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Tuesday, November 9, 2021

| November 9, 2021

Audacy Third Quarter Net Revenue up 23%. Reporting its 2021 third quarter financial data, Audacy says net revenue was $329.4 million, an increase of 23% compared to the same period in 2020. Spot revenue was $220.6 million, up 21% compared to Q3 of 2020 and digital revenue was $61.4 million, up 30% compared to the same period a year ago. Operating income for the quarter was $29.2 million, compared to an operating loss of $0.3 million in the third quarter of 2020. Audacy president and CEO David J. Field says, “I am pleased to report that Audacy continues to rebound from the pandemic, as third quarter revenues grew 23% over the prior year and 8% sequentially over the second quarter, while EBITDA grew 58% year over year. While many ad categories remain highly impacted as a result of the pandemic, it is great to see an increasing number of categories back above 2019 spending levels. During October, we announced the acquisition of WideOrbit’s digital audio streaming and ad tech business, which we have relaunched as AmperWave, enabling us to accelerate our digital product roadmap and enhance our growth potential… And our podcast studios had a strong quarter of creative, premium original content development including the first release from our 2400Sports studio, our first C13 Features ‘movie for your ears’ in partnership with Endeavor, and the ‘Succession’ companion podcast hosted by Kara Swisher in partnership with HBO Max. We continue to rapidly evolve and fundamentally elevate the organization through a series of strategic acquisitions, organic growth initiatives, structural improvements, talent additions and premium content development and are well positioned to accelerate our growth and capitalize on the exciting opportunities in the dynamically growing audio marketplace.”

Cumulus Audio Active Group: October PPM Audiences Increase. This week’s Cumulus Media Audio Active Group blog focuses on recent information from Nielsen Audio that “as COVID infections fall, public concern over COVID wanes, and commutes to work and school resume,” American AM/FM radio listening “has increased to new highs in the October 2021 48 Portable People Meter markets.” Other noteworthy data includes: 1) Consumers are on the road in their cars; Geopath reports U.S. October 2021 miles traveled were 7% greater than October 2019; Apple Maps says October 2021 driving search volumes surged 59% past pre-COVID levels; 2) U.S. AM/FM radio had its strongest reach performance since COVID, recovering 99% of the March 2020 PPM cume audience in PPM markets; 3) Nielsen October 2021 PPM AQH audiences rose to 96% of March 2020 levels, the second best showing since the pandemic; and 4) Morning audiences exploded to their highest levels in 20 months; Versus a year ago, women 25-54 AQH increased 20% and teen AQH rose a massive 74%. See more from the blog here.

SiriusXM’s Joe Madison Announces Hunger Strike Over Voting Rights Bill. Morning drive talk host Joe Madison says he’s beginning a hunger strike in protest of voting rights not getting passed in the Senate. Madison – a.k.a. The Black Eagle – hosts the morning show on SiriusXM’s Urban View channel. He says, “As a political protest, I am beginning a hunger strike today by abstaining from eating until Congress passes, and President Biden signs, the Freedom to Vote Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Both bills were recently passed by the House of Representatives and both have stalled in the Senate. Madison adds, “I call it basically starving for voting rights. And that began on this date. And I repeat just as food is necessary to sustain life, the right to vote is necessary to sustain democracy. Yes, my life matters. My health matters, but our right to vote matters more.”

Hot Radio Guest Speaks at Major Libertarian Gathering. Emeritus finance professor Dr. Murray Sabrin of Ramapo College in New Jersey – one of conservative and liberty-minded talk radio’s most popular “go-to” guests for three decades – recently spoke at the Mises Institute “Supporters Summit” in St. Pete Beach, Florida and outlined his provocative and innovative strategy for medical freedom. Sabrin is the author of Universal Medical Care from Conception to End of Life: The Case for a Single Payer System, where the individual/family is the single payer not the government. In Sabrin’s proposal, medical freedom consists of cash payment for routine care, a super health savings account for more expensive treatment and a catastrophic insurance policy. Also, Sabrin advocates a massive expansion of nonprofit medical centers to replace the $700 billion Medicaid program. He also challenged U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), who advocates Medicare for All, a government single payer system, to a debate so the American people can hear two diametrically opposing views on the future of medical care in America. To book Professor Sabrin as a hot guest, contact Victoria Jones of DC Radio Company at 917-865-3991 or victoria@dcradiocompany.com.  To view Dr. Murray Sabrin’s 20-minute speech at the Mises Institute event, please click here.

Outkick Partners with Skyview Networks for Ad and Affiliate Sales, Content Distribution. The new relationship between OutKick’s sports talk network and Skyview Networks will have the latter providing network ad sales, affiliate sales and content distribution to Outkick, beginning with the “Outkick 360” program starring Jonathan Hutton, Chad Withrow and Paul Kuharsky. Outkick founder Clay Travis says, “We’re thrilled to work with Skyview to expand OutKick’s brand and reach. Beginning with the ‘OutKick 360’ show, we’re working with the best talent to bring authenticity, perspective and fun back to sports radio. Radio is at the core of OutKick, and we could not ask for better partners than Skyview to grow our network.” Skyview COO and president Steve Jones adds, “We’re excited to be working with the OutKick team in launching a new sports network that provides radio stations dynamic and entertaining programming that will drive ratings and revenue. OutKick’s engaging and knowledgeable hosts with their fan-first sports perspective matched with sports wagering analysis to capture gaming revenue sponsorships fit perfectly with Skyview’s #1 local play-by-play sports position in network radio.”

Audacy Names Brian Benedik Chief Revenue Officer. Media executive Brian Benedik is named chief revenue officer for Audacy, effective December 1. Benedik was most recently VP/global head of revenue for augmented reality developer Niantic. In his new role with Audacy, he’ll lead all aspects of revenue generation across corporate, national, regional and local levels and develop fully integrated, multiplatform sales solutions and breakthrough strategies to attract new revenue streams. Audacy COO Susan Larkin comments, “We’re thrilled to welcome Brian to Audacy and our executive leadership team. His resume speaks for itself, with key roles at audio publishers like Spotify, iHeart Radio, Audible and Katz Media, where his strategic vision enabled the former to quickly elevate from a newcomer in our industry to a multi-billion-dollar leader in the audio streaming space. Brian’s considerable expertise and experience will amplify our revenue generation efforts as Audacy continues its upward trajectory.” Benedik states, “The audio industry is booming with innovation and consumers are enjoying wonderful content experiences across a number of platforms. The Audacy re-imagination efforts are beyond impressive and the portfolio of assets across radio, streaming, podcast, live events, sports play-by-play and sports betting are best in class. I’m looking forward to working with David Field, Susan Larkin and the Audacy executive team to drive value to marketers and our loyal users.”

Biden’s Low Approval Ratings, Supply Chain/Inflation/Gas Prices, COVID-19, January 6 Investigation, COVID Travel Ban Lifted, China’s Military Aggression, and Astroworld Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/8). President Joe Biden’s approval ratings slip to an all-time low of 38% with Americans saying he’s not focusing on the most important issues; the effects of the broken global supply chain, soaring retail prices and record high gas prices; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the Appeals Court halt of Biden’s vaccine mandate, and the controversial case of Aaron Rodgers; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; the U.S. lifts the international travel ban; China’s war games using U.S. ship mock-ups; and the investigation into the deadly Astroworld concert in Houston were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

| October 26, 2021

Keith Williams Named Market Manager for ‘ESPN 1000’ in Chicago; Tom Olson Rises to Market Manager for ‘ESPN Madison.’ A couple of management changes take place at Good Karma Brands. As a result of Mike Thomas leaving his position as market manager for WMVP-AM, Chicago “ESPN 1000” to take on the market manager role for Audacy in Boston, Good Karma Brands names Keith Williams the new market manager for “ESPN 1000,” effective November 1. Williams – a vice president and partner at Good Karma Brands – is a 22-year veteran of the company and most recently was market manager for WTLX-FM, Madison “ESPN Madison.” He says, “I’m thrilled to join the team at ‘ESPN 1000’ and work with the talented group of teammates and loyal partners we have in Chicago. I’m looking forward to furthering Good Karma’s track record as a best-in-class operator of world class brands to ‘ESPN Chicago’ and can’t wait to get started.” Rising to the market manager role in Madison is Tom Olson, who’s been serving as director of sales and marketing. Olson says, “I’m excited to lead one of Good Karma Brands’ heritage markets. Madison is an incredible sports town, and I’m looking forward to working with our talented team, as well as local businesses and marketing partners as we build on our years of serving the passionate sports fans.”

Ed Moloney Named Director of Affiliation and Sales for Skyview Networks. Radio syndication pro Ed Moloney joins Skyview Networks as director, affiliate syndication and sales. In this role, Moloney will serve as a key member of the syndication and content development team, identifying and activating affiliation opportunities to drive significant network growth. Moloney was most recently with Sun Broadcast Group and SuiteRadio as affiliate content manager. Skyview president and COO Steve Jones says, “Ed brings a sterling reputation, deep knowledge and specialized skills in syndication and affiliate sales to our already established team. His involvement in our growing talent portfolio will benefit existing and prospective clients and provide our affiliation managers strategic direction to achieve network growth goals.” Moloney states, “Over the past few years, I couldn’t help but notice the tremendous growth of Skyview Networks and its innovative leadership team that consistently operates ahead of developing industry trends. I knew right away this was a great opportunity to contribute my skills and expertise to further bolster a winning team.”

Las Vegas Talk Personality Heidi Harris Debuts ‘Headlines with Heidi.’ Las Vegas media personality Heidi Harris – who’s currently hosting her weekly Sunday night talk show on Audacy’s KFTK-FM, St. Louis from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm CT – announces her newest project called “Headlines with Heidi.” The daily program features Harris taking on the day’s news delivered via Facebook Live and posted to YouTube later in the day. Harris tells her fans, “Many of you have written to me about how much you miss me on local radio in Vegas, especially in the mornings, and you’ve been wanting my thoughts on different local issues, races, etc, so I started doing ‘Headlines with Heidi.’ I literally sit at my kitchen counter and talk about the news headlines. I give you my irreverent take on the stories of the day, with a side of my famous snark. The stories may be Vegas-related, national, or STL-related, but it’s fun and I keep it to about 15 minutes. We’re all busy!”

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that former Salem Media Group talk host (and former Republican congressman) Joe Walsh is launching a new twice-weekly podcast titled, “White Flag with Joe Walsh.” His first two guests on the podcast are former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and actor/comic/radio personality D.L. Hughley. Walsh says, “I don’t want to talk to people I agree with. I want to sit down and have civil, constructive conversation with people who think differently than I do.”…..Audacy and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls announce a multi-year radio broadcast contract extension in which sports talk outlet WSCR-AM “670 The Score” continues to serve as the flagship radio station of the Bulls, airing all regular season and postseason games. Listeners will also be able to hear games via the station’s digital stream on the Audacy app and station website. Audacy Chicago regional president and market manager Rachel Williamson comments, “For years, ‘670 The Score’ has been the home for Bulls basketball, and we’re delighted to continue our longstanding relationship with the Reinsdorf family and the Bulls organization. As the voice of Chicago sports fans, we look forward to many more years of giving our listeners premier year-round coverage of the team, both on and off the court.”…..Audacy’s Cadence13, OBB Sound, and SB Projects announce the launch of “In Good Faith,” a new weekly podcast series hosted by Churchome’s lead pastors Chelsea and Judah Smith. Cadence13 says, “While in many ways inspired by their faith, the Smiths will challenge traditional beliefs and root themselves in broader universal principles that touch everyone on and off the show, regardless of personal or religious beliefs.”…..Paris Hilton, London Audio, iHeartMedia, with Warner Bros. Unscripted Television in association with Telepictures are producing, “Trapped In Treatment,” a new iHeartRadio Original docu-style podcast series, hosted by Caroline Cole and Rebecca Mellinger, that will examine and expose the dark secrets and controversial practices of the “troubled teen industry.” Beginning with Provo Canyon School, each season will focus on unmasking one youth treatment facility, through the experience and stories of its survivors and the traumatizing abuse at the hands of their captors.  Hilton has been at the forefront of creating legislation that regulates treatment centers for troubled teens in Utah after being mentally and physically abused at Provo Canyon School. “For 20 years, I lived silently with the memories, and the trauma, from my experience at Provo Canyon School. This past year, thousands of survivors like me have shared their stories, helping to bring into public view what so many of us have locked up. Provo Canyon School will not be able to hide behind the abuse they’ve caused survivors any longer. I am so proud to be producing ‘Trapped in Treatment’ and can’t wait to take you on this audio journey.”

January 6 Investigation/Executive Privilege, COVID-19, Biden Infrastructure-Social Spending Bills/Unrealized Gains Tax, Facebook Papers, Supply Chain/Inflation, Border Chaos, and China’s Military Aggression Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/25). The investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and President Joe Biden’s rejection of former President Donald Trump’s claim of executive privilege, the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine approval for kids, and protests over Biden’s looming vaccine mandate; the Biden infrastructure and social spending bills and the pushback against his taxing of the wealthy on unrealized gains; the public relations crisis affecting Facebook in the aftermath of the release of the “Facebook Papers”; the ongoing effects of the disrupted global supply chain and the inflation affecting retail prices; the flood of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and criticism of the Biden administration’s handling of the matter; and China’s military aggression were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

| March 4, 2021

Meruelo Media Launches HD Talk Station in Los Angeles. This new talk station broadcasting on KLOS-FM, Los Angeles’ HD2 signal is being programmed by “Heidi and Frank” show co-host Frank Kramer and for now airs a 24-hour loop of the morning drive program.  Kramer says, “I’m excited to bring all-talk radio back to Southern California. The listeners have been hungry for it since KLSX ended in 2009, and now that over half of the cars on the road have HD radios, it’s perfect timing.” Kramer adds, “The 24-hour loop is just phase one. In the coming months, my team and I will be adding original programming, special features and even more surprises. KLOS2 will ultimately become a full-fledged talk radio station, courting new advertisers and personalities. I appreciate Meruelo Media for trusting my vision to double down on personality-driven radio, and I can’t wait to get started.” Meruelo Media president Otto Padron comments, “We’re excited to offer Frank a second audio platform to expand his creative brand and explore bold new ideas. While 95.5 KLOS-FM will continue to be the flagship station for the daily, live version of ‘The Heidi & Frank Show,’ we are certain that fans will love more listening options, which includes the KLOS2 mobile app.”

Edison Research: 30% of Audio Listening Done on Mobile. According to data from Edison Research’s Share of Ear report, “listening on a mobile device now accounts for 30% of all time spent listening to audio by those age 13+ in the U.S., an increase of 67% since 2014.” Edison goes on to say that the gap between listening on a traditional radio receiver and a mobile device among those age 13+ has narrowed remarkably quickly since 2014: 31 percentage points separated the two in 2014 and only five percentage points separate the two today. The traditional AM/FM radio receiver does account for the largest share of audio consumed but has decreased the most since the survey began, now accounting for 35% of all audio consumption compared to 49% in 2014. “Mobile devices have already surpassed traditional radio receivers in the younger age groups. Among those age 13-34, 46% of total daily audio consumption is done on a mobile device and 20% is done on a traditional AM/FM radio receiver. It is important to note that these statistics speak to device only, not the audio product that is delivered by the device.” Edison Research president Larry Rosin adds, “Mobile devices, particularly of course the phone, have been gaining on the traditional radio receiver as the primary listening device for as long as we have been measuring Share of Ear, but with the disruptions of the last year the gap has narrowed dramatically. As fewer people have a standard radio receiver in their homes these days, naturally more listening comes through digital devices.” See more here

Westwood One Sues Local Radio Networks for Patent Infringement. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Local Radio Network’s home base of Fort Wayne, Indiana, accuses LRN of willfully infringing upon two patents Westwood One holds for its syndicated automation program. The patents – titled “Methods and Computer Programs for Localizing Broadcast Content” and “Systems, Methods and Apparatus for Operating a Broadcast Network” – according to Westwood One “represent a leap forward in broadcast network technology, solving several problems exhibited by traditional methods and systems that rely on the broadcast affiliate to manually enter ‘breaks’ in programming during which time audio content can be switched over to local broadcast sources.” WWO alleges that LRN’s Radio Velocity Control program illegally uses those technologies. In the complaint, WWO says that former WWO staffers Chris Reeves, Jonathon Steele, Chris Hatton, Matt Caldaronello, and Patrick Crocker “have knowledge of the workings of Westwood’s patented program. Furthermore, these employees are presently attempting to use this knowledge to lure customers away from Westwood by informing customers in the market that the LRN program is comparable. Such acts constitute willful and deliberate infringement, entitling Westwood to enhanced damages and attorney’s fees.” LRN issued the following statement in response to the suit: “LRN believes the claims are legally and factually baseless and intends to vigorously defend against those claims. LRN was launched in 2015 by Steve Swick, a radio station owner/operator. LRN developed and uses its own technology and built its business station by station and format by format. LRN’s relentless focus on quality programming, affiliate service, and fair inventory pricing has propelled its growth to a leadership position in the radio industry with 14 formats and supports hundreds of affiliates nationally. Six years after LRN’s successful launch in 2015, Westwood One is apparently giving up on trying to fairly compete and instead is trying to now use the courts to do what its programmers, engineers and affiliate salespeople could not do. On behalf of the independent radio owners and operators in our industry, please understand that LRN will not be bullied by a corporate radio Wall Street giant attempting to disrupt its much smaller competitor LRN and its superior team, technology and products.”

Kristy Beebe to Lead iHeartMedia Indianapolis. Promoted from her regional SVP of sales post for iHeartMedia’s Kentucky-Indiana Metro, Kristy Beebe is named market president for the company’s Indianapolis cluster that includes sports talk WNDE-AMFOX Sports 1260,” “Business News 97.5” (WOLT-HD2/W248AW), and three music brands. Beebe has held various sales leadership positions throughout her career, including local sales manager and general sales manager for iHeartMedia Toledo and iHeartMedia Louisville. iHeartMedia president for the Kentucky-Indiana Metro Earl Jones comments, “I am so excited for Kristy’s well-deserved promotion to market president. She has earned the opportunity to lead our Indianapolis market. Kristy has been an incredible sales leader, coach, and major contributor to the success of iHeartMedia Kentucky-Indiana Metro.”

TALKERS News Notes. This evening (3/4) from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Adelphi University is hosting The New York Times business editor Ellen Pollock, for a live-streamed discussion about today’s pressing issues, titled, “Keeping Up With the Times,” and moderated by Adelphi alumnus and Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones. He comments, “Press freedom is an essential thread in the fabric of our democracy – now more than ever. Join us for a discussion about the role media and business play in society and the responsibility we citizens have to understand how these forces are shaping our lives and our children’s future.”…..When the NHL expansion club the Seattle Kraken take to the ice for the 2021-2022 season, games will be heard on iHeartMedia’s sports talk KJR-AM. The club and Climate Pledge Arena have inked a multi-year partnership that includes broadcasting of all home and away games on KJR-AM, which will serve as the flagship station for radio broadcasts…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs Show” adds Relevant Radio‘s KAHI, Auburn, California to its roster of affiliate stations.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Texas and Mississippi Mandates, COVID Relief Bill Debate, Capitol Insurrection Investigation/March 4 Threats, SCOTUS Voting Rights Case/House Voting Rights Bill, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, Ronny Jackson Report, and Deadly Myanmar Protests Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/3). The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants and the rollout of vaccines; the governors of Texas and Mississippi cancel mask and occupancy limit mandates; the debate in the Senate over the Biden COVID relief bill; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol insurrection and concerns about far-right March 4 warnings; the Supreme Court hears arguments in the Arizona voter rights case and the passage of a voting rights bill in the U.S. House; the allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the Department of Defense inspector general’s report detailing allegations of drinking and sexual harassment by former White House doctor and current Texas Congressman Ronny Jackson; and the deadly pro-democracy protests in Myanmar were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

| December 17, 2020

Newsmax Media Founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The CEO of Newsmax Media – the conservative news organization that owns and operates Newsmax.com and Newsmax TV in addition to a number of other platforms and services in digital and print publishing – is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Veteran journalist, entrepreneur, and news executive Christopher Ruddy discusses the history and strategy that has led to Newsmax TV achieving enormous rating gains this year in its juggernaut campaign to provide FOX News Channel with formidable competition in the conservative news/talk cable TV ratings wars. In this revealing conversation, Ruddy tells Harrison his side of the recent story by media writer Ben Smith published inThe New York Times under the headline, “The King of Trump TV Thinks You’re Dumb Enough to Buy It.” He dispels the notion conveyed in that piece that Newsmax TV has strategically flanked FOX to its far right and is telling President Donald Trump’s most ardent loyalists whatever they want to hear regardless of the truth. Ruddy discusses the bigger picture of Newsmax content which also delivers stories and items that are unfavorable to Trump and collectively covers a broader segment of the spectrum best described as center-right, as opposed to far-right. Harrison and Ruddy take a deep-dive into talk media political “positioning” which lies at the very heart of modern competitive programming. They also speculate on the future of American politics and the talk media coverage thereof. True to his unpredictable and often contrarian approach to what many observers consider conventional wisdom, Ruddy states that it appears President-Elect Biden is not veering to the far left as many Republicans and Trump supporters fear he will as evidenced by many of his cabinet picks, and that the 46th president will be far more of a “centrist” than many in both parties are expecting. Ruddy also candidly discusses the balancing act required to maintain a long-standing “friendship” with Trump while not being afraid to criticize his policies on those occasions when he believes such criticism is warranted in addition to outlining his immediate plans to grow Newsmax as a full-service news organization in 2021. This podcast is a must-listen! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Floyd Reese Exiting ‘102.5 The Game’ in Nashville. According to a story in the Nashville Post, former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese is giving up his sports talk host gig at Cromwell Media’s WPRT-FM, Nashville “102.5 The Game.” Reese co-hosted the afternoon drive program “Jared & The GM” with Jared Stillman for the past five-plus years. Stillman will continue to host the afternoon show now billed as “Stillman & Company” as the station seeks out a new afternoon co-host. The Post cites a press release in which Reese states, “This is something I’ve been contemplating for a while and I feel it’s time for me to take a step back. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my tenure with ‘102.5 The Game’ and doing a show with Jared has been a terrific experience. He and I formed a unique partnership that allowed us to be teammates and friends. I’d also like to thank Cromwell Media owner Bud Walters and [program director] Ryan Porth for their non-stop support over the years. It’s been a good run.” Reese was general manager of the NFL’s old Houston Oilers from 1990-1999 and the Titans (after the Oilers moved from Houston to Nashville) from 1999-2006. He was a senior football advisor for the New England Patriots from 2009-2012. He joined “102.5 The Game” in 2015.

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Keeps The Bike Drive Alive. The annual holiday “Bikes for Kids” drive was launched by retired WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte talk host John Hancock 26 years ago. With Hancock’s retirement at the beginning of 2020, the fate of the charitable drive that had provided some 20,000 bikes (as well as gifts, food, clothing and more) to tens of thousands of needy Charlotte-area kids was up in the air. Ultimately, WBT staff, in partnership with the Carolina Panthers, WSOC-TV, Frito Lay, and some other local charitable organizations, worked to get 400 brand-new bikes collected during the “Bike Drive” that took place on Tuesday (12/15). Brett Winterble, who took over the afternoon drive show following Hancock’s retirement, says, “It was an amazing day for Hancock’s bikes for kids. This was my first opportunity since joining WBT in February to interface with this amazing audience in person. The generosity and good cheer of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday was truly awe inspiring. In gathering hundreds of bikes for well deserving children I forged new friendships with dedicated listeners to WBT. One man named Steve told me he was a 50-year listener of WBT and had attended every one of the bike drives Hancock led. It was an unbelievable show of generosity and good civic pride. I look forward to next year and can’t wait for this to continue to grow!”

Townsquare Media to Offer $550 Million in Senior Secured Notes. In a filing with the SEC, Townsquare Media reveals it has priced an offering of $550 million in aggregate principal amount of its 6.875% senior secured notes due 2026. These notes are being offered to institutional buyers and will be senior secured obligations of the company and will be guaranteed on a senior secured basis by certain of the company’s direct and indirect wholly owned subsidiaries. The closing of the offering is anticipated to take place on or about January 6, 2021. Townsquare says that it intends to use the net proceeds from the offering, together with cash on hand, to repay existing senior secured credit facilities, to redeem all of its outstanding 6.500% senior notes due 2023. It is also terminating its existing senior secured credit facilities, including its existing revolving credit facility.

Skyview Networks and MLB Radio Rightsholders Team Up for Annual Meeting. This year’s annual meeting of Major League Baseball radio rightsholders and Skyview Networks to discuss their broadcast operations and ad sales experiences from the previous season was done remotely. This year’s panels placed a heavy focus on fan engagement and advertising strategies with emphasis on maximizing digital assets under the restrictions of the pandemic. Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones says, “The MLB radio rightsholders play a significant role in their teams’ success through broadcast sponsorships. Radio and baseball have always put fans first and this season proved no different. Skyview played an important role in helping teams find creative solutions during the pandemic and we showcased those solutions to the whole league this week.” Skyview says many teams also leveraged the power of social media to engage with fans through promotions from their biggest sponsors, citing proactive communication as their key to success. Putting their followers’ interests at the forefront, these organizations hosted many virtual gatherings through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more to encourage listenership and interaction while the season was on a hiatus. Additional panel topics included software and strategies to streamline remote broadcasting, creating awareness for franchises’ ancillary digital content to increase broadcast listening and sponsorship extensions, and monetizing the evolving sports betting opportunities across a radio platform.

New Drive Time Shows on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. Channel in January. Starting on January 4, the new lineup on SiriusXM’s non-partisan P.O.T.U.S. channel will includeJulie Mason Mornings” (6:00 am to 9:00 am ET) and “The Laura Coates Show” (3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET). Veteran journalist Mason takes over for Tim Farley’s “The Morning Briefing” after Farley’s retirement at year’s end. Coates – a CNN senior legal analyst – moves to the P.O.T.U.S. channel from SiriusXM’s Urban View channel. Julie Mason has more than 30 years of experience covering local, state and national politics, including four presidential campaigns. In more than 10 years at the White House, she traveled internationally and reported from more than 30 different countries. She is a former elected board member of the White House Correspondents Association. In addition to her media work, Coates has served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law.

United Stations Radio Networks Names Jim Roberts Director of Affiliate Sales and Marketing for Sports. Sports radio pro Jim Roberts is named director of affiliate sales and marketing/sports content for United Stations Radio Networks. He comes to USRN after a 20-plus years career with Disney/ESPN in which he oversaw the inception and growth of the affiliate network of 500-plus stations for ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes while also managing Disney owned-and-operated stations in New York City and Dallas. United Stations recently announced a partnership with SportsGarten Network to provide stations with short-form, long-form and daily daypart options in sports and sports wagering content. In his new role, Roberts will market all USRN sports-related programs and services, including the Total Sports Prep service. USRN’s Stefan Jones comments, “At United Stations we are growing our programming, services, and partnerships in the sports and sports-wagering lane. As more and more states are legalizing sports wagering, we want to ensure our company delivers quality options.”

TALKERS News Notes. Sports media personality Rich Eisen and Westwood One reach an agreement for the latter to feature “The Rich Eisen Show” podcast on the Westwood One Podcast Network, beginning on January 4. The deal also calls for the development of a new podcast by Eisen called “Just Getting Started” (scheduled for a February debut) in which Eisen interviews the biggest names from news, entertainment, sports, and pop culture, discussing their career origins and mining their stories on how they got started, in a format where audiences can be inspired by their endeavors…..In Chicago, Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM, Chicago is handing the agribusiness beat over to Steve Alexander with the retirement of Orion Samuelson at the end of this month. Samuelson is putting the wrap on a radio career that spans 60 years. Alexander says, “When I’ve filled in for Orion over the past 12 years, I’ve often joked that he gave me the key to the tractor, and I was able to keep it out of the ditch until he returned. Come next month, I’ll try to keep the tractor upright and continue Orion’s efforts to explain how important agriculture is to all of us.”…..GCN-syndicated talk radio host Dr. Daliah Wachs’ program adds two new affiliate stations as WEOL, Elyria, Ohio and KPRL, Paso Robles, California pick up the show.

COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Vaccines, the Economy & Closings, Stimulus Talks, Ongoing Election Denial, Georgia Runoff Elections, Biden Transition, and Northeast Snowstorm Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for post-holidays cases; the beginning of vaccine distribution in the U.S.; the state of the U.S. economy and forced business closings; the congressional negotiations over a new stimulus package; the ongoing denial of the election results in the Donald Trump camp; January’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the Joe Biden administration’s transition and nominations; and a big snowstorm hits the Northeast 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. There’s a series of holiday programs being made available on Entercom’s RADIO.COM that’s airing from December 18-20. The shows are: “POP Goes Christmas,” featuring Why Don’t We and Ava Max; “Acoustic Christmas,” featuring Kelly Clarkson, Meghan Trainor, Dan + Shay, Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, Rob Thomas, Train, Matt Nathanson, Ava Max, and a special performance from Keith Urban; “Country Christmas,” with Keith Urban, Dan + Shay, Lady A, Runaway June, and Russell Dickerson; and “Not So Silent Night” starring Machine Gun Kelly, 24kGoldn, All Time Low, SHAED, and Wallows. Those four shows will culminate in the “RADIO.COM LIVE! Holiday Music Festival,” a free video stream of the concert performances on December 21 at 6:00 pm ET, available nationwide on the RADIO.COM app and website at RADIO.COM/Live. Portions of the show will also be available on Twitch and via RADIO.COM’s social media channels. The performances will be accessible on demand for 72 hours after the show on RADIO.COM and station websites…..SiriusXM announces the rollout of several new pop up channels, holiday specials, live programs for New Year’s Eve, exclusive video, podcasts and best-of live performances. “New Year’s Nation” will launch beginning December 29 as a pop-up channel on SiriusXM dedicated to the ultimate New Year’s celebration songs in pop, rhythm, dance, and hip-hop from across the nation featuring the hottest hits from Harry Styles, Dua Lipa, The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Drake, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Taylor Swift and more. New holiday pop-up channels include Top 100 Interviews of 2020, highlighting the top celebrity interviews from the past year. Hosted by SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle and Julia Cunningham, the pop-up channel will feature interviews from shows including “Andy Cohen Live,” “The Hoda Show” and “The Jess Cagle Show” with some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Ben Affleck, Hugh Jackman, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Laverne Cox, Lily Collins, Lizzo, Ramy Yousef, Sam Smith, Sean Penn, Spike Lee and dozens more.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

| November 21, 2019

Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder Out in New WGN, Chicago Program Schedule. Two months after new management ousted station manager Todd Manley from his role at WGN, Chicago and hinted more changes were on the horizon, the Nexstar-owned news/talk outlet announces its new programming lineup and late morning duo Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder are the odd couple out.  After the close of the Tribune-Nexstar deal, Sean Compton became executive vice president and director of news and operations Mary Sandberg Boyle was named interim programming manager.  Yesterday (11/20), Boyle announced the changes via internal email.  Among the changes effective December 2 are: Steve Cochran’s morning show starts an hour earlier, airing from 5:00 am to 9:00 am; John Williams moves from his current 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm slot to 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; Ji Suk Yi takes over hosting the 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm “Wintrust Business Lunch” show; and Anna Davlantes leaves the co-host role on the afternoon drive Roe Conn program to host her own 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm talk show.  Conn remains in afternoons, followed by Justin Kaufmann from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm, followed by Nick Digilio from 11:00 pm to 4:00 am.  WGN will simulcast the “WGN-TV Early Morning News” from 4:00 am to 5:00 am.  Read Chicago media writer Robert Feder’s coverage here.

WPHT, Philadelphia’s Rich Zeoli Interviews President Trump. Pictured above is WPHT, Philadelphia morning drive personality Rich Zeoli interviewing President Trump in the Oval Office as part of Tuesday’s White House Radio Row on the United States Mexico Canada trade deal.  The president also talked about the 2020 election and the impeachment hearings.  Zeoli says, “The president was incredibly gracious with his time and said how much he loves talk radio.”  Photo: Andrea Hanks

John Fredericks Show Interviews VP Mike Pence. At Tuesday’s White House Radio Row on the USMCA treaty, Virginia talk station owner and statewide talk radio personality John Fredericks (right) posed for a photo with Vice President Mike Pence (left) and Fredericks’ wife, Anne (center), who serves as CFO of the John Fredericks Network.

Cumulus Inks ‘The Ticket’ Morning Show ‘The Musers’ to Multiyear Extension. Dallas sports talkers George Dunham, Craig Miller, and Gordon Keith – collectively known as “The Musers” – sign contract extensions to continue hosting the morning drive show on Cumulus Media’s sports talk KCTK-AM/FM, Dallas “The Ticket.”  The Cumulus Dallas-Houston regional vice president Dan Bennett says, “For 25 years, the Morning Musers’ George Dunham, Craig Miller, and Gordon Keith have performed at a market dominant level and we are excited that will continue for many more years in Dallas!”  The Musers comment, “We are very pleased to continue our longstanding relationship with Cumulus and the wonderful leadership of the Dallas/Fort Worth market.  This company has made us feel appreciated and we are extremely thankful for their support of such a special station.  ‘The Ticket’ in Dallas/Fort Worth is our home and the bond that we have with our listeners is something we will cherish for as long as we breathe.”

Salem Covers A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Premiere. Above is Salem Radio Network VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup (left) interviewing director Marielle Heller (right) at last night’s premiere of the SONY Pictures film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.  The film stars Tom Hanks as television icon Fred Rogers.  The premiere took place in Pittsburgh where the “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” TV show was produced at WQED-TV.

Skyview Networks Sponsors Panels at MLB Rightsholders Conference. The photo above shows the participants in this year’s MLB Audio Rightsholders Conference in Las Vegas.  More than 20 teams and organizations participated in panels covering technology, audio sales strategies, and the future of emerging non-terrestrial mediums.  Digital content captured the main focus of the conversations as franchises shared strategies for monetizing this evolving platform.  Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones says, “Skyview Networks is proud to return as the title sponsor of this conference, which hosts an innovative group of baseball and broadcast executives as they discuss the critical role radio and digital audio play in fan engagement.  We look forward to developing additional technology to serve our partners in this evolving audio space.”  Additional panel topics included maximizing ad sales with an emphasis on innovative features and creating awareness for franchises’ ancillary digital content, especially concerning podcasts.  As the digital listenership rapidly increases, the franchises are hyper-focused on monetizing the platform.

TALKERS News Notes. The NM Political Report says that KIVA-AM/K229CL, Albuquerque owner Eddy Aragon is considering running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Tom Udall, who is not running for re-election.  Aragon – a staunch conservative – hosts the afternoon show on the station branded, “the Rock of Talk.”  He tells NM Political Report this is something he’s only considering at this point. “You have to imagine the tremendous sacrifice that I have to consider.  Being off [the air] during the year Donald Trump is running in 2020, that’s a sacrifice to my radio station.”…..KIDO, Boise morning drive talk host Kevin Miller is pictured below talking to KTVB-TV, Boise news about his annual Miller’s Mission Turkey Drive to help provide the hungry and homeless in Boise with a warm dinner for the holidays.  The goal is to collect 3,000 turkeys for the Boise Rescue Mission Ministries.  Each year Miller dons his turkey suit and broadcasts live from a local Walmart parking lot to collect turkeys and cash donations.

Impeachment Testimony, 2020 Presidential Race/Atlanta Debate, Epstein Case/Prince Andrew Troubles, U.S.-China Trade Talks/Hong Kong Human Rights Act, and Mexicans Sue Walmart Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/20). Wednesday’s impeachment hearing with testimony from EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020 and Wednesday’s Atlanta debates; the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s death and the aftermath of Prince Andrew’s BBC interview; U.S. trade talks with China and the U.S. House’s Hong Kong Human Rights Act; and Mexicans’ suit against Walmart over the mass shooting in El Paso 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. Programming pro Robyn Simone exits Cumulus Media’s urban contemporary WLXC, Columbia, South Carolina “Kiss 103.1” where she’d been serving as program director for the past year.  She says, “Working at Cumulus Media in Columbia was a challenge, but I gained a lot of knowledge in my short time there.  As the program director/air talent for ‘Kiss 103.1,’ I’m a stronger and more knowledgeable PD because the experience.  I would like to thank [VP programming operations] John Dimick and VP/urban programming Kenny Smoov for the opportunity and their commitment to set new standards for urban radio.”