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Friday, March 27, 2020

| March 27, 2020

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM, Washington, DC.  The new episode titled, “Lives versus Livelihood?” looks back at this past week of March 23-27, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSMike Gallagher, talk show host, Salem Radio NetworkCurtis Sliwa, talk show host, 77WABC, New York; Dr. Daliah Wachs, physician/talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkSteve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston/webmaster, scamicide.com; Trevor Smith, radio content producer, Aloha Productions, Australia; Bobbie Winston (La Femme Bobbie), American ex-pat/artist, Brazil; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio CompanyDavid Clayton-Thomas, musician, songwriter/former lead vocalist, Blood, Sweat & Tears.  This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on WONK-FM, Washington, DC Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “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.

Adams Radio Reducing Salaries to Avoid Layoffs. In his announcement that Adams Radio Group staffers have agreed to take a temporary 10% pay cut in order to avoid layoffs, CEO Ron Stone says, “I could not be prouder of our employees.  Every employee of Adams Radio stepped up to do their part to ensure that no Adams employee would lose their position.  We are a family. Our goal is singular.  To ensure everyone in our company gets through this crisis with the least amount of harm.  This test of our country’s ability to weather a storm is unlike anything any of us have seen, but we will get through this together, and be stronger for it.  What seems like a huge sacrifice today, is miniscule compared to what our fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers sacrificed.  At least we are not weathering winter without coats or boots like Washington’s army at Bunker Hill.  We are not killing our brothers in a civil war.  And we are not living for weeks in foxholes in horrible winter conditions during the Battle of the Bulge. Things could be much worse.  I sincerely hope that any company, media or otherwise, will consider overall reductions in compensation on a temporary basis rather than terminate employees.  Our most important asset is our people, and we should do all we can to keep them whole.  I am so thankful for a staff that not only wants to participate in helping our company weather this storm, they are working tirelessly in our communities to keep our local businesses front and center in the minds of listeners.”

Backbone Offers Broadcast from Home Capability Free for 45 Days. In order to help the radio industry serve the public, digital remote broadcast provider Backbone is offering its Backbone CoHost with LUCI Global apps to radio stations for free for 45 days.  The company says, “We need to stay safe, and we need to stay on the air.  Working from home is no longer just a futuristic perk, it’s our current duty.  This should be easy and affordable, and it can be.  There is no need to outlay capital to survive, thanks to our unique, integrated Virtualization in the Cloud.  Backbone CoHost PL is a fast and easy way for stations to create an always-available ‘Party Line’ conference room for one or more hosts, guests, and correspondents to contribute live audio for your broadcasts.  These two-way conversations are enabled by using the groundbreaking LUCI Global service from Technica del Arte and their free, downloadable apps for iOS, Mac, Android, and Windows platforms.  LUCI enables these phones, pads, and computers to communicate with and using the same standard formats used by commercial hardware, including COMREX and TIELINE.  CoHost PL is a simplified, unswitched version of Backbone CoHost, allowing users to instantly join the broadcast with the touch of a finger.  There are no IT settings to configure, no port selections to worry about, and no equipment to purchase or forget in the car.  It all works with whatever device you’re carrying, and over any decent Internet access you can find.”  Backbone is offering a fully functional, unlimited demo of CoHost PL and LUCI Global to our existing phone and radio customers, as well as U.S.-based call-letter radio and TV stations, for 45 days, starting March 30.  Find out more here. To start a free 45-day trial, email your contact information and a brief note about your organization to: info@backbone.com

Dom Giordano Launches “Home Learning Tips” One-Minute Feature on WPHT, Philadelphia.  Recognized throughout the state of Pennsylvania as a master teacher prior to beginning his stellar, decades-long radio career on some of Philadelphia’s leading news/talk outlets, WPHT mid-morning host Dom Giordano has launched a series of one-minute tips on home schooling for parents to utilize in productively keeping their kids busy while they are home during the coronavirus crisis.  The feature runs once per hour between 1:00 pm and 7:00 pm every weekday.  Giordano tells TALKERS, “After hearing from listeners about the challenges of working with their kids at home due to schools being closed, I offered my station a one-minute daily combination pep talk and ideas to help their kids at home for parents.  The theme is you are your child’s first and best teacher.  I’m tapping into my credibility with listeners and my years as an education/parenting analyst and columnist.”

Cumulus’ Dallas Talk Stations Hosting Special Mark Cuban Broadcast Today. Dallas news/talk stations WBAP and KLIF-AM are presenting an on-air town hall with businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, titled, “Assisting DFW Businesses During the Coronavirus.”  The Cumulus Media stations will simulcast the program from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm CST.  The WBAP/KLIF Town Hall will be hosted by Brian Estridge and Rick Roberts and topics addressed will include: How can businesses survive during these times?; How would the government’s Coronavirus Spending Package assist?; and How can consumers help their local community businesses?

Weighing the Economy Versus Lives Is Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 23-27.  The ethical dilemma of whether to save the country’s economy by reopening businesses or keep them shut to limit the deaths and the toll on the health care system was the most-talked-about story on news/talk this week and sitting atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the stimulus deal being crafted in Congress and the activity on the world’s financial markets.  Coming in at #3 is the status of the U.S. health care system, followed by the presidential race and politics at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  See this week’s entire chart here.

iHeartMedia and Salem Media Group Withdraw Guidance on First Quarter of This Year. Not surprisingly, two of the radio industry’s corporations – iHeartMedia, Inc. and Salem Media Group Inc. – are announcing they are withdrawing their financial guidance originally provided on their 2019 fourth quarter earnings calls.  iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman states, “Given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the duration and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the U.S. economy, we believe it is appropriate to withdraw our full-year 2020 guidance.  While we cannot determine the full extent of COVID-19’s impact on our business at this time, we are monitoring this rapidly evolving situation closely and look forward to discussing our business in greater detail as part of our first quarter 2020 earnings results investor call.”  iHeartMedia COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “iHeartMedia had a strong January and February before the effects of COVID-19 began to unfold into a global pandemic in early March.  The challenges that COVID-19 has created for advertisers and consumers has impacted iHeart’s revenue in recent weeks, creating a less clear business outlook in the near term.  To maintain maximum financial flexibility during this period, we have drawn $350 million on our $450 million senior secured asset-based revolving credit facility (“ABL Facility”).  We believe that the additional funds from drawing on our ABL Facility, in combination with our cash balance, provides us with a prudent level of liquidity at this time. We fully appreciate the unprecedented challenges posed by this crisis, however, we remain confident in our business, our employees and our strategy. With our experienced management team and our leadership position in the audio sector, we are committed to navigating this period while serving our audiences and other constituents.”  Salem Media Group, Inc. says in a statement, “Based on current indications, Salem expects total first quarter 2020 revenue will be less than previously projected as a result of decreased revenues from advertising, programming, events and book sales.  Due to continuing uncertainties regarding the ultimate scope and trajectory of COVID-19’s spread and evolution, the effects of the pandemic on Salem’s audiences, programmers and advertisers, and current and potential future governmental restrictions that may be adopted in the markets in which Salem operates, it is impossible to predict the total impact that the pandemic may have on Salem’s business.”

TALKERS News Notes. Nationally syndicated talk radio star Michael Savage is appointed by President Trump to the board of directors of the Presidio Trust for a term expiring May 4, 2023.  Along with the National Park Service, the Presidio Trust manages the Presidio of San Francisco, the former military fort that is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  The host of the Westwood One-syndicated “The Savage Nation” holds a doctorate in ethnobotanical research from the University of California and both a Master of Science in botany and a Master of Arts in anthropology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that former WGN-AM station manager Todd Manley is producing a new podcast via his EarSight Studios that pairs Windy City communications consultants Lissa Druss and Thom Serafin for “The Crisis Cast.”  The episodes will be hosted by former WBBM-AM/WFCS-FM anchor Mariam Sobh.  EarSight expects to produce three to five podcasts per week…..Today (3/27), Cox Media Group’s Atlanta stations – led by news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM – is hosting a virtual food drive to benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank as part of the Stronger Together ATL campaign.  Atlanta Community Food Bank continues to provide meals for children, families and seniors as access to nutritious food throughout the COVID-19 crisis, by working with more than 600 nonprofit partners and the new Text for Help program…..The Cumulus Media news/talk teams at WBAP and KLIF-AM in Dallas were well represented at this year’s Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Contest.   Reporter Clayton Neville won First Place for Spot News by a Reporter for his coverage of the August 2019 El Paso Shooting.  The WBAP news team was awarded Second Place for Spot Coverage by a Station for coverage of the North Dallas Tornadoes in October.  For the 6th year KLIF morning drive anchors Dave Williams and Amy Chodroff won First Place for News Anchor Team and WBAP’s Brian Estridge won First Place for Sports Play-by-Play.

PPM Analysis: Classic Rock. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on classic rock.  It was a mixed bag in February for classic rock stations in the PPM markets, with 44% of stations losing weekly, 6+ AQH share and 46% gaining.  Year-over-year, 50% of classic rockers lost share while 43% saw an increase.  Three classic rock outlets – all owned by iHeartMedia – ranked #1 in February: KRFX, Denver “The Fox” (5.7), WRFX, Charlotte “The Fox” (7.9), and WAQX, New York (in the Middlesex-Somerset-Union market) (7.4).  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

More Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro AJ Dukette joins Saga Communications’ classic hits WYNZ, Portland “Rewind 100.9” to host mornings, taking over for the recently retired Chuck Igo.  Saga vice president of programming Bob Lawrence says, “When learning that Chuck was retiring, we began an extensive search for the right person to fill his shoes and then – Voila! – AJ appeared late last week.  We could not be more thrilled to welcome such a talented, Portland icon.”…..Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the annual Mountain Jam Festival scheduled for May 29-31 at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, New York has been cancelled.  Acts scheduled to perform included Gov’t Mule, Trey Anastasio Band, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Head and the Heart, Grace Potter, and many more…..Empire State Realty Trust and iHeartMedia announce their partnership to “reach those sheltering at home” with WHTZ, New York Z100’s radio waves and Empire State Building’s world-famous tower lights.  Tonight at 9:00 pm, the tower of the Empire State Building will illuminate the New York City skyline and beam iHeartMedia’s Z100 with a light show synced to the modern era anthem of New York City, Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind.”  The light show will replay on Saturday, March 28, and then again from Monday, March 30 through Thursday, April 2.  On Sunday, March 29, the Empire State Building will “shine in a dynamic heartbeat” from 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm in support of the “FOX Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America.”

Thursday, November 21, 2019

| November 21, 2019

Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder Out in New WGN, Chicago Program Schedule. Two months after new management ousted station manager Todd Manley from his role at WGN, Chicago and hinted more changes were on the horizon, the Nexstar-owned news/talk outlet announces its new programming lineup and late morning duo Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder are the odd couple out.  After the close of the Tribune-Nexstar deal, Sean Compton became executive vice president and director of news and operations Mary Sandberg Boyle was named interim programming manager.  Yesterday (11/20), Boyle announced the changes via internal email.  Among the changes effective December 2 are: Steve Cochran’s morning show starts an hour earlier, airing from 5:00 am to 9:00 am; John Williams moves from his current 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm slot to 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; Ji Suk Yi takes over hosting the 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm “Wintrust Business Lunch” show; and Anna Davlantes leaves the co-host role on the afternoon drive Roe Conn program to host her own 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm talk show.  Conn remains in afternoons, followed by Justin Kaufmann from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm, followed by Nick Digilio from 11:00 pm to 4:00 am.  WGN will simulcast the “WGN-TV Early Morning News” from 4:00 am to 5:00 am.  Read Chicago media writer Robert Feder’s coverage here.

WPHT, Philadelphia’s Rich Zeoli Interviews President Trump. Pictured above is WPHT, Philadelphia morning drive personality Rich Zeoli interviewing President Trump in the Oval Office as part of Tuesday’s White House Radio Row on the United States Mexico Canada trade deal.  The president also talked about the 2020 election and the impeachment hearings.  Zeoli says, “The president was incredibly gracious with his time and said how much he loves talk radio.”  Photo: Andrea Hanks

John Fredericks Show Interviews VP Mike Pence. At Tuesday’s White House Radio Row on the USMCA treaty, Virginia talk station owner and statewide talk radio personality John Fredericks (right) posed for a photo with Vice President Mike Pence (left) and Fredericks’ wife, Anne (center), who serves as CFO of the John Fredericks Network.

Cumulus Inks ‘The Ticket’ Morning Show ‘The Musers’ to Multiyear Extension. Dallas sports talkers George Dunham, Craig Miller, and Gordon Keith – collectively known as “The Musers” – sign contract extensions to continue hosting the morning drive show on Cumulus Media’s sports talk KCTK-AM/FM, Dallas “The Ticket.”  The Cumulus Dallas-Houston regional vice president Dan Bennett says, “For 25 years, the Morning Musers’ George Dunham, Craig Miller, and Gordon Keith have performed at a market dominant level and we are excited that will continue for many more years in Dallas!”  The Musers comment, “We are very pleased to continue our longstanding relationship with Cumulus and the wonderful leadership of the Dallas/Fort Worth market.  This company has made us feel appreciated and we are extremely thankful for their support of such a special station.  ‘The Ticket’ in Dallas/Fort Worth is our home and the bond that we have with our listeners is something we will cherish for as long as we breathe.”

Salem Covers A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Premiere. Above is Salem Radio Network VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup (left) interviewing director Marielle Heller (right) at last night’s premiere of the SONY Pictures film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.  The film stars Tom Hanks as television icon Fred Rogers.  The premiere took place in Pittsburgh where the “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” TV show was produced at WQED-TV.

Skyview Networks Sponsors Panels at MLB Rightsholders Conference. The photo above shows the participants in this year’s MLB Audio Rightsholders Conference in Las Vegas.  More than 20 teams and organizations participated in panels covering technology, audio sales strategies, and the future of emerging non-terrestrial mediums.  Digital content captured the main focus of the conversations as franchises shared strategies for monetizing this evolving platform.  Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones says, “Skyview Networks is proud to return as the title sponsor of this conference, which hosts an innovative group of baseball and broadcast executives as they discuss the critical role radio and digital audio play in fan engagement.  We look forward to developing additional technology to serve our partners in this evolving audio space.”  Additional panel topics included maximizing ad sales with an emphasis on innovative features and creating awareness for franchises’ ancillary digital content, especially concerning podcasts.  As the digital listenership rapidly increases, the franchises are hyper-focused on monetizing the platform.

TALKERS News Notes. The NM Political Report says that KIVA-AM/K229CL, Albuquerque owner Eddy Aragon is considering running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Tom Udall, who is not running for re-election.  Aragon – a staunch conservative – hosts the afternoon show on the station branded, “the Rock of Talk.”  He tells NM Political Report this is something he’s only considering at this point. “You have to imagine the tremendous sacrifice that I have to consider.  Being off [the air] during the year Donald Trump is running in 2020, that’s a sacrifice to my radio station.”…..KIDO, Boise morning drive talk host Kevin Miller is pictured below talking to KTVB-TV, Boise news about his annual Miller’s Mission Turkey Drive to help provide the hungry and homeless in Boise with a warm dinner for the holidays.  The goal is to collect 3,000 turkeys for the Boise Rescue Mission Ministries.  Each year Miller dons his turkey suit and broadcasts live from a local Walmart parking lot to collect turkeys and cash donations.

Impeachment Testimony, 2020 Presidential Race/Atlanta Debate, Epstein Case/Prince Andrew Troubles, U.S.-China Trade Talks/Hong Kong Human Rights Act, and Mexicans Sue Walmart Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/20). Wednesday’s impeachment hearing with testimony from EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020 and Wednesday’s Atlanta debates; the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s death and the aftermath of Prince Andrew’s BBC interview; U.S. trade talks with China and the U.S. House’s Hong Kong Human Rights Act; and Mexicans’ suit against Walmart over the mass shooting in El Paso were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Robyn Simone exits Cumulus Media’s urban contemporary WLXC, Columbia, South Carolina “Kiss 103.1” where she’d been serving as program director for the past year.  She says, “Working at Cumulus Media in Columbia was a challenge, but I gained a lot of knowledge in my short time there.  As the program director/air talent for ‘Kiss 103.1,’ I’m a stronger and more knowledgeable PD because the experience.  I would like to thank [VP programming operations] John Dimick and VP/urban programming Kenny Smoov for the opportunity and their commitment to set new standards for urban radio.”

Monday, September 23, 2019

| September 23, 2019

New Management Ousts Manley from WGN-AM Station Manager Position. Just a day after closing on its acquisition of Tribune Media, Nexstar begins making changes to news/talk WGN-AM’s operations, letting station manager and vice president of content Todd Manley go after six years in the position.  According to a report by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, new executive vice president Sean Compton hinted during a Friday meeting with staffers that there are more changes on the horizon.  Compton appointed news and operations director Mary Sandberg Boyle interim programming manager.  Feder notes, “In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, the station tied for 16th place overall, with mornings, middays, afternoons and evenings all out of the top 10.”

KQFN, Phoenix Debuts New Morning Show. Sports talk KQFN, Phoenix “The Fanatic” announces the launch of the new “Bruce Jacobs & Helly” morning show starring longtime Phoenix radio personality Bruce Jacobs and former Dallas Cowboys lineman Dale HellestraeCRC Broadcasting president and CEO Ron Cohen says, “We are so excited to have two well-known Phoenix sports radio veterans team up together every morning on ‘The Fanatic.’  With Bruce and Dale on board, we’re really looking forward to increasing our growth and popularity in the coming weeks and months.” Jacobs has served with sports talk KGME-AM, news/talk KFYI-AM in Phoenix and nationally with FOX Sports Radio.  In addition to winning three Super Bowls with the Cowboys, Hellestrae has been a color analyst for the Arizona Rattlers, high school football, and college football.

Monday Memo: 2 Magic Words for Weekend Talkers. If you’re an attorney, realtor, veterinarian, financial advisor, or other professional services provider brokering weekend talk radio time to round-up new clients, consultant Holland Cooke says there’s good news and bad news.  Read it here.

PPM Analysis: August 2019 Spoken-Word Pacesetters. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his analysis – based on data from Nielsen Audio’s August 2019 PPM survey – in which he gauges “the temperature of spoken-word stations as a complete entity in all 48 PPM-markets.”  In this report, Kinosian determines the top spoken-word markets by 6+ share; the spoken-word markets by 6+ share increases from July to August; and the top spoken-word markets by 6+ share increases from August 2018 to August 2019; plus more. See his entire report here.

WABC’s John Batchelor Show to Broadcast from Azerbaijan. All this week, the John Batchelor show – emanating from WABC, New York – will air live from the Republic of Azerbaijan. Sponsored by marketing technology company Scala Inc. and in conjunction with the Embassy of Azerbaijan, Batchelor travels to the busy neighborhood of the South Caucasus to broadcast from the military front lines of the troubled Nagorno-Karakakh region.  The press release states, “For 25 years Armenia has occupied Azerbaijan’s territory and abused the villagers, despite a ceasefire agreement.  The John Batchelor Show aims to interview the farmers, soldiers, and leaders who live in hope and fear.  Later in Baku, John Batchelor will attend the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan’s conference, ‘Impact Investing: Opportunities and Challenges for Institutional Investors.’ Azerbaijan is the critical nexus for oil and natural gas flowing out of the rich Caspian Sea Basin and along pipelines to the needs of Asia Minor, the Levant and now Europe.  Considering the recent attacks on the Persian Gulf energy production, developing and securing the Caspian Sea energy is most timely.” Batchelor says, “I look to help my audience to understand the now two-generations-long brutality in Nagorno-Karabakh that haunts the South Caucasus.  I also aim to report on how the energy producers of the region are planning to provide ever more reliable resources to their customers, especially in Europe.”  Next Tuesday morning (10/1), Batchelor will participate in the TALKERS magazine produced “Talk Media Forum on US-China Relations” at the Hellen Mills Theatre in New York City.  See the full story below for details.

TALKERS News Notes.  In Lynchburg, Virginia, Mari White leaves her role with Three Daughters Media’s news/talk WIQO to take on the public information officer position with the Lynchburg Department of Water Resources. She had been co-hosting the “Mari and Brian in the Morning” program with Brian Weigand for the past six years. Weigand is continuing to host the morning show on WIQO…..Legendary radio personality Joey Reynolds emceed the 4th Annual Meatball Eating Contest held on Saturday (9/21) at the Feast of San Gennaro in the Little Italy section of Lower Manhattan.  At right, Reynolds (left) is pictured with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (right), who appeared on stage during the competition…..Leighton Enterprises enters into an agreement to acquire three Alexandria, Minnesota signals from Paradis Broadcasting of Alexandria.  The group includes news/talk KXRA-AM, classic rock KXRA-FM, and hot AC KXRZ-FM…..The Dallas News reports on the new brewery and taproom being launched in part by KRLD-FM, Dallas midday hosts Ben Rogers and Jeff “Skin” Wade.  The brewery is being called Rollertown Beerworks located in suburban Celina and expects to open in 2020.  The piece notes that “Ben & Skin” have a passion for beer that “spawned an event series called the Brew Crew Tour, which invites hardcore fans known as TOLOs (turn on, leave on) to meet them for a pint at different taprooms in the area.”

Trump-Ukraine Controversy, 2020 Presidential Race, U.S.-Iran Tensions, UN Climate Action Summit, Trudeau Brownface Scandal, Netanyahu’s Future, and Sunday’s Emmy Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The controversy over President Trump’s conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky; the Democrats hoping to challenge President Trump in 2020, including Elizabeth Warren’s rise in the Democratic race; the military tensions between Iran and the U.S. over the nuclear deal and the attack on a Saudi oil installation; today’s United Nations General Assembly and the UN Climate Action Summit; the “brownface” scandal that is engulfing Canada’s Justin Trudeau; the close race between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz for prime minister of Israel; and Sunday evening’s Emmy Awards ceremony were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Gene Sandbloom is named operations manager for Alpha Media’s Portland stations and program director for triple A KINK-FM. Sandbloom was most recently operations manager for KROQ and adult hits KCBS-FM “93.1 JACK FM” in Los Angeles.  Alpha Media Portland SVP and market manager Lisa Decker says, “We are thrilled to have Gene join us. His leadership, creativity, experience and can-do attitude is a perfect fit. He will add a new dynamic to our team.”…..This past weekend, the ninth annual iHeartRadio Music Festival took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with performances by Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Cage The Elephant, Camila CabelloChance The Rapper, Def Leppard, French Montana, Green Day, Halsey, Heart, H.E.R., Hootie & The Blowfish, Marshmello with special guest Kane Brown, Miley Cyrus, Mumford & Sons, Steve Aoki with special guests Darren Criss and Monsta X, Tim McGraw, Zac Brown Band and more.  For fans not in attendance, iHeartRadio on-air talent hosted a live backstage broadcast featuring exclusive artist interviews and performances that aired across iHeartMedia radio stations throughout the country in more than 150 markets and on iHeartRadio.  The CW Network exclusively livestreamed both nights of the festival via CWTV.com and The CW App, and will broadcast a two-night television special on Wednesday, October 2 and Thursday, October 3 from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One announces the launch of two variety hits formats: Variety Hits-Pop and Variety Hits-Rock.  The two new formats will debut in October.  Variety Hits-Pop features artists including: JourneyMadonna, Michael Jackson, and Maroon 5; and Variety Hits-Rock skews toward artists such as: Aerosmith, Queen, Nirvana, and Fleetwood Mac.  Westwood One president of programming Kirk Stirland says, “The variety hits format checks a lot of boxes for many markets and the time is right for us to build a satellite-delivered version that enhances our successful, custom music-scheduled format.  We designed this to accommodate our customers who wanted an unbranded, flexible structure, with up to 13 opportunities an hour to make it their own.”…..Alternative WHHZ-FM, Newberry, Florida “100.5 The Buzz” in the Gainesville market announces Kaylan Moody adds music director duties to her morning host role with the Marc Radio-owned station…..Country singer/songwriter David Kroll is back in his hometown of Burlington, Iowa where he’s the new morning drive host on Pritchard Broadcasting’s KDMG-FM “Big Country 103.1.” Kroll spent the past 10 years in Nashville where he wrote songs and toured with his band.

Monday, July 29, 2019

| July 29, 2019

Dave Ramsey Moves into New HQ and Studios. Pictured above in his brand-new studio is nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey.  The studio is inside the newly constructed Ramsey Solutions headquarters just outside of Nashville.  The company says the studio is the focal point of the six-story headquarters – phase one of an ambitious plan that includes 600,000 square feet of office space and a 50,000 square foot conference center.  Ramsey Media executive vice president Brian Mayfield, “We’re extremely excited for people to visit our new studio.  Every year, we welcome thousands of people to watch the show and do their debt free screams.  Our new space is going to take that listener experience to a whole new level.”  Ramsey’s radio show is in its 27th year. Ramsey Media says the show is the fifth most-downloaded podcast on all major platforms, including: Apple, Google, Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio.  It has more than one million YouTube subscribers and is also featured on the SiriusXM platform.  “The Dave Ramsey Show” is the cornerstone program of the Ramsey Network that also includes: “The Ken Coleman Show,” “The Rachel Cruze Show,” “The Chris Hogan Show,” “The Anthony O’Neal Show,” “Business Boutique” and “EntreLeadership.”  Dave Ramsey says of the more than 8,000 listeners who did their “debt-free screams” either by phone or in-person and those who paid off $490 million dollars, “As I walked through our old building, I thought about all those families – those heroes who changed their behavior and learned how to win with money.  They’re the reason we do what we do. They’re the reason we exist.”  Ramsey Solutions was voted among Nashville’s best places to work 11 times.  It employs nearly 900 team members.  The new campus will see that number grow to more than 1,000 within a year.

Ji Suk Yi Joins WGN’s Steve Cochran Show As Contributor. Journalist and Chicago media figure Ji Suk Yi is joining WGN, Chicago’s “Steve Cochran Show” as a contributor, starting August 5.  She writes, “The Grid: Neighborhood Eats,” a weekly Chicago Sun-Times restaurant column and video series that highlights new and old-school favorites.   WGN says that feature will also be a recurring segment on the Wednesday edition of the morning drive radio show.  Yi emigrated from South Korea as a child and earned her law degree at the University of North Carolina before moving to Chicago to pursue a career in journalism.  Prior to the Sun-Times, she was a co-host and contributor on WLS-TV’s “Windy City Live” for seven seasons.  She says, “I’m excited to take part and enhance a fun and clever daily conversation at a legacy station that jump starts the day in a meaningful way for listeners…hearing directly from them and connecting is the best part!” WGN station manager and vice president of content Todd Manley adds, “Ji has become one of Chicago’s most compelling cultural storytellers.  Her fresh voice adds a whole new dimension to Steve’s show.”

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s June PPM survey, today focusing on news/talk radio.  It’s not unusual for the news/talk format to experience a ratings dip during the summer months and that’s the case this year as 48% of stations in our panel see their weekly AQH share decrease.  Still, 32% of stations went up in June, led by Entercom’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte (+1.2).  Comparing June of 2018 to this year, 46% of news/talk stations were down and 42% were up.  Big gainers were Cumulus Media’s WBAP, Dallas (+2.0); and Entercom’s WTIC-AM, Hartford (+1.7) and WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte (+1.6).  Only one news/talk station ranked #1 (6+) in its market in June – Townsquare Media’s WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” in the Middlesex market.  However, six news/talk stations ranked #2 in their respective markets.  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

Monday Memo: Social Media Headlines That Drive Traffic.  Consultant Holland Cooke writes in today’s Monday Memo about effective use of language for driving traffic via social media.  Cooke says there are certain types of words that catch people’s attention in a positive way and there are words and phrases that turn people off.  Read his column here.

Missouri Broadcasters Association Institute Begins Today. Today is the first day of the third annual Missouri Broadcasters Association Radio Talent Institute at Northwest Missouri State University.  Students taking part in the 10-day program will learn from more than 30 broadcasters working in the industry for companies including: Zimmer Radio, Entercom, Mid-West Family Broadcasting, Alpha Media, Eagle Communications, Hubbard Radio, Cumulus Media, Bott Radio Network, and iHeartMedia.  Missouri Broadcasters Association president Mark Gordon says, “We are pleased to bring this program, taught by industry professionals, to Missouri, which will help fill job openings at broadcast stations with quality employees who have a true understanding of how fun and rewarding a career in our industry can be.”  The MBA Radio Talent Institute is the final institute of the National Radio Talent System this summer.

TALKERS News Notes. Business executive and Forbes Coaches Council member Mitch Russo wrote a column published in Forbes that promotes the value of radio advertising for small businesses.  The column – How Small-Business Owners Can Find Success on the Radio – details Russo’s past successes with radio advertising.  Check it out here…..FOX Sports Radio’s Doug Gottlieb is going on the road for the network’s annual NFLTraining Camp Tour.  Today (7/29), “The Doug Gottlieb Show” is broadcasting from the Los Angeles Rams training camp at UC Irvine, followed by the Los Angeles Chargers training camp at Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, California on August 6.  Finally, he’ll visit the Dallas Cowboys training camp at River Ridge Playing Fields in Oxnard, California on August 13.….The founders of the nationally syndicated morning radio show “Ace & TJ,” along with VoiceHunter.com owner Adam Goodman are launching a new service called Podcast Access.  The service will debut this fall and is described as a “marketing tool designed to provide corporate entities launching branded content with hosts and co-hosts.” Podcast Access says its performers “will ensure the quality of the podcast reflects the quality of the brand.” To achieve this, they are looking for performers with a minimum of 10 years of unique audio creation experience (radio hosts, podcast hosts, TV personalities, etc.) to add to their talent roster.  Ace says, “We’ve been blessed throughout our careers to have worked with and befriended the most talented people in the business.  We are excited to be able to use this amazing new platform to help brands achieve their marketing objectives with the most professional podcasts featuring the very best, media savvy hosts and co-hosts available.”…..Edison Research is being honored by Content Marketing Institute with a 2019 Content Marketing Award for Best Use of Original Research in Content Marketing for The Infinite Dial 2018.  Edison Research president Larry Rosin says, “I’m beyond proud that the work of the team at Edison has been honored with this award.  The Infinite Dial has been around long enough to track the birth and growth of audio, mobile phone usage, widespread internet connectivity, smart audio, and most recently, podcasts, among Americans and now throughout the world.  We appreciate that Content Marketing Institute is recognizing the effort that goes into marketing such research.”…..WIP, Philadelphia overnight host Big Daddy Graham is recuperating from spinal surgery after suffering spinal cord trauma last week.  Graham’s daughter Ava appeared on WIP’s Angelo Cataldi show last Friday to update fans on her dad’s condition.  She told them doctors hope Graham will walk again but was paralyzed from the waist down after the surgery.

Trump’s Baltimore Attacks, 2020 Presidential Race, California Festival Shooting, Ratcliffe Nominated for Intelligence Post, Iran Tensions, and Hong Kong Protests Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The spat between President Trump and Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings over the president’s criticism of the city of Baltimore; the Democrats running for president in 2020 and this week’s debates in Detroit; a gunman kills three and wounds many more at a festival in Gilroy, California; President Trump’s nomination of John Ratcliffe as director of national intelligence; the tensions in the Persian Gulf over Iran’s military posturing; and the violent protests in Hong Kong over China’s increased authority were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In San Diego, Entercom signs contract extensions with country KSON morning drive duo John Flint and Tammy Lee.  Entercom San Diego SVP and market manager Bob Bolinger says, “John and Tammy are one of America’s premiere morning show personalities and are delivering exceptional daily programming with an unmatched country flair.  We are excited that we will have them here for years to come.”  John Flint and Tammy Lee have co-hosted the morning drive show on KSON since 2011 and have been a team for 19 years. They began working together in 2000 at WWQM-FM in Madison, Wisconsin.  They served at WMAD-FM in Madison where they were on the air from 2006 to 2011…..Beasley Media Group classic rock WMGK-FM announces midday personality Debbi Calton is officially retiring from the station on December 6.  Calton has been the star of the midday show for the past 26 years.  She worked for 10 years at former crosstown rock WYSP-FM (now sports talk WIP-FM) before joining WMGK in 1993.  She recalls a run-in with management over her pay at a station at which she worked early in her career.  “I was told at that time that I was just a little girl who, until they taught me, didn’t know anything and that I would never work in radio again.  I am extremely grateful for what I learned there (and at all the radio stations I’ve worked at since), but I also deserved equal pay.  I’m glad I held my ground at that time.  Here I am all these years later, still working in radio…a profession that I love!”

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

| June 18, 2019

WGN-AM, Chicago and Patti Vasquez Go Separate Ways.  Chicago media writer Robert Feder has the story of WGN’s decision to part ways with late-night talk show host Patti Vasquez after a five-year run.  Feder notes that Vasquez had been suspended several times during her stint with the station for various infractions of the rules but apparently the accidental airing of the f-word earlier this month proved to be the last straw. In a memo to the staff, WGN station manager and vice president of content Todd Manley wrote, “Patti Vasquez is no longer working with WGN Radio. Her departure is a private matter and will remain that way.  We are grateful to her for her service to WGN Radio, and wish her the best.”  The station will rotate various WGN personalities in the 10:00 pm to 1:00 am daypart for now.  In a separate matter, Vasquez has announced she will seek the Illinois 10th District State Senate seat.

Michael Savage’s Trump Criticisms Focal Point of NYTimes Piece. Nationally syndicated talk radio host Michael Savage is the subject of a piece in The New York Times that looks into Savage’s criticism of President Trump – such as his failure to secure a border wall deal and the ballooning federal budget deficit – and how Savage’s audience is reacting to that criticism. As the story indicates, Savage still supports Trump and will vote for him in 2020, but Savage has never been one to avoid criticism of any politician if he believes it’s deserved.  What’s new is that Trump’s base appears to want none of that.  The Westwood One personality tells Times writer Jeremy W. Peters, “I don’t think they care very much about issues.  They’ll vote for him no matter what because he’s not ‘them.’  I think it’s come down to ‘them’ or ‘us.’”  Read the story here.

Contrite Craig Carton Heads Off to Prison. Sports talk radio personality Craig Carton began his three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for fraud yesterday (6/17).  Regular TALKERS readers are aware that Carton was convicted of defrauding investors of millions in a phony concert tickets re-sale business. Carton, who had insisted that he was innocent of the charges, now admits his guilt.  He tweeted, “I made mistakes. Mistakes in judgments, decisions and how I was living my life.  I was wrong.  I have, will, and should continue to pay a dear price for those mistakes.  I also though, believe in redemption and earning second chances…I will work tirelessly to repay those whom I have hurt and to regain the trust that you all had in me.”  Carton was co-host of the morning show on WFAN, New York at the time of his arrest in September of 2017.

Gallagher Chats with Florida Trump Fans. Pictured above outside Amway Stadium in Orlando is Salem Radio Network talk radio host Mike Gallagher (center) with Donald Trump supporters “Kevin from Pompano Beach” and “Barry from Key West” — the first two people in line for tonight’s Trump 2020 kickoff rally.  Gallagher and fellow SRN host Dr. Sebastian Gorka are broadcasting their Tuesday programs from the nearby Hairy Buffalo sports bar.

New York Festivals Radio Awards Announces Ceremony Presenters. The New York Festivals Radio Awards announces the prominent radio industry professionals slated to present awards at the 2019 Radio Awards ceremony at Manhattan Penthouse in New York on June 24.  The 2019 ceremony segment presenters include: Richard Baker, senior investigative journalist, The Age, Melbourne, Australia; Jennie Cataldo, vice president of programming, BMP Audio, USA; Donal O’Herlihy, producer, “Documentary on One,” RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland; Tanya Springer, senior producer, CBC Podcasts, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada; and Mark Travis, associate director, media production, New York Philharmonic, USA.  For more information on the 2019 NYF Radio Awards gala or to purchase tickets, please click here.  See a complete list of all the 2019 New York Festivals Radio Award Finalists here.

Iran Nukes, 2020 Presidential Race, SCOTUS Virginia Gerrymandering Ruling, Illegal Immigration/Trump Announces Deportation Plan, U.S. Hacks Russia’s Power Grid, Stewart vs McConnell on 9/11 Victims Fund, and Raptors Victory Celebration Violence Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/17).  Iran’s statement of intent to violate the terms of the previous nuclear deal and the U.S.’s talk of military options; the Democrats running for president and Donald Trump’s kick-off of the 2020 campaign; the Supreme Court rules against Republicans in the Virginia gerrymandering case; the immigration issues at the Southern border and President Trump’s statement that ICE will begin deporting millions; allegations the U.S. has hacked Russia’s power grid; Jon Stewart’s challenge to Mitch McConnell to fully fund the 9/11 victims fund; and the shootings at the Toronto Raptors victory celebration were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Collecting Pennies for a Good Cause. KIDO, Boise morning drive personality Kevin Miller (right) helped collect more than 1.6 million pennies – for a total of $16,743 – to benefit the Boise Rescue Mission.  Pictured with Miller is Todd Christensen of Cap Ed Credit Union (left) and Reverend Bill Roscoe of the Boise Rescue Mission (center).  To collect the pennies, Miller lived in a local Walmart for a week collecting coins, dollars, and other items.

Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters Honor NBC TV 4, Los Angeles, Meteorologist Fritz Coleman.  NBC4 meteorologist Fritz Coleman was honored with the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award for his many distinguished years as a “TV Icon Weatherman and Comic Entertainer” during a ceremony at the Airtel Hotel in Van Nuys last week (6/14).  Pictured above at the event: TalkersRadio personality Meg McDonald (center) KFI, Los Angeles host Tim Conway, Jr. (left) and Pacific Pioneer Broadcaster board member and KTWV, Los Angeles host Mike Sakellarides (right). Photo: Roxanne Schorbach

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Providence country outlet WCTK-FM “Cat Country 98.1” moves midday personality Madelyn Grimaldi to mornings as co-host with Brian Mulhern.  Taking over the open midday slot is Courtney Kelley, who’s been with the station as a part-time and fill-in jock.  Hall Communications vice president of programming Bob Walker says, “Our philosophy is to hire great people and allow them to grow in our company and the industry. Being able to see these two talented personalities take on new challenges is what it’s all about.”…..Premiere Networks promotes Mary DelGrande from executive director of affiliate sales to vice president of affiliate sales.  New York-based DelGrande continues to oversee affiliate sales for Premiere’s roster of national entertainment programs, including: Delilah, “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” “CMT After MidNite with Cody Alan,” “ON with Mario Lopez,” and more.