and Shenandoah County areas.”…..WVLZ, Knoxville “Sports Radio 1180” owner Doug Mathews is selling the station to fellow Knoxville station owner Aaron Ishmael.  He owns crosstown oldies WKCE.  Ishmael begins operating WVLZ under an LMA today (2/1).  The Knoxville News reports that two WVLZ personalities Tony Basilio and Jayson Swain – have ended their brokered arrangements with WVLZ.  It’s not known if Ishmael intends to change the sports talk format…..JVC Media signs an extension to carry Frank MacKay’s two programs – “Breaking it Down” and “52 Players” – on WRCN, Riverhead (Long Island) and WSWN, Belle Glade, Florida (West Palm Beach).

State of the Union Address, FBI Memo Controversy, Trump-Russia Investigation, DACA Status/Immigration Policy, Gowdy to Leave Congress, Flu Epidemic, Social Media Fraud, Black Panther Film, and Super Bowl LII Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/31). Tuesday evening’s State of the Union Address by President Trump; the battle over whether to release the FBI memo that alleges law enforcement abuses and Congressman Adam Schiff’s allegation that Congressman Devin Nunes made changes to the memo; Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives; the status of the Obama-era DACA Act and the Trump administration’s immigration policy; Congressman Trey Gowdy announces he will not seek re-election; the flu epidemic that’s sweeping the U.S.; the social media scandal involving allegations numerous high-profile people bought artificial followers from a firm called Devumi; the new superhero film Black Panther; and the build-up to Super Bowl LII were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Powerful Candid Conversation with WABC, New York Personality Curtis Sliwa on Harrison Podcast. New York City radio icon Curtis Sliwa is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison.” Sliwa, whom Harrison describes as a “performance artist,” is the founder and leader of the grassroots crime fighting organization the Guardian Angels, as well as serving as the chairman of the New York State Reform Party. Sliwa is a longtime Big Apple talk show host heard mostly on WABC during the past few decades. He is currently recovering from serious surgery in the aftermath of an ongoing battle with Crohn’s Disease and other gastroenterological issues – resulting in him having to dry out from opioid addiction. Harrison and Sliwa talk about a range of subjects including prescription drugs, the state of radio, street crime, politics, Donald Trump and the peculiar nature of ego. Don’t miss this! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

 

 

Music Radio News and Career Moves.  Some of the performers taking part at the March 11 iHeartRadio Music Awards are being announced by iHeartMedia.  The fifth “fan-fueled” iHeartRadio Music Awards takes place at the Forum in Los Angeles and will feature: Ed Sheeran, Cardi B, Maroon 5, Camila Cabello, Charlie Puth and Backstreet Boys will be among the performers.  The event is being hosted by Hailey Baldwin and DJ Khaled and is being simulcast live on TBS, TNT and truTV at 8:00 pm ET…..Alpha Media Dayton names programming pro Bo Matthews operations manager for the cluster and content director for adult hits WGTZ “92.9 Jack FM” and country WCLI “101.5 Hank FM.”  Matthews was most recently SVP of programming for iHeartMedia Cincinnati.  He began his career in Youngstown, Ohio with then-Jacor and worked his way up the programming ladder at Clear Channel and iHeartMedia.  Alpha Media EVP of content Scott Mahalick comments, “Bo is a world-class, ‘A’-level programmer who is energized, pursues excellence as a habit, and understands the mission and how to achieve it.  We look forward to his leadership on the Alpha content team.”…..Envision Networks announces that its ‘90s rock weekend show “The Core” adds new affiliates, bringing the Envision Rock Network affiliate count to more than 350.  Adding the program are: KUBQ, La Grande, Oregon; WTCX, Ripon, Wisconsin; and WKBH, La Crosse, Wisconsin.