iHeartMedia Adds ‘Jim Polito Show’ to WXKS-AM, Boston. Boston news/talk outlet WXKS-AM “Talk 1200” is adding “The Jim Polito Show” to the morning drive daypart, replacing the FOX Sports Radio programming currently airing there. Jim Polito’s morning show launched on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTAG-AM, Worcester and was eventually rolled out to news/talk WHYN-AM, Springfield and news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence, replacing the local morning shows on those stations. iHeartMedia president of the New England area community markets Sean Davey says, “I am proud of Jim and his growth. More than anyone I know, Jim loves politics and the ‘give and take’ that goes with it. For him to be heard in Boston is so exciting and the natural next step in Jim’s growth.” Polito comments, “Boston is the next stop for making serious talk fun. I do battle with the political establishment and succeed where others fail by changing minds and waking people up on the ‘right’ side of the bed.”
John Batchelor Returns to New York Airwaves on WOR. Nationally syndicated nighttime radio personality John Batchelor returns to the New York City air on November 1 as iHeartMedia’s news/talk 710 WOR, The Voice of New York adds his program, “Eye on the World with John Batchelor,” to the schedule in the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight daypart. WOR program director Tom Cuddy says, “I have been a fan of John’s for almost two decades and the dedication he consistently displays in tracking down the details behind the important stories anywhere in the world and then sorting them out for listeners.” Batchelor says, “I am astounded to be invited to join the legendary WOR at this promising time, when the listeners of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut begin the hard work to recover from these last rough years. This is a privilege.” Batchelor’s program broadcasts nightly from New York and is syndicated by CBS Audio.
iHeartMedia Spends $64 Million to Repurchase All Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock. The company announces that it has – via its subsidiary iHeart Operations, Inc., repurchased and cancelled all of its 60,000 outstanding shares of Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock, paying for it with cash on hand. The cash repurchase price for each Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock is $1,000, plus a premium equal to the remaining dividends required to be paid through the optional redemption date of May 1, 2022 discounted at a negotiated rate. This results in an aggregate redemption amount of $64.35 million to be paid to the holders of the $60 million Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman comments, “We are pleased to have voluntarily repurchased the full balance of our $60 million preferred stock, demonstrating our commitment to strengthening our balance sheet and increasing free cash flow, while still maintaining ample liquidity. Repurchasing early allows us to realize interest savings, exit the most restrictive instrument on our balance sheet, and continue to reinforce iHeart’s commitment to improving our capital structure. This action continues to demonstrate our confidence in our business moving forward.”
Saturday, October 30 Marks the 83rd Anniversary of Historic ‘War of the Worlds’ Radio Broadcast. With concerns over so-called fake news, “deepfakes,” and algorithm manipulation in the zeitgeist, this Saturday (10/30) marks the anniversary of the original “deepfake of 1938,” when more than eight decades ago, “War of The Worlds,” Orson Wells’ radio drama about an alien invasion theatrically presented as “breaking news,” reportedly scared the daylights out of the nation (and many claim that even the level of hyperbole surrounding those reports were fake news about fake news). The story about this event is extremely well-covered in today’s (10/28) posting of the premiere episode of Season 2 of the hit podcast series, “We Interrupt This Broadcast.” ATTENTION PROGRAMMERS: this is a great, last minute Halloween radio special in a bottle. The show’s producers are offering news/talk radio stations and broadcasters who read TALKERS free access to the podcast and use of any or all of its production elements to tie in with the event’s connection to Halloween. Here is a link to the “War of The Worlds” episode: The War of The Worlds: The Original Deep Fake of 1938. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact the podcast’s producer Joe Garner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-439-6771.
Armstrong & Getty Are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. The long-running, highly successful, West Coast-based news/talk radio duo Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty are this week’s guests on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” They started out as DJs in music radio in the early 90s but transitioned to all-talk and landed a big-time slot in 1998 as the morning team on news/talk station KSTE in Sacramento, California where they developed a reputation throughout the radio industry for their freshness and youthful dynamics. They’ve remained a huge attraction on that station to this very day but their reputation and reach has spread and continues to grow far beyond the Golden State’s capital. They are now a morning powerhouse in California’s major cities including KABC, Los Angeles; KSFO, San Francisco; and KGB-AM, San Diego and are heard throughout the West as well as on an increasing number of stations spreading East via their own independent syndication. “When I first heard them years ago, they sounded to me more like the kind of talk show hosts one would expect to hear on a rock station than on a serious news outlet. They were funny and irreverent and surrounded with a cast of characters that gave their show more of the feeling of a morning zoo than a round table of stuffy panelists,” says TALKERS founder Michael Harrison. “But even though they were zany and played the goofball roll to a certain degree, their antics were offset by obvious intelligence, keen insight, excellent interviewing skills and a ton of information about what was happening in the news.” Today, this compelling act – though still first and foremost entertaining and full of engaging pop culture – has matured and is a perfect fit for news/talk stations looking to cover the news and maintain a conservative orientation, but without the pedantic posture that can sacrifice a more eclectic audience. Even more important,” says Harrison, “Jack and Joe remain irreverent and are not rigidly beholden to any singular ideology or political personality. They present their opinions issue by issue. As we approach 2022, the show is uniquely positioned to be a major element in the unfolding news/talk radio universe.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
iHeartMedia Swipes Green Bay Packers Football from Good Karma Brands. The business relationships between radio stations and sports franchises are not immune to change but iHeartMedia’s new deal with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers that moves play-by-play broadcast rights in the state’s largest market from Good Karma Brands’ news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee to its own crosstown sports talk WRNW-FM “97.3 The Game” beginning in 2022 is huge because WTMJ has enjoyed broadcasting Packers games since 1929. The team announced the news yesterday (10/27) and clarifies that this change only affects the Milwaukee affiliate as the team brought the Packers Radio Network in house in 2018. Packers VP of sales and business development Craig Benzel says, “iHeartMedia enthusiastically pursued the opportunity that being part of the network creates, and we are looking forward to how their innovative approach will appeal to Packers fans in southeastern Wisconsin. The Packers have greatly appreciated the partnership with WTMJ over the years and will always respect the history they have with the franchise.” The press release says, “‘97.3 The Game’ WRNW and iHeartMedia Milwaukee will offer an attractive demographic opportunity to reach new listeners with a growing sports talk radio segment and other programming formats in the Milwaukee area. Additionally, the partnership offers a variety of new platforms that will support key Packers initiatives, including iHeartMedia’s new audio partnership with the NFL which features podcast distribution.” The most recent Nielsen PPM numbers (6+, weekly AQH share) from the September 2021 survey show WTMJ ranked #1 in the market with a 9.1 share and WRNW-FM ranked #15 with a 1.3 share.
Charlie Sislen to Retire from Research Director; Karen Morriss Joins as Director of Client Services. Radio pro Charlie Sislen is retiring from his role at Research Director, Inc after 24 years with the company as a partner. His last day will be December 31, 2021. Sislen says, “It has been a pleasure being part of Research Director, Inc. for the past 24 years. I woke up every day excited not only about what would come next, but also more importantly the people I would interact with. I enjoyed every conversation with Research Director, Inc.’s amazing team, our tremendous clients, and everyone who makes our industry great. I want to especially thank my partner, Marc Greenspan, who had the vision to bring me into this company and partnered with me to build a truly remarkable organization. I am leaving a phenomenal team, whose hard work made my role as the face of the company easy. They made the difference for every one of our clients. Now is the time of my life where I must shift my focus from my career, which I love, to my family and my community. Research Director, Inc. and the radio industry will always be in my heart. My thanks to all who were such an integral part of this life‐changing journey.” As a part of the transition, Karen Morriss joins the team as the director of client services. She says, “I’m excited to be joining the Research Director, Inc. team. I’ve known Marc and Charlie for over 30 years and have great respect for both of them. I look forward to working with their wonderful clients.”
Triton Digital and Signal Hill Insights Collaborate to Create Demos+ Podcast Metrics Service. This collaborative effort between Triton Digital and audio research firm Signal Hill Insights results in the enhancement to Triton’s Podcast Metrics that provides audience demographic and socio-demographic data on podcast listeners and downloads in the United States. Triton Digital says the new Demos+ solution is “the first-ever integration of census and survey-based research podcast measurement methodologies. Through this collaboration, podcast publishers, advertisers, and agencies will be able to leverage podcast download metrics by person-level demographic, socio-demographic, media behavior and purchase intent propensities.” The two firms say they’ve “launched a large, year-round survey that is representative of the population of podcast listeners in the United States. Demos+ utilizes the Podcast Metrics measurement census-level data to identify listener overlap to scale the podcast survey-based insights. This unique approach enables Triton to project the audience composition for virtually all size podcasts – a capability previously hindered by podcast survey sample-size limitations. With this insight, podcasters will see a clear view of their audience, and marketers can more easily identify the podcasts which best reach their target audience.”
TALKERS News Notes. Promotions and marketing pro Sandy Corcoran joins Summit Media as promotions director for the company’s Omaha station group that includes sports talk KXSP “AM 590 ESPN” and four music brands. Corcoran served for 10 years with Audacy where she was the assistant director of marketing and promotions for the Phoenix cluster, including KOOL-FM, KALV-FM, and KMLE-FM. She says, “I’m excited for the opportunity to join SummitMedia and their heritage brands in Omaha. Radio and music are my biggest passions. I couldn’t be happier to oversee promotions and events for this cluster.”.…..Podcast firm PodcastOne extends its podcast production partnership with REELZ to launch “Sex, Lies & Murder,” the latest true crime podcast in a series of shows co-produced by the two media companies. “Sex, Lies & Murder” episodes feature the real stories of sex-driven crimes that have rocked communities. These are the stories of a suburban housewife who becomes a killer. A church pastor who has extramarital sex then his wife joins the dearly departed. It’s a soccer mom who is found dead and police uncover her double life as a midnight escort. PodcastOne president Kit Gray states, “We couldn’t be more thrilled to continue our long standing relationship with REELZ through our latest podcast “Sex, Lies & Murder.” Listeners and advertisers alike know that our REELZ-branded programming is edge-of-your-seat content that the podcast world is hungry for and we are excited to deliver.”…..ABC News is covering the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow with correspondent Karen Travers reporting from Glasgow. She’ll file regular reports for newscasts, “Perspective” and other audio platforms. ABC Audio will also release a five-part climate report series examining the consequences of climate change and issues the conference is planning to address. Additionally, ABC News’ flagship daily podcast “Start Here,” hosted by Brad Mielke, will dedicate multiple segments to the effects of climate change and how Americans are addressing the problem.
Biden’s Infrastructure and Social Spending Bills, COVID-19, Virginia Governor’s Race, Petroleum Industry Testimony/Climate Change, Supply Chain Woes/Inflation, Migrant Caravan/Immigration Policy, China’s Taiwan Aggression, and Rust Set Shooting Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/27). The state of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure and social spending bills as Democratic factions battle over where to spend; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine approved for kids, and mask & vaccine mandates; the tight race between Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin; today’s testimony before Congress from petroleum industry CEOs about climate change; the ongoing supply chain breakdown and soaring retail prices; a migrant caravan in Mexico approaches the U.S. border and the Biden administration’s border and immigration policies; China’s continuing military aggression toward Taiwan; and the investigation into the deadly shooting on the Santa Fe set of Alec Baldwin’s Rust film were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Salem New York Seeks Digital Specialist. The New York City operations of Salem Media Group is looking for a digital specialist. “If you love this segment of the broadcast business, then you want to work at Salem media in New York. While we have two booming radio stations in NYC, our digital business has taken off as well. Come join us please! Contact Jerry Crowley at: email@example.com.
Audacy Seeks Programming Coordinator. This position is in New York City as Audacy is seeking a skilled programming coordinator to provide project management and administrative support to the core programming leadership group there. Some of the responsibilities in this position include: Assisting in the planning and organizational management tasks around programming, content and creative with a large portfolio of radio stations and digital content platforms; helping develop and implement consumer marketing and advertising campaigns in select markets to drive ratings; coordinate planning, tracking, contracts, art/creative proofing, and execution & trafficking of various media (OOH and digital, figures prominently); creating, modifying and maintaining spreadsheets, databases and preparing reports; ensuring billing procedures run smoothly; plus more. Find out more and apply here.
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “French Disconnection,” looks back at this past week of 9/20 – 9/24. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Gary Sutton, talk show host, WSBA, York, PA; Murray Sabrin, Ph.D., professor emeritus of finance, Ramapo College of New Jersey; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/physician; Joe Garner, author, historian, president, Garner Creative Concepts and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more. To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.
USA Radio Networks CEO Fred Weinberg Passes. Broadcasting executive Fred Weinberg, CEO of USA Radio Networks passed away last night (9/23). Weinberg had a distinguished career as an owner of stations in the Tulsa/Claremore area of Oklahoma, Las Vegas, and other smaller Nevada markets. His company was also the operator of KBDT-AM, Dallas; KXEG, Phoenix; KQSP, Minneapolis; and KNNR-AM, Reno. He acquired USA Radio Networks in 2018. TALKERS founder Michael Harrison states, “Fred Weinberg was an outstanding example of the special breed of independent radio station owner/operator that has kept this increasingly corporatized industry rooted in its communities and accessible to entrepreneurial business visionaries motivated by their love of the medium. He operated two of our affiliates for “The Michael Harrison Wrap” – KBDT-AM in Dallas, and KQSP in Minneapolis. We are proud to have been associated with this colorful individual and to be carried on his fine stations.” Janet Bro, USA COO and longtime friend of Weinberg’s said, “Fred was one of the smartest guys in the business. In 1974 Fred’s father, dean of engineering at Bradley University, fired him from his position of station manager at campus radio station WCBU-FM where we worked. He told him, ‘If you want your own effin radio station, go buy your own effin radio station.’ So he did and never looked back.” Weinberg is survived by his wife, Charlotte, son Stephen and daughter Randi Alarid. A memorial service will be held in Reno on November 6. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Weinberg Family Scholarship fund at Bradley University in Fred’s name.
Saga Communications Adds Markley, Van Camp & Robbins to Five Talk Stations. The Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated “Markley, Van Camp & Robbins” show – co-hosted by Jamie Markley, David van Camp and Scott Robbins – is being added to the programming lineup at five news/talk stations owned by Saga Communications. WHCU-AM, Ithaca; WINA-AM, Charlottesville, Virginia; WNZE-AM, Clarksville, Tennessee; WSVA-AM, Harrisonburg, Virginia; and WTAX-AM, Springfield, Illinois are airing the show as part of their daily lineup. Saga Communications group program director Scott Chase says, “We’re excited about welcoming ‘Markley, Van Camp & Robbins’ to the Saga family. They have a fresh approach and do a great job covering the important topics while being upbeat, professional, and entertaining.”
Katie Hoyt Promoted to Market President for iHeartMedia Salisbury. Sales and management pro Katie Hoyt is promoted to market president for iHeartMedia’s Salisbury, Maryland station group that includes news/talk WJDY-AM and sports talk WTGM-AM “FOX Sports 960” and four music brands. Hoyt rises from her most recent position with the Salisbury cluster as SVP of sales. iHeartMedia area president for Pennsylvania Brit Goldstein says, “Katie has done an incomparable job inspiring and leading the Salisbury sales team. This elevation is much deserved, and I look forward to partnering with Katie and the market team in achieving even greater accomplishments.” Hoyt comments, “I’m excited for what the future has in store for the Salisbury and the Eastern Shore markets. I also want to give kudos to my staff and most importantly my mentors along the way who have helped me get where I am today.”
Podcaster’s Grant Aids in Arrest of Serial Rape Suspect. The efforts of audiochuck network founder and CEO Ashley Flowers have helped arrest a suspect in a series of rapes in Indiana. Flowers, who is also host of the popular “Crime Junkie” podcast, founded the non-profit Season of Justice that provides financial grants to law enforcement agencies and victims as well as their families to help solve cold cases. One of these grants, provided to Central Indiana Law Enforcement, assisted in the arrest of serial rape suspect Darrell Goodlow, who was arrested on September 17 in connection with the sexual assaults of at least eight women dating back to August 2020. The grant enabled law enforcement to pursue advanced DNA testing resources for these cases. Flowers says, “I started Season of Justice to help bring some sense of closure to crime victims and their families. I’m beyond appreciative of the passionate and engaged fans that follow our podcasts. Their support of our victim advocacy efforts continues to propel the mission forward.” audiochuck podcasts are represented by AdLarge Media in the audio ad marketplace.
TALKERS News Notes. Four new programs are added to the Sunday lineup at SiriusXM’s Urban View channel, effective 9/26. “The Qasim Rashid Show,” focusing on racial, economic, and gender justice airs at 10:00 am ET. “The Dr. Robin Show” – hosted by Dr. Robin Smith – addresses today’s “most pressing societal challenges through fearless, soulful conversations” and airs at 11:00 am ET. “The Shelly Bell Show” features the entrepreneur and founder of Black Girl Venture speaking about entrepreneurship, career growth, all things money, wellness, and pop culture. It airs at 12:00 noon ET. And “Bigger Than Politics with Shermichael Singleton” addresses issues at the intersection of politics and culture. It airs at 1:00 pm ET…..Audacy’s newly launched 2400Sports podcast studio presents the first original podcast in partnership with Major League Baseball titled, “The Run: 2016 Chicago Cubs.” The documentary podcast, from executive producer Jody Avirgan, is hosted by comedian and “The Daily Show” correspondent Roy Wood Jr. and baseball analyst and WSCR “670 The Score” host Matt Spiegel…..Audacy’s Cadence13 launches “Tell Me with Ellen Pompeo,” in which the star of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” has “candid conversations with a wide range of guests – celebrity and otherwise – giving a platform to important voices and shining a light on people and topics important to her and the world-at-large.”…..Public media organization GBH names Lee Hill the first executive editor for GBH News. Hill is the executive producer for “The Takeaway,” produced by WNYC in which he oversees editorial strategy, production, and planning of content across platforms for the daily national news program…..WABC, New York is welcoming local crooner and entertainer Vinnie Medugno to its music radio weekend lineup. His show “Your Cousin Vinnie” airs 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm beginning this Saturday, with hits from the 60s and 70s. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Vinnie has been a terrific fill-in talent for WABC, and our music radio listeners love him. Bringing Vinnie on board for a weekly Saturday show was the natural next step. Vinnie playing the hits from the 60s and 70s is a perfect lead-in to ‘Cousin Brucie’s Saturday Night Rock & Roll Party’ and ‘Saturday Nights withTony Orlando.’”
COVID-19 Boosters, Vaccines, Masks, Mandates & Politics Top News/Talk Story for Week of September 20-24. The approval of booster shots for some Americans, the large unvaccinated population, mask & vaccine mandates, and the politics of COVID-19 combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the meeting of the UN General Assembly and President Joe Biden’s address, tied with the strained U.S.-France relations over the Australian nuclear sub deal. Following at #3 was the state of the U.S. economy and the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion spending plan. 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.
Howard Stern Signs Renewal with SiriusXM for Five More Years. During previous investor conference calls, outgoing SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer said he believed Howard Stern and SiriusXM would come to terms on a new deal and today’s announcement bears that out. Under the new agreement, Stern will continue to produce and host “The Howard Stern Show” exclusively for SiriusXM for the next five years, and the Howard Stern archive of audio and video will continue to be licensed to SiriusXM for an additional seven years. Stern says, “Fifteen years ago, I joined SiriusXM, a fledgling group of broadcasters. I had been in a toxic relationship with terrestrial radio. And no matter how well I treated the medium, no matter how successful I made them, they abused me. Going to SiriusXM liberated me. I felt like Tina Turner freeing myself from Ike. And despite the naysayers and the ridicule, we have persevered, and are thriving. I’ve been proven right about satellite radio over and over again. With this contract renewal, I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be right about. Certainly, I have a lot more to say about Metamucil crackers and stepmom porn. Plus, now that I can work from home, I simply don’t have an excuse to quit.” Meyer says, “As the leading audio entertainment company, we couldn’t be happier to have Howard, the leading host in all of radio and audio, continue to make SiriusXM the home for his show, channels, and archives while at the peak of his broadcasting career. Howard’s home has been SiriusXM and it will remain that way, but we’ve expanded SiriusXM in recent years too, and we are excited about finding the right ways that select content from Howard can find audiences on additional platforms. May I add, I consider Howard a close friend and look forward to listening to him for years to come.”
Ron St. Pierre Out at iHeartMedia’s WHJJ, Providence; Jim Polito Takes Over Morning Show. Longtime Providence air personality and programmer Ron St. Pierre has exited iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence where he hosted the morning drive show. Filling the programming gap is WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based morning personality Jim Polito. In 2016, iHeartMedia dropped the local morning show hosted by Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan on WHYN-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts and began simulcasting Polito’s show there. The WHJJ move puts the Jim Polito show in three of iHeartMedia’s New England markets.
Salem’s KRLA and KTIE Cut Ties with Brian Whitman. Southern California radio pro Brian Whitman exits Salem Media Group’s morning drive show “The Morning Answer” that he co-hosted with Jennifer Horn that was simulcast on KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino. Whitman shared the news on his Facebook page on Friday (12/4). He wrote, “I was provided the following from folks at Salem/KRLA this morning. The announcement was sent by the general manager to their kind and hardworking staff, making this news public. I’ll have very personal thoughts to share with members of the ‘Morning Answer Listening Family’ (as I came to know and regard you over many years) very soon. It will be in this space at a time that is more appropriate and comfortable. With all of my love and with the warmest gratitude for every moment that we’ve shared together, I offer words that I know fall far short of my heart’s sentiment. Thank you, thank you, thank you guys.” The message from management was as follows: “After eight years hosting ‘The Morning Answer,’ Brian Whitman will no longer be with us. We wish Brian all the best in the future. Chuck [Tyler] and I echo Phil Boyce who said, “Brian has been a hard-working and extremely talented employee for us for many years. We will always cherish his friendship, and our opportunity to work together at KRLA and KTIE.” Whitman was the liberal counterpart to conservative Horn.
Hubbard Radio Drops Sports Talker Chris Rongey; Re-Aligns Host Lineup. According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar, afternoon drive sports talk personality Chris Rongey has been let go from Hubbard Radio’s WXOS-FM, St. Louis. Rongey had been part of “The Fast Lane” afternoon show since replacing D’Marco Farr in 2017. The station moves midday host Jamie Rivers into afternoons alongside Anthony Stalter and Brad Thompson and promotes Alex Farrario to the midday show co-hosting with Brandon Kiley.
Talk Radio Host Michael Berry’s Good Month Includes Raising $1.3 Million for PTSD Foundation. KRTH, Houston-based, nationally syndicated talk host Michael Berry had a very good month in which his program helped raise $1.3 million for Camp Hope, the residential treatment center run by the PTSD Foundation of America, of which Berry is the national spokesman. The organization was laying off staff, including the vital folks who counsel suicidal veterans who struggle with re-integration after war. Berry teamed up with sponsor Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture chain, to raise funds. During the whole of 2020, Berry’s efforts have raised $3 million for the organization, almost its entire budget. Additionally, Berry made national news on Monday (12/7) for his interview with Houston-based Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue, during which Unanue said he gave U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez the company’s “employee of the month” award. This came after Ocasio Cortez called for a boycott on Goya products because Unanue publicly praised President Trump. However, Unanue says the boycott call produced a counter-protest in which supporters flocked to buy Goya goods. On top of that, Berry has added new affiliates, WPNN, Pensacola, Florida, and KNUW, Silver City, New Mexico and hopes to roll out seven new affiliates before the New Year. In case you missed it, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian profiled Berry back in October. Read it here.
PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. The Nielsen Audio PPM ratings survey in the month prior to the November election (October 8 – November 4) was not as generous to sports talk radio stations as it was to news/talk, still TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian reports that 46% of sports talkers were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the October 2020 survey. Gainers from October to November were led by RadiOhio’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “97.1 The Fan” (+0.7, 6.2 share) and Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville (+0.7, 6.0 share). Due to the pandemic’s effect on live sports, year-over-year comparisons have not been kind to the sports talk format and November 2019 to November 2020 is not different. 68% of sports talk outlets in PPM markets were down. However, 23% of stations gained with Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas leading the pack (+1.6, 2.8 share). While no sports talkers claimed the #1 rank in their market during the November survey, iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis came close, posting a 7.6 share good for the #2 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.
WJR, Detroit News Director Dick Haefner to Retire. After a 51-year career in radio news, WJR, Detroit news director Dick Haefner is retiring. Haefner, an award-winning newscaster, reporter, and news director, has been WJR news director since 1989. Cumulus Media says that “his tenure is unmatched by any other Detroit broadcast news director. He is one of the most recognizable news voices in his hometown of Detroit, signing on to radio news in 1969 and signing off on December 11, 2020, Haefner’s last day on-air.” The company goes on to note that “under Haefner’s leadership, WJR News has been honored with nearly every national and local news award in the broadcast business, including: the Peabody Award, Associated Press national award for Best Broadcast Reporting, Edward R. Murrow Awards, and numerous state news awards… Some of Haefner’s projects have changed laws. A series on suburban toxic waste dumps resulted in tighter rules for handling waste. An investigation of fraud at gas stations brought about new regulations on service station inspections and fuel hauling, and even changed the way the IRS taxes the fuel hauling industry. Among the biggest stories Haefner has broken are Coleman Young’s baby, the Nancy Kerrigan–Tonya Harding incident heard around the world, and Detroit’s two side-by-side sports stadiums.” Haefner comments, “Anything I may have accomplished is because of other people, my wife Judy, and my family who allowed me to pursue adventures in broadcast news, and especially my co-workers. My most important job was to put them in position to do their best work. What they accomplished every day is my greatest reward. I have had the best job in Detroit radio news for almost 32 years. I’m the luckiest person I know.”
Susan O’Connell Retires from Compass Media Networks; Robert Blum Rises to Senior Manager of Affiliate Sales. Affiliate sales pro Susan O’Connell is retiring from her position as vice president of news/talk affiliate sales with Compass Media Networks, effective December 31. At the same time, the company announces that Robert Blum – a Compass Media staffer since 2011 – is being promoted to senior manager of affiliate sales for news/talk/sports. O’Connell has been in the news/talk affiliate sales business for the past 40 years, the last six with Compass Media. She previously served with the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, ABC Radio Networks, CBS News, and the Progressive Radio Network. She comments, “The best part of my job has always been working with great broadcasters. Thank you all for sharing your time, talent, and friendship over the years. Compass Media Networks was the perfect place to wind up. Representing our stellar news/talk lineup and being part of this team has been an honor and a privilege.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “Susan is a total superstar, friend, and treasured colleague. Through hard work, perseverance, and cunning, Susan established Compass Media Networks as a dominant player in news/talk programming with over 750 leading news/talk stations airing over a dozen hours of our daily, live, and original news-talk programming.”
COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Trump Challenges, Biden Transition, Stimulus Package, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pornhub Allegations, and Presidential Pardons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/7). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the pleas from authorities to follow mask and gathering mandates, and the status of vaccines; Donald Trump continues legal challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues his administration’s transition; the debate in Congress over a new stimulus package; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the allegations that porn giant Pornhub has promoted underage actors; and reports of Donald Trump’s pardon plans 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. On-air pro and urban media personality Charlamagne Tha God, a.k.a. Lenard McKelvey, and iHeartMedia renew and extend their relationship. The deal means the co-host of the WWPR, New York “Power 105.1”-based, nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” will continue to work with iHeartMedia for the next five years. He says, “I give my sincerest thanks to iHeart for empowering me over the past decade to be the best talent that I can be, and for honoring me as an owner and executive. I love the audio business and iHeart is the biggest and best audio company in the world. As co-founder and chief creative officer of the Black Effect Podcast Network and now senior creative officer of cultural content and programming at iHeart, all I want to do for the next five years is continue to move the culture of radio and podcasting forward by curating a new era of voices, programming, and events. GOD IS GREAT! Now, it’s time to get back to work.”
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of 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. This new episode titled, “Bullets and Spit!” looks back at this past week of August 31 – September 4, 2020. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Sid Rosenberg, talk show host, WABC, New York; Larry Young, talk show host, WOLB, Baltimore; Dr. Lisa Mozer, talk show host, WSIC, Statesville, NC; Jim Bohannon, talk show host, Westwood One; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more. To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.
Round Four of August PPMs Released. The fourth and final round of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s August 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen’s August 2020 survey period covered July 16 – August 12. You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis adds a half share to finish the August survey with an 8.0 share good for the #3 rank in the market. In Milwaukee, iHeartMedia’s WISN climbs 1.8 shares for an 8.6 share and leaps from #4 to #1 while Good Karma Brands’ crosstown news/talk WTMJ tacks on 1.2 shares for a 6.7 share and the #5 rank. Cumulus Media’s WWTN-FM, Nashville “Super Talk 99.7” rises nine-tenths to a 5.7 share and the #5 rank. Entercom’s WTIC-AM, Hartford erases some of July’s 1.7 share dip by adding eight-tenths for a 6.9 share and finishes the August survey tied for #3 in the market. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways report for this group of markets (and the other three groups!) here.
Cromwell Media Launches New Conservative Talk Radio Outlet in Owensboro, Kentucky. According to a story in the Owensboro Times, Cromwell Media has flipped a couple of its Owensboro, Kentucky signals from rock to news/talk as “K-News 101.3.” It’s not clear which station is feeding translator W267BM at 101.3 FM for the new format. Previously, the translator had been carrying the rock format from feeder station WXCM-FM. The station is using FOX News Radio for hourly newscasts and well as the Brian Kilmeade show. Also airing on the station is Key Networks’ Bill O’Reilly, Talk Media Network’s Tom Sullivan, and Westwood One’s Ben Shapiro. Local personality Brian Jackson hosts the 11:00 am to 1:00 pm slot. Cromwell general manager Taunya Iverson tells the paper, “We felt that our community was in need of a platform for our local community that brings businesses, people and organizations together and helps to build up our community with local information that is greatly needed.”
Charlotte Hornets Fire Radio Voice John Focke. The Charlotte Observer reports that the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets have parted ways with radio play-by-play personality John Focke. He’d been suspended from his duties while the team investigated a recent tweet in which he said he’d accidently typed the “N-word” instead of “Nuggets.” The team’s official statement is as follows: “The Charlotte Hornets announced today that John Focke will not return as the team’s radio broadcaster due to a violation of the organization’s social media policy. Since this is a personnel matter, the organization will not comment any further. The Hornets thank John for all his efforts during the 2019-20 NBA season.” Entercom’s sports talk WFNZ, Charlotte serves as flagship for the team’s radio broadcasts.
Nate Lucas Suspended ‘Indefinitely’ from Zimmer’s ‘Jock 98.7 FM.’ The Springfield News-Leader reports that KBFL-AM/FM, Springfield, Missouri sports talk host Nate Lucas is suspended “indefinitely” after uttering what’s being termed a “sexist slur” about vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris on his midday program. Zimmer Communications corporate operations director Jeff Allen tells the paper about Lucas’ status and says he won’t comment further as it is a personnel matter. Now hosting the 9:00 am to 11:00 am show at KBFL is Ned Reynolds, who was let go from the station by its previous owner.
Geraldo Celebrates 50 Years as a Broadcaster. American journalism icon Geraldo Rivera is celebrating his 50th broadcast anniversary on September 8. Rivera hosts a daily, one-hour program on iHeartMedia’s WTAM, Cleveland in addition to his current role as a correspondent-at-large for FOX News. iHeartMedia announces that as part of the week-long celebration of Rivera’s anniversary, many historical broadcast career moments and several high-profile guests will be heard on his “Geraldo in Cleveland” program. Rivera says, “It’s hard to believe that it’s been 50 years and I’m humbled by all of the opportunities during my storied career. Cleveland is my home now and so is WTAM, where I look forward to sharing some incredible highlights with you during my daily radio show. Most importantly, I look forward to continuing my daily broadcast journey with YOU by my side.” Rivera began his 50-year career as a television reporter at WABC-TV, New York and was a member of the original cast of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” He had an eight-year association with ABC’s “20/20” as an investigative reporter and produced and hosted “The Geraldo Rivera Show” for 11 years.
TALKERS News Notes. A new podcast from ESPN is debuting called, “Bettor Days with Mike Greenberg,” and the program is described as “a character-driven reenactment show bringing to life the true stories of unforgettable gambling adventures” and “uses in-depth interviews and comedic reenactments to relive the wildest, funniest betting tales – and their unexpected outcomes.” The show’s debut episode “Fauxto Finish” tells the story of ophthalmologist Steven Friedlander who won a long-shot bet in one of the most dramatic Kentucky Derby races ever, only to find out the incredible payout wasn’t at all what he anticipated…..The Talk Shows USA-syndicated weekend program “The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” adds three new affiliate stations. Joining the program’s roster are: KWWV-HD2/K253BR, San Luis Obispo, California “K-News 98.5”; WVMT-AM/FM, Burlington, Vermont; and WWDC-HD2/W284CQ, Washington, DC “WONK FM 104.7.”…..Entercom’s Cadence13 and Headspace Studios unveil “The Yes Theory Podcast” hosted by Thomas Brag, Matt Dajer, and Ammar Kandil. In the summer of 2015, the three crossed paths in Montreal. Then total strangers, they bonded over the idea that they felt most alive outside of their comfort zones. With $500 to their names, the new friends started making videos about confronting their biggest fears. Fast forward to today — Brag, Dajer and Kandil run Yes Theory, where they have harnessed social media to share their adventurous approach to life with millions around the world, including Will Smith, who took them up on their challenge to bungee jump from a helicopter in celebration of his 50th birthday.
The Presidential Race, the Polls and the Vote-By-Mail Debate Tied for Top News/Talk Stories for Week of August 31- September 4. The November presidential election, the current polling numbers and the debate over the safety of voting by mail tied as the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was a tie between race relations, urban violence, police reform, and suburban housing. Coming in at #3 was COVID-19 statistics and projections, followed by health care, vaccine developments, and the masks debate at #4. 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.
Cool Talk Host Opportunity in Huntsville. News/talk WVNN, Huntsville program director Dale Jackson announces that the Cumulus Media station is seeking a dynamic air personality to host the 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm program. “WVNN is seeking someone who creates and produces a local talk radio show focusing on local, national, and political issues with a strong ability to interview newsmakers. Ability to become part of the community and the listener’s life is a must. Knowledge of entertainment, politics, news, weather, sports and other topics of interest are important to your success. Endorsement and sale opportunities will supplement your income and instant income growth is possible.” See more about the position and apply here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Chicago, iHeartMedia drops the country music on WEBG-FM and launches a rock format branded “ROCK 95 FIVE, Chicago’s Rock Station” featuring core artists: Metallica, Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses, Linkin Park, AC/DC, Pearl Jam, Green Day, Def Leppard, Foo Fighters, Mötley Crüe, and more. iHeartMedia Chicago regional SVP of programming James Howard says, “Our goal with ‘ROCK 95 FIVE’ is to provide the music Chicagoland has been missing, a key soundtrack for a large lifestyle group. Our purpose is to be a driving force and a companion in the lives of millions of rock music fans for years to come.” The station says its programming lineup will be announced at a later date…..On-air pro Tay Hamilton is joining iHeartMedia’s WSIX-FM, Nashville “The BIG 98” to work with Wayne D as on-air personality and for the afternoon drive show. Hamilton says, “I’m so excited about my journey to Nashville to join the power team at WSIX and to grow within iHeart Country! It’s been a life-long dream of mine to do radio in the heart of country music and I finally get to do so thanks to Gator Harrison and Rod Phillips.”…..Cumulus Media announces the addition of two new live-and-local, personality-driven shows to urban contemporary WLXC-FM Columbia, South Carolina “Kiss 103.1.” Dee Dee Renee joins “Kiss 103.1” as host of the midday program. She moves to Columbia from Cumulus’ WWDM, Columbia, South Carolina. Meanwhile, program director Chris Connors moves from middays to afternoon drive…..Cumulus Media re-brands country WVLK, Lexington, Kentucky from NASH FM to “K92.9, Lexington’s New Country Leader.”…..The “B-Dub Radio Saturday Night” program is expanding to weeknights beginning September 21, 2020 in a syndication partnership with Skyview Networks. The country program is hosted by Bryan “B-Dub” Washington and is offered in two versions, including a fully produced night show and a content-only version, which provides program directors the flexibility to choose the music for their station, as well as daypart flexibility.