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Thursday, April 29, 2021

| April 29, 2021

RTDNA/Newhouse School: 2020 A Dangerous Year for Journalists. The annual survey of broadcast newsrooms from the RTDNA and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University notes that during the past year, the job of seeking and reporting the truth became increasingly dangerous. “Journalists were threatened, assaulted and arrested at an alarming rate while on the job. We faced unprecedented levels of verbal and physical violence at the hands of civilians, police and the leaders we are meant to hold accountable.” This is the first year that the survey included a section on media safety. The survey’s research team says it wanted to understand how repeated, targeted acts of violence have impacted newsrooms across the country and learned that one in five television news directors reported attacks on employees. 86% of news directors changed newsroom procedures to protect employees. They purchased bullet-proof vests and gas masks and more often sent security teams with reporters. As far as radio is concerned, the study concludes, “Not surprisingly, the level of attacks at radio stations and on radio news people is much lower. Four percent of radio news directors and general managers reported attacks on newsroom employees. It was primarily a problem in major markets, with one million and more people, where 13.8% of news directors and general managers reported attacks on employees.” You can see the complete survey here. Commenting on the study, National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “Broadcast journalists play an essential role in documenting pivotal moments in American history from the front lines. That has never been more important than during the past year. NAB is gravely troubled by this study reporting the unprecedented level of harassment, intimidation and violence directed at journalists covering the historical events of 2020. These unacceptable attacks on our nation’s free press undermine our very democracy by preventing journalists’ ability to report the facts and keep the public informed. We are grateful to the dedicated broadcast journalists bringing the truth to Americans during these dangerous times.”

Nick Craig to Host Mornings on WAAV-AM, Cape Fear. Beginning May 3, Nick Craig begins hosting “Wilmington’s Morning News with Nick Craig” on Cumulus Media’s news/talk/sports WAAV-AM, Cape Fear, North Carolina “980 The WAAV.” The station says the show is “a live and local morning show hosted by fresh conservative talk personality Nick Craig. The show focuses on the day’s biggest stories including Wilmington and the Cape Fear region. The show will feature a wide variety of topics, guests, and listener interaction.” Cumulus Wilmington VP and market manager Eric McCart comments, “We’re excited to have Nick join our 980 WAAV Cumulus family! He brings a fresh new energy and excitement to weekday mornings that our listeners will really enjoy. If it’s happening in Wilmington and the Cape Fear region, it’s happening on Wilmington’s Morning News with Nick Craig!” Craig adds, “Traveling on the road paved by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, I’m excited to bring the next generation of conservative talk to the Wilmington region and beyond. To be part of a legacy talk station like WAAV and Cumulus Media is quite the opportunity at my age. Looking forward to using these platforms to engage and interact with traditional talk listeners and the next generation.”

Ron Slay Joins WGFX-FM, Nashville’s Afternoon Drive Show. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces that former University of Tennessee basketball star Ron Slay is joining the “3HL” afternoon drive program alongside current hosts Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport. Paul Mason is program director for the Cumulus Media station, and he says, “Our listeners have made it clear that they want us to hire Ron Slay. I am happy to say we listened, and we are thrilled Ron Slay will be joining Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport on ‘3HL.’ ‘3HL’ is already a great show and I look forward to seeing it go to even higher levels.” Slay comments, “I am both delighted and eager to join the ‘104.5 The Zone’ and ‘3HL’ families. I hope to bring joy, energy, and insight to Nashville sports enthusiasts each day.”

SiriusXM Reports 2021 Q1 Financials; Revenue Up 5%. Satellite radio and digital audio broadcaster SiriusXM releases its financial data for the first quarter of 2021 and reports total revenue of $2.06 billion, a 5% increase from the $1.95 billion reported during the same period a year ago. However, net income for the quarter was $219 million, a decline of 29% from the $293 million reported in Q1 of 2020. SiriusXM added 126,000 self-pay subscribers to hit its all-time high of 31 million self-pay subscribers. New chief executive officer Jennifer Witz comments, “I am pleased to announce SiriusXM has started the year impressively – we added 126,000 self-pay net subscribers, an 83% increase as compared to the period a year ago, saw a first quarter record-low churn rate of 1.6%, and are reporting a new record-high quarterly adjusted EBITDA figure.  These strong results reflect the value we bring to our listeners through the breadth and depth of our content. Our advertising revenue grew 24%, driven by robust monetization of both on- and off-platform opportunities, as well as the growing podcast market. While we are benefiting from the broader reopening of the economy and the acceleration of consumers’ digital adoption, the meaningful long-term investments we’ve been making are also paying off. This includes creating and delivering compelling content, strengthening our digital product experiences, and scaling a full suite of end-to-end distribution and monetization solutions for content creators and publishers. We are extremely focused on achieving our 2021 goals and reinforcing our long-term position as North America’s premier audio entertainment company. Across SiriusXM, Pandora and Stitcher, we have added new channels, shows, hosts, and podcasts, enhancing the expertly curated audio entertainment experience across all formats from music to sports… We are working with highly regarded creators on new podcasts; earlier this week we announced the acquisition of 99% Invisible, the acclaimed and popular podcast from Roman Mars and his creator team. This was our first year as the exclusive audio broadcaster of the Masters Tournament, and we have expanded our streaming rights with both the NBA and MLB. We also created special music and talk programming that honored both Black History and Women’s History months back-to-back.”

RAB Announces ‘Radio Works for Automotive’ Presentations. As part of RAB’s Business Accelerated initiative, it is presenting a two-part live series for May’s featured automotive category, one of radio’s most important advertising categories. The first presentation titled, “What’s Driving the Auto Industry?” takes place at 1:00 pm ET on May 19. As Americans return to school and work, the demand for vehicles grows. Parts shortages, as well as chip scarcity, are hindering inventory on lots and yet, auto sales remain high despite the supply-demand imbalance. In this presentation, hear from experts in both automotive and auto dealership industries including Tyson Jominy, vice president, data and analytics, J.D. Power, and Dick Parrish, dealership management consultant, NADA, who will share insights into the auto industry’s growth and challenges. The second live presentation will feature broadcasters discussing automotive client success stories to help sellers prospect and support their clients. The session, titled “Radio Works for Automotive Part 2,” takes place at 1:00 pm ET on May 26. The presentation will also be available for on-demand viewing. Both presentations are free for RAB members. You can register here.

TALKERS News Notes. The Media Sales Institute announces its strategic alliance with Media Staffing Network that will bring MSN’s media recruiter’s expertise to the MSI curriculum at the 2021 NABOB MSI, being held at the Atlanta University Center and hosted by Morehouse College from October 25 to November 4, 2021. Media Staffing Network founder and CEO Laurie Kahn comments, “With our tutelage, we can better prepare the MSI graduates to address the position for which they are applying. Sadly, many colleges and universities are not as up to date on what a recent graduate should include on their resumes. Nor do they teach their students how to best stand out and showcase their value when they have little to no work experience.”…..iHeartMedia and media personality Chelsea Handler have entered into a deal for a new podcast called “Dear Chelsea” to be produced as a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast.  The comedian, best-selling author, and television host will give listeners the opportunity to submit questions about life and get candid answers on the podcast. “Dear Chelsea” – also featuring Handler’s co-host and longtime assistant Brandon Marlo – debuts on May 6. Handler says, “iHeartRadio has been a great place for me to share all of my wild, unvarnished thoughts. I’m excited to start this journey with ‘Dear Chelsea’ to help people figure out what they need in life – I’m more than happy to be that kick in the pants or shove that will give someone a new perspective on a situation and help them to make a decision.”…..SiriusXM announces it is again offering listeners nationwide comprehensive coverage of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday (5/1). SiriusXM, through its broadcasting agreement with Horse Racing Radio Network, airs all Triple Crown races – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes – as well as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The wire-to-wire race broadcast of the Kentucky Derby is provided by NBC Sports Audio Network and produced in collaboration with HRRN.

Biden Addresses Congress, COVID-19, Police Violence, Fed Search Giuliani’s Home and Office, John Kerry Iran Allegation, Feds Investigate Direct Energy Attack, and Boris Johnson Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/28). President Joe Biden’s address to Congress and his wide-ranging $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the rate of COVID cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the exploding cases in India; the spate of high-profile cases of deadly police violence against citizens; the FBI’s search of former NYC mayor and former Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s home and office in an investigation of his ties to Ukraine; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry shared Israeli military intelligence with Iran; the Pentagon’s investigation into a mysterious “direct energy attack” near the White House; and the scandal over Boris Johnson’s refurbishing of 10 Downing St. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, November 13, 2020

| November 13, 2020

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, “It’s Democracy Stupid!” looks back at this past week of November 9 – November 13, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, North Georgia; Chip Franklin, talk show host, KGO, San Francisco; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Blanquita Cullum, talk show host, WCGO, Chicago; and Paul Vandenburgh, talk show host / station owner, WGDJ, Albany, NY. This acclaimed news/talk radio 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; 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; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Salem Media Group Q3 Total Revenue Down 5.4%. Reporting its earnings for the third quarter of 2020, Salem Media Group says total revenue for the quarter was $60.6 million, down 5.4% from the same period in 2019. Operating income for the third quarter of 2020 was $4.8 million compared to the $14.5 million loss it posted in Q3 of 2019. Net income was $329,000 in Q3 of this year compared to the $20 million net loss it reported for the same period in 2019. Looking at Salem by division, net broadcast revenue was $45.4 million, down 4.8% from the same period in 2019, digital media revenue increased by 7.8% to $9.8 million, and publishing was down 25.3%. During Thursday’s investor conference call, Salem director and CEO Edward Atsinger said, “For the third quarter, broadcast revenue increased by 15% when compared to the second quarter but declined 4.8% when compared to the third quarter of last year. Despite that decline, those numbers compare favorably to the industry as a whole. According to Miller Kaplan, in the markets where we operate, the radio industry was down 30.2% compared to last year. And our performance, I think, highlights the difference in our business model with a foundation on national and local ministry block programming and our most recent investments in Salem Surround and SalemNow. Just as a reminder Salem Surround is our local digital multimedia advertising agency and SalemNow is the over-the-top streaming movie business that we launched in Q2… Turning to traditional radio advertising. Spot revenues continue to recover. Total spot was up 26.4% when compared to the second quarter of this year 2020. However, compared to last year, local spot revenue was down 25.8% while national spot revenue only declined 8.4%. Combined total spot revenue was down 21.7% in the third quarter compared to last year. Again, this was much better than the radio industry overall which, according to Miller Kaplan, total spot revenue declined 33.6% for the industry as a whole. Our syndicated network business remained strong and actually grew revenue 4.9% in the third quarter when compared to last year.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. Members can read the whole transcript here.

WILK, Wilkes-Barre’s John Webster to Retire Next Month. The Citizen’s Voice reports that John Webster will retire from the radio business and his current gig as morning drive co-host on Entercom’s news/talk WILK, Wilkes-Barre in mid-December. Webster has worked in local radio in Northeastern Pennsylvania for the past 40 years. He partnered with Jay Daniels to co-host “Daniels and Webster” on Times-Shamrock’s “Rock 107” for 25 years. Webster joined WILK in 2010 and currently hosts the morning show with Nancy Kman. Entercom Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market manager Ryan Flynn tells the paper that it is currently seeking Webster’s replacement and hopes to have that person in place by the New Year. About his career, Webster tells Citizen’s Voice, “It beats working for a living. As cliché as it sounds, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. What I used to get detention for in high school I ended up getting a paycheck for. I was having a good time, clowning around and fooling around and just enjoying myself. As it turned out, people seemed to enjoy listening to that and it all worked out.”

Roxanne Marati Named Market Manager for Entercom Kansas City. Sales and management pro Roxanne Marati is promoted to SVP and market manager for Entercom’s Kansas City station group that includes news/talk outlets KMBZ-FM and KMBZ-AM, KCSP “610 Sports Radio,” KWOD-AM “1660 The Score” and four music outlets. She comes to Kansas City from her most recent post as VP of sales for the company’s Denver station group. She takes over for Dave Alpert, who exited the company last month. Entercom regional president Doug Abernethy says, “It has been a pleasure to watch Roxanne grow and deliver results the last seven years as our vice president of sales. She is a dynamic leader and a great fit to lead our collection of assets in Kansas City and I am thrilled to continue to work alongside her in this new chapter in her career.”

Independent Broadcasters Association Assisting Job Hunters. In a partnership with Vipology, the Independent Broadcasters Association has created a rapid response opportunity for members of the radio community losing their positions. IBA president and executive director Ron Stone says, “We have been watching the trades for the past two weeks and have been heartbroken by the massive terminations announced daily in the trades in so many markets around the country. We are living in the most challenging economic times since the Great Depression 100 years ago, literally since radio began. To see so many broadcast professionals terminated during the worst of times is hard to digest. We shifted gears on our own website development, built and managed by Vipology, to provide opportunities for those impacted to ‘meet up’ with potential broadcasters that may either be searching for new talent or perhaps be interested in engaging these folks for tracking positions. We just cannot sit by and watch the continuation of more and more terminations without offering help. We are all in this together, and that includes keeping people employed so they can feed their families.” You can see the Talent Available page here. If you are out of work and wish to add your information, you can do that here.

TALKERS News Notes. Television marketing executive Ilana Susnow joins PodcastOne as its head of marketing and audience development. The New York-based Susnow – who will report to PodcastOne CEO Peter Morris – will oversee all marketing initiatives for PodcastOne and its numerous podcasts. Her responsibilities will include developing and executing marketing strategy and audience growth for PodcastOne, including launching new shows and managing the lifecycle of all programs in the PodcastOne network. In addition, Susnow will have oversight and management of all paid media marketing campaigns, trade deals, event planning and PR, as well as collaborating with the sales team on integrations and talent relations…..Pop star Kesha partners with iHeartMedia on a new podcast called, “Kesha And The Creepies,” in which she chats with an eclectic mix of guests about their supernatural experiences, the occult, unexplained mysteries, urban legends, psychedelic art, spirituality, astrology and more. Her first guest is rocker Alice Cooper. She says, “I’m existentially pleased and molecularly stoked to be premiering my new podcast ‘Kesha & the Creepies!!!’ I have had so many experiences in this incarnation that I just can’t ignore or explain, and I’ve always been fascinated by supernatural subjects, the unexplainable, and people exploring alternative thought and lifestyles.”…..ABC Audio announces Thanksgiving weekend programming for radio, including the news and news/talk-formatted show, “Celebrating the Arts,” hosted by ABC News correspondent Aaron Katersky. The three-hour special profiles artists, artisans, and creators “who nourish Americans through their work.” The program features interviews with a craftsman turning junk airplanes into pieces of art and one-of-a-kind furniture, a photographer capturing the first moments of connection after COVID-19 lockdowns, and a poet whose words bring comfort. “Celebrating the Arts” also takes listeners to Kansas City’s inimitable jazz scene, hits the streets with buskers, visits drive-in theater productions, and more.

Presidential Election Aftermath Top News/Talk Story for Week of November 9-13. The aftermath of the presidential election was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Georgia runoff elections and the recount of the presidential race. Coming in at #3 was the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, projections for winter cases, the race for an effective vaccine and the country’s hospital crisis, followed by the Supreme Court’s hearing arguments about the Affordable Care Act at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s entire chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The annual Westwood One Nashville country music special, “A Thanksgiving Weekend Celebration,” is available to stations for the coming holiday weekend. This year’s four-hour program is being hosted by reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year and multi-platinum artist Thomas Rhett. WWO says that Rhett and his friends will share their favorite dishes and traditions along with great country music. Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Luke Combs, and many more will join Rhett. Stations can air “A Thanksgiving Weekend Celebration” any time from November 26-29 from 6:00 am and 12:00 midnight.