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Monday, July 26, 2021

| July 26, 2021

Monday Memo: Is Your On-Air Product Old-School? Podcasting delivers on consumers’ expectation for on-demand EVERYTHING and consultant Holland Cooke calls it “an opportunity to let retailers sponsor pertinent special interest topics.” But, in this week’s column, he cautions that “these are still digital dimes, compared to the analog dollars solid live programming and painstakingly-crafted commercials will earn us.” To read what makes your station special, please click here.

Pending Business: Going Up.  In this week’s “Pending Business” column, radio sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, discusses the state of your “elevator pitch.” Will it work in less than the 60 seconds it takes to go to the eighth floor? Try this: Create one sentence that describes what your station does better than any of your competitors. Ask yourself is there a payoff for the advertiser in that one sentence or is it all product information?  Are you connecting a #1 with an advertiser benefit?  Have you taken the time to update your elevator pitch to put a more contemporary feel to the language? Lapa discusses these important points and more in an article that touches on the very basics of cutting right to the chase in presenting your station in a clear and positive light to a potential advertiser when time is of the essence.  To read more, please click here.

Davis Sets Departure From iHeartMedia. Nashville-based iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group chief operating officer Darren Davis will exit at the end of this year, but will continue with the company as an advisor. In a memo to the staff, iHeartMedia chair/chief executive officer Bob Pittman and iHM president/chief operating officer/chief financial officer Rich Bressler write, “Darren has a deep love for iHeart and a true passion for our business and our success. [He] has grown up through our organization continually taking on new roles and more responsibility, becoming a critically important contributor as part of our senior team. After almost 30 years with iHeart, Darren is looking forward to spending more time on a variety of other projects he’s passionate about, including real estate development; local community projects; and traveling with his family. Although his day-to-day operating expertise will be missed, we appreciate all he’s done for our company and are very pleased that he will continue his association with us, albeit on a more limited basis. Darren will be working closely with Digital Audio Group CEO Conal Byrne through the balance of 2021 to continue our momentum and to effectively organize the Digital Audio Group for the future.” Davis has been with iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) since 1992 when he joined adult contemporary WASH, Washington, DC as a programming intern.

iHM, Sports Illustrated, and SI Studios Partner For Multi-Year, Audio Content Deal. The agreement includes eight co-produced Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated Studios, and iHeartRadio podcasts, as well as distribution of Sports Illustrated’s existing podcasts through the iHeartPodcast Network. Mutual marketing and promotion commitments will apply to all joint projects; two of the eight original podcasts are scheduled to launch by the first quarter of next year. iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group chief executive officer Conal Byrne comments, “We are thrilled to partner with Sports Illustrated to introduce a brand-new slate of sports podcasts – limited series and ongoing shows alike. It’s an iconic brand that sports fans instantly trust, knowing that they will get the most credible and in-depth industry coverage. We look forward to expanding that footprint into the audio space where we uniquely have the reach and scale to bring Sports Illustrated the audience and monetization they deserve.” According to Sports Illustrated & Maven chief executive officer Ross Levinsohn, “Storytelling is at the core of what SI stands for. The opportunity to partner with iHeartMedia to create and distribute dynamic stories and shows featuring our incredible voices further expands our footprint.” Chief operating officer of 101 Studios, David Hutkin, adds, “While traditionally sports are very visually focused, this venture allows us to introduce audiences to the most memorable events in sports history in unexpected ways. With this new partnership, we have the unique opportunity to tell these historic, remarkable stories to audiences globally.” Set to debut later this year, “Sports Illustrated Weekly” will feature the best of Sports Illustrated’s journalism in an audio magazine. Each 45-minute episode will feature deep-dive segments on the biggest news of the week and the most compelling personalities, trends and themes in sports. Developed by SI Studios, “Lateral Damage” will offer an innovative take on the true-crime genre. Publishing early next year, the podcast tells the story of University of California, Berkeley football player Mariet Ford, who was convicted of viciously murdering his young son and pregnant wife; Ford has maintained his innocence for almost 25 years. The podcast will explore the indelible effect the murder has had on the core group of people in Ford’s sphere.

Local Journalism Sustainability Act Has NAB Support. Introduced by Democratic Senators Maria Cantwell (Washington State); Mark Kelly (Arizona); and Ron Wyden (Oregon), the Local Journalism Sustainability Act of 2021 would aid local news organizations through tax credits to incentivize hiring more journalists, subscriptions and advertising from local small businesses. In a prepared statement, National Association of Broadcasters president/chief executive officer Gordon Smith notes, “At a time when misinformation and disinformation plague online platforms, broadcast radio and television continue to serve as reliable beacons of news that keep local communities informed and connected. We urge congressional passage of this legislation.” According to Senator Cantwell, “The COVID-19 pandemic made it crystal clear that local reporters and newsrooms are essential to keeping the public informed and safe, but their importance spans well beyond health emergencies. At its core, local news is about holding the powerful accountable. The strength of our democracy is based in truth and transparency. Local newsrooms are on the ground in our communities asking the critical questions, countering misinformation, and telling our stories. We have to protect these vital parts of our communities – once they’re gone, they’re gone.” Senator Kelly comments, “Local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations are pillars of our community, bringing trusted local news [and] information about community events and the latest on public health updates in their area. The pandemic made an already difficult financial situation for these news providers even harder, which is why I support the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. By providing tax credits for individuals to support local news outlets, they can continue to provide important coverage for readers, listeners, and viewers.” Senator Wyden adds, “The decline of local news has had devastating effects on our communities. Local news has often been the only window into the city council or mayor’s office. Without these outlets, these important institutions in our communities go uncovered. Further, the decline of local news has only fueled the growth of misinformation as Americans lose their most trusted sources of information. As the son of a journalist, these developments trouble me greatly. Our bill would provide financial support to local news at this critical time for our democracy.”

WMVP To Repeat A $50,000 Ad Giveaway. It’s part of an ongoing “Supporting Small Business” campaign by Good Karma Brands Chicago sports talk outlet WMVP “ESPN 1000” and First Midwest Bank. Good Karma Brands Chicago market manager Mike Thomas comments, “We’re excited to continue our partnership with First Midwest Bank to help a local small business see success. Supporting local businesses in our community is central to both ‘ESPN 1000’ and First Midwest Bank. This is a great way for us to introduce the passionate sports fans in our area to a small business.” First Midwest Bank chief marketing and communications officer Jim Stadler adds, “This past year has reminded us of the importance of small businesses and the role they play in creating employment opportunities and momentum for economic growth in their local neighborhoods. We are proud to partner with ‘ESPN Chicago’ for the second year to bring valuable and well-deserved public exposure to these important businesses.” Last year’s “Supporting Small Business” award benefitted Breaking Bread Catering & Deli.

TALKERS News Notes. Former 13-year Tampa Bay Lightning director of broadcasting & programming Matt Sammon is appointed manager/business development & strategy for Skyview Networks. Sammon joined Skyview last September as an executive producer overseeing Notre Dame sports broadcasts and spent two years freelancing with Sammonsez, LLC … After reporting part-time for NPR the past several months, David Gura will join the network next Monday (8/2) as business correspondent. Most recently the host of MSNBC’s weekend morning show “Up With David Gura,” he previously was a Bloomberg anchor. Gura began his career as an intern at University of North Carolina news/talk WUNC, Raleigh … The next installment of the “Gracie Interview Series – Virtual Gatherings” will be this Thursday (7/29) at 2:00 pm (ET). “The Breakfast Club” co-host/“Angela Yee’s Lip Service” host Angela Yee moderates the interview of Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott. Registration is free at https://allwomeninmedia.org/events/gracie-interview-series-virtual-gatherings/  … iHeartMedia Des Moines news/talk WHO “News Radio 1040” afternoon drive talent Simon Conway took his show on the road to Groton, Connecticut for several broadcasts aboard the USS Nautilus. Conway received a tour of the USS Iowa (pictured), guided by captain James Quintin. According to Conway, “The two shows we did from our submarine base at Groton were very exciting. All my questions were answered and the feedback from my audience has been incredible.” In addition to WHO, Conway’s afternoon drive show is heard on iHeartMedia stations in Cedar Rapids (WMT) and Davenport (WOC) … Nexstar Media Group promotes Ron Romines to senior vice president and regional manager. Romines will oversee the company’s broadcast and digital operations in various markets and will report to Nexstar Media Group president of broadcasting Andrew Alford.

Top Talk Topics This Past Weekend Headed By COVID-19.  As has been the case in recent years, the news cycle no longer slows down on the weekends. The most-discussed topic on news/talk radio this past weekend has been COVID-19 with a focus on the Delta variant, vaccine hesitancy, controversy over mask mandates and the potential for more shutdowns.  This was followed by intense partisan bickering over the formulation of the January 6 committee, followed by climate change, 2020 election denial, and the Olympics.

Acción Adds Tampa and Jacksonville. Effective immediately, Star Over Orlando’s WRSO “Acción 97.9 – La Primera En Noticias” will be simulcast in Tampa on iHeartMedia-owned WHNZ which had been English-language news/talk; a West Tampa translator at 105.9 that was simulcasting English-language news/talk WFLA; and WMTX-HD2. In addition, it will be heard in Jacksonville on iHM’s WFXJ and WKSL-HD2. iHeartMedia senior VP/Hispanic Strategy Hector Marcano comments, “Acción represents a solution for the Hispanic audience eager for a Spanish-speaking newscast and companies that are looking for this fast-growing audience interested in developing a life in the USA.” Division president Linda Byrd notes, “I’m excited to expand the Acción brand to other important Hispanic markets in Florida. Getting the news and information to Florida’s growing Hispanic population in their native language will be very impactful.” Area president for iHeartMedia West Central Florida Chris Soechtig remarks, “We are very excited to deliver a first of its kind Spanish language news platform to the Tampa Bay Hispanic community. With the changing demographics in our area, this is a natural addition to our diverse portfolio.” iHeartMedia North Florida area president Paul Rogers contends, “No other media company can truly help our advertisers, brands, and community organizations reach the full spectrum of the First Coast’s diverse populations like iHeart. We are thrilled to [bring] the first full-service Hispanic news/talk station to Northeast Florida.” Acción – La Primera En Noticias launched in 2018 and news director Jesús Manuel Torres states, “For the past few years, we’ve worked as a team to keep our Hispanic community informed of the events that have changed history. This time, our commitment continues to grow, and our team is ready to continue bringing relevant information and analysis to each market.” Among persons 6+, WRSO is trending 1.0 – 1.3 – 1.8 (April – May – June) and ranks #16 (Nielsen Audio, June 2021). Star Over Orlando-owned WRSO is operated by iHeartMedia under an LMA.

Friday, February 21, 2020

| February 21, 2020

Pete Mundo Upped to Program Director for KCMO-AM.  Programming and on-air pro Pete Mundo is promoted from APD to program director for Cumulus Media’s news/talk KCMO-AM/K279BI, Kansas City.  Mundo is also host of the station’s morning show.  Before joining Cumulus Kansas City, Mundo served as a host/anchor for FOX News Radio, CBS Sports Radio, Sports Illustrated’s daily platforms, and WFAN, New York.  Cumulus Kansas City RVP and market manager Donna Baker says, “One of the most fulfilling rewards as a leader is seeing the impact that someone as talented as Pete can make in just two years.  Growth of nearly 75% in audience since his arrival is the result of Pete’s daily focus, drive, passion, and hard work. This well-deserved promotion to program director is an opportunity to continue to expand the brand of KCMO Talk Radio for years to come.”

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM, Washington, DC. The new episode titled “Billions and Billions!” looks back at this past week of February 17-21, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Wayne Allyn Root, talk show host, USA Radio Network/Newsmax TV; Howard Monroe, talk show host/owner, WKKX/WVLY, Wheeling, WV; Grace Curley, producer/co-host, the Howie Carr Show; Daliah Wachs, M.D., talk show host, Genesis Communications Network; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company.  This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on WONK-FM, Washington, DC Friday evenings between 6:00 pm-7:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA;  KFNX, Phoenix; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA as well as appearing on the iHeartRadio App.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), please click here.  To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.

Zaslow Re-Ups with ‘AM 790 The Ticket’ in Miami. Sports talk host Jonathan Zaslow and Entercom’s WAXY-AM, Miami “AM 790 The Ticket” agree to a new, multiyear contract extension for him to remain host of the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm show, “Zaslow and Amber,” alongside Amber Wilson.  Zaslow will also continue to serve as pregame and postgame host for Miami Heat gameday broadcasts, as part of the station’s flagship coverage.  Zaslow joined “AM 790 The Ticket” in 2004 and has served as an on-air personality for the station for the last 13 years. This year marks Zaslow’s 10th as a part of the station’s Heat gameday broadcasts.  Entercom South Florida SVP and market manager Keriann Worley says, “Jonathan Zaslow is a true Miami sports talent and an original employee of ‘790 The Ticket.’  We are thrilled to have him back for more passionate sports talk and lock him into our impressive weekday programming.”

Cumulus 2019 Q4 Net Revenue Down 7.7%; Same Station Net Revenue Dips 1.7%.  Financial data for the full year and the fourth quarter of 2019 is reported by Cumulus Media.  Net revenue in the fourth quarter of 2019 was $285.5 million, a decrease of 7.7% over the same period in 2018.  However, on a same station basis, net revenue was down just 1.7%.  For the full year of 2019, net revenue was $1.1 billion, down 2.4% from 2018.  On a same station basis, net revenue – excluding political – of $1,103.2 million was up 1.4% from 2018.  Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner comments, “I am very proud of the company’s 2019 results. On a same station basis, our team has now delivered the second year in a row of revenue growth and, excluding the impact of political, the third year in a row of Adjusted EBITDA growth. This performance was driven in large part by the industry-leading growth of our digital businesses and active cost management across our platforms.  Additionally, we made strong progress against our financial goals during the year, paying down $220 million of debt with cash from operations and highly accretive divestitures, reducing net leverage to 4.7x.  This year’s results reflect the success of our consistent focus on key strategies to create value for our investors.  Despite a choppy environment and an expected political headwind, fourth quarter revenue finished in-line with the pacing we shared during our last earnings call, and, with some slight favorability on expenses, we delivered Adjusted EBITDA that was somewhat better than we had indicated. As we move into the new year, we are further expanding our delivery of compelling audio experiences and digital offerings that connect and support our advertisers and listeners.  And, we are optimistic about 2020 and our continuing ability to drive strong operating and financial performance while aggressively reducing net leverage to below 4.0x.”

Round Three of January PPM’s Released.  The third of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s January 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus.  Nielsen’s January 2020 survey period covered January 2 – 29.  Some of the spoken-word stations that performed well in January (weekly, 6+ AQH share) coming off the challenging Holiday survey were: Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland, which racked up a half share increase to finish the January survey with a 5.1 share and the #5 market rank.  Entercom’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte adds 1.4 shares to post a 4.9 share and the #8 rank.  iHeartMedia’s WOAI, San Antonio adds four-tenths to finish the month at a 5.7 share and standing steady at the #3 rank.  In Sacramento, iHeartMedia’s KFBK gains an amazing 2.7 shares to leap into a tie for the #1 rank in the market with an 8.6 share.  Bonneville’s KSL-FM, Salt Lake City adds a full share to end the survey with a 5.0 share and the #7 rank in the market.  You can see all of the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here.  Meanwhile, check out TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian’s Ratings Takeaways here.

Wednesday’s Democratic Debate and the Presidential Race Top News/Talk Stories for Week of February 17-21. The Democratic candidates debate in Las Vegas and the presidential race tied for the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was President Trump’s post-impeachment pardons and appointments.  Coming in at #3 was the Department of Justice turmoil and the related Roger Stone sentencing, followed by the covid-19 pandemic, U.S.-China relations, and the deadly flu season tied at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discusses 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.

Diana Boyce Completes Disney Princess 5K. Pictured above left is Diana Boyce, wife of Salem Radio Network SVP of spoken word formats Phil Boyce, braving the chilly temps and drizzle in Orlando this morning (2/21) while finishing the annual Disney Princess 5K race.  The race is part of Disney Half Marathon Weekend that benefits some 17 charities. Pictured at right is Salem Radio Network talk show host Mike Gallagher cheering Diana on.

AWM/F Announce 2020 Board. The Alliance for Women in Media and its Foundation (AWM/F) announce their 2020 National Board of Directors.  Joining the AWM Board are: Katina Arnold, vice president, corporate communications, ESPN; Abby Auerbach, executive vice president, chief communications officer, TVB; Michelle Ray, executive director, The Walter Kaitz Foundation; Sandra Rice, senior vice president, outreach and strategic partnerships, Center for Talent Innovation; and Esther Mireya Tejeda, senior vice president, head of corporate communications & PR, Entercom.  Officers of the board have been announced as Keisha Sutton-James, chair, vice president & CEO, Sutton Button Productions LLC, serving as chair; Heather Cohen, executive vice president, The Weiss Agency, serving as incoming chair; Christine Travaglini, president, Katz Radio Group, serving as immediate past chair; Josie Thomas, CBS, serving as treasurer; and Annie Howell, co-founder and managing partner, The Punch Point Group, serving as incoming treasurer.  The following individuals will serve as Directors at Large of AWM: Joyce Fitch, legal consultant; Abby Greensfelder, founder & CEO, Everywoman Studios; Brenda Hetrick, chief revenue officer, Matrix Solutions; Jinny Laderer, co-founder & CEO, vCreative; Meg LaVigne, president, LaVIGNE MEDIA; Kelly Perdomo, vice president, content, sports, entertainment, and partnership marketing, SiriusXM; and Katherine Wolfgang, head of public relations, CBC.  The following individuals will serve as Directors at Large of AWMF: Deborah Parenti, publisher, RadioInk, RBR and TVBR; Rob Stoddard, SVP program network policy, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association; and Kristen Welch, chief financial officer, Illustrative Mathematics.  AWM executive director Becky Brooks says, “The role of the AWM and Foundation boards is to lead our organizations and industry as we recognize, connect and educate women in radio, television and interactive media.  We have a true working board.  This year’s new directors have voiced their dedication to donating time and resources to take these organizations to the next level. We are thrilled to have these talented, accomplished women joining our leadership for the next two years.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In the Columbia, South Carolina market, programming pro Chris Connors joins Cumulus Media’s urban contemporary WLXC-FM “Kiss 103.1” as program director.  Connors was most recently with Alpha Media’s Columbia cluster as operations manager.  He says, “We’ve already made ratings history in Columbia, and I’m very fortunate and extremely thankful to have the opportunity to do it again.  Big thanks to John Dimick, Kenny Smoov, and Tammy O’Dell for entrusting me to lead the Columbia team.  No need to pack or move; we’re ready on day one.”…..Nationally syndicated and WBLS-FM, New York afternoon drive host Deja Vu wraps up a month of celebration with the special, “The Deja Vu Show: Black History in Forward Motion,” being syndicated by ABC Audio.  The commercial free, two-hour special celebrates the importance of African American representation in a variety of fields, including Broadway, film, TV and law.  It features Deja Vu sitting down with iconic celebrities, artists, and influencers including: Will Packer, David Alan Grier, Celia Rose Gooding, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and Isaac Wright Jr…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One syndicated radio host Lon Helton was honored with the Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award at the Country Radio Seminar.  This award – named for Tom Rivers, former WQYK PD and host of Westwood One holiday specials in the 1990s – recognizes an individual in the country radio industry who has given back to the community.  Helton is one of the founders and advocates of the legendary country radiothon program, Country Cares For St. Jude Kids, that has raised almost $1 billion for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital…..iHeartMedia announces that country star Blake Shelton is joining the lineup for the 2020 iHeartCountry Festival Presented by Capital One on Saturday, May 2 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.  The seventh annual event will also feature performances from Dierks Bentley, Sam Hunt, Lady Antebellum, Dustin Lynch, Kelsea Ballerini, Kane Brown, Jon Pardi, and Chase Rice, plus Hot Country Knights, Bobby Bones, and more.  The event will livestream exclusively on livexlive.com and broadcast live across iHeartMedia’s country radio stations in their local markets and at iHeartRadio.com.