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Friday, June 25, 2021

| June 25, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Bridges, Roads and Condos,” looks back at this past week of June 21-25, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Mandy Connell, talk show host, KOA, Denver; Harry Hurley, morning show host, WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; Vince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media GroupDr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkSid Rosenberg, talk show host, WABC, New York and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

WABC, New York Host and Former Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani Suspended from Practicing Law in New York. The New York State Appellate Division, First Department suspended the law license of former NYC mayor, former Donald Trump attorney, and current WABC, New York talk host Rudy Giuliani. The court ruled that Giuliani “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020.” It added that Giuliani’s conduct “immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law.” The fate of Giuliani’s New York law license hangs in the balance as the court added, “We find that there is evidence of continuing misconduct, the underlying offense is incredibly serious, and the uncontroverted misconduct in itself will likely result in substantial permanent sanctions at the conclusion of these disciplinary proceedings.”

Audacy Unveils Sports Podcast Studio Building 2400Sports. The new podcast studio for production of Audacy sports podcasts is being launched. 2400Sports houses Audacy Sports’ digital audio content, including both new and existing original podcasts. It is the latest addition to Audacy’s podcast portfolio, which contains premium podcast companies Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, as well as the recently acquired Podcorn. Audacy chairman, president and CEO David Field says, “We’re excited to launch a third major studio with a goal of building 2400Sports into the home of the country’s best sports podcasts. We look forward to developing elite partnerships, including our just-announced deal with MLB, to create truly special, riveting sports content.” In the new partnership with MLB, Audacy and the league will collaborate on the production and distribution of official podcast programming for the league and its clubs. The studio will launch with a new flagship podcast series in development that revisits baseball’s most dramatic and thrilling postseason campaigns. The first installment, coming this fall, will take a deep dive into the Chicago Cubs’ historic march to the 2016 World Series championship. Audacy will work with all 30 clubs to develop new podcast content. Also concurrent with the studio launch, Audacy announces a development deal with award-winning podcast producer Jody Avirgan’s Roulette Productions. Over the coming months, Avirgan will contribute to 2400Sports’ slate of programming by developing and creating new original shows across a range of sports and genres. From 2016-2020, Jody Avirgan was the executive producer and host of ESPN’s 30 for 30 podcasts.

KBLA, Los Angeles Adds Black Information Network News. The new talk station launched by Tavis Smiley – KBLA, Los Angeles “Talk 1580” – is adding BIN: Black Information Network’s national news service to its programming, according to Premiere Networks. KBLA will feature Black Information Network News’ :60 newscasts at the top and bottom of the hour, as well as breaking news, from experienced and award-winning Black journalists. Premiere says the news service is available on more than 40 stations nationwide and is “the first and only 24/7 comprehensive national audio Black News service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.” KBLA president and COO Elston Butler says, “We’re excited to partner with Black Information Network News. We knew it would deliver the trusted news and information that is valuable to our listeners. Other news sources offered KBLA a nice piece of the news pie, but with BIN, we felt we would receive the whole recipe that our listeners deserve.”

Cumulus Media Completes $175 Million Debt Paydown. The company completes a multi-step procedure it began in May of this year to pay down $175 million of debt using cash on hand. Here’s how it happened: On May 17, Cumulus Media completed a $60 million repayment of its ABL Revolver due 2025, which represented the entirety of the amount outstanding under the facility. Following the paydown, the ABL Revolver due 2025 is undrawn and available as liquidity for general corporate purposes. On May 25, it paid down approximately $89 million of its Term Loan Credit Facility due 2026 related to a mandatory prepayment obligation arising from the company’s previously announced sale of land in Bethesda, MD, in June 2020 and sale of towers and related assets in September 2020. Pursuant to the terms of its 6.75% Senior Secured First Lien Notes due 2026, on May 26, 2021, the company launched a tender offer to repurchase approximately $26 million of the Notes at par, which represents the pro rata amount required to be offered from the proceeds of the Tower Sale. As of the expiration of the Tender Offer, approximately $3 million of Notes were validly tendered, accepted for payment and subsequently cancelled. Giving effect to the impact of the Tender Offer, approximately $450 million principal amount of Notes remains outstanding. Finally, on June 24, Cumulus submitted an irrevocable paydown notice to the administrative agent of the Term Loan to effectuate a required paydown of $23 million, which represents the remainder of the initial amount of the Tender Offer that was not validly tendered prior to the expiration date. Cumulus EVP and CFO Francisco J. Lopez-Balboa says, “As the improvement in economic and public health conditions continues to drive momentum in business trends, we felt it appropriate to accelerate several debt repayments in order to expedite our balance sheet de-levering, reduce interest expense, and increase our free cash flow generation. We believe this better leverage and free cash flow profile, more than $200 million of available liquidity and solid rebound trajectory are significantly enhancing our financial flexibility. Given our strong competitive position, proven execution track record, and numerous revenue growth drivers, we are confident in our multiple pathways to grow shareholder value.”

The Score’s Danny Parkins Leads Fundraising of More Than $650,000 for Food Bank. The Athletes for Justice’s Austin Harvest food mart project was the beneficiary of WSCR, Chicago’s “What About Chicago Radiothon.” The Audacy sports talker helped raise more than $650,000 for the charity launched by former Chicago Bear Sam Acho and its mission to erase a food desert and build a permanent facility that can fully service the community and those in need. 670 The Score brand manager Mitch Rosen says, “What a tremendous 24 hours. ‘The Score’ asked and the audience delivered for Austin Harvest to build a permanent food mart. I can’t thank our dedicated listeners, our score team, Danny Parkins who led all of us, and Sam Acho enough. We’re so proud to help support a great cause. Thank you, Chicago.” Parkins adds, “That’s the Chicago that I know and love. We saw a problem and helped to solve. So, when people ask, ‘What about Chicago?’ I want people to tell them the story of Austin Harvest, Sam Acho and ‘670 The Score.’ Thank you to everyone who donated and helped us erase a food desert and fund the construction of a permanent facility for Austin Harvest.” Austin Harvest is in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago and was originally a pop–up food mart that was a converted liquor store. The mart addressed a food desert in the city and was staffed as an after-school program three days a week by local kids.

‘98.5 The Sports Hub’ Raises $27,000-plus for Boston Children’s Hospital. The Beasley Media Group sports talk station raised more than $27,000 to benefit the Pediatric Advanced Care Team (P.A.C.T.) Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital via the 10th Annual Who’s Your Caddy? Classic charity golf tournament. WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub” afternoon drive personality Tony Massarotti created the original event in memory of his nephew who was cared for by the P.A.C.T. Unit. Pictured above (from l-r) are: Massarotti, Chris L. and Erika O. from Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast and “The Sports Hub Golf Club” host Hardy.

Pompeo Speaks at National Religious Broadcasters Conference. Pictured above is former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) with Salem Radio Network VP/News & Talk Programming Tom Tradup (right) at the annual National Religious Broadcasters conference in Dallas. Pompeo warned the 3,500 attendees of the dangers posed by teaching Critical Race Theory in schools and applauded Christian broadcasters for “helping protect religious freedom and traditional American values in our nation.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass is hinting at a return to the talk radio business after taking a buyout from the paper that’s been acquired by hedge fund Alden Global Capital and launching his own media platform johnkassnews.com. He currently is hosting a podcast called “The Chicago Way with John Kass” on WGN-AM’s digital platform. In the past, he hosted a talk show on WLS-AM, first with co-host Jake Hartford, then with Lauren Cohn.  Kass tells Chicago media writer Robert Feder, “I’m in meetings now with various broadcast entities to continue talking to people in Chicago. I think they might want to hear what I have to say.”…..Audacy announces that Mike Hoss is the new play-by-play announcer for New Orleans Saints game day broadcasts on news/talk WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans. Hoss will work with color analyst and Saints all-time leading rusher Deuce McAllister in the booth. Audacy New Orleans SVP and market manager Kevin Cassidy says, “When we started our search for the new ‘Voice of the Saints,’ the goal was not only professional play-by-play, but also someone with a deep connection to the team, the Saints amazing fan base and our community. Mike checks all the boxes. His extensive experience covering the team both on and off the field has allowed him to paint a front-row picture for fans over the course of his career, and we trust his knowledge will enhance our coverage on game days.”…..The GCN nationally syndicated “America Tonight with Kate Delaney” adds new station KTLR, Oklahoma City to its roster of affiliates…..Colorado Springs-based Way Media announces the addition of Steven Thompson as vice president of technology. Thompson was most recently VP of technology for Hope Media Group and KSBJ, Houston. WayFM VP of broadcast operations Jim Marshall comments, “The addition of Steven to the WayFM roster puts us in a position to further solidify our operations. He played a key role in KSBJ’s expansion in South Texas and I’m thrilled that Steven has joined our leadership team. He has a heart for God and a desire to excel in the technical arena. I love that combination.”

Former ‘Talk 106.7’ Atlanta Host Mike Brooks Dies at 66. According to a story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution by Rodney Ho, former WYAY-FM, Atlanta “Talk 106.7” talk host Mike Brooks died unexpectedly Wednesday (6/23). Brooks was a former police officer who also had served as a correspondent for CNN, among numerous other career ventures that included hosting a talk radio show on Cumulus Media’s former news/talk station “Talk 106.7.”

COVID-19 Vaccines, Goals and Delta Variant Top News/Talk Story This Week. The controversy over the vaccinations against COVID-19, the Biden administration’s goals, and the Delta variant combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was a tie between the blocking of the For the People voting bill and race relations, followed by the economy and the compromise infrastructure bill at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

NEED A GREAT EXPERT GUEST? Newsom Recall Attracts National Talk Media Interest. The official word that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) will definitely face a recall election has sparked interest in the subject of California politics at talk media outlets across the nation. Attorney/author Wayne Avrashow is a reliable non-partisan expert on the subject of California politics and is available for interviews on the Newson development as well as all things Golden State. He is a frequent contributor to RealClearPolitics and a California political insider. He has an extensive background in California politics, served on two government commissions, was chair of a Los Angeles County ballot proposition, and co-authored ballot arguments. He began as a campaign manager for two victorious Los Angeles City Councilmembers and later served as chief of staff. As a lawyer and lobbyist, he represented clients before numerous California municipalities and in Nevada and Idaho. He has lectured at Southwestern University School of Law and was an adjunct professor at Woodbury University in Los Angeles. He authored numerous op-ed articles that appeared in daily newspapers and in legal, business, and real estate publications. He authored Success at Mediation: 10 Strategic Tools for Attorneys, a book used by law students at the University of Southern California School of Law. And he is the author of a current Amazon best-selling novel Center Stage: A Political Thriller (2021, RealClearPublishing) about a rock star who runs for the U.S. Senate. His experiences in politics, government and business, and as a practicing attorney provide unique insight into the machinations and characters that populate political campaigns. His website is www.wayneavrashow.com. He can be contacted directly at 818-995-1100 or walaw@sbcglobal.net

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

| January 22, 2020

New Talk Format to Launch on WTZA, Atlanta. According to a report by Rodney Ho in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, local entrepreneur Will Regan is leasing WTZA-AM, Atlanta and translator W271CV at 102.1 FM to air a news/talk format featuring Atlanta talk radio icon Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson in afternoon drive.  Peterson will continue to work with show cast members Pete Davis, Jim Gossett, and producer Brent “Flounder” Dundon.  Peterson was most recently heard in the market on WYAY-FM “Talk 106.7” (now WAKL) prior to Cumulus Media selling the signal to Christian broadcaster Educational Media FoundationMike Brooks, who also hosted a show on “Talk 106.7,” is slated to host the 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm program.  Regan tells Ho that he’s still looking for morning and midday hosts.  The station is expected to debut on February 3.

Impeachment, Trump at Davos, Presidential Race, Wuhan Coronavirus, Honduran Immigrant Caravan, Putin’s Power Grab, and Megxit Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/21). Tuesday’s battle in the Senate over procedure for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump; the various topics Trump addressed at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland; the Democrats battling to take on President Trump in November; the Wuhan Coronavirus affecting China and the first confirmed case in the U.S. in Washington state; the status of the migrant caravan attempting to get from Honduras to the U.S.; Vladimir Putin’s attempt to re-engineer the Russian constitution to remain in power; and Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s move to Canada were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Networks Gear Up for Super Bowl LIV. Radio networks covering Super Bowl LIV are announcing their plans. Cumulus Media’s Westwood One – the official network radio partner of the National Football League – is presenting play-by-play of the game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on February 2.  Kevin Harlan handles the play-by-play with Super Bowl XXXIV MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner as the lead analyst.  Former NFL referee turned rules analyst Gene Steratore joins the radio broadcast booth.  Former All-Pro offensive lineman Tony Boselli returns for a fourth straight year as sideline reporter and is joined by longtime field reporter Laura Okmin, who is making her debut on the Super Bowl crew.  Jim Gray anchors the pregame and halftime coverage with appearances by Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and New England Patriots quarterback and six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.  Westwood One is producing the hourlong preview show “Seven Days to Sunday — The Road to Super Bowl LIV” that airs each evening from January 26 through February 1, hosted by Scott Graham and co-hosted by a different WWO analyst each night.  FOX Sports Radio – a division of Premiere Sports Network – is on site in Miami during Super Bowl week broadcasting its shows from Radio Row at the Miami Beach Convention Center.  “The Herd with Colin Cowherd”; “Outkick The Coverage with Clay Travis”; “The Doug Gottlieb Show”; Straight Outta Vegas with RJ Bell”; and “The Odd Couple with Chris Broussard and Rob Parker” will emanate from the Convention Center while AT&T/DIRECTV’s “The Dan Patrick Show” and “The Rich Eisen Show” will broadcast live from South Beach.

TALKERS News Notes. Arkansas Business reports that Cumulus Media has downsized at the Little Rock cluster and that three staffers from news/talk KARN-FM’s news department have exited.  The publication says news and traffic anchor Chris Ingram, anchor and reporter Heidi Sohl, and traffic reporter Chris Counts are all out…..In the Twin Cities, reporter and air personality Danny Cunningham leaves Hubbard Radio’s sports talk KSTP-AM “SKOR North” after his contract was not renewed.  Cunningham – who co-hosted the “Vikings Vent Line” show and hosted the “Raised by Wolves” podcast in addition to his reporting duties covering the NBA’s Timberwolves – announced his departure via social media…..Lima News reports that Woof Boom Radio’s sports talk WWSR, Lima, Ohio “93.1 The Fan” has filled the afternoon drive daypart with “The Drive With Marty Bannister.”  He takes over after longtime market sports personality and PM drive host Vince Koza succumbed to cancer in December.  Bannister is currently play-by-play announcer for Ohio University’s men’s and women’s basketball.  He also serves with Spectrum TV and the Ohio High School Athletic Association radio network…..Former Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman and current WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “The Fanatic” morning drive personality Tra Thomas was honored by his hometown of DeLand, Florida last weekend.  The city re-named Eastside Park and Playground after Thomas during a ceremony that was part of a number of events linked to the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday.  Thomas has stayed active in charity efforts in the city where his parent’s still reside, helping fund Our Daily Bread, a nonprofit outreach ministry at Bethel A.M.E. Church that provides bagged groceries, and clothing; paying off his church’s mortgage and purchasing a bus for the church; and buying books for the Tra Thomas Book Club with the Boys & Girls Club of DeLand, the DeLand Library and the Chisholm Community Center…..Sison Broadcasting’s news/talk WVMT, Burlington adds Envision Networks’ “60 Seconds of Service” to its programming, airing twice daily each week.   The one-minute feature spotlights the men, women, and even animals in uniform who have served their country and their communities…..Late night talk radio star Jim Bohannon is being honored with induction into the Missouri Broadcasters Association’s Hall of Fame.  The induction takes place on June 6 at the Lodge of Four Seasons in Lake Ozark as part of the 2020 Awards Banquet at the MBA annual convention.  Bohannon’s program is syndicated nationally via Westwood One.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Emily Boldon – who serves as vice president of AC formats and STRATUS music scheduling for Cumulus Media – moves back to the company’s Atlanta headquarters.  Boldon had been working from the company’s Providence cluster and was serving as program director for AC WWLI “Lite Rock 105.”  With the recent arrival of new operations manager Mary Ellen Kachinske – who is also the new PD of WWLI – Boldon is free to return south.  Cumulus VP of programming operations John Dimick says, “If there was ever any doubt about Emily’s programming acumen, she proved her skills with the tremendous growth and continued success of ‘Lite Rock 105’ Providence while maintaining our company’s leadership in the AC format.  Now it’s time to bring her back to Atlanta where she can continue to lead our AC stations and focus more of her time and effort on improving the company’s STRATUS system.”…..UJA-Federation of New York names SiriusXM president and chief content officer Scott Greenstein its Music Visionary of the Year.  He’ll be recognized for his exceptional professional accomplishments and commitment to philanthropy at the annual Music Visionary of the Year Award Luncheon on June 4 in New York City.  Daniel Glass, president & founder of Glassnote Entertainment Group and vice chair of UJA’s Entertainment, Media & Communications Division, says, “Scott’s vision and leadership have made an indelible impact on the world of music and entertainment.  Scott is the perfect recipient of this prestigious award because he is always ahead of the cultural and technology curve.  He is responsible for the discovery and growth of so many careers.”…..On-air pro Robyn Cisar exits Cumulus Media’s hot AC KURB-FM, Little Rock “B 98.5” where she was co-host of the morning drive “Kevin and Robyn Show” with Kevin Idol.  She posted on Facebook, “It’s all still a blur, but news travels fast.  I have never loved a job more than I did working with Kevin on ‘B98.5.’  I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to do what I did.  I’ll always remember it and treasure the memories.”…..Skyview Networks’s “The Dana Cortez Show” adds two new affiliates as Campesina’s KBHH, Fresno “Forge 95.3” and KBDS, Bakersfield “Forge 103.9” add the show to their program lineups…..Big Radio names three new program directors to its Rock County radio operations.  Paul Michaels assumes the programming duties for rock WWHG “105.9FM – The Hog”; Micki Morgret is program director for 90s-formatted WBEL-AM/W222AU, Beloit/W255CZ, Janesville “The Beat 92.3FM and 98.9FM”; and Greg “Big Red” Hanthorn is the new PD for country WGEZ-AM/W270CW, Beloit “Iron Country.”