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Thursday, April 8, 2021

| April 8, 2021

Cumulus Fires PD and Morning Hosts in Aftermath of Racist Bit at WGRF, Buffalo. As reported by WGRZ-TV, Buffalo, Cumulus Media has taken further action after the March 24 morning program radio bit by “The Morning Bull” personalities in which the three cast members discussed the color of Black female celebrities’ skin, comparing them to burnt toast. On that day, WGRF-FM, Buffalo “97 Rock” morning host Rob Lederman was fired and co-hosts Rich Gaenzler and Chris Klein were suspended. Now, the station has fired Gaenzler and Klein as well as program director John Hager. Cumulus issued the succinct statement: “Upon further consideration following the racist incident that occurred on ‘The Morning Bull Show,’ we decided to terminate the whole morning show in addition to the program director.” Rich Gaenzler also lost his gig as arena announcer for Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits games and as stadium announcer for University of Buffalo football.

Richard Baum Named Chief Revenue Officer for Sun Broadcast Group. Sales pro Richard Baum joins Sun Broadcast Group as chief revenue officer. SBG says that in this newly created position, Baum will lead partner strategy, revenue growth, and oversee the growing ad-sales team. SBG adds that Baum’s “proven success in sales planning, team management, revenue strategy, and business development blend seamlessly into his new role, as he will focus on leveraging both sales and ROI to drive growth for Sun Broadcast Group.” Sun Broadcast Group president Warren Friedland comments, “When looking for our new CRO we wanted to find an industry professional with vast knowledge of network radio, emerging tactics, an impeccable reputation as well as an eye for growth, and Baum fits all those characteristics. His knowledge will allow us to provide more comprehensive and competitive solutions for both clients and agencies, while maximizing revenue growth across all platforms.” Baum says, “In searching for my next opportunity, I was looking to join a team with a strong infrastructure, a solid foundation, and the available resources to grow aggressively. Warren and his team at Sun fit that criteria perfectly. I am excited to work with the crew at Sun and Gen Media Partners to continue to help build a best-in-class network audio company.”

Hillsdale Weekend Program Available Via Salem Radio Network. The “Radio Free Hillsdale Hour” program produced by Hillsdale College is being made available for radio stations via Salem Radio Network. The one-hour, weekend radio program is divided into four segments with each episode featuring multiple guests including Hillsdale faculty members, speakers who visit one of the College’s campuses, alumni, and others. WRHF, Hillsdale “Radio Free Hillsdale” general manager Scot Bertram is host of the program and he says, “We’re thrilled to be able to offer the program through Salem and give radio stations another option for airing the show. Talk radio listeners already know Hillsdale by reputation, but this is an opportunity to hear more directly from the college’s faculty, staff, alumni, and others. Our goal always has been to reach as many listeners as possible across the country. The ideas and arguments discussed here at Hillsdale are relevant to all citizens, and this radio program is one way to share them.” Stations that recently added the program to their lineups include: WIBX-AM, Utica, New York; WZUS-FM, Decatur, Illinois; and KTOE-AM, Mankato, Minnesota.

Westwood One Offers Barstool Sports’ ‘Picks Central’ to Radio Stations. In a deal between Cumulus Media’s Westwood One and Barstool Sports, the Barstool program “Picks Central” will be made available to radio stations live from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET or for delay broadcast.  The daily gambling and sports show is hosted by Brandon Walker with a rotation of Barstool personalities including Dave Portnoy and Dan “Big Cat” Katz, in which they “provide the scoop on the best gambling lines of the day. The crew discusses relevant sports topics, bad beats, moneylines, and over/unders. They also offer their thoughts on where to place winning bets for every sport under the moon.”

Hallerin Hilton Hill Named to Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame. Knoxville talk radio host Hallerin Hilton Hill – heard in afternoon drive on Cumulus Media’s WOKI-FM, “NewsTalk 98.7” – is being inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2021. Cumulus Knoxville market manager Ken Slayer says, “Our entire team is very proud of Hallerin and his career accomplishments. No one deserves this honor and statewide recognition more than he does. His commitment to broadcast excellence and service to our community are unsurpassed.” Hill also works as singer/songwriter, author, motivational speaker, and trainer. He wrote “Who Would Imagine a King” with Mervyn Warren which was recorded by Whitney Houston for the film, The Preacher’s Wife, and was included on the film’s Grammy-nominated soundtrack.

Gimlet Media and The Ringer Podcast Producers Unionize. The writers and producers at Gimlet Media and The Ringer – both owned by Spotify – ratified first collective bargaining agreements as members of the Writers Guild of America, East. The contracts affect 48 members at Gimlet Media and 65 members at The Ringer. Some of the key components of the union contracts provide for: Significant increases to salary minimums with The Ringer establishing $57,000 plus overtime as an entry-level floor and Gimlet Media beginning at $73,000 for associate producers; limitations on the use of contractors within bargaining unit positions; minimum of 2% guaranteed annual increases; minimum severance of 11 weeks for all employees, regardless of tenure; and more. Writers Guild of America, East executive director Lowell Peterson comments, “The collective bargaining agreements at Gimlet Media and The Ringer demonstrate that the people who make podcasts, from writers to producers to editors, bring enormous value to the major platforms for whom they create content. Collective bargaining ensures creative professionals have a seat at the table to address issues like inclusion and equity, intellectual property concerns, and sustainability of careers.”

Adnan Virk to Contribute to Meadowlark Media. According to a story in The Wrap, Adnan Virk is joining the talent stable at Meadowlark Media – the company launched by former ESPN chief John Skipper and sports talk personality Dan Le Batard. In addition to his work as a contributor, Virk’s “Cinephile” podcast will become part of the “Le Batard & Friends” network. Virk says, “I’ve had the amazing fortune to have John Skipper as my boss at ESPN, DAZN, and now Meadowlark. Clearly the third time is the charm and I’ve long enjoyed John’s ambition, erudition, and sense of humor. Skipper adds, “Adnan is a unique talent – the kind of broadcaster who can thrive in any sport and in any environment. We’re thrilled for the opportunity to welcome a friend who offers a diverse voice and shares our desire to create high-quality content that pushes beyond the boundaries of sports.”

WPHT USO Radiothon Raises More Than $95,000. The March 19 “Talk Radio 1210 WPHT USO Radiothon” raised more than $95,000 to benefit the United Service Organization of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey (Liberty USO). The 12-hour radiothon was hosted by WPHT, Philadelphia talk show hosts Rich Zeoli and Dom Giordano and included interviews and stories from USO staff and families, dignitaries and special guests such as actor Justin Melnick, WWE announcer Lillian Garcia, and Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen. Audacy Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We’re proud of another successful year raising funds and awareness for Liberty USO. These individuals have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and it’s our honor to band together with our listeners to support them and their families.”

COVID-19, Biden Gun Control Moves, Infrastructure/Tax Plan, Voting Legislation, Border Crisis, Derek Chauvin Trial, and Matt Gaetz Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S., status of variants, post-COVID effects, and vaccine rollout; President Joe Biden moves to ban ‘ghost guns’ and stabilizers; the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan and the proposed tax changes to pay for it; Georgia’s restrictive voting laws and Democrats’ plans for a national voting rights bill; the large number of unaccompanied minors amassed at the U.S.-Mexico border; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; and the investigation into allegations U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz had sexual relations with a minor were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

| March 23, 2021

Premiere Networks to Continue ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’; WBOB, Jacksonville First New Affiliate. The 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET broadcast of “The Rush Limbaugh Show” will continue with archival audio from Limbaugh’s 30-plus-year syndicated program augmented by familiar talk hosts. Chesapeake-Portsmouth Broadcasting Corporation’s WBOB-AM/W266CX is the first new affiliate station. In making the announcement, Premiere Networks says, “No one can replace Rush Limbaugh, and Premiere Networks will continue to provide millions of loyal listeners with the voice of Rush for the long term. We have a variety of familiar voices who are guiding the audio of Rush for all of the important issues of the day, including recent guest hosts Todd Herman, Ken Matthews, and Brett Winterble.” WBOB general manager Jonathan McClellan states, “Rush Limbaugh is a pioneering force in broadcasting. He redefined talk radio and shaped the conservative political message for our country. WBOB is excited to add Rush’s program to our lineup. We value the future of his legacy, and we believe his talented team will drive the momentum of the movement far into the future. We welcome this monumental voice.” Limbaugh’s program launched into national syndication on August 1, 1988, with 56 radio stations, was heard on more than 600 stations at the time of the icon’s passing at age 70 on February 17. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison comments on this breaking story, “What an interesting turn of events. This is a multiple win for many elements of the industry. The winners include: 1) The fill-in hosts who’ve become familiar to the show’s regular listeners because they’ll continue to play a role in the show without having to carry the burden of being the ‘guy that followed the guy’ but never could fill his shoes; 2) Premiere, because they’ll continue to productively exploit the greatest brand in talk radio programming history and even though it could never be as big as it would have been with Rush alive, it certainly will maintain value and possibly evolve into something of lasting currency; 3) Other syndicated shows, because they now have a shot at being cleared in the valuable 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm space and get a viable piece of the pie. There are plenty of listeners and revenue to be shared in that huge mine; 4) Local hosts and programming because you can be sure many stations will turn inward during middays now that this big piece of real estate has opened; 5) Local stations, because they now have the options to choose from all of the above; and 6) the legacy of Rush Limbaugh, which will continue to live as a viable part of the national talk radio community. Bravo!”

Dana Loesch Inks New Multi-Year Deal with Radio America. Talk radio star Dana Loesch signs a new, multi-year contract extension with Radio America to continue to host her daily 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm program “The Dana Show” that she’s hosted since 2014. Radio America says Loesch is “the most listened to female talk show host in the country” and has “attracted a large and loyal following in syndication, expanding the news/talk audience to include more men and women in their 30s and 40s, something the aging format desperately needs.” Radio America COO Mike Paradiso says, “We’re excited to continue the explosive growth that Dana’s show has enjoyed over the last few years. Dana has done what few hosts have been able to do, expand the talk format’s audience to make it younger, while still performing very well with the core talk demo. We think she’s uniquely qualified to lead the way during this transitional time in the format.”

Round One of February PPM Ratings Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). Nielsen’s February 2021 sweep covered February 4 – March 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets and reports that the unusual surge of listening to news and news/talk stations in January that was the result of the January 6 Capitol attack, its aftermath, and the beginning of the Joe Biden administration has leveled off. In New York, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WOR was flat at a 2.5 share (weekly 6+ AQH share) and Red Apple Media’s WABC was up three-tenths to a 1.9 share. In Los Angeles, iHeartMedia news/talk KFI was steady with a 5.0 share and the #3 rank while Entercom’s crosstown all-news KNX dipped four-tenths to a 2.9 share. Nexstar Media Group’s news/talk WGN-AM was flat with a 4.1 share but rises to the #6 rank and Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM lost two-tenths to finish with a 7.1 share but remains ranked #1. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaway for this group of markets here.

Report: WFAN’s Jastremski Leaving for The Ringer. According to a piece by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, WFAN, New York evening host John Jastremski is leaving the Entercom sports talk station to join Spotify’s The Ringer. As Marchard notes, Bill Simmons sold The Ringer to Spotify for a reported $200 million but continues to lead the platform. Jastremski’s deal with The Ringer will begin next month and will include him doing three to four podcasts per week.

WWO Blog: Podcasting Provides ‘Massive Head Start’ for New Radio Hosts. A study commissioned by Westwood One and conducted by Maru/Blue reveals “the extent to which Dan Bongino has used his podcast platform, social media presence, best-selling books, and TV appearances to build a strong brand among American talk radio listeners.” The study finds that a podcast star like Bongino enjoys a “massive head start and strong momentum” when launching an AM/FM radio show. It finds 64% of frequent news/talk radio listeners are aware of Dan Bongino and 78% of frequent news/talk radio listeners who are aware of Bongino rate him as excellent/good. Further the study finds, “An AM/FM radio show generates a new audience that is incremental to the podcast audience: the Maru/Blue study found that the Dan Bongino and Ben Shapiro audiences either listen to the podcast or the AM/FM radio show. Currently about 40% listen only to the podcast; 40% listen only to the Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino shows on AM/FM radio. About 20% indicate they have listened both to the podcast and the AM/FM radio show in the last month.” See the blog here.

TALKERS News Notes. The COVID stimulus is getting a radio sweepstakes treatment from iHeartMedia as the company presents the “Double Your Stimulus” contest in numerous participating markets. iHeartMedia is giving listeners the chance to win another $1,400 “stimulus check” that could result in up to six nationwide winners each weekday now through April 2. The company says that “given today’s challenging times due to the pandemic, iHeartMedia is seeing a nearly 20% higher response rate than any other cash contests in the past with winners benefiting from all across the nation.”…..USA Radio Network’s “Classic Radio Theater” adds three new affiliate stations for Wyatt Cox’s historical presentation of radio’s greatest programs of the 20th century. The show is now heard on WMIC, Sandusky, Michigan; KRVN-AM, Lexington, Nebraska; and KGUM-AM, Hagåtña, Guam. Cox says, “It’s a pleasure to give people a dose of history as it really happened – unsanitized and factual. While some stations may be pulling away from presentations of radio’s past, I view it as critical for understanding where we came from and how we got here today… our ‘Classic Radio Theater’ programs are not only great entertainment, but they are set in a background of history that puts all these programs in the context of the times.”…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One signs a deal with DCP Entertainment to distribute, market, and monetize the company’s new podcasts as well as its back catalogue. DCP Entertainment’s mission is to provide a platform for people of color, women, and LGBTQ communities, and to highlight stories around mental health, disability, and overcoming adversity. Current productions include “Say Their Name,” which was nominated for the 2021 Ambies Award “Podcast of the Year” and “Toure Show: The Central Park 5,” which was a 2020 Webby Award “Best Crime & Justice Episode” honoree.

‘The GRITIRON Show’ Starring Whitney Breaux Launches. The new podcast and YouTube show is being launched by former ESPN Baton Rouge radio host Jordy Culotta who expands his media network with the launch of “The GRITIRON Show” with Whitney Breaux – a show targeting women that premiered on International Women’s Day (3/8). The press release says “The GRITIRON Show” is a weekly podcast celebrating the perseverance, passion, and lifestyle of women on and off the football field. The show features Breaux and “a bevy of guests including women breaking the glass ceiling in sports from journalists, coaches, athletic administrators and sports executives to wives of players and coaches.” Breaux is a former Miss Teen Louisiana and global marketing executive. Culotta says, “We’re excited to add Whitney and ‘The GRITIRON Show’ to our network programming. I’m honestly shocked this is her first time behind a microphone. She’s a brilliant public speaker, her energy is infectious, and she’s always been passionate about sports.”

COVID-19/Spring Break, Border Troubles, Deadly Boulder Grocery Store Shooting, Biden Jobs & Infrastructure Proposal, Capitol Attack-Sedition Controversy, Cuomo on the Ropes, and Deshaun Watson Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/22). The rising number of COVID-19 cases in numerous states, worries about variants, the vaccine rollout, and the enormous spring break gatherings; the immigration problems at the U.S.-Mexico border; the mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado that’s left 10 dead; the Biden administration plans to introduce a $3 trillion jobs & infrastructure bill; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the report that sedition charges may be leveled at some; the allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; and the growing allegations of sexual impropriety by massage therapists against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.