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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

| January 6, 2021

Radio Programming Legend Tom Bigby Dies at 77. The programming mind that helped build some of the most successful radio stations in modern history has died at the age of 77 after several years of heart issues. Tom Bigby programmed a number of stations with heritage calls – WIFI, WNEW, KOST, and WXYT – but he’s best known for being the PD behind Philadelphia sports talker WIP. In noting his passing, a piece on the WIP website says, “Known for his at times contentious relationship with talent and his radio-ready voice, Bigby is the most well-known, well-respected, and most iconic PD in the history of WIP. His legacy will include many things, but from a WIP perspective, his belief that the Eagles were the biggest thing in town, and that the fans should be heard will be two of the most lasting for WIP. His ‘two-minute rule’ and ‘once during the week, and once on the weekends rule’ for callers will not be far behind.” TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison says, “Tom was a program director in the true sense of the title as it existed in radio’s most recent golden age. He understood just about every aspect of radio and applied that knowledge and experience to the well-balanced intersection of programming, sales, promotion, and technology that marked the great stations of that era and inspired them to value their air product above all else. He was also a quirky friend, formidable negotiator, and larger-than-life individual the likes of which make him a true industry legend.” At WIP, Bigby worked with Philadelphia talent that included Howard Eskin, Rhea Hughes, Angelo Cataldi, Glen Macnow, Tony Bruno, Jody MacDonald, and Mike Missanelli, to name a few. A number of these posted their thoughts about working for Tom Bigby at the WIP website. You can read them here. Bigby leaves behind his wife Phyllis, two children and four grandchildren.

Salem Media Group Unveils Podcast Platform. With the new year comes a new venture from Salem Media Group as it announces the formation of the Salem Podcast Network – what the company calls “a new entity focused on bringing conservative content to more listeners and viewers.” The network’s first podcast partner is author and documentarian Dinesh D’Souza, whose new podcast “Pardon Me!” will debut on January 11 across all podcast platforms, as well as SalemNow.com, YouTube, and Rumble. Salem Media Group SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce says, “This is a natural extension of the Salem brand, which is already considered one of the strongest in conservative media. Salem will be producing more content with meaningful names on the conservative side, so look for more big announcements soon. The future for podcasting is unlimited, and our efforts will tightly focus on hosts who will contribute to our brand and to the message.” The company announces that WIND-AM, Chicago “AM 560 The Answer” program director Marcus Brown is taking on the additional role of director of content strategy for the Salem Podcast Network. Salem Broadcast Division president David Santrella adds, “Salem’s brand of podcasting will remain consistent with what Salem is best known for — content that approaches the issues through a biblical worldview and a politically conservative lens. Podcast listeners will know that when they come to the Salem Podcast Network, they’ll find content that addresses the issues they care most about.”

WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence to Drop Andy Gresh Show. GoLocalProv.com tips us that Cumulus Media’s news/talk WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence and evening sports talk host Andy Gresh are unable to come to terms and Gresh will exit the station after his Friday evening program (1/8). Gresh tells the news site, “Basically, we have a business disagreement.” GoLocalProv.com reports that former Providence Journal sports reporter Kevin McNamara will host a one-hour program from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm and the 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot will be filled a by a syndicated program.

WNYM, New York Adds Ben Shapiro for Afternoons. New York news/talk WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” announces it is adding the Westwood One syndicated “Ben Shapiro Show” to its daily lineup. Salem Media Group says the program will air at 5:00 pm (except on Wednesdays when it airs at 9:00 pm). Shapiro’s podcast will air evenings at 9:00 pm. To make room, the station moves the Kevin McCullough program to a 7:00 pm start. Additionally, WNYM is adding “Real Estate Today,” the official radio program of the National Association of Realtors hosted by Stephen Gasque, to its program schedule. It will follow “Eye on Real Estate” hosted by New York City real estate expert Dottie Herman. Salem Media Group vice president and general manager Jerry Crowley says, “We’re always looking for ways to make our lineup stronger, and these changes will do just that. Shapiro is a rising young superstar on talk radio. The real estate show will give our listeners great information and content. Kevin McCullough will continue to do the great show we know and love.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former WJFK-FM, Washington afternoon drive host Chad Dukes teases a new sports talk program that’s set to debut on Monday (1/11). Dukes was fired by Entercom in October for what the company called “racist comments” on the “Big O and Dukes” podcast. The new program appears to be a digital streaming venture. His website says of the new program, “The Chad Dukes Show is going to be exactly what you’re looking for if you’re a looking for a radio show from Chad Dukes. Discussion of movies, video games, food, booze, music, football, fighting and copious amounts of ball busting. You want politics? You want COVID discussion? You want middle relief pitching analysis? Look somewhere else.”…..WOBT-AM/W267AF, Rhinelander, Wisconsin flips from country to sports talk. The NRG Media station is airing the complete weekday lineup from iHeartMedia’s sports WRNW-FM, Milwaukee “The Game” – Steve Czaban, John Kuhn & Brian Butch, The Crossover, Drew & K.B. – as well as FOX Sports Radio content in evenings and on weekends…..iHeartMedia Cleveland is launching two initiatives that it believes will improve the bottom lines of local businesses in 2021. All this month, local Cleveland area small businesses are encouraged to register online for the opportunity to be featured in a $25,000 iHeartMedia marketing plan. iHeartMedia Cleveland president Keith Hotchkiss says, “Last year was brutal for small businesses in our community. We believe the significant reach of our media assets, combined with this meaningful marketing campaign, will be the difference maker for a local company here in Cleveland. There are 36% fewer local businesses operating in the area than this time last year, according to Crain’s Cleveland.”…..Condolences to the family and friends of on-air pro Connie Kellie of the “Connie & Fish Morning Show” on Townsquare Media’s hot AC WLHT, Grand Rapids “Mix 95.7.” Kellie died on January 4 after a brief battle with liver cancer. Her radio partner Fish Calloway says, “Over 25 years ago, this incredible, smart and strong woman allowed me the opportunity to be a part of her radio career. Our journey will not only be with those who were touched by her immense talent but engraved in my heart. Thank you, Connie, for this adventure. I look forward to the day we meet again.”

MIW Group Announces Applications Now Being Accepted for ‘Mildred Carter Mentoring Program.’ The Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group announces that the application window for the 2021 Mildred Carter Mentoring Program is open. MIW says its heritage annual mentoring initiative “connects mentees with accomplished women recognized as leaders, mentors, and game-changers within all aspects of radio broadcasting.” The program is being sponsored by vCreative for the second consecutive year. Four candidates from the radio broadcasting industry within the sales, marketing, programming, and digital disciplines will be selected for the 2021 program. The deadline to apply is January 29. See mentee criteria and instructions on how to apply here.

Georgia Runoff Elections, Electoral Vote Count/DC Protests, Trump GA Secretary of State Call, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Jacob Blake Case, and China Blocks WHO Scientists Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/5). Tuesday’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; today’s Electoral College vote count in the Senate and the protests taking place in Washington, DC; the aftermath of Donald Trump’s call to the Georgia Secretary of State seeking a reversal of his loss in that state; the spiking number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of the vaccines; prosecutors in Wisconsin reveal no charges will be filed against officer in shooting of Jacob Blake; and China blocks two WHO scientists investigating the origin of the coronavirus from entering the country were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

| September 8, 2020

Monday Memo: Noise Fatigue = News Renaissance?  With one new nightly network newscast launched, and another debuting this month, consultant Holland Cooke – himself a cable host – welcomes new play-it-straight players to the TV news menu. Read Cooke’s post-holiday Tuesday edition of the Monday Memo here.

Presidential Race/Polls/Vote-By-Mail Debate, School Openings/College Outbreaks, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccine, Portland Protests, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The November presidential election, the most recent polls, and the debate over voting by mail; the opening of schools across the country and the outbreaks of COVID-19 cases at numerous college campuses across the country; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, projections for future cases, and the progress on a vaccine; the ongoing violent clashes between protesters and police in Portland; and the California wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: 19 Years Ago This Friday. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes today about his memory of the terror attacks on the U.S. 19 years ago this Friday. Read it here.

WGN, Chicago Makes Surprise Programming Changes. The departure of Roe Conn from the afternoon drive slot on Nexstar Media Group’s news/talk WGN-AM, Chicago was not entirely unexpected – it has been rumored that the station was considering moving on when Conn’s contract ends in December – but the timing of Friday’s announcement was a bit surprising. Conn is gone from his show, effective immediately, as is longtime WGN overnight personality Nick Digilio. Effective September 28, Steve Bertrand will host the 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm “Chicago’s Afternoon News” program and Chicago radio legend John Records Landecker joins to host the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm program. Anna Davlantes’ early afternoon program expands to 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. In a press release, Bertrand says of the new show, “I am thrilled to get a chance to help create a show that will be equal parts informative and entertaining. With any luck, we’ll end the day a little smarter and have a good time getting there.” WGN Radio general manager Mary Boyle adds, “The importance of local news and information being shared by someone who is trusted by our audience is paramount during these challenging times. Steve Bertrand has always been committed to reporting the news in a fair and thoughtful way. This afternoon news-oriented program led by Steve is a welcome addition to our WGN Radio weekday lineup.”

Report: Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes Off SiriusXM and SportsMap Radio Network. According to a story in Crossing Broad, the “Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes” has been taken off of SiriusXM’s Dan Patrick channel as well as the Houston-based SportsMap Radio Network in the aftermath of Bruno’s recent comments about NBA players boycotting games and about LeBron James in particular. Deadspin wrote a very critical story about Bruno’s segment on the NBA and paraphrased Bruno in its headline that read, “NBA Players Can’t Read.” Bruno was critical of Deadspin’s twisting of his words in a piece published by Barrett Sports Media. Bruno can be heard saying, “Most of these guys can’t even read, for God’s sake.” BSM writes, “In context, it is clear that Bruno was being flippant and not as malicious as Deadspin portrays.” The Bruno and Mayes program has been removed from the website program schedules at both SiriusXM and SportsMap Radio Network.

Wendy Bell Off Air at Entercom’s KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh. According to a piece at Patch.com, afternoon drive talk host Wendy Bell is off the air of Entercom’s news/talk KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh. The move came after Bell said on the air that park rangers should shoot people who are vandalizing monuments to historical figures. Entercom Pittsburgh SVP Michael Spacciapolli said in a statement: “Entercom is the home to thousands of voices representing Americans of all races, ethnicities, gender identity, sexual orientation, beliefs and ability. We take very seriously our responsibility to provide a platform for our communities to engage in diverse and meaningful dialogue, debate and the right to freedom of speech, we do not condone the incitement of violence on any of our platforms. Members of our community have recently brought to our attention comments made by Wendy Bell that do not align with Entercom’s values. Wendy has been taken off air until further notice. Entercom Pittsburgh remains steadfast in our commitment to inclusive conversations that engage everyone in Pittsburgh while excluding any form of violence.”

Sterling: My Cousin Brucie Problem. Talk show host Walter M. Sterling (pictured at left) writes today about his Cousin Brucie “problem.” Sterling hosts the hour immediately following radio legend Cousin Bruce Morrow’s new Saturday evening program on WABC, New York. His “problem” is figuring out how to keep as much of Cousin Brucie’s audience as he can. Read more here.

Premiere Networks Puts Black Information Network into Syndication. The newly launched BIN: Black Information Network, billed by iHeartMedia as “the first and only 24/7 national all news audio service dedicated exclusively to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of news coverage with a Black voice and perspective,” is being made available to stations nationwide via Premiere Networks. “Black Information Network News” features :60 newscasts at the top and bottom of the hour, as well as breaking news, from experienced and award-winning Black journalists, including Vanessa Tyler, Mike Stevens, Madelyne Woods, Morgyn Wood, Mike “Devin” Dunston, Tanita Myers, and Julius White. “Black Information Network News” launched on September 7 on nearly 20 stations across the country, including WVON-AM, Chicago; KMAZ-FM, Houston; KMOJ-FM, Minneapolis; and more. Midway Broadcasting chair and CEO Melody Spann Cooper says, “WVON is pleased to add the Black Information Network as our national news source. WVON’s 24-hour Black talk format is an important and impactful voice in the Chicago market and BIN is the perfect complement to keep our vibrant local community aware of what’s happening across the country. What happens in Black America matters. Telling our story matters. BIN’s timing is perfect!”

KNX, Los Angeles Celebrating 100 Years of Service. Beginning today (9/8), Entercom begins celebrating 100 years of KNX 1070 News Radio “Southern California’s only 24-hour news and traffic station” with the airing of “KNX: a Century of Covering Southern California,” a “history-rich, eight-part on-air series to commemorate its centennial anniversary and pay tribute to former employees who helped grow KNX 1070 News Radio into one of the nation’s premiere all-news brands.” On Thursday (9/10 – the station’s official anniversary) KNX will reimage itself for the day using memorable jingles, sounders and sound bites from the previous 100 years. The radio station launched on September 10, 1920 when Fred Christian started 6ADZ for the customers of his Electric Supply Company to listen to. Twenty months later in May 1922, the electric supply company was issued the call sign, KNX. Current KNX brand manager Ken Charles says, “KNX is a historic brand and I’m in awe of being a part of its illustrious history. This station is a local pillar, here before the Hollywood Sign, the Santa Monica Pier and the Rose Bowl. Just as iconic as any of our local treasures, KNX is a consistent part of the fabric of Southern California, serving as a breaking news resource for our communities, first responders and the nation.”

Jason Bailey Exits Sun Broadcast Group. Media exec Jason Bailey is leaving his role as president of Gen Media PartnersSun Broadcast Group to “move on from the network he founded in order to focus his attention on his company Reatro Ventures, the developer of affiliate research software, ARC.”  Reatro is co-owned by former Sun COO Julio Aponte who will also be taking a more active role in the start-up venture. Warren Friedland, the managing partner of Gen Media Partners, will be filling the role of president for Sun. Bailey says, “Today is bittersweet for me. I’m excited to join Julio and our team at Reatro to focus on the amazing software and app development projects we have on our plate. I’m also incredibly sad to leave my baby (Sun) for the very last time. It has been the honor of a lifetime to work with the great men and women at Sun these last 12 years. They are my family and will always be in my heart. I am certain that under the leadership of Warren along with new COO, Danno Wolkoff, Sun will continue to shine bright for years to come.”

iHeartMedia Re-Brands WNIO, Youngstown as ‘The Gambler.’ Youngstown, Ohio sports talk outlet WNIO re-brands from “The Sports Animal” to “1390 The Gambler,” effective immediately. iHeartMedia says, “‘The Gambler’ will focus on sports talk with a concentration on gambling, including top-of-the-hour wagering updates from VSiN and will feature programming from the BetR Network, including “My Guys in the Desert,” hosted by sportscaster Brent Musberger. The station will also broadcast programming from FOX Sports Radio, including “The Clay Travis Show,” “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” and “The Lombardi Line,” hosted by former Cleveland Browns general manager, Mike Lombardi. iHM Youngstown market president Keith Kennedy says, “‘The Gambler’ is the future of sports radio. We are thrilled to bring this hot new format to The Valley and assist the Youngstown community with navigating the ever-growing world of sports wagering.”

WGAU, Athens’ Tim Bryant Honored with Enshrinement in Georgia Radio Hall of Fame. Radio news and on-air pro Tim Bryant – currently morning show host and news director for Cox Media Group’s WGAU, Athens – has been honored as a Georgia Radio Hall of Fame Career Achievement Inductee for his more than 30-year career in radio. Bryant is one of seven radio icons to have receive this top honor, which recognizes and celebrates individuals who have had a lasting impact on Georgia radio. The virtual ceremony was held on Friday (9/4). Cox Athens station director Kelsey Gresham says, “The name Tim Bryant is synonymous with WGAU and Athens, as his has been a steady and trusted voice on Athens’ radio station of record for a quarter of its more than 80-year history. Tim’s work goes well beyond the airwaves, as he is an integral part of the fabric of the Classic City. He is extremely involved in the community, often hosting forums and debates between political candidates, covering major local events and giving back as a volunteer to various community efforts as often as he can. We are so proud and honored to have him as part of the CMG team.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. This year’s 2020 iHeartRadio Music Awards were handed out via an on-air and social media special over the Labor Day weekend on iHeartRadio stations nationwide, and the iHeartRadio App, the all-in-one digital music, podcast, on demand and live-streaming radio service. Some of the winners included: Lizzo for “Song of the Year”; Billie Eilish for “Female Artist of the Year”; Jonas Brothers for “Best Duo/Group of the Year”; and Taylor Swift for “Album of the Year.”…..Beasley Media Group brings Delaware Valley radio personality Jessie Jordan to hot AC WJBR-FM, Wilmington “MIX 99.5” as co-host of “The Mix Morning Show with Johnny B and Jessie Jordan.” Jordan has worked on air at WIOQ-FM and WBEB-FM in Philadelphia prior to joining WJBR-FM this past summer. Station program director Eric Johnson says, “We are thrilled to have Jessie join Johnny B weekday mornings. She certainly added sparkle and feel good fun to this summer’s weekend programming. Now we get to start our day with her sunshine each morning!”…..Nick Cannon announces he’s returning to the helm of his Skyview Networks-syndicated radio program after taking time away for a period of reflection, dialogue, and study with some of America’s most notable Jewish community leaders and representatives. Skyview says, “During his hiatus, Nick worked to deepen his understanding of the issues long troubling the Black and Jewish communities and pledged from this point forward to be a leading voice and advocate for positive change, greater understanding. and unity.” Skyview president and COO Steve Jones says, “We are so appreciative of Nick Cannon’s affiliates for their commitment to Nick during his period of reflection. We recognize that he is an incredible entertainer with a powerful voice that will continue to command the interest and attention of radio listeners during this volatile time in America.”…..Connoisseur Media welcomes Janine Johns back into the company fold as general sales manager for its five-station cluster on Long Island that includes: hot AC WALK-FM, adult contemporary WKJY “K-JOY 98.3,” classic hits WBZO “103.1 MAX FM,” rock WWSK “94.3 THE SHARK,” and oldies WHLI-AM.  She’s been serving as senior account manager for Altice since 2015.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

| August 19, 2020

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. Compared to the July 2019 PPM survey from Nielsen Audio, 65% of news/talk stations had better weekly, 6+ AQH shares in the July 2020 PPM survey, according to our report from TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian. Looking at ratings increases from the June 2020 PPM survey to the July 2020 survey, 43% of news/talk stations were down, with 35% improving. Gainers from June to July were led by iHeartMedia’s KSTE-AM, Sacramento (+1.2 for a 3.0 share). Back to the year-over-year comparison, Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta was the top gainer, adding 4.0 shares to post a 10.6 share, good for the #1 rank in Atlanta. Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM, Washington also climbed to the #1 spot (from #6 in 2019) on the strength of an 8.4 share (+3.1). Joining WSB and WMAL in the #1 club in July was Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle after finishing the July survey with a 7.1 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Air Personality Changes at Sports Talk WKTI-FM, Milwaukee. According to a piece in the Milwaukee Business Journal, the new program schedule at Good Karma Brands’ sports talk WKTI-FM, Milwaukee “ESPN 94.5” includes ESPN television personality Jen Lada joining the 7:00 am to 9:00 am show alongside co-hosts Gabe Neitzel and former Green Bay Packers tight end Mark Chmura. Lada is prominent on ESPN’s “College Game Day” and “College Football Live” broadcasts. Other changes at the station include the move of Steve “The Homer” True’s show from the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm daypart to the 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm slot. He’s also being joined by new co-host Tony Smith. In the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot is Greg Scalzo and Ben Brust simulcast from Good Karma’s WTLX-FM, Madison. Good Karma general manager Steve Wexler says of the Scalzo and Brust show, “It’s a very high-energy — and we think super-entertaining — afternoon show. They had really great success on our Madison ESPN station.”

Dave Andreesen Upped to Director of Programming and Ops for Binnie Media’s News/Talk and Sports Stations. Programmer Dave Andreesen is promoted to director of programming & operations for news-talk-sports brands at Binnie Media. Andreesen has been based at the company’s Dover, New Hampshire stations. Company vice president of programming Heath Cole states, “Dave has been an amazing captain of our Dover, NH properties and I’m extremely proud of what he and Mike Pomp have accomplished over the years. Dave will continue in his role with [news/talk] WTSN, Dover as well as [news/talk/sports] ‘107.7 The Pulse’ WTPL-FM, Concord.” Andreesen adds, “It’s an honor to continue in a new role at WTSN, one of the oldest radio stations in the state with a long history of local programming and the personalities who have set the standard for broadcasting. And WTPL is a powerhouse of locally originating programming led by a group of exceptional broadcasters with decades of experience who give the community a voice. Binnie Media is proud to be the home of the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots in these two markets.”

Jules Riley Named Operations Director for CMG Jacksonville. Programming pro Jules Riley joins Cox Media Group Jacksonville as operations director for the eight-brand cluster that includes news/talk WOKV-FM, sports talk WOKV-AM “ESPN 690” and six music brands. Riley was most recently SVP of programming at iHeartMedia’s St. Louis cluster. CMG Jacksonville vice president and general manager Katie Reid comments, “Jules brings a wealth of experience and talent to CMG Jacksonville. We are extremely excited she will be leading and growing our team, our brands and the future of our programming.”

TALKERS News Notes. Variety is reporting that former PBS personality Tavis Smiley is being ordered by a Washington, DC court to pay the Public Broadcasting Service $2.6 million after being found guilty of breach of contract. The jury found Smiley guilty of having numerous affairs with subordinates in violation of the morals clause of his contract. The jury awarded PBS $1.5 million for the costs and underwriting revenue for the last two seasons of his talk show. A judge tacked on $1.1 million in damages…..The Props Network and JAKIB Media Partners announce a deal for an exclusive partnership between golf podcasters “The Tour Junkies” and “The Tony Bruno Show w/ Harry Mayes” for the former to provide the radio show with weekly golf content. Bruno says, “We have golf action-yo. Weekly, we will bring you the most comprehensive golf coverage as part of ‘The Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes.’ Our show is unpredictable and this content will deliver listeners the in-depth knowledge and insight that is a cornerstone of our program.”…..The Seneca Women Podcast Network, iHeartRadio and P&G announce the premiere of “Seneca’s 100 Women to Hear,” an original 100-episode podcast spotlighting women who have positively impacted and created change across all sectors of society. The series launched Tuesday (8/18) with an episode spotlighting abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth. New episodes will drop over nine consecutive days, through August 26 on Women’s Equality Day, and then move to twice weekly starting in September…..PodcastOne, a subsidiary of LiveXLive Media, Inc., announces a new video podcast deal with actress, model, and influencer Amanda Cerny and award-winning Bollywood actress and social media star Jacqueline Fernandez. Launching later this summer on both PodcastOne and LiveXLive’s platforms, “FEELS GOOD” w/ Amanda Cerny and Jacqueline Fernandez “brings these two lost sisters from different sides of the world together to give global weekly inspiring news story updates alongside insightful reviews, unexpected guests, conversations about sex, dating, wellness, and culture, while delivering to audiences what ‘feels good.’”

Radio Execs Make Big Stock Investments in Their Companies. Recently, two executives at major audio media firms have added large amounts of their companies’ stock to their personal portfolios.  Entercom chairman David Field just added more than 121,000 shares of Entercom stock, paying $1.6 per share and totaling $195,000. This adds 4.9% to Field’s share of Entercom’s stock, according to Yahoo! Finance. On August 14, iHeartMedia filed a Form 4 with the Securities Exchange Commission to report that company CFO and COO Richard Bressler purchased, via the company’s Employee Stock Option plan, $4.14 million worth of its Class A Common Stock (416,500 shares at $8.98 per share).

Presidential Race/DNC, USPS Crisis/Mail-In Voting, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections/Campus Flare-Ups, Fall School Openings, Senate Russian Interference Report, Financial Markets Gains, Anderson Cooper-Mike Lindell Spat, and California Wildfires-Blackouts Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/18). The November presidential election and night two of the Democratic National Convention; the U.S. Postal Service funding crisis and the related criticism of mail-in voting by President Trump; the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and projections for future cases and the related reports of flare-ups at some college campuses; the debate over school openings in September; the latest Senate report concluding that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election; U.S. financial markets hit highs erasing the spring pandemic losses; the tense exchange between CNN’s Anderson Cooper and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell over Lindell’s promotion of oleandrin as a cure for COVID-19; and the Southwestern heatwave and California wildfires 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. The syndicated rock morning drive program “The Billy Madison Show” is now being represented for ad sales and affiliate sales by Key Networks. The program – based at Cox Media Group’s rock KISS-FM, San Antonio – was originally a cooperative effort between CMG and Nineball Radio. United Stations Radio Networks acquired Nineball in 2016 and had been syndicating it since. It’s heard in the Palm Springs, Corpus Christi, and Salisbury, Maryland markets. Key Networks president and COO Jim Higgins says, “Billy Madison and his team work really hard and deliver a unique brand of passion and humor that has generated huge ratings and revenue for KISS-FM in San Antonio and Billy’s other affiliates. Key Networks is proud to now market his program and get it the recognition and additional stations and listeners that it deserves.”…..Maine’s Binnie Media promotes programming pro Leif Erickson to director of programming and operations for the classic hits FRANK format airing on the company’s WFNK-FM, Lewiston/Portland and WBQX, Rockland. Erickson says, “My predecessor, Stan Bennett, built a powerful brand and taught me a lot. After 15 years of being his right-hand man, it’s an honor to step up and take the reins. Frank FM has been my passion, and I’m excited to keep our winning streak going, aided of course by the best team in the Portland market.”

Monday, August 17, 2020

| August 17, 2020

Monday Memo: Emulate Success. Talkers of all sorts – music DJs, talk hosts, podcasters – are fighting for attention, now more than ever, in what TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison calls “today’s sped-up world.”  In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke lists success prescriptions from industry icons. Read it here.

USPS Controversy/Mail-In Voting, Presidential Election/Kamala Harris Choice, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, School Opening Debate, Portland Protests/Urban Violence, WAP Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The funding issues facing the U.S. Postal Service and President Trump’s allegation that mail-in voting breeds fraud; the November presidential election and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the debate over opening schools this fall; the ongoing protests in Portland and rise in violent crime in a number of U.S. cities; and the controversy over the Cardi B song “WAP” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: In the Market for a Test Drive. A personality endorsement campaign is a commitment on both sides – the client’s and the talent’s and AE’s. What happens when a prospect responds with the desire to “try it for a month?” Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes about tying the length of time it takes to get a consumer through the purchase process to the minimum term required for an endorsement campaign featuring one of your talk personalities. Read it here.

WQAM, Miami Re-Vamps Daily Program Schedule. South Florida sports talker WQAM “560 The Joe” announces it’s tweaking its daily lineup, adding ESPN Radio’s “Greeny” with Mike Greenberg in the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm daypart and is expanding the afternoon drive “Hochman and Crowder” show – hosted by Marc Hochman and Channing Crowder – to 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Entercom South Florida SVP and market manager Keriann Worley says, “With the return of live sports, we aim to give sports fans of South Florida a home for both national headlines and premier coverage of their favorite teams. As he returns to radio, Mike Greenberg is a nationally recognized and trusted voice and we’re delighted to add his show to our already impressive lineup of weekday programming.”

John Fredericks Radio Network Announces New Virginia Digital News Operation. In conjunction with Star News Digital Media, the Virginia based John Fredericks Radio Network is launching The Virginia Star – a new, digital news operation that begins publishing today. John Fredericks is host of the network’s morning drive program and he’s also serving as publisher and editor-in-chief of the news operation. He says, “We are very excited about this new venture: real news in real time. The Virginia Star will be fiercely local in its core news reporting content, augmented with a national flavor and robust commentary section. Like on my radio show, we encourage all voices.” Star executives say they have hired three local, full-time reporters and have contracted with several more on a part-time basis. Fredericks adds, “We are going to cover the stories important to our readers that the fake news refuses to do simply because it doesn’t fit their narrative. At The Virginia Star, we have our own narrative, it’s called the truth.” Star News Digital Media CEO Michael Patrick Leahy says, “The Virginia Star now becomes the fifth state-based news site in the Star News Network, joining The Tennessee Star, The Ohio Star, The Minnesota Sun, and The Michigan Star.” Star News Digital Media chief technology officer Christina Botteri adds, “The Virginia Star is the first affiliate of the Star News Network. We own and operate our four other news sites. We searched the country to find the right organization with the reputation and experience to work with in a fifth state, and the John Fredericks Radio Network in Virginia was hands down the right choice for us. Together with John, our crackerjack team of on-the-ground reporters, and the great people of Virginia, we will change the face of news in the Commonwealth.”

PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s July 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on sports talk. As sports leagues begin returning to live play-by-play, America’s sports talk stations are hoping it will translate into improved ratings. During the July 2020 survey, Tegna’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “Sports Radio 97.1 The Fan” was the big gainer, adding seven-tenths to post a 3.6 share. Right behind was Cumulus Media’s KNBR, San Francisco tacking on six-tenths for a 2.5 share finish. Comparing July 2020 to July 2019, the top gainer is iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis “K-FAN,” which posts a seven-tenths gain for a 5.0 share. No sports talk station ranked #1 in its market in July – not even close. However, three stations – Beasley Media Group’s WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub”; WBNS-FM, Columbus; and KXFN-FM, Minneapolis – tied for ranking #8 in their respective markets. See the complete report here.

TALKERS News Notes. This month, Premiere Networks is celebrating the 20th anniversary of FOX Sports Radio. Premiere says that it and FOX Sports “have enjoyed a long partnership that kicked off in 2000 with the goal of producing a home for industry-leading talent focused on delivering entertaining, informed and thought-provoking programming for sports fans. FOX Sports Radio launched in August of that year, and the network’s storied 20-year run has developed a loyal following of more than 14 million listeners across more than 500 affiliates nationwide with an unmatched weekday lineup featuring some of the biggest names in sports broadcasting, including Colin Cowherd, Dan Patrick, Clay Travis, Doug Gottlieb, Chris Broussard, Rob Parker, R.J. Bell, Jason Smith, Mike Harmon and Ben Maller.” Premiere SVP of sports programming Don Martin says, “What an amazing accomplishment – 20 years! I’ve been fortunate to be part of the FSR family for the entire run, both as an affiliate and on the management team.”…..San Diego is getting its first taste of “The Mightier 1090” today (8/17) as the Bill Hagen-led station begins operating. XEPRS-AM had been a sports talker as “The Mighty 1090” operated by Broadcast Corporation of the Americas but that organization lost its lease on the Mexican blowtorch last year. Now, ad exec Hagen is re-imagining the station. Times of San Diego reports that former XEPRS sports talk host Scott Kaplan is hosting afternoon drive. The rest of the schedule is: SportsGrid’s “The Morning After” with Ariel Epstein and Jared Smith in morning drive, Rich Eisen from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, two programs hosted by Scott Ferrall, and Tony Bruno in evenings…..ESPN Radio announces that effective today (8/17), personalities Dan LeBatard and Stugotz are presenting new daily podcast-exclusive content. A new digital-only episode will be recorded and posted before their 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET national radio show.  Following the radio program, LeBatard and Stugotz will record more thoughts and ramblings as a digital-only “post-game show.” In addition, each hour of the radio show – as well as their local hour heard in Miami – will continue to be available as podcasts. ESPN Audio VP, digital marketing and strategy Tom Ricks says, “Dan and Stugotz already have a large digital-only audience, and we wanted to better serve that audience with exclusive podcast content. They are a unique show on sports radio and now their podcast listeners will get more unique podcast content each day.”

Michael Harrison Joins Gunhill Road with New Song About Life During Pandemic.  Here they come again! Gunhill Road, the legendary album rock band that was a cult favorite of FM radio in the early 70s and then scored a Top 40 AM radio one-off smash in 1973 with “Back When My Hair Was Short” has returned in 2020 with a reworked version of the classic hit. This time the catchy tune has new lyrics that address the coronavirus with a lovingly humorous take on the sacrifices society is making to contain it. Rock enthusiasts might recall that Gunhill Road reunited in 2014 to a packed house at New York’s Bitter End and a brand new double album titled, “Every 40 Years,” which became the subject of a feature film documentary. The long-running ensemble which consists of original members Glenn LeopoldSteve Goldrich, and Paul Reich and new members musician/arranger Brian Koonin and TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison has a new set of songs ready to drop in early 2021. Among the new songs is one co-written and performed by Harrison that addresses the issue of animal welfare. To check out the new “Back When We Used to Hug” video, please click here.

Newsmax TV Adds ‘Stinchfield’ to Nightly Lineup. Four-time Emmy-winning journalist Grant Stinchfield is joining the evening lineup at Newsmax TV, beginning tomorrow (8/18) at 8:00 pm ET. Newsmax says “Stinchfield” is “a full hour of the day’s top news and provocative conversation.” Stinchfield says, “I’m thrilled to be at Newsmax TV. Each night, our viewers can look forward to a compelling mix of up-to-the-second news and compelling discussions with newsmakers and Newsmax TV’s great roster of contributors.” Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy says, “Grant has an impeccable track record in broadcast journalism with the awards to prove it. He will bring our viewers solid news reports with the insight they can’t find elsewhere.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Townsquare Media’s Albany, New York station group, country WGNA brand manager Matty Jeff is promoted to director of content for the cluster that also includes alternative WQSH, rock WQBK, adult contemporary WPBZ, hip hop WQBK-HD2/W256BU, and sports talk WTMM-FM. Townsquare Albany market president Kevin Rich says, “Matty has programmed WGNA to be a consistent local ratings and online leader and by far the #1 country station in the Capital Region. Having him as my partner in the director of content role will make our locally programmed stations even stronger.”…..Country radio air personality Jessica Cash announces she’s leaving Alpha Media’s WFLS, Fredericksburg, Virginia at the end of this week. She says, “Fourteen years is a long time for someone in our profession to be in one place. I’ve had the good fortune to do that, to hopefully get your day started with a smile. But, now it’s time for me to make a change in my life.” Cash co-hosts the morning drive show with Steve Waters. The duo has won honors over the years, including CMA’s Small Market Morning Show in 2018 and the ACM Small Market Personality in 2019. The station is searching for her replacement…..Condolences to the family and friends of longtime South Florida radio personality Sonny Fox, who passed away on Friday (8/14) in Dunnellon, Florida after an illness at age 73. An obit in the Miami Herald notes that Fox worked at former rock outlet WSHE (now hip hop WMIB), CHR WHYI, oldies WMXJ, and country WKIS.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

| July 28, 2020

WIND-AM, Chicago’s Steve Cortes Takes Leave to Work for Trump Campaign. WIND-AM Chicago afternoon drive talk host Steve Cortes is taking leave of his program on the Salem Media Group station to join the Donald Trump re-election campaign as senior advisor of communications. Cortes – who served on the 2016 Trump campaign’s Hispanic Advisory Council in addition to acting as a surrogate for Trump – became the host of the 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm program in January of this year. Salem Chicago regional vice president and WIND-AM general manager Jeff Reisman says, “While we wish Steve could stay on the air with us during these next few critical months before the election, we also understand the pull that Steve feels to help President Trump. Steve will have a front row seat to history between now and the election, and we look forward to welcoming him back in November and having him share his firsthand account of how this campaign unfolded with our audience.” In the interim, WIND’s afternoon drive will feature a fill-in host to be announced.

Lotus Broadcasting Announces Re-Brand of KRLV-AM, Las Vegas as ‘Raider Nation Radio 920 AM.’ In partnership with the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, Lotus Broadcasting reveals that its rock KOMP-FM, Las Vegas “92.3 The Rock Station” will serve as the Raiders’ flagship radio station for play-by-pay and that it is re-launching KRLV-AM as “Raider Nation Radio 920AM.”  Beginning August 3, “Raider Nation Radio 920AM” will feature a lineup that includes: “Pritch & Clay” – Mike Pritchard and Clay Baker – in morning drive; ESPN’s Mike Greenberg Show from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon; JT the Brick from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm; “Silver & Black Today” with host Scott Gulbransen; and “In the Huddle with Vincent Bonsignore” from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Lotus general manager Natalie Marsh says, “We are incredibly excited to partner with the Las Vegas Raiders and broadcast their games to a sports craved Las Vegas fanbase. Launching ‘Raider Nation Radio 920AM’ will give Raiders and NFL fans unparalleled access to the Raiders and the league as a whole.” Lotus says that with Clay Baker joining Mike Pritchard in morning drive, air personality Tyler Bischoff is moving to the company’s sports talk KWWN “ESPN Las Vegas” alongside longtime Review Journal columnist Ed Graney for mornings.

Entercom Names Danny Freisinger Brand Manager for ‘ESPN 1320’ in Sacramento. Sports talk pro Danny Freisinger adds the brand manager role for KIFM-AM, Sacramento “ESPN 1320” to his duties with Entercom. Freisinger serves as assistant brand manager for KGMZ-FM, San Francisco “95.7 The Game” and will continue in that position as well. Entercom Sacramento SVP and market manager Stacey Kauffman says, “For the last four years, Danny has consistently given ‘95.7 The Game’ listeners a reliable home for premier coverage of their favorite teams and we’re excited to expand his role with ‘ESPN 1320. With a fair amount of Bay Area fans rooted in Sacramento, Danny will lead the way in reshaping how we cover sports in Northern California and better serve fans.”

Nielsen Audio Exits Nine Small Markets. Ratings giant Nielsen Audio announces it is exiting the radio ratings business in nine small U.S. markets: Battle Creek, Michigan; Bend, Oregon; Billings, Montana; Grand Junction, Colorado; New Bedford-Fall River, Massachusetts; Texarkana, Texas/Arkansas; Richland-Kennewick-Pasco, Washington; Twin Falls-Sun Valley, Idaho; and Yakima, Washington. The company says in a press statement, “Like most commercial businesses, Nielsen Audio continually reviews the economic viability of doing business in all markets. If the audio marketplace in select markets cannot financially support measurement, we discontinue producing our syndicated market report in those markets. That is just business as usual, the typical expansion and contraction of our rated audio market list, which is the case with these nine markets.”

PPM Analysis: Cume Part 4 – The #1 Club. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian wraps up his analysis of Nielsen Audio’s June 2020 PPM survey and the four-part dive into station cume with a review of the outlets that finished tops in cume in their respective markets. In this report you’ll find charts detailing #1 cume stations by market size, #1 cume stations by format, cume rank versus AQH share rank, and more. See it all here.

TALKERS News Notes. Detroit sports talk host Jamie Samuelsen announces to WXYT-FM, Detroit listeners that he’s been battling colon cancer for the past two years. Mlive.com reports that Samuelsen made the announcement on Monday’s “Jamie & Stoney” program (7/27), telling listeners, “Each morning since my diagnosis, I got up, turned on the radio mic, and got to talk sports. I needed the escape from cancer, just like so many of our listeners who face hardships, grief and illness, too, they turned to us in the morning for some levity in this crazy world. So, I wanted to continue to have fun and not let cancer get in the way of doing what I loved. Connecting with listeners, laughing, teasing Stoney, all of it, it helped me be normal, while continuing to fight this disease.” He added, “It’s a battle. It goes on. I don’t want to make it sound like this is any sort of goodbye, because it’s not.”.…..The Bubba The Love Sponge program adds two new affiliate stations as Birach Broadcasting adds the show to WCXI, Detroit and WWCS, Pittsburgh. The program is based at Genesis Communications’ WWBA-AM, Tampa and is syndicated via United Cities Productions…..Gow Media announces that the new SportsMap Radio Network has officially launched with the talent lineup including: Scott Ferrall, Tony Bruno, Jake Asman, Scott Wetzel, Matt Perrault, Anthony Pepe, Gabe Morency, and Eytan Shander. SportsMap program director and Gow Media COO Craig Larson comments, “We have been overwhelmed by the tremendous response to this exciting endeavor. With a solid infrastructure in place, and led by a dynamic innovator in David Gow, SportsMap Radio is well positioned to be an industry leader for many years to come.”

Skyview Networks’ Virtual Sales Conference Taking Place This Week. The annual sales conference hosted by Skyview Networks is virtual this year and got underway yesterday (7/27). Among the presenters are: Erica Farber, CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau; Stacia Deshishku, vice president and general manager of ABC Audio; and Skyview Networks’ CEO Ken Thiele, president and COO Steve Jones, and executive vice president and general manager, Jeanne-Marie Condo. Skyview announced that it will reveal new network partnerships this week “that will expand its business further through the acquisition of the audiences that advertisers desire and, in doing so, create greater financial benefit for its partner networks.”

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Vaccine Tests Begin, Fall School Opening Debate, BLM Protests/Federal Troop Deployment, GOP Stimulus Bill, Big Tech CEOs Before Congress, MLB’s Season Opens Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/27). The rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the first Phase 3 vaccine trial begins the in U.S.; the ongoing debate over whether to and how to open schools this fall; the Black Lives Matter protests taking place in various cities and controversy over the Trump administration’s use of federal forces; Senate Republicans announce their new stimulus package – the HEALS Act; Wednesday’s testimony by big tech CEOs before the House Judiciary Committee; and Major League Baseball’s season opens 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. The Premiere Networks-syndicated alternative morning program “The Woody Show” gets its first Canadian affiliate as My Broadcasting Company’s CJMB-FM, Peterborough, Ontario adds the program for morning drive. Host Woody says, “A big thank you to Rob Mise and Jon Pole at MBC Radio for believing in us even after they spent endless hours listening to our show. We have been workshopping some new jokes for our big Canadian debut on ‘FREQ 90.5,’ and we’re confident that we’ll at least get a smirk from five out of 10 of them. We appreciate the opportunity and look forward to being part of the chaos.”