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Mama, Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be Sportscasters

| July 19, 2021

By Michael Levin
Author

 

BOSTON — Just read Julie DeCaro’s new book, Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America, which details what a slime pit the world of sports broadcasting really is.

DeCaro is an attorney turned sports talk radio host who, in her book, decries the piggish nature of virtually all men in the world of sports, from the male broadcasters to the executives who run teams and broadcast outlets, to many of the players, and certainly to the fans.

She’s right.

Men are pigs.

We are!

Read More

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

| November 4, 2020

POST-ELECTION DAY UNCERTAINTY: News/Talk Media Braces for Even Further Polarization.  As indicated yesterday in TALKERS, news/talk media programmers and on-air hosts are contemplating what life will be like after the election (see story below), weighing the impact various potential scenarios will have upon their positioning and preparing themselves for inevitable changes in the political landscape. In this era of targeting audiences based on their political predisposition, or what TALKERS founder Michael Harrison yesterday (11/3) described as “the daily dance of affirmation,” the results of this election could have a profound impact on the ideological stances of talk show hosts going forward. Now, a day later, at the time of the posting of this item, the final result of the election is still undetermined as the nation awaits accurate counts in several battleground states. Harrison, notes, “We now know one extremely important thing that wasn’t certain yesterday – there will be no blow out.  There will be no so-called blue or red wave.  There will be no clear-cut confirmation of a basic direction agreed upon by an obvious majority of Americans. That means more, not less, polarization and the further intensification of fear, anger, and political tribalism. One of the greatest obstacles to creating viable objective journalism and social healing in such an environment is the prevailing attitude, ‘if you are not with us, you are against us.’”

Saga Communications Q3 Revenue Rises Dramatically from Q2; Still Down 26% from Q3 in 2019. Reporting on its revenue for the third quarter of 2020, Saga Communications says, “Third quarter revenue and related net income continue to be materially impacted by disruptions to businesses and service providers activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From the net revenue low point in April the company’s revenue has significantly increased in each of the following months. The company continues to concentrate on new revenue strategies and enhanced engagement with its existing and new advertisers.” Saga’s net revenue for Q3 2020 was $24.1 million, a 43.1% increase over Q2 of 2020 but 26% lower than the $31.3 million reported in Q3 of 2019. Station operating income was $6.1 million for the quarter, a decrease of 42% from the same period in 2019. Station operating expense decreased $4 million to $19.6 million for the quarter compared to the same period last year. Operating income was $247,000 and Saga took a net loss of $950,000 for the quarter, compared to the gain of $3,3 million it reported in the third quarter of 2019. Among the publicly traded U.S. radio companies, Saga Communications is positioned well going forward as it has $49.8 million in cash on hand as of November 2, 2020. Its total bank debt is just $10 million as of the end of the quarter.

Country WCOL-FM, Columbus PM Jock Brandon Boxer Doubles Up to Host Mornings on News/Talk WTVN-AM. Columbus Business First reports that iHeartMedia has filled the morning show host role at news/talk WTVN-AM, Columbus with Brandon Boxer, currently the afternoon host and assistant program director at sister country station WCOL-FM. Boxer replaces Joel Riley, who along with producer Tom Schmid were laid off in this latest round of staff culling at the company. Boxer will continue in his roles with WCOL. He tweeted on Monday: “Today was a tough one for some of my colleagues & very sad. I feel very weird announcing this, but tomorrow I begin a new journey hosting mornings on [610 WTVN]. It’s extremely bittersweet & I’m scared to death, but here we go.”

Jason Lewis Comes Up Short in U.S. Senate Race. Former Minneapolis talk radio host Jason Lewis (also a former GOP congressman from Minnesota) was unsuccessful in his bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Tina Smith. She won the special election to fill the seat vacated by Al Franken in 2017 and was running against Lewis for her first full, six-year term. Lewis began his talk radio career as a weekend host on KOA-AM, Denver. He worked in the Twin Cities market as a talk host at KSTP and KTLK. His talk show was eventually syndicated by Premiere Networks and Genesis Communications Network. He’d also served as a talk host at WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte.

PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on sports talk. The transition from the September PPM survey to the October PPM survey was good for sports talk radio as 65% of sports talk stations were up (6+ weekly AQH share) compared to the 18% that were down and the 17% that were flat. Gainers were led by iHeartMedia’s KFXN-FM, Minneapolis “K-FAN” (+2.9); Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville “104.5 The Zone” (+2.4); and Cumulus’ KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas “The Ticket” (+2.1). However, a look at year-over-year numbers gives us a look at just how far many sports talk stations fell due to the COVID-related shutdown of live sports as 72% of sports talk stations in PPM markets were down compared to the October 2019 survey and just 22% improved. Those stations showing growth were led by KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas (+2.3); KFXN-FM, Minneapolis (+1.4); and Cumulus’ KNBR, San Francisco (+0.9). KFXN-FM was the only sports talk outlet to rank #1 in its market during the October 2020 PPM survey. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Election Day, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, the Economy & Financial Markets Activity, State Marijuana Votes/Oregon Decriminalizes Hard Drugs, IS-Inspired Terror Attacks, and China Halts Ant Group IPO Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/3). The presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, as well as the races for U.S. Senate and U.S. Rep seats; the U.S. economy and the election day activity in the world’s financial markets; several states vote to legalize marijuana and Oregon decriminalizes small amounts of hard drugs; the Islamic State-inspired terror attacks France, Vienna, and Kabul; and the Chinese government stops the IPO of Jack Ma’s Ant Group were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Detroit radio personality Mark “Meltdown” Milligan is celebrating his 25thanniversary at Beasley Media Group’s rock WRIF-FM. “Meltdown” began his career with the station on November 1, 1995 as the overnight jock. He later moved to the evening show host role and in February of 2009, he replaced Detroit legend Arthur Penhallow as the afternoon drive personality. Beasley Media Group Detroit director of programming Scott Jameson says, “One of the reasons legendary brands become ‘legendary’ are personalities that over time, develop a true connection and deep bond with the audience. In the nearly 50-year history of WRIF there have been two afternoon drive jocks. ‘Meltdown’ continues the rich legacy of outstanding air talent on WRIF. Congratulations on your 25th!”…..Service Broadcasting Group is looking for a high-profile entertainer to join the cast of the KKDA, Dallas “K104”-based “DeDe in the Morning” show that is nationally syndicated via Compass Media Networks. Service Broadcasting Group head of content George “Geo” Cook and #TeamDeDe are launching a national talent search for an entertainer, influencer, and storyteller who can collaborate with host DeDe McGuire and lead co-host Lady Jade to add their own authentic personality and powerful point of view to “DeDe in the Morning.” Email your video expressing why you are our next big star, along with your resume package, including an audio demo (aircheck), social media links, and podcast audio clips to SBG HR manager Debbie Henry at debbie.henry@K104fm.com. EOE.

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, June 1, 2020

| June 1, 2020

Talk Radio Faces Challenges After Weekend of Urban Strife Across America. The staffs at news and talk radio stations that are in touch with their communities were pulling extra duty over the weekend as protests over the death of George Floyd in cities across the country exploded into violent and destructive events. TALKERS magazine is in contact with programmers and air personalities whose stations have been covering the events, in some cases adding round-the-clock live programming to keep listeners informed. The violent protests come as the nation attempts to safely emerge from a months-long lockdown intended to fight the coronavirus pandemic, complicating an already difficult time in America and around the globe. Talk stations face the challenge of broadcasting to listeners who are living in a time that some observers have noted is like the Great Depression, the nationalist/fascist movements that preceded World War II, and the race riots of the 1960s all rolled into one. As this day progresses, TALKERS will present comments and thoughts about how they’re handling their broadcasting duties during this unique time in human history. We asked broadcasters to tell us how their station or talent are approaching this time of intense unrest. WABC, New York PD Dave LaBrozzi tells TALKERS that the outbreak of violence is the kind of situation that illustrates why it is so important for great news/talk stations to maintain live and local air talent with strong ties to the community and the trust of its citizens. He says, “When you have the founder of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa, on the streets every day and hosting a three hour midday talk show and you have the former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, on the air every day from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm you get insight and information that no other New York station can provide.” LaBrozzi adds that it is important to book guests of that same caliber stating, “Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik and former police detective Bo Dietl share their wisdom and insight along with other high profile experts to keep listeners informed  and safe all day long.” Salem Media Group and Salem Radio Network SVP spoken word format Phil Boyce offered the following to his talent: “As you know, the situation in many of our cities is volatile, thanks primarily due to outside agitators. We all looked at the video of the death of George Floyd and were disturbed. We all know that does not represent how most police officers respond. Here are a few pointers about how we can handle this difficult situation: 1) Be very careful what you say about this. Most of our listeners respect the rule of law and want to support law and order candidates. If you know of a candidate who is sympathizing with the anarchists,  point that out. But be careful how we do it. 2) We can be a calming influence in each of our communities. Let the public know that we hear the pain and hurt they are expressing, but further violence is not the way to express it. Let them know that we all should support the efforts of law enforcement to protect our communities, and also deal with this tragic situation. 3) Think through all of your comments and positions. This is not a time to ‘shoot from the lip.’ Be respectful of the other side, while at the same time being forceful in condemning acts of violence that threaten to tear apart our communities.” At Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WFCS-FM, Chicago, brand manager and news director Ron Gleason says, “Because WBBM is all-news around the clock on a daily basis, our staff is ready at any time for major breaking news. But the magnitude of what’s happening, especially on the coattails of the Covid-19 pandemic, means extraordinary times lead to extraordinary measures.  We’ve not only staffed up on reporters, we’ve also increased the role of traffic which is used to watching the streets on a minute-by-minute basis. When something requires non-stop coverage, that’s what we do.  And while we have reporters live from multiple locations, we stress the importance of safety first.  We have had protesters verbally confront a reporter, and we’ve had police redirect reporters, but I’m happy to say everyone is safe. The toughest part of coverage was getting our anchors and behind-the-scenes producers and editors access to our facility, as the city has shut off the main arteries into the downtown area. Eventually we figured out the work-arounds, and nobody listening would know of any issue – except of course, we’re reporting all the closures.” WPHT, Philadelphia midday host Dom Giordano tells TALKERS, “The way I’m handling the crisis on the air is to be covering it in the field and bringing that sound back to my show, allowing more callers on than usual to be able to vent, and highlighting people who are volunteering to clean up attacked stores, or are banding together to peacefully protect stores from looting.”

TALKERS EXCLUSIVE:  Michael Harrison Talks with SirusXM Satellite Radio ‘Urban View’ Channel Morning Host Joe Madison.  TALKERS founder Michael Harrison engaged in a conversation recorded yesterday afternoon (5/31) with Joe Madison of SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the highest-ranking African American radio talk show host on the publication’s Heavy Hundred list, about the race relations crisis in America. Madison says he suspects President Trump is prepping the country to invoke martial law if the violence continues.  He also thinks the violence is being perpetrated by destructive provocateurs and not the peaceful demonstrators. He believes the violence would be curtailed “if the other three officers involved in the killing of George Floyd were arrested tonight.” To listen to an excerpt of the conversation, please click here The complete interview will be posted tomorrow in the podcast, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”

TALKERS EXCLUSIVE:  WPG, Atlantic City Morning Host Harry Hurley Pulls All-Nighter Dispatching Police, Interviewing Officials, and Taking Calls.  Often referred to as the “Morning Mayor of Atlantic City,” talk show host Harry Hurley proved that he is indeed a community leader by demonstrating exactly to what heights radio can rise in the midst of a community crisis.  Listen to him tell his story to Michael Harrison in a conversation recorded shortly after he completed his program and extended stint this morning (6/1) by clicking here.

Monday Memo: June?  So Soon?  Early March seems forever-ago, yet like yesterday. Life under quarantine has blurred the listener routines we need to be part of. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke offers plain talk about radio’s challenges pre-, during, and post-pandemic. And why you want to play a song from 1967 on Wednesday. Read it here.

Protests Across America, Trump vs Antifa, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections and Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The violent protests over the police killing of George Floyd that erupted over the weekend in numerous cities across the country; President Trump’s declaration that the Antifa movement will be classified as a terrorist organization; the tally of COVID-19 cases, death toll, and projections for future cases; and the November presidential election were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Yogi Got It. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that radio sellers used to promising retailers that their ad campaign would “pack the place,” need to come up with a new goal. What is that goal? “What’s new, different, and important today is your new page in the game plan. ‘New’ can be your best marketing friend as you re-focus on the marketing messaging.” Read his column here.

Joe Walsh Back in Talk Radio on GAB Network and WCGO, Chicago. According to a press release from GAB Radio Network, Joe Walsh – former Illinois congressman and former WIND-AM talk show host – is geting back in the talk radio biz after leaving to challenge President Trump for the Republican nomination. Walsh famously left his position with Salem Media Group’s WIND-AM and the Salem Radio Network last summer saying he’s “done with talk radio.” Now, Walsh will host a live 11:00 am to 1:00 pm ET show in national syndication via GAB Radio Network. His program will air delayed on WCGO, Chicago from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, local time. Walsh says, “I’m excited to be back on the radio. This country is too divided. We need to get folks out of their corners and listening to each other. That’s what I’ve always done with radio, and I think there’s a hunger for an honest voice out there.” WCGO and GAB Radio Network general manager Chuck Duncan says he feels “Joe’s passion and patriotism come at a critical time in our nation’s history, and it’s important for all perspectives on America’s direction be made available to every city in every state. We are honored to present this important forum to Joe at an essential time and look forward to having Joe’s voice heard throughout Chicago on WCGO as well as making ‘The Joe Walsh Show’ available to every concerned station’s lineup through our GAB Radio Network.”

TALKERS News Notes. WIND-AM, Chicago morning news anchor and co-host Amy Jacobson and employer Salem Media Group are suing Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for banning Jacobson from his then-daily coronavirus pandemic press briefings after Jacobson spoke at a rally protesting Pritzker’s lockdown order. The governor’s office says Jacobson represents a talk show with a “particular point of view” and as a result she forfeits her status as a “reporter.” Jacobson and Salem argue that the governor’s ban violates Jacobson’s First Amendment rights. Salem and Jacobson are asking the court to take action to immediately allow her back into the briefings…..Former KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City talk show host Jay Mcfarland is featured in a piece in the Daily Herald as he runs for a seat in Congress. Mcfarland exited KSL last July and is one of four Republicans in the race for the U.S. Rep. seat in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. Mcfarland says he is positioning himself as someone who can bridge the gulf that separates Republicans and Democrats in Congress…..In another politics-meets-talk-radio story, Minnesota Public Radio reports that former Minneapolis (and nationally syndicated) talk host Jason Lewis secured the Republican nomination to run against U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) in November. Lewis served as a U.S. Rep. for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District for one term before losing his re-election bid to Democrat Angie Craig in the fall of 2018.…..During times when major news events cause sports talk radio broadcasters to address those issues, they can face criticism from those who tell them to “stick to sports.” Obviously, this is one of those times. Mile High Sports president and CEO Nate Lundy penned an insightful piece that directly confronts that dictate. (Mile High Sports operates KDCO-AM/K248CI in Denver.) In the piece he writes, “I personally do not have any patience for the ‘stick to sports’ crowd. I will never, under any circumstances, tell our team of writers, hosts and staff to do so. Our opinions are not substandard simply because of our job description. And we believe the same about each of you. We may not agree with your opinion about the Rockies, but we support your right to think and share it.”…..Denver is not the only place where sports talk hosts are talking about social and political issues with no apologies. In Buffalo, Jeremy White of the “Howard & Jeremy” show on Entercom’s WGR “550 SportsRadio” told listeners, “I do totally understand someone that says like, ‘I come to you guys to get away from what’s going on.’ But then of course there are going to be times when that is not possible. And today what’s going on in Minneapolis, this is not possible to do, to stay away from all this stuff… There’s just so much that’s built into this. Like, ‘this is a sports station.’ That’s right. We’re also humans on this station. I care about people. I care about a lot of people. What else matters today in the world, right now? The idea that like, ‘Oh it’s just a difference of opinion.’ It’s not anymore. It’s about humanity. It’s not about opinions anymore.”…..A new podcast from Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and spoken media specialty agency Oxford Road is being unveiled called “The Bongino Brief,” hosted by former Secret Service Agent, former NYPD officer and New York Times best-selling author Dan Bongino. WWO says “The Bongino Brief” launches today and is available through smart speakers. Westwood One says it and Oxford Road are partnering to lead the development of personality-driven flash briefing programs in the smart speaker marketplace by offering flash briefings from one of the top podcasters in the world. This marks the next form of short-format streaming media, as personalities and not just news come to the format…..The WRKO, Boston-based “The Financial Exchange with Barry Armstrong, Chuck Zodda and Mike Armstrong” adds a new affiliate station as Townsquare Media’s WBEC-AM, Pittsfield, Massachusetts puts the show in its lineup for the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot. The show is heard on 15 stations across New England.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In honor of Black Music Month, iHeartMedia announces it will celebrate with exclusive audio vignettes from some of today’s top urban artists. The company says the celebration will “honor the incredible achievements of Black musicians and their influential contribution to the world of music.” Beginning today (6/1), iHeartMedia will air special audio messages from artists including H.E.R, Flipp Dinero, and Russ and more as they celebrate the impact and  achievements of Black musicians who have influenced their lives such as Beyonce, Dr. Dre, Jay Z, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hill, Ludacris, Michael Jackson, Notorious B.I.G., Prince, Tupac, and many more. iHeartMedia EVP of urban/hip hop programming strategy Doc Wynter says, “With community and personal connection being more important now than ever before, we’re honored to be able to celebrate the significant impact that Black music has had on all of us. We’re thrilled to be able to bring our listeners’ favorite artists together to support one another with inspiring messages from artists like H.E.R. who will pay tribute to the legendary Lauryn Hill, and Russ who will celebrate the important contributions that his fellow Atlanta native, Ludacris has made on Black Music.”…..Radio One launches its “We Are One: Feeding the Community Campaign.” It says it is partnering with the music community to feed hundreds of families as many are feeling the significant financial strain as a result of these tough economic times. Radio One’s 53 stations will come together across its 15 markets to feed families in their localities by giving away meals provided by local minority-owned restaurants.

Monday, May 18, 2020

| May 18, 2020

Monday Memo: Weekend Warriors, Battling the Virus. As the cooped-up are coping, radio talkers are listening. In last week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke polled a panel of weekday hosts, who describe the mood they’re monitoring. This week, HC rounds up weekend ask-the-expert hosts, who describe how callers’ questions flesh-out listeners’ lives during the shutdown now easing in phases. Read it here.

Re-Opening Controversy, Statistics & Projections, Trump IG Firings, Michael Flynn Case, Pressure on China, Ahmaud Arbery Case, Presidential Race, and Fred Willard Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The concerns about safely re-opening the economies in states across the country; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and projections about future infections; the political battle heating up over President Trump’s firing of inspector general Steve Linick; the DOJ’s dropping of the charges against Michael Flynn for lying in court and Republicans’ efforts to involve Barack Obama in the case; some 100 countries pressuring China for an investigation into its coronavirus efforts; the case of murdered Georgia jogger Ahmaud Arbery; the latest poll numbers in the presidential race; and comedian Fred Willard dies at 85 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Get Ready. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that as most parts of the country begin transitioning out of mandated self-isolation, your clients are working through a maze of regulations and protocols completely new to them. Go with the “Three-E Theory” – be empathetic, energetic, and easy. Read his column here.

Mancow Asks Court to Toss Defamation Suit. A story in the Daily Herald by Harry Hitzeman reveals that WLS-AM, Chicago morning host Erich “Mancow” Muller is asking a Cook County Circuit Court judge to dismiss the defamation suit filed against him by former Harvest Bible Chapel pastor James MacDonald. If you recall, Mancow aired on his radio show secretly recorded tapes of MacDonald in which he wonders if child porn could be placed on the computer of a Christianity Today editor with whom he had a beef. MacDonald was subsequently ousted by his church’s board in 2019 and in response MacDonald filed suit against Muller late last year. Now, Muller files the Motion to Dismiss arguing that MacDonald is a public figure and it was Muller’s “duty as a Christian and media member to shine a light on MacDonald’s true character.” MacDonald’s lawyer is saying Muller’s motion comes too late, too long, and also argues Muller’s lawyer has a conflict of interest in the case as he once represented MacDonald. The two sides have a court date of June 12.

Josh Wolff Named VP of Programming for iHeartMedia Harrisburg-Lancaster. Programming pro Josh Wolff is promoted to vice president of programming for iHeartMedia’s Harrisburg and Lancaster, Pennsylvania markets. In this role Wolff will oversee all on-air content as well as music and digital programming operations for all of the Harrisburg and Lancaster brands. He will continue to program CHR WAEB “B-104” and rock WZZO in Allentown. iHeartMedia area SVP of programming Dave Hovel says, “With Josh’s strong leadership skills in Allentown, it was a no-brainer to elevate him to oversee iHeartMedia Harrisburg and Lancaster. The entire Harrisburg/Lancaster team is excited to have Josh in the role to lead and grow our iHeart footprint in the markets.” Before joining iHeartMedia’s Pennsylvania region, Wolff served as the music director and assistant program director for adult contemporary KESZ and adult hits KYOT “95.5 The Mountain” in Phoenix.

Beasley Delaying 2020 Q1 Financial Report. In a May 15 filing with the SEC, Beasley Broadcast Group, parent of Beasley Media Group, says it is unable to meet its Form 10-Q filing deadline due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its business operations. The company notes that an order issued by the Securities Exchange Commission grants a 45-day extension to file certain disclosure reports. Beasley says it intends to file its Quarterly Report no later than June 29. In addition to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on its ability to complete its quarterly review, “the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused disruptions to the Company’s business and operations, and the related uncertainty as to when or the manner in which the conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic will subside have made it necessary for it to seek an amendment to its credit facility that would, among other things, amend certain financial covenants. For the quarter ended March 31, the Company was in compliance with its financial covenants related to its credit facility. However, at that time the Company was projecting that it was unlikely to be able to comply with its First Lien Leverage Ratio as of June 30. As a result, the Company is seeking and expects to enter into an amendment to its credit facility in the coming weeks, and projects that it will be in compliance with the financial covenants, as amended, over the next 12 months. If the Company is unable to obtain an amendment to its credit facility, it would result in an event of default, which would materially affect its results of operations, liquidity and financial condition.”

Townsquare Media Promotes Dobbins to VP. Sales pro Sarah Dobbins is promoted from director of sales for Townsquare Media’s Portland station group to vice president of sales for Northern New England, including the Portland and Augusta markets as well as the Portsmouth, New Hampshire market. She’ll report to regional market president & chief revenue officer Christine Sieks. Dobbins says, “Townsquare Media has an unbelievable combination of local marketing resources designed to help local businesses grow. Now more than ever, our local brands, digital marketing solutions, and attribution tools make Townsquare a powerhouse in Northern New England. I am excited to partner with Christine Sieks in maximizing our resources to drive sales growth throughout Maine and New Hampshire.”

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago morning personality Erich “Mancow” Muller – host at Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM – was one of the high-profile leaders of Saturday’s “Open Illinois Rally” organized and co-hosted by Josh Ellis of American Revolution 2.0. Mancow and a number of politicians and candidates gathered to “address the governor’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic response.” The intent was to demand the state legislature “work on guidance and provisions to safely open Illinois businesses and resume our work lives.”…..WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway tells TALKERS magazine it was a “great honor” to have President Trump call into his radio show on Friday (5/15). Conway says that when Trump was running for office, the two spoke many times but this was the first time they talked with Trump as president. “It doesn’t matter what people think about him, this is the President of the United States who picked up the phone and spoke directly to my audience.” Conway’s show is also heard on WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids and WOC-AM, Quad Cities…..Nexstar Broadcasting is presenting “COVID-19 The Virtual Town Hall” to be aired on its television stations across Connecticut tonight (5/18) at 7:00 pm.  The audio from the event will be carried by iHeartMedia’s 11 Connecticut radio stations. The Town Hall will include: Governor Ned Lamont, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, and numerous state representatives and health care experts…..BIA Advisory Services is presenting a webinar tomorrow (5/19) at 11:00 am called “2020 State of Media Sales Study” that will consist of answering such questions as: What’s on the minds of local media sellers as they operate in a post COVID marketplace? Where do they expect to find ad revenue? What verticals will have the most potential in Q3 and Q4 in 2020? And, which types of accounts will pose the biggest challenges? The webinar will share findings from the April 2020 study of media sales professionals about the past year and current, unusual conditions…..The Talk Shows USA-syndicated “Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk” program adds two new affiliate stations as KBRN-AM/ K280GR, Boerne, Texas and KIVA-AM/ K229CL, Albuquerque, New Mexico add the show to their weekend program schedules…..Westwood One News is presenting “The Summer of COVID-19” as its Memorial Day Weekend special. WWO says, “Barbeques and beaches. Death rates and vaccine hopes. It is going to be a summer like no other. American traditions are under threat, from backstage ball fields to seasonal staples like family vacations and summer camps, while others still plan to hit the road or take to the skies during an unprecedented health and financial crisis… correspondent Christopher Cruise explores how we got here and where we are going, or not going, this summer.” It replaces “The Week in Review” on May 23-24.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. On Long Island, Connoisseur Media’s four-station cluster that includes hot AC WALK-FM, rock WWSK-FM “94.3 The Shark,” classic hits WBZO “103.2 MAX,” and adult contemporary WKJY-FM “KJOY 98.3” shined a light on the mental effects of social distancing with a special live stream concert last night (5/17) to benefit The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention Long Island Chapter. The “Be Well Long Island” benefit concert featured performances and appearances by: Johnny Rzenick of the Goo Goo Dolls, Joan Jett, Scott Stapp, DMC from Run DMC, Kevin Martin and Brian Quinn of Candlebox, Fitz and The Tantrums, Vintage Trouble, and more. WWSK music director Brian Orlando says, “There are thousands of people suffering in silence right now. We at Connoisseur Media want them to know that they’re not alone.”