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Monday, August 16, 2021

| August 16, 2021

iHeartMedia Launches News/Talk Outlet in St. Louis. Urban contemporary KMJM “Majic 104.9” is gone (now available on KTLK-HD2) as iHeartMedia flips the signal to news/talk with new call letters KTLK-FM and the brand “104.9 The Patriot.” The station launches today and features market media pro Jamie Allman in morning drive and the much of the slate of conservative talk programming from Premiere Networks, including: Glenn Beck, Clay Travis & Buck Sexton, and Jesse Kelly, plus “The Ramsey Show” and Westwood One’s “Red Eye Radio.” iHeartMedia St. Louis market president John R. Beck, Jr. says, “St. Louis is excited to welcome a talk radio station featuring the latest news, opinions, and discussions from a conservative point of view that isn’t afraid to engage with the other side. ‘104.9 The Patriot’ will deliver all of that and more every weekday.” Allman hosted mornings at crosstown news/talk KFTK-FM until 2018 when he exited in the aftermath of his social media post about Parkland, Florida shooting survivor David Hogg in April of that year.  Until that time, Allman had also been hosting “The Allman Report” on KDNL-TV “ABC-30.” Allman joined Salem Media Group’s KXFN-AM, St. Louis in early 2019 but Salem subsequently sold the signal, along with a number of others, to Relevant Radio later that year.

Monday Memo: Disinformation, the New Disco. As school bells ring – or don’t – angst is amplified, and employers’ vaccine mandates and renewed mask mandates echo a 2020 we’d like to forget. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke cautions that “the pandemic protocol resistance narrative is approaching its ‘use-by’ date.” Read it here.

 

Pending Business: The Feedback & Agreement of Sales. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communcations Corp, writes in today’s column about the deadly effects of the “assumptive close.” He says, “What’s really going with these poorly timed assumptive closers? It’s all part of a fast track sell-by-email culture. When a seller bypasses key steps in any sales flow, the result is typically pushback. When an assumptive close is pushed too early in the sales flow, rapport and ease of access are stressed and difficult to reignite.” Read his piece here.

How Do the Dominion Lawsuits Affect Talk Hosts? TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes in a column today (8/13) about the recent rulings allowing the lawsuits by Dominion Election Systems against Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Lindell to go forward and the recently filed suits by Dominion against One America News Network, Newsmax, and FOX News. In denying the motions to dismiss by Powell, Giuliani, and Lindell, Federal Judge Carl Nichols wrote, “It is true that courts recognize the value in some level of ‘imaginative expression’ or ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ in our public debate…But it is simply not the law that provably false statements cannot be actionable if made in the context of an election.” Weisman notes that the landmark NY Times v. Sullivan recognizes the importance of the media being able to report on newsworthy topics without the threat of being sued for minor errors in reporting. However, he says, “There is a responsibility that comes with the microphone and camera and that responsibility is to not make statements that you know to be false or to make statements of fact when you have not properly investigated the basis for making those statements.” Read his column here.

Jeff Sottolano to Take Over for Pat Paxton as Audacy Chief Programming Officer. Late Friday (8/13), Audacy announced that 21-year corporate programmer Pat Paxton is exiting the company and he’ll be replaced by company programmer Jeff Sottolano, who rises to executive vice president, head of programming. Audacy CEO David Field says of Paxton, “Pat has been a key leader in the organization for the past 21 years, spearheading programming and playing a critical role in helping us build many of the industry’s greatest brands. Pat’s steady, decisive leadership and thoughtful insights have made him a valuable and trusted voice on Audacy’s leadership team. Pat has left an outstanding legacy at Audacy which will stand the test of time. We deeply appreciate his many important contributions to our success and everything he has meant to this company. Please join me in thanking Pat for all of his excellent work at Audacy and wishing him all the best for the future.” Addressing Sottolano’s rise within the company, Field states, “Like Pat, Jeff is a veteran team member, having spent his entire career at Audacy, Entercom, CBS Radio and Infinity. Since the merger, he has played an important leadership role overseeing a number of initiatives and many key elements of our programming.  Over the past year, Jeff led our news transformation efforts and the launch of the BetQL Network. In addition, he expanded our programming data and analytics capabilities, managed our network content partnerships and contributed to our Audacy Exclusive Station launch strategy. In his new role, Jeff will be responsible for the content strategy and performance of Audacy’s local brands in all formats across both broadcast and digital distribution platforms. He will oversee our outstanding programming leadership team, including SVP, programming Dave Richards; VP, news Bill Smee; VP, sports Matt Volk, and Audacy’s team of experienced format VPs.  He will also work closely with our Music Initiatives and Live Events team led by SVP, music initiatives Michael Martin and SVP, promotions and experiences Chad Fitzsimmons, as Audacy curates amazing experiences for its listeners in-person and online. Finally, he will collaborate with digital leadership to ideate new and exclusive features and content on the Audacy app and distribution platform as the company expands its capabilities and offerings.”

Gen Media Partners Unveils G Networks. This new radio network sales and affiliates sales division of Gen Media Partners debuts as G Networks. The company says, “Rising in tandem with the Gen Media Partners successful umbrella of other radio divisions, G Networks will stand alone as a full-service audio network company that is already engaged with over 250 million listeners each month through over 4,000 affiliated radio stations. G Networks has an existing and extensive portfolio of high-quality audio services, produced features, research services, entertainment, sports, news, and programming.” Gen Media Partners managing partner Warren Friedland adds, “Evolution isn’t possible without change. It is with this ethos that we have upped the commitment and engagement for our G Networks radio division and are focusing on what is now vitally important to advertisers and stations in the current media environment. With an eye to the future, we intend to both invest and transform the future of audio.”

Big Joe Staysniak Exits Sports Talk ‘The Fan’ in Indy. Longtime Emmis Communications air personality Big Joe Staysniak has exited “The Fan Morning Show.” The company says in a statement, “Big Joe Staysniak is no longer with Emmis and ‘The Fan.’ We would like to thank Big Joe for his many contributions to Emmis since he joined WIBC in 1998. He was always a fan favorite, and his knowledgeable insights and affable nature will be missed by his coworkers and listeners. We wish him nothing but the best in his next chapter.” Staysniak had been co-hosting the morning show with Jeff Rickard but Rickard recently left “The Fan” to take the brand manager position at Audacy’s WEEI, Boston. Meanwhile, Kevin Bowen continues as morning host at “The Fan” and it’s unclear at this time if Emmis will hire a co-host to work with him. The company recently took “The Fan” off WFNI-AM and shut the signal down after selling its transmitter property for development. “The Fan” is currently heard on WIBC-HD2 and translators W228CX at 93.5 FM and W298BB at 107.5 FM.

TALKERS News Notes. In the wake of the 7.4-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti early Saturday morning (8/14) the Salem Radio Network announces that it is using its network-wide resources to generate food donations for victims. The quake Saturday was worse than the 2010 earthquake that left 220,000 dead across the island nation. SRN’s 24/7 news service SRN News and its news/talk counterpart TOWNHALL News have immediately launched a campaign to generate donations for Florida-based Christian non-profit relief organization FOOD FOR THE POOR. SRN V.P./news & talk programming Tom Tradup says, “For over 35 years FOOD FOR THE POOR has had boots on the ground in Haiti, and their teams are uniquely qualified to distribute food to earthquake-devastated areas of Haiti through their network of local churches.” The Haiti earthquake relief effort will be joined by SRN’s nationally syndicated talk hosts Mike GallagherEric Metaxas, Sebastian Gorka, Hugh Hewitt and Carl Jackson (who is guest-hosting Larry Elder’s national talk show while Elder runs for Governor of California in the state’s September 14th Recall.)…..“Bar Fights: Taking on Issues that Matter,” a new podcast hosted by advocate, survivor and preeminent sexual abuse attorney Sarah Klein makes its debut today. Klein is also a former gymnast and the first known survivor of former Olympic women’s gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. In 2018, she accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs for the bravery that she and her sister survivors exhibited to bring Nassar to justice. On “Bar Fights,” Klein goes after the issues that matter to protect children and vulnerable adults from perpetrators of sexual abuse, the institutions that enable them, and the laws that protect them. “Using my voice and platform to create awareness and positive change has been a huge part of my healing journey. It is an honor to bring on such an incredible line-up of guests who will inform, inspire, and challenge our listeners. To affect real change, we all have to do our part. That’s what we are doing here on ‘Bar Fights.’”…..Pictured below is Tom Griswold, host of the nationally syndicated “The BOB & TOM Show” in an Indianapolis hospital recovering from heart valve replacement surgery. It will be several weeks before he returns to his microphone at the studio, but a home studio is being assembled so he can get back on the air quicker. Those wishing to send well wishes to Tom may send them to: getwell@bobandtom.com.

WFOY, St. Augustine Owner Kris Phillips Dies. Lifelong broadcaster Kris Phillips, whose Phillips Broadcasting owns news/talk WFOY-AM, St. Augustine, has died at age 61 after a long illness. The station’s Facebook page features her obituary. Phillips, a native of Chicago, worked in the TV news and weather business for most of her career. She settled in St. Augustine in 2008 and formed the company that would buy WFOY and sister WAOC. Phillips had lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was a child and battled cancer twice.

COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines & Mandates, Taliban Takes Afghanistan, Haiti Earthquake, COVID Benefits Cyberfraud, Western Wildfires/Drought, Newsom Recall Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The rising rate of COVID-19 cases on some parts of the U.S. and the controversy over vaccines and mask mandates; criticism of the Biden administration’s response as the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan; the aftermath of the deadly earthquake that hit Haiti; the report indicating that “tens of billions” of dollars of COVID relief benefits were stolen by cyberfraudsters abroad; the drought and wildfires plaguing the U.S. West; and the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

 

 

Great News Opportunities at Saga Communications. The company is expanding its NEWS presence in several markets. Group program director Scott Chase says, “We are looking for news people who are more than just news people. If you’re a storyteller with a news mindset; if you’re charismatic and have a sense of humor; if you’re active in your community; if you’re interesting; if you’re an elite communicator, we’re looking for you. We want someone who understands how to reach the local listeners and make a story interesting. We want an individual who loves to connect with listeners and the leaders of their respective community. Are you still with us? If so, APPLY NOW. We are expanding our news footprint in South Dakota, Iowa, New York, Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, and the New England area, and we would love to talk to you about your ideas on news in a world that thinks the media delivers fake news. Saga Communications is a great company to work for and an equal opportunity employer. Apply Now!” Contact group program director, Scott Chase at schase@sagacom.com. Please send your resume, audio sample, and or writing sample.

Friday, June 25, 2021

| June 25, 2021

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Bridges, Roads and Condos,” looks back at this past week of June 21-25, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Mandy Connell, talk show host, KOA, Denver; Harry Hurley, morning show host, WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; Vince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media GroupDr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkSid Rosenberg, talk show host, WABC, New York and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

WABC, New York Host and Former Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani Suspended from Practicing Law in New York. The New York State Appellate Division, First Department suspended the law license of former NYC mayor, former Donald Trump attorney, and current WABC, New York talk host Rudy Giuliani. The court ruled that Giuliani “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020.” It added that Giuliani’s conduct “immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law.” The fate of Giuliani’s New York law license hangs in the balance as the court added, “We find that there is evidence of continuing misconduct, the underlying offense is incredibly serious, and the uncontroverted misconduct in itself will likely result in substantial permanent sanctions at the conclusion of these disciplinary proceedings.”

Audacy Unveils Sports Podcast Studio Building 2400Sports. The new podcast studio for production of Audacy sports podcasts is being launched. 2400Sports houses Audacy Sports’ digital audio content, including both new and existing original podcasts. It is the latest addition to Audacy’s podcast portfolio, which contains premium podcast companies Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, as well as the recently acquired Podcorn. Audacy chairman, president and CEO David Field says, “We’re excited to launch a third major studio with a goal of building 2400Sports into the home of the country’s best sports podcasts. We look forward to developing elite partnerships, including our just-announced deal with MLB, to create truly special, riveting sports content.” In the new partnership with MLB, Audacy and the league will collaborate on the production and distribution of official podcast programming for the league and its clubs. The studio will launch with a new flagship podcast series in development that revisits baseball’s most dramatic and thrilling postseason campaigns. The first installment, coming this fall, will take a deep dive into the Chicago Cubs’ historic march to the 2016 World Series championship. Audacy will work with all 30 clubs to develop new podcast content. Also concurrent with the studio launch, Audacy announces a development deal with award-winning podcast producer Jody Avirgan’s Roulette Productions. Over the coming months, Avirgan will contribute to 2400Sports’ slate of programming by developing and creating new original shows across a range of sports and genres. From 2016-2020, Jody Avirgan was the executive producer and host of ESPN’s 30 for 30 podcasts.

KBLA, Los Angeles Adds Black Information Network News. The new talk station launched by Tavis Smiley – KBLA, Los Angeles “Talk 1580” – is adding BIN: Black Information Network’s national news service to its programming, according to Premiere Networks. KBLA will feature Black Information Network News’ :60 newscasts at the top and bottom of the hour, as well as breaking news, from experienced and award-winning Black journalists. Premiere says the news service is available on more than 40 stations nationwide and is “the first and only 24/7 comprehensive national audio Black News service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.” KBLA president and COO Elston Butler says, “We’re excited to partner with Black Information Network News. We knew it would deliver the trusted news and information that is valuable to our listeners. Other news sources offered KBLA a nice piece of the news pie, but with BIN, we felt we would receive the whole recipe that our listeners deserve.”

Cumulus Media Completes $175 Million Debt Paydown. The company completes a multi-step procedure it began in May of this year to pay down $175 million of debt using cash on hand. Here’s how it happened: On May 17, Cumulus Media completed a $60 million repayment of its ABL Revolver due 2025, which represented the entirety of the amount outstanding under the facility. Following the paydown, the ABL Revolver due 2025 is undrawn and available as liquidity for general corporate purposes. On May 25, it paid down approximately $89 million of its Term Loan Credit Facility due 2026 related to a mandatory prepayment obligation arising from the company’s previously announced sale of land in Bethesda, MD, in June 2020 and sale of towers and related assets in September 2020. Pursuant to the terms of its 6.75% Senior Secured First Lien Notes due 2026, on May 26, 2021, the company launched a tender offer to repurchase approximately $26 million of the Notes at par, which represents the pro rata amount required to be offered from the proceeds of the Tower Sale. As of the expiration of the Tender Offer, approximately $3 million of Notes were validly tendered, accepted for payment and subsequently cancelled. Giving effect to the impact of the Tender Offer, approximately $450 million principal amount of Notes remains outstanding. Finally, on June 24, Cumulus submitted an irrevocable paydown notice to the administrative agent of the Term Loan to effectuate a required paydown of $23 million, which represents the remainder of the initial amount of the Tender Offer that was not validly tendered prior to the expiration date. Cumulus EVP and CFO Francisco J. Lopez-Balboa says, “As the improvement in economic and public health conditions continues to drive momentum in business trends, we felt it appropriate to accelerate several debt repayments in order to expedite our balance sheet de-levering, reduce interest expense, and increase our free cash flow generation. We believe this better leverage and free cash flow profile, more than $200 million of available liquidity and solid rebound trajectory are significantly enhancing our financial flexibility. Given our strong competitive position, proven execution track record, and numerous revenue growth drivers, we are confident in our multiple pathways to grow shareholder value.”

The Score’s Danny Parkins Leads Fundraising of More Than $650,000 for Food Bank. The Athletes for Justice’s Austin Harvest food mart project was the beneficiary of WSCR, Chicago’s “What About Chicago Radiothon.” The Audacy sports talker helped raise more than $650,000 for the charity launched by former Chicago Bear Sam Acho and its mission to erase a food desert and build a permanent facility that can fully service the community and those in need. 670 The Score brand manager Mitch Rosen says, “What a tremendous 24 hours. ‘The Score’ asked and the audience delivered for Austin Harvest to build a permanent food mart. I can’t thank our dedicated listeners, our score team, Danny Parkins who led all of us, and Sam Acho enough. We’re so proud to help support a great cause. Thank you, Chicago.” Parkins adds, “That’s the Chicago that I know and love. We saw a problem and helped to solve. So, when people ask, ‘What about Chicago?’ I want people to tell them the story of Austin Harvest, Sam Acho and ‘670 The Score.’ Thank you to everyone who donated and helped us erase a food desert and fund the construction of a permanent facility for Austin Harvest.” Austin Harvest is in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago and was originally a pop–up food mart that was a converted liquor store. The mart addressed a food desert in the city and was staffed as an after-school program three days a week by local kids.

‘98.5 The Sports Hub’ Raises $27,000-plus for Boston Children’s Hospital. The Beasley Media Group sports talk station raised more than $27,000 to benefit the Pediatric Advanced Care Team (P.A.C.T.) Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital via the 10th Annual Who’s Your Caddy? Classic charity golf tournament. WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub” afternoon drive personality Tony Massarotti created the original event in memory of his nephew who was cared for by the P.A.C.T. Unit. Pictured above (from l-r) are: Massarotti, Chris L. and Erika O. from Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast and “The Sports Hub Golf Club” host Hardy.

Pompeo Speaks at National Religious Broadcasters Conference. Pictured above is former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) with Salem Radio Network VP/News & Talk Programming Tom Tradup (right) at the annual National Religious Broadcasters conference in Dallas. Pompeo warned the 3,500 attendees of the dangers posed by teaching Critical Race Theory in schools and applauded Christian broadcasters for “helping protect religious freedom and traditional American values in our nation.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass is hinting at a return to the talk radio business after taking a buyout from the paper that’s been acquired by hedge fund Alden Global Capital and launching his own media platform johnkassnews.com. He currently is hosting a podcast called “The Chicago Way with John Kass” on WGN-AM’s digital platform. In the past, he hosted a talk show on WLS-AM, first with co-host Jake Hartford, then with Lauren Cohn.  Kass tells Chicago media writer Robert Feder, “I’m in meetings now with various broadcast entities to continue talking to people in Chicago. I think they might want to hear what I have to say.”…..Audacy announces that Mike Hoss is the new play-by-play announcer for New Orleans Saints game day broadcasts on news/talk WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans. Hoss will work with color analyst and Saints all-time leading rusher Deuce McAllister in the booth. Audacy New Orleans SVP and market manager Kevin Cassidy says, “When we started our search for the new ‘Voice of the Saints,’ the goal was not only professional play-by-play, but also someone with a deep connection to the team, the Saints amazing fan base and our community. Mike checks all the boxes. His extensive experience covering the team both on and off the field has allowed him to paint a front-row picture for fans over the course of his career, and we trust his knowledge will enhance our coverage on game days.”…..The GCN nationally syndicated “America Tonight with Kate Delaney” adds new station KTLR, Oklahoma City to its roster of affiliates…..Colorado Springs-based Way Media announces the addition of Steven Thompson as vice president of technology. Thompson was most recently VP of technology for Hope Media Group and KSBJ, Houston. WayFM VP of broadcast operations Jim Marshall comments, “The addition of Steven to the WayFM roster puts us in a position to further solidify our operations. He played a key role in KSBJ’s expansion in South Texas and I’m thrilled that Steven has joined our leadership team. He has a heart for God and a desire to excel in the technical arena. I love that combination.”

Former ‘Talk 106.7’ Atlanta Host Mike Brooks Dies at 66. According to a story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution by Rodney Ho, former WYAY-FM, Atlanta “Talk 106.7” talk host Mike Brooks died unexpectedly Wednesday (6/23). Brooks was a former police officer who also had served as a correspondent for CNN, among numerous other career ventures that included hosting a talk radio show on Cumulus Media’s former news/talk station “Talk 106.7.”

COVID-19 Vaccines, Goals and Delta Variant Top News/Talk Story This Week. The controversy over the vaccinations against COVID-19, the Biden administration’s goals, and the Delta variant combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was a tie between the blocking of the For the People voting bill and race relations, followed by the economy and the compromise infrastructure bill at #3. 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 complete chart here.

NEED A GREAT EXPERT GUEST? Newsom Recall Attracts National Talk Media Interest. The official word that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) will definitely face a recall election has sparked interest in the subject of California politics at talk media outlets across the nation. Attorney/author Wayne Avrashow is a reliable non-partisan expert on the subject of California politics and is available for interviews on the Newson development as well as all things Golden State. He is a frequent contributor to RealClearPolitics and a California political insider. He has an extensive background in California politics, served on two government commissions, was chair of a Los Angeles County ballot proposition, and co-authored ballot arguments. He began as a campaign manager for two victorious Los Angeles City Councilmembers and later served as chief of staff. As a lawyer and lobbyist, he represented clients before numerous California municipalities and in Nevada and Idaho. He has lectured at Southwestern University School of Law and was an adjunct professor at Woodbury University in Los Angeles. He authored numerous op-ed articles that appeared in daily newspapers and in legal, business, and real estate publications. He authored Success at Mediation: 10 Strategic Tools for Attorneys, a book used by law students at the University of Southern California School of Law. And he is the author of a current Amazon best-selling novel Center Stage: A Political Thriller (2021, RealClearPublishing) about a rock star who runs for the U.S. Senate. His experiences in politics, government and business, and as a practicing attorney provide unique insight into the machinations and characters that populate political campaigns. His website is www.wayneavrashow.com. He can be contacted directly at 818-995-1100 or walaw@sbcglobal.net

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

| June 8, 2021

Jesse Kelly Show Joins Premiere Networks. Talk radio host Jesse Kelly is moving from his current syndicator Key Networks to Premiere Networks, effective June 28. Kelly – a former U.S. Marine and a former Arizona congressional candidate – will air in the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET slot currently occupied by Buck Sexton, who moves to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot partnering with Clay Travis. Kelly will continue to be seen weekdays at 9:00 pm ET as host of “I’m Right with Jesse Kelly” on TV network The First. Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott says, “We couldn’t be happier to have Jesse at the helm of our weekday afternoon timeslot. His fresh voice will undoubtedly connect with and engage our audience with intelligent, witty conversation and bold opinions, while creating impactful opportunities for our partners.”

Jimmy Cefalo Returns to WIOD, Miami Air. According to a report in the Miami Herald, WIOD-AM morning personality Jimmy Cefalo has returned to the air after several weeks’ absence and told listeners he’s been diagnosed with a form of demyelinating disease that affects the protective covering of the nerve fibers around the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord. ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – is a demyelinating disease but Cefalo was not diagnosed with that. He said, “We don’t know what exactly it is, what caused it, what will fix it. I’ll keep going as long as I can. One day I’ll just go, ‘Boom!’ Which is the right way to go, by the way, I’m convinced, after the last couple of months.”

Trump and Bill O’Reilly to Hold ‘History Tour’ Live Events. According to a piece in the Washington Times, Key Networks nationally syndicated radio personality and author Bill O’Reilly will go on a “history tour” with former President Donald Trump in December. The four live events before paying customers in Florida and Texas will address “exactly how things were accomplished, as well as challenges, both good and bad,” according to a statement from Trump. His statement adds, “These will be wonderful but hard-hitting sessions where we’ll talk about the real problems happening in the U.S., those that the fake news media never mention.” O’Reilly says, “My job as a historian/journalist is to get important things on the record in a fact-based way. These conversations with the 45th president will not be boring.” Bill O’Reilly will be one of the 50 industry speakers participating in TALKERS 2021.  Check out the latest up to date agenda here.

SRN’s Tom Tradup Chats with ‘Seinfeld’ Star About New Film. Pictured above is former “Seinfeld” actor Wayne Knight (left) – who played the character “Newman” – speaking with Salem Radio Network V.P./News & Talk Tom Tradup (right) at Monday night’s Fort Worth, Texas red carpet premiere of “12 Mighty Orphans.” The SONY Classic Pictures film – starring Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, and Luke Wilson – tells the story of a Depression-era orphanage in Fort Worth that produced an inspiring state football championship team that even drew praise from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The film opens nationwide on June 18.

Radio Mercury Awards Call for Entry is Open. The call for entry for the 30th anniversary Radio Mercury Awards is officially open. The RAB announces that 15 trophies will be awarded in 12 categories, and the final round judges have the option to award a Best of Show winner. Starting this year, the Radio Mercury Awards is now accepting entries in any language for work that was broadcast, aired digitally, released or transmitted initially and primarily in the U.S. and its territories. For 2021, a new category, Purpose-Driven Spot or Campaign, will award a radio spot or campaign for an advertiser or corporation that promotes their actions and effort towards the public good and demonstrates how they addressed social, environmental or public health/safety issues. There are also updated categories, including Creative Radio Spot: Insightful Voice and Radio Station or Group Promotional Spot or Campaign. The call for entry deadline is on August 9. Finalists for the show will be announced in late September and winners will be announced at the 2021 Radio Mercury Awards event on November 17, during a virtual event. The Radio Mercury Awards is introducing a “Thirty Years in Your Ears” campaign produced in collaboration with chief judge Robin Fitzgerald and the creative team at BBDO Atlanta. The campaign highlights several of the Best in Show winners from the last 30 years of the competition. It can be viewed here and will be featured in social media and digital marketing. For more information regarding entry categories, guidelines, entry fees and deadlines, click here.

TALKERS News Notes. A couple of Chicago market notes from media writer Robert Feder: First, Wendy Snyder and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens are teaming up for a weekly program on Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM. “The Wendy and Ray Show” will air from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Saturdays. The two have been co-hosting a podcast and Stevens tells Feder, “The weekend show on WLS-AM 890 will be hyper local and will cover everything from block parties to the Bears. This is a true Chicago show hosted by two lifelong Chicagoans.” And second, Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM announces the return of “The Hamp and OB Show” starring former Chicago Bears Dan Hampton and Ed O’Bradovich. The program will air weekly during the football season…..ESPN’s Chiney Ogwumike is launching her own weekly podcast, “Chiney,” today (6/8). She’ll discuss current events in the sports world, primarily through the lens of an active professional athlete. Ogwumike plays for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA and was the 2014 league rookie of the year. She first worked for ESPN in 2017 and in August 2020 began hosting “Chiney and Golic Jr.” on ESPN Radio, becoming the first Black woman to host a national, daily sports talk radio show…..The nationally syndicated “America Tonight with Kate Delaney” adds new affiliate station KUJ-AM/K254DK, Walla Walla, Washington to its roster of stations.

COVID-19, January 6 Report, Harris Latin America Trip, Ransomware Attacks/Crypto Recovered, Voting Rights Issue, and Alzheimer’s Drug Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/8). The fast-falling rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rate of vaccinations, and the investigation into the Wuhan lab leak theory; the Senate report on the January 6 Capitol attack faults Capitol Police for inaction on threats; Vice President Kamala Harris tells Guatemalans not to come to the U.S. during Latin American trip; the increase in ransomware attacks and the FBI recoups millions in bitcoin paid to Colonial Pipeline hackers; Senator Joe Manchin’s decision not to back Joe Biden’s For The People voting rights bill; and the controversy surrounding the FDA’s approving Biogen’s Aduhelm Alzheimer’s drug were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERSmagazine.

He’s Was Talk Radio’s Premiere Songwriter

| February 18, 2021

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS magazine
Managing Editor

 

LOS ANGELES — Arguably the leading voice of the conservative movement over the last several decades, 70-year-old Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday (2/17) after a battle with advanced lung cancer.

His diagnosis was announced to listeners of his radio show exactly one year ago (February 2020).

News of his passing was delivered by his wife, Kathryn, on Wednesday’s Premiere Networks radio broadcast.

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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.”