Tag: "Tony Coles"
Bongino: ‘Me or the Vaccine Mandate.’ Nationally syndicated talk radio personality Dan Bongino told listeners to his Monday (10/18) program that he’s issuing an ultimatum to Westwood One owner Cumulus Media that he will quit the radio show he’s been hosting since May 24 of this year if the company insists on mandating that workers return to the offices/studios after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The Washington Examiner reports that the author and media personality is vaccinated but he is “standing up against the company’s ‘political decision’ so that people without platforms could make a ‘private and personal medical decision.’” He tells his employer, “You can have me, or you can have a vaccine mandate, but you can’t have both.” He added, “I have no intentions of letting these guys get let go, get harassed, because they made a private and personal medical decision on only one of the biggest issues of our time. There is a real thing called natural immunity. There is an even realer thing called freedom and liberty. This is a constitutional republic. People have the right to make their own medical decisions.” There’s been no public response from Cumulus Media management so far.
Salem Radio Network Host Dennis Prager Contracts COVID-19. According to a story by KUSA-TV, Denver, Salem Radio Network talk host Dennis Prager has contracted COVID-19, missing three days of his program last week. Prager was back on the air on Monday (10/18) and told his listeners that he had hoped to get COVID to achieve natural immunity. Prager attended a campaign event in Colorado Springs hosted by Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl on October 10. He said, “That is what I hoped for the entire time. I engaged with strangers, constantly hugging them, taking photos with them, knowing that I was making myself very susceptible to getting COVID – which is, indeed, as bizarre as it sounded.” Obviously, it’s difficult to tell where Prager contracted the virus, be it at the event, traveling to or from Colorado, or elsewhere. Ganahl’s campaign issued the following statement: “The campaign was not aware Dennis had contracted COVID until the announcement on his show. We have not been made aware of anyone who attended the event outside of Dennis’ inner circle getting the virus. We are reaching out to all those who attended to make sure they are informed. We encourage those who attended, and all Coloradans for that matter, to get tested and follow CDC guidelines if they experience any COVID-like symptoms.” Prager told his listeners he credits his recovery to treatments including ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.
Porretti to Lead Katz Digital Audio. Radio sales pro Scott Porretti is promoted to president of Katz Digital Audio where he’ll continue to oversee all Katz Digital Audio offerings, manage relationships with an expansive roster of publishing and technology partners, and further the growth of podcasting and programmatic digital audio on behalf of current and new partners. He was most recently EVP of Katz Digital Audio. Porretti says, “We have seen an explosion of growth in the digital audio space that is not slowing, with more people listening on their various devices than ever before. In addition, an increasing number of data attribution companies have shown undeniable validation of the unique and positive impact digital audio has on advertisers looking to reach their consumers. I am so proud of what our team has accomplished and extremely excited to help shape where our industry is heading to support Katz’s ever-expanding position in the digital marketplace and help our clients execute effective digital audio campaigns.” Katz Media Group CEO Mark Gray comments, “Katz excels at helping brands reach and engage with consumers in meaningful, impactful ways. Scott’s in-depth knowledge and vast background in developing audio solutions across a variety of platforms has helped Katz grow its diverse digital offerings and proprietary technologies. Scott’s effective team leadership style, and his extraordinary vision in this marketplace, has catapulted Katz Digital to a place where it is now viewed by advertisers as a one-stop-shop to reach diverse audiences with unparalleled scale.”
TALKERS News Notes. The Radio Advertising Bureau announces that iHeartMedia president, multiplatform group and president, Black Information Network Tony Coles joins its board of directors. Coles takes over the seat from iHeartMedia’s Darren Davis, who is retiring from the company at year’s end…..FOX News Media announces that its FOX News Digital closed out the third quarter of 2021 earning the top spot in both multiplatform minutes and multiplatform views, reaching over 5.2 billion multiplatform views (+10 percent vs Q2’21) and nearly 10.6 billion multiplatform total minutes (+8 percent vs Q2’21) for the second consecutive quarter, according to Comscore. The company goes on to say that in September, the digital network surpassed CNN.com in total multiplatform minutes for the seventh month in a row and outperformed all other news brands in the news competitive set, with 3.6 billion minutes, also according to Comscore. In September, the digital network notched over 1.8 billion total multiplatform views, outpacing CNN.com in the metric yet again and delivering over 100 million multiplatform unique visitors…..Connoisseur Media’s news/talk WICC-AM, Bridgeport, Connecticut adds FM translator W297CP at 107.3 FM as an additional frequency. Program director Allan Lamberti says, “With the addition of an FM frequency, we will really be able to get local news and information to more of the listeners of Bridgeport and beyond. This is a community that is underserved by local television news and really WICC is the only radio station that delivers it.”…..PodcastOne inks a “high seven-figure renewal deal” with podcast host and former Wall Street attorney Jordan Harbinger that keeps him and his eponymous program with the network for the foreseeable future. “The Jordan Harbinger Show” launched with the network in 2018 and PodcastOne says the show’s download numbers are nearing 11 million monthly and over 300 million all-time. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “Jordan embodies what podcasting is all about. His impeccable interviewing skills, his unmatched rapport with guests, his integrity and his knowledge of marketing and the business of podcasting are keystones in the growth of ‘The Jordan Harbinger Show’ and his audience is ever expanding. Not only is Jordan a dream partner in podcasting, he’s also a dear friend and we are looking forward to, and anticipating, even bigger things in 2022 and beyond.”
Global Supply Chain/Inflation, January 6 Investigation/Bannon Contempt, COVID-19, Afghanistan Withdrawal Investigation, and Colin Powell Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/18). Concerns about the effects the global supply chain breakdown will have over the winter and of soaring retail prices; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s risking criminal contempt over his refusal to testify; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and mask & vaccine mandates; the State Department inspector general’s probe of the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan; and former Secretary of State Colin Powell dies at 84 after complications from COVID were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
WBZ-AM and FEMA Unveil Emergency Studio. Pictured above at the WBZ-AM emergency broadcast facility in Hull, Massachusetts are WBZ’s Ben Parker (left) and FEMA’s IPAWS division director Antwane Johnson (right) at a ceremony for the refurbished facility on Friday (10/15). iHeartMedia‘s WBZ-AM facility serves as a Primary Entry Point (PEP) station for FEMA’s National Public Warning System (NPWS), maintained under FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), and provides critical information to the public before, during and after incidents and disasters. Under the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act enacted in 2015, Congress required FEMA to upgrade PEP stations across the country to ensure continuity of terrestrial broadcast services under all hazards. PEP stations are specially designated NPWS broadcast stations that serve as the primary intake source of initial broadcasts for a national alert. FEMA equips these stations, which are operated by local station personnel, with backup communications equipment and power generators that enable them to continue broadcasting information to the public during and after an emergency, including conveying official alerts to communities regionally and nationwide.
Lotus Communications Closes on Seattle Stations Acquisition. The only radio stations that Sinclair Broadcast Group owned are now part of the Lotus Communications portfolio as Lotus closes on the $18 million purchase of all-news KOMO-AM/FM, talk KVI-AM, and hot AC KPLZ-FM in Seattle that was announced in June. Lotus president Jim Kalmenson says in a statement, “Today begins an exciting era as we begin working with the amazing staff at these heritage radio stations KOMO, KPLZ, and KVI. These are legendary stations which share Lotus’s vision of producing local programming to serve the community and support our hometown businesses. Seattle is home to several excellent broadcasting companies who have made this a great radio market.” Sinclair Broadcast Group – a broadcast television company – picked up the radio stations as part of its acquisition of Fisher Communications’ TV assets in 2013.
WTKS-FM, Orlando’s Russ Rollins Hospitalized with COVID. The “Real Radio 104.1” website has the story of “Monsters in the Morning” host Russ Rollins’ battle with COVID-19. Rollins – who is fully vaccinated and has been an advocate for vaccinations and masks – was on an RV trip with his wife when he fell ill. They cut their trip short and returned home but on Monday (9/27), “things went from bad to worse” and “he was told by his doctor to go to the local emergency room.” Rollins texted that “fluid was filling up” and “this is not good,” adding this “is the worst I have ever felt.” For now, longtime member of “The Monsters in the Morning” Carlos Navarro is leading the show from his home with Angel Rivera and Ryan Holmes in separate rooms at the iHeartMedia studios in Orlando.
iHeartMedia’s Black Information Network Partners with Real Times Media. The deal between iHeartMedia’s BIN: Black Information Network and Detroit-based multi-media firm Real Times Media is described as “a strategic partnership to share and distribute news that is most important to the Black community.” BIN: Black Information Network is the company’s “national audio news network dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective” and Real Times Media publishes Black-targeted newspapers The Atlanta Daily World, Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, The Chicago Defender, The Michigan Chronicle, and The New Pittsburgh Courier. iHeartMedia says this new partnership expands upon the recent announcement that beginning in January 2022, BIN will expand their local news coverage in all 32 affiliate markets. Under this deal, iHeartMedia will source and distribute news stories from RTM publications across BIN radio stations and sites, and RTM will source and distribute BIN news, entertainment and sports stories and place BIN’s audio widget, a source of 24/7 audio coverage, on their digital properties. iHeartMedia will distribute RTM news on BINnews.com, BINnews.com/Atlanta and BINnews.com/Detroit. The deal also includes opportunities for iHeartMedia to convert RTM stories into audio reporting. BIN president Tony Coles says, “From the start, our goal at BIN has been to celebrate and invest in the Black community and shine a light on our most important stories. This exciting new partnership allows us to extend our commitment to expanding local journalism, benefitting Black communities all across the country.”
Elvin Fluellen Named VP and Market Manager for Cumulus Macon. Radio sales pro Elvin Fluellen is named vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media’s Macon, Georgia station group that includes news/talk WMAC-AM and four music brands. Fluellen rejoins Cumulus Macon from Cox Media Group Jacksonville where he was an account executive. Fluellen was previously general sales manager/digital sales manager for Cumulus Macon from 2016-2019. Fluellen has also held programming leadership and on-air positions during his 23-year radio career, including 13 years as operations manager/program director for iHeartMedia in Albany, Georgia. Cumulus regional vice president Mark Sullivan says, “It’s exciting to have Elvin rejoining the team in Macon as he did a wonderful job for us and made a lasting impact with the staff, advertisers and community. I’m very pleased to work alongside him again and look forward to many more successes together.”
Premiere Networks Launches Weekend Cryptocurrency Show Hosted by Mark Moss. This weekend Premiere Networks is debuting “The Mark Moss Show,” hosted by investor, entrepreneur, cryptocurrency expert, and host of the popular “Market Disruptors” podcast/YouTube series Mark Moss. The new three-hour weekend program is available for stations to air between 6:00 am and 12:00 midnight local time. It will also be available as a podcast. Premiere says, “Each week on ‘The Mark Moss Show,’ Moss will help audiences understand and navigate Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, as well as why they’re important, including the business, politics, financial markets, and more. He’ll share his knowledge for why this isn’t just a new technology, but a technological revolution with the biggest opportunity and potential ever seen.” He says, “We’re witnessing the most important technological revolution right now – it’s the greatest ‘asymmetric opportunity’ of our lifetime. But to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to have asymmetric information and you need to know what most others do not. That’s what I’m excited to share with listeners each and every week, so they can participate in this revolution today!” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott comments, “Mark is uniquely qualified to inform and educate audiences on how to make smart investments, grow their money, understand the financial markets and prepare for the future. He doesn’t just talk the talk; he walks the walk. We look forward to sharing Mark’s knowledge and expertise with listeners every weekend!”
Dan Kripke Named DOS for El Dorado Broadcasters. At El Dorado Broadcasters in Yuma, Arizona, Dan Kripke is named director of sales for the group that includes news/talk KBLU-AM, two music brands, plus Yumadailynews.com and its digital sales operations in the marketplace. Kripke was most recently director of sales for Curtis Media in Jacksonville, North Carolina. El Dorado Broadcasters executive president Chris Fleming says, “Dan Kripke is someone we identified as a match for our team as his style and approach are both complementary and unique. When we look for people to join our team, we actively search for people who have a passion for this business and the curiosity and enthusiasm to be innovative. In our conversations with Dan this year, we knew he is someone we want on our team.” Kripke comments, “I can see the potential for growth in the Yuma market and I am thrilled to be part of it. I knew this was a team I wanted to join when had my first conversation with El Dorado Broadcasters. I can’t wait to get started.”
TALKERS News Notes. Tomorrow evening (9/30) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” presents a Town Hall broadcast addressing the alarming rise in youth suicide in New Jersey. Station senior political director Eric Scott says, “The most alarming statistic is the sharp increase in suicide among children as young as 10. Our goal is to remove the stigma surrounding those struggling with thoughts of suicide and connect them with the help they need.” The program’s on-air panel will feature: Meredith Masin Blount, executive director of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness; Susan Tellone, clinical director of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide; anti-bullying expert Stuart Green; and Roselin Duenas, a youth suicide survivor and advocate for New Jersey’s LGBTQ+ community…..Cumulus Media’s KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno “NewsTalk 580/105.9” recently teamed with local agriculture company Gar Bennett to raise money for the Central California Food Bank through its 2021 “Feeding Families Fund Drive,” and listeners responded generously donating more than $250,000 to help their neighbors struggling with food insecurity and hunger. The annual one-day event was held on September 17 and has raised more than $3.5 million dollars and provided 18 million meals over the eight years the station has been presenting the fund drive…..Monticello Media’s WCHV-AM/FM, Charlottesville, Virginia recently picked up awards from the Virginia Association of Broadcasters for newscast (“Local News First”), sports coverage (Mac McDonald “Covid 19 and HS Sports”) and community events (“Save the C’ville Fireworks”)…..iHeartMedia announces that Charlamagne Tha God’s The Black Effect Podcast Network will celebrate its one-year anniversary of “uplifting and amplifying Black voices in the podcast space” with a live event on October 7 at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. The hybrid event (in-person and live-streamed) will highlight some of the network’s comedy podcasts and will be hosted by Flame Monroe, co-host of “Laugh and Learn.” The event will feature live recordings from “Whoreible Decisions” with Mandii B and WeezyWTF and “The 85 South Show” with DC Young Fly, Karlous Miller, and Chico Bean…..Audacy’s C13Originals drops the second season of its documentary series written and created by Vanity Fair’s Lili Anolik titled, “Once Upon a Time… at Bennington College.” This season explores the Bennington College Class of ‘86 and the cultural impact of three of its members, authors Bret Easton Ellis, Jonathan Lethem, and Donna Tartt.
Debt Ceiling Standoff, Biden Infrastructure-Spending Plans, Senate Afghanistan Testimony, COVID-19, Stephanie Grisham Book, and UK Fuel Shortage Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/28). The congressional stalemate over raising the U.S.’s debt ceiling to avoid default; the debate in congress over President Joe Biden’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan and his $3.5 trillion spending plan; Tuesday’s senate testimony from top generals indicating they counseled Biden not to exit Afghanistan and Gen. Mark Milley’s doubling down on his calls to Chinese military; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., boosters, and mask & vaccine mandates; fallout from former Donald Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham’s tell-all book; and the fuel crisis affecting Great Britain were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Remembering Phil Valentine. “We are saddened to report that our host and friend, Phil Valentine, has passed away. Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers.” That’s how Cumulus Media Nashville news/talk WWTN “Super Talk 99.7 WTN” shared the news of Valentine’s death. Having spent the past several weeks in a Nashville-area hospital battling COVID-19, the 61-year-old conservative talk show host – and coronavirus vaccine skeptic – died Saturday afternoon (8/21). Last month, his brother, Mark Valentine, told The Tennessean, “I know if [Phil] were able to tell you this, he would [say], ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories. He regrets not being more adamant about getting the vaccine. Look at the dadgum data.” In a July 26 (2021) interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Mark said Phil was “still very deep in the woods” and breathing with assistance. “He recognizes now that him not getting the vaccination has probably caused a bunch of other people not to get vaccinated. This is a real threat – it is a real public health crisis. His cavalier attitude wouldn’t have been what it was and he would have gotten vaccinated and encouraged everybody to get vaccinated.” Tennessee has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country with only 50.1% of adults fully-vaccinated. Modifying the lyrics to the Beatles’ song “Taxman,” Valentine wrote/performed “Vaxman,” which included such lyrics as, “Let me tell you how it will be, and I don’t care if you agree, ‘cause I’m the Vaxman. If you don’t like me coming round, be thankful I don’t hold you down.” In a December 2020 blog, the “Super Talk 99.7 WTN” afternoon drive personality wrote that his chance of dying from COVID-19 was “probably way less than 1%.” He had said of the vaccine, “I have a very low risk of getting COVID and dying of it if I do. Why would I risk getting a heart attack or paralysis by getting the vaccine?” He said he’d been taking ivermectin, an anti-parasite medication that comes in different forms for animals and humans. Acknowledging on July 11 (2021) that he had COVID-19, Valentine claimed it would not be a problem, saying that as a “precaution,” he might take a day off from his radio show. In fact, his Facebook post that day read: “Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I’m going to make it. Interesting experience. I’ll have to fill you in when I come back on the air. I’m hoping that will be tomorrow.” Valentine’s health, however, quickly deteriorated and his family issued a statement saying that “the experience” had changed the radio host’s mind on vaccination. “Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine.’ [He] looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon. PLEASE GO GET VACCINATED!” TALKERS founder Michael Harrison states, “This is a tragic loss for Phil’s family as well as the people of Nashville; WWTN; the talk radio industry; and the national conversation. His track record as a nationally known, super-successful, longtime radio personality is among the best. It is painfully ironic that his position on COVID-19 became the headline component of his sad passing. May his courage to reverse his stance during his final days serve as an effective influence to save lives.” On “The TALKERS magazine 2021 Heavy Hundred,” Valentine appears at #47. Tennessee Republican senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted that, “Phil Valentine was a visionary for the conservative movement, and he made an enormous impact on the lives of many Tennesseans. My deepest condolences and prayers are with Phil’s wife, Susan, and his family. May they be comforted and surrounded by love during this difficult time.” The junior senator from Tennessee, Republican Bill Hagerty, noted that, “Tennessee has lost a strong conservative voice that will be sorely missed.” That state’s governor, Republican Bill Lee, tweeted, “Maria and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Phil Valentine and pray for his family as they navigate the difficult days ahead.” Meanwhile, lieutenant governor Randy McNally also took to social media, writing, “Deeply saddened that we have lost Phil Valentine to COVID-19. He was an inspirational and persuasive conservative voice. He will be greatly missed. If you haven’t yet done so, please consider vaccination. It is the only way to defeat this scourge.” Even though Valentine was a conservative talk show host, he was the son of former six-term North Carolina Democratic representative Tim Valentine. A radio personality since he was 20, Valentine – who attended East Carolina University and the Charlotte branch of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting – protested against a state income tax proposed by Tennessee’s governor at the time, Republican Don Sundquist. Valentine signed a three-year deal in 2019 that would have kept him on “99.7 WTN” through next year. He authored three books: “The Conservative’s Handbook: Defining the Right Position on Issues from A to Z”; “Right from the Heart: The ABC’s of Reality in America”; and “Tax Revolt: The Rebellion Against an Overbearing, Bloated, Arrogant, and Abusive Government.” Valentine and his son, Campbell, joked about their relationship via the podcast “PodGOATs.” Reiterating a vaccination plea, Cumulus Nashville vice president/market manager Allison Warren comments, “Phil Valentine was a charismatic broadcaster who entertained millions and enriched countless lives throughout his career. A beloved friend and mentor to many, his contributions to our city and his passion for his listeners cannot be overstated. We know he will be missed. We send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to Phil’s family and wish them peace during this difficult time. If you aren’t yet vaccinated, we fervently hope that you will honor Phil’s memory by taking to heart the urgent plea he made in the last weeks of his life – please go get vaccinated.” Funeral arrangements for Valentine are pending.
Monday Memo: Empathy? Sympathy? While the parents of school-age children – “the mega-shoppers that our advertisers want to meet” – are confronting “the school year we hoped we would never repeat,” consultant Holland Cooke cautions against what he regards as “a media/consumer disconnect.” And in this week’s column, he recommends an urgent message that can literally be a matter of life and death. Read it here.
Pending Business: Is Radio Still the Frequency Medium? Do you remember your sales training that suggested a formula for getting results included your message hitting the target audience X number of times? What was that number? Maybe the number isn’t so important. Sales pro Steve Lapa says in today’s column, “Do you remember the thousands of daily ads you hear and see? Somehow your brain filters out what you don’t want to process. But when you’re hungry, thirsty, not feeling well, need a new computer, car, couch, or more cash, the appropriate ad jumps out of the jungle, demanding your attention. And that’s what great talk radio hosts are all about: owning the listener’s attention.” Read more here.
Cumulus Chicago Promotes Mallory Vor Broker to Reporter Covering City Hall and Politics. At news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago, Cumulus Media announces it has promoted Mallory Vor Broker to reporter for 890 WLS-AM. In this role, she’ll cover Chicago City Hall and the political beat for the station, filling the role vacated by Bill Cameron, who retired on August 20 after a 51-year career. Vor Broker was been serving with the station as executive producer for the “The John Howell Show.” In the past, she’s served as a producer for Steve Dahl, Roe Conn and Lauren Cohn during her nearly 10 years as a producer for Cumulus Chicago. WLS-AM program director Stephanie Tichenor comments, “As our new City Hall reporter, Mallory will tell the latest local news stories that matter to Chicago. She brings a fresh perspective and deep experience as a storyteller to this integral role. We look forward to continuing WLS’ superb coverage of City Hall and welcome Mallory to the 890 News Team.” Vor Broker says, “I am thrilled to begin my new role as City Hall reporter for WLS-AM 890. It’s a great opportunity to cover the dynamic political landscape in Chicago and Illinois after years of producing high-profile shows. I look forward to continuing to bring high-quality, thoughtful reporting to WLS-AM 890.”
Nate Weaver Named Promotions Director for iHeartMedia Wilmington-Salisbury. Joining iHeartMedia to serve as promotions director for the Wilmington, Delaware and Salisbury, Maryland markets is Nate Weaver. He comes to the company from his most recent position with Audacy’s WBEB, Philadelphia. iHeartMedia VP of programming Josh Wolff says, “We are so excited to have Nate join our team. From the first time we spoke, we knew he was the perfect fit. Nate’s impressive background will only serve to improve our portfolio of already strong brands.” Weaver says, “I am super excited to join iHeartMedia Salisbury and Wilmington’s amazing and hard-working teams. Not only am I looking forward to growing brand engagement amongst our portfolio of market-leading stations, but now that I’m in Delaware, I get to really indulge in tax-free shopping – this is great!” The markets include news/talk WILM-AM, Wilmington; news/talk WDOV, Dover; sports talk WWTX-AM, Wilmington; news/talk WJDY-AM, Salisbury; and sports talk WTGM-AM, Salisbury.
iHeartMedia’s BIN: Black Information Network to Expand News Efforts; Three Promotions Announced. The BIN: Black Information Network, iHeartMedia’s “24/7 comprehensive national audio news network dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news with a Black voice and perspective,” announces plans to expand local news coverage in all 32 affiliate markets beginning January 2022. The network is also promoting three staffers: Tanita Myers, previously director of news operations, is now vice president of news operations; Chris Thompson, previously director of network operations, is now vice president of network operations; and Lauren Crawford, previously associate editor, is now senior director of digital and social strategy, effective immediately. The company says the expanding local news coverage will create new employment opportunities including multiple news anchor and reporter positions, a managing editor, and a podcast managing editor. BIN president Tony Coles states, “We are incredibly proud of the growth and success of BIN during our first year. We are thrilled to continue our leadership in providing the most trusted news source for the Black community, offering even more local news coverage to the communities we serve. BIN’s success has been, in no small part, due to our dedicated and talented team. I look forward to seeing how Tanita, Chris and Lauren continue to grow within BIN, and I am excited to add even more experienced talent to our team.”
Nexstar Media to Acquire The Hill. The politics and Washington, DC publication The Hill is being acquired by Nexstar Media for $130 million. Nexstar is primarily a television company but also owns news/talk WGN-AM, Chicago. A press release from Nexstar says, “The acquisition marks a continuation of Nexstar’s content-first strategy, focused primarily on news, designed to further leverage and monetize its expansive digital reach… With more than 100 journalists who cover political news and events and provide a wide variety of engaging content to its users, The Hill’s business model is primarily advertising supported by direct, programmatic, and licensing revenue. Nexstar’s omni-channel approach to content distribution will allow it to expand The Hill’s reach and revenue channels while creating synergistic opportunities with Nexstar’s growing national cable news network, NewsNation, and its leading local news gathering platform, which counts 5,500 journalists producing over 275,000 hours of local and national news annually.”
Red Table Talk and iHeartMedia Strike Content Deal. The EMMY Award-winning talk show “Red Table Talk” enters into a deal with iHeartMedia to launch the Red Table Talk Audio Network. The venture will include a slate of co-produced podcasts, including its two current audio series: “Red Table Talk,” hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris; and “Positively Gam,” a podcast hosted by Banfield-Norris. The newly formed network will launch five new series over the next two years with iHeartMedia that will allow listeners to go deeper into topics covered at the table, with all-new original podcasts from Red Table Talk hosts and regular show contributors. The first show to launch on the slate will be the podcast version of the EMMY and GLAAD Media Awards-nominated RTT spinoff, “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” hosted by Gloria Estefan, Emily Estefan, and Lili Estefan.
Afghanistan, COVID-19, Extreme Weather/Wildfires, Arizona Vote Audit, Staffing & Shipping Woes, Trump in Alabama, and Portland Protest Skirmish Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan and criticism of President Joe Biden’s handling of the move; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the battle over mask and vaccine mandates; the flooding in Tennessee, Hurricane Henri hits the Northeast, and the California wildfires; the anticipated release of the controversial audit of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2020 election votes; the ongoing troubles employers are having finding workers and filling orders and the chaos affecting the world’s shipping industry; former President Donald Trump is booed in Alabama for suggesting people get COVID vaccines; and the violence in Portland between Proud Boys and Antifa protesters were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Feeding an Environment of Fear,” looks back at this past week of February 22-26, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Gary Sutton, talk show host, WSBA, York, PA; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Dr. Renee Kohanski, podcaster, Clinical Correlation, Medscape‘s MDEdge Psychcast / forensic psychiatrist; Rush Limbaugh, late talk radio icon; and Richard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York. 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 (“Freedom 93.7”), 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, MD; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; Pioneer 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.
iHeartMedia 2020 Q4 Revenue Down 8.8%; Full Year Revenue Declines 20%. Reporting its financial data for the fourth quarter and for the full year of 2020, iHeartMedia fares a little better than its two major competitors (based on the number of radio stations owned) Cumulus Media and Entercom Communications. Fourth quarter revenue was $935.5 million, a decline of 8.8% from the same period in 2019. For the full year, revenue was $2.9 billion, down 20% from the full year 2019. Although the company reports net income of $2.9 million in Q4 2020, that’s down 95% from the $62.1 million net income reported in Q4 of 2019. For the full year 2020, iHeartMedia reports a net loss of $1.9 billion. It reported net income of $11.2 billion in 2019. iHeartMedia says that strong sequential improvement is continuing since the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. It also reports that digital revenue increased 26% year-over-year, including a 91% increase in podcasting revenue. Company chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “We are pleased that the company continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 downturn – and it’s particularly rewarding to see the impressive performance from our areas of strategic investment, like podcasting, SmartAudio, digital, and Ad Tech. In addition, with our new reportable segments, we will be able to provide additional insights into both our largest segment and our fastest-growing segment, and help highlight the key metrics and impressive performance of each.” iHeartMedia COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Our swift response to the COVID pandemic and our diligent management of expenses throughout the year enabled us to successfully achieve approximately $250 million of savings in 2020. This cost management enhanced our operating leverage and helped us to achieve adjusted EBITDA of $265 million in the fourth quarter, which was an improvement of 64% over the third quarter. The continued sequential improvement of our revenue, adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow over the past three quarters has us well positioned for continued recovery into 2021, and our commitment to make the majority of the $200 million of COVID-19 related savings permanent will further enhance the company’s operating leverage as revenue recovers.”
iHeartMedia Unveils New Business Operating Structure. Saying that this new structure reflects the “increasing size and importance” of its digital businesses, iHeartMedia announces that its two divisions – the Digital Audio Group and the Multiplatform Group – will publicly report their financial data separately and will have dedicated management. The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the iHeartRadio digital service and its podcasting business while the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group includes its broadcast radio assets. The company says that as of the fourth quarter of 2020, the Digital Audio Group encompassed almost 20% of the company’s consolidated revenue and 23% of its earnings, and during that quarter grew revenue by 53% year-over-year and Adjusted EBITDA by 74% year-over-year. The company expects the Digital Audio Group will continue to grow as an increasing proportion of its business in the future. It adds that separate reporting of these two operating segments will provide “improved visibility into the underlying performances, results and margin profiles of these distinct audio-driven businesses.” Here’s how it breaks down: The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the podcasting business; the iHeartRadio digital service; the company’s digital sites, newsletters, digital services and programs; and its digital advertising technology companies, including Jelli, RadioJar, Unified and Voxnest, and will also include the recently-announced Triton Digital upon completion of the acquisition. Leading the division will be Conal Byrne as CEO and Darren Davis as COO, with Carter Brokaw serving as the president of digital revenue and Jessica Jerrick as EVP of digital distribution and platform partnerships. Meanwhile, iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group – representing almost 75% of the company’s revenue – includes the 860-plus radio stations in 160 markets; the company’s live and virtual events business; and its national sales organization (which will use iHeartMedia’s full array of products, from broadcast radio and events to its SmartAudio suite of data targeting and attribution products, which allows informed digital-like planning against targeted audiences with the benefit of broadcast scale and impact, as well as using all of the products from the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group). Premiere Networks, which includes the Total Traffic and Weather Network; and BIN: Black Information Network, will also join this group. Leading the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group will be Greg Ashlock as CEO and Tim Castelli as chief revenue officer. Julie Talbott joins this group as president of Premiere Networks; Hartley Adkins becomes president of the Markets Group; Jeff Howard remains president of national sales and Tony Coles as president of BIN: Black Information Network. Bob Pittman says, “These new reportable segments will enable us to strengthen the mission and tighten the focus of both the iHeart Digital Audio Group and the iHeart Multiplatform Group, while accelerating our ability to deliver industry-leading products and services to our listeners and advertising partners across all of our platforms. Creating these two business reportable segments will allow us to provide the investment community with increased visibility into the financial results of each segment – enabling them to better appreciate the strong growth and success of our digital businesses, including our industry-leading podcast business, as well as the continued strength of our broadcast radio and marquee events businesses.”
Entercom Announces New Programming Leadership Structure. This enhancement of Entercom’s programming leadership structure for its central programming team leaves Pat Paxton in his current position as chief programming officer. He says, “This enhanced leadership team will supplement our premium content offering throughout our portfolio and ensure we have the premier collection of personalities engaging deeply with our audiences nationwide. It will also allow us to best integrate the innovation of new products and content so we are continuously growing the impact and reach of our offering and super serving our 170 million listeners each month.” In this new structure EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano continues to manage Entercom’s sports, all-news, and news/talk brands. He is also being charged with growing Entercom’s content insights and analytics capabilities and overseeing its network and syndicated content development. Dave Richards joins the central programming leadership team as senior vice president of programming, rising from his SVP of programming of KISW, Seattle for the last 19 years and having developed programs like “The Men’s Room” and concepts like KISW’s annual “Live Day.” In his new role, Richards will be responsible for original content ideation, talent development, and coaching. He’ll spearhead Entercom’s efforts to support its expanding business portfolio, which includes RADIO.COM, Cadence13, and Pineapple Street Studios, through the generation of cross-platform content. Michael Martin continues to serve as SVP of programming and music initiatives and oversees Entercom’s relationships with artists, management, and record labels and lead its efforts to collaborate with the artist community on event, digital, and social opportunities. The company also announces the following members of its executive committee, who will collaborate to develop and oversee programming strategy across the company: Pat Paxton; Jeff Sottolano; Michael Martin; Dave Richards; Pam Russo, SVP and general manager, RADIO.COM; Bill Smee, VP of news; Matt Volk, VP of sports; Nikki Nite, VP of programming and brand manager, Entercom Austin; and Reggie Rouse, urban format captain, Entercom, and brand manager, Entercom Atlanta.
Round Three of January 2021 PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. The January 2021 survey covered January 7 – February 3. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets. Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland jumps from the #6 rank to #3 on the strength of 1.4 share increase that helped it finish the January survey with a 6.2 share. Urban One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte tacks on 1.6 shares for a 6.6 share finish and a jump from #5 to #3. iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK, Sacramento regains the #1 rank after adding 2.4 share to wrap the survey with a 10.2 share. In Salt Lake City, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-FM also claims the #1 rank after adding 1.9 shares to post a 7.9 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report for this round or markets (as well as his Takeaways from the first two rounds) here.
TALKERS News Notes. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM, Chicago is honoring the memory of former morning drive host Bob Collins, who would have been 79 on Sunday (2/28). Collins died in a small plane collision in 2000. On today’s Bob Sirott morning show, staffers WGN toasted Collins this morning (2/26) at 7:48 and, according to tradition, poured from the bottle of Jack Daniel’s found in Collins’s office. Also on the air with Sirott today were retired WGN morning host Spike O’Dell (who succeeded Collins) and retired agribusiness reporter Orion Samuelson.…..The nationally syndicated “Dan Bongino Show” hits the 100 affiliate station mark a year after its launch. Cumulus Media’s Westwood One says that – in addition to being heard on stations like KABC-AM, Los Angeles; KSFO-AM, San Francisco; and KSEV-AM, Houston – from the November election through February 22, the Dan Bongino Show podcast “boasted more than 51 million downloads on Apple, Spotify and other major platforms, rising 27% during that period.” Bongino says, “Growing up a fan of conservative talk radio makes this moment extra special for me. To be able to reach people across the country with a strong pro-liberty, pro-freedom message is the honor of a lifetime. Special thanks as well to the affiliates partnering with us in this venture.”…..A new sports radio imaging service called Game Plan is being offered to stations from SPLAT! and is syndicated by Sun Broadcast Group. SPLAT! says GAME PLAN is “a new kind of sports radio imaging service, designed specifically to sharpen the competitive edge of local stations, while simultaneously complementing the power of network sports brands. With GAME PLAN, a local station’s imaging sounds just as bold and powerful as their network imaging, maybe even better.”…..Entercom and Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates announce a multiyear radio broadcast contract extension for sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” to continue to serve as the Pirates’ flagship radio station. Under the terms of the new deal, all Pirates weekday afternoon games will air on “93.7 The Fan” and sister news/talk KDKA-AM/W261AX.
COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines and Variants Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 22-26, 2021. The falling number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines and the concern about variants creating another wave of cases combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the U.S. economy tied with the education crisis. Following at #3 was the confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s nominees for attorney general, interior secretary, and White House budget office, tied with Donald Trump’s planned speech at CPAC on Sunday. 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.