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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

| April 28, 2021

Meadowlark Media and DraftKings Ink Big Deal for Content Distribution. The Miami Herald has the story about the new $40 million deal that Meadowlark Media – the company formed by former ESPN chief John Skipper and former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard – and DraftKings have entered into. According to the Herald, DraftKings is getting into the content distribution business and by June or early July will be responsible for getting Meadowlark’s flagship program “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” onto radio, television, podcast platforms, and social media. It will also serve as title sponsor. The paper reports that Meadowlark negotiated with several other companies including SiriusXM, NBC’s Peacock and iHeartMedia.  Le Batard told the Herald that didn’t want fans to have to climb a paywall for his show. “We didn’t want to do that to our listeners. The thing that I chose was freedom. Every time I’ve negotiated anywhere was for freedom, not money. This allows Meadowlark to be profitable from the start and have total freedom to do what we want. We can go forward and appear everywhere. We can make partnerships anywhere we want. We don’t have any corporate overlord. Our partner is our sponsor and what they are sponsoring is our freedom. The media landscape is changing very rapidly, and this shows how much power and value individuals can exert in breaking free from the corporate machine.” By summertime, Le Batard’s show – currently only available in podcast form – will be found in video formant on YouTube, Twitch, and DraftKings’ own nascent channel. The Herald adds that “the partnership will include DraftKings commissioning content projects and original programming that Meadowlark will develop and produce, including sports documentaries, as DraftKings broadens its sports entertainment footprint.”

Alpha Media Files Opposition to Larry Wilson’s Petition to Deny with FCC. As Alpha Media works to emerge from bankruptcy – approval for which it has received from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern Division of Virginia – it also needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission. But minority interest holders Larry Wilson and Paul Stone filed Petitions to Deny with the FCC, claiming that Alpha has failed to comply with FCC regulations regarding licensing of some of its stations and that the matter requires further review of foreign ownership interests, respectively. Alpha recently filed its opposition to the Petitions to Deny. In that filing’s summary, it says, “In short, when one peels away the bombast of Wilson’s Petition, it is clear that Wilson is inappropriately using the agency as a platform for rehashing his differences with certain members of the Company’s Board of Directors and management, and vainly attempting to shoehorn assessment of his personal grievances into the Commission’s processes under the guise of spurious claims that Alpha is unfit to hold its broadcast licenses. Moreover, his assertions are false. For Stone’s part, he simply criticizes the FCC’s well-established policy of promoting companies’ ability to promptly emerge from bankruptcy where further regulatory review of foreign ownership interests is required, a policy that is grounded in public interest considerations and comity with the bankruptcy laws. Neither Wilson nor Stone has standing as a party-in-interest. Any claims they had as holders of minority interests in Alpha pertaining to the Plan or to Alpha’s governance could and should have been presented to the Bankruptcy Court or the Delaware courts. While they inexplicably chose not to avail themselves of these alternative forums, they cannot now seek redress before the Commission. It has been black-letter law that the FCC does not adjudicate private contractual matters for far longer than the ‘more than 40 years’ that Wilson’s counsel has been ‘practic[ing] before the Commission,’ and the FCC has no reason to do so here.”

Westwood One Announces Executive Promotions. Three Westwood One staffers are promoted to new positions within the syndicator and sales firm’s programming and operations divisions. Twenty-eight-year Westwood One employee Susan Stephens is promoted to SVP and general manager, Westwood One programming. In this expanded role, Stephens will work to optimize programming and content opportunities and collaborations between news, talk, music, and entertainment. Tim Seymour rises to SVP, head of operations in which the 20-year WWO staffer assumes responsibility for the operations, partner relations, affiliate & sales operations, traffic & continuity, and research operations teams. Becky Bennett is elevated to VP, partner relations. Stephens and Seymour both report to Cumulus Media executive vice president of marketing and president of Westwood One Suzanne Grimes. Bennett will report to Seymour. Grimes says, “We have an enviable depth of talent within Westwood One with the unique experience to lead us forward. It is a privilege and a pleasure to announce these well-deserved promotions that will position us to succeed in 2021 and beyond.”

Edison’s Annual ‘Moms and Media’ Study Unveiled May 6. The results of the annual “Moms and Media” study from Edison Research will be revealed at a webinar being presented next Thursday (5/6) at 2:00 pm ET. Edison says, “This year’s ‘Moms and Media’ study provides insight on media usage, social media habits, and current outlook on tech by U.S. moms. Findings incorporate data from The Infinite Dial study from Edison Research and Triton Digital, as well as data from Edison Research’s new ongoing syndicated measurement of social media, The Social Habit. The 2021 report features data trends on devices, media engagement, and technology usage of U.S. moms. Highlights from this year’s study include: smart speaker ownership, podcast adoption, online audio listening, and social media engagement. In addition, the report will showcase brand new research centered on social media usage by U.S. moms and their children. You can register for the webinar here.

Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Harry Hamm Sentenced in Child Porn Case. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that former longtime KMOX, St. Louis air personality Harry Hamm was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. The 79-year-old former entertainment editor for the radio station admitted that FBI investigators found child porn on two of his cell phones and his laptop. Hamm is also facing charges of second-degree statutory sodomy, incest and possession of child pornography in St. Louis County. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. The Post-Dispatch story says the St. Louis County charges stem from allegations of sexual contact with a 16-year-old. Hamm began his career with the station in 1975.

TALKERS News Notes. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway is bringing two of the Navy SEALS who were on the mission that killed al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden to Des Moines for a fundraiser for the Puppy Jake Foundation that provides service dogs for combat-wounded veterans. Rob O’Neill – the SEAL who fired the shots that killed Bin Laden – and SEAL dog handler Will Chesney will take part in the June 18 event…..ABC News Radio is providing coverage of President Joe Biden’s address this evening and will begin with a one-hour special, “The Biden Presidency: The First 100 Days,” looking back at the start of the Biden administration. The program will air live on the radio network from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET anchored by correspondent Aaron Katersky. ABC News Radio will also provide live anchored coverage of President Biden’s speech, with reporting and analysis from ABC News’ team of correspondents and experts…..Public radio outlet WPLN, Nashville announces it has hired Caroline Eggers as the newsroom’s first environmental reporter. She starts her new position in June and will cover environmental issues with a focus on equity for WPLN News as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms across the U.S. to report on under-covered topics and communities. She comments, “WPLN News delivers essential stories with incredible intellect and empathy. I can’t wait to reflect these values while investigating Nashville’s climate action plan, air quality and infrastructure challenges.”

COVID-19, Biden’s 100 Days Address to Congress/$1.8 Trillion American Families Plan, Andrew Brown, Jr Protests/Police Violence, 2020 Census-House Seats, Critical Race Theory Controversy, John Kerry Iran Allegation, and Southern Border Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/27). The CDC’s new directives on mask wearing, the rollout of vaccines, and the high rate of cases in places like India and Brazil; this evening’s 100-day address to Congress by President Joe Biden and his $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the protests of the police shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. and other cases of police violence; the results of the 2020 census and its impact on U.S. Rep seats; the controversy over “critical race theory” and its use in public schools curricula; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Israeli air strikes with Iran’s foreign minister; and the overwhelming number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, February 26, 2021

| February 26, 2021

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 NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

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, RadioJarUnified 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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

| February 17, 2021

Rush Limbaugh Dead at 70.  Talk radio legend Rush Limbaugh passed away Wednesday (2/17) at his home in Florida at the age of 70 after a battle with lung cancer. First diagnosed in February of 2020, Limbaugh told his national radio audience in October that his cancer was terminal.  Limbaugh’s impact on not only the issues-oriented talk radio business but on media in general was profound. At the height of its popularity, The Rush Limbaugh Show laid claim to 20 million weekly listeners according to longtime syndicator Premiere Networks. His influence on other forms of conservative media – especially cable news/talk television – can’t be underestimated.  Greater than any other single talent, Limbaugh was widely credited for not only reinvigorating the politically geared talk show, but also for prolonging AM radio’s very existence. The aggregate amount of revenue he generated for operators of AM facilities carrying his daily talk show is nothing short of astonishing. After a decade of bouncing around from market to market as a top 40 DJ, Limbaugh took a PR position with the Kansas City Royals. He returned to radio and at KFBK, Sacramento he honed his conservative talk radio personality. In 1988, a partnership between Limbaugh and former ABC Radio executive, the late Ed McLaughlin, The Rush Limbaugh Show was offered in syndication in middays via EFM Media. In 1997, Premiere Networks and EFM Media were acquired by Jacor Media and Limbaugh’s program became a Premiere product. While his radio success made him the most successful news/talk host of the modern era, he endured issues in his personal life. In the fall of 2001, Limbaugh had a cochlear implant to deal with the loss of hearing he was suffering. In 2003, Limbaugh underwent treatment for pain pill addiction. In 2012, his calling Georgetown University Law School student Sandra Fluke a “slut” for testifying for contraceptive services from the Catholic school, gave talk radio a black eye from the standpoint of ad agencies whose clients put the show on “do not buy” lists.  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says,“ Limbaugh’s radio talent and dedication to the medium are unparalleled in the modern talk industry.  At a time when the very future of radio and its talent pool could very much be on the wane in terms of cultural relevance and prestige, he raised it to a level of importance on a par with the most influential media platforms and players of our time.”  TALKERS will continue coverage of this story and Rush Limbaugh’s relevance to radio and the nation in the coming days and weeks.

iHeartMedia to Acquire Triton Digital for $230 Million. In a move that iHeartMedia says makes it “the only company to provide a complete set of advertising technologies and measurement solutions for all forms of audio media,” it will acquire Triton Digital from E.W. Scripps for $230 million. iHeartMedia says it will now be able to provide audio content to producers and advertisers with an industry-leading full ad service package for streaming and podcasting no matter their size, reach, or distribution method. iHeartMedia says, “The addition of Triton Digital’s vast array of infrastructure and measurement solutions will complement iHeartMedia’s current advertising technology services, data platforms, and programmatic platforms while providing additional solutions for those in the digital radio industry, allowing iHeartMedia to be the first and only company in the audio market to provide four distribution methods for audio, including on-demand, broadcast and digital streaming radio and podcasting, and to service all audio assets programmatically.” Triton Digital is a global advertising technology SaaS (software as a service) platform for audio streaming, podcasting and metrics that enables publishers to monetize their audiences by providing digital audio measurement and advanced audio-focused infrastructure to maximize the yield of audio inventory. The company’s two lines of business focus on advertising infrastructure and measurement, including a content delivery system that distributes digital audio streams and podcasts to listeners while dynamically inserting ads and measurement business that tracks audience and creates ratings reports. This deal comes on the heels of recent audio technology acquisitions by iHeartMedia that include the October 2020 purchase of Voxnest, as well as its acquisition of buying platform Jelli Inc, cloud-based audio playout platform Radiojar, and social advertising data intelligence platform and solutions provider Unified. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman comments, “Adding Triton Digital and its industry leading services to the iHeartMedia audio ecosystem establishes iHeartMedia as the only company with a total audio advertising technology and data solution. iHeart, with our strong leadership position in podcasting, digital radio and broadcast, already provides cutting edge audio management, programmatic and data solutions for the broadcast radio, digital audio and podcasting industries, and this acquisition further strengthens our position as the #1 audio company in America and provides unique – and critical – solutions for the industry and for advertisers.”

UWG CEO Monique Nelson Named to Entercom Board of Directors. Joining the board of directors of Entercom Communications Corp is multicultural advertising and marketing agency UWG chair and CEO Monique Nelson. With this addition, Entercom’s board expands to 11 directors. In making the announcement, Entercom chairman, president, and CEO David Field says, “During this transformative time for our company, we’re excited to welcome Monique to Entercom’s board of directors. Her extensive career in advertising and marketing leadership make her an outstanding addition to our board.” Nelson has served as the chair and CEO of UWG since 2012. In this role, she has expanded the agency’s client list and has led her team in the development of several award-winning campaigns. Prior to joining UWG, she was the global lead for entertainment marketing at Motorola. She currently sits on the Advertising Week global board, AdWeek diversity & inclusion council, the Brandeis board of trustees, The Eagle Academy board, as well as the New York advisory board for The Posse Foundation. Nelson says, “Entercom is in an exciting and pivotal moment and I’m delighted to be joining the board. It’s clear Entercom is truly committed to moving the needle significantly in the audio space.”

Kim Komando Assists Arizona Pharmacies with COVID Vaccine Website. Being a fan of talk radio and the Kim Komando radio program – heard locally on Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix – turned out to be good news for the director of pharmacy for the Bashas’ grocery chain. He recently learned that his 40 pharmacies will soon be getting COVID vaccines but he had no infrastructure in place to handle the flood of inquiries from customers. As a longtime listener to the Kim Komando Show, he emailed her explaining his situation and asking for advice, and specifically if she could design a website. Komando responded that she would make a few calls and reached out to various contacts and officials around Arizona and ended up discussing the situation with Congressman David Schweikert. He connected Bashas’ with the Arizona Department of Health Services and now the two are striking a deal to white label the state’s web application for vaccine scheduling to the grocery chain. This was all a direct result of the content airing on KTAR-FM and Kim Komando.

The Alliance for Women in Media Announce 2021 Board of Directors. The Alliance for Women in Media and its Foundation – AWM/F – are pleased to announce their 2021 national board of directors. New to the AWM board are: Kenetta Bailey, senior vice president, marketing, Clear Channel OutdoorMarsha Cooke, senior vice president, global news and special projects, Vice Media, LLC.; and Melissa Wright, chief content officer, Twin Cities PBS. New to the AWM/F board are: Svetlana Gans, vice president & associate general counsel, NCTA – The Internet & Television AssociationMike McVay, president, McVay Media ConsultingJosie Thomas, former chief diversity & inclusion officer, CBS; and Christine Travaglini, president, Katz Radio Group. Officers of the board have been announced as Heather Cohen, executive vice president, The Weiss Agency, serving as chair; Annie Howell, chief communications officer, Crown Media Family Networks, serving as incoming chair; Keisha Sutton-James, vice president & CEO, Sutton Button Productions LLC, serving as immediate past chair; Joyce Fitch, legal consultant, serving as treasurer; and Brenda Hetrick, chief revenue officer, Matrix Solutions, serving as incoming treasurer. AWM/F president Becky Brooks says, “The role of the AWM and Foundation boards is to lead our organizations and industry as we recognize, connect and educate women in all facets of media. We have a true working board. As AWM celebrate its 70th anniversary this year, it has never been more important to have strong, insightful leadership. This year’s new directors have voiced their dedication to donating time and resources to guide these organizations to the next level.  We are thrilled to have these talented, accomplished women joining our leadership for the next two years.” The following individuals will continue to serve as directors at large of AWM: Katina Arnold, vice president, corporate communications, ESPNAbby Auerbach, executive vice president, chief communications officer, TVBAbby Greensfelder, founder & CEO, Everywoman StudiosBrenda Hetrick, chief revenue officer, Matrix Solutions; Michelle Ray, executive director, The Walter Kaitz FoundationSandra Rice, senior vice president, outreach and strategic partnerships, Center for Talent InnovationEsther-Mireya Tejeda, chief marketing & communications officer, SoundExchange; and, Katherine Wolfgang, head of public relations, CBCDeborah Parenti, publisher, RadioInk and RBR and TVBR will continue to serve as a director at large of AWM/F. AWM/F is also pleased to announce that AWM/F board members Heather CohenAnnie Howell and Mike McVay will continue to serve as chairs for the Gracie Awards.

TALKERS News Notes. The LadyGang Network on PodcastOne, announces it has acquired the exclusive sales and distribution rights to the “Black Girls Texting” podcast, hosted by Glynn Pogue, Sade Parham, and Chelsea “Pinky” Rojas. The first episode drops today (2/17) kicks off with Robin Thicke as the guest talking about life after loss, co-parenting with ex-wife Paula Patton and the benefits of therapy…..Cadence13, a podcast company that is part of Entercom’s Podcast Network, and Cosgrove/Meurer Productions, the creators and producers of the Emmy-nominated series, “Unsolved Mysteries,” announces the launch of the “Unsolved Mysteries” podcast, a weekly show based on the long-running hit television and popular Netflix streaming series. Narrated by award-winning voice actor Steve French, the “Unsolved Mysteries” podcast presents all new unsolved cases from the vast “Unsolved Mysteries” database — including unsolved crimes, missing persons, fugitives, mysterious creatures, and the paranormal — with each episode taking a deep dive into one specific mystery.….The GCN-syndicated Dr. Daliah Wachs Show adds two new affiliate stations as Radio Pacific’s KONP-AM, Port Angeles, Washington and Midwest Communications’ WNMT-AM, Nashwauk, Minnesota add the program to their on-air schedules.

TuneIn Announces New Leadership Team. Streaming and on-demand audio service TuneIn announces new executive appointments to its leadership team that include: Paul Brody to chief technology officer, Rob Deichert to chief revenue officer, and Joe King to chief product officer. Yasmin Coffey is elevated to chief legal officer, and Kevin Straley continues to serve as chief content officer. This news comes on the heels of the recent appointment of Richard Stern to CEO, and a new investment in TuneIn led by Innovation Endeavors. Additionally, six new members will join TuneIn’s board and bring their deep expertise in the areas of business, technology, media and entertainment, including: Eric Botto, Steve Cakebread, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Greg Coleman, Rick Scanlon, and Harpinder Singh. Stern says, “TuneIn’s mission to reinvent radio for our connected world has been greatly accelerated during this unprecedented time when live audio has quickly become a trusted companion for millions of new listeners adjusting to the new normal. I’m proud to welcome a distinguished group of senior leaders and board members to TuneIn who will help us build on the incredible momentum of 2020 to drive innovation and growth at a global scale.”

Biden in Milwaukee, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Stimulus Negotiations, Trump Acquittal Aftermath/State of GOP, Capitol Riot Investigation, Freezing Winter Weather, and North Korea Pfizer Hack Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/16). Tuesday evening’s Joe Biden town hall in Milwaukee; the declining rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the negotiations in Congress over Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill; the political climate in Washington following the acquittal of Donald Trump and Trump’s angry letter against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; the ongoing investigation into the January 6 Capitol riot; the freezing weather that’s left millions in Texas without power; and the allegation that North Korea attempted to hack Pfizer’s vaccine data were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, May 8, 2020

| May 8, 2020

LiveXLive Acquiring PodcastOne in All Stock Deal. The digital media firm LiveXLive Media, Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Courtside Group, Inc., the owner and operator of PodcastOne in an all stock deal. The press release states that the transaction is valued at $18.1 million based on LiveXLive’s closing price on May 7, 2020. LiveXLive will acquire 100% of the equity interests of Courtside Group, Inc. and issue to stockholders of PodcastOne approximately 5.45 million restricted shares of LiveXLive’s common stock, which would be subject to a 12-month lock-up period and certain trading restrictions thereafter. The proposed acquisition is expected to close by June 2020, subject to certain closing conditions. PodcastOne recorded gross revenue of $27.5 million in calendar year 2019. LiveXLive chairman and CEO Robert Ellin says, “We’re excited to expand our business into the fast-growing podcast category, complementing our music platform of streaming audio, on-demand video, and live event performances. The acquisition will add to and diversify our revenue with a strong advertising component. Once acquired and integrated, we will have a significant opportunity to cross-sell and cross-promote to our respective subscribers, advertisers, and sponsors as well as provide our collective artists and on-air talent with an expanded platform to increase their social media and online presence.” PodcastOne founder and executive chairman, Norman Pattiz is joining LiveXLive as a significant shareholder and remains as executive chairman of PodcastOne. Pattiz comments, “All of us at PodcastOne are excited about joining the LiveXLive team and taking advantage of obvious future synergies between our businesses. I look forward to working with Rob Ellin to close the acquisition and achieve the growth we both envision. PodcastOne is a premium producer, distributor, and revenue-generator for audio-on-demand programming. PodcastOne’s well-established podcasting business is an excellent complement to LiveXLive’s  ‘live social music network,’ delivering premium livestreams, digital audio, and on-demand music.”

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted.  The new episode titled “Demographic Genocide?” looks back at this past week of May 4-8, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSRic Edelman, financial advisor / talk show host; Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, Gainesville, GA; Kate Delaney, talk show host, GCN; Barry Farber, talk show host, CRN; Dick Morris, pundit / author; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. 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 WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network, Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA, Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), please click here.  To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

iHeartMedia’s Q1 Revenue Down 1.9%. After a strong financial performance in January and February, the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll in March and iHeartMedia finished the first quarter of 2020 with revenue of $780 million, down 1.9% over the same period in 2019 (and down 4.8% excluding political). The company reports an operating loss of $1.7 billion, “driven primarily by non-cash impairment charges” that “reduce intangible asset and goodwill book values established in May 2019 upon required application of fresh start accounting where the macroenvironment was significantly different than today.” Adjusted EBITDA was $140.3 million, down 10.6% year-over-year. Free cash flow from continuing operations was $69.9 million, a decrease of $43.8 million or 38.6%. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman says, “As America’s #1 audio company, with unparalleled reach both nationally and locally, we play a critically important role in providing companionship, connection and key information to all the communities we serve, and we are incredibly proud of our employees’ commitment to that mission in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although businesses and brands across the country have been impacted, we are working closely with them on their marketing needs and are focused on helping them generate the consumer demand to reopen or ramp up. Our multiplatform offering, our unparalleled reach and our unique data and analytics position us well to benefit as a company from this returning advertising demand.”  Company president, COO and CFO Rich Bressler adds, “Given the current economic environment, iHeart has taken actions that we believe expand the company’s financial flexibility and provide sufficient liquidity to operate effectively even in an extended period of economic weakness. We believe that iHeart’s fundamentally strong free cash-generation model, substantial current cash balances, incremental benefits from our cost savings initiatives, and flexible capital structure will enable us to build effectively on our audio market leadership and position us favorably to capitalize on the eventual recovery in advertising demand. With our experienced management team and our unparalleled assets, we are confident in our business and continue our focus on driving shareholder value.”

Edison Research: U.S. Moms Relying More on Tech. This latest installment of Edison Research’s “Moms and Media 2020” study includes data from The Infinite Dial series from Edison Research and Triton Digital, and a recent online survey conducted during COVID-19 restrictions. The report highlights how moms with kids under the age of 18 in the household continue to hold tight to their tech tools while sheltering at home, and they are relying on their technology and media to get through the day. Edison VP Melissa DeCesare says, “This virus has turned life upside down and parents have the added pressure of guiding children through this unsettling time.  Moms are masters at balancing tasks in normal circumstances, but they have found even more capacity to multi-task in this pandemic. Additional responsibilities like distance learning and managing the family dynamic while in isolation are increasing the need for media and technology in the home. This year’s study shows us that moms are meeting these challenges by relying on media, devices and technology to help them get through this new normal.” Some of the findings are: Moms are using their devices more during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working remotely, helping children with distance learning, and keeping in touch with friends and family are driving heavier use of all digital devices; Moms are facilitating distance learning with 54% of moms saying they are spending a lot of time helping their children with distance learning; Moms are using social media with 39% agreeing that social media is the main source for staying up to date on the COVID-19 pandemic in their community and 56% of moms say that they are grateful for social media during the pandemic; and while it is unknown how long this new normal will last, nearly 4 in 10 moms think their current media habits will stay with them even after it is over. See more here.

Three Entercom Podcasts Nominated for Peabody Awards. The nominations for Peabody Awards have been announced and three podcasts from Entercom’s Podcast Network are included among the nominees. “Headlong: Running from COPS” and “The Catch and Kill Podcast with Ronan Farrow” from Pineapple Street Studios, and “Gangster Capitalism, Season One: The College Admissions Scandal” from Cadence13’s C13Originals studio were nominated. Winners will be announced at a later date. Pineapple Street Studios co-founders Jenna Weiss-Berman and Max Linsky say, “For our small shop to get two Peabody nominations is just an incredible testament to the care, thought, and creativity the entire Pineapple Street Studios team puts into the work. Working with world-class talents like Dan Taberski and Ronan Farrow is an honor and we’re thrilled by the recognition for our incredible staff and these two critically important shows, which we were so proud to put out into the world.” The Peabody Awards honor the most powerful, enlightening and invigorating stories in television, radio and digital media. See all the nominations here.

COVID-19 Statistics and Projections Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 4-8. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the projections for future cases was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the state of the U.S. healthcare system.  Coming in at #3 was a tie between the economy, the debate over re-opening, and criticism of the airlines, followed by the presidential race, politics, and the Michelle Obama film at #4. See the entire chart here. 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.

TALKERS News Notes. A special, virtual town hall meeting produced by SiriusXM is taking place today on the Business Radio channel featuring host Dan Loney of Wharton Business Daily that addresses the questions on Americans’ minds about how and when to safely reopen the economy. Guests on the program include: Hyundai Motor Company’s Jose Munoz, Ford Motor Company COO Jim Farley, Kahn Academy CEO Sal Kahn, Cleveland Federal president Loretta J. Mester, Board of Scientific Counselors chair Dr. Thomas Inglesby, Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff, chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, DHL CEO Greg Hewitt, and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao…..The Talk Shows USA syndicated program “The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” adds new affiliate stations to its roster. They are: WRTA-AM/FM, Altoona, PA; WGNC-AM, Gastonia, NC; WPAY-FM, Garrison, KY; KBST-AM, Big Spring, TX…..Jenn White is named as the new host of the WAMU-FM, Washington-based, NPR program “1A.” White has been serving at Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ-FM, Chicago hosting the midday “Reset with Jenn White” program.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. A Memorial Day weekend show from Cumulus Media’s Westwood One Nashville celebrates the start of summertime. “Summer Kickoff with Dustin Lynch” is a salute to the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and some military veterans will join Lynch in the tribute. Fellow artists will share their favorite holiday memories and summer activities throughout the special, including: Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Kelsea Ballerini, Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, and Carrie Underwood. The four-hour-long special will be available for stations to air over the holiday weekend beginning Saturday, May 23 through Monday, May 25, any time between 6:00 a.m. and 12 midnight.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

| March 25, 2020

‘New Jersey 101.5’ to Hold 2nd Coronavirus Town Hall. The Townsquare Media news/talk station announces it will present its second Town Hall broadcast addressing the COVID-019 pandemic, focusing on health and medical issues Thursday (3/26) at 7:00 pm.  WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” says special projects director and morning news anchor Eric Scott “leads the news and digital departments in linking a statewide audience with New Jersey’s top doctors fighting the pandemic, in a listener-driven, call-in format.”  Scott – who will anchor live from the New Jersey 101.5 studios with guests joining by phone – will speak with: Dr. Margaret Fisher, infectious disease specialist at RWJBarnabas Health (also the medical director at Unterberg Children’s Hospital and chair, Department of Pediatrics, Monmouth Medical Center); Dr. Manisha Parulekar, program director and chief of the Division of Geriatrics at Hackensack University Medical Center; and Dr. Kevin Slavin, director of quality for Hackensack Meridian Health Children’s Services, specializing in pediatric infectious diseases.  The station is streaming the program on Facebook Live and via NJ1015.com.

Triton Digital: News/Talk Gets COVID-19 Streaming Bump. According to data from Triton Digital’s Webcast Metrics service, listening to streams of news/talk-formatted radio stations increased 4% from the week of March 2-6 to the week of March 13-19.  The format’s streaming share grew from 29% to 33%, as news of the COVID-19 disruption hitting the U.S. took over the news cycle.  Triton says from the week of March 2-6 to the week of March 13-19, the share of streaming contributed by sports talk radio held constant at 8%, while music radio’s share of streaming declined from 64% to 59%.  The report adds that consumption patterns by device remain very stable, with streaming on mobile devices increasing from 49% to 51% of the total. The share of streaming on desktops/laptops decreased slightly from 27% to 25%, while smart speaker’s share of consumption held stable at 21%.  Triton Digital president of marketing development John Rosso says, “Radio in every form – broadcast, streaming audio, and podcasts – remains a trusted and relied upon medium for news and entertainment in the United States.  Despite the dislocation of many workers, this data shows the remarkable stability of the medium, as well as the importance of radio in delivering information in a time of crisis.”

Connoisseur Media CEO Jeff Warshaw’s Open Letter to the Industry: “We are in the midst of a crisis. It’s incredibly painful to our business, as it is to countless other industries. Our communities are reeling.  This crisis is going to end.  But radio’s troubles didn’t start a few weeks ago, when the coronavirus began its attack on our country. Competition for our audiences has never been fiercer. National revenue had hit a rough patch. Public radio companies were trading at their lows. Deal-making had ground to a standstill. It was harder than ever to grow our radio revenues. Certainly, there are bright spots and pockets of opportunity, and our industry is doing a terrific job tirelessly serving our communities during this unprecedented time. That having been said, I don’t think many of us were looking fondly at the halcyon days of Q4 2019.  As difficult as this crisis is, we have an opportunity to turn this disease into a cure.  Our logs are wide open. What we allow to happen to our product once things return to ‘normal’ is entirely up to us. Although our company has tried to maintain reasonable commercial loads, we can do much better. Let’s take this opportunity to clean up our clocks, maintain lower spot loads, stop incessant bonus commercials, reduce endless promos. Demonstrate integrity for the value of our products and give our listeners more of what they crave.  The universe is doing for us what we would not and could not do for ourselves. We have the opportunity to emerge from this dark time with a brighter flame than we have seen for years. What we do from here may make all the difference.”

TALKERS News Notes. In Seattle, Bonneville’s KIRO-FM is producing a daily podcast addressing the COVID-19 pandemic titled, “COVID-19: Seattle Podcast.”  Longtime station personality Dave Ross and ‘KIRO Radio’ reporter Aaron Granillo will “condense the most important updates of the day into a short podcast format for the benefit of our community.  Together they will follow government officials, healthcare workers, business leaders, and local residents who are making crucial, early decisions … decisions that will soon guide, or warn, the rest of the country.”  It will be released each afternoon.  Station program director Bryan Buckalew says, “I think Dave Ross, with his decades of news experience, and Aaron Granillo, with his reporter’s sensibility, are uniquely capable of examining the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as it expands in Washington state and across the nation.”…..FOX News Radio launches a new weekday evening edition of the daily podcast “The FOX News Rundown” dedicated to the latest developments of the coronavirus pandemic.  The newly re-titled program “The FOX News Rundown Podcast: Global Pandemic” is being hosted by FNC foreign correspondent Trey Yingst and debuts on March 30.  On the program, Jerusalem-based Yingst will be joined by medical experts and fellow reporters to discuss the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19 around the world…..The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that Entercom sports talker WFAN, New York is giving weekend show hosting responsibilities to its daily stars in lieu of the usual weekend hosts, presumably to save some payroll expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.  He says that “Boomer & Gio,” “Moose & Maggie,” and “Joe & Evan” are hosting Saturday and Sunday programs and Mike Francesa – currently only hosting the 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm show on WFAN – is doing a 9:00 am to 1:00 pm show on Sundays.  However, longtime WFAN weekend host Richard Neer will be heard hosting the Sunday night 10:00 pm to 2:00 am show via CBS Sports Radio Network on “The Fan.”…..Cadence13 – a division of RADIO.COM – is unveiling the second season of the podcast “Gangster Capitalism” that it says “offers an unflinching look at white collar corruption and the dark side of the American dream”  This season explores the NRA.  Cadence13 chief content officer Chris Corcoran says, “As we further develop and expand our C13Originals slate, we’re prioritizing impactful and ambitious documentaries geared around culture, business, moments in time, music and more.  Our objective is about finding the right stories, and how we tell and express them, so that the audience can immerse itself in what we believe will create conversation and engagement.”…..AdLarge Media signs a deal with Remote News Service (RNS) to serve as its exclusive ad sales representative.  Remote News Service is owned and led by senior anchor Lesley Lotto…..Pictured below is Westwood One News White House correspondent Bob Costantini in the radio pool seat in the newly re-designed social distancing briefing room awaiting yesterday’s coronavirus task force news conference.  The pink sticker on his lapel is confirmation that the White House took his temperature and it is normal.

Coronavirus Status in U.S., Stimulus Package Debate, Global Stocks Surge, U.S.-China Relations, India Locks Down Entire Country, and Olympics Postponed Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/24). The latest numbers on confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S.; the negotiations in the U.S. Senate to craft a coronavirus stimulus package; global stocks surge on news that the Senate is close to a stimulus package; relations between the U.S. and China as the COVID-19 blame game ramps up; Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi orders lock down of 1.3 billion citizens; and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are postponed among top news/talk stories yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

NEED CONTENT TO FILL SPORTS GAPS?  ‘Our American Stories’ Reaches Out to Sports Talk Stations with Programming to Temporarily Fill Holes in Their Schedules.  The producers of the highly popular syndicated spoken-word program “Our American Stories” tell TALKERS, “We are pleased to announce we are making ‘Our American Stories’ available to sports stations on a temporary basis with no contract to fill holes in their schedule resulting from the shut downs in the sports industry due to Covid-19.  No strings attached.”  The statement continues, “We have had several sports stations reach out to us and ask if they could use our content temporarily to fill holes in their lineup as so many sporting events have been cancelled.”  A number of the episodes in the archives of the program directly address sports-oriented themes including: “The Heart of Kobe Bryant’s Memorial Service,” “He Made A Wood Bat For His Son… Now He Outsells Louisville Slugger,” “The Bird and Magic Story: Love, Friendship, and Basketball” and “I Shall Not Fail Those With Whom I Serve.”  “Our American Stories” host and founder Lee Habeeb adds, “At this time in our country, Americans need to be encouraged and reminded that our nation is one that has persevered through tumultuous times and have hope that we will again prevail. We can help with that encouragement through the power of storytelling.”  Interested stations should click here or contact Bryan Dawson at 720-737-2950 or bdawson@oanetwork.org.

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 February 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on sports talk.  February is not traditionally a good month for the sports talk format, but the February 2020 PPM survey was especially bad as only two stations in our panel showed any weekly, 6+ AQH share gain from January 2020.  And even there Entercom’s WMC-AM, Memphis (0.1 to 0.3) and iHeartMedia’s WYGM-AM, Orlando (1.1 to 1.2) showed increases that were essentially meaningless.  Year-over-year, about as many stations shows ratings increases (45%) as saw decreases (42%), with big gainers including iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis “The Fan” (+2.4), Capitol Broadcasting’s WCMC-FM, Raleigh (+1.3), and Entercom’s KGMZ-FM, San Jose (+1.1) leading the pack.  The highest-ranking sports talk station during the February survey was Entercom’s WFAN in the Long Island market, finishing the month at #3.  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

Hotwire Communications Adds Newsmax TV to Video Service. Southeastern U.S. telecom firm Hotwire Communications and Newsmax Media announce a new distribution deal to deliver Newsmax TV to basic tier video service in seven major Florida markets – Miami/Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach/Fort Pierce, Fort Myers/Naples, Jacksonville/Brunswick, Tampa/St. Petersburg/Sarasota, Orlando/Daytona/Melbourne and Tallahassee/Thomasville – as well as the Atlanta and Savannah markets in Georgia, the Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville and Charlotte markets in North Carolina, and the Greenville/Spartanburg/Ashville/Anderson markets in South Carolina.  Newsmax TV SVP of content distribution Andrew Biggers says, “Newsmax is excited to have Hotwire on board as our newest affiliate, and we look forward to working together to deliver what its customers have been asking for — an alternative voice within news media.  And with Hotwire’s reach throughout these markets, Newsmax will be exposed to a broad audience seeking news they can trust.”  Hotwire Communications is an all-fiber service provider that has been providing triple-play telecommunication services since 2000.  Hotwire offers a full suite of services to residential, commercial, hospitality, government, smart city, and educational customers in 14 states, primarily concentrated in the Southeast.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Taking place in Sunday’s 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET timeslot on FOX Television originally for the iHeartRadio Music Awards, iHeartMedia and FOX announce “FOX Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America” to provide entertainment relief and support for Americans to help fight the spread of COVID-19 and to celebrate the resilience and strength of the nation during this pandemic.  Hosted by Elton John, the event will feature performances by Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Billie Eilish, Billie Joe Armstrong, Mariah Carey, Tim McGraw, and more, from their own homes, filmed with their personal cell phones, cameras, and audio equipment, to ensure the health and safety of all involved.  In addition to airing on FOX, the program will air across iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide, as well as via the iHeartRadio app. The benefit special will be broadcast commercial-free and, in addition to the music, will pay tribute to the front-line health professionals, first responders, and local heroes who are putting their lives in harm’s way to help their neighbors and fight the spread of the virus.  It also will encourage viewers to support two of the many charitable organizations helping victims and first responders during the pandemic: Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation…..On-air pro Jeff Lewis Neal joins the WHZT, Greenville, South Carolina-based “Dex & Barbie T Morning Show.”  SummitMedia also airs the program on rhythmic CHR WKHT “Hot 104.5” in Knoxville and rhythmic CHR KPHW, Honolulu “Power 104.3.”  SummitMedia Greenville operations manager Mike Klein says, “I’m excited to welcome Jeff Lewis Neal to ‘Dex & Barbie T Morning Show.’  He’s the missing piece of the puzzle to take us to the next level on air and online.”…..Music director Kendall Stewart is promoted to program director for Saga Communications triple A WCNR, Charlottesville, Virginia.  She makes the jump after Jeff Sweatman resigned from the position.  Stewart says, “The last four-and-a-half years at ‘106.1 The Corner’ have been the most formative in my career so far and I can’t express how grateful I am to Jeff Sweatman for everything that he has taught me.  I love this station and the amazing music town that I get to live in – Charlottesville – has been through a lot in recent years, but the tragedy that we faced in 2017 has only made us stronger as a community.  I am honored to be a part of it and to have the opportunity to further serve the people of this city and I can’t wait to hit the ground running.”