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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

| March 30, 2022

Geraldo Rivera to End WTAM, Cleveland Radio Show. The daily, local program that Geraldo Rivera hosted for iHeartMedia on Cleveland news/talk WTAM will ends after the April 1 program. Rivera has been hosting the one-hour show from 9:00 am to 10:00 am but will end the program due to his busy schedule. WTAM says, “Geraldo is a once-in-a-generation broadcaster, storied journalist, and tireless philanthropist. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that after his 50-plus years of broadcasting, the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning Rivera refuses to slow down. Unfortunately, with an increased travel schedule for the FOX News Network and additional production projects, Geraldo has decided that after nearly four years, the final episode of ‘Geraldo in Cleveland’ will air on Friday, April 1, 2022 from 9:00 am until 10:00 am on Newsradio WTAM 1100. Even though the WTAM chapter of his career is closing, Geraldo will continue to live in his adopted hometown of Shaker Heights, Ohio with his wife Erica and daughter Sol. We will always consider Geraldo to be a treasured member of the WTAM family and are honored to have had a front row seat to his storied career.”

 

 

WPHT, Philadelphia Raises $65,000 for Veterans Organization. Pictured above is the staff of Audacy’s news/talk WPHT, Philadelphia at the fifth annual “Talk Radio 1210 WPHT Travis Manion Foundation Radiothon” during which it raised more than $65,000 in support of veterans in partnership with the Travis Manion Foundation. The Travis Manion Foundation is led by veterans and families of the fallen that develops, unites and strengthens communities by training, developing, and highlighting the role models that lead them. The radiothon was broadcast live from Audacy corporate headquarters in Philadelphia on March 25 and was hosted by station talent, including  Rich Zeoli, Dom Giordano, Dawn Stensland and special guest Ryan Manion, Gold Star Sister and president of the Travis Manion Foundation, along with the team at the organization.

 

Beasley Names Tim Jorgenson Integrated Sales Manager for Detroit. Sales pro Tim Jorgenson is promoted to integrated sales manager for Beasley Media Group’s Detroit operations. He was most recently the company’s national digital automotive specialist. In his new role, he’ll lead the digital sales efforts of the company’s Motor City stations that include sports talk WCSX-HD2/W228CJ “Motor City Sports Talk – The ROAR” and four music brands. Beasley Media Group director of sales Patti Taylor says, “We are beyond excited to have Tim move into the position as integrated sales manager for Detroit. Tim’s depth of knowledge in the automotive industry, coupled with his skill and passion for digital, will drive Beasley Detroit’s efforts to the next level. Tim’s approach is thoughtful and smart – and our team is so excited to be working with him.”

 

TALKERS News Notes. Pictured here is all-news WINS-AM, New York “1010 WINS” brand manager Ben Mevorach (left) accepting the 2022 World Radio Day Award, presented by the American Academy of Radio. The theme of this year’s award is citizens’ trust in radio. The award was established in 2018 as part of the worldwide UNESCO celebration of radio and its value in the lives of people across the world. Mevorach says of the Audacy station, “No station personifies the city of New York quite like 1010 WINS. We are thrilled to be recognized for our relentless dedication to our guiding principles of fairness, trust, inclusion, and information so that, together with our listeners, we improve the communities we serve.” Pictured with him are American Academy of Radio jurors Deborah Parenti, president, Streamline Publishing (center), and Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency (right)…..A collaboration between iHeartMedia and European podcast studio Novel is producing the new program, “The Superhero Complex.” Hosted by David Weinberg, the series captures the rise and fall of Phoenix Jones, Seattle’s real-life, crime-fighting vigilante who infamously ascended from local icon and leader of The Rain City Superhero Movement, to a dejected and humiliated figure waiting for a verdict on a charge of selling MDMA to undercover cops. By day, Phoenix is a semi-pro MMA fighter — but by night, he slinks through the streets of Rain City, patrolling Seattle for crime amongst a motley crew of former soldiers, ex-cops, recovered addicts, and reformed criminals. As remarkable a group and a mission as The Rain City Superhero Movement was, ultimately, the truth behind the myth is far more complicated. Told with a balance of in-depth reportage and empathetic character study, “The Superhero Complex” reveals the betrayals, crumbling marriage, and career-ending drug charge that underscored the legacy of Phoenix Jones — confronting our society’s fascination with superheroes and figures beyond the law in the process…..C13Originals, the Peabody Award-nominated documentary division of podcast studio Cadence13, an Audacy company, announces the launch of “Origins: HBO: Present, Past, and Future,” the seventh chapter of the podcast series written and hosted by award-winning journalist and bestselling author James Andrew Miller, featuring new interviews with the most important figures who shaped HBO’s half-century drive to fundamentally change television. In his recent, critically acclaimed book Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers, Miller told the explosive and uninhibited true story of HBO and how it burst onto the American scene and screen to detonate a revolution and transform our relationship with television forever. Now, in “Origins: HBO: Present, Past, and Future,” Miller offers new material and interviews with top executives, programming chiefs, and executive producers for a deep dive on the business side of the blockbuster media company that has revolutionized the industry time and again.

 

Russia-Ukraine War, Recession Fears/Soaring Consumer Prices, Biden Budget/Tax Hike, Florida ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law, Hunter Biden Investigation, COVID-19, January 6 Probe, Will Smith-Chris Rock Incident Aftermath, and Big Tech Antitrust Legislation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/29). Russia’s continuing invasion of Ukraine and its effects on the rest of the world; financial experts fear a recession is imminent and Americans bemoan high gas and food prices; President Joe Biden unveils his fiscal 2023 budget that includes a new tax on the wealthiest Americans; the controversy over Florida’s law that prohibits schools from discussing sexuality in grades K-3; the ongoing Justice Department investigation into Hunter Biden’s foreign business activities; concerns about the Omicron BA.2 variant that’s sweeping the UK and parts of Asia; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol assault and a judge’s ruling that Donald Trump “more likely than not” intended to obstruct the election certification; the aftermath of Will Smith’s assault on Chris Rock at the Oscars; and the Department of Justice endorses antitrust proposals designed to prevent big tech from giving preferential treatment to their own products were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

| January 18, 2022

WMAL-FM, Washington Unveils New ‘O’Connor & Company’ Co-Hosts. The morning drive “O’Connor & Company” program on Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM, Washington, DC announces the program’s new co-hosts. Joining host Larry O’Connor are: Amber Athey, Washington editor at The Spectator, Julie Gunlock, director of the center for progress and innovation at Independent Women’s Forum, and Patrice Onwuka, political commentator and director of the Center for Economic Opportunity at the Independent Women’s Forum. The station says that the trio have been well received by WMAL listeners as guest hosts on the show in recent months. WMAL program director Bill Hess says, “We are excited to welcome these fresh voices to WMAL. Their varied life experiences, chemistry with Larry and with each other, and opinions on the issues of the day serve to create compelling content each weekday morning.” O’Connor adds, “Having a daily conversation with Julie, Amber and Patrice about what matters most to the people of our community is an absolute pleasure. From the halls of the Capitol to the vital debates at our local school boards, these intelligent and engaging women bring insights and humor that represent the best of Washington. It’s a genuine honor to team up with them every morning on WMAL.”

Livingston Named GSM for Cumulus Birmingham. Radio sales pro Todd Livingston is promoted to general sales manager for Cumulus Media’s Birmingham station group that includes the trio of sports talkers WJOX-FM “Jox 94.5,” WJQX-FM “Jox2 100.5,” and WJOX-AM “Jox3 690,” and news/talk duo WAPI-FM/WZRR-FM. Livingston is a 32-year media executive who joined Cumulus Birmingham in July 2021 as an account executive. Prior to that, he was local sales manager for Spectrum Reach in Tuscaloosa. Cumulus Birmingham VP and market manager James Robinson states, “We are excited to have Todd on our team as general sales manager. Todd has deep roots and broadcast experience in Alabama and his ability to create actionable ideas for our client partners make him a valuable asset to our team in Birmingham.”

Audacy Adds Two Sales Pros to Performance Sales Function. Media sales pros Shirin Peykar and Dan Wolman join Audacy – Peykar in the role of SVP of performance sales and Wolman in the VP of performance sales position. In her new role, Peykar will lead Audacy’s performance sales team and sell across its portfolio of products, leaning heavily into the company’s robust podcast library. Peykar will also strategize to drive the business forward and expand Audacy’s relationships with performance-driven marketers. She will report to Ken Lagana, EVP of digital sales. Wolman will work with performance clients and agencies to sell across Audacy’s portfolio of digital audio brands, with a focus on its podcast business. Both Peykar and Wolman join Audacy from Stitcher, where Peykar was SVP of direct response ad sales and Wolman was VP of performance sales. Lagana says, “Shirin’s rich experience leading multi-faceted ad sales operations for premier media and entertainment companies makes her a valuable addition to our performance sales business. We’re equally as excited about the addition of Dan to the team, which will collectively strive to drive revenue, market share and profit performance for our portfolio of assets.” Peykar says, “I’ve been watching Audacy’s progression in the podcast space over the past couple of years and their commitment to building a world class podcast portfolio has really impressed me. When you couple that dedication to the podcast space and audio in general, I couldn’t be more excited about bringing this portfolio to our performance clients and agencies!” Wolman comments, “Audacy is the industry leader in audio while remaining innovative, representing chart-topping content, generating loyal listeners, and serving as the home to influential talent. This is a performance sellers dream! I am excited to leverage my linear, OTT, and audio experience with this role and celebrate many wins with Audacy and our client partners.”

Deadline for 2022 Gracie Awards Submissions Extended to January 27. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation announces that the final deadline to submit entries for the 47th annual Gracie Awards has been extended until January 27 – a seven-day extension from the original January 20 deadline. The Gracie Awards celebrate programming and individual achievement by, for and about women in television, radio/audio and digital media.  Submissions from all facets of media are encouraged. AWMF president Becky Brooks says, “We know the circumstances of the past two years led to delivering content to audiences in ways we never expected, which is why we are more committed than ever to honoring the remarkable work that has been created by, for and about women. As our biggest fundraiser of the year, the Gracie Awards enable the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation to deliver on its promise of furthering the connection, education and recognition of women in media even during times of uncertainty.” The Gracie Awards Gala is still currently scheduled for an in-person celebration May 24 at the famed Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire and Gracie Awards Luncheon for June 22 at Cipriani 42nd Street. AWMF extends gratitude to its ongoing donors and sponsors committed to furthering the mission of the organization including Crown Media Family Networks, CNN, and NCTA – The Internet and Television Association. The Gracie Awards are also honored to have the leadership of Heather Cohen, executive vice president, The Weiss Agency; Annie Howell, chief communications officer, Crown Media Family Networks; and Mike McVay, McVay Media Consulting as Gracies co-chairs and Vicangelo Bulluck serving as executive producer. You can find entry details here.

COVID-19, Midterm Elections/Trump & the GOP, Voting Rights, MLK Holiday, Inflation/Supply Chain, Synagogue Attack, and Tonga Eruption Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/17). The high rate of COVID-19 cases, the Omicron variant, masks, and vaccine mandates; the potential loss of power for Democrats after the November midterm elections and Donald Trump’s hold over the GOP; the fate of the Voting Rights Act without support from Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema; Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday; high prices at the pump and at retail outlets combined with supply chain woes; the aftermath of the attack on the Texas synagogue; and the volcanic eruption near Tonga were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

| July 8, 2021

TALKERS 2021 Conference Video Posted – Panel Discussion, “Strategizing a Talk Show Hosting Career.” The seventh video, under the direction of Art Vuolo, from the TALKERS 2021 Conference that took place at Hofstra University on June 11, is posted. This installment features the panel discussion, “Strategizing a Talk Show Hosting Career.” Moderated by Kevin Casey, VP/executive editor, TALKERS; introduced by Dick Morris, talk show host, Newsmax TV/WABC, New York; and sponsored by the Michael Berry Show, the panel features (in alphabetical order): Rob Carson, talk show host, Newsmax TV; Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss AgencyGrace Curley, talk show host, Howie Carr Radio NetworkErick Erickson, talk show host, WSB, Atlanta/Cox Media GroupDom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; and Harry Hurley, talk show host, WPG, Atlantic City. TALKERS will be posting a new video from TALKERS 2021 each business day until all 10 are archived and available for on-demand viewing.

Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. The stars of Premiere Networks’ recently launched Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show are this week’s guests on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” The program serves as the official Premiere Networks replacement for the historic 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET Rush Limbaugh Show. It launched on June 21, 2021 on some 400-plus affiliates in all 50 states making it the largest rollout of a syndicated news/talk show in modern talk radio history. Travis has a background in leading edge sports talk commentary developed on both the Internet and terrestrial radio. Sexton has a background in political news/talk radio and served a number of years as a counter-terrorism expert for the CIA and the NYPD. They discuss their brand of conservative broadcasting and the strategy steering their course to effectively serve the existing fans and affiliates of Rush Limbaugh while building upon that base to grow the show going forward. Don’t miss this timely, fascinating conversation. To listen to the podcast in its entirety please click here.

Tavis Smiley’s KBLA, Los Angeles Names Otis Warren VP of Sales. The new Los Angeles talk station launched by Tavis Smiley’s Smiley Audio Media – KBLA “Talk 1580” announces radio executive and sales pro Otis Warren is named vice president of sales. The company says that it is “building a sales team that is dynamic in understanding the changing market demographic and the economic power of its targeted audience,” and adds that during his career, “Warren has built a successful track record in client development and expanding station growth and marketability.” During his career, Warren has served as the national sales manager for American General Media, overseeing 12 stations in two markets – Bakersfield and Albuquerque. He began his radio career with Buckley Broadcasting and served with the company for more than 16 years, rising to VP of sales. Warren says, “I’m a radio guy and I am looking forward to being a part of the KBLA ‘Talk 1580’ family. I respect what Tavis is trying to accomplish with KBLA ‘Talk 1580’ as a Black-owned and operated radio station for the sophisticated African American listening audience. I think it is something that is long overdue.”

Stitcher’s 2021 Podcast Report Reveals Changes in Growing Media Platform. Based on data from its listener base, Stitcher unveils its second annual Stitcher Podcasting Report that it calls “a comprehensive look at who and where these listeners are, behavioral patterns, trends shaping the medium and the factors contributing to its growth.” Chief marketing officer Amy Fitzgibbons says, “Podcasting is a powerful medium that has not only prevailed, but thrived, in the midst of a global pandemic, as people sought a sense of connection during periods of isolation.” Some of the findings of the study: 1) Pre-pandemic, top listening hours aligned with peak commuting times, which have been replaced by a shift to lunchtime/early afternoon (11:00 am – 2:00 pm); 2) Similarly, household chores and gardening have replaced commuting as the primary activity that listeners do while listening to podcasts; 3) Based on user “favorite” activity, younger generations gravitated to comedy and talk content (age 13-34), while news and politics did better with older generations (age 35+); 4) Median monthly hours per listener per month rose from 7.5 in 2019 to nearly 8 in 2020; 5) Pandemic and COVID-19 searches were the top most searched terms for the year (2020), with listeners turning to podcasts for the latest on major global events; 6) “NFL” was the second highest cultural search term in 2020 – despite a shortened season and inability to attend games, fans still wanted to get involved and turned to podcasting to do so; 7) Some states are more dedicated: Washington, Minnesota, Oregon, Wisconsin, Utah, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Montana, Vermont, North Dakota and Alaska all rank higher in listening hours than they do in the total number of listeners; and 8) Habits differ by gender: Men have a slight edge in the average number of shows listened to and hours listened per week, whereas women continue to have more favorites. Women are also more likely to listen to podcasts for entertainment, while men tend to seek news/information. See more about the study here. Stitcher was acquired by SiriusXM in July 0f 2020.

Jim Bohannon Recognized as 2020 Inductee into the Missouri Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The 2020 induction ceremony for the Missouri Broadcasters Association’s Hall of Fame didn’t take place due to the pandemic, so the 2020 inductees will be honored as part of this year’s ceremony on August 7 at the Branson Hilton Convention Center in Branson, Missouri. The induction ceremony is part of the 2021 Awards Banquet at the MBA’s annual convention. Westwood One nationally syndicated talk host Jim Bohannon will be among those honored as a 2020 inductee.

Longtime WVMT, Burlington Host Ernie Farrar Dies at 78. Burlington, Vermont broadcasting legend Ernie Farrar passed away recently at age 78. Farrar retired from Sisson Broadcasting’s news/talk WVMT-AM/W242BK in 2018 after more than 50 years with the station. WCAX-TV reports that Farrar was inducted into both the Vermont Broadcasting Hall of Fame and the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame. Farrar’s son, Tony Farrar, tells WCAX News,“All of the practical jokes and laughter will be greatly missed! All I can say is that I hope heaven is ready for one heck of a show!”

TALKERS News Notes. Actress and New York Times best-selling children’s book author Jamie Lee Curtis and iHeartMedia collaborate to produce a new weekly iHeartRadio Original Podcast called, “Good Friend.” Premiering July 15, the podcast addresses the good, the bad and the ugly of friendships through both intimate and candid unscripted conversations. Throughout the 15-episode season, Curtis has unscripted, relatable conversations with celebrity friends and public figures such as Senator Amy Klobuchar, Michelle Williams, Robin Wright, Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts, Michelle Yeoh and Maria Shriver, among others, about conflict resolution, making new friends and keeping friendships alive during difficult times like the pandemic.  On the premiere episode of “Good Friend,” Curtis sits down with her new friend Lena Dunham…..Full-service sound agency TM Studios inks a deal with Greau Creative to serve as its agency of record to handle all national creative design, event production, communications, and branding. Greau, the marketing company led by former Sun Broadcast Group CEO Jason Bailey, will lead creative and branding efforts to further expand TM’s presence across all platforms including the launch of several new products in the coming weeks. TM Studios co-owner Dave Bethell says, “After looking at numerous companies to partner with, we are excited to be working with Greau. We’ve been fans of Jay Bailey’s work for some time now. He and his team are smart, passionate, understand our clients’ needs and daily challenges, and that badass attitude will help us get the message to our clients, partners and potential future clients.”

COVID-19 Delta Variant, Trump Social Media Lawsuits, House January 6 Investigation, Critical Race Theory, Economy/Labor Shortage, Haitian President Assassinated, Florida Condo Demolition, Tucker Carlson NSA Claims, and Tokyo Olympics Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/7). The spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant and the rate of vaccinations in the U.S.; former President Donald Trump files suits against Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube alleging violation of his First Amendment rights; the House panel to investigate the January 6 Capitol attack; criticism of the teaching of critical race theory in U.S. schools; the booming U.S. economy and employers’ staffing challenges; the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise; the recovery efforts at the Surfside condo in Florida; Tucker Carlson’s claim that the NSA hacked his email account and distributed some to reporters; and the Tokyo Olympics to be held under state of emergency among top news/talk stories yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, January 25, 2021

| January 25, 2021

INDUSTRY AND NATION MOURN: Talk Media Pioneer Larry King Dead at 87. According to a report on Facebook posted by the producers of his current syndicated television show, Ora Media, legendary star of talk radio and television, Larry King died this weekend at the age of 87. The statement says: “With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.” The statement continues, “For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.” The cause of death was not indicated, however King had been reportedly hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this month. King was a major player in the talk media world who ushered in the modern era of syndication in radio on the Mutual Broadcasting System and the cable news/talk show format on television at CNN. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison issued the following statement: “Larry King was not the greatest talk show host on radio or television in terms of skills, outrageous personality or direct and profound influence on public policy. He was, however, the most important pioneer who paved the way for today’s robust talk media presence on both radio and television. If there ever was a case of the right person at the right time, Larry King fit the bill and that’s all it took for him to be a mighty force. He was the modern era of talk radio’s first national celebrity born solely as a result of his work in the medium. And his contribution to today’s institutional cable news/talk TV format is undeniably fundamental to the medium’s current presence as America’s political and sociological meeting place. We have lost one of the greatest broadcasting presences of the first century of radio and television history as well as one of the quirkiest and most colorful individuals to ever sit behind a microphone.” Read TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian’s “Remembering Larry King” feature here.

Tributes to Larry King Pouring in from All Over the Industry.  TALKERS has received dozens of tributes, anecdotes, and comments from readers in all sectors of the broadcasting industry in reaction to the passing of Larry King on Saturday (1/23).  The following statements from people who knew him and worked with him reflect the basic sentiments expressed across the board. Westwood One legend Jim Bohannon rose to national prominence as Larry King’s fill-in host back in the early days of King’s career as the late-night “king of talk radio” on the Mutual Broadcasting System. Bohannon tells TALKERS, “Larry King was the first certified big shot for whom I’d ever worked, and I was all set for some screaming prima donna jerk. What I found was a funny, savvy, decent human being who was always very supportive of me. His best advice: Be yourself. My 11 years backing him up on the radio were always based on being a first-rate Jim rather than a second rate Larry.” This Friday (1/29) marks Bohannon’s 28th anniversary of hosting that very same show fulltime. Norm Pattiz, chairman of PodcastOne and founder of Westwood One, was instrumental in Larry King’s fabulous radio career. He tells TALKERS, “Larry King was a superstar on radio well before he became a talk show icon on television and his contribution in those media will never be duplicated. I first met Larry in 1985 when Westwood One Radio bought the Mutual Radio Network. Some said at the time that I bought the network just to get the ‘Larry King Show’ and I never corrected them. When CNN came calling, I was thrilled to share Larry with them and when his show became one of the most influential nightly talk shows in history it only confirmed what I had known all along. No one will ever match the style, compassion, and genuine love for a great interview that Larry had and the worlds of television, radio, and podcasting are worse today for his loss.” Tom Tradup, VP/news and talk programming, Salem Radio Network, tells TALKERS, “My favorite memory of Larry was when I was president/GM of WLS in Chicago and was meeting with Larry for lunch in the now-closed Cape Cod Room restaurant of Chicago’s Drake Hotel. Always upbeat and gregarious, Larry seemed just a little down. He revealed he was speaking to a business group that night and his hotel had lost his trademark suspenders. After lunch I ran over the Marshall Field’s on State Street and bought him a pair. Big smile from a broadcast legend whose talent endured for decades.” And media consultant, TALKERS columnist, and host of “The Big Picture” on RT America (which also carried Larry King’s syndicated TV show at the time of his death), Holland Cooke adds, “One year ago this week, Larry was my guest on the very first show produced at RT’s new Los Angeles studio. Larry’s gift was his curiosity; and his legacy to fellow talkers is the art of the short question. I remember him asking Bob Hope, ‘Who do YOU think is funny?’ And he asked David Duke, ‘Don’t you ever get tired of hating?’ Often, guests on book tours or who are otherwise timely are prepped with ‘safe’ answers, regardless of the questions asked. And they get away with it, because hosts ask verbose questions and don’t listen closely to responses. Larry’s short question would catch the guest off-guard – enough to yield an answer you wouldn’t hear elsewhere along the tour.

King and I: An Excerpt from Bernadette Duncan’s Landmark Book Yappy Days: Behind the Scenes with Newsers, Schmoozers, Boozers and Losers (Talkers Books, 2016).  I landed a part-time job with the Larry King Radio Show in 1986 because I was in the right place at the right time. My late shift at NBC Radio Networks where I produced the Neil Myers Show ended at 1:00 am and no other talk producer was on the premises. All that was required? Meet Mr. King in the lobby, escort him to the elevator, guide him down the hall to the nearest empty studio, check mics and audio, and then be prepared to do the same with the on-coming, big-name parade of guests scheduled for the night. Basically, I was a “handler” for an extra 75 bucks a shift. At the time, this pre-suspenders-wearing Larry King was one of the most successful radio talk show hosts in the industry who at the height of his show’s prominence had nearly 500 affiliate stations around the country. Just the year before, in 1985, he began hosting a nightly TV program on the new cable network called CNN (for Cable News Network) and “Larry King Live” was getting some buzz. In addition to television at 9:00 pm… then radio after midnight… he was in contract to write a book. Larry King’s career was hot. And it was this book deal with a New York-based publisher that brought him to the Big Apple four or five days a month to meet with his editor face-to-face. I became his New York producer/handler, working in coordination with his crew in Washington, DC. Little did I realize when I signed up with “the King of Talk,” I would dive into a world as quirky as what you’d find down Alice’s rabbit hole. To read the entire excerpt please click here.

Alpha Media Announces Pre-Arranged Chapter 11 Reorganization. The company says in a statement on its website that it has entered into a “restructuring agreement with certain of its lenders to reduce its debt, as well as raise incremental capital” to allow it “to successfully navigate current market conditions and pursue growth opportunities. The company expects no disruption to its broadcast operations, customers or employees. Management will remain in place and continue to maintain the company’s day-to-day operations.” Alpha Media says it has filed “a pre-arranged plan of re-organization, disclosure statement and voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. Certain of the company’s existing lenders have agreed to provide new capital in the form of committed debtor-in-possession and exit financing. These lenders, together with management, are expected to collectively own 100% of the equity of the re-organized company, subject to regulatory approvals from the Federal Communications Commission. The restructuring of the company’s balance sheet will require receipt of bankruptcy court approval and certain regulatory, including FCC, approvals and satisfaction of other customary conditions. The company expects to conclude the restructuring process in the first half of 2021.” Alpha chairman and CEO Bob Proffitt comments, “We have made significant progress in aggressively deleveraging our business in recent years. As we proceed with our financial restructuring to improve our capital structure and manage through the ongoing downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agreement we reached today will leave Alpha Media well positioned for a market recovery as a stronger and even more competitive company. Broadcast radio is the leading reach medium in the United States, with attractive ROIs for advertisers, and radio continues to be an indispensable communications platform nationwide. We believe the balance sheet restructuring will provide greater financial resources and flexibility to Alpha Media, enabling the Company to strengthen its position as a leading mid-market broadcaster in the United States, and invest in new digital capabilities to better serve our advertisers and communities. Our core business continues to perform well despite current market challenges. We will continue to invest in our talented teams to foster the unique culture that has been key to Alpha Media’s success in delivering dynamic, diverse and exciting content to our communities.”

Monday Memo: Time Management 2021. “Short version? Time will not be managed.” But in this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke explains how “tasks can,” and that’s gotten trickier in pandemic shutdown mode. He outlines solutions for recurring distractions. Read it here.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccine Rollout Troubles, Trump Impeachment, Capitol Attack Investigation, Trump Third Party Launch, Tacoma Protest/Deadly Indianapolis Shooting, and NFL Conference Championships Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the strategic troubles affecting the rollout of the vaccines; the Article of Impeachment against Donald Trump; the arrests being made during the investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol; the rumors that Donald Trump intends to launch a third political party; the Tacoma protest in which a police officer drove into a crowd and the shooting in Indianapolis in which five adults and an unborn child were killed; and Sunday’s NFL Conference Championship games were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Value. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says, “Presenting the value proposition is a never-ending challenge, especially for the broadcast seller. I’ve seen too many sellers get hung up on product features that are station-centric – important to management, talent, and the seller. The truth is the advertiser doesn’t see it the same way.” The past year has taught us that the value perception of your station’s product has changed. For more on this, read Lapa’s column here.

WCCO-AM, Minneapolis Program Director John Hanson Exits. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Entercom’s news/talk WCCO-AM, Minneapolis has let program director John Hanson go. Hanson had been serving as the station’s PD since the fall of 2018. Hanson is a native of the Twin Cities who worked on air as co-host of KSTP-TV’s “Twin Cities Live” afternoon talk show that launched in 2008. He joined Entercom in 2013 to program sports talk KCSP-AM, Kansas City. The reason for Hanson’s departure is not clear but the staff was alerted in a memo from market SVP Shannon Knoepke, who wrote on January 21, “Reaching out this afternoon to notify the staff that John Hanson is no longer with the company, effective today. More to come as we move forward and work to fill this position.”

WJBC, Bloomington-Normal Adds Michael Koolidge Show. The independently syndicated Michael Koolidge show is added to the program schedule at Cumulus Media’s WJBC-AM, Bloomington-Normal, Illinois in the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot. Koolidge says, “We couldn’t be more excited to join WJBC. I’ve been trying to break into the Bloomington-Normal market for years and I’m thrilled that Cumulus’ WJBC decided to pick up the show!” WJBC operations manager Dan Westhoff says, “We are very excited to be adding ‘The Michael Koolidge Show’ to our lineup. Michael’s been very successful throughout Illinois and the Midwest and we can’t wait to have him on WJBC.”

Marc Bernier Show Celebrates 30th Anniversary. Pictured above is WNDB, Daytona Beach talk host Marc Benier broadcasting live from DB Pickles restaurant in Ormond Beach, Florida celebrating his 30th year on air as a talk host. The celebration was also a benefit for Halifax Urban Ministries. January 21 was declared “Marc Bernier Show Day” with a flag flown over the state capitol and declarations declared honoring Bernier in the cities and county of Volusia. A number of local and state officials attended the broadcast.

WRHU Radio Hofstra University will Receive World Radio Day Award 2021.  In conjunction with World Radio Day coming up on February 13, the Academy of Radio Arts and Sciences of America has selected WRHU Radio of Hofstra University to receive the 2021 World Radio Day Award. The honor commemorates World Radio Day, established by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) and is celebrated annually on February 13. World Radio Day is intended to raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio. WRHU is the first student-run station to receive this honor.  WRHU Radio 88.7 FM is the campus radio station of Hofstra University, a private university located on Long Island in Hempstead, NY. The station has been the recipient of numerous regional, state, and national awards, including three prestigious Marconi Awards from the National Association of Broadcasters (2014, 2017, and 2019).  With studios housed in Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, the station has been committed to training the next generation of radio professionals for more than 60 years in a wide variety of radio genres including news, sports, public affairs, community programming, and music. For the past decade, WRHU has exclusively produced and distributed radio broadcasts of New York Islanders hockey games, the first and only college radio station to have such an agreement with a professional major-league sports team.  “We are immensely honored to receive this award of recognition,” said Mark Lukasiewicz, dean of the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication. “WRHU and its managers and staff deserve enormous credit for carrying on their work throughout the pandemic and providing vital information to the community.”  The annual World Radio Day Award honors a U.S. radio station that exemplifies the best attributes of the radio industry. Recipients may be large or small stations, commercial or noncommercial, located in any market, and broadcasting in any language. The award jury looks for stations that demonstrate ideals of localism, audience reach, community service, effective use of new digital platforms, diversity in program content and staffing, and financial and ratings success.  For this year’s award, the jury has highlighted the work done during the coronavirus pandemic, in light of UNESCO’s theme for the World Radio Day 2021 celebration, which is “New World, New Radio” in the sense that radio is a medium for resilience of our society. The jury of Academy is composed by eight highly qualified professionals of the broadcast industry (in alphabetical order): Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency; Michael Harrison, founder/publisher, TALKERSPaul McLane, editor in chief, Radio WorldMike McVay, president, McVay Media ConsultingFrancisco Montero, partner, Fletcher, Heald & HildrethChris Oliviero, SVP/MM, Entercom New York; Deborah Parenti, publisher, Radio Ink; and Paul Rotella, president of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association. WRHU was recognized for its efforts during the crisis, expanding its content as student and community staffers worked and broadcast from their homes during a New York state lockdown. Hofstra University has been cited on the Best College lists of U.S. News & World ReportThe Princeton ReviewFiskeWashington Monthly, Forbes, LinkedIn and Payscale.com. It is the only university chosen to host U.S. presidential debates in three consecutive election cycles (2008, 2012 and 2016). The World Radio Day Award was initially created by the Spanish Radio Academy to spread awareness of World Radio Day. The annual February 13 commemoration was endorsed by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly and accompanied by the creation of the International Radio Committee, which collaborates with UNESCO to promote World Radio Day each year. Last year, the award went to all-news station, WTOP, Washington DC.  The 2021 World Radio Day Award will be presented to WRHU at Hofstra University in early February. For more information, click here.

Townsquare Media to Repurchase 10 Million Shares. In a press release, Townsquare Media, Inc announces it has entered into an agreement to repurchase a minimum of 10 million of the 12.5 million shares of Class A common stock, shares of Class B common stock and warrants held by funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management L.P., for $6.40 per security, which reflects a 19% discount from the closing price of the Class A common stock on Friday, January 22, 2021. The repurchase was approved by the board of directors following the recommendation of a committee of independent and disinterested directors. The aggregate purchase price is expected to be at least $64 million, subject to the company’s ability to elect to purchase additional securities at closing of the repurchase. At closing, the repurchased securities will be retired and, subject to the company’s election to repurchase additional securities, the company’s outstanding securities will be reduced from approximately 28 million to approximately 18 million. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “We appreciate the opportunity to facilitate this significant transaction with Oaktree and are excited about this repurchase, which secures the exit of a very long-term private equity majority shareholder that current and potential shareholders have described to me consistently as being an obstacle to investing more, or establishing a position, in Townsquare given the significant overhang Oaktree’s holding represented. This repurchase is immediately accretive to shareholders and we thank our board of directors for their vote of confidence in our medium and long-term business plan to grow revenue and profits.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a report by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM, Chicago afternoon news anchor Kim Gordon has resigned from the Nexstar Media Group station after 15 years. It’s rumored that Gordon will be joining Cumulus Media’s crosstown news/talk WLS-AM to serve as the afternoon news anchor on the Big John Howell program. Back at WGN, Feder reports that Lauren Lapka will be the news anchor on the Steve Bertrand afternoon program…..iHeartMedia flips sports talk WFXJ-AM, Jacksonville “The Game” to Gospel as “Hallelujah AM930/93.3 HD2.”…..News and sports radio pro Mike Smith is leaving his gig with iHeartMedia’s WBEX-AM, Chillicothe, Ohio to pursue other career opportunities, The 43-year radio pro says, “Thanks to all the great listeners, which many, many of them became life-long friends, and I can say the same about my colleagues being life-long friends and that means more to me than any nice thing that anybody ever said about the job that I did.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

| August 12, 2020

Sumner Redstone Has Died. According to a statement from ViacomCBS, its chair emeritus and chief executive officer of controlling shareholder National Amusements, Sumner Redstone, has died. Redstone served as Viacom CEO from 1996 – 2005, and was executive chair of the Viacom and CBS boards from 2005 – 2016. He since was chair emeritus for both companies. A statement reads, “Sumner Redstone was a brilliant visionary, operator, and dealmaker, who single-handedly transformed a family-owned drive-in theater company into a global media portfolio. He was a force of nature and fierce competitor, who leaves behind a profound legacy in both business and philanthropy. ViacomCBS will remember Sumner for his unparalleled passion to win, his endless intellectual curiosity, and his complete dedication to the company. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Redstone family today.” Sumner Redstone was 97 years old.

Beasley Study: Boston Consumers Optimistic. Results of Beasley Media Group Boston-commissioned/ Strategic Solutions Research-conducted polling indicate the majority of Boston-area consumers remain optimistic even during the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, a large percentage feel their spending is – or will soon be – back to normal. Beasley Media Group Boston vice president/market manager Mary Menna comments, “The company’s study is meant to help guide marketing partners on how to craft the most effective messaging with their advertising and give Boston area businesses critical data as to local consumers’ current state-of-mind and planned future behaviors. It was important for us to conduct this research to get a pulse on Boston consumers for our clients. People in Boston are optimistic that we will make it through the pandemic. That optimism shows true ‘Boston Strong’ grit and determination. They also understand the seriousness of the situation: The great majority of listeners – nine of ten – support wearing a mask, and they expect others to do so as well.” Strategic Solutions Research partner Hal Rood notes that, while shopping patterns have had to shift online, “It does not spell the end of brick-and-mortar establishments. The overwhelming majority of listeners still plan on making in-person shopping part of their mix, and that includes people under 35.” The survey was conducted July 6 – 16 among 1,532 listeners of Beasley Media Group Boston’s five radio stations: sports talk WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub”; classic hits-oldies WROR “105.7 ’80s & More”; WKLB “Country 102.5”; WBOS “Boston’s Rock 92.9”; and rhythmic hot AC WBQT “Hot 96.9.”

Local Ad Revenue Estimates Lowered. Continuing economic fallout owing to the coronavirus crisis has led BIA Advisory Services to adjust its estimate for 2020’s total local advertising market to $140.4 billion, which is down from April’s $144.3 billion. Albeit with this year’s anticipated strong political advertising, BIA’s updated forecast estimate represents a 6.1% decline from 2019. BIA’s senior vice president/chief economist Mark Fratrik explains that, “To update our post-COVID forecast from April, we analyzed the continuing impact on local advertising by the weakened economy, continuing job loss reports, and the downturn in some key business verticals. We believe a realistic view of the economy overall and the advertising marketplace is that, after a dramatic decrease in the second-quarter and a bumpy start to the third, the remainder of the year will turn positive, but end up with an overall decline in local advertising for the year.” As political campaigns continue to drift to online rallies and events, presidential and down-ballot candidates are spending significant dollars in local broadcast and digital advertising. Ever since its April prediction, BIA increased the expected political ad spend from $7.1 billion to $7.3 billion. Distributed share to different media includes $5 million to terrestrial radio; $138 million to over-the-air TV; $40 million to cable TV; and $26 million to online/digital.

COVID-19 Concerns Cause BFA Golf Tourney Cancellation. Owing to coronavirus-related safety fears, the Broadcasters Foundation of America has scrubbed its celebrity golf tournament fundraiser. Another big BFA money driver – the Philip J. Lombardo Golf Tournament traditionally held in conjunction with the NAB Show in Las Vegas – was cancelled as well a few months ago. Broadcasters Foundation chair Scott Herman remarks, “Our colleagues who find themselves in acute need due to a debilitating illness or accident need our help. This year, we are helping more broadcasters than ever before, and it’s imperative that we continue to do so. We cannot turn our backs on our colleagues.” Broadcasters Foundation president Jim Thompson adds, “We have three major fundraisers a year, and the golf tournaments are two of them. Our grant recipients worked in radio or television stations in markets across America.” The two golf fundraisers, along with smaller events, generate over $450,000 a year. In hopes of negating the losses, the Broadcasters Foundation is launching a plea for donations. Personal contributions can be made to the Foundation’s Guardian Fund. Corporate offerings are accepted through the Angel Initiative, while bequests can be made through the Foundation’s Legacy Society.

Mr. Master Marks Milestone: Million Spots Per Week. The company behind Automation Import Manager (AIM) – Mr. Master – has processed and provided compliance for one million network spots per week nationwide. This coincides with Mr. Master announcing new AIM agreements with Neuhoff Communications (five markets/20 stations) and Forever Communications (three markets/26 stations). It has AIM renewal contracts with Entercom (44 markets/453 stations); Alpha Media (46 markets/226 stations); SummitMedia (nine markets/51 stations); and Forever Media (16 markets/63 stations). Mr. Master president Stu Jacobs states, “We are very proud that AIM has become such a widely accepted, and useful tool that helps networks, stations, and advertisers to quickly get the accurate information they need, whether they are working in-office or remotely. One million national network spots a week – 52 million spots a year – is a huge milestone for our company. We couldn’t have done it without our first-class team and the amazing clients who trust us with their accountability.”

Albuquerque’s KQTM Aligns With Cage Side Seat MMA Media. The multi-layered broadcast relationship between Team Broadcasting Albuquerque sports talk KQTM “ESPN 101.7 The Team” and Cage Side Seat MMA Media includes weekly Jim “Gries” Grieshaber-hosted longform programming; daily UFC/MMA commentaries/features; and weekly guest appearances on live programming. KQTM president Joe O’Neill comments, “It’s great to work with Jim. He’s a national-level talent connected to the pulse of UFC/MMA. We look forward to bringing “Gries” to New Mexico.” Grieshaber adds, “We’re so pumped to partner with our friends at ‘The Team’ and the great MMA fans of Albuquerque. Albuquerque is hallowed ground in our sport. It is home of the mecca of MMA gyms Jackson-Wink MMA, the GOAT Jon Jones, and legends like Holly Holm, Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez, ‘The Karate Hottie’ Michelle Waterson, and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. We’re coming strong with the best in MMA/UFC sports talk programming.”

Key Networks And Virtual Jock Partnering. In the barter basis arrangement, New Generation Radio product Virtual Jock will provide syndication company Key Networks access to its on-air talent and programming services. Virtual Jock founder/president/chief executive officer Jason Kidd explains that right before launching Virtual Jock five years ago, “Many stations were downsizing and losing strong local talent in the process. Fast forward to now and the need is greater than ever before. Teaming up with Key Networks will allow us to take things to an even higher level, expanding and offering our major market talent roster to radio stations across all formats. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with them.” Key Networks president and chief operating officer Jim Higgins comments, “The ongoing disruption from COVID-19 has severely impacted every radio company. All have eliminated some on-air positions and daypart shifts as cost-cutting moves in order to retain financial stability. Virtual Jock can now assist these groups and others by offering a no-cost barter option to fill some of these numerous holes and to also reconnect with those disenfranchised listeners. We want to work closely with stations to fill this void as radio is beginning to rebound.” Chief revenue officer Dennis Green notes, “Jason [Kidd] and his team have developed a concept that offers stations a chance to bring top-notch talent across all formats to markets from coast-to-coast. Key Networks is delighted to partner with Virtual Jock to provide a marketing opportunity that is cost-effective for stations both large and small to have dynamic and proven talent on their air.” In addition to 24/7 formats, Virtual Jock currently offers 40 full-time/in-house voice talents, as well as fully-produced audio programs and imaging. New York and Orlando-based Key Networks is a Sun & Fun Media-affiliated company.

Shondaland Audio, iHeartMedia Release Original Podcasts. As part of an arrangement between iHeartRadio and Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland Audio, three podcasts will debut this month: “You Down?”; “Criminalia”; and “Go Ask Ali.” Future podcasts will include “#Matter,” “American Coup,” and “Black Girl Lost.” According to iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne, “Shonda Rhimes is an absolute creative powerhouse. Developing these first few shows together has indicated what a strong partnership iHeartMedia and Shondaland have formed with Shondaland Audio. The breadth and depth of content that’s in progress as part of this partnership is unparalleled. We’re thrilled to work beside the Shondaland team to bring Shonda’s unique storytelling magic to podcast listeners everywhere.” Shondaland Audio chief design and digital media officer Sandie Bailey states, “Podcasts allow for innovative and intimate storytelling and that’s exactly what this slate offers – deeply human stories through a range of genres and formats aimed to engage the varied and ever- growing podcast listenership. iHeartMedia has been an incredible partner in forming Shondaland Audio. I’m thrilled that audiences will soon hear more from our collaboration with this new offering of shows.” Rhimes oversees development of the slate; Bailey manages day-to-day operations. Previously launched “Katie’s Crib,” a bi-weekly podcast following “Scandal” and “Waitress” actress Katie Lowes joined the slate three months ago. It releases a new episode tomorrow (Thursday, 8/13) that features actress Gabrielle Union.

Veritone One Signs On With Nielsen’s Podcast Buying Power Service. Audio advertising and media agency Veritone One is now subscribing to Nielsen’s Podcast Buying Power Service. Veritone One senior vice president of strategy and investment Conor Doyle comments, “As one of the largest podcast advertising agencies serving over 100 active clients across 15,000 podcasts, Nielsen’s research will help us refine our current placements and unlock market opportunities for new advertisers wanting to enter the medium. Access to consumption and audience data will attract brand advertisers who have been previously hesitant to enter the largely direct-to-consumer space. Integrating Nielsen’s unique insights along with our proprietary AI-based analytics and decades of experience will enable us to set a new industry standard in podcast advertising.” Nielsen Global Media executive vice president/managing director David Hohman notes, “Veritone One is an agency that is on the cutting-edge of advertising. We are excited to empower them as they turn their data into actionable intelligence with real-time campaign optimization. With more brand advertisers coming into the podcast medium, and Nielsen’s ability to analyze over 150 podcasts, Veritone One will be able to reach even greater success as an innovative industry leader.”

TALKERS News Notes. “Women To Watch” joins the lineup of Red Apple Media New York’s WABC “Talk Radio 77” this Saturday (8/15) at 8:30 am. It will commence as a 30-minute show, expanding to 60 minutes three weeks later (9/5) at a yet-to-be-determined time. The show’s founder/host Susan Rocco remarks, “I always wanted ‘Women to Watch’ to be the go-to media network for all stories related to women’s leadership and success. We are building a woman-owned, women-run media company to amplify the voices of women who are leading across all industries.” WABC’s senior vice president of programming Dave LaBrozzi notes his station, “is proud to support strong women by bringing this lively and inspiring weekly show to the NYC market.” The first guest featured on WABC will be The Weiss Agency executive vice president Heather Cohen, who comments, “‘Women To Watch’ is the place to go to hear inspiring stories by inspiring women. Susan [Rocco] is the consummate professional and her interviews are spot-on.  I’m honored to be the first guest in the NY market.” Rocco states, “Heather Cohen is an exciting first guest for our new market. She’s a New Yorker, has worked in the industry and was recently elected chair of The Alliance For Women in Media.” Originated and still heard on Entercom Philadelphia’s WPHT “Talk Radio 1210,” Women To Watch has expanded to a national podcast and digital platform … Separate from his duties as 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm host on Cox Media Group Atlanta news/talk WSB-AM & WSBB-FM, Erick Erickson today (Wednesday, 8/12) celebrates the one-year anniversary of doing self-syndication. His first affiliate was in Athens, Georgia (WGAU). Twelve months later, Erickson is on more than a dozen Georgia news/talk outlets. A one-man band, he does affiliate relations, and ad sales. Describing the experience as rewarding, Erickson explains, “Georgia’s swing state status makes a statewide program focused on the state a unique selling point. I try to be upfront, though, that I want to stretch outside the state after the election and keep growing nationwide.”  … As noted yesterday (TALKERS, 8/11), president Trump chatted on-air with Salem Media Networks host Hugh Hewitt. That wasn’t yesterday’s only radio stop for the chief executive though as he visited with Fox Sports Radio’s (6:00 am – 9:00 am, ET) “Outkick The Coverage” host Clay Travis. Regarding college football and the coronavirus, Trump told Travis, “People don’t realize it’s a tiny percentage of people that get sick and they’re old. It just attacks old people, especially old people with bad hearts, diabetes, some kind of a physical problem or a weight problem. These football players are very young, strong people. Physically, they’re in extraordinary shape, so they’re not going to have a problem. You’re not going to see people dying. You can’t have empty seats. I’m not sure college football can do it, but we’ll have to see.” On the return of the NFL and the NBA, he commented, “Well, they want to open and they want to open badly and they’ve been working with government. I would say this – if they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open. Other than that, I’d love to see them open and we’re doing everything possible to get them open. They can protest in other ways. I don’t think they should protest our flag or our country. Basketball ratings are down to very, very low numbers. People are angry about it. They have enough politics with guys like me. They don’t need more as they’re going up for the shot. There was a nastiness about the NBA and the way it was done. I think the NBA’s in big trouble — bigger trouble than they understand.” … Taking the place of annual in-person tours that SiriusXM’s “NFL Radio” channel usually conducts, it will present 32 virtual NFL training camp shows – one for each NFL franchise. Starting today (Wednesday, 8/12), “NFL Radio” channel hosts will interview players, coaches, and team executives via video conferencing. SiriusXM senior vice president of sports programming Steve Cohen states, “Like all NFL fans, we look excitedly ahead to the 2020 NFL season. Even amid these very unique circumstances in which teams are reporting to camp, we remain dedicated to giving our listeners the most in-depth and comprehensive preseason preview of their favorite teams. Our experts include some of the most knowledgeable and well-connected people covering the game today. They will deliver a level of analysis on teams and players that you can’t get anywhere else.” …  Numerous lineup changes next Monday (8/17) at Disney-owned/Good Karma Brands-operated sports talk WMVP will find “ESPN 1000 Chicago” airing two hours (5:00 am – 7:00 am) of ESPN Radio’s new national morning show with Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Zubin Mehenti. Shifting from 6:00 am – 9:00 am to 7:00 am – 10:00 am is David Kaplan. He will partner with Jonathan  Hood, who segues from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Meanwhile, Carmen DeFalco and John Jurkovic transition from 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm to 10:00 am – 12:00 noon, as ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg-hosted “Greeny” takes over the vacated 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm slot. Weekend hosts Chris Bleck and Adam Abdalla advance to 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, while Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman remain in afternoon drive (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm) … Citing pandemic-caused budget issues, Team Broadcasting Albuquerque sports talk KQTM “ESPN 101.7 The Team” parts ways with morning host Jim Villanucci and producer/host Sam Hauser. The station’s afternoon program – “Team Talk” – is being handled by a revolving set of hosts. Formerly an on-air talent at Cumulus Media Albuquerque news/talk KKOB-AM, Villanucci joined KQTM two years ago. He previously worked at news/talk stations in Portland (KXL) and Las Vegas (KXNT). Before coming to “The Team” last year, Hauser served as sports director in Austin, Minnesota at KAUS and was a producer/board op in Miami at sports talk WAXY “790 The Ticket.”

Kamala Harris Receives VP Nod, Mail-In Voting Debate, School Opening Struggles, and Chicago Unrest Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/11).  The selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as Joe Biden’s running-mate topped the TALKERS list of most-discussed stories on news/talk radio across America yesterday (8/11).  It was followed by the debates over mail-in voting and the opening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Other major topics included Chicago unrest, Russia’s vaccine, stimulus relief, and the cancellation of Big 10 and Pac-12 college football according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. With Ryan Seacrest’s television partner Kelly Ripa taking yesterday (Tuesday, 8/10) and today (Wednesday, 8/11) off, his “Live With Kelly & Ryan” co-host those two days is Sisanie, his radio partner. The two work together  on Premiere Networks’ “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” heard around the country from iHeartMedia Los Angeles CHR flagship KIIS “102.7 Kiss-FM.” Sisanie has filled in for Ripa several times the past few years … Last summer, Westwood One’s “Bob & Tom Show” asked David Rush, the world’s fastest juggler and breaker of over 150 Guinness World Records, to attempt shattering the record for most balloons popped in one minute using chopsticks. Rush established that mark in 2018 with 28 balloons, but that feat was subsequently broken. Rush set out to regain the title this past Sunday (8/9) – this time using hand pump-inflated, COVID-free balloon targets bearing “The Bob & Tom Show” logo. Halfway into the attempt, Rush recounts that he was “just barely on pace to beat the record,” but began throwing the chopsticks a little faster to pop 40 balloons in 60 seconds – a new world record. A big promoter of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, Rush dedicates all his world records to that cause … WBVX “Classic Rock 92.1” names Dennis “Dead Air” Dillon program director/afternoon personality of the LM Communications Lexington (Kentucky) outlet. LM Communications owner/president Lynn Martin remarks, “We are pleased to welcome Dennis Dillon, who has a long history of presenting the very best classic rock music and now can present it to the best classic rock audience in Lexington. By introducing him to our locally-owned and operated radio group, we once again show that being a local voice rather than just a cog in a national wheel lets us provide something truly unique to the classic rock audience in Lexington. Dillon notes, “In a time when big corporations are moving away from local DJ’s in the community, I’m ecstatic to have found a home in the city I love with a locally-owned and operated company. I’ve always loved this genre and I’m already discovering that the ‘Classic Rock 92.1’ fans share that same passion.” Dillon previously worked in Cincinnati, Louisville, and Chattanooga … Former MusicMaster vice president of sales Jerry Butler joins Marc Radio Gainesville-Ocala as local sales manager for a cluster that includes alternative WHHZ “100.5 The Buzz”; country WPLL; rhythmic CHR WTGM “Magic 101.3”; classic hits-oldies WXJZ; and contemporary Christian WTMN & WRZN. Marc Radio general manager Dave Cobb comments, “Jerry brings the perfect mix of leadership, marketing, on-air personality, and programming savvy. He knows the radio industry inside and out. He is great at advising clients and introducing them to new products. He’s a great asset to our team.” Butler adds, “Our goal is to guide the local advertising community on how best to earn impressive returns on their investments in any, or all, of our radio station formats.” … After stunting by playing a weekend of all-Christmas music, Zimmer Midwest Communications Springfield, Missouri flips sports talk KWTO “The Jock” to adult contemporary “98.7 The Dove.” ZMC co-owner John Zimmer remarks, “It’s a great day for our company to enter the greater Springfield market with stations featuring the most powerful signals and largest coverage areas to serve the Ozark region. The greater Springfield region has been a great driver of growth in Missouri – we are proud to be of part of the expansion. We look forward to making a positive impact and difference for the community and businesses with our local solutions and stations to promote the economy of the Springfield region.” Kevin Howard and Liz Delany (“Kevin & Liz”) debut in morning drive next Monday (8/17). Core artists on “Lite Rock Favorites The Dove” include Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Billy Joel, and Sting.