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Pending Business: The Long and Winding Road

| May 3, 2021

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

 

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — We don’t subscribe.

Three words that could set the tone for what could be a thankless, time-consuming exchange. The seller who needs to provide metrics in a highly accountable media landscape and has no “numbers” to show could be at a competitive disadvantage. Perhaps you sell for a locally owned and operated station that doesn’t subscribe or a privately held owner who simply isn’t of the mindset to subscribe to a ratings service.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

| April 28, 2021

Meadowlark Media and DraftKings Ink Big Deal for Content Distribution. The Miami Herald has the story about the new $40 million deal that Meadowlark Media – the company formed by former ESPN chief John Skipper and former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard – and DraftKings have entered into. According to the Herald, DraftKings is getting into the content distribution business and by June or early July will be responsible for getting Meadowlark’s flagship program “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” onto radio, television, podcast platforms, and social media. It will also serve as title sponsor. The paper reports that Meadowlark negotiated with several other companies including SiriusXM, NBC’s Peacock and iHeartMedia.  Le Batard told the Herald that didn’t want fans to have to climb a paywall for his show. “We didn’t want to do that to our listeners. The thing that I chose was freedom. Every time I’ve negotiated anywhere was for freedom, not money. This allows Meadowlark to be profitable from the start and have total freedom to do what we want. We can go forward and appear everywhere. We can make partnerships anywhere we want. We don’t have any corporate overlord. Our partner is our sponsor and what they are sponsoring is our freedom. The media landscape is changing very rapidly, and this shows how much power and value individuals can exert in breaking free from the corporate machine.” By summertime, Le Batard’s show – currently only available in podcast form – will be found in video formant on YouTube, Twitch, and DraftKings’ own nascent channel. The Herald adds that “the partnership will include DraftKings commissioning content projects and original programming that Meadowlark will develop and produce, including sports documentaries, as DraftKings broadens its sports entertainment footprint.”

Alpha Media Files Opposition to Larry Wilson’s Petition to Deny with FCC. As Alpha Media works to emerge from bankruptcy – approval for which it has received from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern Division of Virginia – it also needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission. But minority interest holders Larry Wilson and Paul Stone filed Petitions to Deny with the FCC, claiming that Alpha has failed to comply with FCC regulations regarding licensing of some of its stations and that the matter requires further review of foreign ownership interests, respectively. Alpha recently filed its opposition to the Petitions to Deny. In that filing’s summary, it says, “In short, when one peels away the bombast of Wilson’s Petition, it is clear that Wilson is inappropriately using the agency as a platform for rehashing his differences with certain members of the Company’s Board of Directors and management, and vainly attempting to shoehorn assessment of his personal grievances into the Commission’s processes under the guise of spurious claims that Alpha is unfit to hold its broadcast licenses. Moreover, his assertions are false. For Stone’s part, he simply criticizes the FCC’s well-established policy of promoting companies’ ability to promptly emerge from bankruptcy where further regulatory review of foreign ownership interests is required, a policy that is grounded in public interest considerations and comity with the bankruptcy laws. Neither Wilson nor Stone has standing as a party-in-interest. Any claims they had as holders of minority interests in Alpha pertaining to the Plan or to Alpha’s governance could and should have been presented to the Bankruptcy Court or the Delaware courts. While they inexplicably chose not to avail themselves of these alternative forums, they cannot now seek redress before the Commission. It has been black-letter law that the FCC does not adjudicate private contractual matters for far longer than the ‘more than 40 years’ that Wilson’s counsel has been ‘practic[ing] before the Commission,’ and the FCC has no reason to do so here.”

Westwood One Announces Executive Promotions. Three Westwood One staffers are promoted to new positions within the syndicator and sales firm’s programming and operations divisions. Twenty-eight-year Westwood One employee Susan Stephens is promoted to SVP and general manager, Westwood One programming. In this expanded role, Stephens will work to optimize programming and content opportunities and collaborations between news, talk, music, and entertainment. Tim Seymour rises to SVP, head of operations in which the 20-year WWO staffer assumes responsibility for the operations, partner relations, affiliate & sales operations, traffic & continuity, and research operations teams. Becky Bennett is elevated to VP, partner relations. Stephens and Seymour both report to Cumulus Media executive vice president of marketing and president of Westwood One Suzanne Grimes. Bennett will report to Seymour. Grimes says, “We have an enviable depth of talent within Westwood One with the unique experience to lead us forward. It is a privilege and a pleasure to announce these well-deserved promotions that will position us to succeed in 2021 and beyond.”

Edison’s Annual ‘Moms and Media’ Study Unveiled May 6. The results of the annual “Moms and Media” study from Edison Research will be revealed at a webinar being presented next Thursday (5/6) at 2:00 pm ET. Edison says, “This year’s ‘Moms and Media’ study provides insight on media usage, social media habits, and current outlook on tech by U.S. moms. Findings incorporate data from The Infinite Dial study from Edison Research and Triton Digital, as well as data from Edison Research’s new ongoing syndicated measurement of social media, The Social Habit. The 2021 report features data trends on devices, media engagement, and technology usage of U.S. moms. Highlights from this year’s study include: smart speaker ownership, podcast adoption, online audio listening, and social media engagement. In addition, the report will showcase brand new research centered on social media usage by U.S. moms and their children. You can register for the webinar here.

Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Harry Hamm Sentenced in Child Porn Case. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that former longtime KMOX, St. Louis air personality Harry Hamm was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. The 79-year-old former entertainment editor for the radio station admitted that FBI investigators found child porn on two of his cell phones and his laptop. Hamm is also facing charges of second-degree statutory sodomy, incest and possession of child pornography in St. Louis County. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. The Post-Dispatch story says the St. Louis County charges stem from allegations of sexual contact with a 16-year-old. Hamm began his career with the station in 1975.

TALKERS News Notes. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway is bringing two of the Navy SEALS who were on the mission that killed al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden to Des Moines for a fundraiser for the Puppy Jake Foundation that provides service dogs for combat-wounded veterans. Rob O’Neill – the SEAL who fired the shots that killed Bin Laden – and SEAL dog handler Will Chesney will take part in the June 18 event…..ABC News Radio is providing coverage of President Joe Biden’s address this evening and will begin with a one-hour special, “The Biden Presidency: The First 100 Days,” looking back at the start of the Biden administration. The program will air live on the radio network from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET anchored by correspondent Aaron Katersky. ABC News Radio will also provide live anchored coverage of President Biden’s speech, with reporting and analysis from ABC News’ team of correspondents and experts…..Public radio outlet WPLN, Nashville announces it has hired Caroline Eggers as the newsroom’s first environmental reporter. She starts her new position in June and will cover environmental issues with a focus on equity for WPLN News as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms across the U.S. to report on under-covered topics and communities. She comments, “WPLN News delivers essential stories with incredible intellect and empathy. I can’t wait to reflect these values while investigating Nashville’s climate action plan, air quality and infrastructure challenges.”

COVID-19, Biden’s 100 Days Address to Congress/$1.8 Trillion American Families Plan, Andrew Brown, Jr Protests/Police Violence, 2020 Census-House Seats, Critical Race Theory Controversy, John Kerry Iran Allegation, and Southern Border Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/27). The CDC’s new directives on mask wearing, the rollout of vaccines, and the high rate of cases in places like India and Brazil; this evening’s 100-day address to Congress by President Joe Biden and his $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the protests of the police shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. and other cases of police violence; the results of the 2020 census and its impact on U.S. Rep seats; the controversy over “critical race theory” and its use in public schools curricula; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Israeli air strikes with Iran’s foreign minister; and the overwhelming number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Radio: Live On Air and Everywhere

| April 16, 2021

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Both programmers and sales reps – and retail advertisers you pitch – will find this NPR/Edison Research useful.

Based on 1,500 early-2021 online interviews with Persons 18+ who had listened to radio in the past week, weighted, it’s available for free download here. Included there: video interviews with some who were surveyed, which will make you long for the days when radio funded focus groups.

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Friday, March 12, 2021

| March 12, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled “The New Abnormal” looks back at this past week of March 8-12, 2021.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Michael Berry, talk show host, KTRH, Houston / Michael Berry Network;  Grace Curley, talk show host, WRKO, Boston / Howie Carr Radio NetworkDom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia / “Readin’ Writin’ and Reason” podcast; Rob Carson, talk show host, Newsmax TV / “What in the World?”; Thom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD Media; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company.  The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“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, DE; 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; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here  or call 616-884-8616.

Saga Communications Reports Q4 2020 Net Revenue Down 10%; Decline of 24.9% for Full Year. In reporting its financial data for the fourth quarter of 2020 and the full year, Saga Communications, Inc says fourth quarter and year-end 2020 revenue and the related net income continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Net revenue was $28.8 million for Q4 2020, a 19.1% increase over net revenue for the third quarter, but a decline of 10% compared to Q4 2019. For the full year of 2020, net revenue was $95.8 million, a decrease of 24.9% from the $123.1 million in net revenue it posted in 2019. Back to the fourth quarter of 2020, station operating expense decreased $1.9 million to $21.1 million compared to the same period last year.  Station operating income was $9.1 million for the quarter compared to $10.5 million for the fourth quarter last year and operating income was $5 million for the quarter compared to $5.4 million for the same period last year.  Saga posted a net loss of $1.9 million for the full year 2020 that included a non-cash impairment charge of $5.2 million. Without the impairment charge the company would have reported net income of $1.7 million for the period. Saga Communications’ balance sheet reflects $51.4 million in cash on hand as of December 31, 2020 and $56 million as of March 8, 2021. The company’s total bank debt remained at $10 million as of year-end 2020.

WEEI, Boston’s Dale Arnold to Leave Sports Talk Station. Boston sports media personality Dale Arnold – a staple at Entercom’s WEEI-FM since its inception as a sports talk outlet 30 years ago – will leave the station and his role as co-host of the “Dale and Keefe” midday program after today’s show. The Boston Globe has the story here. Although the soon-to-be-65-year-old Arnold on Thursday told listeners, “I’m going to retire from the radio business. I am not going to be coming back after tomorrow’s show,” he’ll continue his role as studio host for Boston Bruins hockey broadcasts on cable TV’s NESN. The Globe’s Chad Finn says it’s expected that Andy Gresh – who exited Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence in January of this year – will be partnered with Rich Keefe for middays going forward. Arnold told listeners his decision to leave WEEI – and not accept the offer to do part-time work there – was personal. “Some of you know this and some of you don’t. My wife had to retire from her employment in September, she’s had some medical issues. And you start thinking about things. You start thinking about, you know, ‘I’d like to spend some more time with her. I’d like to have one full-time job instead of two. I’d like to have summer months to go back to my home state of Maine and enjoy myself more.’”

Salem New York Debuts Evening ‘Bring Back NYC’ Show. Hosted by regular evening personality Kevin McCullough, Salem Media Group’s New York news/talker WNYM-AM “AM 970 The Answer” is launching a new nightly broadcast that “will be a deep dive into areas of life relevant to relaunching arguably the most important city on planet earth.” Salem New York says the program will feature specific expertise designed for this unique moment in the nation’s recovery. Monday nights will feature the expertise of “Millionaire Maker” Hilary Kramer in the markets and money. Tuesday nights the journey will be guided by veteran travel expert Valerie D’Elia. Wednesday nights focus on the medical expertise of Nicole Saphier MD, FOX News senior medical contributor and physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Medical Center. The law is the focus of Thursday nights with Arthur Aidala Esq. Friday nights will play host to PR pro Cristyne Nicholas, who serves as chair of the 109-year-old Broadway Association. McCullough says, “Given the mighty struggle our city and people have faced in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, political mismanagement, criminal riots, and the longest extended closures of business in the city, we asked ourselves the question of how we could best answer the needs of the city, and I’m here to let them know, ‘help is on the way!’ What greater good can we do with the airwaves than help turn on the lights, smiles, and lives again in the city that never sleeps?”

Edison Research ‘Infinite Dial 2021.’ It’s “the longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior in America – tracking mobile behaviors, internet audio, podcasting, social media, smart speakers, and more.” Noting that, “‘more’ now includes radio,” consultant Holland Cooke summarizes the latest findings, and includes a download link to the report. Read it here.

Jonathan Hutton Ousted from Tennessee Titans Radio Team. Former WGFX-FM, Nashville “104.5 The Zone” radio personality Jonathan Hutton will not be part of the radio broadcast team for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans for the 2021 season. Hutton recently left “The Zone” to become part of Clay TravisOutkick digital platform on which he’ll co-host the “Outkick 360” program with fellow former “Zone” hosts Chad Withrow and Paul Kuharsky. On his website, Kuharsky quotes Cumulus Nashville VP and market manager Allison Warren, who says, “Jonathan Hutton has certainly been a big part of 104.5 The Zone’s Titans Radio broadcast over the years. However, regrettably Jonathan declined our offer to continue with 104.5 The Zone deciding to pursue other opportunities which has impacted his role on the Titans Radio broadcast.”

TALKERS News Notes. The anniversary of the official beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. is the impetus behind the CBS News Radio series that reflects on the past year. The series will be featured on CBS News top-of-the-hour and “World News Roundup” broadcasts airing Monday through Friday of next week (3/15-19)…..Entercom announces the launch of “BetQL Countdown to Tip-Off,” a six-episode series of special NCAA men’s college basketball tournament programming that launches tomorrow (3/13). Led by Nick Kostos, host of BetQL Audio Network podcast “You Better You Bet,” “BetQL Countdown to Tip-Off” will serve as breakdowns of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, featuring a mix of sports betting insight. The show will also welcome talent from across Entercom’s portfolio of sports stations, including Travis Thomas, WTEM, Washington; Mike Valenti, WXYT, Detroit; Danny Parkins, WSCR, Chicago; and Marc Malusis, WFAN, New York…..PodcastOne, a subsidiary of LiveXLive Media, announces the debut of “The Rock Podcast with Denny Somach.” Rock historian and radio producer Somach goes deep undercover on “The Rock Podcast” to shine new light on the soundtrack of the most exciting decades in music, bringing on guests to talk about their career experiences and using Somach’s own personal library of thousands of interviews to bring the lives of the most legendary rock stars who matter to the forefront. Upcoming guests include Nancy Wilson from Heart, Steve Lukather from Toto, Jon Anderson of Yes, and John Densmore of The Doors. PodcastOne chairman Norm Pattiz says, “Denny is a fantastic producer with a track record that goes back decades. His knowledge of music history and love of rock ‘n’ roll is second to none. I love his work and now millions will be able to access that work on PodcastOne,”…..New York City was hit early and hard by the pandemic, and during those first bewildering days and weeks, WNYC’s call-in news program “The Brian Lehrer Show” was a life raft for New Yorkers seeking information, answers, and companionship. To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the shutdown that forever altered New York City, the program plans two special events: a broadcast on Tuesday (3/16) at 10:00 am called “Reading Their Names” in which, for 90 minutes, 484 listeners who will read the names of 1,780 people in the New York listening region who have died from the virus. The second is “WNYC’S 2020 Time Capsule” – broadcast on Thursday (3/18) that culminates the programs assemblage of its 2020 time capsule that is a repository of listener calls, news reports, and personal submissions by New Yorkers sharing what they have been through that’s saved on a hard drive to be safely stored alongside the transmitter atop the Empire State Building. The capsule will be opened in 2031.

iHeartMedia Names Nicky Sparrow SVP of Multi-Cultural Sales. Moving from her current position as market president for iHeartMedia Jacksonville to the new corporate position SVP of multicultural sales is Nicky Sparrow. In this role, Sparrow will be responsible for leading multicultural ad sales revenue for the Markets Group division. Sparrow will apply her deep knowledge of multicultural audiences and strong relationships with multicultural ad agencies and brands to build, drive, influence, and execute strategic multicultural initiatives across the iHeartMedia sales organization. She says, “I’m thrilled for this next step in my career. I’ve been with iHeartMedia for more than 20 years, and I can’t wait to take my experience and strong relationships with partners and advertisers to further deliver and create innovative and effective multicultural opportunities for our consumers that will not only grow our portfolio of assets, but represent and truly connect with our diverse audiences.”

Stimulus Package and the Economy Tie for Top News/Talk Story This Week. The Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill and the state of the U.S. economy combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio for the week of March 8-12, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and Joe Biden’s immigration policy. Coming in at #3 was the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants and the rollout of vaccines. 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.

 

 

Producer Wanted for Syndicated Morning Show. A nationally syndicated morning show is searching for an experienced producer to help generate content and show prep. The successful candidate will have 3-5 years’ experience producing a lifestyle-based show. The individual we’re looking for will have the ability to check their ego at the door and dig deep to provide show prep and occasionally deliver on-air content. Although we’re a national show with a significant nationwide and worldwide footprint, we’re a small operation and very much a family. The successful candidate will understand the high-pressure nature of the business but also understand how to operate with minimal direction with strong personalities. This is a full-time, remote position; relocation is not required. Salary is commensurate with experience. Finalists will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Learn more about this position here and send materials to: Dtc_exec@yahoo.com.

Morning Drive News Anchor-Host at Top 25 Market East Coast Station. Looking for a news air talent who can write and read news for a local, current events issue-driven morning show. Prefer an air talent who is comfortable expressing an opinion on the hot topics of the day. Interested? Submit a demo mp3 and resume ASAP. Apply confidentially to talkradiogig@gmail.com. The radio station is an EOE and females are encouraged to apply.

The Infinite Dial 2021

| March 12, 2021

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Applause to Edison Research for their “Infinite Dial” series, “the longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior in America…tracking mobile behaviors, internet audio, podcasting, social media, smart speakers, and more.” “More” includes radio.

Here’s the whole thing: http://www.edisonresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/The-Infinite-Dial-2021.pdf

As previous reports have, this national telephone survey of 1,507 Persons 12+ is a useful snapshot of what’s changing, and what isn’t-much.

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Monday, February 1, 2021

| February 1, 2021

Mark Chernoff to Retire from WFAN, New York. An internal memo from Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero reveals that longtime WFAN program director Mark Chernoff will retire from his position with the station this year. Oliviero’s memo states: “After nearly 30 years of unmatched success, our colleague and industry programming icon, Mark Chernoff, will step down from day-to-day oversight of WFAN and CBS SPORTS RADIO later in 2021 after a worthy successor has been identified – which trust me will be no easy task. Since no one knows the job better, Mark will be a member of the search committee for the next sports content lead for both brands and, until that time, will remain fully responsible for all operations. Also, Mark will continue on as an advisor to WFAN after the search and transition is complete. I was lucky enough to first meet Mark in 1998 in his windowless sub-sub-basement office out at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens. I was a college grad groveling for part-time board op shifts at WFAN. That began a relationship that has evolved into one of the most rewarding, important and genuine friendships of my entire life. One that I have and always will cherish. When people think of WFAN, names like Imus, ‘Mike & The Mad Dog’ or Boomer often come to mind, but no name has been more responsible for the consistent excellence of ‘The  Fan’ than ‘Chernoff.’”

Monday Memo: Cancel Culture Canceled! “Cooperstown controversy! Social media malpractice! First Amendment flap! COVID contagion! Giddy over GameStop!” Anxious alliteration aside, this week’s column from Holland Cooke forewarns fake news fabricators. Read it here.

COVID-19/Vaccine Rollout, Trump Impeachment, GOP Election Deniers/‘Country First’ Drive, GameStop Trading/Financial Markets Activity, Putin Protests, and Myanmar Military Coup Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll and the complications affecting the rollout of the vaccines; the impeachment case against Donald Trump; Republican members of congress still implying that Donald Trump won the 2020 election, led by Georgia’s MarjorieTaylor Greene, and the “Country First” drive to “save the GOP” being launched by U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger; the GameStop trading saga and the global financial markets activity; the protests in Russia over Vladimir Putin’s detention of critic Alexei Navalny; and the military detains Myanmar’s leaders were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: All Impressions Are Not Created Equal. Radio sellers are hawking impressions to potential buyers. But, as sales and management pro Steve Lapa says in today’s column, all impressions are not created equal. Just as your body uses the same amount of calories from an apple and a processed snack differently, the various “products” your station offers have different impression values. Read more here.

Holiday 2020 PPM Ratings Takeaways. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from the first round of Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2020 PPM survey that covered the period of December 3 – January 6. The annual Holiday PPM survey is usually not kind to the all-news and news/talk formats due in part to holiday music listening and the changes in listeners’ daily lifestyles because of the holiday season. However, this year was a little different because of the historical aftermath of the November elections. In New York, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOR dipped only slightly from a 2.8 share in the December survey to a 2.4 share in the Holiday survey. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI adds one-tenth to finish with a 4.7 share and the #3 rank in the market. While Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM was flat at a 6.8 share and the #3 rank, Nexstar Media Group’s news/talk WGN-AM was up nine-tenths for a 3.7 share finish at the #7 rank. Meanwhile, Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta remained the #1 ranked station while dipping seven-tenths to a 9.0 share. Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle also stayed in the #1 position while flat with a 7.2 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Remembering the King. Pictured above are TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (right) and media consultant and host of RT America’s “The Big Picture,” Holland Cooke, as they discuss the talk media career of Larry King, who died at age 87 last weekend. During Harrison’s appearance, they also talked about Rush Limbaugh and the nature of today’s media. See it here.

‘ESPN Charlotte’ Expands Local Afternoon Drive Show. “The Afternoon Rush” program on 2G Media’s sports talk WZGV-AM/W248CO, Charlotte expands as program director and co-host Bobby Rosinski (left) moves morning personality Molly Cotten (center) to the afternoon show alongside himself and co-host Mark Yarbro (right). Cotten had been co-hosting the morning program with Walker Mehl. The station begins airing ESPN Radio’s “Keyshawn, JWill, and Zubin” in morning drive with Mehl continuing to host the morning edition of “SportsCenter CLT” as well as an evening edition of the program airing at 6:00 pm.

Colin Cowherd and iHeartMedia to Launch New Podcast Network. A collaborative effort between Colin Cowherd and iHeartMedia is producing another podcast network, this one called “The Volume.” The two partners have already created “The Herd Podcast Network.” Colin Cowherd says, “There has never been a more exciting time to develop new sports content. Podcasts have totally changed the game, and the expanded use of sports gambling makes this the perfect moment to launch this endeavor. I’m thrilled to work with iHeartRadio and this dynamic group of talent to start building ‘The Volume.’” FanDuel has signed on as a primary sponsor. Five new podcasts will appear on the network that debuts today (2/1): A new “Colin Cowherd Podcast”; an NBA-themed show called “The Jenkins & Jonez Podcast” starring LaJethro Jenkins and Dragonfly Jonez; “Moneyline Monaco” hosted by comedian and sports gambling fanatic Alex Monaco; “Oral Sessions with Renée Paquette” focusing on combat sports; and “Catchin’ Fades With Aqib Talib,” an NFL show hosted by Aqib Talib.

TALKERS News Notes. PhillyVoice.com reports that longtime Philadelphia sports talk personality Marc Farzetta is starting his own streaming sports talk show via YouTube called, “The Farzy Show with Marc Farzetta.” Farzetta was let go by Beasley Media’s WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic” in early December. Prior to his two years with WPEN, he served with Entercom’s crosstown WIP for 13 years. The new program streams from 6:00 am to 7:00 am daily. Former Philadelphia Eagles star Hugh Douglas (a former co-host of Farzetta’s) will be a recurring guest on the program…..Nationally syndicated talk host Thom Hartmann publishes his latest book this week. The Hidden History of American Oligarchy — Reclaiming our Democracy from The Ruling Class (2021, Berrett-Koehler Publishers). The publisher says that in this book Hartmann “lays out the ways in which inequality in America has shifted over the last 50 years and identifies a handful of sensical, powerful solutions that address these issues at different levels, such as getting money out of politics, addressing social despair and economic inequality, strengthening democratic institutions of governance, and fighting fear.”…..Radio One’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte helped raise $255,000 for three charities in the Charlotte area. In partnership with Moments of Hope Church, WBT was able to donate $85,000 each to The Charlotte Rescue Mission, Kings Kitchen, and Camino Community Center. The awarding of the funds took place on “The Pat McCrory Show with Bo Thompson,” along with Moments of Hope Church pastor David Chadwick (who hosts a Sunday morning show on WBT) present. The live broadcast resulted in an additional $5,000 being donated, which was matched by Moments of Hope and rounded up so that the final total was $270,000, with each charity receiving $90,000…..GCN nationally syndicated talk host Dr. Daliah Wachs is pictured at left getting her first COVID-19 shot from Pfizer. She says, “It was painless going in, but the next day or two I had some muscle aches, fatigue, and nausea. Thirty hours later, however, I felt great. I know the vaccine scares a lot of people and new variants keep popping up, but I feel we need to protect and plan for the here and now, with expectations that booster shots will be required for the newer strains. The vaccination is not without its risks but COVID illness is much riskier.”

Monday Memo: In 2021, What Does It Mean to Be Relevant?

| December 14, 2020

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Think 2020 was a bender?  Grab the arm rest!

Silver lining in this year-we’d-like-to-forget: It knocked us out of the business-as-usual mindset.

We know him, we love him. Until 2020, we could simply applaud his provocative take, then keep-doing-what-we’re-doing.

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Monday, September 21, 2020

| September 21, 2020

Monday Memo: Attention Is Not for Sale. What’s for sale? Clicks, on Facebook and Twitter and Google. And broadcasters and podcasters are buying. And as consultant Holland Cooke warns, “If you’re broadcasting and not also podcasting, you’re late.” In this week’s column HC offers 7 tips “before you spend a dime on social media ads.” Read it here.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies/Supreme Court Justice Battle, the Presidential Race, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Western Wildfires, the TikTok Deal, Tropical Storm Beta, and the Emmy Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the battle over the nomination for her seat; the November presidential election; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the wildfires burning in California, Oregon, and Washington; the deal to allow Oracle to acquire the U.S. version of TikTok; Tropical Storm Beta bears down on the Gulf Coast; and Sunday night’s Emmy Awards were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: What’s That Computer Doing? Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes today about what radio sales people have to offer that programmatic sales cannot. Read more here.

Pandemic Forces Changes at Atlanta Sports Talk “680 The Fan.” As reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho, Dickey Broadcasting Company-owned WCNN-AM “680 The Fan” has let a number of air staff go in a move forced by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on company revenue. Morning drive personality Stephen “Steak” Shapiro and early afternoon host John Kincade are both out, as is WFOM-AM/W292EV “Xtra 106.3” host Mark Zinno. The company has moved talent from “Xtra 106.3” to WCNN and will now simulcast all programs across all of the signals. Moving to mornings alongside Sandra Golden and Brian Finneran is John Michaels. “Hometeam” Brandon Leak and Joe Hamilton move to “The Fan” in the 9:00 am to 11:00 am slot, and Hutson Mason and Tug Cowart join Buck Belue for the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm program. John Kincade had worked alongside Belue for the past 20 years.

WFLA, Tampa Morning Personality Jack Harris Celebrates 50 Years on Air. A piece in the Tampa Bay Times recognizes WFLA morning host Jack Harris’ celebration of 50 years in the radio biz, almost all of it spent in the Tampa Bay market. The 79-year-old Harris got his start in his native West Virginia while still in high school. He’s been hosting the “AM Tampa Bay” program on iHeartMedia’s WFLA-AM, Tampa Bay for the past 27 years.

Mary Sandberg Boyle Upped to Vice President and General Manager for WGN-AM, Chicago. Rising from her general manager role to vice president and general manager at Nexstar Media Group’s WGN Radio is Mary Sandberg Boyle. The company says, “She joined WGN Radio in 2015, where she was instrumental in the development and launch of ‘The Opening Bell,’ a weekday morning business show. She has held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility at WGN Radio, including executive producer, director of news and operations, and acting general manager. Sandberg Boyle was named WGN Radio’s general manager in December 2019 and has led the station through the current COVID-19 pandemic, initiating a series of new policies and procedures designed to improve workflow and keep the staff safe. She has also overseen a number of programming and personnel changes that have increased WGN Radio’s ratings, which are up 31% among adults 25 to 54 according to the latest available ratings.” Nexstar EVP Sean Compton says, “Mary has done an outstanding job under less than ideal circumstances. She is innovative, thoughtful and determined, and she has forged a great working relationship with the staff. She is a respected leader in Chicago media and this promotion is well-deserved. I look forward to WGN Radio’s continued growth under Mary’s guidance.”

TALKERS News Notes. WBAL-AM, Baltimore talk host Clarence Mitchell IV, a.k.a. C4, is named Best Radio Host by the readers of Baltimore Magazine in its 2020 Best of Baltimore Readers Poll. Mitchell had been serving as the Hearst Television station’s midday personality until this summer when he moved to morning drive as co-host alongside Bryan Nehman…..Sports media giant ESPN says that the unusual confluence of all major professional sports in August “heated up ESPN Podcast listenership, as ESPN posted its best month ever and grew 29% over August 2019.” ESPN Audio vice president, digital marketing and strategy Tom Ricks adds, “It is clear that when current events are on the mind of listeners – be it sports or politics – fans turn to our network of podcasts for the best in analysis, storytelling and discussion. As baseball heads towards the playoffs, the NFL starts up and the election comes closer, we are focused on delivering our best for fans in a time like no other.” ESPN says that according to the Podtrac Podcast Category Audience Rankings, in August ESPN was home to 13 of the top 30 podcasts, including five of the top 10. “The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz – which in August added two hours of podcast-exclusive content each weekday – ranked second with a unique audience of 1.282 million.”…..Westwood One’s “Dan Bongino Podcast” featured President Donald Trump speaking with host Dan Bongino in which the president shared his thoughts on polling accuracy, Twitter, Section 230, and other topics…..FOX Sports Radio’s new iHeartRadio original podcast, “Lights Out with Shawne Merriman,” launched on Friday (9/18) and featured Merriman speaking with two-time NFL Pro Bowler Quentin Jammer about athletes and depression, and how he nearly committed suicide.

Joe Madison to Host ‘The Vote Must Go On’ Broadcast Special. Talk host Joe Madison will host a special program on SiriusXM’s Urban View channel titled, “The Vote Must Go On: In Person or By Mail,” that will air tomorrow (9/22) at 7:00 am ET. The program addresses issues such as how voters can safely and fairly cast their ballots amid the pandemic, the potential for voter suppression, voter fraud, and more. Madison will lead the discussion that will include top elected officials from several states – representing both parties – along with members of Congress including: Ellen L. Weintraub, Commissioner of the U.S. Federal Election Commission; Debra Cleaver, founder and CEO of VoteAmerica; Carolyn Maloney, Congresswoman and House Oversight Committee Chair; Scott T. Nago, Hawaii Chief Election Officer; Frank LaRose, Ohio Secretary of State, Tahesha Way, New Jersey Secretary of State; Kim Wyman, Secretary of State of Washington; and Bill Burgess, president of the Oregon Association of County Clerks.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Over the weekend, iHeartMedia presented the 10th edition of the iHeartRadio Music Festival with a virtual stream of performances on The CW App and CWTV.com, and a radio broadcast on iHeartMedia stations nationwide. The event featured performances from: Alicia Keys, Bon Jovi, BTS, Coldplay, Kane Brown with special guests Khalid & Swae Lee, Keith Urban, Migos, Miley Cyrus, Thomas Rhett with surprise guest Jon Pardi, Usher and more, recorded live on stages in Nashville and Los Angeles. The CW Network will also broadcast the two-night televised on Sunday, September 27 (8:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET) and Monday, September 28 (8:00pm to 10:00 pm ET)…..Broadcast Music Inc, Beasley Media Group, and Xperi’s HD Radio are launching a new radio program series titled “100 Years of Hit Makers.” Beasley says it’s part of a year-long campaign to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first commercial radio broadcast in the U.S., and to highlight the continuing importance of radio, especially in our current climate. The series will take acclaimed songwriters from the country, rock, and R&B/hip-hop genres and give music fans everywhere a behind the scenes glimpse into the writing of their hit songs. “100 Years of Hitmakers” will air on 33 Beasley Media Group radio stations, as well as on demand here.….Hubbard Radio’s alternative KDKB, Phoenix “ALT AZ 93-3” adds the Premiere Networks-syndicated morning program “The Woody Show” for the 5:00 am to 10:00 am daypart. As a result, “The Mo! Show” moves to the midday daypart.

Monday, August 31, 2020

| August 31, 2020

Monday Memo: Announcers, You Have Been Replaced…for $47.  Seldom at a loss for words, consultant Holland Cooke admits he “won’t even TRY to describe” what he regards as a breakthrough, “after what we, as an industry, have suffered from failed consolidation, and as pandemic remote-broadcast mode has obsoleted the station workspace as we knew it.” Read it here.

Pending Business: The New-Talk of Sports Talk. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes today about the dramatic changes in what sports talk hosts are discussing today compared to just a year ago. “Today, players and on-air personalities are tackling complex issues with newer topics up for discussion everywhere from social media to your station’s dial position. Let’s be clear, this is not about play-by-play, this is about selling your local sports talker hitting on topics that last year at this time weren’t up for consideration on a sports talk show sheet.” Read more here.

Madison Advertiser Pulls Ads from News/Talk WIBA-AM. A piece in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel by Daniel Bice indicates that Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin has pulled its ads from iHeartMedia’s news/talk WIBA-AM, Madison after talk host Vicki McKenna voiced support for Kyle Rittenhouse – the 17-year-old Illinois resident charged with homicide in the deaths of two protestors. Group Health Cooperative chief business development officer Allan Wearing tells Bice that McKenna has a right to her opinions and his  company has the right to pull its advertising. McKenna – whose show is also heard on sister station WISN-AM, Milwaukee – says she’s being “smeared” by the newspaper and that Bice wrote that she’s encouraging people to “murder protesters.” Bice says he wrote no such thing.

Cleveland, Tennessee Sportscaster Suspended After Insensitive Comment. Play-by-play broadcaster Gary Ownbey has been suspended by Hartline LLC for a comment made during a high school football game broadcast last week on “101.3 The Buzz” in Cleveland, Tennessee. After Ownbey stumbled over some of the players’ names during the broadcast, he said, “I don’t know where they’re getting these foreigners from.” Hartline and Bradley County Schools issued a joint statement that read, in part, “Now more than ever, it is critical for our organizations to reinforce our public commitment to equity for all. ‘101.3 The Buzz,’ Bradley County Schools, and Bradley Central High School will not condone this type of action or behavior. We believe this is contrary to our overall goals of empathy, affirmation, and creating a culturally responsive environment for all.” Hartline LLC owner Steve Hartline added, “The comments made during Thursday night’s game do not in any way reflect the culture nor views of the station. We respect our student-athletes, and their families and are proud to showcase their accomplishments on and off the field.”

Civil Unrest/Deadly Portland Shooting, Presidential Race, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, School Opening Debate/College Outbreaks, Hurricane Laura Destruction, Actor Chadwick Boseman Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The civil unrest in cities where protests are ongoing and the shooting death in Portland; the November presidential election; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the debate over opening schools to students and the outbreaks on numerous college campuses; the destruction in Louisiana after the landfall of Hurricane Laura; and the death of actor Chadwick Boseman were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

iHeartMedia Expands Black Information Network Across On-Air Signals. The new BIN: Black Information Network launched last month by iHeartMedia is adding four on-air signals to the group of radio stations carrying the 24/7 national audio news service “dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.” The company has entered into Local Marketing Agreements with M-10 Broadcasting for WQLL-AM, Baltimore; Alexander Broadcasting Company for W257DC, Montgomery, Alabama; Beasley Media Group for WTEL-AM, Philadelphia; and an LMA with an Asset Purchase Agreement with Potomac Radio Group for WUST-AM, Washington, DC. BIN: 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 Baltimore, Montgomery, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. and provide millions of listeners there with both the national and local news that impacts their lives.”

TALKERS News Notes. In Springfield, Illinois, Mid-West Family Communications announces that effective tomorrow (9/1) news/talk WMAY-AM begins airing on the 92.7 frequency in the market. Currently the home of country WUSY-FM, the move will put the company’s heritage news/talk station on three signals: 970 AM, 94.7 FM via W234CC, and the full-market class B1 FM WUSY. Station general manager Mike Paterson says in a press release, “Now more than ever, people across Central Illinois are relying on WMAY for breaking news and insightful coverage and commentary of important local, state, and national issues. Moving WMAY to 92.7 FM expands its reach into downtown office buildings and to inform consumers in surrounding counties. The pandemic, the rebuilding of the local economy, the election, statehouse scandals, and more – these are all reasons why people need a reliable way to stay informed and stay connected. Expanding our on-air reach, in addition to our streaming audio and our extensive online and social media presence, brings that vital information to every place that our audience needs it.”…..“The Armstrong & Getty Show” adds a new affiliate station to its roster as Starnes Media Group’s KWAM, Memphis “The Mighty 990” begins airing the KSTE, Sacramento-based program. Starnes Media Group president Todd Starnes comments, “I’ve known Armstrong & Getty since my days at KFBK in Sacramento. I have no doubt that our KWAM listeners across the Mid-South will be thoroughly entertained by their show. Armstrong & Getty are making talk radio fun again.”…..In conjunction with the Seattle Police Foundation’s “Got Your Six” fundraising campaign, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s talk KVI, Seattle helped raise more than $50,000 earmarked for protective eyewear for Seattle police officers. The effort began on August 18 as KVI morning host John Carlson encouraged his listeners to donate funds in the aftermath of reports that police were being targeted with potentially eye-damaging laser pointers…..Former Georgetown University basketball coach and former WTEM, Washington “ESPN 980” sports talk host John Thompson is dead at age 78. Thompson led the Georgetown Hoyas to the 1984 NCAA Championship. After leaving coaching in 1999, he began a 12-year career as a radio sports talk host on WTEM’s midday show alongside Rick “Doc” Walker and Brian Mitchell

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Baltimore hot AC WWMX-FM “Mix 106.5” announces its new morning drive team of Steve Kramer and Jessica Dutra, who will host the “Kramer & Jess” show beginning September 14. Entercom Baltimore SVP and market manager Tracy Brandys says, “Kramer and Jess are both optimistic, energetic and downright entertaining, which is exactly what Baltimore listeners are craving to start their day. Their undeniable passion will be a welcomed addition to our morning drive, and we look forward to introducing them to our audience, both locally and nationally.” The pair were most recently with iHeartMedia’s KHTS-FM, San Diego where Kramer was a morning co-host while Dutra served the station as co-host, producer, and social media coordinator for the morning show…..A new program is being offered in syndication from Cumulus Media’s Westwood One, in partnership with Oceanic Tradewinds and T & T Creative. The show, “Winning with Jekalyn Carr,” features hit music popular in both the inspirational and urban formats as well as interviews, creative features, and a plethora of video lifestyle content. The show premieres on Labor Day (9/7) in both video and audio formats and then launches with a regular hour-long, daily radio program and a two-hour-long weekend offering. All programs are barter free through September 27.

Monday Memo: ‘Mainstream Media’ Redefined

| June 22, 2020

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — For several decades, the term “Mainstream Media” has been weaponized, first by scrappy fringe voices railing against legacy networks and newspapers; more recently by FOX News Channel and Rush Limbaugh…ironic, since ratings qualify them as “mainstream.” But never has the obsolescence of the term been more painfully obvious than lately, especially during the George Floyd episode.

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