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Monday, August 23, 2021

| August 23, 2021

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

| October 13, 2020

iHeartMedia’s Black Information Network Names Three Broadcasters to Key Positions. Three broadcast pros are joining iHeartMedia’s BIN: Black Information Network. Emmy Award-winning journalist Ed Gordon will serve as an anchor and correspondent, Chris Thompson is joining as director of network operations and longtime iHeartMedia Chicago communications executive Angela Ingram is taking on the director of local advocacy and engagement role. iHeartMedia says that Gordon will also produce special programming leading up to the 2020 presidential election and will provide exclusive reports covering politics, Black culture and more. BIN director of news operations Tanita Myers says, “There’s no question that this is the most important election in decades, especially for Black America, and we’re thrilled to have Ed Gordon leading our coverage of this upcoming Presidential race. Whether it’s talking with presidents or just talking about today’s biggest stories, Ed’s well-known, hard-hitting direct and no-nonsense style will be right at home at BIN: Black Information Network and further establishes our role as a trusted source for Black Americans nationwide.” Chris Thompson is the former vice president of radio operations for Reach Media. He also served with the WOR Radio Network as executive director of network operations.  Angela Ingram will continue in her role as SVP of communications for the Chicago region of iHeartMedia in addition to this new position. BIN president Tony Coles says, “One of our goals is to attract the best leadership and talent to the Black Information Network. As we continue to expand, this team is vital to providing our affiliates and partners with best-in-class service and support. I am thrilled to have Chris leading these efforts as our director of network operations and Angela spearheading integral advocacy initiatives as director of local advocacy and engagement.”

PPM Analysis: All-News. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s September 2020 PPM survey (August 13-September 9), today focusing on the all-news format. This PPM survey was not particularly good to all-news stations as 65% of those saw their weekly, 6+ AQH share decline from the August 2020 survey. However, those stations that gained included Entercom’s KCBS-AM/KFRC-FM in both the San Jose market (+1.2) and in the San Francisco market (+0.5), Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington (+1.0), and Sinclair Broadcast Group’s KOMO-AM/FM, Seattle (+0.6). Year-over-year was a different story with 69% of all-news stations showing ratings increases, led by Entercom’s KYW, Philadelphia (+2.5 shares), KOMO-AM/FM, Seattle (+2.1 shares), and WTOP-FM, Washington (+2.0 shares). You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete report – including cume data – here.

RTDNA Bestows National Edward R. Murrow Awards. The Radio Television Digital News Association announced the 2020 National Edward R. Murrow Award winners during a virtual event on Saturday evening (10/10). The program featured the announcement and celebration of more than 100 National Murrow Awards, selected from more than 5,000 entries. During his opening speech, RTDNA executive director Dan Shelley said, “We know that this year has been extraordinarily tough. 2020 has brought about challenges that have tested us at every level of our professionalism and humanity and I couldn’t be more proud that you are always there, covering it all. That you – despite the previously unthinkable professional and personal challenges you’ve faced – are continuing to serve your communities with distinction and dignity and professionalism.” You can see all the winners here.

Biden Outspending Trump on Radio Ads. According to a story in Newsmax that cites McClatchy, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden outspent Republican President Donald Trump on radio ads by a margin of 50-1. The piece by John Gizzi says, “Federal Election Commission spending reports shows Biden spent over $15 million in radio ads across 50 states, while the Trump campaign spent a meager $270,000 across just seven states.” The story adds Biden is “spending heavily on radio targeting evangelical Christians, senior citizens, and core supporters like urban Blacks and Hispanics. Biden’s radio targeting could be pivotal to him winning such key states as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — all of which went narrowly for Trump in 2016.” McClatchy notes Biden’s ad spend is going to urban, gospel, and Hispanic radio “to help create a big turnout.”

The Presidential Race, Microsoft vs Russian Hackers, Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Johnson & Johnson Pauses COVID Vaccine Trial, Columbus Day-Indigenous Persons Day, NFL Battles Positive COVID Cases, and Lakers Win NBA Championship Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/12). The November presidential election; Microsoft and U.S. intelligence shut down Russian hacker effort; the confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett; the rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and other parts of the world and projections for a potential fall and winter second wave; drug maker Johnson & Johnson pauses COVID-19 vaccine trial after test subject’s adverse reactions; the holiday celebrated in some states as Columbus Day and in others as Indigenous Persons Day; the NFL’s ongoing strategy to deal with positive COVID-19 cases among its players; and the Los Angeles Lakers win the NBA Championship 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. Condolences to the family and friends of KFDI, Wichita morning personality JJ Hayes whose wife Michelle Horne died on Friday after a battle with COVID-19. The KFDI website features a tribute to Horne. Hayes says, “Tonight, I lost my superpower. I’m broken.” He says that Horne, who was 50, had been home from the hospital for nine days and appeared to be getting better before she stopped breathing on Friday evening…..The Times of San Diego reports that former KXSN-FM “Sunny 98.1” morning duo “AJ and Sara” – A.J. Machado and Sara Perry– have launched their own streaming radio station. The two were let go from the Entercom adult contemporary station back in January and debuted their “AJ and Sara Radio” on October 2. They host the 7:00 am to 10:00 am show and the rest of the day features AC music “with an expanded 80s and 90s playlist.” Machado tells the paper, “It wasn’t easy to build a radio station, everything was a struggle and a challenge. I learned a lot about music licensing, apps and technology, forming an LLC and the business side of everything. I thought it would take a few weeks, and it’s been nearly six months since the decision was made to go our own direction.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

| September 8, 2020

Monday Memo: Noise Fatigue = News Renaissance?  With one new nightly network newscast launched, and another debuting this month, consultant Holland Cooke – himself a cable host – welcomes new play-it-straight players to the TV news menu. Read Cooke’s post-holiday Tuesday edition of the Monday Memo here.

Presidential Race/Polls/Vote-By-Mail Debate, School Openings/College Outbreaks, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccine, Portland Protests, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The November presidential election, the most recent polls, and the debate over voting by mail; the opening of schools across the country and the outbreaks of COVID-19 cases at numerous college campuses across the country; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, projections for future cases, and the progress on a vaccine; the ongoing violent clashes between protesters and police in Portland; and the California wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: 19 Years Ago This Friday. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes today about his memory of the terror attacks on the U.S. 19 years ago this Friday. Read it here.

WGN, Chicago Makes Surprise Programming Changes. The departure of Roe Conn from the afternoon drive slot on Nexstar Media Group’s news/talk WGN-AM, Chicago was not entirely unexpected – it has been rumored that the station was considering moving on when Conn’s contract ends in December – but the timing of Friday’s announcement was a bit surprising. Conn is gone from his show, effective immediately, as is longtime WGN overnight personality Nick Digilio. Effective September 28, Steve Bertrand will host the 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm “Chicago’s Afternoon News” program and Chicago radio legend John Records Landecker joins to host the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm program. Anna Davlantes’ early afternoon program expands to 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. In a press release, Bertrand says of the new show, “I am thrilled to get a chance to help create a show that will be equal parts informative and entertaining. With any luck, we’ll end the day a little smarter and have a good time getting there.” WGN Radio general manager Mary Boyle adds, “The importance of local news and information being shared by someone who is trusted by our audience is paramount during these challenging times. Steve Bertrand has always been committed to reporting the news in a fair and thoughtful way. This afternoon news-oriented program led by Steve is a welcome addition to our WGN Radio weekday lineup.”

Report: Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes Off SiriusXM and SportsMap Radio Network. According to a story in Crossing Broad, the “Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes” has been taken off of SiriusXM’s Dan Patrick channel as well as the Houston-based SportsMap Radio Network in the aftermath of Bruno’s recent comments about NBA players boycotting games and about LeBron James in particular. Deadspin wrote a very critical story about Bruno’s segment on the NBA and paraphrased Bruno in its headline that read, “NBA Players Can’t Read.” Bruno was critical of Deadspin’s twisting of his words in a piece published by Barrett Sports Media. Bruno can be heard saying, “Most of these guys can’t even read, for God’s sake.” BSM writes, “In context, it is clear that Bruno was being flippant and not as malicious as Deadspin portrays.” The Bruno and Mayes program has been removed from the website program schedules at both SiriusXM and SportsMap Radio Network.

Wendy Bell Off Air at Entercom’s KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh. According to a piece at Patch.com, afternoon drive talk host Wendy Bell is off the air of Entercom’s news/talk KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh. The move came after Bell said on the air that park rangers should shoot people who are vandalizing monuments to historical figures. Entercom Pittsburgh SVP Michael Spacciapolli said in a statement: “Entercom is the home to thousands of voices representing Americans of all races, ethnicities, gender identity, sexual orientation, beliefs and ability. We take very seriously our responsibility to provide a platform for our communities to engage in diverse and meaningful dialogue, debate and the right to freedom of speech, we do not condone the incitement of violence on any of our platforms. Members of our community have recently brought to our attention comments made by Wendy Bell that do not align with Entercom’s values. Wendy has been taken off air until further notice. Entercom Pittsburgh remains steadfast in our commitment to inclusive conversations that engage everyone in Pittsburgh while excluding any form of violence.”

Sterling: My Cousin Brucie Problem. Talk show host Walter M. Sterling (pictured at left) writes today about his Cousin Brucie “problem.” Sterling hosts the hour immediately following radio legend Cousin Bruce Morrow’s new Saturday evening program on WABC, New York. His “problem” is figuring out how to keep as much of Cousin Brucie’s audience as he can. Read more here.

Premiere Networks Puts Black Information Network into Syndication. The newly launched BIN: Black Information Network, billed by iHeartMedia as “the first and only 24/7 national all news audio service dedicated exclusively to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of news coverage with a Black voice and perspective,” is being made available to stations nationwide via Premiere Networks. “Black Information Network News” features :60 newscasts at the top and bottom of the hour, as well as breaking news, from experienced and award-winning Black journalists, including Vanessa Tyler, Mike Stevens, Madelyne Woods, Morgyn Wood, Mike “Devin” Dunston, Tanita Myers, and Julius White. “Black Information Network News” launched on September 7 on nearly 20 stations across the country, including WVON-AM, Chicago; KMAZ-FM, Houston; KMOJ-FM, Minneapolis; and more. Midway Broadcasting chair and CEO Melody Spann Cooper says, “WVON is pleased to add the Black Information Network as our national news source. WVON’s 24-hour Black talk format is an important and impactful voice in the Chicago market and BIN is the perfect complement to keep our vibrant local community aware of what’s happening across the country. What happens in Black America matters. Telling our story matters. BIN’s timing is perfect!”

KNX, Los Angeles Celebrating 100 Years of Service. Beginning today (9/8), Entercom begins celebrating 100 years of KNX 1070 News Radio “Southern California’s only 24-hour news and traffic station” with the airing of “KNX: a Century of Covering Southern California,” a “history-rich, eight-part on-air series to commemorate its centennial anniversary and pay tribute to former employees who helped grow KNX 1070 News Radio into one of the nation’s premiere all-news brands.” On Thursday (9/10 – the station’s official anniversary) KNX will reimage itself for the day using memorable jingles, sounders and sound bites from the previous 100 years. The radio station launched on September 10, 1920 when Fred Christian started 6ADZ for the customers of his Electric Supply Company to listen to. Twenty months later in May 1922, the electric supply company was issued the call sign, KNX. Current KNX brand manager Ken Charles says, “KNX is a historic brand and I’m in awe of being a part of its illustrious history. This station is a local pillar, here before the Hollywood Sign, the Santa Monica Pier and the Rose Bowl. Just as iconic as any of our local treasures, KNX is a consistent part of the fabric of Southern California, serving as a breaking news resource for our communities, first responders and the nation.”

Jason Bailey Exits Sun Broadcast Group. Media exec Jason Bailey is leaving his role as president of Gen Media PartnersSun Broadcast Group to “move on from the network he founded in order to focus his attention on his company Reatro Ventures, the developer of affiliate research software, ARC.”  Reatro is co-owned by former Sun COO Julio Aponte who will also be taking a more active role in the start-up venture. Warren Friedland, the managing partner of Gen Media Partners, will be filling the role of president for Sun. Bailey says, “Today is bittersweet for me. I’m excited to join Julio and our team at Reatro to focus on the amazing software and app development projects we have on our plate. I’m also incredibly sad to leave my baby (Sun) for the very last time. It has been the honor of a lifetime to work with the great men and women at Sun these last 12 years. They are my family and will always be in my heart. I am certain that under the leadership of Warren along with new COO, Danno Wolkoff, Sun will continue to shine bright for years to come.”

iHeartMedia Re-Brands WNIO, Youngstown as ‘The Gambler.’ Youngstown, Ohio sports talk outlet WNIO re-brands from “The Sports Animal” to “1390 The Gambler,” effective immediately. iHeartMedia says, “‘The Gambler’ will focus on sports talk with a concentration on gambling, including top-of-the-hour wagering updates from VSiN and will feature programming from the BetR Network, including “My Guys in the Desert,” hosted by sportscaster Brent Musberger. The station will also broadcast programming from FOX Sports Radio, including “The Clay Travis Show,” “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” and “The Lombardi Line,” hosted by former Cleveland Browns general manager, Mike Lombardi. iHM Youngstown market president Keith Kennedy says, “‘The Gambler’ is the future of sports radio. We are thrilled to bring this hot new format to The Valley and assist the Youngstown community with navigating the ever-growing world of sports wagering.”

WGAU, Athens’ Tim Bryant Honored with Enshrinement in Georgia Radio Hall of Fame. Radio news and on-air pro Tim Bryant – currently morning show host and news director for Cox Media Group’s WGAU, Athens – has been honored as a Georgia Radio Hall of Fame Career Achievement Inductee for his more than 30-year career in radio. Bryant is one of seven radio icons to have receive this top honor, which recognizes and celebrates individuals who have had a lasting impact on Georgia radio. The virtual ceremony was held on Friday (9/4). Cox Athens station director Kelsey Gresham says, “The name Tim Bryant is synonymous with WGAU and Athens, as his has been a steady and trusted voice on Athens’ radio station of record for a quarter of its more than 80-year history. Tim’s work goes well beyond the airwaves, as he is an integral part of the fabric of the Classic City. He is extremely involved in the community, often hosting forums and debates between political candidates, covering major local events and giving back as a volunteer to various community efforts as often as he can. We are so proud and honored to have him as part of the CMG team.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. This year’s 2020 iHeartRadio Music Awards were handed out via an on-air and social media special over the Labor Day weekend on iHeartRadio stations nationwide, and the iHeartRadio App, the all-in-one digital music, podcast, on demand and live-streaming radio service. Some of the winners included: Lizzo for “Song of the Year”; Billie Eilish for “Female Artist of the Year”; Jonas Brothers for “Best Duo/Group of the Year”; and Taylor Swift for “Album of the Year.”…..Beasley Media Group brings Delaware Valley radio personality Jessie Jordan to hot AC WJBR-FM, Wilmington “MIX 99.5” as co-host of “The Mix Morning Show with Johnny B and Jessie Jordan.” Jordan has worked on air at WIOQ-FM and WBEB-FM in Philadelphia prior to joining WJBR-FM this past summer. Station program director Eric Johnson says, “We are thrilled to have Jessie join Johnny B weekday mornings. She certainly added sparkle and feel good fun to this summer’s weekend programming. Now we get to start our day with her sunshine each morning!”…..Nick Cannon announces he’s returning to the helm of his Skyview Networks-syndicated radio program after taking time away for a period of reflection, dialogue, and study with some of America’s most notable Jewish community leaders and representatives. Skyview says, “During his hiatus, Nick worked to deepen his understanding of the issues long troubling the Black and Jewish communities and pledged from this point forward to be a leading voice and advocate for positive change, greater understanding. and unity.” Skyview president and COO Steve Jones says, “We are so appreciative of Nick Cannon’s affiliates for their commitment to Nick during his period of reflection. We recognize that he is an incredible entertainer with a powerful voice that will continue to command the interest and attention of radio listeners during this volatile time in America.”…..Connoisseur Media welcomes Janine Johns back into the company fold as general sales manager for its five-station cluster on Long Island that includes: hot AC WALK-FM, adult contemporary WKJY “K-JOY 98.3,” classic hits WBZO “103.1 MAX FM,” rock WWSK “94.3 THE SHARK,” and oldies WHLI-AM.  She’s been serving as senior account manager for Altice since 2015.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

| July 14, 2020

Roland Martin Joins iHeartMedia’s Black Information Network. Journalist Roland Martin is becoming part of iHeartMedia’s BIN – Black Information Network – programming initiative as a commentator. His podcast “#RolandMartinUnfiltered” is also being made available on the iHeartPodcast Network. BIN: Black Information Network is iHeartMedia’s recently launched “24/7 comprehensive national audio news service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate, and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.” In his role with BIN, Martin will exclusively curate custom commentary segments for BIN to be broadcast daily throughout the network’s 24-hour news feed. His commentary will be available on more than 250 platforms and 2,000 devices, as well as on local AM/FM broadcast radio stations in numerous U.S. cities. Director of news operations Tanita Myers says, “When we launched BIN: Black Information Network, we knew how extremely important it was to provide a forum for trusted voices within the Black community and there’s perhaps no one more trusted and reliable in Black media today than Roland Martin. He has built a legacy that has paved the way for other Black journalists and continues to use his platform to bring a much needed perspective on topics that matter to both Black Americans and the nation in general.” Martin comments, “I am excited to provide daily commentaries to BIN. We are living in a time where we need more coverage about the issues facing African Americans. In addition, I am really thrilled to partner with the iHeartPodcast Network to distribute and market the ‘#RolandMartinUnfiltered’ audio podcast. We have seen tremendous growth with the daily video show, and we can’t wait to do the same with the audio podcast.”

TALKERS Magazine to Publish 2020 Heavy Hundred on Thursday (7/16). This Thursday (7/16), the editors of TALKERS magazine will publish the 2020 edition of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America – what has become known over the years as the Heavy Hundred. This year’s Heavy Hundred is compiled by the editors of TALKERS magazine using such factors as: ratings, revenue, courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, recognition, service, talent, and uniqueness. We acknowledge that it is as much art as science and that the results are arguable. The editors would like to acknowledge that the publication of this year’s list was delayed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the radio industry. However, it’s also important to note that it is times like these that talk radio personalities have the opportunity to become an even more important part of their listeners’ lives by delivering the information they need and providing the opportunity to hear debate about and take part in discussions concerning the events affecting their lives. Those who do that well are usually rewarded with success. We look forward to Thursday’s publication of the 2020 Heavy Hundred in which we salute those hosts our editors believe are serving their listeners and advertisers in ways that put them among the “most important.”

Edison: COVID-19 Affects Morning Show Listening. According to data from Edison Research’s Share of Ear study, U.S. radio listeners 13 and older began their morning listening 75 minutes later that before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country. Edison says that “pre-COVID-19, the point in the day when 50% of those in the U.S. age 13+ recorded their first entry of their audio day was around 7:15 am. During Q2 fielding of Share of Ear, it was not until 8:30 am that half of respondents had recorded any audio usage.” Edison Research director Laura Ivey says, “This finding challenges our thinking about how those in the U.S. listen to audio during traditional drive times. With many people staying at home or working from home during Q2, they did not engage with audio as early as they did pre-COVID. This data shows that if Americans continue current work patterns, audio strategies may need to be adjusted.”

Westwood One: Direct-To-Consumer Retail Sales Continues to Surge. The data comes from the second annual Direct-To-Consumer Media Attribution and Awareness study in which Westwood One with LeadsRx and MARU Matchbox is seeking to understand the marketing effectiveness of direct-to-consumer firms and the state of their brand equity. Noting that even before the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce was surging (e-commerce represented 11.8% of total U.S. retail sales up from 6.9% in the first quarter of 2015) the study sought to examine direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands who sell online and the marketing practices that lead to success. Cumulus Media|Westwood One chief insights officer Pierre Bouvard says, “Direct-to-consumer brands are entering their second act now, seeking to grow through market penetration and attract the masses via TV and AM/FM radio. This study validates the brand-building sales effect of broadcast media as TV and radio drive seven times the search and site traffic lift of Google and Facebook.” Another finding from the study is that AM/FM radio is a catalyst for increased effectiveness of Google and Facebook ads during the pandemic. During 2019, Facebook and Google ads saw a 15% increase in performance due to AM/FM radio advertising. During the pandemic in Q2 2020 radio’s impact on Google/Facebook performance surged to 20%. See more here.

IAB: COVID-19 Cuts Projected U.S. Podcast Revenue in Half. The U.S. Podcast Advertising Revenue Study from IAB includes results from 2019, projections for 2020 and beyond, and a detailed industry analysis. The key revenue takeaway is that IAB had projected podcast revenue to rise 29.6% in 2020, but after the coronavirus pandemic struck, that figure has been revised to an increase of 14.7%. The positive news is that projections indicate the third and fourth quarters of 2020 should improve. That said, U.S. podcast revenue is nearing the $1 billion mark. Looking back, the study finds the total market year-over-year revenue estimate increased 48% to $708.1 million in 2019, from FY 2018’s total market estimate of $479.1 million. Another finding relevant to news and news/talk radio pros is that the calculation of 2019 podcast advertising revenues based on genre indicates that news podcasts grabbed 22% of the podcast revenue, leading the pack (comedy was in second place with 17% of the podcast revenue). See more here.

TALKERS News Notes. In Boston, Beasley Media Group is teaming up with RCN Business to award a total of $200,000 in marketing support to assist the Small Business Association Grant Program. The companies say they have created a customized program designed to help local businesses get back up and running, without having to worry about marketing budgets. The program is offering designated small businesses the opportunity to be considered for a $10,000 media schedule to use on one of five Beasley Media Boston radio stations – including sports talk WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub.”. A total of 20 small businesses will be selected to receive a grant to help advertise…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that conservative talk host Joe Walsh’s new program on suburban WCGO-AM, Evanston and the affiliated GAB Radio Network is moving from a delay broadcast slot to the live 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm time slot. Walsh, a former U.S. Representative from Chicago and a former WIND-AM talk host, has been back on the radio for about seven weeks. WCGO general manager Chuck Duncan says, “I think this will probably come as welcome news for his Chicago listeners as they can now interact with him live versus having to listen via stream in order to participate. His call volume has been off the charts, with major activity from New York, Philly, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas and Miami, and his streaming audio numbers are the highest we’ve ever seen from any show on the station — averaging about 2,700 unique instances a day.”…..FOX Sports Radio is touting its success on digital platforms in the absence of live sports. Premiere Networks says June 2020 was FSR’s second-best month ever in terms of podcast listens. “Year over year, the network’s total podcast audience grew 88%, bringing the monthly total to more than 16.5 million for the FOX Sports Radio Podcast Network. On the streaming front, FSR’s audience grew 70% from April 2020 to May 2020. The following month, May 2020 to June 2020, FSR’s streaming audience grew an additional 13%.  Year over year, FSR’s streaming was up 55%, marking the network’s second-best streaming month of all time.”

Radio Pros Paul Vandenburgh and Mimi Griswold Among 2020 Inductees in NY Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The board of directors of the New York State Broadcasters Association announces the Hall of Fame Class of 2020.  This year’s class includes WGDJ-AM, Albany owner, general manager, and talk host Paul Vandenburgh; Galaxy Media Partners VP of programming Mimi Griswold; WNBC-TV, New York anchor David Ushery; and WVVH-TV, Hamptons owners Greg and Ernie Schimizzi.  NYSBA president David Donovan says, “The Class of 2020 represents the best in the broadcasting profession. While the inductees represent a cross section of broadcasters from across the state, they share one key characteristic. They have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to serve their local communities. We are honored to have them join the ranks of the legendary broadcasters from New York.”

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Trump vs Fauci, Schools Opening Debate/Foreign Students Lawsuit, Presidential Race, Portland Unrest, U.S.-China Tensions, Washington Redskins Name Change Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/13). The soaring number of new COVID-19 cases in numerous U.S. states and projections for future cases; President Trump’s divergence from Dr. Tony Fauci on the seriousness of the pandemic; the debate over opening U.S. schools in the fall and 18 attorneys general sue the White House over the foreign students ban; the November presidential election; the protests and clashes with police in Portland, Oregon; the U.S. challenges China’s claim to territory in the South China Sea; and the NFL’s Washington Redskins agree to change the name of the team 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. In Providence, Hall Communications announces that it is elevating afternoon drive host and production director Kevin Palana to program director for country WCTK-FM “Cat Country 98.1.” Palana is taking over for company VP of programming Bob Walker who is moving south to lead programming at the company’s Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida operations. In this role, Palana will also program classic hits WNBH, New Bedford, Massachusetts “BIG 101.3.” Palana says, “I want to thank Tom, Bob, and everyone at Hall for this opportunity. I grew up in this market and there is no place I’d rather live. I look forward to working directly with Courtney Kelley and Brian Mulhern of ‘Cat Country’ mornings and the entire staff in Providence and New Bedford.”…..Townsquare Media’s hot AC KCIX, Boise “MIX 106” brings Angie Morales into the morning drive show alongside John Moug for the “Moug & Angie Mornings” program. Moug says, “Townsquare Media has given us this incredible opportunity to connect with the Treasure Valley in a real way. We’re here to have a ton of fun, laugh until we’re light-headed, but also not hide from the real-world issues that we’re all facing on a daily basis. Plus, the fact that I get to do this show with one of the funniest people I’ve ever met takes the cake!”…..iHeartMedia Boston’s WXKS-FM “Kiss 108” and the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents are launching “Kiss 108’s Chromebooks For Kids” – a fundraising campaign to purchase Chromebooks for local students to use at home and in the classroom. Now through Labor Day weekend, “Kiss 108” is encouraging listeners to make a donation and support students in the community.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

| June 30, 2020

iHeartMedia Launches BIN: Black Information Network. This new venture is a standalone unit within iHeartMedia that will be the “first and only 24/7 national and local all news audio service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate, and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.” iHeartMedia says BIN: Black Information Network “is focused on service to the Black community and providing an information window for those outside the community to help foster communication, accountability and a deeper understanding.” It is being led by Tony Coles – who also serves as division president of iHeartMedia markets group – as president of the unit. Tanita Myers – most recently with Reach Media – will be director of news operations.  iHM says national founding partners are: Bank of America, CVS Health, GEICO, Lowe’s, McDonald’s USA, Sony, 23andMe and Verizon. Content will be available on the iHeartRadio platform and on “dedicated all-news local AM/FM broadcast radio stations providing local news, weather traffic and sports in addition to national news – all focused on the Black community and from the Black perspective – in markets including Atlanta, Augusta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Columbus, GA, Detroit, Greenville, Macon, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Norfolk, Riverside, San Francisco and Seattle, with additional local markets being added over the next 60 days.” BIN will also provide the news service for iHeartMedia’s 91 hip hop, R&B, and Gospel stations across the country. iHM says, “BIN’s unique partner supported business model is tailored to its mission of providing comprehensive, accurate and trusted information and news. The national Founding Partners of BIN: Black Information Network will support building this new platform for Black journalism and trusted news, and this partnership support will enable BIN’s focus to be on providing a reliable, responsible, and responsive news service to the Black community without the daily pressure of ratings.” Coles says, “BIN: Black Information Network will fill a void by providing continual news and objective information with full focus on the Black community. We began developing our 24/7 Black news source last year, and events of the last few weeks, especially the senseless and tragic death of George Floyd, highlighted the need for this network. Now is the time for our voice to be heard, and I could not be prouder of our work and the team we are assembling at BIN.”

PPM Analysis: Has Pandemic-Related Listening Peaked? TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian wraps his “extra” ratings reports on the effects pandemic-related radio listening has had on Nielsen Audio’s PPM survey data by asking if pandemic-related listening has peaked after its unusual April spike. He says that in the PPM era, month-to-month gains or losses of a full share or more are noteworthy. “To underscore the genuine rarity of what transpired in the April 2020 survey period, there were nearly four times as many of these swings then as were registered in April 2019. Indexed against April 2020, roughly 70% as many stations notch declines of -1.0 or greater, while only approximately 40% as many stations rack up a +1.0 or more (May 2020 versus April 2020, 6+).” Kinosian says what’s truly amazing is that 75% of sports talk stations were up (weekly, 6+ AQH share) April to May with no live sports play-by-play since March. See Kinosian’s entire report here.

Chicago Radio Host William Kelly Sues Illinois Governor and Chicago Mayor Over COVID-19 Restrictions. Illinois business owner and WCGO-AM, Chicago talk show host William Kelly – along with three other plaintiffs – are suing Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Major Lori Lightfoot, complaining that their acts violated the plaintiffs’ rights under several sections of the station constitution, violated their rights to equal protection under the law, and that both exceed their authority in several instances. Kelly says, “We have filed suit for the people of Illinois. Every other lawsuit has, so far, missed the mark. Lives are being destroyed. People are going bankrupt. If we succeed, Mayor Lightfoot and Gov. Pritzker will pay a price, in the form of legal damages, for the terrible harm they’ve caused to people’s lives and liberties.” See the complaint here.

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that former WGN-AM station manager and VP of content Todd Manley and his consulting company EarSight Studios is working with Crain’s Chicago Business to produce its podcast, “Crain’s Daily Gist.” Crain’s Chicago Business publisher and executive editor Jim Kirk says, “We are thrilled to partner with Todd to help us grow our audience in audio. We’ve had tremendous success with ‘The Daily Gist’ since its debut last year, and we expect even stronger growth with Todd’s production help.”…..According to a story at Crossing Broad, Entercom Philadelphia personality John Barchard is leaving the sports talk WIP-produced podcast “Go Birds” that he co-hosts with Eliot Shorr-Parks and James Seltzer. Citing family and health as concerns he must put to the forefront, Barchard says the decision to leave was his and he calls it one of the hardest decisions he’s had to make…..ESPN promotes commentator Pablo Torre to full-time host of the “ESPN Daily” podcast. This is part of a new, multi-year contract for Torre, who will also make appearances on ESPN shows such as “Highly Questionable” and “Around the Horn.” Current “ESPN Daily” host Mina Kimes is joining the network’s NFL Live team as an analyst and will host “The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny” football podcast. She will continue to be a key contributor to “ESPN Daily.”

This Year’s Gracie Awards to Be Streamed on September 10. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation announces the 45th Annual Gracie Awards will be streamed virtually on September 10. The Gracies Gala, originally scheduled for May 19, was intended to be held at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills and the Gracies Luncheon, originally scheduled for June 24, was intended to be held in New York City at Cipriani 42nd Street. The 2020 honorees will now be celebrated through a series of digital acceptance speech montages along with a virtual awards ceremony. AWM/F executive director Becky Brooks says, “The leadership of AWM/F, which annually presents the Gracies as our largest fundraiser, has had one singular focus – to appropriately acknowledge and celebrate our outstanding winners in whatever manner is feasible this year. Therefore, we have made the decision to shift this year’s events to virtual experiences to ensure recognition of all winners in this very important year.”

NEED A GUEST? We’ve Got Some Good Ones for You at ‘Expert Guests.’ Talk media hosts, producers, and bookers are advised to check out the newly expanded “Expert Guests” section of TALKERS. It is updated on a regular basis with outstanding experts and personalities available by telephone, Skype, or Zoom for booking on radio, TV, and online talk shows. This week you’ll find a wide array of guests that includes experts on the Chinese Communist Party, the USA gymnastics scandal, presidential race strategy, progressive rock, diversity management, campus safety during police reform, and much more. To visit “Expert Guests,” please click here.

SCOTUS Abortion Ruling, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Black Lives Matter Movement/St. Louis Guns Incident, Russian-Taliban Bounty Allegation, U.S.-China Relations, Iran Issues Trump Arrest Warrant, and Sports Leagues Plan Seasons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/29). The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Louisiana law that would have limited abortion options; the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in re-opening states and projections about future infections; the protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and the case of the St. Louis couple who drew weapons on protesters; the allegation that Russia is offering the Taliban bounties for killing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and President Trump’s reaction to the story; relations between the U.S. and China as the latter clamps down on Hong Kong; Iran issues an arrest warrant for Trump and numerous other officials in the death of General Qasem Soleimani; and sports leagues making plans to open or re-start their seasons 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. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the launch of the nationally syndicated “American Top 40” show, Premiere Networks announces that this weekend (7/4-5) host Ryan Seacrest will begin a yearlong celebration that will include his highlighting an iconic artist moment from the show’s archives every weekend – including interviews with the stars and the show’s creator and original host Casey Kasem. Listeners will also have the opportunity to win prizes and one-of-a-kind experiences throughout the year. Premiere president Julie Talbott says, “Over the past five decades, ‘American Top 40’ has become a cultural touchpoint for millions of people around the globe. Casey Kasem created the gold standard that we carry on today, and we’re so proud of how Ryan has expanded that legacy.  He’s taken the show to new heights over the past 16 years with added reach, engagement, and technology, while continuing to drive impressive results for our partners.” The program debuted the weekend of July 4-5, 1970…..Legendary rock bank U2 is getting its own channel on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The U2 X-Radio channel launches tomorrow (7/1) at 3:00 pm ET.  p.m. ET, exclusively on SiriusXM Channel 32. SiriusXM says, “U2 X-Radio is U2 as you have never heard them before. An extraordinary and unique audio experience exploring the band’s history, idols, influences, and current passions, plus inspiration, conversation, culture, commentary and ideas from the band and guests. All curated by U2. The dedicated and exclusive channel will come to life with music and radio shows that celebrate music from across the globally acclaimed, four-decade career of Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, including their biggest hits, deep cuts, live concert recordings and rarities, as well as music from artists that are connected to or inspire the band.”