TALKERS 2021 Taking Place Today. The 24th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important conference, the Talkers Convention, is taking place today at between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The event is a presentation of TALKERS in association with Hofstra’s multi-award-winning radio station, WRHU. More than 50 industry leaders from talk radio and cable news/talk TV will be speaking during a non-stop day of presentations and panel sessions. CHECK OUT THE AGENDA here. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says, “We are delighted to be able to join forces again with our colleagues at Hofstra – the site of our very successful 2016 event – to be able to actually present a live conference in an extremely COVID-19 compliant environment which Hofstra is equipped to provide. The convention will boldly address key existential issues facing the talk radio and talk media industries at this dramatically critical juncture.” The conference has been limited to a smaller number of attendees and exhibitors than usual and only open to members of the working media and closely associated industries. For the sake of safety, all attendees will be required to comply with COVID-19 regulations in effect at the time of the actual conference regarding social distancing, the wearing of masks, and providing proof of vaccination and/or testing, etc.
WBZ, Boston Begins Celebration of 100 Years of Service. Boston’s all-news WBZ-AM today (6/11) begins a 100-day celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of its first day of broadcasting on September 19, 1921. The iHeartMedia station “celebrates 100 years of being a legendary cornerstone of the Boston media landscape,” broadcasting the latest headlines and news coverage on 1030 AM. The station will celebrate on-air and online with short stories and photos of memorable moments in WBZ’s rich history. iHeartMedia Boston market president Alan Chartrand says, “For a station to broadcast for 100 years is nothing short of amazing. Listeners and advertisers consistently utilize this heritage brand as evidenced by WBZ’s continued ratings and revenue success. People lean into objective news sources to remain informed and none has been more dependable than WBZ NewsRadio.” iHeartMedia Boston vice president of news, talk & sports Rob Sanchez adds, “WBZ NewsRadio is defined by our strong, unmistakable presence in the communities we serve. As the media landscape continues to evolve, our reach has only increased as WBZ listeners have adopted streaming on smart devices and the iHeartRadio app.”
Elston Howard Butler Named to Lead Talk KBLA, Los Angeles. The new talk radio station being launched on KBLA-AM, Los Angeles by Tavis Smiley will debut on June 19, a.k.a. Juneteenth. Smiley Audio Media announces that it has hired Elston Howard Butler to serve as president and general manager of the station as well as president and CEO of Smiley Audio Media. Smiley says the launch of the station will give Los Angeles its “first and only ‘Unapologetically Progressive’ talk radio station for the African-American listening audience.” Butler most recently served as market manager for Taxi Productions’ urban contemporary KJLH-FM, Los Angeles “Radio Free 102.3.” Butler says, “I’m having a great run, but I’m not tired yet. The eyes of the future are looking back at us, hoping and praying that we get it right this time. I have been in and around LA my entire life, and now more than ever in this moment of racial reckoning for America, I feel a deep responsibility to help put our city on the right track.” He adds, “For me, that starts with helping to build a new talk radio station that will sound like our city and reflect the way it looks. KBLA ‘Talk 1580’ is a talk radio station that will give everyday people a voice, and advance conversations that matter. I am grateful to Tavis Smiley for his vision and stewardship of this historic Black-owned and operated media venture. The city is ready, our talented team is ready, I am ready.”
iHeartMedia Names Barb Neren Director of Marketing and Partnerships. In the Twin Cities market, iHeartMedia promotes Barb Neren from director of sponsorships and events to director of marketing and partnerships. In this role, Neren will be responsible for overseeing the market’s marketing, promotions, events and partnership efforts. She will report to market president Greg Alexander. He says, “I am excited to see Barb promoted into this expanded role. Her industry knowledge, both on the promotions and programming side of the business, will serve her well as she leads our marketing and partnership efforts.” The company says Neren’s leadership while events were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic showcased her ingenuity. She was able to create events to connect listeners with their favorite on-air personalities and artists whether that was via Facebook Live or virtual concerts like KDWB’s Star Party. Neren can also be heard Fridays on “KFAN 100.3” and weekends on Cities 97.1. Neren comments, “I am honored to lead this team. While we have loved finding new and creative ways to bring our listeners, advertisers and artists together virtually, we are looking forward to our events being live and in person once again.”
Audacy’s Cadence13 and American Public Media Enter Multi-Year Partnership. This new deal between Cadence13 and the podcast arm of American Public Media makes Cadence13 the exclusive podcast sales representative for APM. Additionally, the organizations will develop future on-demand programming initiatives, co-productions, and collaborative new revenue opportunities. APM podcast division general manager Lily Kim says, “Our organizations share a complementary vision for premium audio storytelling and we are delighted to form a partnership with an established powerhouse like Cadence13 that will help us expand our collective reach and pursue new ways to connect directly with our fans. A cornerstone of public media is the commitment to serve our listeners by providing meaningful content that enriches, informs and builds community. This partnership will further enhance our ability to deliver on that mission.” Cadence 13 chief content officer Chris Corcoran adds, “Cadence13’s objective is to align with the best. Partnering with APM, one of the most premium networks in the industry, brings together two of the most accomplished podcast companies for unmatched opportunities for scale and development. We are so proud to be joining forces with the entire team at APM and look forward to taking this to market together.”
Cumulus Media Partners with Adomni to Rep Uber OOH. This agreement between Cumulus Media and programmatic advertising platform Adomni (with 460,000 out of home digital screens nationally) makes Cumulus the exclusive sales partner to local businesses for the Uber OOH powered by Adomni cartop advertising network in markets where Cumulus operates radio stations. Uber OOH is the official Uber digital out-of-home national advertising network which, in partnership with Adomni, features two-sided internet-connected, video-enabled screens on the tops of Uber vehicles. Cumulus Media EVP of operations Dave Milner comments, “Cumulus Media is delighted by its selection as Adomni’s exclusive Uber OOH local sales partner. Not only does this product give advertisers a unique and creative new way to connect with consumers, but it is also a terrific addition to the portfolio of radio, streaming, podcasting and other digital marketing solutions we already offer local businesses to meet their marketing needs.”
TALKERS News Notes. The Way Media board of directors and president/CEO John Scaggs announces he is stepping down from his post, effective immediately. Scaggs says, “Leading through the pandemic is the hardest thing many of us have done. The board recognized this and recommended a season of rest for me, to which I’ve agreed. My wife Cathy and I plan to relax and catch our breath before finding another great Kingdom role to serve in.” Scaggs spent 18 years on the Christian network’s board prior to being named to president/CEO in 2017. Way Media COO Tim Dukes has been appointed interim president while the board prepares for a national search to select a permanent replacement…..Radio One Charlotte regional vice president Marsha Landess announces that news/talk WBT-AM/FM will partner with the Charlotte Knights on this year’s Fourth of July Skyshow. The annual July 4th holiday event has been celebrated every year since 1976 and is a staple event in the Charlotte community. Last year’s event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic…..ABC News Radio is providing live anchored coverage of next week’s Joe Biden–Vladimir Putin summit (6/15-16), with correspondent Karen Travers reporting live from Geneva, Switzerland. Correspondent Aaron Katersky will anchor from New York and be joined by ABC News contributors and experts on Russia and cybersecurity. Hourly status reports will be offered throughout the morning and as news warrants. ABC News’ flagship daily podcast “Start Here,” hosted by Brad Mielke, will provide coverage of the summit, featuring the latest updates from ABC News’ reporters and analysts.
COVID-19 Vaccines, Origins, Stats & Politics Top News/Talk Story for Week of June 7-11. The issues of vaccine hesitancy, the coronavirus origins, infection rates and politics combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was a tie between voting legislation and the status of the senate filibuster, followed by the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack at #3. 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.
New York City Radio Sales Opportunity. The New York City radio stations owned and operated by Salem Media Group announce a sales opportunity. The company says, “NYC is REOPENING and sales are starting to boom – the hottest stations around belong to Salem Media Group’s NY cluster, come join us! If you were born to sell and want a great career with benefits and financial security, write directly to: Jerry Crowley, VP/GM at: Jcrowley@nycradio.com.
RTDNA/Newhouse School: 2020 A Dangerous Year for Journalists. The annual survey of broadcast newsrooms from the RTDNA and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University notes that during the past year, the job of seeking and reporting the truth became increasingly dangerous. “Journalists were threatened, assaulted and arrested at an alarming rate while on the job. We faced unprecedented levels of verbal and physical violence at the hands of civilians, police and the leaders we are meant to hold accountable.” This is the first year that the survey included a section on media safety. The survey’s research team says it wanted to understand how repeated, targeted acts of violence have impacted newsrooms across the country and learned that one in five television news directors reported attacks on employees. 86% of news directors changed newsroom procedures to protect employees. They purchased bullet-proof vests and gas masks and more often sent security teams with reporters. As far as radio is concerned, the study concludes, “Not surprisingly, the level of attacks at radio stations and on radio news people is much lower. Four percent of radio news directors and general managers reported attacks on newsroom employees. It was primarily a problem in major markets, with one million and more people, where 13.8% of news directors and general managers reported attacks on employees.” You can see the complete survey here. Commenting on the study, National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “Broadcast journalists play an essential role in documenting pivotal moments in American history from the front lines. That has never been more important than during the past year. NAB is gravely troubled by this study reporting the unprecedented level of harassment, intimidation and violence directed at journalists covering the historical events of 2020. These unacceptable attacks on our nation’s free press undermine our very democracy by preventing journalists’ ability to report the facts and keep the public informed. We are grateful to the dedicated broadcast journalists bringing the truth to Americans during these dangerous times.”
Nick Craig to Host Mornings on WAAV-AM, Cape Fear. Beginning May 3, Nick Craig begins hosting “Wilmington’s Morning News with Nick Craig” on Cumulus Media’s news/talk/sports WAAV-AM, Cape Fear, North Carolina “980 The WAAV.” The station says the show is “a live and local morning show hosted by fresh conservative talk personality Nick Craig. The show focuses on the day’s biggest stories including Wilmington and the Cape Fear region. The show will feature a wide variety of topics, guests, and listener interaction.” Cumulus Wilmington VP and market manager Eric McCart comments, “We’re excited to have Nick join our 980 WAAV Cumulus family! He brings a fresh new energy and excitement to weekday mornings that our listeners will really enjoy. If it’s happening in Wilmington and the Cape Fear region, it’s happening on Wilmington’s Morning News with Nick Craig!” Craig adds, “Traveling on the road paved by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, I’m excited to bring the next generation of conservative talk to the Wilmington region and beyond. To be part of a legacy talk station like WAAV and Cumulus Media is quite the opportunity at my age. Looking forward to using these platforms to engage and interact with traditional talk listeners and the next generation.”
Ron Slay Joins WGFX-FM, Nashville’s Afternoon Drive Show. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces that former University of Tennessee basketball star Ron Slay is joining the “3HL” afternoon drive program alongside current hosts Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport. Paul Mason is program director for the Cumulus Media station, and he says, “Our listeners have made it clear that they want us to hire Ron Slay. I am happy to say we listened, and we are thrilled Ron Slay will be joining Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport on ‘3HL.’ ‘3HL’ is already a great show and I look forward to seeing it go to even higher levels.” Slay comments, “I am both delighted and eager to join the ‘104.5 The Zone’ and ‘3HL’ families. I hope to bring joy, energy, and insight to Nashville sports enthusiasts each day.”
SiriusXM Reports 2021 Q1 Financials; Revenue Up 5%. Satellite radio and digital audio broadcaster SiriusXM releases its financial data for the first quarter of 2021 and reports total revenue of $2.06 billion, a 5% increase from the $1.95 billion reported during the same period a year ago. However, net income for the quarter was $219 million, a decline of 29% from the $293 million reported in Q1 of 2020. SiriusXM added 126,000 self-pay subscribers to hit its all-time high of 31 million self-pay subscribers. New chief executive officer Jennifer Witz comments, “I am pleased to announce SiriusXM has started the year impressively – we added 126,000 self-pay net subscribers, an 83% increase as compared to the period a year ago, saw a first quarter record-low churn rate of 1.6%, and are reporting a new record-high quarterly adjusted EBITDA figure. These strong results reflect the value we bring to our listeners through the breadth and depth of our content. Our advertising revenue grew 24%, driven by robust monetization of both on- and off-platform opportunities, as well as the growing podcast market. While we are benefiting from the broader reopening of the economy and the acceleration of consumers’ digital adoption, the meaningful long-term investments we’ve been making are also paying off. This includes creating and delivering compelling content, strengthening our digital product experiences, and scaling a full suite of end-to-end distribution and monetization solutions for content creators and publishers. We are extremely focused on achieving our 2021 goals and reinforcing our long-term position as North America’s premier audio entertainment company. Across SiriusXM, Pandora and Stitcher, we have added new channels, shows, hosts, and podcasts, enhancing the expertly curated audio entertainment experience across all formats from music to sports… We are working with highly regarded creators on new podcasts; earlier this week we announced the acquisition of 99% Invisible, the acclaimed and popular podcast from Roman Mars and his creator team. This was our first year as the exclusive audio broadcaster of the Masters Tournament, and we have expanded our streaming rights with both the NBA and MLB. We also created special music and talk programming that honored both Black History and Women’s History months back-to-back.”
RAB Announces ‘Radio Works for Automotive’ Presentations. As part of RAB’s Business Accelerated initiative, it is presenting a two-part live series for May’s featured automotive category, one of radio’s most important advertising categories. The first presentation titled, “What’s Driving the Auto Industry?” takes place at 1:00 pm ET on May 19. As Americans return to school and work, the demand for vehicles grows. Parts shortages, as well as chip scarcity, are hindering inventory on lots and yet, auto sales remain high despite the supply-demand imbalance. In this presentation, hear from experts in both automotive and auto dealership industries including Tyson Jominy, vice president, data and analytics, J.D. Power, and Dick Parrish, dealership management consultant, NADA, who will share insights into the auto industry’s growth and challenges. The second live presentation will feature broadcasters discussing automotive client success stories to help sellers prospect and support their clients. The session, titled “Radio Works for Automotive Part 2,” takes place at 1:00 pm ET on May 26. The presentation will also be available for on-demand viewing. Both presentations are free for RAB members. You can register here.
TALKERS News Notes. The Media Sales Institute announces its strategic alliance with Media Staffing Network that will bring MSN’s media recruiter’s expertise to the MSI curriculum at the 2021 NABOB MSI, being held at the Atlanta University Center and hosted by Morehouse College from October 25 to November 4, 2021. Media Staffing Network founder and CEO Laurie Kahn comments, “With our tutelage, we can better prepare the MSI graduates to address the position for which they are applying. Sadly, many colleges and universities are not as up to date on what a recent graduate should include on their resumes. Nor do they teach their students how to best stand out and showcase their value when they have little to no work experience.”…..iHeartMedia and media personality Chelsea Handler have entered into a deal for a new podcast called “Dear Chelsea” to be produced as a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast. The comedian, best-selling author, and television host will give listeners the opportunity to submit questions about life and get candid answers on the podcast. “Dear Chelsea” – also featuring Handler’s co-host and longtime assistant Brandon Marlo – debuts on May 6. Handler says, “iHeartRadio has been a great place for me to share all of my wild, unvarnished thoughts. I’m excited to start this journey with ‘Dear Chelsea’ to help people figure out what they need in life – I’m more than happy to be that kick in the pants or shove that will give someone a new perspective on a situation and help them to make a decision.”…..SiriusXM announces it is again offering listeners nationwide comprehensive coverage of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday (5/1). SiriusXM, through its broadcasting agreement with Horse Racing Radio Network, airs all Triple Crown races – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes – as well as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The wire-to-wire race broadcast of the Kentucky Derby is provided by NBC Sports Audio Network and produced in collaboration with HRRN.
Biden Addresses Congress, COVID-19, Police Violence, Fed Search Giuliani’s Home and Office, John Kerry Iran Allegation, Feds Investigate Direct Energy Attack, and Boris Johnson Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/28). President Joe Biden’s address to Congress and his wide-ranging $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the rate of COVID cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the exploding cases in India; the spate of high-profile cases of deadly police violence against citizens; the FBI’s search of former NYC mayor and former Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s home and office in an investigation of his ties to Ukraine; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry shared Israeli military intelligence with Iran; the Pentagon’s investigation into a mysterious “direct energy attack” near the White House; and the scandal over Boris Johnson’s refurbishing of 10 Downing St. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.