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Friday, February 5, 2021

| February 5, 2021

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Freedom of Screech,” looks back at this past week of February 1-5, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkJoyce Kaufman, talk show host, WFTL, Fort Lauderdale/Miami/West Palm Beach; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio CompanySteve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder Scamicide.com; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. The acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio 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.

Rudy Giuliani Says WABC Radio Disclaimer ‘Rather Insulting.’ Former New York City mayor and recent Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani lashed out at Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York after the station aired a disclaimer at the end of a commercial break during Giuliani’s one-hour afternoon radio show on the station. On the heels of the announcement by voting systems firm Smartmatic that it is suing FOX News, some of its hosts, former Trump attorney Sidney Powell, and Giuliani for defamation for $2.7 billion, WABC added the disclaimer to his program that stated, “The views, assumptions and opinions expressed by former U.S. attorney, former attorney to the president of the United States, and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, his guests and callers on his program are strictly their own, and do not necessarily represent the opinions, beliefs or policies of WABC Radio, its owner Red Apple Group, its other hosts or its advertisers.” Giuliani expressed his surprise at the disclaimer stating on the air, “I would have thought they would have told me about that before just doing what they just did. Rather insulting. And gives you a sense of how far this free speech thing has gone. And how they frighten everybody. I mean, we’re in America, we’re not in East Germany… They’ve got to warn you about me? I’m going to have to give that a lot of consideration. I also think putting it on without telling me ― not the right thing to do. Not the right thing to do at all.”

Holiday PPM Ratings Highs & Lows. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian today reports on Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2020 PPM ratings and says, “Virtually nothing in any facet of life was ‘normal’ in the just-concluded calendar year, so it wouldn’t have been a monumental shock if Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2020 numbers strayed from past scripts. Pandemic-caused modified radio listening habits, combined with a completely out-of-the-norm presidential campaign/election/aftermath, accounted for some strange wobbles compared to past Holiday survey periods. Read his complete report here.

Donald Trump Resigns from SAG-AFTRA. As requested by the union after a Disciplinary Committee meeting, Donald Trump has resigned from SAG-AFTRA. However, the former president did not go quietly into the night. He wrote, in part, “Your organization has done little for its members, and nothing for me – besides collecting dues and promoting dangerous un-American policies and ideas – as evident by your massive unemployment rates and lawsuits from celebrated actors, who even recorded a video asking, ‘Why isn’t the union fighting for me?’ These, however, are policy failures. Your disciplinary failures are even more egregious. I no longer wish to be associated with your union. As such, this letter is to inform you of my immediate resignation from SAG-AFTRA. You have done nothing for me.” You can read the entire text of his resignation here. For its part, the union responded, “Thank you.”

TALKERS News Notes. In the Twin Cities, Entercom and the Minnesota Timberwolves announce an extension to their broadcast partnership agreement that keeps WCCO-AM as the flagship station for Timberwolves basketball. The station has served as the radio home of the team since 2011. Entercom Minneapolis SVP and market manager Shannon Knoepke says, “This season we are excited to not only expand our distribution, but also try new content platforms that utilize our incredible talent and give fans an insider’s view into the Timberwolves. The Timberwolves are an organization that’s forward-thinking and innovative, and it’s a perfect partner for 830 WCCO and the unparalleled signal coverage we provide to the Upper Midwest.”…..iHeartMedia is partnering with Paris Hilton to produce a slate of iHeartRadio Original Podcasts as well as a series of PodPosts, what the company calls “a new format that merges social media into voice, and podcasting into a social environment.” The new series will launch February 22 with the “This is Paris” podcast hosted by Hilton herself, “which puts her own creative spin on the podcast format — releasing a blend of both playful, emotional and authentic scripted, scheduled episodes as well as spontaneous, shorter ‘social’ audio episodes each week between segments. This unique audio format will entertain audiences with content that includes candid interviews with influential and inspiring guests around the globe, discussing topics such as beauty, wellness, fashion, pop culture, travel, entrepreneurship, relationships and more.”…..Entercom’s C13Originals announces season three of the Gangster Capitalism documentary podcast franchise: Jerry Falwell Jr. The company says that “Gangster Capitalism, Season 3: Jerry Falwell Jr. and Liberty University” will chart the rise and fall of Jerry Falwell Jr., and the damage left in his wake at Liberty University. The series will launch in the spring and the investigative docuseries will feature more than 30 exclusive interviews from current and former students, staff, faculty, administration, and insiders, as well as authors, historians, journalists, and theologians, some going on the record for the first time to reveal new stories and information that is explosive and revealing…..WNYC Studios and The Atlantic introduce, “The Experiment: Stories From an Unfinished Country,” a weekly podcast that will “give listeners the context they need to understand our country right now.” In each episode, host Julia Longoria is joined by The Atlantic’s writers and editors to “explore America’s promise through riveting, surprising, and even surreal stories that uncover powerful and sometimes invisible forces of history.”

Trump Impeachment, Capitol Insurrection Investigation, and GOP Cheney and Greene Issues Tie for Top News/Talk Story This Week. The looming impeachment trial of Donald Trump, the investigation into the Capitol insurrection, and the GOP’s dealing with attacks on Senator Liz Cheney and the conspiracy theories of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tied as the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio for the week of February 1-5, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the COVID-19 stats, rollout of vaccines and concern about variants. Coming in at #3 was a tie between the economy, the Biden-GOP stimulus negotiations, and the financial markets activity. At #4 was race relations tied with police reform and the Morgan Wallen racial slur case. #5 was the cable TV ratings war tied with social media censorship and the cancel culture. Following at #6 was climate change tied with immigration reform. At #7 was U.S. relations with China and Russia tied with the Myanmar coup. #8 was the recall effort against California Governor Gavin Newsom, followed by the FBI agents slain while investigating a child porn case. Finally, at #10 was the countdown to Super Bowl LV. 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.

Friday, January 8, 2021

| January 8, 2021

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Responsibility, Integrity, and Credibility,” looks back at this past week of January 4-8, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/medical doctor; Erick Erickson, talk show host, WSB, Atlanta / talk show host, regional syndication; Joe Madison, talk show host, SiriusXM Satellite RadioAnne Eller, talk show host / station owner, WCRS, Greenwood, SC; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company.  This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio 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.

KMJ, Fresno’s Ray Appleton Under Scrutiny for “Hanging” Comment. Fresno talk radio host Ray Appleton – heard daily from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on Cumulus Media’s news/talk KMJ-AM/FM – is being taken to task, at least by the Fresno Bee, for saying on his program that “certain news editors should be hanged… maybe.” Appleton’s comment came during a monologue in which he complained about the media’s coverage of the attack on the U.S. Capitol compared to coverage of protests and riots in Portland and other cities, implying that reporting on those events was more sympathetic. He posted a clarification to his Facebook page that was later removed. In it, he says the comment was “clearly tongue in cheek.” On his program Thursday, he said, “So if you were upset by that, I didn’t mean it. I humbly apologize. I’m not talking about taking every news editor and hanging them. I mean, come on. Get with it.” The Bee reports that a call to KMJ for comment on Appleton’s comment was not returned.

Del Colliano: Cumulus Corporate Flips on Election Talk Mandate. According to InsideMusicMedia publisher Jerry Del Colliano, who cites an internal memo from Cumulus Media EVP of content Brian Philips, the company did an about-face on Wednesday as the assault on the Capitol building was taking place in Washington, DC. Del Colliano says that contrary to what many of the company’s talk hosts were saying up to that point about the legitimacy of the election results, Philips’ memo ordered all Cumulus and Westwood One personalities not to continue presenting any illegitimacy claim. He wrote, “We need to help induce national calm NOW. Cumulus and Westwood One will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended. The election has been resolved and there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’” He adds, “If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately.” Del Colliano writes, “Some employees felt the sudden change in direction was so onerous that it in effect dictated what air talent could not broach on the air even after many years of tolerating if not encouraging controversial political talk for the purpose of increasing ratings.”

WFAN, New York Debuts Craig Carton-Hosted Gambling Addiction Program. The program is titled, “Hello, My Name is Craig,” and will air on WFAN-AM/FM, New York on Saturday mornings at 9:30. The 30-minute program is being hosted by Craig Carton and is being presented by 1-800-GAMBLER. In the program, Carton will “drive candid conversations with listeners about different aspects of gambling and provide resources and outlets to those seeking help or looking for ways to help their loved ones.” Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie will be a regular contributor and the program will feature various guests to share stories of indulgence, falls from grace, and the fight to overcome gambling addiction. Guests will include medical and therapy experts, members of the 1-800-GAMBLER team, founders of rehabilitation treatment centers, and more. Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Legalized gambling is a growing part of the modern sports experience and the everyday fans’ conversations. Our obligation and commitment are to serve not only the audience that can responsibly enjoy these gaming elements, but also in a meaningful way help those, like Craig, who have an addiction. With Craig’s voice and unique perspective, along with outstanding partners and the influence of the WFAN platform, we will do just that.” Carton adds, “Each week, we will tackle different aspects of what for some is a fun recreation but for others is an addiction that forever alters and sometimes ends lives. The show will be a raw and revealing look into the fastest-growing vice in the country and I look forward to providing my first-hand perspective for both those dealing with the grip of their gambling compulsions as well as the loved ones in their lives.” Carton, who hosted mornings on WFAN with Boomer Esiason from 2007 to 2017, was convicted of fraud he perpetrated in order to pay off gambling debts. He served a year of a three-year sentence in prison. He returned to WFAN this fall to host the WFAN afternoon show with Evan Roberts.

WCCO-AM, Minneapolis Talk Host Dave Lee Announces Retirement. WCCO-AM, Minneapolis morning drive personality Dave Lee announces he’ll retire from the Entercom news/talk station at the end of April. Lee joined the station in September of 1989 from KFGO, Fargo where he was program director and afternoon drive personality. He first joined the station as a weekend and fill-in host and gradually became part of the Charlie Boone and Roger Erickson morning show. Lee took over sole hosting duties of the morning show in 1997. During his career he’s also done play-by-play for the Minnesota Gophers and he filled in as a Minnesota Twins announcer from 1991 to 1996. He continues to do play-by-play for the television broadcasts of the Minnesota State High School Boys and Girls basketball tournaments, while serving as the radio voice of the University of St. Thomas football on WCCO. He’s been named Minnesota’s Sportscaster of the Year six times and has won three Emmys for his television work.

“Free Talk Live” to Migrate from GCN to Talk Media Network. “Free Talk Live” co-founder Ian Freeman announces that his New Hampshire-based, nationally syndicated program will move from current syndicator Genesis Communications Network to Talk Media Network, effective January 18. Freeman says that while GCN has been “a great radio syndication partner” since 2004, for a few reasons (some of them technical) he’s made the hard decision to sign up with TMN. He says, “Talk Media Network is, like GCN, an affiliate-focused network. They don’t have makegoods or cramdowns or other undesirable, unfriendly corporate syndication crap. TMN’s CEO Josh Leng came up through the industry and has himself been a successful talk radio programmer.  He knows what it’s like in the trenches and has built his company with the desires of radio stations and programmers in mind. Over the years, we’ve gotten to know Josh and I appreciate his passion for radio.” Freeman continues, “TMN’s also an interesting new take on a syndicate – they don’t have a network studio. Their shows feed directly to Westwood One’s uplink facility. That means that TMN’s overhead is reduced and the potential for failures is lower. It also means we had to start producing our show 100% from the FTL studio, which was no problem, since I’ve had that capability here for years but never used it until now. Since we’re now fully in charge of our program content, phones sound better and our feed on XDS should be a little higher quality as the audio won’t be re-encoded and re-processed at the network studio, since there isn’t one… We will stay on GCN for some time in order to give our stations plenty of time to make the jump. I’m grateful to the crew at GCN for their professionalism and support over the years and especially now. I don’t ever want to burn a bridge and I have nothing but respect and appreciation for Ted, George, Adam, and the rest of the crew there and wish them only the best.”

SportsGrid Content to Air on SiriusXM. There’s a new sports betting-oriented channel on SiriusXM as the satellite broadcaster inks a deal with SportsGrid. The new SportsGrid Radio channel will feature personalities including Scott Ferrall, Gabe Morency, Ariel Epstein, and Jared Smith plus expert contributors and guest analysts. The channel streams live from its production facilities adjacent to New York’s Madison Square Garden and at the Meadowlands inside the FanDuel Sportsbook. SportsGrid says its real-time reporting includes the daily odds, lines, matchups, injury reports, news and more across pro football, basketball, baseball, hockey, college sports, golf, tennis, and soccer.

iHeartMedia Completes Warrant Exchange for Stocks. The company announces that it has completed an exchange of iHeartMedia Warrants (financial instruments that give the holder the right to buy underlying shares at a specific price on or before a specified date) into shares of iHeartMedia Class A Common Stock, the Company’s publicly traded equity, or Class B Common Stock. The company reports that as of December 31, 2020, there were approximately 65 million shares of Class A Common Stock, 7 million shares of Class B Common Stock, and  75 million Warrants outstanding. Following the exchange, there will be approximately 110 million shares of Class A Common Stock, 29 million shares of Class B Common Stock, and 7 million Warrants outstanding. The exchange was authorized by a previously issued Declaratory Ruling from the Federal Communications Commission approving an increase in iHeartMedia’s authorized aggregate foreign ownership from 25% to 100%. Certain shares of Class B Common Stock and Warrants were not converted into Class A Common Stock due to current regulatory restrictions applicable to certain shareholders. iHeartMedia expects additional conversions of Class B Common Stock and Warrants into Class A Common Stock.

Attack on Capitol Building Top News/Talk Story for Week of January 4-8, 2021. Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol Building in Washington by hundreds of Donald Trump supporters was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was Donald Trump’s continuing denial of the election results combined with his phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State seeking to overturn his loss there. Coming in at #3 was Tuesday’s Georgia runoff election that saw both Democrats beat their Republican opponents. 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.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

| December 23, 2020

NOW POSTED: Christmas and New Year’s Weekend Installments of Special Two-Part “2020 Year in Review” Edition of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” A two-part special installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend program, “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 on Talkers.com.  This new episode titled, “2020 Year in Review,” looks back at the history-laden past year. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Harry Hurley, talk show host WPG, Atlantic City; Mandy Connell, talk show host, KOA, Denver; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston/founder Scamicide.com; Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York; Kathy Valentine, rock musician, The Go-Go’s; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver “Freedom 93.7”; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA “Connect FM”; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to the Christmas weekend episode, please click here. To listen to the New Year’s weekend episode, 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.

The Talkers TenTM Top News/Talk Stories and People for 2020. Today (12/23), the editors of TALKERS magazine present the annual Talkers TenTM Top News/Talk Stories and People for 2020. In this annual feature seen above, the editors draw upon the year’s in-house research to reveal the most-talked-about stories and people on news/talk radio in the U.S. TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey says, “2020 was obviously a year that will go down in history. The pandemic, a polarizing presidential election, coast-to-coast racial protests, and more combined to make this year one that was replete with storylines and personalities that consumed talk hosts and their listeners unlike any other year in the history of modern-day news/talk radio.”

Michael Savage to Leave Radio for Podcasting. Nationally syndicated talk radio star Michael Savage announces that after 26 years on AM/FM radio, he’ll leave the medium in January to focus exclusively on podcasting. Savage says in a press release that “The Savage Nation Podcast” (available on numerous podcast platforms) “will be ‘essential Savage’: news, views, reviews, politics, history, science, nutrition, cooking, movies & TV, literature, philosophy, cars, animals, spirituality, and something more.” He adds that fans can “expect even more ‘edge’ as he frees himself from the constraints of corporate broadcasting.” Savage’s current deal with Cumulus Media’s Westwood One includes the production and distribution of a daily radio show and a companion podcast.

Round Two of December PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s December 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s December 2020 survey period covered November 5 – December 2. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this batch of markets. Some moves of note include Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle adding six-tenths to climb to the #1 rank on the strength of a 7.2 share. In Boston, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO loses eight-tenths, posting a 5.8 share and falling to the #6 rank while all-news sister WBZ-AM loses just two-tenths but retreats from #1 to #4 with a 6.8 share. Hearst Television’s WBAL-AM remains steady with a one-tenth increase for a 4.5 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaway for this group of markets here. ALSO, Mike will post his Ratings Takeaways for the third and fourth rounds of markets tomorrow (12/24) and Tuesday (12/29), respectively.

WABC, New York and WLIR, Long Island Raise $174,000 for Cohen Children’s MC. Pictured above are 77WABC talk personalities Sid Rosenberg (left) and Curtis Sliwa (right) broadcasting as WABC, New York and WLIR-FM, Long Island “TALKRADIO 107” raised more than $174,000 last Friday (12/18) during the “Holiday Radiothon for the Kids at Cohen Children’s Medical Center.” Red Apple Media president Chad Lopez says, “We’re honored to partner with Cohen Children’s Medical Center again this year and to raise much-needed funds with our second Holiday Radiothon for The Kids. We have the utmost respect for the team at this world-class pediatric hospital and are happy to bring some holiday cheer during this season of giving. Our hearts go out to each and every family with a child in the hospital during the holidays.”

TALKERS News Notes. The annual White House Christmas Poem by Salem Radio Network White House correspondent Greg Clugston got some love from Austin Statesman-American columnist Ken Herman, who published Clugston’s poem in his column today (12/23). You can see it here…..Talk host and former U.S. Rep J.D. Hayworth is doing some fill-in hosting during the holidays. He sat in for Lars Larson on his Compass Media Networks-syndicated program on Monday (12/21) and hosted the 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm show on Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM, Chicago yesterday (12/22)…..The GCN-syndicated Dr. Daliah Wachs show adds new affiliate WRWH, Cleveland, Georgia to its roster of stations.

COVID Relief Bill, Trump Pardons, Trump Election Challenge, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Vaccines-Variant, Georgia Runoff Elections, Russian Cyberattack, Israel Government Collapses, and UK-EU Brexit Deal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/22). The COVID relief and omnibus spending bill and President Trump’s demands; Trump pardons/commutes 20 including political allies; Trump and supporters’ denial of election results; the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for a post-Christmas spike; the rollout of COVID vaccines in the U.S. and questions about effectiveness against coronavirus variants; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the hack of U.S. government computer networks by Russian agents; Israel’s inability to pass a budget and the collapse of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government; and the Brexit deal ahead of the December 31 deadline 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. Four music outlets change hands in Florida as JVC Media acquires the four-station Fort Walton Beach cluster from Community Broadcasters LLC. In this deal, JVC Media gets CHR WECQ, country WHWY, adult hits WWAV, and classic rock WZLB. This acquisition brings JVC’s Florida holdings to 11 stations, including three in Orlando and four in Gainesville-Ocala. JVC executive Shane Reeve will oversee the integration of the Fort Walton Beach stations into the company and will be responsible for the staffing and operation of the facilities. He says, “I’m thrilled JVC is bringing our live and local approach to the Florida Panhandle and Emerald Coast!”…..Religious broadcaster WayFM announces the retirement of Thom Ewing, longtime station manager for WayFM Huntsville, Alabama. Ewing was hired in 2002 as the founding general manager of WAYH-FM, and has been the only manager in the station’s history. He led additional WayFM expansion into several other Alabama cities, including Birmingham and Gadsden.

Friday, January 17, 2020

| January 17, 2020

KXNO, Des Moines Cutbacks Reversed; PD and Hosts Rehired. According to a report by WHO-TV, Des Moines, after some serious blowback from listeners about the firing of six programming staffers from sports talk KXNO as part of a company-wide downsizing, iHeartMedia Des Moines market manager Joel McCrea sought from corporate and was granted permission to bring them back to their positions. Program director Andrew Downs; “The Morning Rush” personalities Travis Justice, Heather Burnside, and Sean Roberts; and “Sports Fanatics” hosts Chris Williams and Ross Peterson will return to their jobs. The story says in addition to the re-hiring, KXNO will be simulcast on (currently alternative) KDXA-FM at 106.3 FM beginning next week.

Newsmax TV Reports Increasing Viewership. According to recently released Comscore data, Newsmax TV shot past Bloomberg Television in total household reach, household coverage area rating, and average audience for the week of December 9, 2019.  It also topped C-SPAN in household coverage area rating for the same week.  Comscore’s data indicates that for the week of December 9, 2019, Newsmax TV had a total reach of 2.64 million households compared to 1.63 million for Bloomberg Television.  Comscore reports Newsmax had 1.03 million weekly viewers as of August 26, 2019.  By the broadcast week of December 9, 2019 Newsmax TV’s household reach had increased to 2.65 million households, reflecting both an increase in distribution of 21% and a disproportionate increase in reach.  Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy states, “This is a major milestone for us.  Our content is resonating with Americans across the nation who are hungry for a fresh alternative to FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, and other news channels.”  Ruddy adds that the network will make major lineup changes, announcing new programs in the coming weeks and months.

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The vibrant one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM, Washington, DC. The new episode titled “The Weight of History in an A.D.D. World!” looks back at this past week of January 13-17, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS;  Thom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD Media; Michael Riedel, talk show host, WOR, New York; Graham Mack, program director, FIX Radio, London, UK; Trevor Smith, radio presenter, Aloha Media Productions, Byron Bay, Australia; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on WONK-FM, Washington, DC on Friday evenings between 6:00-7:00 pm. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA;  KFNX, Phoenix; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA as well as appearing on the iHeart Radio App.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), please click here.  To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.

Kilcoyne Exits KFNS, St. Louis. Sports media pro Martin Kilcoyne has left his on-air role with Randy Markel’s sports talk KFNS-AM, St. Louis co-hosting the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show with Frank Cusumano.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar reports that Kilcoyne, who also works as sports director at KTVI-TV, says his television duties have expanded.  He adds that the time spent producing podcasts with St. Louis Cardinals television announcer Dan McLaughlin played a role in his decision.  Prior to rejoining KFNS, Kilcoyne did a five-year stint with CH Holdings’ crosstown news/talk KTRS, St. Louis as a general issues host.

Allegretto to Lead Cumulus in Fort Walton Beach. Sales and management pro Ashley Allegretto rises from her regional sales manager, digital position with Cumulus Media’s Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola markets to vice president and market manager for the Fort Walton Beach station group that includes news/talk WFTW-AM “NewsTalk 1260” and four music-formatted stations.  Cumulus regional VP Pete De Simone says, “We are thrilled to promote Ashley Allegretto to lead this cluster.  Her passion for this community and her understanding of how to use our brands and our digital assets to help clients grow their businesses make her an effective leader.”  Allegretto adds, “Over the past 13 years I have seen firsthand the positive impact that our radio stations can have for local businesses and organizations in our community. I am eager to build on our past accomplishments and lead this group into our next round of success.”

TALKERS News Notes. Ocala, Florida morning show hosts Larry “The Giant” Whitler and Robin MacBlane are leaving their posts at Generations Broadcasting Corporation’s news/talk WOCA-AM/W242CA after today’s program.  They have been doing mornings at WOCA since 2002.  They’d previously worked together hosting a children’s show on WTMC – a signal that went dark in 2004.  The Ocala Star Banner reports that the two will continue to work together collaborating on children’s books and music…..Entercom all-news KYW, Philadelphia is inviting listeners to its “Executive Briefing” event, presented by Independence Blue Cross, Thursday, January 23 at 7:45 am.  KYW says this invite-only event “offers listeners the opportunity to listen to and take part in an in-depth discussion about the biggest issues facing the Philadelphia area and the nation in 2020.”  KYW Newsradio afternoon drive host Ian Bush will moderate the discussion that includes station anchors and reporters: Pat Loeb, city hall bureau chief; Mike DeNardo, education reporter; Cherri Gregg, community affairs reporter; Jim Melwert, KYW suburban bureau chief; and Kristen Johanson, crime and justice reporter.  Guests will have the opportunity to ask the panel questions during the final 20 minutes of the event.  Breakfast will be served courtesy of Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar prior to the start of the event.  Listeners interested in attending the event can register online…..Beasley Media Group announces Chris Ornelas is named general counsel for the company, effective February 1.  Ornelas was most recently with the National Association of Broadcasters as chief operating and strategy officer in which he was responsible for overseeing the operations of and providing strategic guidance to NAB’s advocacy teams in addressing the legal and regulatory issues facing broadcasters today…..Lemonada Media announces a new podcast called “Mouthpeace with Michael and Pele Bennett,” hosted and executive produced Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Michael Bennett and his wife Pele.  Lemonada, whose programs are distributed and repped by Westwood One, says “the series explores personal and provocative topics ranging from love, sex, parenting, the NFL, and politics.”  The first episode drops on January 31…..Entercom is being honored at the Project Voice Awards with the “Samsung Bixby Capsule of the Year” for its RADIO.COM integration.  The awards honor global best-in-class achievement across the emerging voice and AI realm and took place at the organization’s annual conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee on January 15.  Entercom VP of corporate business development David Rosenbloom says, “We’re honored to be recognized among industry leaders by Project Voice.  This award is a testament to our ongoing commitment to innovating in voice and to enhancing the consumer experience.  With Bixby, we were able to expand the reach of RADIO.COM to millions of listeners and engage with them whenever and wherever they are with an optimized presence.”

Cox Media Group Gets Deadline Extension to Sell Ohio Newspapers. Due to a ruling by a three-judge panel at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Cox Media Group must divest of its Ohio newspapers to avoid said newspapers having to reduce publication to three days per week.  Even though the company had been operating a radio station and newspaper in the southwestern Ohio region since 1935, the Court revived the rule prohibiting operating both.  The FCC appealed the three-judge ruling to the entire Third Circuit Court of Appeals, but the appeal was denied.  Now, CMG has until March 16 to complete a sale to a party that can publish the Dayton Daily News seven days per week.  Cox Media Group CEO Kim Guthrie says, “We applaud the decision by the FCC and are grateful for the extension.  News does not conveniently schedule itself three days a week and we felt a reduced print schedule would negatively and severely impact the newspapers, our employees and the communities we serve.  CMG and Apollo have been pushing for this outcome because we feel that maintaining a daily publication schedule is the absolute best way to continue to produce the solid and timely journalism that our readers deserve.”

Impeachment Top News/Talk Story for Week of January 13-17. Not surprisingly, the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump were the most talked about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the presidential race and the Democratic debate from Des Moines.  Coming in at #3 was the Iran crisis and U.S. foreign policy, followed by the U.S.-China trade war and the economy at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio this week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  See this week’s entire chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Omaha hot AC KQKQ “Sweet 98.5,” NRG Media launches an all-female morning show with current morning host Nikki Oswald and afternoon drive time personality Laura Blenkush.  The company says it will be the only all-female duo morning show in Omaha.  KQKQ program director Jay Michaels says, “Taking two of our highly talented personalities, and pairing them together for an all-female morning show is the obvious move when targeting women.”  Oswald was most recently partnered with Matt Tompkins, who recently moved over to NRG’s classic hits KOOO “THE NEW 101.9 The KEG” to host the morning show…..Two nationally syndicated programs land on Cumulus Media stations in South Carolina.  First, the Premiere Networks-syndicated “The Breakfast Club” with Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy is the new morning show at hip hop WDAI-FM, Myrtle Beach.  Programmer and air personality Mike “BigMMike” Bell says, “We are excited to bring ‘The Breakfast Club’ to The Grand Strand.  As Myrtle Beach’s source for hip hop and R&B, what better way to enter a new era than with the “World’s Most Dangerous Morning Show?”  Second, the Compass Media Networks-distributed “DeDe in the Morning” show with DeDe McGuire, Lady Jade, Rudy Rush, and comedian Michael Shawn assumes the morning drive daypart at Cumulus’ hip hop WYNN, Florence.  Bell, who also programs WYNN and handles afternoon drive, says, “We are excited to bring a fresh morning show to Florence.  As the market leader, it was important that we went with a brand that can be trusted to deliver great entertainment our listeners will love.  DeDe is a seasoned vet and I’ve been a fan of her work for years.”

Friday, November 8, 2019

| November 8, 2019

KXL-FM, Portland Talk Host Lars Larson Names Whistleblower on FOX News Channel. KXL-FM, Portland talk radio host Lars Larson – who also hosts a nationally syndicated show via Compass Media Networks – was doing a segment on FOX News Channel’s “Outnumbered Overtime” yesterday (11/7) when he revealed who he believes the whistleblower in the Ukraine affair is.  Larson told KGW-TV, Portland, “I believe all of Washington knows, all of the press corps knows, and the only people in the dark are the American people.  If you’re talking about removing the president, chosen by the American people, you have an obligation of telling them who’s accusing [the president].”  FOX News tells the Hollywood Reporter that it has not confirmed nor independently verified the name of the whistleblower.

Entercom Third Quarter Net Revenue Up 2%. Third quarter 2019 financial data from Entercom Communications is released and the company reports net revenue of $386 million, an increase of 2% over the same period in 2018.  Operating income for the quarter was $79.5 million, compared to $78.7 million in the third quarter of 2018.  For the first three quarters of 2019, net revenue was $1.07 billion, an increase of 2.3% over the same period in 2018.  Entercom chairman, president and CEO David Field comments, “I am pleased to report that Entercom delivered strong organic growth in the third quarter with Adjusted EBITDA up 13% and Adjusted Net Income Per Share up 23%.  Revenues increased 2% (just under 3% ex-political) driven by digital, national, and network.  In October, we announced the launch of DVR-like functionality for live radio on our RADIO.COM app, becoming the first company to offer that important product feature.  This new feature and our recent acquisitions of podcasters Cadence 13 and Pineapple Street Studios highlight the multiple ways we are working to enhance our product line and grow our relationships with our listeners and customers.”

NPR and Edison Research to Unveil Spoken Word Audio Report. The data from the new Spoken Word Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research will be made available via a free webinar on Tuesday (11/12) that you can sign up for here.  The study – derived from a national quantitative survey, one-on-one interviews, and five years of previously-unreleased data from Edison Research’s U.S. Share of Ear study – explores consumer behavior in the spoken word audio category.  It details: How the spoken word audio category has changed in the last five years; how the balance between music and spoken-word content consumption is shifting; the role spoken word audio plays in consumers’ lives today – from where people listen to when people listen; and what people are looking for from spoken-word content on different platforms.  The study concludes that the share of time spent listening to spoken-word audio has increased 20% since 2014.

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted on the website of its flagship station, iHeartMedia’s WONK-FM, Washington, DC (11/8).  The new episode titled “Hearings and Smearings!” looks back at this past week of November 4-8, 2019 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Howie Carr, talk show host, Howie Carr Radio NetworkRenee Kohanski, M.D., forensic psychiatrist/medical podcaster; Holland Cooke, media consultant/talk show host RT AmericaDuke Brooks, talk show host, WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach, DE; Daliah Wachs, M.D., medical doctor, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkJoshua Philipp, senior investigative reporter, The Epoch TimesVictoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs on WONK-FM on Friday afternoons between 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm as well as other stations around the country including KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; and KBKW, Aberdeen, WA as a special week-in-review and during the weekend on the Virginia Talk Radio Network as well as Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA and the iHeartRadio App.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), please click here.  To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.

National Campaign Launched to Protect Press Freedom.   The nonprofit organizations the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Committee to Protect Journalists, along with a coalition of 23 media, technology and nonprofit partners, including Barron’s, CBSComcast-NBC UniversalCNNFacebook, Los Angeles Times, McClatchy, The New York TimesNPRReutersScrippsSinclairTwitterThe Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones, and The Washington Post, yesterday (11/7) launched the “Protect Press Freedom” campaign to mobilize the public to stand up for press freedom and actively protect their right to be informed.  Through video, radio, digital, print, and social media assets, the campaign communicates the message: In order to be free, we must be informed.  The creative illustrates the crucial role the free press plays in everyday life by depicting a world in which people are unable to access news about issues that are important to them.  On the campaign website, visitors can learn more about the threats to press freedom, explore key moments for the free press in America’s history, and take a quiz to assess their knowledge.  “Americans across the country rely on diverse news sources to help them make informed choices every day, but many don’t see the threats that are putting that information at risk,” Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press tells TALKERS. “When one journalist or news source is threatened — whether it’s verbally, physically, or legally — it threatens a fundamental American freedom that’s essential to understanding and participating in our communities.  We’re proud to bring news outlets and organizations together to have a conversation with the public about press freedom and encourage people to stand up for their right to information.”  Attacks on journalists’ safety and the public’s right to know occur with troubling regularity.  According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, of which the Reporters Committee and CPJ are partners, there were at least 35 physical attacks on journalists last year, most notably the murder of five people working at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland.  So far in 2019, at least 28 journalists have been denied access to government events that are traditionally open to or attended by the press, leaving members of the public without crucial information about their government’s activities.  Relentless disparagement of the media contributes to an increasingly dangerous climate for journalists. For more information about this please click on the website www.ProtectPressFreedom.org.  To listen to a conversation about the campaign between Bruce Brown and TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison click here.

Miltz Named Director of Marketing and Promotions for Bonneville Denver. Marketing pro Melanie Miltz is named director of marketing and promotions for Bonneville’s Denver station group that includes sports talk KKFN “Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan,” sports KEPN-AM “ESPN Denver,” country KYGO-FM, and adult contemporary KOSI-FM.  She most recently held the same position at Hubbard Radio’s hot AC KSTP-FM, Minneapolis.  Bonneville Denver senior regional vice president and market manager Bob Call states, “We couldn’t be happier to have Mel join Bonneville Denver and take over the leadership of our marketing and promotions department.  Mel is well-recognized and highly respected as a promotions and marketing professional with a high level of branding expertise, attention to detail, and follow-through on both the strategic and tactical elements of marketing.  Mel’s wealth of experience make her the perfect choice for Bonneville Denver.”

TALKERS News Notes. At the end of this year, Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze will shut down its cable television channel.  A story in The Hollywood Reporter says that TheBlaze will focus on its subscription video-on-demand service, its website, and the radio program.  The piece notes that because TheBlaze is largely a digital enterprise and its contracts with cable operators prevent much of the video content presented via cable from being shared online, it makes business sense to focus on the VOD space.  Blaze Media CEO Tyler Cardon tells THR, “Given our record growth this year on our direct-to-consumer SVOD business, podcasts, various web properties and other digital distribution channels, it has become a conflict to continue programming a traditional, legacy cable channel.”…..Entercom announces that its RADIO.COM platform with its collection of premiere sports, entertainment, news, and music audio content is being made available to Samsung’s Bixby scalable intelligence platform.  RADIO.COM will be available in Bixby Marketplace, where Samsung smartphone users in the U.S. can add the capsule to enhance their Bixby experience.   Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley says, “This is an exciting integration with Samsung to bring the RADIO.COM listening experience wherever and however our listeners want it.  With Bixby, we are able to bring RADIO.COM to millions of listeners, making it easier than ever to discover and engage with our premium audio content as part of our listeners’ daily audio habit.”…..ESPN Radio says its October PPM numbers for its daytime sports talk radio shows (men 25-54) are up 7%.  For instance, the morning drive “Golic and Wingo” show saw a monthly increase across platforms of 13% compared to the September 2019 PPM survey and “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” was up 25% over September on terrestrial radio…..Westwood One Podcast Network’s “Think About This with Shelly Palmer and Ross Martin” hosted Facebook VP global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson to discuss the personal and corporate responsibility of the social media platform.  Responding to a question about why Facebook runs political ads with false claims, Everson stated, “For decades, political advertising has not been monitored.  The FCC has made it very clear by law that broadcasters are not allowed to censor or change political advertising, and we have chosen to follow that, even though we are not required to do so by the FCC – as have all of the other platforms – because we think it’s very dangerous for a tech company, a CEO, or any private or public company to determine what is true and what is false.”…..Cox Media Group’s news/talk KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa welcomed FOX News Channel and FOX News Radio superstar Brian Kilmeade to town today (11/8) for a listener event and book signing for Kilmeade’s new book, Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory That Changed American History (2019, Penguin Publishing).  KRMG director of branding and programming Levi May comments, “KRMG is proud to be able to bring one of our most popular radio and TV hosts to Tulsa for an opportunity to interact with our listeners and give people a chance to see what goes on as part of his live broadcast.”

The Impeachment Process and the Ukraine Affair Tied for Top News/Talk Story of the Week.  The impeachment process against President Trump and the related Ukraine quid pro quo allegations was the top news/talk story for the week of November 4-8, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the Tuesday election results in Virginia and Kentucky and the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in the 2020 election.  Coming in at #3 was court ruling that President Trump must turn over eight years of tax returns to a Manhattan Grand Jury, followed by U.S.-China trade negotiations and the U.S. economy at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  See this week’s chart here.

PPM Analysis: Country. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October 2019 PPM survey, today focusing on country. From the September 2019 survey to the October 2019 survey, about 60% of country stations in PPM markets are down (weekly, 6+ AQH share).  The year-over-year comparison is split a bit more evenly, with 47% of stations seeing an increase and 51% seeing a decrease.  Just two country stations ranked #1 in their respective markets in the October survey – Bonneville’s KYGO, Denver (6.1 share) and iHeartMedia’s WCOL, Columbus (10.7 share).  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

More Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Entercom’s CHR KNOU-FM, St. Louis “Now 96.3,” program director and midday personality Scott Ellis leaves the station to return to Springfield, Missouri with his girlfriend.  Ellis previously worked on air and as PD for CHR KSPW-FM, Springfield.  Assuming his programming duties at KNOU is cluster operations manager Cat Simon…..A round of job cuts at Entercom Seattle include three from the programming department.  Jean Ashley leaves her morning co-host and APD gigs at adult contemporary KSWD “94.1 The Sound.”  Midday personality and rhythmic AC KHTP “HOT 103.7” assistant program director Jamie “Tanch” Tanchykh exits, as does alternative KNDD “107-7 The End” evening personality Cody Whistler.