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Monday, August 23, 2021

| August 23, 2021

Remembering Phil Valentine. “We are saddened to report that our host and friend, Phil Valentine, has passed away. Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers.” That’s how Cumulus Media Nashville news/talk WWTN “Super Talk 99.7 WTN” shared the news of Valentine’s death. Having spent the past several weeks in a Nashville-area hospital battling COVID-19, the 61-year-old conservative talk show host – and coronavirus vaccine skeptic – died Saturday afternoon (8/21). Last month, his brother, Mark Valentine, told The Tennessean, “I know if [Phil] were able to tell you this, he would [say], ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories. He regrets not being more adamant about getting the vaccine. Look at the dadgum data.” In a July 26 (2021) interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Mark said Phil was “still very deep in the woods” and breathing with assistance. “He recognizes now that him not getting the vaccination has probably caused a bunch of other people not to get vaccinated. This is a real threat – it is a real public health crisis. His cavalier attitude wouldn’t have been what it was and he would have gotten vaccinated and encouraged everybody to get vaccinated.” Tennessee has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country with only 50.1% of adults fully-vaccinated. Modifying the lyrics to the Beatles’ song “Taxman,” Valentine wrote/performed “Vaxman,” which included such lyrics as, “Let me tell you how it will be, and I don’t care if you agree, ‘cause I’m the Vaxman. If you don’t like me coming round, be thankful I don’t hold you down.” In a December 2020 blog, the “Super Talk 99.7 WTN” afternoon drive personality wrote that his chance of dying from COVID-19 was “probably way less than 1%.” He had said of the vaccine, “I have a very low risk of getting COVID and dying of it if I do. Why would I risk getting a heart attack or paralysis by getting the vaccine?” He said  he’d been taking ivermectin, an anti-parasite medication that comes in different forms for animals and humans. Acknowledging on July 11 (2021) that he had COVID-19, Valentine claimed it would not be a problem, saying that as a “precaution,” he might take a day off from his radio show. In fact, his Facebook post that day read: “Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I’m going to make it. Interesting experience. I’ll have to fill you in when I come back on the air. I’m hoping that will be tomorrow.” Valentine’s health, however, quickly deteriorated and his family issued a statement saying that “the experience” had changed the radio host’s mind on vaccination. “Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine.’ [He] looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon. PLEASE GO GET VACCINATED!” TALKERS founder Michael Harrison states, “This is a tragic loss for Phil’s family as well as the people of Nashville; WWTN; the talk radio industry; and the national conversation. His track record as a nationally known, super-successful, longtime radio personality is among the best. It is painfully ironic that his position on COVID-19 became the headline component of his sad passing. May his courage to reverse his stance during his final days serve as an effective influence to save lives.” On “The TALKERS magazine 2021 Heavy Hundred,” Valentine appears at #47. Tennessee Republican senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted that, “Phil Valentine was a visionary for the conservative movement, and he made an enormous impact on the lives of many Tennesseans. My deepest condolences and prayers are with Phil’s wife, Susan, and his family. May they be comforted and surrounded by love during this difficult time.” The junior senator from Tennessee, Republican Bill Hagerty, noted that, “Tennessee has lost a strong conservative voice that will be sorely missed.” That state’s governor, Republican Bill Lee, tweeted, “Maria and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Phil Valentine and pray for his family as they navigate the difficult days ahead.” Meanwhile, lieutenant governor Randy McNally also took to social media, writing, “Deeply saddened that we have lost Phil Valentine to COVID-19. He was an inspirational and persuasive conservative voice. He will be greatly missed. If you haven’t yet done so, please consider vaccination. It is the only way to defeat this scourge.” Even though Valentine was a conservative talk show host, he was the son of former six-term North Carolina Democratic representative Tim Valentine. A radio personality since he was 20, Valentine – who attended East Carolina University and the Charlotte branch of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting – protested against a state income tax proposed by Tennessee’s governor at the time, Republican Don Sundquist. Valentine signed a three-year deal in 2019 that would have kept him on “99.7 WTN” through next year. He  authored three books: “The Conservative’s Handbook: Defining the Right Position on Issues from A to Z”; “Right from the Heart: The ABC’s of Reality in America”; and “Tax Revolt: The Rebellion Against an Overbearing, Bloated, Arrogant, and Abusive Government.” Valentine and his son, Campbell, joked about their relationship via the podcast “PodGOATs.”  Reiterating a vaccination plea, Cumulus Nashville vice president/market manager Allison Warren comments, “Phil Valentine was a charismatic broadcaster who entertained millions and enriched countless lives throughout his career. A beloved friend and mentor to many, his contributions to our city and his passion for his listeners cannot be overstated. We know he will be missed. We send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to Phil’s family and wish them peace during this difficult time. If you aren’t yet vaccinated, we fervently hope that you will honor Phil’s memory by taking to heart the urgent plea he made in the last weeks of his life – please go get vaccinated.” Funeral arrangements for Valentine are pending.

Monday Memo: Empathy? Sympathy? While the parents of school-age children – “the mega-shoppers that our advertisers want to meet” – are confronting “the school year we hoped we would never repeat,” consultant Holland Cooke cautions against what he regards as “a media/consumer disconnect.” And in this week’s column, he recommends an urgent message that can literally be a matter of life and death. Read it here.

 

Pending Business: Is Radio Still the Frequency Medium? Do you remember your sales training that suggested a formula for getting results included your message hitting the target audience X number of times? What was that number? Maybe the number isn’t so important. Sales pro Steve Lapa says in today’s column, “Do you remember the thousands of daily ads you hear and see? Somehow your brain filters out what you don’t want to process. But when you’re hungry, thirsty, not feeling well, need a new computer, car, couch, or more cash, the appropriate ad jumps out of the jungle, demanding your attention. And that’s what great talk radio hosts are all about: owning the listener’s attention.” Read more here.

Cumulus Chicago Promotes Mallory Vor Broker to Reporter Covering City Hall and Politics. At news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago, Cumulus Media announces it has promoted Mallory Vor Broker to reporter for 890 WLS-AM. In this role, she’ll cover Chicago City Hall and the political beat for the station, filling the role vacated by Bill Cameron, who retired on August 20 after a 51-year career. Vor Broker was been serving with the station as executive producer for the “The John Howell Show.” In the past, she’s served as a producer for Steve Dahl, Roe Conn and Lauren Cohn during her nearly 10 years as a producer for Cumulus Chicago. WLS-AM program director Stephanie Tichenor comments, “As our new City Hall reporter, Mallory will tell the latest local news stories that matter to Chicago. She brings a fresh perspective and deep experience as a storyteller to this integral role. We look forward to continuing WLS’ superb coverage of City Hall and welcome Mallory to the 890 News Team.” Vor Broker says, “I am thrilled to begin my new role as City Hall reporter for WLS-AM 890. It’s a great opportunity to cover the dynamic political landscape in Chicago and Illinois after years of producing high-profile shows. I look forward to continuing to bring high-quality, thoughtful reporting to WLS-AM 890.”

Nate Weaver Named Promotions Director for iHeartMedia Wilmington-Salisbury. Joining iHeartMedia to serve as promotions director for the Wilmington, Delaware and Salisbury, Maryland markets is Nate Weaver. He comes to the company from his most recent position with Audacy’s WBEB, Philadelphia. iHeartMedia VP of programming Josh Wolff says, “We are so excited to have Nate join our team. From the first time we spoke, we knew he was the perfect fit. Nate’s impressive background will only serve to improve our portfolio of already strong brands.” Weaver says, “I am super excited to join iHeartMedia Salisbury and Wilmington’s amazing and hard-working teams. Not only am I looking forward to growing brand engagement amongst our portfolio of market-leading stations, but now that I’m in Delaware, I get to really indulge in tax-free shopping – this is great!” The markets include news/talk WILM-AM, Wilmington; news/talk WDOV, Dover; sports talk WWTX-AM, Wilmington; news/talk WJDY-AM, Salisbury; and sports talk WTGM-AM, Salisbury.

iHeartMedia’s BIN: Black Information Network to Expand News Efforts; Three Promotions Announced. The BIN: Black Information Network, iHeartMedia’s “24/7 comprehensive national audio news network dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news with a Black voice and perspective,” announces plans to expand local news coverage in all 32 affiliate markets beginning January 2022. The network is also promoting three staffers: Tanita Myers, previously director of news operations, is now vice president of news operations; Chris Thompson, previously director of network operations, is now vice president of network operations; and Lauren Crawford, previously associate editor, is now senior director of digital and social strategy, effective immediately. The company says the expanding local news coverage will create new employment opportunities including multiple news anchor and reporter positions, a managing editor, and a podcast managing editor. BIN president Tony Coles states, “We are incredibly proud of the growth and success of BIN during our first year. We are thrilled to continue our leadership in providing the most trusted news source for the Black community, offering even more local news coverage to the communities we serve. BIN’s success has been, in no small part, due to our dedicated and talented team. I look forward to seeing how Tanita, Chris and Lauren continue to grow within BIN, and I am excited to add even more experienced talent to our team.”

Nexstar Media to Acquire The Hill. The politics and Washington, DC publication The Hill is being acquired by Nexstar Media for $130 million. Nexstar is primarily a television company but also owns news/talk WGN-AM, Chicago. A press release from Nexstar says, “The acquisition marks a continuation of Nexstar’s content-first strategy, focused primarily on news, designed to further leverage and monetize its expansive digital reach… With more than 100 journalists who cover political news and events and provide a wide variety of engaging content to its users, The Hill’s business model is primarily advertising supported by direct, programmatic, and licensing revenue. Nexstar’s omni-channel approach to content distribution will allow it to expand The Hill’s reach and revenue channels while creating synergistic opportunities with Nexstar’s growing national cable news network, NewsNation, and its leading local news gathering platform, which counts 5,500 journalists producing over 275,000 hours of local and national news annually.”

Red Table Talk and iHeartMedia Strike Content Deal. The EMMY Award-winning talk show “Red Table Talk” enters into a deal with iHeartMedia to launch the Red Table Talk Audio Network. The venture will include a slate of co-produced podcasts, including its two current audio series: “Red Table Talk,” hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris; and “Positively Gam,” a podcast hosted by Banfield-Norris. The newly formed network will launch five new series over the next two years with iHeartMedia that will allow listeners to go deeper into topics covered at the table, with all-new original podcasts from Red Table Talk hosts and regular show contributors. The first show to launch on the slate will be the podcast version of the EMMY and GLAAD Media Awards-nominated RTT spinoff, “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” hosted by Gloria Estefan, Emily Estefan, and Lili Estefan.

Afghanistan, COVID-19, Extreme Weather/Wildfires, Arizona Vote Audit, Staffing & Shipping Woes, Trump in Alabama, and Portland Protest Skirmish Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan and criticism of President Joe Biden’s handling of the move; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the battle over mask and vaccine mandates; the flooding in Tennessee, Hurricane Henri hits the Northeast, and the California wildfires; the anticipated release of the controversial audit of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2020 election votes; the ongoing troubles employers are having finding workers and filling orders and the chaos affecting the world’s shipping industry; former President Donald Trump is booed in Alabama for suggesting people get COVID vaccines; and the violence in Portland between Proud Boys and Antifa protesters were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, November 9, 2018

| November 9, 2018

Salem Radio Network to Syndicate Sebastian Gorka in 2019; Michael Medved Moves to New Platform. Beginning January 1, Salem Radio Network begins airing the “America First with Sebastian Gorka” program in the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET daypart, replacing the Michael Medved program.  Salem Broadcast Division president David Santrella says, “The listener feedback we receive each time Dr. Gorka fills in for one of our network hosts is overwhelming.  I think Dr. Gorka is the right person at the right time and the Salem Radio Network is definitely the right place.”  Gorka is FOX News Channel’s national security strategist and is a regular guest on “Hannity” and the FOX Business Network.  He writes for The Hill and is the author of best-sellers Why We Fight: Defeating America’s Enemies—With No Apologies (Regnery) and Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War (Regnery).  Gorka was an advisor to candidate Donald Trump and served on the staff of the White House in 2017 as Deputy Assistant to the President for Strategy.  Salem Radio Network senior vice president Phil Boyce says, “There is a culture war going on in this country and Dr. Gorka is uniquely qualified to take this fight to talk radio.  His program will deal with the hot breaking news stories of each day, and help listeners understand what to make of it.”  Michael Medved comments, “I feel grateful for the more than 21 years I’ve worked with Salem Media Group and I wish continued success to my friends and colleagues at the network.  Together with my team of producers here in Seattle, we’ll be continuing our daily broadcast with no interruption, making it available to our devoted listeners in an exciting new format.  We’ll also move forward with our emphasis on history programs and commentary to encourage public appreciation of the real blessings of this amazing country. Stay tuned.”

Tom Langmyer Forms Radio and Digital Acquisition Firm. Radio executive Tom Langmyer – most recently the vice president and general manager for news/talk WTMJ and country WKTI in Milwaukee – is forming Great Lakes Media Corp., a company that will “invest in local broadcasting and digital media opportunities through the acquisition of local radio stations and digital platforms in small markets.”  A press release indicates the firm will investigate acquisition of “properties in small markets, focusing on opportunities in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.”  The company is meeting with investors and brokers – and others who are interested in specific markets; and plans to announce appointments of officers and partners in the weeks ahead.  Langmyer says, “Smaller communities are making a big comeback.  This new generation of people, to whom quality of life and community are very important, are building their lives and businesses in these places.  Over the years, the shifting economy and technology had ended an era of localism in media.  Today, people are once again in search of real community and the greater connection that comes with being a part of a ‘place.’  Local media builds that connection – particularly in smaller markets. The need is clear as many of the broadcast media platforms have been providing white-labelled, generic, unremarkable content.  And while it’s growing, the digital space is in dire need of compelling content to make it a more robust advertising and revenue platform.  Radio and digital complement each other as it’s not an either/or proposition.  There’s great open space in creating more personal local experiences by leveraging these platforms – and expanding the emotional connection between consumers and local brands.”  Langmyer is president and CEO of Great Lakes Media Corp.  Prior to managing WTMJ and WKTI for Scripps Media, Langmyer was general manager for Tribune’s WGN-AM, Chicago.  Earlier in his career he transitioned from programming CBS RADIO’s KMOX, St. Louis to serving as general manager.  He exited WTMJ and WKTI on October 31 upon the transfer of the stations from Scripps to Good Karma Brands LLC.

Report: Mancow to WLS-AM Mornings, Shapiro Show to Air in Afternoons.  Chicago media writer Robert Feder says he has inside info indicating Cumulus Media intends to insert Ben Shapiro – whose current one-hour, podcast-for-radio program will morph into a two-hour live show beginning in January distributed via Westwood One – will be heard in afternoon drive and that Mancow Muller may assume the morning drive show, bumping Big John Howell and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens from AM drive.  This comes after the station announced it would be re-tooling the programming on WLS, and that includes the announced departure of Windy City icon Steve Dahl from afternoons (though he continues his podcast relationship with the company).  Shapiro’s new show will be distributed by WWO live from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET.  Recall that Westwood One’s Michael Savage – currently heard live in afternoons Eastern Time – is transitioning his show to a one-hour live program (live 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET?) followed by a one-hour podcast available to stations in 2019. Stay tuned.

The Fall of Craig CartonTALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes about the case against former WFAN, New York morning drive personality Craig Carton and the concert tickets scam that will likely send him to federal prison for a number of years.  Weisman writes, “It is common for scammers to take advantage of positions of trust.  People trust radio personalities who they feel they get to know over years of broadcasting.  But sometimes that trust, as was the case with Carton, is abused.”  Read the whole column here.

Rush Limbaugh Show Presents Fifth Annual Mahindra Military Salute Giveaway. In honor of Veteran’s Day (Sunday 11/11 but observed on Monday 11/12), the fifth annual military promotion from Rush Limbaugh and Mahindra North America is underway.  In recognition of the service and sacrifice of our military, all active and veteran military service members are eligible to enter for a chance to win a Mahindra 1000 Gas Standard utility vehicle with roof and windshield in “The Rush Limbaugh Show’s Mahindra Military Salute Giveaway.”  Entries are being accepted for the utility vehicle giveaway through November 11 at 11:59 pm PT at http://sweeps.rushlimbaugh.com/mahindra2018/.   The winner will be selected in a random drawing on Monday, November 12.  Limbaugh says, “My thanks to Mahindra, makers of the world’s number one selling tractor.  And God bless all of you who protect our freedom.”

USA Radio Networks and Oasis Productions Partner for Trucker-Targeted Programming. This deal between USA Radio Networks and Oasis Productions entails Oasis broadcasting USA Radio’s top-of-the-hour national news on its truckersmusic-radio.com and truckersrock-radio.com sites.  Additionally, the “Truckers Radio Network” has added USA’s syndicated late-night show featuring veteran Dallas icon Charley Jones from 12:00 midnight to 2:00 am ET and USA’s “Classic Radio Theater” on Sunday evenings.  USA Radio Networks COO Janet Bro (left) says this is the first of several new partnerships and ventures that the company will undertake in the next year.  “We’re definitely in a growth mode.”  Oasis COO Rex Allen, Jr. (right) comments, “We feel that this is a great opportunity.  Truckers Radio expands USA’s reach to millions of listeners both nationally and internationally and provides our listeners with quality information and programming.”

Midterm Elections Top News/Talk Story for Week of November 5-9.  The midterm elections and the battle for control of the House and Senate was the top story on news/talk this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the related status of the Mueller Trump-Russia investigation. Coming in at #3 was the revocation of CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s White House press credentials by President Trump, and the deadly California bar shootings at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is 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 and Talkers.com. See this week’s entire chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Flipping from country to adult contemporary as “92.5 The Breeze” is iHeartMedia’s KBEB, Sacramento.  The company says the station will debut on Monday (11/12) at 3:00 pm with 10,000 commercial-free songs in a row.  Core artists will include: Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Whitney Houston, Michael Bolton, Vanessa Williams, and more.  The on-air lineup for the station will be announced in the coming weeks.  iHM SVP of programming for Sacramento Curtiss Johnson says, “No doubt many in Sacramento will remember the station 92.5 for its decades-long heritage as an adult contemporary station and one of the top stations in the market.  I’m happy to say we’re bringing that format back.  ‘92.5 The Breeze’ is the perfect station for relaxing to favorites while you work, unwinding after a long day, or just for getting into that weekend frame of mind.”…..After more than 41 years in the industry Cox Media Group San Antonio market manager Ben Reed will retire at the end of this year.  Reed says, “When looking back on the last four decades and the opportunities I’ve been afforded in my career, all I can say is I’m blessed – it’s that simple.  The success we’ve achieved as an organization and the expectations we’ve exceeded year after year in the San Antonio market is truly remarkable.  The camaraderie I share with my team and colleagues at CMG will live in my heart forever.”…..Country radio pro Charlie Cook signs a new, multi-year deal with Cumulus Media to continue with the company as vice president, country formats; operations manager for the Nashville cluster; and program director for WSM-FM, Nashville “NASH Icon.”  Cumulus Media EVP content & programming Mike McVay says, “Charlie Cook is not only one of the best known and most successful country programmers in the history of the format, he is a solid and strategic thinking multi-format radio expert.  We are excited to continue this partnership with him.”…..iHeartMedia Atlanta announces today the debut of the new WBZY, Atlanta ‘Z105.3, Tu Estación Para Super Hits,’ effective immediately, flipping from regional Mexican to Spanish CHR. Core artists will include: Daddy Yankee, Shakira, Ozuna, Romeo Santos, Maluma, J Balvin, Bad Bunny, and Enrique Iglesias.  iHM Atlanta SVP of programming Brian Michel comments, “With the launch of ‘Z105.3,’ we are proud to continue the tradition of being the innovator and leader of Atlanta’s Hispanic media landscape. With the rapidly growing Hispanic population in Atlanta, as well as emerging musical tastes, this move puts us in a position to super-serve our listeners, advertisers, and the community.”…..Westwood One announces affiliate sales pro Debbie Brand joins the company as manager of affiliate sales, country. Brand, who returns to Westwood One after having served with the company in the mid-1990s, takes over for Tim Closson.

PPM Analysis: Country. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October 2018 PPM survey, today focusing on country. The number of country stations moving either up or down – weekly 6+ AQH Share – in PPM markets in October was split about 50/50 with the remaining stations unchanged, and the numbers were pretty similar comparing year-over-year.  Two country outlets were able to claim the 6+ #1 rank in their respective markets: Beasley Media Group’s WSOC, Charlotte and iHeartMedia’s WCOL, Columbus.  However, 10 other country stations finished in the top three in their markets.  See the whole report here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

| October 24, 2018

Steve Dahl to End WLS-AM, Chicago Show on December 21.  After yesterday’s report from Chicago media maven Robert Feder that Cumulus Media news/talk outlet WLS-AM will undergo programming changes in 2019, legendary Chicago radio personality Steve Dahl reached out to Feder in an email to announce his time with the station will end on December 21.  He’s been hosting the afternoon drive show for the past four years.  He says his podcast – that is still growing in terms of subscribers – will continue and will retain its relationship with Cumulus Media Chicago.  Dahl writes, “WLS-AM was always going to be an uphill battle, and circumstances just didn’t lend themselves to us being able to breakout like we hoped we would.  The podcast numbers continue to grow every day, so that’s encouraging.”  Read his entire email here.

SiriusXM Reports Q3 Net Income Up 24%. Satellite radio provider SiriusXM releases its third quarter 2018 numbers today and reports its revenue for the period was $1.5 billion, up 6% over the same period in 2017.  Net income was $343 million in the third quarter – up 24% over the same quarter last year.  Looking at subscriber numbers, SiriusXM says that it added 298,000 net new self-pay subscribers during the quarter to raise its self-pay subscriber total to 28.5 million. CEO Jim Meyer comments, “SiriusXM’s standout third quarter saw continued strength in subscriber additions and churn performance while adjusted EBITDA reached a quarterly record-high $589 million. Our revenue growth, adjusted for the change in generally accepted accounting principles that was effective January 1, totaled 8% in the quarter.  In addition to our operational excellence, we were thrilled this quarter to announce an agreement to acquire Pandora Media, which we expect to close in the first quarter of 2019.  With the end of the year in sight, we are increasing our full-year guidance for self-pay net additions, revenue and adjusted EBITDA.  We have a relentless focus on creating and curating content our subscribers will love — our limited-run Dave Matthews Band Radio was a perfect example.  We also presented fiery live performances just for subscribers, like our recent show by The Killers in New York.  We’ve added provocative talent in talk and sports with a daily show from CNN’s Chris Cuomo, a new show from Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, the return of Brett Favre’s popular show, and a new program highlighting women in sports hosted by journalist Christine Brennan and retired tennis pro Rennae Stubbs.”

Phil Valentine Voted Best Conservative in Nashville. That’s right, not Best Talk Show Host (there is no such category), but Best Conservative, as voted by the readers of Nashville ScenePhil Valentine’s afternoon drive show is based at Cumulus Media’s WWTN, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7” and is syndicated nationally via subsidiary Westwood One.  He is also an award-winning filmmaker and bestselling author whose latest book, Barbican: A Sterling McQueen Spy Story, was released earlier this year.  Cumulus Nashville VP and market manager Allison Warren says, “Every year, the editors of Nashville Scene ask their readers what they love best about Nashville and it’s no surprise that Phil Valentine is at the top of the list.  We agree wholeheartedly that Phil brings his best to ‘SuperTalk 99.7 WTN’ and our listeners every afternoon.  His common-sense approach to talk radio cuts through the hype of the day’s news, challenging conventional wisdom on both sides and presenting actionable solutions that people respond to.  It’s gratifying that Nashvillians love Phil as much as we do and we congratulate him on this well-deserved honor.”

Midterm Elections, Migrant Caravan, Mega Millions Jackpot, Khashoggi Murder Aftermath, O’Connor Dementia Diagnosis, Financial Markets Activity, Gender Definition Issue, Trump Threatens to Exit INF Treaty, Trump-Russia Investigation, NFL Action, and the World Series Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/23). The November elections and the battle for control of the House and the Senate; the Honduran migrant caravan headed for the U.S. border; the $1.6 billion Mega Millions lottery jackpot; the aftermath of the slaying of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and U.S.-Saudi relations; former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announces she’s been diagnosed with dementia; the wild swings in the financial markets and fears of a looming debt bubble; the Trump Administration’s plan to require legal gender based on genitalia at birth; President Trump threatens to exit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia; the Robert Mueller-led Trump-Russia investigation probes Roger Stone’s Wikileaks contacts; the weekend’s NFL action; and the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox were some of the most-talked about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. Almost seven weeks after announcing that he would be taking a leave from his morning drive duties at Entercom’s WEEI-FM, Boston, Kirk Minihane Tweets that he’ll “be back soon.” Minihane took a brief leave in early August after experiencing suicidal thoughts and checked himself into a hospital. In his September 7 message, Minihane said that he would this time take indefinite leave to deal with depression issues, he admitted that he came back to work too soon after the August hospital stay.  However, he Tweets that all is not necessarily well between him and Entercom management. “…I’ve been ready to work for the last week or so and have been kept off the air.  You build a show, take it to number one, step aside to get healthy and expect to be welcomed back. Hasn’t happened.”  During Minihane’s absence, WEEI personality Mike “Mut” Mutnansky has been sitting in with regular co-host Gerry Callahan…..From the podcast world, Westwood One Podcast Network adds the “Team Never Quit” podcast – co-hosted by former Navy SEALs Marcus Luttrell and David Rutherford .  WWO says “Team Never Quit” is “an authentic, positive, and inspiring show that implores listeners to face their greatest challenges” and features “the incredible camaraderie between Mr. ‘Never Quit’ Marcus Luttrell and energetic ‘Instructor Rut’ David Rutherford, that not only comes from their time together on SEAL Teams but also due to their mutual 10 years of inspiring audiences of all types.”…..MSNBC star Rachel Maddow is host of a new podcast from the network titled, “Bag Man: A Rachel Maddow Original Podcast.” The weekly podcast will launch on October 30 with ad sales being handled by TuneIn.  The first episode will center on the corruption scandal that took down Vice President Spiro T. Agnew…..Nationally syndicated radio star Elvis Duran reveals his 4thAnnual Carney Awards – named in honor of the late Art Carney and dedicated to honoring Hollywood’s great character actors – is getting some help from legendary actor Harrison Ford, who will attend the October 28 ceremony in Santa Monica to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to M. Emmett Walsh with whom Ford appeared in 1982’s Blade Runner.

TalkersRadio’s Meg McDonald Active in Los Angeles Community Beautification Projects — Studio City-based media figure Meg McDonald, who hosts the short-form feature titled “MEG!” on TalkersRadio, has become increasingly involved in Los Angeles beautification projects.  She recently played a role at a major fund-raising initiative.  California Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian secured $150,000 in the 2018 – 2019 fiscal year state budget for the long-needed revitalization of the Studio City Greenway along the Los Angeles River from Whitsett Ave. to Laurel Canyon Blvd.  The project will improve bike and pedestrian access points, restore the landscaping by eliminating invasive species, and enhance public health and safety along the Los Angeles River.  Pictured (l-r) joining in the funding celebration is Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy executive director Joe Edmiston; Assemblyman Nazarian; Studio City Beautification Association board member and host of MEG! on TalkersRadio Meg McDonald and Los Angeles City Councilor Paul Krekorian.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In the Fayetteville, North Carolina market, Kenny J is named program director and brand manager for Beasley Media Group hip hop WZFX-FM “Foxy 99” and brand manager for sister rhythmic oldies WUKS “Old School 107.7.” He most recently served with Cumulus Media as program director at urban contemporary KMJK, Kansas City.  Beasley Fayetteville VP and market manager Erika Beasley comments, “I’m so excited to have Kenny J on the Beasley Fayetteville team.  We welcome his expertise and knowledge in programming both formats in large and small markets.  Kenny’s ability to coach and grow on-air personalities really sets him apart for this position.  We look forward to having his energy and positive attitude in our building and continuing to lead our brands to success!”…..Programming pro Nick Fox joins Cumulus Media as program director and midday personality at country WXBM, Pensacola, Florida “NASH FM 102.7.”  He comes to Cumulus from Saga Communications’ country WVVR, Clarksville, Tennessee where he was an air personality and APD.  He says, “I’m ecstatic to be back home as the PD of WXBM!  This station has a rich legacy and passionate listeners.  I am ready to hit the ground running in Pensacola.”…..SummitMedia is tweaking the format at WJSR, Richmond from classic hits as “Star 100.9” to adult hits as “Jack FM.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

| October 23, 2018

Report: WLS-AM, Chicago to Get Lineup Re-Vamp in 2019.  According to a report by Chicago media writer Robert FederCumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM will get a programming makeover early in the New Year.  Feder writes, “Once among the top-rated stations in Chicago, the 50,000-watt AM giant never recovered after the loss of longtime morning star Don Wade, who died in 2013.”  He reports recent ratings figures reflect more success in middays with Cumulus’ Washington-based Chris Plante and Premiere NetworksRush Limbaugh, leading one to conclude changes are more likely for drive time where market legend Steve Dahl hosts afternoons and mornings are hosted by Big John Howell and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens. Cumulus Chicago VP and market manager Marv Nyren wouldn’t comment specifically but said the station will continue with a combination of local and syndicated programming.

NYPost: MSG Goes to War with Entercom and WFAN. A story in the New York Post by Andrew Marchand reveals the bad blood between Madison Square Garden executive chairman and Knicks and Rangers owner James Dolan over WFAN sports talk host Maggie Gray’s rant against him that aired on the station this summer.  Gray didn’t hold back when she called Dolan a “vile piece of trash” while accusing him of hypocrisy after his band – yes, he plays in a band called JD and the Straight Shot – released a song about Harvey Weinstein called, “I Should’ve Known.” Gray alleges Dolan and Weinstein were close and that he did know.  In retribution, MSG banned all Entercom and WFAN staffers from getting special access to players and that players and coaches would not be allowed to appear on any show on WFAN.  Gray did ultimately apologize for her name calling during the rant but not for the thrust of her critique.  At the same time, WFAN afternoon host Mike Francesa is being accused of throwing Gray “under the bus” during his comments about the feud.  Although Francesa is probably irked about losing access, he did call out MSG for holding a grudge after Gray apologized.

But Wait!… There’s More Francesa News. Also from the Post’s Andrew Marchand – or more accurately, from Mike Francesa himself – comes the question of whether Francesa’s afternoon drive program on WFAN can co-exist with his “Mike’s On” app. The Post story, based on Francesa’s on-air musings, indicates there are still contractual issues regarding the app between him, Entercom, and CAA that haven’t been settled.  Francesa went so far as to say, “We haven’t really come to a deal yet, which makes me think that maybe the app and show don’t work together and that’s something we’re going to have to adjust one way or the other.”  He followed that by saying the app is here to stay.  He also reflected on his return to the station after a brief retirement, admitting that it’s been “more uncomfortable” than he thought it would be after bumping Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray, and Bart Scott from the afternoon drive daypart.

WHO, Des Moines Listeners Help Raise $35,000-plus for Veterans Charity. Pictured above (in scooter) is Korean Conflict veteran Denny Dorman, the oldest recipient of a Puppy Jake Foundation service dog – named Puppy Simon – along with WHO PM drive personality Simon Conway, who adopted the organization as his show’s official charity.  The Puppy Jake Foundation acquires, raises, and professionally trains service dogs for physically and mentally wounded veterans.  Conway tells TALKERS that five years ago they held a BBQ fundraiser in the WHO parking lot and raised $4,000.  The next year they brought in $6,000.  Years three and four pulled in $22,000 and $29,000, respectively, and last Friday’s event raised $35,500.  He says, “It is really incredible how my audience, and indeed some of my show’s sponsors, have taken this charity to their hearts.”

Ann Marie Mulholland Named Market Manager for Hubbard Seattle. Emerald City media management pro Ann Marie Mulholland joins Hubbard Radio as vice president and market manager for its Seattle properties, including “Alternative Talk” KIXI-AM, CHR KQMV “Movin 92.5,” country KNUC “The Bull,” adult contemporary KRWM “Warm 106.9,” and nostalgia KKNW-AM.  Mulholland comes to Hubbard from CRISTA Media.  Prior to that, she served with Entercom and Sandusky in the Seattle market. Hubbard president/COO Drew Horowitz says, “We are looking forward to having Ann Marie, with her exceptional operational credentials, assume the leadership role in Seattle.  She brings strong market experience and will be an excellent fit with our Hubbard Seattle team.”

Midterm Elections, Khashoggi Death Aftermath, Migrant Caravan, Gender Definition Issue, Trump Threatens to Exit INF Treaty, Trump-Russia Investigation, NFL Action, and World Series Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/22).  The November elections and the battle for control of the House and the Senate; the aftermath of the slaying of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and U.S.-Saudi relations; the Honduran migrant caravan headed for the U.S. border; the Trump Administration’s plan to require legal gender based on genitalia at birth; President Trump threatens to exit the Intermedia-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia; the Robert Mueller-led Trump-Russia investigation probes Roger Stone’s Wikileaks contacts; the weekend’s NFL action; and the 2018 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox 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 changes take place at Cumulus Media’s country WKDF, Nashville “NASH FM 103.3” as the company promotes Tyler Reese from his part-time role with sister classic country WSM-FM “95.5 NASH Icon” to midday host and assistant program director at WKDF.  Also, Kelley Bradshaw-Brock moves from Entercom’s WUSY, Chattanooga, where she was part of the “Ken, Kelley, and Daniel” morning show to host afternoon drive on WKDF.  Program director John Shomby states, “We are excited for Tyler and Kelley to join ‘NASH FM 103.3.’  These are two very talented stars that are ready to shine in the Music City!…..The vacant program director chair at Townsquare Media’s country KAWO, Boise doesn’t last long as Matt Derrick arrives from his most recent gig as director of FM programming at NRG Media’s Omaha cluster to assume the PD role.  Derrick takes over for Rich Summers, who exited the station last week…..Entercom rock WTPT, Greenville, South Carolina “93.3 Planet Rocks” partners with the local Thomas Creek Brewery to create The Rise Guys P1 Pilsner inspired by the station’s morning show, “The Rise Guys.” Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi comments, “We are excited about this partnership and the ability to share the best beer on ‘The Planet’ with our dedicated fans.  The Rise Guys P1 Pilsner is a salute to the P1 army.  This refreshing and crushable beer fits our personalities and those of our listeners.”

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

| February 14, 2018

WEEI, Boston to Suspend Programming on Friday; Holds Mandatory Sensitivity Training for Air Staff.  In the aftermath of two recent incidents in which WEEI, Boston air personalities made statements that offended some, Entercom is suspending the sports talk station’s Friday programming and all staff will complete mandatory sensitivity training.  As regular TALKERS readers are aware, WEEI has been dealing with blowback – including lost advertisers – after a bit in which midday personality Christian Fauria used a phony Asian accent while imitating sports agent Don Yee (who, incidentally, speaks English without an accent).  It’s being reported that Comcast, City of Boston Credit Union, the Massachusetts Lottery, and possibly others, have cancelled ad campaigns with the station.  Fauria has been suspended by Entercom for a week and both the station and Fauria have apologized for the incident.  The cancellations appear to have come on the heels of an op-ed piece by Boston Globe columnist Shirley Leung.  This latest incident came almost two weeks after WEEI’s Alex Reimer referred to Tom Brady’s daughter as “an annoying little pissant.”  Brady cut short a scheduled appearance on the “Kirk & Callahan” morning show because of Reimer’s comments.  The station posted the following on its website: “Nothing is more important to WEEI than the close-knit and diverse Boston community we call home, and we are committed to actively contributing to its betterment.  WEEI is in the process of closely reevaluating our policies and procedures in an effort to ensure that our programming is never intolerant or harmful to our listeners or our city.”  This suspension of live programming for mandatory sensitivity training is, as far back as TALKERS editors can remember, unprecedented in the radio industry.

U.S. Trustee Has Issues with Cumulus Bonus Structure.  More accurately, U.S. Trustee William Harrington has issues with the information Cumulus has supplied regarding its bonus structure at both the station level and for corporate executives.  Harrington has filed an objection stating that, among other things, Cumulus has not identified the job titles of those at the station level slated for bonuses, has not identified all of the corporate executives scheduled to receive payouts, nor has Cumulus shown that its bonus plan is an actual incentive plan and not retentive in nature (i.e. solely designed to keep key employees on board during a time of uncertainty).  What Harrington is saying is that actual incentive plans are allowed but Cumulus hasn’t satisfied him in showing its bonus plans are exactly that and not mechanisms to “enrich insiders” at the “expense of the creditors.”  Cumulus issued the following statement regarding Harrington’s objection: “The objection filed last night has absolutely no impact on the authorizations the Court gave the company on February 8th to pay incentive compensation for employees who earned it in 2017, or will earn it in 2018.  We will be making our incentive compensation payments to those employees, beginning with this week’s normal payroll cycle.  The objection filed is common in these situations and applies only to a small number of senior executives whose compensation will be addressed at an upcoming hearing on March 12th.”

WGN, Chicago to Air White Sox Games.  After 75 years, the Chicago White Sox are returning to WGN’s airwaves.  As you’re probably aware, Cumulus asked the bankruptcy court to let it out of contracts that were onerous and the WLS-AM/White Sox deal was one of them.  Now, for the first time since 1943, White Sox games will return to Tribune’s WGN starting with a spring training game on Friday, February 23.   In the booth will be former Sox pitcher Ed Farmer handling play-by-play and former outfielder Darrin Jackson as analyst.  WGN VP of content Todd Manley says, “What an honor it is to join the White Sox family.  Summer starts TODAY on WGN Radio.”

WOR Names Ray Martel to Executive Producer Role for Mets Broadcasts.  New York radio pro Ray Martel – currently the associate producer for WOR, New York’s “Len Berman in the Morning” show – is named executive producer for New York Mets radio broadcasts and “Sports Zone with Pete McCarthy,” effective March 1.  Martel says, “I am extremely honored to be the next producer of the Mets broadcasts on 710 WOR.  When I began in broadcasting 20 years ago, one of my first positions was as a board-op working on the Mets broadcasts.  It’s amazing to think it’s come full-circle two decades later…I can’t wait for the season to start!”  Prior to his arrival at WOR, Martel was a producer at crosstown sports talker WFAN for 13 years.  He produced for Mike Francesa, Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney and Dana Jacobson.  He also produced for ESPN Radio.  Martel takes over for Joe Curci, who is leaving on February 28 for a position outside of radio.

Lauer Named Director of Sales for Entercom Milwaukee. Radio sales pro Eric Lauer is appointed to the director of sales position at Entercom’s Milwaukee station group that includes sports talk WSSP/W289CB “105.7 FM/AM 1250 The Fan,” CHR WXSS “103.7 Kiss FM,” and hot AC WMYX “99.1 The Mix.”  Lauer was most recently general sales manager at Scripps’ crosstown news/talk WTMJ and country WKTI.   Entercom Milwaukee/Madison SVP and market manager Chuck Sullivan says, “I have known Eric since he first arrived in the market and his passion, intellect and leadership skills were apparent immediately.  We feel very fortunate to have him partner with us to lead the Milwaukee team.”  Lauer has also held sales management roles with Cox Media Group in Florida and Georgia.

TALKERS News Notes. KIRO-FM, Seattle adds Gee Scott to the evening “KIRO Nights” program with co-host Zak Burns.  Scott moves to the new position from Bonneville’s sister sports talker KIRO-AM “710 ESPN Seattle” where he hosted the evening program.  He fills the seat vacated by Jason Rantz, who exited last fall to assume the morning drive show on the company’s local news/talk KTTH-AM…..The popular podcast from The New York Times, “The Daily,” is being produced as a 30-minute evening radio program distributed by American Public MediaMichael Barbaro will also host the radio version…..Also in Seattle, iHeartMedia is signing with the Major League Soccer club Seattle Sounders FC to serve as its flagship radio station for match play-by-play.  Games and related programming – that used to air on Bonneville’s KIRO-FM – will now air on KJR-AM.  Matt Johnson will call the matches along with rotating analysts Wade Webber, Danny Jackson, and Pete Fewing.

Cumulus Celebrates 40 Years of Steve Dahl with Billboard Campaign.  Radio personality Steve Dahl has been a part of Chicago radio for 40 years and Cumulus Media is honoring Dahl’s colorful career with a billboard campaign in Chicagoland.  Dahl is currently hosting afternoon drive on Cumulus’ news/talk WLS-AM.  The image above is part of the creative for the campaign and shows Dahl with the late John Belushi.

audioBoom and Triton Digital Merge.  This pairing is being termed a “reverse takeover” with Triton Digital merging with the UK-based audioBoom podcast network and technology provider.   audioBoom will acquire all of the stock of Triton Digital Canada for $185 million.  The new company will be called Triton Digital Group and will be publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange.  The executive structure will effectively remain in place with president/CEO Neal Schore, president/market development John Rosso, EVP/CFO Mark Rosenbaum, and SVP/ product and technology Alex FournierCurrent audioBoom CEO Rob Proctor becomes managing director of the audioBoom business unit.  He also remains an executive director.  Schore comments, “We’re proud of our position in the marketplace.  We feel an enormous sense of responsibility to continuously innovate and to drive monetization opportunities.  Our clients can expect us to not only maintain our leadership position, but to have the resources and the team to expand our technology and services meaningfully.”  audioboom currently hosts more than 12,000 content channels, with U.S. content partners including: Cumulus Media, Westwood One, and the Associated Press.  The transaction is expected to close in late March or early April.

Rob Porter White House Exit/John Kelly Status, Russia Election Interference, DACA Status/Immigration Policy, Trump/Stormy Daniels Matter, U.S. Strikes in Syria, Netanyahu Criminal Allegations, PyeongChang Winter Games, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/13).  The aftermath of Rob Porter’s exit from the White House after allegations of spousal abuse and questions about chief of staff John Kelly’s job security; U.S. intel concerns about Russian influence in 2018 mid-term elections; a judge refuses to allow DACA to be shut down and the related Trump Administration policy on immigration; Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen reveals he paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 out of his own pocket; U.S. military strikes in Syria allegedly kill Russian mercenaries; Israeli investigators say Benjamin Netanyahu should be indicted on corruption charges; the Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea; and NBA action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Deborah Norville to Host BFoA’s Golden Mike Award Ceremony.  Television’s Deborah Norville is hosting the Broadcasters Foundation of America’s 2018 Golden Mike Award honoring Graham Media president and CEO Emily Barr on March 5 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.  Also, at this event Pat McLaughlin will accept the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of her late husband, Ed McLaughlin, who is credited with discovering Rush Limbaugh and was the founder of EFM Media Management.  Ed McLaughlin was chairman emeritus of the Broadcasters Foundation when he passed away last month.  This annual event is one of the biggest fundraisers in support of the mission of the Broadcasters Foundation to provide aid to broadcasters in acute need.

WIOV, Lancaster’s ‘Murph’ Dies Unexpectedly at 61. Sad news out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania as Cumulus Media reports that WIOV-FM “I-105” morning personality Jerry Murphy – half of the “Murph & Casey” program with Casey Allyn – died unexpectedly at the age of 61.  The duo had worked together on “I-105” for the past 19 years.  Station PD Rich Creeger says, “Murph was not only one of the most charismatic personalities I had the pleasure of working with, but he was also a great friend.  I will miss him tremendously.”  The station has set up a tribute to Murph on the station website at wiov.com.

More Music Radio News and Career Moves.  Appointed to take over management of Spanish Broadcasting System’s New York operations is Maire Mason.  She’s the new VP/GM for Spanish music outlets WSKQ-FM “Mega 97.9FM” and WPAT-FM “Amor 93.1FM.”  Mason, who most recently worked for Cumulus as ​VP/GM in New York, takes over for Eric Garcia who recently exited to join Univision…..Nate Reed is named operations manager for Cox Media Group’s Tulsa cluster.  CMG market VP Cathy Gunther comments, “Nate’s commitment to strong programming will continue to set our stations apart from our competitors.  He has been a natural leader at our radio properties and now, with all our platforms working together, he will be integral part of our new leadership team.”…..Yes, it happened on Valentine’s Day!  Cumulus Media appoints Chad Valentine program director for CHR WBHT, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.  Valentine was most recently with iHeartMedia as air personality, APD, and music director for CHR WHYI, Miami “Y100.”  Valentine says, “I’m excited to be here and ready to make some great radio for Northeast PA.  I’m proud to be part of the next chapter of WBHT’s evolution.”…..Mid-West Family Broadcasting South Bend general manager Jim Roberts leaves the company after almost 22 years to become the national account manager at Cleveland-based Futuri Media.  Roberts had served as GM of the South Bend station group since 2011…..Pictured at right are Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott (right) and Premiere’s SVP, talent and brand integration Rick Murray (left) chatting with country star Sara Evans (center) as she kicked off the “CMT Next Women of Country” tour at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City on February 12.