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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

| June 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

| February 5, 2014

bennettseatedsmallStill Pioneering After All These Years – 74-Year-Old Alex Bennett Is Building New Platform and Inventing “New” Talk Format.  Some view their own age and/or that of others as a roadblock – a barrier to achieving an untold number of additional hopes and dreams.  To others, age – more correctly – is merely a meaningless number with no attached strings or restrictions.  It would have been quite easy and understandable for radio legend Alex Bennett to take leave and retreat from the business in which he has been an integral part for several decades. After all, the legendary broadcaster was 73-years-old when Sirius XM unceremoniously pink-slipped him last June after more than nine years of service at the satcaster (he turned 74 two months ago).  Notwithstanding an imposing and lengthy list of accomplishments and vitae, which the native Californian could trumpet as an entree to retirement, he has become an entrepreneur with “Alex Bennett’s Great American Broadcasts” being the centerpiece of his novel take on talk radio.  Bennett is innovatively and opportunistically using Skype to create “citizen panels” of up to 10 callers per clip interacting with him in on-air conversation at a time.  To learn more about this creative venture and the ongoing adventures of one of radio’s truly cooler characters, read TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian’s feature piece posted today (2/5) in its entirety by clicking here.

siriusxmSiriusXM Reports Revenue Up 12% in 2013.  During yesterday’s Q4 conference call, SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer told investors and analysts that the company delivered on all of its guidance for 2013 and enjoyed a revenue spike of 12% for the year plus saw its subscriber base rise to 25.5 million.  Meyer, like Mel Karmazin before him, is touting the company’s dedication to increasing free cash flow and, to that end, Meyer reports free cash flow was up 31% to $927 million for the year.  Looking back onmeyerjim 2013 Meyer underscored the importance of deals that get SiriusXM radios into new cars and stated the satellite service is now available in 71% of cars sold in the United States.  Meyer also spoke about the company’s strategy with regard to the “connected vehicle,” saying, “We’ve acquired a smart team of technology engineers who are accelerating development of our overall connected car architecture, including the combination of satellite receivers with LTE hardware, a strategy that should also yield benefits to our existing audio business…We expect connected vehicle services to deliver close to $100 million of revenue this year, and we expect to grow this at strong double-digit rates over the next many years.  We are in the process of fully integrating the CV business into SiriusXM, and its financial results are embedded in our guidance today.”  Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript.  Members can check out the entire conference here.

missanellimikeGreater Media Suspends WPEN, Philadelphia’s Mike Missanelli for Gay Slurs.  This story goes to show how even a seasoned pro like Philadelphia sports talk host Mike Missanelli can make the mistake of engaging with a critic online.  Greater Media has suspended afternoon personality Mike Missanelli after he called a critic a “latent homosexual” in an email exchange.  The station issued the following statement, “We are aware of the email communications between Mike and one of his listeners.  This individual has been harassing Mike by email for several years, which is cause for concern, and we are working with Mike to try to identify this person and stop the abuse.  However, that does not excuse Mike’s conduct.  The content of his emails is unacceptable and does not reflect our values as a company.  Mike has been suspended and understands that future similar conduct will not be tolerated.”  The story broke after the email exchange was posted on Deadspin.com.

beasley logoBeasley Broadcast Group Beefs Up Digital Division.  In announcing the hiring of three new regional digital directors, Beasley reveals its dedication to digital sales efforts.  In a statement, vice president of digital Stacey Sedbrook speaks about the expectations after bringing Eddie Thorpe, Adam Meltzer and Carolyn Cope aboard.  “The formation of this team will surely be the foundation of our success.  Having the right people on my team is as important to me as having the right products and services to sell.  Eddie, Adam and Carolyn were hand selectedsedbrookstacey for their talents, capabilities and, most importantly, their nimble thinking.  Our objective is to drive revenues for our advertisers, especially those smaller businesses and growing brands in the communities we serve.  To achieve this goal, our regional digital directors will assist Beasley’s local market sales teams in creating enhanced advertising campaigns that include digital products and services tailored to the specific needs of our existing and new clients.”  Eddie Thorpe comes to Beasley from the Tampa Bay Times where he was senior digital director.  He’s responsible for the Miami and Fort Myers-Naples markets.  Adam Meltzer is responsible for the Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware markets.  He most recently was multimedia sales manager for Wicked Local.  Carolyn Cope also served with Wicked Local as senior digital account executive of major accounts and is now overseeing the Augusta, Georgia; Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Eastern North Carolina markets (Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville).  Sedbrook is responsible for the company’s Las Vegas group.

klattlenKlatt Yields the Winning Run.  In this case, that is a good thing as The Winning Run is the name of the full-service consultancy that Len Klatt is opening.  The former Premiere Networks senior vice president/director of research is gearing the new undertaking – which will have Los Angeles and New York City offices – to national media companies and talent, programming services and advertisers.  Among his clients are Sound Mind, Compass Media Marketing, Big Shoes Productions, Reel World, and The Blaze Radio Network.  “Len continues to do the best job industry wide in both interpreting audience numbers and explaining them to clients interested in exploring the value premise of audience engagement on radio, online, and in digital media,” comments Sound Mind president Kraig Kitchin, Premiere’s former president/chief operating officer.  “We are fortunate to have his talents for the benefit of our sponsors.”  Klatt remarks, “It is not just about columns and numbers, it’s about how they can be used to shape the story in such a way to advance my clients’ vision.  With The Winning Run, I want to cover all the bases.” Before the nearly two decades he spent at Premiere, Klatt was Westwood One‘s New York City-based director of research.  He began his media research career at Media Buying Services International.

learfieldsports logoLearfield Adds to Footprint with Nelligan Acquisition.  One of the leaders in college sports play-by-play rights is adding 41 schools to its roster with the acquisition of Nelligan Sports MarketingLearfield Sports will now hold the multi-media rights to 92 schools, which puts its total above that of its fiercest competitor – IMG Sports, which holds the rights to 79 schools.  Learfield president and CEO Greg Brown tells SportsBusinessDaily, “In some cases, this will open up new markets for us.  In other cases, it will further fortify what we’re doing…Early on in our discussions with Providence [Learfield owner Providence Equity Partners], we identified some strategic opportunities that would be productive for our business.  Nelligan is consistent with the business we’re already in.  This was right down the middle of the fairway for us.”  Nelligan Sports founder T.J. Nelligan will remain with the new company in a leadership role.  He comments that he doesn’t expect attrition with this merger.

wtoplogoOdds & Sods.  Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington is helping the National Multiple Sclerosis Society by naming it the station’s WTOP Charity of the Month recipient for February 2014.  Through the program the MS Society will receive more than $20,000 worth of in-kind contributions to support Multiple Sclerosis awareness and programs, including 64 promotional announcements on WTOP and sister station Federal News Radio.  Additional content and exposure for MS Society will be included on WTOP.com and FederalNewsRadio.com throughout the entire month of February…..Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago announces the next in its “Blackhawks Live” series when forwards Kris Versteeg and Brandon Saad take part in the live event at the Old Town Pour House in suburban Oakbrook on February 24.  The event includes a photo op with the players, an autographed photo and dinner, tax and tip.  “Blackhawks Live” is a series of one-hour radio broadcasts hosted over dinner throughout the year featuring current Blackhawks players, legends and management.  Blackhawks radio broadcasters John Wiedeman and Troy Murray host the event that includes a question-and-answer format between the hosts and the featured Blackhawks guests…..The New Jersey Broadcasters Association has created PSAs for member stations reminding drivers in the Garden State that it’s illegal to drive a vehicle that hasn’t had the snow and ice properly cleared off it.  Interested stations can visit www.njba.com for information…..The Radio Television Digital News Association names WBIR-TV, Knoxville news director Christy Moreno to its board of directors, representing Region 8, which includes Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia.

ww1sochiWestwoodOne to Present Exclusive Coverage of Winter Olympics.  When the 2014 Olympic Winter Games commence in Sochi, Russia on Friday, WestwoodOne will be the exclusive network for audio coverage.  WestwoodOne’s programing will include: shortform coverage Olympic updates three times an hour, 24/7, from February 7- February 23; longform coverage – “Today in Sochi” including two hours of longform coverage for 17 consecutive nights; coverage of all U.S. Olympic Hockey (Men’s and Women’s) plus the gold medal games in Men’s and Women’s hockey regardless of who is playing.

loeschtheviewDana Loesch Visits ‘The View.’  Conservative talk media figure Dana Loesch – who just entered national syndication for her daily talk radio show via Radio America – appeared on ABC TV’s “The View” on Monday in her stead as a host on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze where she hosts a daily, 5:00 pm program.  Pictured here (center) between the program’s Jenny McCarthy (left) and Sherri Shepherd (right), Loesch spoke about her conversion from a progressive liberal to her current conservative philosophy and fielded questions from the four co-hosts.

Obama Administration Splits with Some Democrats, Philip Seymour Hoffman Death/Heroin Use in America, Hillary in 2016, Immigration Legislation/Amnesty Component, ObamaCare Criticism, Financial Markets Activity, and Sochi Olympics Troubles Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/4).  The reported rift between Democrats on Capitol Hill and the Obama Administration on some issues; the aftermath of the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman and the light it’s shed on heroin abuse in America; the prospect of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016; the proposed immigration legislation working its way through Congress and the possibility of amnesty for current illegals; ongoing scrutiny of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; activity on the U.S. and world financial markets; and reports of the problems Russia is facing getting Sochi ready for the Winter Olympics were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

The Changing Program Director/Talent Dynamic

| November 8, 2011

Critiquing talk radio talent in the modern era proves challenging as the role of the PD and structure
of the industry undergo massive changes 

By Mike Kinosian
Special Features Correspondent

“This could hurt your feelings, but it is being said for your own good.”

Such verbiage has been the basis for any one of countless program director-conducted aircheck sessions throughout the years in every conceivable radio format.

Quite possibly even more so than ever and as hyperbolic as it may sound, a program director supremely performing duties as a motivating talent coach is worth his or her weight in gold, silver, bronze and platinum.

“Directing” is, of course, a derivative form of the program director title.  Analyzing on-air personalities while simultaneously providing key components of constructive criticism, positive encouragement and guidance was once a basic calling card for anyone aspiring to be an upper-echelon programmer.  To say it is a dying, if not lost, proficiency is the height of understatement.  It is however clearly a two-way process, deeply rooted on a foundation of reciprocated trust.  If or when that is shattered, progression for the two parties becomes tenuous at best.

Achieving the elusive goal of “success” can have its downsides since that particular nebulous description can lead one to think he or she is above any form of critique or direction – especially from someone they perceive to be a “lowly” program director.  Chaos becomes the inevitable and seamy result.

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