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Friday, November 19, 2021

| November 19, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled “Biden Passed Gas” looks back at this past week of 11/15 – 11/19. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Dave Ramsey, talk show host/CEO, Ramsey Solutions; Lars Larson, talk show host, Compass Media Networks; Harry Hurley, talk show host, WPG, Atlantic City; and Sean Spicer, talk show host, NewsmaxTV. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; Pioneer 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.

Salem Los Angeles Re-Ups Horn In AM Drive. A new contract agreement between Jennifer Horn and Salem Media Group will keep Horn as co-host of “The Morning Answer” on Los Angeles news/talk KRLA “AM 870 The Answer.” Horn and Grant Stinchfield co-host the 6:00 am – 9:00 am show, which is simulcast in the Inland Empire (Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario) on Salem’s KTIE “AM 590 The Answer.” Salem vice president of spoken word Phil Boyce remarks, “Waking up Los Angeles is one of the most important jobs in radio – Jen and Grant have figured out the formula. They always have a smile, but can deliver the day’s top news with a dose of reality. Salem is very proud to showcase these hosts.” KRLA & KTIE program director Chuck Tyler notes, “Jen and Grant are the most talented team I have ever had the privilege of working with. They have the rare ability to cover and comment on serious issues, while having some fun at the same time.” Horn adds, “Once in a career you get a golden opportunity and this is it. It has been the ultimate honor working with Salem and our local team to develop a morning show that is making incredible strides in the Los Angeles market. Grant Stinchfield  is the ultimate professional. He brings a background in journalism, a unique perspective, and sense of humor. It’s been so much fun to partner and build chemistry with him.” Newsmax host Stinchfield came aboard to join Horn on KRLA & KTIE six months ago (5/18).

 

Lieberman Lands In The IE as iHM’s Senior VP/Sales. Three-year Townsquare Media Tri-Cities, Washington market president Ryan Lieberman is named senior vice president of sales for iHeartMedia’s five-station cluster in Southern California’s Inland Empire (Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario). Lieberman – whose appointment is effective immediately – spent almost two decades with CBS Radio (now Audacy) in both Los Angeles and Chicago. iHeartMedia San Diego, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario president Melissa Forrest states, “We look forward to having Ryan on board. His knowledge, leadership, and passion will be a tremendous addition to the region and to our team.” Lieberman adds, “I am thrilled to return to Southern California as part of the iHeartMedia family by joining the Riverside team. Having spent the better part of my career competing against iHeartMedia, and being envious of how their teams execute marketing solutions for their clients, I’m excited to lend my expertise to an already high-functioning team.” News/talk KFOO “1440 AM Black Information Network” and sports talk KPWK “AM 1350 Fox Sports” are among iHeartMedia’s Inland Empire outlets, as are rhythmic CHR KGGI; rock KTMQ; and alternative KMYT.

 

iHeart Pledges To Create 180 Jobs in Downtown Nashville. The iHeartMedia commitment would generate 180 jobs in downtown Nashville over the next five years. While the company’s “Music City” radio stations (news/talk WLAC “Talk Radio 98.3 & 1510”; Black Information Network affiliate WNRQ-HD2; classic rock WNRQ-FM; CHR WRVW; urban contemporary WUBT; and country WSIX) are housed in a separate Music Row facility, the new jobs will be based in the company’s 40,000 square-foot downtown facility, which opened last year. As first reported by the Nashville Business Journal, the Tennessee Funding Board, “unanimously approved a $1.25 million grant to iHeartMedia [yesterday, 11/18]. The company was finalizing a lease as the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early-2020.” At the time, iHM was billing the downtown location as a “second headquarters” for its digital division. The state grant reportedly equals 44% of the $2.85 million that iHeartMedia is spending on its Nashville expansion. Per the NBJ article and state records, “The grant will be used for building retrofit, fixture improvements, lease payments, and tenant improvements. A headcount did not become public until Wednesday’s meeting of the Funding Board.” State records indicate that the 180 jobs will pay an average of $51.82 an hour.

Report: WarnerMedia Planning An Audience-Measurement Data Operation. While this would be for television, Variety reports that WarnerMedia is directly targeting Nielsen Holdings, which – of course – has had a stranglehold on the TV ratings business for decades. According to Variety, WarnerMedia is talking to as many as 15 different measurement vendors with expectations it can test possibilities in next year’s first quarter. WarnerMedia data/research chief Andrea Zapata opines to Variety, “There has got to be a better alternative in measurement solutions.” At the same time though, she comments, “Nielsen is definitely a part of our business as usual and can earn a place in our future.” As the James Aycock-written Variety article mentions, “Nielsen has taken a number of hits from its media partners, particularly complaints of mismeasurement during the COVID-19 pandemic that culminated in losing its MRC accreditation.”

Today’s Homeowner Media Acquires On The House Media. After a 35-year home improvement media career, James and Morris Carey (The Carey Brothers, pictured at the right) are retiring to focus on their family remodeling business, and have sold their On The House Media to Today’s Homeowner Media. The final installment of “On The House with the Carey Brothers,” will air on its 100+ affiliates Christmas Day (12/25). Then one week later (1/1/2022), Today’s Homeowner Media will take ownership of On The House Media’s website, digital content, and social channels. Today’s Homeowner Media president/host Danny Lipford comments, “I’m both happy and sad about James and Morris’ decision to hang up their headphones and step down from their 35-year home improvement media career. They are legends in the business and will be missed. I’m glad they’ve enjoyed such a successful run, and grateful that I’m able to carry on their media tradition and legacy. Today’s Homeowner looks forward to featuring their articles, videos, and, hopefully, airing on the many radio stations they’ve earned during their career.” James Carey notes, “Morris and I have been moved by the tremendous outpouring that we have received since announcing our retirement. The positive comments, and expression of gratitude and support have been overwhelming and heartening.” Morris Carey adds, “Danny [Lipford] is a warm, pleasant and knowledgeable guy. I can’t think of anyone to whom I would rather pass on the torch.” Currently in its 13th year, the weekly, two-hour “Today’s Homeowner” is hosted by Lipford and author Joe Truini; it has 320 affiliates.

TALKERS News Notes. Recent Comscore data details continued growth of Newsmax’s online properties, including Newsmax.com. According to Comscore, Newsmax is now the #2 conservative news brand online, behind Fox News. Newsmax reports that its online increase mirrors “tremendous audience growth.” Meanwhile – per Nielsen – Newsmax TV is the fourth-highest-rated cable news channel … Syndicated host Erick Erickson’s annual three-hour “Erick Erickson Christmas Show” combines Erickson’s theological background; conversations about Christmas; and Christmas music. “Christmas is the perfect time to focus on the big picture and not the daily news headlines,” he comments. “[Our] Christmas show is designed so everyone can come together, exhale after a crazy year, and focus on the holidays.” Cox Media Group news/talk WSB-AM & WSBB-FM “Atlanta’s News & Talk” is the flagship for “The Erick Erickson Christmas Show,” which is available on a first come/first served basis. It can be broadcast anytime from 6:00 am -12:00 midnight on (Friday) December 24 and (Saturday) December 25 … The five-station Cox Media Group Tampa cluster – which includes news/talk WHPT “102.5 The Bone” – is teaming with Metropolitan Ministries today (Friday, 11/19) to host “Feed The Bay.” All five CMG Tampa outlets are encouraging listeners to donate food items to Metropolitan Ministries’ donation location. Cox Media Group Tampa vice president and market manager Keith Lawless notes, “This is the ninth consecutive year that Cox Media Group Tampa has been a partner with Metropolitan Ministries for the holidays. We are starting to get back to normal, but there is still a tremendous need to feed those in our community.”

U.S. Podcast Report. Top network reports are ranked by average weekly downloads and average weekly users in accordance with v2.1 of the IAB Podcast technical guidelines. They are measured by Triton’s Podcast Metrics and cover the reporting period of October 4 – October 31 (2021). Stitcher Media remained first on the top networks report with 39.5 million average weekly downloads/10.7 million average weekly users. It was followed by NPR with 32.3 million average weekly downloads/7.2 million average weekly users. Coming in third was Audacy with 31.8 million average weekly downloads/10.2 million average weekly users. Among the top twenty networks, new podcast network ViacomCBS ranked ninth in average weekly downloads/tenth in average weekly users. New shows debuting this period include “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah: Ears Edition” (ViacomCBS); “Over My Dead Body” (Wondery); “Fantasy Football Today” (Viacom CBS); and “The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe” (Audioboom). Full results of the U.S. Podcast Report can be seen at https://www.tritondigital.com/resources/podcast-reports.

IBA, Vipology Sign Multiyear Extension. The pact with the Independent Broadcasters Association retains Vipology as IBA’s exclusive digital consultant and partner. In its first year, Vipology created the IBA’s member site; scheduled/moderated over 60 info-webinars; and handled IBA’s national contesting. Independent Broadcasters Association chief executive officer Ron Stone comments, “There would be no IBA without Vipology’s vision, technology, and execution. I’m thrilled to continue to have Vipology on-board to advise and provide the best digital products and services.” Vipology chief executive officer Chris Peaslee notes, “We are thrilled to continue to work with the IBA; dedicated to the digital success of the IBA and its members; and offering the latest digital solutions at the industry’s lowest prices. We’re proud to be standing side-by-side with  Ron [Stone] and IBA members.” The IBA was established last year (July 2020) to serve the needs of independent radio stations and groups across the country; it represents a membership base of 1,500 stations.

California Combo Rebrands From VPR To KVPR. As of this past Wednesday (11/17), Valley Public Radio (NPR affiliate) news/talk-classical KVPR, Fresno and KPRX, Bakersfield rebrands from “VPR” to “KVPR” and has a new logo. A driving force for the switch was a conflict with Vermont Public Radio, which uses the “VPR” name, as well. KVPR president and general manager Joe Moore states that, “Over the years, we’ve gone by so many different names – ‘KVPR,’ ‘FM-89,’ ‘VPR,’ ‘KPRX,’ ‘Valley Public Radio,’ and ‘NPR.’ It has led to clutter, and at times confusion. As more and more users access our content online, ‘FM-89’ has proven to be less than adequate as a name for the station. There are multiple ‘FM-89s’ across the country, and the term isn’t really relevant for non-broadcast content.” The rebranding includes a renaming of its Audiophile Magazine to the KVPR Magazine.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

| November 2, 2021

Bongino Off the Radio This Week; Still Hosting Podcast. This may be the week that the rift between Westwood One parent company Cumulus Media and nationally syndication talk host Dan Bongino is settled – one way or the other. Bongino’s 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET show is being guest hosted this week after the syndicator ran best-of shows last week during his absence. At issue here is Bongino’s stand against the company’s vaccine mandates and his publicly calling out the company and demanding it rescind the requirement that all employees get vaccinated. He is still producing his daily, one-hour podcast for the iHeartRadio platform this week and on it he’s addressing vaccine mandates and his belief that they are ultimately doing the nation more harm than good. As far as Cumulus Media is concerned, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which the company retreats on its vaccine mandate and since Bongino is obviously serious about his ultimatum, it looks like the two parties are likely headed for a separation.

Interep Radio Founder Ralph Guild Passes at 93. Legendary radio sales figure Ralph Guild – long credited with creating what is now the standard operating structure for television and radio rep companies, passed away yesterday (11/1) in Palm Beach, Florida at the age of 93. Guild launched Interep Radio in 1981 to offer the communications and marketing expertise he believed radio stations would come to expect from their representatives. Created as a holding company, Interep brought independent rep firms together under a single corporate umbrella and grew to over $1 billion in sales. In 1986, under Guild’s stewardship, Interep launched Group W Radio Sales, which ultimately became CBS Radio Sales. Other dedicated rep companies created by Interep included ABC Radio Sales. Guild began his radio representation career in 1957 as a young executive at McGavren Radio – a San Francisco-based firm devoted to representing radio advertising. The company sent him to New York to open their first east coast office, and by 1967 McGavren Radio had become McGavren Guild. In 1973, Guild had become the company’s president and chief operating officer, and later its chairman. Guild’s son Marc, who was also a well-known radio industry executive, passed away in 2020. Guild is survived by his children, Gale, Lynn, Sharon, and Adam, his 16 grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

Townsquare Media 2021 Third Quarter Net Revenue Up 17%. The company reveals the results of its 2021 third quarter financial report and says net revenue was $111.3 million, up 16.7% compared to the same period in 2020 and just 1% shy of the net revenue in Q3 of 2019 – just prior to the pandemic. Net income for the quarter was $12.9 million, up from $1.3 million in Q3 of 2020. Townsquare Media reports its business in three segments: Townsquare Interactive, the company’s digital marketing solutions subscription business; Advertising, which includes broadcast and digital advertising products and solutions; and Live Events, which is comprised of the company’s live events, including concerts, expositions and other experiential events. Townsquare Interactive net subscription revenue increased $2.9 million, or 16.2%, to $21.1 million, Advertising net revenue increased $10.3 million, or 13.3%, to $87.4 million, and Live Events net revenue increased $2.7 million to $2.7 million, each as compared to the third quarter of 2020. Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson says, “Townsquare’s strong performance continued in the third quarter of 2021, highlighted by robust year-over-year net revenue, Adjusted EBITDA, and net income growth.  Adjusted EBITDA surpassed 2019 levels for the fourth consecutive quarter, and net revenue was at 99% of 2019 levels… As a Digital First Company with approximately 47% of total net revenue (excluding political) coming from our digital platform and solutions, we continue to separate ourselves from the local competition. In the third quarter, total digital revenue increased 20% year-over-year (+29% vs. Q3 2019), and we expect double-digit digital net revenue growth to continue, fueling the growth of our digital platform from $188 million of revenue (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of September 30, 2021) to $250 million in just three short years. Our digital revenue growth, combined with strong profit growth, allowed us to reduce net leverage to 4.9x as of September 30, a meaningful reduction of 2.9x year over year. I am incredibly proud of the Townsquare Team and the results we have delivered to date, which sets us up to noticeably exceed 2019’s Adjusted EBITDA in FY 2021, marking a record profit level for our company. Although COVID is far from over, we have been able to achieve our revenue and EBITDA targets faster than we had initially planned for while gaining market share. As such, we are quickly moving towards our ultimate goal of being the number one local media company in each of our 67 markets.”

Beasley Media Group Q3 Net Revenue Up 26.7%. For the third quarter of 2021, Beasley Media Group reports net revenue of $62.9 million, an increase of 26.7% over the same period in 2020. The company reports a net loss of $1.6 million, down from the $2.7 million net loss reported in Q3 of 2020. Station operating income rose to $11.7 million, up 36% from the $8.1 million reported in the third quarter of 2020. Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Beasley’s strong third quarter financial results reflect the operating and financial benefits of our digital transformation and revenue diversification initiatives, which are becoming more visible as we move deeper into the post-pandemic economic recovery. Accelerating demand from consumers and advertisers for our premium content and multi-platform marketing solutions drove third quarter net revenue of $62.9 million, marking a 6% increase over second quarter 2021 levels and a 27% increase over the comparable prior year period. Top line growth, combined with the meaningful actions we have taken over the past year to permanently reduce costs and improve operating efficiencies, resulted in a significant 45% year-over-year increase in SOI to $11.7 million, as well as positive free cash flow of approximately $1.7 million. While the Delta variant impacted some markets during the quarter, strong growth in core radio advertising and digital advertising revenue resulted in year-over-year total revenue increases across nearly all of our markets, with healthy double-digit growth in Atlanta, Boca Raton, Boston, Detroit, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Tampa and Wilmington. The growth was primarily driven by a significant increase in sports betting revenue. Beasley continues to generate positive results from strategic investments in our digital and esports infrastructure and content production capabilities, which are further strengthening the long-term competitive position of our diversified media platform. Growing consumer and advertiser demand for Beasley’s digital audio content drove a 67% year-over-year increase in digital revenue, with digital accounting for 13% of total third quarter revenue. With our ongoing focus on premium audio and digital content, Beasley’s digital network delivered record digital audience impressions for the second consecutive quarter, with total digital impressions growing 13% over the prior year period, including a 17% year-over-year increase in our total digital streaming audience. On the esports front, we recently launched AXLE-R8, our first expansion team marking our entry into the Rocket League Championship series, which attracts a highly engaged and growing young audience. As we continue to build our esports portfolio, we remain focused on looking for new, innovative ways to monetize this content to drive profitable long-term revenue growth. In summary, we continue to make significant progress on our near-term goal of returning all of our revenue sources to pre-pandemic levels, as we integrate our leading broadcast platform with our fast-growing digital solutions while maintaining deep local connections and reach within our markets.”

Duke Brooks Exits Resort Broadcasting’s WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach. Talk show host Duke Brooks tells TALKERS magazine that he left his position as host of the afternoon drive program at Resort Broadcasting’s news/talk WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on October 15. He says, “I’ve been honored to have the company of thousands of Delmarvans every weekday afternoon for over six years, but WGMD plans a new programming direction in which I have no experience. That, among several other reasons, meant that it was time for me to depart Resort Broadcasting, LLC.” Brooks first joined WGMD in the fall of 2009 as evening talk show host but, along with several other staffers, was let go on February 2, 2011. He then worked as communication director for the Sussex County GOP and then for Kevin Wade’s (R-DE) campaigns for the U.S. Senate. He returned to WGMD on March 13, 2015.

Fisher House Radio Special Available for Veterans Day Weekend. In time for this year’s recognition of Veteran’s Day, Fisher House Foundation announces that The Jeff Wyatt Group has a free, fresh edition of “The Fisher House Story” for 2021 NOW available for download. You can hear the demo, register, and download today here. “The Fisher House Story – Peace of Mind and a Place to Heal” is a radio special provided in varying lengths for news/talk radio stations as well as a 30-minute public affairs show for ALL formats in the U.S. and around the world. Fisher House Foundation provides a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. Fisher Houses provide temporary free lodging so families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis because “A Family’s LOVE is Good Medicine.” The 3-hour, 1-hour, 25 and 30-minute radio specials are hosted by long-time radio personality Jeff Wyatt and features stories of our nation’s heroes, the families who serve by their side, and how Fisher House plays a role in their journey. This informational talk show will leave listeners feeling inspired during Veterans Day weekend (Veterans Day is Thursday, November 11) and through the holiday season, sharing stories of amazing service members, veterans, and their families.

Biden Spending Bills, Election Day, COVID-19, SCOTUS Abortion Law Case, COP26, and Kyle Rittenhouse Trial to Begin Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/1). The status of President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and $1.75 trillion economic plan and Congress likely to act on them this week; today’s tight gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine mandates, and vaccine approval for children; the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments in the case of Texas’ restrictive abortion law; the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow; and the beginning of the trial of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

| October 20, 2021

Liberty Media Sells All Shares of iHeartMedia Stock. The company is exiting the broadcast radio business after selling 5.94 million shares of iHeartMedia’s Class A common stock – a trade that’s worth about $150 million. Variety has the story and reports that “between November 2017 and February 2018, Liberty Media purchased $600 million of iHeartMedia debt for a total of $490 million. After iHeartRadio reduced its debt load through a bankruptcy settlement, the bonds were converted into about 6.9 million shares.” iHeartMedia issued the following statement: “We appreciate Liberty’s support for iHeartMedia, originally as a holder of debt which then converted into a meaningful equity stake, and we are delighted that they received a good return on their investment.” The iHeartMedia stock was part of the company’s Liberty SiriusXM Group that owns 78.1% of SiriusXM stock, 32% of Live Nation stock, plus small percentages of Formula One Group and the Atlanta Braves.

Audacy Acquires WideOrbit. There are no financial details included in the Audacy press release as the company announces its acquisition of “an exclusive, perpetual license to WideOrbit’s digital audio streaming technology and the related assets and operations of WO Streaming. This acquisition gives Audacy control of its product roadmap to deliver enhanced consumer-facing streaming features for its 170 million monthly listeners.” At this time, it’s unclear if this deal is the “small digital acquisition for approximately $40 million” that Audacy referenced last week when it announced it was offering $45 million in senior secured second-lien notes to raise capital, but it appears likely. Audacy will operate WO Streaming under the name AmperWave. The entire WO Streaming team, led by John Morris, SVP streaming, joins Audacy. Audacy chairman, president and CEO David Field comments, “The WideOrbit digital audio tech business perfectly complements our organic investments to make Audacy’s digital platform the top choice for listeners, clients and partners.”

Boston Sports Talkers ‘Toucher & Rich’ Launch Syndication Effort. WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” morning drive duo “Toucher & Rich” Fred Toucher (left) and Rich Shertenlieb (right) – along with cast member Jon Wallach – begin a regional syndication effort on Monday (10/25). Beasley Media Group says the show recently celebrated 12 years on ‘98.5 The Sports Hub’ as the dominant program for Male and Adult audiences 25-54. Beasley Boston VP and market manager Mary Menna says, “We are thrilled to be able to bring Toucher & Rich’s unique brand of content and humor to sports fans throughout New England through this syndication initiative. The T&R team is already a favorite with their passionate audience. We look forward to expanding that loyal audience through this new affiliation!” Toucher says, “Being syndicated has always been a career goal and I am very excited to start this new challenge.” Rich adds, “I couldn’t be more excited to launch ‘Toucher & Rich’ into syndication. Our listeners have always been the most loyal in radio, and I’m thrilled to introduce our show to a whole new audience of potential T&R lifers.”

Bob Kessler to Anchor Midday News at WGN-AM, Chicago. Longtime WGN Radio news reporter Bob Kessler is now anchoring midday news Tuesdays through Fridays. Kessler joined WGN in 1994 as a producer and became a weekend newsroom anchor in 1997. Kessler’s work has been recognized with an award from the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters’ Association in 2019. WGN news director Ryan Burrow says, “Bob’s been an integral part of the WGN family for decades. He’s a great newsman and capably leads the anchor desk. A true teammate, he brings a positive energy and personality to the newsroom. I’m glad we’re able to expand his role on the news team.”

WWO: WARC Study on the Value of Audio to Marketers. In this week’s blog from CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One’s Audio Active Group, a study from marketing advisory firm WARC and iHeartMedia is examined. Titled, “The Investment Gap: Understanding the Value of Audio,” it reveals “a major audio investment gap for marketers.” It notes that 1) Consumers spend 31% of their media time with audio, yet audio is only allocated 8.8% of media budgets. Other media represent 91.2% of ad spend and 69% of consumer media use; 2)  Marketers overspend on digital and TV, and underspend on audio: WARC’s analysis reveals brands are overspending on TV and digital by 32%, and underspending on audio by a factor of 3X; 3) AM/FM radio generates a +36% increase in monthly reach for the average brand: An incremental reach analysis of 15 P&G brands conducted via Nielsen Media Impact, the media optimization platform, reveals the average P&G brand experiences a +36% increase in reach to their TV plan through the use of AM/FM radio; 4) The younger the demographic, the greater the lift in reach: Across P&G’s 15 brands, the lift in reach generated by AM/FM radio keeps growing in younger demographics. Among persons 35-44, the average P&G brand realizes a +63% increase in reach due to AM/FM radio. Among persons 25-34, AM/FM radio doubles the TV reach. See the blog here.

Cumulus Podcast Network to Join Strata Platform. A new partnership between Comcast’s FreeWheel, Cumulus Media, and Triton Digital brings Cumulus Podcast Network’s premium podcast inventory into the Strata media stewardship platform. The FreeWheel’s Strata allows agencies to automate the podcast buying process within their existing platform workflow, including receiving electronic proposals and sending electronic orders. Through this partnership, Strata users will be able to find and buy impression-based premium podcast inventory from Cumulus Media that is validated by metrics including downloads, as measured by Triton Digital’s Podcast Metrics measurement service. FreeWheel says this will mark the first time a podcast publisher has surfaced titles and lineups, which are curated groups of podcasts designed to reach specific desired demographics and psychographics, with metrics measured by industry leader Triton Digital, in a media buying platform. Cumulus SVP, digital operations and business development Larry Linietsky says, “Cumulus Media is pleased to expand its partnerships with FreeWheel and Triton to provide current and future marketing partners efficient access to the Cumulus Podcast Network’s vast offering of premium podcasts spanning entertainment, news, sports, politics, business, money and technology as well as the voices from our 413 stations.” Triton president of marketing development John Rosso adds, “Triton is pleased to be partnering with FreeWheel and Cumulus Media to provide advertisers with streamlined access to trustworthy, aggregated podcast data within their media buying system for the first time. Our IAB-accredited Podcast Metrics lineups provide advertisers with consistent data across networks and publishers, making the process of discovering, planning, analyzing and ultimately buying podcasts at scale seamless and efficient.” Strata users will be able to access Cumulus Podcast Network’s premium podcast inventory in the Strata system beginning in the 4th quarter of 2021.

Stonecom Adds Sports Talker to Livingston, Tennessee Market. The Overton County News reports that Stonecom debuts a new sports talk radio station for the Livingston, Tennessee market. “Sports Radio 104.7 emanates from WKXD-HD3 and is heard on translator W282AG at 104.7 FM. Stonecom president and GM Larry Stone says, “We know sports fans in this area are passionate about our local teams. During all the years doing Titans Caravan stops in Cookeville and Crossville, I saw that first-hand. It’s Big Orange Country with a huge love of everything orange. We love our championship high school sports around the region, and support the hard work of Tech athletes. ‘Sports Radio 104.7’ will serve that passion.” Programming will include “Outkick 360” featuring Jonathan Hutton, Chad Withrow and Paul Kuharsky, “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and more.

January 6 Investigation/Bannon Held in Contempt, COVID-19, Supply Chain Woes/Inflation, Biden Reconciliation Bill, Afghanistan Withdrawal Investigation, Chinese Military Aggression, Southern Border Crisis, Kidnapped Missionaries, and Facebook Rebrand Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/19). The investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the committee’s vote to refer Stephen K. Bannon to the DOJ for criminal prosecution; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., booster shots, and mask & vaccine mandates; the effects of the supply chain breakdown on the availability of consumer goods and soaring retail prices; President Joe Biden considers reducing his $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill to $1.9 trillion; the State Department inspector general’s investigation into the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan; China’s development of hypersonic weapons and its aggression against Taiwan; the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border; the 17 missionaries being held for $17 million ransom in Haiti; and rumors that Facebook is planning a rebrand were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Fresh Edition of ‘The Fisher House Story’ Available for Veterans Day and the Holidays. There’s new programming from the Fisher House Foundation for this Veterans Day as well as for the holiday season. The Jeff Wyatt Group has produced a fresh edition of “The Fisher House Story” for 2021 available for download. “The Fisher House Story – Peace of Mind and a Place to Heal” is a radio special provided in varying lengths for news/talk radio stations as well as a 30-minute public affairs show for all formats in the U.S. and around the world. Fisher House Foundation provides a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. Fisher Houses provide temporary free lodging so families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis because “A Family’s LOVE is Good Medicine.” The program is available in three-hour, one-hour, 25- and 30-minute radio special versions and is hosted by long-time radio personality Jeff Wyatt. It features stories of America’s heroes, the families who serve by their side, and how Fisher House plays a role in their journey. This informational talk show will leave listeners feeling inspired during Veterans Day weekend (Veterans Day is Thursday, November 11) and through the holiday season, sharing stories of amazing service members, veterans, and their families. Host Jeff Wyatt’s love and respect for our military will only amplify these radio specials, scheduled to deliver Oct. 28 for potential airing Veterans Day weekend, during the holiday season, and for Memorial Day and 4th of July weekends as well. You can hear a demo and see the clock at: radio.fisherhouse.org. For more information on this radio special, available cash and barter free, contact Jeff Wyatt at 301-518-3640 or jw@thejeffwyattgroup.com.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

| September 15, 2021

NAB Pulls Back from In-Person NAB Show in Las Vegas. This year’s NAB Show in Las Vegas – planned for October 9-13 – is being cancelled. NAB executive vice president and managing director of global connections and events Chris Brown issued the following statement today (9/15): “For more than a year we have worked tirelessly to bring our industry together safely in Las Vegas at NAB Show. Unfortunately, the pandemic and surge of the Delta variant has presented unexpected and insurmountable challenges for our global community. As we have always kept the best interest and safety of the industry as our priority, it has become apparent in the face of these challenges that we can no longer effectively host NAB Show or our co-located events, the Radio Show and Sales and Management Television Exchange, in person. NAB Show is the premiere destination for the media and entertainment industry and we will not move forward with a show that delivers anything less than the excellence our community has come to expect and deserves from us. While we are disappointed that we will not be together again in person next month, we look forward to converging at the 2022 NAB Show, April 23-27, 2022, to reignite our passion for our business and focus on a bright future ahead. Stay tuned for details regarding virtual options for accessing select 2021 NAB Show content through NAB Amplify.” Reacting to the NAB announcement, TALKERS founder Michael Harrison states, “This is an extremely unfortunate turn of events. As a convention-planning organization, TALKERS empathizes with the amount of forethought, coordination, and resources that are invested in presenting these industry gatherings. No doubt, this is a tough blow for the NAB and the industry.  At TALKERS we were very lucky to be able to squeeze our live conference in this year on June 11 which seemed to be a window of calm opportunity between two waves of the coronavirus. I strongly suggest those who have yet to view the video recordings of every session – many that dealt productively with radio’s existential issues and are still extremely pertinent – do so at their convenience.” To view the videos from Talkers 2021, please click here.

Audacy and Cumulus Media Strike Deal for Digital Distribution Partnership. This content distribution deal between Audacy and Cumulus Media puts streaming audio from Cumulus’s 413 radio stations and its portfolio of podcasts onto the Audacy digital platform. Cumulus SVP of digital operations and business development Larry Linietsky says, “We’re delighted with this opportunity to expand listeners’ ability to discover and connect with our stations and podcasts through the Audacy app. This partnership is in sync with our strategy of distributing our content through multiple platforms to make it available anywhere and anytime people want to enjoy it.” Audacy VP of business development Corey Podolsky comments, “The addition of Cumulus’s expansive portfolio of leading radio stations enhances and bolsters Audacy’s position as the fastest growing digital platform for radio listeners. Audacy looks forward to building on this initial partnership with Cumulus and will continue to develop new and innovative ways to super serve our listeners.”

Bret Gogoel Named Producer for WLS-AM, Chicago’s John Howell Show. The afternoon drive “John Howell Show” at Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago has a new executive producer as Bret Gogoel is named to the position. Gogoel takes over the role vacated by Mallory Vor Broker who was recently promoted to the news department covering city hall and the political beat for the station. She fills the role held for years by Bill Cameron, who retired. Gogoel has been a technical producer, fill-in producer, and podcast manager for WLS-AM since 2017 and was former play-by-play announcer for the Windy City Bulls basketball team. WLS-AM program director Stephanie Tichenor says, “I am delighted to announce that Bret Gogoel will be the new executive producer of ‘The John Howell Show.’ Bret has worked for Cumulus for over four years and during his tenure has worn many hats including producing the Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox, the PoPo Report, the Trip Sisters and more. Bret has also been an integral ‘pinch-hitter’ producer who has regularly filled in to produce drive time programs. He is the perfect fit for our afternoon drive team.” Gogoel comments, “I couldn’t be more excited to step into the big shoes left by Mallory and work with a consummate professional like John Howell. I hope to take everything I’ve learned from my time here at WLS and continue to put out a top-notch product.”

‘Chad & Nate’ New Late Morning Show on KKFN, Denver. The exit of Orlando “The Big O” Franklin from Bonneville’s sports talk KKFN-FM, Denver “104.3 The Fan” to join the staff of the San Francisco 49ers forced the station to make some programming changes. Now, KKFN program director Raj Sharan announces that Chad Brown (left) and Nate Jackson (right) will partner for the “Chad and Nate” show that will air from 9:00 am to 11:00 am beginning September 20. He says, “We’ve received incredible feedback from listeners on both Chad and Nate, hoping to hear them more regularly on the station. Chad and Nate’s contrasting personalities and insightful perspectives will create a unique and entertaining program every day.” As a result of the new schedule, the programs that follow will all begin one hour earlier. Additionally, Sandy Clough – who co-hosted with Franklin – moves to evenings where he’ll work with Shawn Drotar on the new night show, “Sandy and Shawn.” Bonneville Denver SVP and market manager Bob Call adds, “I’m excited we can bring Chad and Nate together. We’ve been looking for a way to get them both involved in our lineup on a daily basis. In addition, teaming Sandy with Shawn in the evening will give Denver sports fans an objective, unbiased and unaffiliated postgame show following Nuggets, Avalanche and Rockies games.”

iHeartMedia Albany’s Kristen Delaney to Retire. Radio sales and management pro Kristen Delaney is retiring from her position as area president for iHeartMedia Albany, effective December 31, 2021. Delaney began her broadcasting career in 1989 as an account executive in Utica. She’s been serving as area president for Albany and Poughkeepsie, New York and Sussex, New Jersey since 2011. iHeartMedia Markets Group president Hartley Adkins says, “Rarely do you see someone so inspiring and skilled at their profession as Kristen Delaney. After almost 23 years with iHeartMedia, she still treated every day as a new adventure and those of us in her orbit all benefited. I applaud her in taking one more adventurous step to retirement. Kristen’s presence will be missed beyond words.”

WJCW-AM, Johnson City Host Tim Cable Succumbs to COVID-19. The Johnson City Press reports the death of WJCW-AM, Johnson City, Tennessee morning drive co-host Tim Cable at age 60 after a battle with COVID-19. Cable co-hosted the “Thinking Out Loud” morning drive show with Carl Swan. He was a longtime media figure in the market and was well known for his WJHL-TV series “Cable Country.” In addition his morning show work, he served as play-by-play announcer for Daniel Boone High School and David Crockett High School sports. Cable was a graduate of Hampton High School and East Tennessee State University. He started his radio career at WBEJ in Elizabethton before venturing into television where he anchored news, weather and sports.

TALKERS News Notes. Tomorrow night (9/16), Nissan Stadium in Nashville – home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans – will be the site of a high school football game between the White House Blue Devils and Waverly Central Tigers. The latter school’s football facilities were destroyed by the recent flooding that hit the state. Titans Radio broadcaster Mike Keith approached Titans Radio and WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” operations manager Paul Mason about broadcasting the game and Mason says the result was a unanimous “yes.” Mason adds, “The entire Titans Radio team is humbled and looking forward to giving Waverly and White House an NFL broadcast experience. We can’t wait to hear ‘Tigers Radio’ Thursday night on ‘104-5 The Zone.’”…..Tom Griswold (pictured here in the studio) returned to his role as host of “The BOB & TOM Show” yesterday (9/14) after successful heart valve replacement surgery in mid-August and recovery at home in Indianapolis. Westwood One syndicates the program nationally (and on the American Forces Network worldwide) and says, “The comedic ringmaster of The BOB & TOM Show’s talent-packed ensemble cast was back in the studio in fine form this morning, entertaining the show’s loyal fans across the U.S.”

Broadcasters Foundation of America Raises $200,000-plus at 2021 Golf Tourney. The Broadcasters Foundation of America raised more than $200,000 to help broadcasters in need during Monday’s 2021 Celebrity Golf Tournament at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Briarcliff Manor, New York. More than 150 broadcasters and celebrities turned out to help support broadcasters who have experienced terrible loss due to illness or unforeseen disaster. BFoA president Jim Thompson says, “The Celebrity Golf Tournament is one of our biggest annual fundraising events. We had to cancel last year’s tournament due to the pandemic, and we are grateful to return this year and to have strong support from our sponsors and players. The money comes at a time when we are helping more broadcasters and their families than ever before. Our thanks also go to everyone who has generously supported the mission of the Broadcasters Foundation with a donation.”

Gavin Newsom Recall Election, COVID-19, Peril Book Allegations, Afghanistan Exit, Texas Abortion Law, January 6 Investigation/Justice for J6 Rally, Korean Tensions, Wildfires and Flooding, and Norm MacDonald Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/14). California Governor Gavin Newsom survives recall election; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, the battle over vaccine & mask mandates, and the deaths of anti-vaxxers; the new Bob Woodward book Peril details steps General Mark Milley took to prevent former President Donald Trump from “going rogue”; the U.S. military’s exit from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s control of the nation; the legal moves being attempted to combat Texas’ restrictive abortion law; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the September 18 “Justice for J6” rally; tensions on the Korean peninsula as both North and South Korea launch test missiles; the wildfires plaguing the U.S. West and the drenching rains of tropical depression Nicholas; and comedian and former “SNL” star Norm MacDonald dies were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

| March 17, 2021

Saga Adds New Talk Station to Clarksville, Tennessee Cluster. The Saga Communications station group in Clarksville, Tennessee – known as 5 Star Media Group – has acquired WNZE-AM and translator W288DQ from Consolidated Media (the AM’s previous calls were WJZM). According to the report at Clarksville Now, the news/talk station – called “NewZee 105.5 FM and 1400 AM” is airing a slate of nationally syndicated talk programming including: Compass Media Networks’ “This Morning with Gordon Deal,” Salem Radio Network’s Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager, Premiere NetworksSean Hannity, Westwood One’s Mark Levin, and more. Speaking about the acquisition, 5 Star Media Group general manager Katie Gambill says, “When this station became available, we saw it as a golden opportunity to round out our portfolio with radio talk while also expanding what we can do with local news. And it gives our business partners new ways to reach more customers.”

KTRS, St. Louis to Celebrate 25 Years Next Month. The CH Holdings-owned news/talk outlet KTRS-AM is preparing to celebrate its 25th anniversary next month. Current KTRS morning host and program director McGraw Milhaven says, “It was April 1996, when 550 KTRS radio signed on in St. Louis. At the time, the St. Louis business community, upset that corporate radio was gutting the fabric of St. Louis, started KTRS with the idea of bringing local back to local. The corporate radio reaction? ‘Local talk? All day long? With no syndication? We give it six months.’ Well 25 years later KTRS is celebrating 25 years of local talk radio. Some changes along the way. The general manager who put the deal together, longtime St. Louis radio executive Tim Dorsey, retired and was replaced by his brother Mark Dorsey, but the mission continues. Local talk, all day long. With great support from the local St. Louis community and local businesses, KTRS has only grown stronger over the years. Now, 25 years later, local talk is more important than ever and KTRS is here to prove once and for all that local radio can not only survive but thrive.”

Westwood One Blog: Podcasting Data from ‘Infinite Dial’ Most Compelling. Calling two of the slides from Edison Research’s and Triton Digital’s “Infinite Dial 2021” “the most compelling aspect of the study,” Westwood One’s Pierre Bouvard says in this week’s WWO blog that they’ve summarized “the most crucial data on the U.S. podcast audience.” Bouvard cites the following data as important to viewing the changes in the U.S. podcasting audience over the past five years: Nearly eight in ten 12+ Americans are familiar with the term podcasting, up from 60% in 2017; 57% of Americans have ever listened to a podcast, a near 50% increase since 2017 (40%); 41% of Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month, a 71% increase versus 2017 (24%); among persons 12-34, podcast usage has crashed through the 50% barrier with a monthly reach of 56%; The weekly podcast audience (28%) has nearly doubled over the same period from 15% in 2017; and podcast habituation is up with 68% of the monthly podcast audience having also listened in the past week, an 8% increase from 2017. Looking back 10 years, the study shows that 10 years ago, the podcast audience was 58% male and 42% female while today the monthly podcast audience is more evenly split between men and women. Over the past 10 years, the audience is diversifying as the persons 55+ proportion of the monthly podcast audience has grown from 14% to 21%; the persons 12-34 audience composition has increased from 46% to 50%; and the persons 35-54 audience composition has dropped from 40% to 29%. Also, the podcast audience is more diverse: The ethnic audience composition of monthly podcast listeners is up from 32% in 2011 to 43% in 2021. The Hispanic audience composition has surged from 11% to 16% over the 10-year period. See more here.

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WGN-AM morning drive personality Bob Sirott is being honored by the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois with the 2021 Diogenes Award for Excellence in Media. Sirott will receive the honor at the organization’s March 25 annual meeting…..iHeartMedia announces a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast hosted by actress and singer-songwriter Minnie Driver called, “Minnie Questions with Minnie Driver. ” iHeartMedia says in the intimate talk show-style podcast, Driver will ask a wide-range of celebrity guests the same seven “mini” questions to uncover larger truths and help us better understand ourselves and the world around us. Driver says, “I have wanted to share this crazy idea for a podcast for such a long time. I question everything about the world around me, and I’m so excited to share these questions I’ve discovered and host these conversations that can help other people find happiness, self-love and belonging, too.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One – as the official network radio partner of the NCAA – begins its presentation of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tomorrow (3/18) at 5:00 pm ET. WWO will present play-by-play from all 67 games, including eight first-round and second-round games, plus regional semifinals and finals. Games will air on more than 400 affiliate stations across the country and via SiriusXM…..Entercom’s Pittsburgh radio stations – including news/talk KDKA-AM and sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” – raised funds to provide more than 650,000 meals for people in need through the “Giant Eagle Feed the Need Radiothon” that took place yesterday (3/16). Entercom Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “This is a great example of Pittsburghers taking care of each other and using the power of radio to spread the message of the need in our region. Helping the community is part of the fabric of what we do. On behalf of our amazing team at Entercom Pittsburgh, I want to once again thank our listeners for stepping up to help our neighbors in need.”

Atlanta Spa Slayings, Migrant Border Crisis, Cuomo Allegations, Stimulus Package, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Dems Attack on the Filibuster, Newsom Recall Effort, U.S. Sanctions 24 Chinese and Hong Kong Officials, and the Oscar Nominations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/16). The shooting deaths of  eight Asians at several spas in the Atlanta area by a white suspect; the Biden administration’s immigrant problem as thousands of parentless children amass at the U.S.-Mexico border; the sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the fellow Democrats calling for his resignation; Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package becomes law; the number of COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, the removal of mask mandates in some states, and the rollout of vaccines; Democrats fight with Republicans over the former’s attempt to kill the Senate filibuster; California Governor Gavin Newsom battles the recall effort against him; the U.S. sanctions 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act; and the unveiling of this year’s Oscar nominations were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pictured above is Michael Harrison contemplating lyrics to “I Know You’re Real” while walking in the woods that surround his Western Massachusetts home searching for The Tree Of To Be.

Calling All Animals! TALKERS founder Michael Harrison has put out an open “casting call” to the talk media industry readers of this publication to submit royalty free original photos of animals that are, as he puts it, “special in their lives.” Some of the photos submitted will be used in a music video project Harrison is developing for release next month about the animal welfare movement of which he is a longtime advocate. Harrison has co-written a song about the relationship between human beings and other species titled, “I Know You’re Real,” which addresses the subject of animal welfare in what he describes as an “inspirationally spiritual manner.” It has been recorded by the legendary rock band Gunhill Road of which Harrison is now an official member and will appear on the storied 50-year-old ensemble’s forthcoming 13-song album, What Year Is This! scheduled for release in April. Harrison says, “We are looking for photos of people’s domestic pets, farm animals or personal wildlife photography subjects to use in the video.” Please send JPG photo files of animals that are royalty free to Harrison at michael@talkers.com. Include the name of the animal (if it is a pet) and a statement that the photo and rights to its use are being donated to the Gunhill Road Video Project without expectation of payment or credit. (Attempts will be made to properly credit the animals and photographers if and where possible.) Two versions of the song will appear on the album. One will feature Harrison delivering the lyrics in spoken word fashion and the other will be a fully sung version featuring lead vocals by Gunhill Road member (and highly accomplished Broadway musician) Brian Koonin. The 2021 incarnation of Gunhill Road consists of founding members Steve Goldrich and Glenn Leopold, longtime member Paul Reisch, and recently added members Harrison and Koonin. Harrison and the other band members will be available for talk media interviews upon the release of the album. Stay tuned to TALKERS for more information about this project coming in early April.