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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

| September 21, 2021

Cumulus Media Names Two Execs to Multi-Platform Content Development Positions. The new title SVP, sports, content and audience is a promotion for Bruce Gilbert, who has been serving with Cumulus Media for the past seven years. This new title formalizes Gilbert’s role following “consistent accomplishments leveraging the company’s massive sports portfolio to build compelling new franchises and successful partnerships.” Gilbert continues to direct all sports programming for Cumulus radio stations and Westwood One Sports, which also entails overseeing key partnerships with iconic brands including the NFL, the NCAA, the Masters, and the PGA Championship/Ryder Cup. Cumulus also brings Doug Cohn aboard as SVP, music & entertainment, content and audience in which he’ll “lead new content development across the company’s platforms, including broadcasting, podcasting, streaming, social media, digital, and live events.” He was previously with ViacomCBS as SVP, music & talent for Nickelodeon. Cumulus EVP of content and audience Brian Philips says, “Today’s audio ecosystem provides us with infinite opportunities to break talent out of their traditional lanes and our consumers with the ability to access our products whenever they wish, on an ever-widening array of platforms. Cumulus is bursting at the seams with creative chops and the ambition to thrive in this exciting environment. Doug has shown a Midas touch in understanding what the next generation will want, and Bruce has forged groundbreaking partnerships for years and will now have more runway to innovate – these two leaders possess the vision to produce a surge of remarkable new Cumulus content.”

Broadcast for Broadway. Pictured above at The Hunt & Fish Club on W 44th Street in the heart of the Theater District are (from l-r): The Broadway Association’s Cristyne Nicholas, Broadway historian, NYPost columnist, and WOR morning host Michael Riedel, and WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” afternoon host Kevin McCullough. Salem’s “AM 970 The Answer” and McCullough presented the “Broadcast For Broadway” show from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm last Friday night as Broadway shows were staged for the first time since the pandemic began in March of 2020. The program was presented in conjunction with Nicholas & Lence Communications, The Broadway Association, and The Actors Fund.

WARC and iHeartMedia Study Underscores Gap in Audio Investment from Marketers. According to data from a study by WARC and iHeartMedia, although consumers spend 31% of their media time with audio, brands only allocate 8.8% of their media budget to audio, while 25% of brands eschew audio entirely. The study concludes that consumers of every generation are spending more and more time with audio content across radio, streaming and podcasts driven by audio’s ease and accessibility with the growth of wireless headphones and smart speakers adding to in-car, at home and at work listening. WARC Data forecasts audio advertising spend in the US to reach $13.9 billion this year, a double-digit recovery (+10.9%) from the pandemic’s 2020 cuts, yet the report highlights a large audio investment gap and the vast opportunity that exists in this mass reach and high engagement audio advertising market. The study identified four key types of advertiser attitudes towards audio: 1) Audio Avoiders, the 25% of advertisers who do not invest in audio at all; 2) Broadcast Believers, who have seen the benefits of radio and are beginning to delve into more forms of audio; 3) Digital Only, those who have started to invest but are missing out on the full suite of audio options, particularly the 90% reach of broadcast radio; and 4) Cross-Platform Champions, who explore audio’s full potential and continue to test, learn from and optimize their investments across platforms. iHeartMedia chief marketing officer Gayle Troberman says, “The Audio Investment Gap is the single-biggest growth opportunity for brands. With the growth of wireless headphones and smart speakers paired with in-car listening, audio is everywhere, and consumers are listening in more places, more times throughout the day. But too many brands are on mute. Brands that right-size their audio investments and begin spending and innovating across radio, streaming and podcasts outpace competitors in finding new audiences, building brand affinity and driving sales.” See the full report here.

NuVoodoo: Delta Variant Keeping the Vaccinated at Home. A recent study from NuVoodoo Media Services on public attitudes toward attending large indoor gatherings indicates the unvaccinated are “nearly twice as likely to attend large indoor gatherings with no COVID restrictions, when Compared to their vaccinated counterparts.” Among the people 18-64 surveyed, 47% were fully vaccinated, with another 10% having had the first of the two-shot vaccines – meaning 57% of the subjects are at least partially vaccinated. There’s another 5% who say they’re trying to find time to get vaccinated. There are 20% who are not interested in getting vaccinated at all and another 18% who say they’re still researching facts about the vaccines or aren’t sure about getting vaccinated. The study found “only 4 in 10 people would attend a large public indoor gathering that didn’t require prior COVID-19 vaccination or other safety measures.” NuVoodoo president Carolyn Gilbert says, “As always, the devil is in the details – and the results change with age. In our sample, which includes only pre-retirement demographics and excludes the vaccination status of seniors, 55-64s are the only age cell in our study where a solid majority are fully vaccinated. Vaccination rates hover around 40% among young women and fall well below that level among young men.” NuVoodoo EVP of research Leigh Jacobs adds, “Our study results indicate that Delta’s impact on event attendance is significant. For example, better than 2 in 5 either will not (or might not) attend business conferences or trade shows. Requiring proof of vaccination lifts attendance among the vaccinated while disenfranchising the unvaccinated. Potential attendance is limited either way. Last week’s cancellation of the October NAB event underscored the value of virtual attendance options wherever possible. Virtual won’t work to replace every event experience, but it can be an attendance-widening addition in many cases – and an insurance policy in others.”

TALKERS News Notes. The new podcast from retired NBA All-Star Metta World Peace debuts on PodcastOne today (9/21). “Mettaphorically Speaking” features Metta World Peace as he interviews a variety of people from the worlds of athletics, music, film and television, and business covering topics including sports, business, mental health and community, with a goal of inspiring and empowering listeners to pursue their own passions and dreams.” PodcastOne president Kit Gray comments, “Metta World Peace was a force to be reckoned with on the hardwood courts of the NBA and he’s a force to be reckoned with in the world of podcasting. His drive to search for the deeper purpose and meaning in life matches the drive that shone in his career as a professional athlete, and we couldn’t be more pleased to be hosting his podcast.”…..iHeartMedia announces a new iHeartPodcast slate of true-crime shows in collaboration with KT-Studios after their first successful venture together produced, “The Piketon Massacre.” The new slate of podcasts begins with, “The Dougherty Gang.” iHeartPodcast Network COO Will Pearson says, “iHeartMedia is excited to join forces with KT-Studios to co-produce this brilliant new slate of true-crime podcasts. We’ve seen incredible success with KT-Studios and are excited to offer listeners a full slate of new podcasts that delve into everything from unsolved murders to some of the most bizarre crimes in the name of love.”…..This Thursday, WMVP-AM, Chicago “ESPN Chicago” personality David Kaplan steps off on the second annual Walk As One Chicago charity walk to benefit Bernie’s Book Bank, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing book ownership. During the 24-mile walk, Kaplan and Bernie’s Book Bank CEO Darrin Utynek will distribute free books to K-6th grade students at James Ward Elementary. Since 2009, Bernie’s Book Bank has distributed more than 19 million books to Chicagoland children ages birth through sixth grade.

COVID-19, Debt Ceiling Debate, Biden UN Address, Immigration Woes/Border Agents Violence, U.S.-Australia Sub Deal, Canadian Election, and Gabby Petito Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/20). U.S. COVID-19 deaths match the number of those who died from 1918-21 Spanish Flu pandemic, boosters, masks & mandates; the debate in congress over raising the U.S. debt ceiling; President Joe Biden to make first address to UN; the immigrant situation at the U.S.-Mexico border and the video of border agents on horses rounding up Haitian migrants; the controversy over the U.S.-Australia nuclear sub deal; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wins re-election but fails to gain a majority in parliament in Canada; and the case of Gabby Petito and missing fiancé Brian Laundrie were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

| August 17, 2021

Ramsey Solutions’ Film Borrowed Future Debuts on October 14. The first documentary film from Ramsey Solutions will premiere on digital platforms on October 14. Titled, “Borrowed Future: How Student Loan Debt Is Killing the American Dream,” and produced by Dave Ramsey, it “uncovers the dark side of the student loan industry, exposes how it’s built to work against the 45 million Americans currently in debt for their education, and shows that it’s possible to beat the student loan system.” The film is directed by David DiCicco and features experts such as Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, Seth Frotman, Kristina Ellis, Dr. John Delony and Anthony ONeal, as well as CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, Mike Rowe. The main subjects of the documentary are college graduates who owe between $9,000 and $1 million in student loan debt, a debt-free college graduate, and high schoolers who haven’t yet questioned the norm of student loans. DiCicco says, “This film is a warning for kids and teenagers who aren’t victims of the student loan industry yet. I want viewers to walk away from this film with eyes wide open to the true cost of student loans. Teens need to know that they can have the American Dream — they just shouldn’t listen to America on how to get it.” Dave Ramsey adds, “The student loan problem is out of control, and it’s messed up millions of lives. Smart young people got sucked into a false narrative about what success looks like, and it’s left them paralyzed. It’s time to call the student loan industry what it is: an epic failure.” See more about the film here.

Phil Valentine Update: Family Says He Remains in ‘Grave Condition.’ The status of WWTN-FM, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7” afternoon drive talk host Phil Valentine has not improved as his family provided an update last night (8/16) asking his fans to “pray for a miracle” as he remains in “grave condition.” Valentine contracted COVID-19 in mid-July and initially Valentine told his listeners that while he was pretty sick, he believed he was “on the other side of it.” His family revealed on July 22 that he’d been hospitalized and was eventually put on a ventilator due to his suffering from COVID pneumonia. Although Valentine had expressed concerns over the safety of the vaccines and disagreed with mask mandates, his family says he was never an “anti-vaxxer,” but he does regret not being more “pro-vaccine.” His family is urging his fans to get vaccinated.

Salem Media Group Promotes Jamie Cohen to SVP of Broadcast Digital. Digital media pro Jamie Cohen is promoted to senior vice president, broadcast digital for Salem Media Group. The company says that in his new role he’ll oversee all aspects of the digital operations for Salem’s local and national/network digital efforts. Salem Broadcast Media president David Santrella comments, “Jamie has done a tremendous job building Salem’s digital enterprise for our local stations. Overseeing all aspects of our digital operations, both locally and nationally, will open more channels of opportunity and unify our efforts in reaching our audiences through digital avenues and monetizing our digital assets.” Cohen says, “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and am bullish on our future. With the emergence of platforms like Salem Now, the Salem Podcast Network and other innovations, our audience has never been bigger. We have an amazing opportunity ahead of us and I can’t think of a better place to be.”

Phil Cianciola to Host Mornings on WOSH-AM, Oshkosh. Radio pro Phil Cianciola is named morning drive host for Cumulus Media’s WOSH-AM, Oshkosh, Wisconsin “NewsTalk 1490,” effective August 23. The station says, “It is important for WOSH that we retain a local voice in mornings and provide a show that will be uniquely Oshkosh. We wanted to find someone who would get what Oshkosh and the Valley are all about and would be able to entertain our listeners while also providing the news and community information that matters most. That’s a lot to ask of someone, but we’re confident that Phil fits our needs perfectly.” During his career Cianciola has served at Milwaukee news/talk outlets WISN and WTMJ. He comments, “I believe in LOCAL radio. The magic of radio is the relationships we build with listeners over the air. It’s all I’ve ever done. I guess you could say radio is in my blood.”

Brian Hauswirth Named News Director at KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri. News pro Brian Hauswirth joins Zimmer Communications to serve as news director for news/talk KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri “93.9 The Eagle.” In this role, he becomes the newest member of the “Wake Up Columbia” morning drive program. Zimmer Communications operations manager Jeremy Washington states, “We’re thrilled to have Brian Hauswirth be part of our Zimmer News Network. Brian shares our vision for excellence in broadcasting and will strongly enhance our award-winning local news coverage in Mid-Missouri.” Hauswirth most recently served with Missourinet where he was a senior capitol reporter, covering the Missouri statehouse in Jefferson City. His radio station experience includes time spent working at KMZU, Carrollton; KTRS, St. Louis; and KRES-KWIX, Moberly. In addition to his new role, Hauswirth will continue his 23rd season as a college football scoreboard host at Learfield, where he handles the updates for five major colleges across the nation, including Mizzou, Alabama, Texas Tech, Purdue, and Wyoming.

Audacy and Urban One Enter into Digital Platform Relationship. A content distribution partnership between Audacy and Urban One will put audio from the latter’s 57 stations in 13 markets onto the Audacy digital platform. Audacy VP of business development Corey Podolsky comments, “This partnership underscores our unwavering commitment to amplifying diverse voices and delivering premier audio content to the communities in which we serve. We’re delighted to unite with a power player in the audio space to expand and enhace our content offering and add dozens of dynamic brands to our library.”

iHeartMedia Launches Progressive Podcast Network Cool Zone Media. The launch of Cool Zone Media will highlight “vital voices often overlooked in today’s rapidly changing political landscape,” according to iHeartMedia. The progressive podcast network is being powered by investigative journalist and podcaster Robert Evans. The company says Cool Zone Media will provide an “in-depth look at topics including climate change, the Capitol insurrection, and uncovering QAnon – offering listeners a place unique from others in the political sphere by melding media and politics with storytelling.” The network debuts with the first episode of the new daily podcast, “It Could Happen Here,” that focuses on climate change and picks up where Evans’ 10-episode weekly podcast by the same name left off. Evans, who is serving as the head of content for Cool Zone Media, will be joined by the iHeartPodcast Network’s executive producer, Sophie Lichterman, who will become Cool Zone Media’s head of creative, to help curate and elevate other vital voices in today’s progressive political landscape for the network.

TALKERS News Notes. Canton radio stations WHBC-AM “News/Talk 1480” and WHBC-FM “Mix 94.1” wrapped their 14th Annual Aultcare Wish-a-thon to benefit Wishes Can Happen on Friday August 13 and the Alpha Media outlets helped raise a record $334,928. The charity grants wishes to children with severe and terminal illnesses in Northeast Ohio. The record number was an increase of almost $145,000 over last year’s event, thanks in large part to the many businesses, individuals and foundations who stepped up…..PodcastOne announces it has secured the exclusive sales and distribution rights for B-Real’s “Dr. Greenthumb” podcast and the sales rights to the show in its vodcast form. “Dr. Greenthumb” launched in January of 2020 as a program dedicated to all things entertainment, music, and cannabis and now has more than 300 recorded episodes to date that include guests such as Tommy Chong, George Lopez, Tony Hawk, Matt Barnes, John Sally and Ricky Williams. B-Real says, “PodcastOne has set the bar for what podcasts have become. With their amazing roster of shows, best-in-class distribution and advertising approach, there is no other platform for the ‘Dr. Greenthumb’ podcast. I am excited to partner with Norm Pattiz and the PodcastOne family.”…..Pictured below are staffers from the Audacy Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina operations celebrating their honors from the 2021 State Television and Radio (STAR) Awards presented by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association. News/talk WYRD-FM “106.3 WORD” was honored with four STAR Awards including: Radio Station of the Year, Radio Personality of the Year (Tara Servatius), Best News Talk Show (Tara Servatius), and Production PSA.

Benztown West Coast Commercial Production Director Jeff Kelly Dies at 50. The company announces the untimely death of Jeff Kelly, who had joined Benztown in January as West Coast Commercial Production Director. Kelly passed away unexpectedly on August 13 at the age of 50. He and his fiancé had recently moved to L.A. to work with the Benztown team in its Glendale studios. Benztown president Dave “Chachi” Denes says, “We are deeply saddened we were not able to spend more time with Jeff and we will miss him very much. Jeff was incredibly energized and excited about working for Benztown and his recent move to L.A. from Albuquerque, and his positive attitude and tremendous talents were inspiring. His production, writing and VO skills were among the very best in the business and I am incredibly grateful for his contributions to our company, the Commercial Production Department and YamanAir.”

Biden on Taliban in Afghanistan, COVID-19 Stats & Mandates, New Trump Book, Western Drought/Wildfires, and Newsom Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/16). President Joe Biden defends his Afghanistan pullout amidst the Taliban’s resurgence and the social chaos; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rate of vaccination, and mask mandates for schoolchildren; the new book from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa titled, Peril, that chronicles the final days of the Donald Trump administration; the drought and wildfires plaguing the U.S. West; and the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom heats up were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

| January 27, 2021

WCBS-AM, New York News Pro Rich Lamb to Retire. After 50 years as a radio news pro, Rich Lamb announces that he’s retiring from Entercom’s all-news WCBS-AM on February 26. Lamb is currently city hall reporter for WCBS 880. WCBS news director Tim Scheld says, “Rich is a one of a kind reporter and human being. He will be missed not just for his broadcast journalism and eloquent story telling but Rich is a selfless friend, colleague and mentor whose influence and friendships can be seen across the New York City landscape in business, journalism and politics. Rich may be leaving, but he has left each one of us at WCBS 880 with something to help us carry on his legacy.” Lamb says in an internal memo to fellow staffers, “My career began in 1970 in the Detroit market. After working at 3 stations there, in 1974 I landed at WXLO, New York, known then as 99X, a rock station. In the course of doing street work, the legendary WCBS political reporter Steve Flanders, after whom the plaza in front of City Hall is still named, urged me to try out for the reporter’s position being vacated by the renowned Jerry Nachman. I assured Steve there was ‘no way’ that would happen. But, in December of 1977, news and program director Lou Adler hired me. His first assistant Rob Sunde called to say the station had a budget issue, and that my start date would be February 26, 1978. Thus, I have requested that my last day will be February 26, 2021, 43 years to the day after my first assignment covering the ‘Polar Bear Plunge’ in Coney Island.”

Sandra Golden Leaving Atlanta’s ‘The Fan’ Next Month. According to a report by Rodney Ho in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, morning drive personality Sandra Golden announces she’s leaving Dickey Broadcasting’s sports talk WCNN-AM/W229AG “93.7/680 The Fan” after the February 19 program. Station owner David Dickey tells the AJC, “It was Sandy’s decision. She recently got married. Her folks are older and she wanted to focus on family. As she put it, she has done tremendous things in sports radio and sports journalism. She has been fantastic.” Golden is married to former “Regular Guys” personality Larry Wachs, who worked for two rock stations in the market but now works in the mortgage industry, according to Ho’s report. Golden says she’s leaving the station on “great terms” but says, “The show with me, Steak [Shapiro] and Brian [Finneran] was the best one I’ve ever been a part of.” But says that the COVID-related departures of Shapiro and [midday personality] John Kincade in the fall caused her to assess her situation. “I didn’t like Steak and John leaving. They were legends at the station, two of the best voices in the market. It shook me. I had to do a reset.” John Michaels and Brian Finneran will continue to host the morning show as a duo.

‘America’s Healthcare Advocate’ Expands to Two Hours. The Radio America-syndicated health advice program, “America’s Health Advocate” adds an hour and now airs from 8:00 am to 10:00 am ET on Saturdays. Radio America says, “‘America’s Healthcare Advocate’ is a weekly program that helps listeners understand the complexities of America’s healthcare industry, navigate the system, and make informed choices.” Guests include prominent experts and industry leaders in medicine, insurance, health and wellness. “America’s Healthcare Advocate” – hosted by nationally recognized healthcare policy expert and Benefits By Design president Cary Hall – currently airs on more than 100 stations across the U.S.

iHeartMedia Names Yesenia Bello SVP of Diversity and Inclusion. This is a lateral move into a newly created position at iHeartMedia for Yesenia Bello, who’s been serving as senior vice president of multicultural sales since October of 2019. In this new role as SVP of diversity and inclusion, Bello will work closely with chief human resources officer and chief diversity officer Michele Laven “and iHeartMedia’s executive leadership and Human Resources divisions to drive comprehensive long-term and measurable diversity and Inclusion strategies across iHeartMedia, as well as develop and implement specific Diversity and Inclusion goals and solutions for employee, community, client and agency engagement that drive inclusive behaviors and business practices.” Bello states, “I’m excited to move into this critical new role at iHeart at such an important time for our company and our country. I’ve seen iHeart’s commitment to diversity and inclusion up close since joining the company in 2019, and I’m looking forward to working closely with our entire company on new, exciting initiatives to continue to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion at iHeart.” Prior to joining iHeartMedia, Bello served at Telemundo Network, Hulu’s Latino division and Google, where she focused on Multicultural strategy and sales for YouTube advertisers.

Application Deadline Extended for MIW’s Mildred Carter Mentoring Program. The Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group announces the application window for the 2021 Mildred Carter Mentoring Program is being extended through Friday, February 5. The MIW’s annual mentoring initiative connects mentees with accomplished women recognized as leaders, mentors, and game-changers within all aspects of radio broadcasting. This year’s program is being sponsored by vCreative. Four candidates from the radio broadcasting industry within the sales, marketing, programming, and digital disciplines will be selected for the 2021 program. Mentee criteria and instructions on how to apply can be found here. Entercom VP, national partnerships Lindsay Adams – who also serves as chair of the mentoring program and was a 2009 mentee – says, “The MIW’s Mildred Carter Mentoring Program has been instrumental in providing guidance, leadership, and bridging connections within the industry.  From personal experience, I can attest it’s an invaluable experience that helps shape and curate career paths and potential.”

COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Issues/New Strain Concerns, Trump Impeachment, Capitol Attack Investigation, Biden-Putin Phone Call, Conway Family Social Media Mess, and Runup to Super Bowl Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/26). The problems plaguing the efficient rollout of vaccines across the U.S. and concerns about their effectiveness against new virus strains; the process of the second impeachment of Donald Trump; the investigation into the attack on the Capitol building; President Joe Biden’s first phone call with Russian leader Vladimir Putin; the chaotic social media messages from the Conway family and allegations Kellyanne Conway may have posted a semi-nude picture of daughter Claudia; and the runup to Super Bowl LV were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

| June 25, 2020

BIA: Local Radio Advertising to Fall by 10.7% in 2020. Revising its beginning-of-the-year projection that U.S. local radio advertising revenue (consisting of AM/FM, digital, and streaming) would be $14.3 billion, BIA Advisory Services reports that projection to now be $12.8 billion – a decrease of 10.7%. BIA breaks it down this way: $11.4 billion is expected to come from over-the-air sales and $1.4 billion should come from digital sales. BIA says, “By comparison, in 2019 local radio stations generated $12.8 billion in over-the-air revenue and just over $1 billion in digital. This was a 1.6 % decrease in total revenue from 2018.” BIA SVP and chief economist Mark Fratrik comments, “In 2018, we projected that radio’s digital platforms would reach $1 billion by 2019 and last year the industry hit this mark. For 2020, our ad forecast shows that digital sales, including streaming, will stay steady. Then by 2021, Radio online revenue will start to climb back up again. On the over-the-air side, we see a bigger COVID hit, with a steep drop in 2020 and some recovery back by 2021.” What sectors will make up the bulk of radio’s revenue? BIA says the finance/insurance industry will make up $2 billion, retail will account for $1.97 billion, automotive will contribute $1.5 billion, and technology accounts for $1.3 billion. BIA explains, “These industries may benefit from the continuing shift in radio listening from the car to the home as at-home audio environment features give consumers multiple opportunities to consume promotions. Streaming has become a major growth opportunity for broadcasters to maintain existing audiences and attract new, younger listeners. BIA’s revenue estimate drops to $12.5 billion when streaming ad revenue is not included.”

Suit Challenges USAGM Exec Michael Pack’s Firing of Agency Organization Heads. In a suit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Open Technology Fund and four individual members of its board of directors are asking the Court to declare null and void U.S. Agency for Global Media chief executive Michael Pack’s recent firing of Open Technology Fund and news outlet leaders. The complaint argues that “Although funded by Congress through grants administered by the Agency, the four organizations targeted by Mr. Pack are not part of the government. Their employees are not government employees. They are private, nonprofit organizations with their own leadership and independent boards of directors. That is by design. Their mission, collectively, is to promote the free flow of information worldwide, especially in countries where authorities restrict freedom of expression. They do this through global efforts to combat online censorship and news broadcasts in 61 different languages, reaching 400 million people each day. But they can only be effective in countering disinformation and censorship if they are rightly perceived as independent, professional, and fact-driven—not as official mouthpieces for some partisan agenda.” Open Technology Fund chief Libby Liu tendered her resignation to take effect at the end of July but was terminated immediately by Peck. Also fired were: Bay Fang of Radio Free Asia, Jamie Fly of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Alberto M. Fernandez of Middle East Broadcasting Networks, and Emilio Vazquez of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

Cumulus Closes on $74.1 million Bethesda Land Sale. The deal to sell a 75-acre parcel of land in Bethesda, Maryland to developers Toll Brothers has been in the works for some time and yesterday (6/24) Cumulus Media was finally able to announce the $74.1 million deal has closed. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “Given the difficult operating environment, our ability to continue to strengthen our balance sheet with the proceeds of this deal is particularly meaningful, and we greatly appreciate the efforts of Toll Brothers in working with us to bring this five-year effort to completion.” Net proceeds from the sale are expected to be $71.3 million after transaction fees and expenses. Cumulus anticipates achieving minor expense savings from the elimination of real estate taxes after the closing and does not expect any tax liability as it relates to the transaction. Net proceeds from the sale are required to be used to pay down debt, unless otherwise reinvested in the company’s business over the next 12 months.

PPM Analysis: Coronavirus Cume Factor (Part 2). TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian continues his analysis of Nielsen Audio’s May 2020 PPM survey, today presenting part two of his look at cume changes for news/talk stations. In this report, Kinosian presents charts showing news/talk stations ranked from highest cume to lowest, cume increases from the April 2020 PPM survey to the May 2020 PPM survey, decreases from April to May, and a chart displaying the cume for all stations on our panel in the all-news, sports talk, and news/talk radio formats. See it all here.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, BLM Movement/Confederate & Colonial-Era Statues, Seattle CHOP Situation, Second Stimulus, Financial Markets Activity, Presidential Race, Flynn Charges Dismissed, Bubba Wallace Case, and MLB Season to Open Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/24). The explosion of new COVID-19 cases in some states and projections of future cases and deaths; the protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and the related move to take down statues of Confederate and Colonial-era statues; Seattle asks CHOP protesters to leave the area and local business consider suing the city; the debate over a possible second COVID-19 federal stimulus package; the world’s financial markets react to COVID-19 data; Democrat Joe Biden enjoys positive poll news in his race against Donald Trump; the DOJ officially dismisses the charges against Michael Flynn; the FBI concludes the Bubba Wallace “noose” incident was not a hate crime; and the MLB prepares to open on July 1 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. Today (6/25) at 2:00 pm ET, Cumulus Media | Westwood One is presenting a live webinar to release “brand new insights and studies on the state of the American consumer.” Covered in today’s event will be: Just-released J.D. Power automotive sales data for the week ending June 21 indicating it was one of the strongest auto sales performance weeks for new sales; new “Share of Ear” data from Edison Research on the audience duplication between AM/FM radio and Pandora and Spotify; how advertising can help businesses recover and reopen using a powerful new visual from marketing pro Les Binet; and more…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Program” – syndicated nationally via Talk Shows USA – announces the addition of Free Fire Media’s KCNR-AM, Shasta/K243CT, Redding, California and WCJU Incorporated’s WCJU-AM, Columbia, Mississippi to its roster of affiliates…..Cox Media Group’s news/talk KRMG-FM, Tulsa and KOKI-TV “FOX23” are partnering with the American Red Cross in a two-day “Red, White and You” Blood Drive today and tomorrow (6-25/26). KRMG director of branding and programming Levi May comments, “This is one of our favorite events every year because it unifies our listeners in Green Country to work as a group to help people who live and work in their communities. Every pint donated to the American Red Cross can help save three lives. That’s a pretty impressive return on 30 minutes of your day.”

International Rock Musician/Impresario Leslie Mandoki Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Munich, Germany-based, Hungarian rocker Leslie Mandoki is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Mandoki is a seasoned professional forged by experience, passion and life, who is keeping the spirit and quality of the progressive, jazz rock era alive and well for generations old and new. His ensemble, MANDOKI SOULMATES, is a long-running loosely knit association of some of the greatest big-name musicians on the planet. Their brand-new release, “Living in the Gap & Hungarian Pictures,is a double album that expresses their ideals of socially aware lyrics and complex musical arrangements – basic tenets of the progressive and jazz rock era. In his youth, Mandoki escaped from communist Hungary to West Germany where he built one of the finest studio complexes in Europe, produced and performed on records, became friends with a wide network of great musicians including the legendary Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull and launched a progressive rock juggernaut. Countless gold and platinum records decorate his walls. He also wrote, produced, and performed the superb charity song dedicated to the heroes of the coronavirus titled #WeSayThankYou with Ian Anderson that has garnered positive attention on international radio and on YouTube. Harrison and Mandoki discuss the music, social issues and politics that make Leslie Mandoki a fascinating individual – largely unknown to Americans. 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.

Entercom Partners with Analytics Firm Deep Root. In what Entercom calls part of its “commitment to data-driven capabilities,” the company announces a partnership with audience-powered analytics company Deep Root that will allow Entercom to offer advertisers expanded targeting options. Entercom says, “This partnership will enable agencies, advocacy groups, and political campaigns to identify and reach Deep Root’s custom voter audience segments when advertising throughout Entercom’s robust portfolio of broadcast and digital assets. This includes access to Deep Root’s issue advocacy and political audience segments such as swing voters, blue collar voters, and environmentalists.” Entercom VP, data and analytics Dan McKinney adds, “Expansive reach and national scale allow radio and digital audio to serve as a reliable platform for brands and political campaigns to reach engaged consumers. Now more than ever, it is our responsibility to support these advertising partners with increased targeting to accomplish their specific goals. Partnering with Deep Root will allow us to better serve our trusted partners and enhance their capabilities when leveraging our audio assets to reach voters nationally and locally.”

New RAB ‘Open for Business’ Series Announced. The RAB announces that as part of its Business Unusual initiative, a new Open for Business live-video series titled, “Getting Your Billing Back On Track,” hosted by RAB SVP of professional development Jeff Schmidt takes place on July 14 at 11:00 am ET (a repeat viewing is available July 16 at 4:00 pm ET. RAB says, “As businesses across the country are reopening, it is time for sellers to rebuild their selling strategy. In this live-video presentation, Schmidt will share proven tools and resources account executives and managers can utilize to increase stations’ revenue and income at their stations and radio companies.” Registration is free to RAB members. To register, click here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Nationally syndicated urban contemporary “The Deja Vu Show” adds five new affiliates including: KBXT-FM, Bryan, Texas; KISX-FM, Tyler, Texas; KSSM-FM, Waco, Texas; KMJI-FM, Texarkana, Texas; and WRKA-FM, Louisville. The WBLS-FM, New York based afternoon drive show is syndicated via ABC Audio, whose executive director of business strategy Heidi Oringer says, “Throughout her career, Deja has drawn high ratings in every market where she’s heard. We’re thrilled that in syndication ‘The Deja Vu Show’ followed suit and is experiencing the same level of success and rapid growth. Deja’s insightful content and her standout personality draw large, diverse audiences. We’re excited that stations are adding ‘The Deja Vu Show’ to their lineups and equally excited that she is so favored by advertisers as well.”…..The Tom Kent Radio Network announces new affiliation deals with more great radio stations. Adding Tom Kent’s “Ultimate Party” is Midwest Communications classic hits WBOW, Terre Haute, Indiana; Draper Communications classic hits WTDK, Salisbury, Maryland adds “My 70s Show” and “Super 60s with Steve Kent”; and Delta Media’s urban AC KFXZ, Opelousas, Louisiana adds “Sweet Soul Weekend with Jeff Foxx.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

| May 6, 2020

Chris Oliviero Returns to Entercom as SVP/Market Manager for New York. It’s been almost two years since Chris Oliviero left his EVP of programming role with Entercom. On June 1, he returns to the company’s New York offices as senior vice president and market manager for the station group that includes all-news WINS-AM and WCBS-AM, sports talk WFAN-AM/FM, and alternative WNYL “ALT 92.3,” classic hits WCBS-FM, and country WNSH-FM. He assumes the role previously held by Susan Larkin, who was promoted to company chief operating officer. Larkin says, “Chris is an exceptional leader with proven success developing talent, growing many of our leading brands, and building a thriving culture. We’re thrilled to welcome him back to take the helm of his hometown where his energy, passion and drive will help further raise the bar of excellence in the top media market in the country.” Oliviero originally transitioned to Entercom as the company acquired the CBS RADIO properties.  He worked for CBS for 22 years and was a senior manager for CBS for years. He comments, “Radio in New York is an incredibly special place, so to have the chance to return to a collection of the most iconic and influential brands on the dial is humbling. Our stations are in many ways the soundtrack of the city. I am confident that along with all my Entercom New York colleagues we will add to this legacy. I can’t wait to reconnect with so many old friends and of course meet new ones as well.”

Sandhill Media to Launch New Talk Station in Idaho Falls; Neal Larson and Julie Mason Recruited for Mornings. There’s no exact launch date set for the new format but Sandhill Media Group says it will move its CHR format off KAOX-FM, Idaho Falls and install the new “Newstalk 107.9 FM” format with market morning duo Neal Larson and Julie Mason as hosts of the AM drive show. Larson and Mason left their positions with Rich Broadcasting’s crosstown news/talk KID last month.  The station plans to air Westwood One’s Mark Levin program as well as other national programs.  Neal Larson is also serving as program director for the station.  He says, “We’re thrilled at the opportunity to not just continue doing what we love to do, but also join the great and talented team at Sandhill and build something from the ground up. It is a unique opportunity at a truly unique time in our community, state, and country. We can’t wait to unveil to the whole region what we’re putting together.”  Mason adds, “While being part of a brand-new station is an incredible opportunity, what we really love is what happens after – building a community of informed and loyal listeners on one side, and also watching that audience create huge value for our advertisers on the other.”  Station OM Will Kezele, says, “We have a fantastic core of music stations here at Sandhill, but the one piece we’ve been missing is a news/talk station. This is our moment to fill that void and create something that will be a valuable part of east Idaho for many years to come.” Sandhill will move the CHR format to KAOX-HD2/K286BU at 105.1 FM.

Kim Guthrie to Leave Cox Media Group President and CEO Post. This change comes as a surprise to industry watchers and one has to wonder what caused Cox Media Group president and CEO Kim Guthrie to decide to “move on from the organization after a 22-plus year career with the company.” In a press release, CMG says executive chairman Steve Pruett will serve as interim CEO until a permanent CEO is named. He says, “On behalf of the board of directors, we would like to thank Kim for her decades of service to Cox Media Group and her leadership during the company’s transition to new ownership. She has been instrumental in positioning CMG for future success as an industry-leading media company.” Guthrie, who will work with Pruett on an orderly transition, comments, “We have built a strong foundation for future growth, including an exceptional senior management team, a successful carveout from Cox Enterprises, and deep, long-term relationships with our communities, customers and partners. I have full confidence in this great team at CMG and I look forward to watching CMG’s future achievements.”

Saga Communications Reports Q1 Financials; Net Revenue Dips 6.5%. The first broadcasting company to report its first quarter 2020 financial data is Saga Communications, Inc and its report comes with a huge caveat – this report doesn’t reflect the hit the company has taken from April 1 to now.  Saga states net income increased to $1.7 million from $1.4 million in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 20.3%.  However, net revenue was $26.1 million for the quarter, a decrease of 6.5% from Q1 2019 in which net revenue was $27.8 million. Free cash flow was $1.5 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2020 compared to $2.6 million for the same period last year.   Saga reports having $47 million in cash on hand as of May 4, 2020. It says in its report, “The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to spread, and state and local ‘shelter-in-place’ orders in the states where we operate have impacted and restricted various aspects of our business. Our operations are functioning, subject to regulated restrictions and safety constraints we have enacted in order to protect our employees and customers. As a result of the current challenging economic conditions, our reported results for the three months ended March 31, 2020 are not reflective of current market conditions. The company’s advertising revenue has declined significantly as a result of the pandemic and these unfavorable trends have continued into May and June. While we cannot reasonably estimate the length or severity of this pandemic, an extended economic slowdown in the U.S. could materially impact our consolidated financial position, consolidated results of operations, and consolidated cash flows in fiscal 2020 or beyond.”

PPM Analysis: Extra. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents the “Extra” edition of his monthly study of Nielsen Audio’s 6+ ratings data from the March 2020 PPM survey. He says this “Extra” coverage of each PPM sweep in the foreseeable future will uniquely detail month-to-month shifts among news/talk; all-news; public radio news/talk; and sports talk stations. Among this month’s data is: A ranking of the strongest spoken-word markets among the 48 PPM markets – #1 is Washington, DC, followed by Boston at #2 and San Francisco at #3; a ranking of the markets that most improved over the February 2020 PPM survey – Portland saw a 4.0 share gain from month to month, with Seattle close behind with a 3.8 share improvement; a ranking of the stations that achieved the highest increase from February to March – Entercom’s WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago is the winner here; as well as a look at the stations losing the most ground, month to month (hint: sports talk).  See the entire report here.

Entercom All-News Stations Honored with Awards. Two of Entercom’s all-news stations were recently honored for programming quality.  KCBS-AM/KFRC-FM, San Francisco garnered 10 2019 Associated Press Television and Radio Association Awards – eight first place awards and two second-place awards. KCBS won first place for Outstanding News Operation, Best Evening Newscast, and Best Spot News Coverage, among others. Meanwhile, the company’s WINS, New York took home three 2020 Excellence in Broadcasting Awards first-place honors from the New York State Broadcasters Association.  “1010 WINS” won for Outstanding Spot News, Outstanding Newscast, and Outstanding Use of Digital Platforms.

COVID-19 Statistics and Projections, Rush to Re-Open, Scrutiny of China’s COVID-19 Response, Presidential Race/Joe Biden Allegations, and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/5). The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the death toll plus the projections of future cases; the debate over ‘lives vs livelihood’ as states begin to re-open their economies; the accusations that China tried to hide the coronavirus outbreak; the presidential race and Tara Reade’s allegation of sexual assault against Joe Biden; and activity among the world’s financial markets were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. Nobody covers the New York City sports radio scene more colorfully than the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, and in today’s column he speculates about the possible return of former WFAN-AM/FM morning personality Craig Carton now that radio executive Chris Oliviero is returning to Entercom as SVP and market manager of its New York stations. Of course, Carton is currently serving a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence after being convicted of fraud in a concert tickets Ponzi-scheme. Marchand notes that Oliviero and WFAN program director Mark Chernoff put together the team of Boomer Esiason and Carton back in 2007…..ABC News’ “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir interviewed President Trump in Phoenix on Tuesday as the president was in the city visiting a plant that makes face masks. Muir is featured on ABC Audio’s “Start Here” podcast with host Brad Mielke speaking about his interview with the president…..Entercom launches a daily “I’m Listening” capsule. The 60-second public service announcements, an extension of the company’s annual, yearlong “I’m Listening” mental health awareness initiative, features the voices and thoughts of artists, celebrities, media hosts, and mental health specialists. The daily capsules will feature singer and songwriter Halsey; former American Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps; singer, rapper, songwriter and flutist Lizzo; singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Allessia Cara; rock band Blink-182; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and former Nirvana member Krist Novoselic, and more to help listeners navigate the complexities of this global health pandemic…..Three new iHeartRadio Original Podcasts launch today. “Fierce,” co-produced by Tribeca Studios, is hosted by Jo Piazza and explores the stories of extraordinary women who never made it into history books; “Flashback: History’s Unintended Consequences” in conjunction with OZY Media, is hosted by OZY’s Sean Braswell who explores disastrous turning points, dangerous ideas, crazy coincidences, unsung heroes, and forgotten villains in history; and “The Trend Reporter,” hosted by four-time Emmy award-winning TV personality and journalist Mara Schiavocampo, is a weekly show that will help listeners figure out which wellness, beauty, style, and fitness trends are actually worth trying…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One Podcast Network welcomes two shows to its platform: “The Stacking Benjamins Show,” with host Joe Saul-Sehy and co-host Josh Bannerman teaching listeners about personal finance through headlines, guest experts, and plenty of humor. The hour-long, magazine-style show drops each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and the spin-off program “Money with Friends” with Joe Saul-Sehy and Bobbi Rebell who are joined each season with a rotating cast of thought leaders providing fresh perspectives and unique insights to the personal finance news and issues discussed on the podcast.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Jacksonville, iHeartMedia launches a regional Mexican format branded “El Patrón 97.3” on translator W247CF (fed by WKSL-HD2). The translator had been fed by sports talk WFXJ-AM. Jacksonville iHeartLatino GSM Jorge Lopez says, “I am grateful to be part of a company that sees Hispanic growth in Jacksonville, by adding another radio station and Hispanic brand to our market. With this launch, we confirm our commitment to the community and our solid growth in the communications industry in North Florida, covering 100% of the Hispanic market with our ‘Rumba’ brand and now with ‘El Patrón.’”…..SiriusXM launches the “Mandatory Metallica” channel through the month of May featuring the band’s biggest songs, rarities, and concert recordings from throughout its history. The channel is embarking on a 30-date “virtual Metallica tour,” which will air a daily concert from the band on tour around the globe, including the band’s exclusive SiriusXM concert from 2013 at the Apollo Theater in New York City and their 2016 concert at New York City’s Webster Hall.