The Spoken Word Audio Report. People spend less daily time listening to music and LOTS more time with spoken word content. And – for the first time – AM/FM receivers now deliver less than 50% of it. And – like e-commerce and telecommuting – this behavior shift, already in motion before the pandemic shutdown, has accelerated as we’ve quarantined. Consultant Holland Cooke summarizes the 2nd annual report from Edison Research and NPR. Read it here.
Rich Herrera to Program and Host at Cumulus Media’s KCUB-AM, Tucson. Sports radio pro Rich Herrera is named program director and afternoon drive host for Cumulus Media’s KCUB-AM, Tucson “Wildcats Radio 1290.” Herrera, who also serves as an air personality for CBS Sports Radio, returns to the University of Arizona flagship station he programmed beginning in 2001 when it launched as “FOX Sports Radio 1290.” Most recently, Herrera has been with Entercom’s KWFN, San Diego “97.3 The Fan” where he was senior executive producer and pre- and post-game shows host. Herrera will continue to host national shows on CBS Sport Radio from Cumulus Tucson studios. Herrera says, “I am excited to join Cumulus and am happy to be reunited with so many good friends and radio professionals in Tucson. The University of Arizona is one of the iconic schools in college sports and to be able to host afternoons and program their flagship is a fantastic opportunity. After working in Major League Baseball, I plan to bring many of those best practices to ‘Wildcats Radio 1290,’ on air and digitally, to build one of the best college flagship radio stations in the nation.”
Key Networks to Handle Ad Sales and Affiliate Marketing for Bloomberg Radio. A new deal between Key Networks and Bloomberg Radio will see the former managing all network advertising sales, affiliate sales, and marketing for Bloomberg’s global 24-hour business radio network, effective October 26. Bloomberg Radio’s signature “Daybreak” shows cover the morning hours of each part of the world, anchored from Bloomberg’s studios in New York, San Francisco, London, and Hong Kong. Throughout the day, Bloomberg Radio delivers in-depth coverage of the financial markets coupled with interviews with newsmakers, analysts, and company executives. In addition to its engaging full-length business shows, Bloomberg offers short-form reports ranging from “Money Minutes” to “The Business of Sports.” Key Networks CEO Rob Koblasz says, “Bloomberg is undeniably the gold standard in business news, and we are thrilled to deliver access to Bloomberg’s unmatched global business news resources to radio stations across the U.S. With 2,700 journalists and analysts in more than 120 bureaus, the quality of their network products for local radio stations is clear. We look forward to growing with Bloomberg Radio as we help grow their network.”
PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. The resumption of the MLB season, the NBA playoffs, and the promise of the new NFL season didn’t provide enough juice for America’s sports talk radio stations in the Nielsen Audio PPM markets as 47% of those outlets saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares decline and just 35% improved during the September survey (August 13-September 9). In his second format analysis for the September survey, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian reports that gainers from the August to September surveys include Capital Broadcasting’s WCMC-FM, Raleigh (+1.2) and Entercom’s WSCR, Chicago (+0.7). It’s hardly surprising that comparing data from September of 2019 (pre-COVID) with September 2020 shows a major falloff for sports talkers. Year-over-year 68% of sports talk stations in PPM markets were down and just 19% improved. Gainers were led by Entercom’s KWFN, San Diego (+0.9). See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.
TALKERS News Notes. The Radio Hall of Fame names NPR’s Noel King this year’s recipient of its “One to Watch” award. The “One to Watch” award was created in honor of radio legend and 2012 RHOF inductee Art Laboe. Each year, the RHOF nominating committee selects a promising radio personality or team who has demonstrated ratings success, audience growth, and impact on one or more radio stations and their communities. King is co-host of NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “Up First.” The RHoF says, “King’s investigative reporting has affected change through her powerful storytelling about social and criminal justice issues. As a correspondent for NPR’s ‘Planet Money,’ her work focused on economic questions that don’t have simple answers, with complex and often conflicted people at the center of these stories.”…..Tomorrow night (10/15), Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” presents a Town Hall broadcast on the upcoming November election. The station says, “New Jersey is facing a general election like no other in its history. Amid the many pandemic related changes, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared almost all voting would be done with mail-in ballots.” Station senior political director Eric Scott adds, “This is the first time the majority of people in New Jersey will cast their vote by mail. And as a result, there is much confusion. There have been documented cases of voting irregularities in New Jersey and our goal is to help everyone who wants to vote be certain their vote will be counted.” The program’s expert panel will be led by New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way. Other panelists will include county clerks charged with coordinating the ballots and who can speak directly to any irregularities. Scott and his guests will answer live, call-in questions from listeners throughout the hour…..The Alliance for Women in Media announces that this week’s Gracie Interview Series – Virtual Gathering features special guest Susan Larkin, COO for Entercom and moderator Weezie Kramer. The event is tomorrow (10/15) at 2:00 pm ET. The two will discuss the ever-evolving roles in media companies today. Larkin will share how media companies continue to face the opportunities placed in front of them and the ever-important model of monetizing these new business paths. You can register here…..Entercom’s podcast company Cadence13 announces a partnership with Leon Neyfakh and Andrew Parsons, co-creators of “Slow Burn,” for distribution of the first season of “Fiasco,” the award-winning documentary podcast series about power, politics and uncertainty. Fiasco Season One: “Bush v. Gore” launches today (10/14)…..iHeartMedia announces the release of “Aaron Mahnke’s 13 Days of Halloween” from Blumhouse Television and iHeartMedia. The original scripted podcast series stars Keegan-Michael Key as “caretaker” of the purgatorial hotel “Hawthorne Manor.”
The Presidential Race, Barrett Confirmation Hearings, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Stimulus Negotiations, New UN Human Rights Council Members, SCOTUS Census Ruling, DOJ ‘Unmasking’ Investigation, and the NFL’s COVID-19 Policy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/13). The November presidential election; the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett; the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country and concerns about a fall/winter second wave; the negotiations over a new COVID stimulus package; controversy over China and Russia gaining seats on the UN Human Rights Council; the Supreme Court rules President Trump can end the 2020 census; the DOJ’s investigation into “unmasking” or revealing the names of Americans in NSA foreign intelligence reports by the Obama administration ends without charges; and the NFL’s scramble to save games as some players test positive for COVID-19 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Longtime radio management pro Mark Krieschen announces he’s retiring from Cox Media Group’s Houston station group – country KKBQ “”93Q,” classic country KTHT “Country Legends 97.1,” and classic rock duo KHPT-FM/KGLK-FM “The Eagle” – effective October 23. Prior to joining Cox Radio in 2005 as VP/GM of CMG Radio Houston, Krieschen held various positions at Tribune’s WGN-AM, Chicago. Cox Media Group EVP Bill Hendrich says, “I can’t speak highly enough of Mark and I am certain his Houston team shares my sentiment. In leading the largest market in CMG’s radio portfolio, Mark has been an integral part of CMG Radio’s growth, our impact in the industry and in the communities across Houston. His contributions will always be valued, and he will be remembered for his passionate dedication and leadership style that moved others to give their best, every day.”…..Condolences to the family and friends of Jeff Anderson, the evening air personality and production director at Beasley Media Group’s classic hits KKLZ-FM, Las Vegas who died on October 9 after suffering health complications. Anderson joined the company in 2006 as the midday personality at KKLZ-FM. After the station flipped from the classic rock to classic hits format, he moved to evenings and took on the role of production director. Beasley chief content officer Justin Chase says, “I’ve known Jeff for nearly 20 years, working with him almost that entire time in radio at both CBS Radio and Beasley. In that time, I’ve come to greatly respect Jeff for his talent, professionalism, and kindness. All of us here at Beasley are deeply saddened by his sudden passing and will miss him immensely.” Anderson spent more than 25 years in the Las Vegas radio market and was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame in 2008.
Monday Memo: Say It Shorter. In this week’s concise column, consultant Holland Cooke barely says ANYTHING, “and that’s the point.” Read it here.
The Presidential Race, Biden VP Choice Speculation, Vote-By-Mail Debate, and Stimulus Exec Orders Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend (8/8-9). The November presidential election, speculation over Joe Biden’s pending VP selection, the failure of Congress to arrive at a new stimulus package with President Trump responding by signing contestable executive orders to move the process along as well as the controversy over his ongoing allegation that voting by mail encourages voter fraud were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this weekend according to TALKERS research of the most talked about topics on issues-oriented news/talk radio. Other heavily discussed topics over the weekend included the school closing debate and COVID-19 stats and projections.
Pending Business: Talk to the Winners. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes about how radio sales professionals should have faith in the resilience of local, small business based on the premise that many WILL survive the COVID-19 era. He suggests that radio sellers seek out those whose innovation clearly has them on a winning track and talk directly to them, customizing campaigns that are in sync with their efforts. Read it here.
Update: WAMU-FM Sexual Harassment. As we reported here last week (TALKERS, 8/5), American University-owned public news/talk outlet WAMU-FM, Washington, DC is in a state of chaos over sexual harassment allegations. WAMU-owned publication DCist ran a Rachel Kurzius-written story detailing allegations of harassment and improper behavior by former WAMU-FM reporter Martin Di Caro. Numerous employees were asking for station general manager J.J. Yore to resign, something he said he was not prepared to do. That situation changed, however, late last week as the station’s six-year general manager has indeed stepped down. Vice president of people and external affairs/chief of staff Seth Grossman states, “American University thanks JJ for his years of service to WAMU; we wish him well as he pursues his next endeavor. We are announcing a series of critical steps designed to address issues in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, human resources, and management, as well as how matters of misconduct are handled at WAMU. These actions are a combination of immediate and longer-term steps to accelerate WAMU’s work to enhance culture and workplace. The changes will provide important support to the WAMU staff, who we thank for continuing to focus on producing award-winning journalism that the Washington, DC region relies on amid this period of change. We believe these actions will offer support for the entire WAMU team and provide a foundation for the station’s next chapter.” An interim general manager will be named in “the next four to six weeks.” In addition, a human resources employee relations consultant with “proven experience in improving organizational culture and creating inclusive workplaces” will be put in-place. Interim chief content officer Monna Kashfi becomes the permanent chief content officer, overseeing WAMU and DCist. WAMU’s former chief content officer, Andi McDaniel, left the station last month to join Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ-FM, Chicago as president and chief executive officer; McDaniel begins those duties next month. As indicated in the The DCist piece, McDaniel was well aware of Di Caro’s behavior, having signed off on a “Level III Final Written Warning for Serious Misconduct” given to Di Caro after “almost two years” of complaints.
Coronavirus Affects Cumulus’ Q2 Numbers. Second quarter figures for Cumulus Media include a 47.8% year-to-year revenue decrease to $146 million. The company witnessed its net income transition from a gain of $42.9 million to a loss of $6.4 million and adjusted EBITDA dropping from $61.8 million to -$6.4 million. Despite the pandemic’s material impact on revenue, Cumulus Media president/chief executive officer Mary G. Berner explains, “The company generated over $90 million of cash in the quarter through quick and decisive expense actions, strong working capital management, and the completion of sale of land in Bethesda, Maryland. Ending the quarter with nearly $200 million of cash, we have entered into an agreement to monetize our tower portfolio for more than $210 million, proceeds which will further add to our liquidity and contribute to significant incremental debt paydown.” She adds, “Our demonstrated ability to rise to a challenge, strong liquidity position, and resilient balance sheet are critical assets as we operate through this uncertain environment. We believe we remain very well-positioned to drive long-term shareholder value through continued aggressive debt reduction and the execution of our growth initiatives.” Broadcast station revenue was down 51.6% to $114.2 million. Spot revenue was off 55.6% and network revenue declined by 42.7%. Meanwhile, digital revenue was up .7% to $20.3 million.
COVID-19 “Impacts” Townsquare Q2 Results. Commenting on selected results for the second quarter that ended June 30th, Townsquare Media chief executive officer Bill Wilson remarks that, as expected, the company’s “second quarter financial results were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Net revenue and Adjusted EBITDA declined 34.5% and 93.1%, respectively, as compared to the prior year. Advertising net revenue throughout the quarter, however, “experienced sequential improvement,” Wilson reports. “Together with our Live Events, net revenue has experienced the brunt of the negative business impact.” To Wilson’s point, one second quarter highlight is that, compared to the second quarter of 2019, Live Events net revenue decreased 99.5%. Wilson observes that by the end of the second quarter, “Advertising net revenue had materially improved, from -42.1% in April to -29.6% in June and continued to show improvement through July and early-August.” Townsquare Interactive added approximately 900 net subscribers, ending the quarter with approximately 20,750 subscribers, with Wilson commenting, “Townsquare Interactive’s growth continued in the second quarter, with net revenue increasing 10.5%, at an Adjusted Operating Income margin in excess of 30%, marking the ninth consecutive quarter of 850 (or more) net subscriber additions. During this pandemic, the Townsquare Interactive team became a tremendous resource for their local clients by strengthening online presence and capabilities and powering their online communication strategy. Our thesis has always been, that Townsquare Interactive is a recession-resistant subscription business and will continue to grow its revenue and subscriber base throughout the year.” Wilson explains that Townsquare Media “enacted approximately $1.7 million of monthly fixed cost savings during the second quarter, in addition to the reduction of variable costs related to the decline in revenue, which led to total direct operating expenses declining 14.8%, compared to the prior year. In addition, we have reduced our planned capital expenditures, which declined 30% in the second quarter compared to the prior year. Our board of directors elected to cease paying our quarterly dividend moving forward. Even with all the challenges and unknowns during this pandemic, we have not had to alter our core strategy. Instead, the pandemic placed a spotlight on the need to double-down on executing our existing long term strategy. We believe our ‘Local First’ strategy, together with our talented team and diversified and differentiated product offering, ensures that Townsquare will emerge from this crisis well-positioned for the future. Although a very tough Q2, we believe our revenue, profit and cash flow results will be among the best in the radio – as well as in the local media – industry.”
Why Are “You” Voting? That’s the simple question iHeartMedia is putting forth to listeners, cultural influencers, athletes, and musicians. It’s in advance of the November election, of course, when – in addition to the presidential contest – Americans will be voting for 35 Senate seats and all 435 House of Representative seats. Soundbites start today (Monday, 8/10) and run until Election Day (11/3). President of iHeartMedia entertainment enterprises John Sykes states, “With voter turnout expected to hit record numbers, ‘Why I’m Voting’ presents a rare opportunity for people of all backgrounds and beliefs to have their voices heard by millions of their fellow Americans before we cast our votes.” Listeners can record/submit their own 20 second or less audio or video message. Meanwhile, also debuting today (8/10) and running through Election Day is iHeartMedia’s longer-form “Why I’m Voting” podcast, which will feature conversations with a wide-range of celebrities on why/how this year’s election will shape our future. The podcast will showcase personal stories behind why voting means so much for our nation. The “Why Are You Voting” series of soundbites will air on iHeartMedia’s 850+ broadcast radio stations in 160 markets, podcasts, social media platforms, and the iHeartRadio app.
Podcast Ad Spending to Surpass $1 Billion Next Year. That forecast further predicts that more than one in five digital radio ad dollars will go toward podcasts. By the end of this year, podcast ad spending in the United States will reach $782 million, up 10.4% from last year, giving it a 21% share of the US digital radio ad market. Spending is expected to jump nearly 45% next year to $1.13 billion. Insider Intelligence eMarketer forecasting director Shelleen Shum comments, “Growth in podcast advertising spend will be more resilient this year relative to digital radio advertising as a whole, which will see double-digit declines. The continued growth in podcast advertising is no surprise, as investments have made podcasts accessible to a wider audience. The news genre, a focus of many podcast advertisers, has performed well during the pandemic. While some ad campaigns were paused due to the uncertainty from COVID-19 lockdowns, we expect a rebound in Q3 and Q4. One key challenge in podcast advertising is the lack of uniformity in measurement. [The Interactive Advertising Bureau] has released a set of guidelines to establish a common set of ad metrics for podcasts, which should bring some standardization to the industry and give advertisers more confidence.” This year, 105.6 million people in the US will listen to podcasts, the first time podcast listening will surpass 100 million.
KYW Silences Familiar Sound. Owing to pandemic-related budget cuts, a number of well-known voices on spoken-word and music-intensive formats across the country have been eased off the air. A longtime fixture at Entercom Philadelphia’s KYW “News Radio 1060” is gone, but it had nothing to do with the bottom line or COVID-19 – and it isn’t a human. The station has eliminated the teletype sound effect that – for decades – has been played underneath its news broadcasts. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, KYW program director/brand manager Alex Silverman remarks to The Philadelphia Inquirer, “They stopped making the ribbons for the trusty teletype in 1986 and our supply finally ran out; so, old reliable is out of commission until further notice.” To that, co-owned WIP “Sports Radio 94” brand manager Spike Eskin mocks in a tweet, “Just excuses again from Alex Silverman. Are we to believe he couldn’t find a new one on Ebay, or simulate the sound somehow? Does he think we are fools?” On a more serious note, Silverman states, “As technology has evolved over the years, so has KYW. The sound of the station should reflect the modern, nimble, multi-platform news organization we’ve become.” KYW has recently updated its jingle and logo. Entercom’s other top ten market news and news-talk hybrids include: WCBS-AM and WINS, New York City; KNX, Los Angeles; WBBM-AM & WCFS-FM, Chicago; KCBS-AM, San Francisco; and KRLD-AM, Dallas.
Leadership Training Program Accepting 2021 Applications. Designed to prepare senior-level broadcasters to advance into ownership or executive positions, the NAB’s Broadcast Leadership Training (BLT) program is accepting applications through August 19 for next year’s session. BLT program founder and dean/ ShootingStar Broadcasting founder, president, chief executive officer Diane Sutter states, “As we transition to a hybrid online and in-person model, we look forward to expanding the reach of the Broadcast Leadership Training program. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we cultivate the next class of diverse industry leaders and equip them with the knowledge and training to advance their careers.” As it moves into its 21st year, this executive MBA-style program teaches the fundamentals of purchasing, owning, and operating radio and television stations to senior-level broadcast professionals. All education sessions planned through the end of 2020 will be held online, with the starting gathering to be held next month (9/24 – 25). Broadcast professionals from all areas of the industry, including general managers, sales managers and department heads, as well as regional and corporate executives, are encouraged to apply. Fellowship opportunities are available for women and people of color. The complete schedule will be made available in early-October.
TALKERS News Notes. Starting one week from today (Monday, 8/17) and lasting through next Thursday (8/20), ABC News Radio is set to cover this year’s Democratic National Convention and plans to do the same the following week (8/24 – 27) for the Republican National Convention. Aaron Katersky and Karen Travers will anchor; Alex Stone, Ryan Burrow, and Jim Ryan are slated to serve as reporters; and Steve Roberts joins for analysis. Multiple one-minute “Status Reports” will air each night, as will the network’s daily Brad Mielke-hosted podcast, “Start Here.” Meanwhile, each day during the conventions, the Karl & Klein-hosted podcast “Powerhouse Politics” will release special editions featuring interviews and analysis … Former iHeartMedia Jacksonville senior vice president of programming Tommy BoDean joins Cumulus Media as operations manager of its four-station Melbourne (Florida) cluster, which includes sports talk WLZR “1560 The Fan.” Cumulus Media regional vice president Pete DeSimone comments, “I am really excited Tommy is joining the Cumulus Melbourne team. He’s going to make an immediate impact – and at a time [when] programming and operational leadership are critical.” BoDean adds, “The world we live in is changing every minute; radio has not just an opportunity, but an obligation, to get plugged in and help. Now is the perfect time to step into a role that both challenges and excites me every day.” In addition to his OM duties for WLZR and classic rock WROK “95.9 The Rocket,” BoDean will be the day-to-day program director for CHR WAOA “107.1 A1A” and country WHKR “102.7 Nash FM.” He previously was operations manager for iHeartMedia Cincinnati and programmed Nashville CHR WNFN “Hot 106.7.” … Effective today (Monday, 8/10), Bustos Media Tucson’s KVOI “AM 1030 The Voice” adds “The Joe Walsh Show” to its weeknight (7:00 pm – 9:00 pm) lineup and shifts “Our American Stories with Lee Habeeb,” which had been in that slot, to 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm … Twenty-year Spokane television and radio journalist Teresa Lukens will return to Morgan Murphy Media Spokane’s KXLY-AM “920 News Now” next Monday (8/17) as morning drive co-host. After three years as a reporter on KXLY-TV’s “Good Morning Northwest,” Lukens transitioned to radio as morning host on co-owned KXLY-FM “Classy 99.9 FM” and then as news anchor on KXLY-AM. Lukens left KXLY-TV in 2010 and hosted “Health Matters” on Spokane public television outlet KSPS.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Every Friday this month, iHeartMedia San Antonio joins forces with San Antonio Metro Health for the “Friday Night Virtual Dance Party” (7:00 – 7:30 pm). Participating stations within the iHM cluster include adult contemporary KQXT “Q-101.9”; CHR KXXM “96.1 Now;” country KAJA “KJ-7″; and Spanish contemporary KZEP “104.5 Latino Hits.” According to iHeartMedia San Antonio senior vice president of programming Jason McCollim, “There is nothing like the power of music. [We] are excited to partner with our friends at San Antonio Metro Health for ‘Friday Night Virtual Dance Party’ [and] look forward to raising our community spirit during these challenging times – all while abiding by the state’s safety guidelines to fight the COVID-19 virus.” Mayor Ron Nirenberg notes, “We want to send an encouraging and positive message to San Antonio to keep doing the things that make our city great, but do them in a safe way so we can continue to stop the spread.” … A country music special hosted by four-time Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan is among several, three-hour ABC Audio Labor Day weekend specials. “Luke Bryan: Born Here Live Here Die Here” takes listeners through each song on Bryan’s new album, which has produced three #1 singles. “Labor Day Rock Salute: Frontline Edition – From Speakeasy” honors frontline workers who stepped up during COVID-19. Hosted by ABC Audio’s Matt Wolfe, the special features hits from artists including ZZ Top, Alice Cooper, and Stevie Nicks. Top rock artists will also share what they’ve been up to during lockdown. Meanwhile, the Aaron Katersky-hosted news special “How America Works Now” explores how people are coping through the pandemic. It questions what the future of American life and labor may look like, and puts a spotlight on those adapting to the new normal … “CMT After MidNite with Cody Alan” takes over 12:00 midnight – 5:00 am duties in Santa Rosa, California on Amaturo Sonoma Media Group-owned KFGY “Froggy 92.9 Today’s Country.” Alan comments, “Our show is excited to be a part of the ‘Froggy 92.9’ lineup. We already feel like part of the ‘Froggy’ family. I can’t wait to get to Sonoma for a visit to wine country.” Amaturo Sonoma Media Group vice president of programming and operations Jim Murphy notes, “Cody creates unique, multiplatform content that really resonates with country fans; we couldn’t be happier to welcome him to the ‘Froggy’ family. The station’s revised lineup includes: Amber & Tanner (5:00 am – 10:00 am); Jenn (10:00 am – 3:00 pm); Dano (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm); Lia (7:00 pm – 12:00 midnight); and “CMT After MidNite with Cody Alan” (12:00 midnight – 5:00 am) … Former four-year wakeup duo at Hubbard Broadcasting St. Louis’ WIL “New Country 92.3, Bud Ford and Jerry Broadway (“Bud & Broadway”), sign with Houston-based SuiteRadio for morning show syndication, gearing up for next month’s start (9/7). The show will be represented on a market exclusive basis by Colbert Media Group. Prior to exiting WIL this past May, “Bud & Broadway” worked in Tulsa and Dothan, Alabama.
Entercom Buys Francesa App; Folds it in to RADIO.com. The digital platform RADIO.com is now the place where WFAN, New York sports talk personality Mike Francesa’s digital content can be found. Entercom announces via the RADIO.com site that “that Francesa is taking his talents to RADIO.com, and he’s bringing all of his streaming content with him. Francesa’s ‘Mike’s On’ will close on Oct. 1, with his WFAN show; his podcasts and other branded media will migrate exclusively to the RADIO.com app.” Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley says, “Mike Francesa is a legend and we are beyond thrilled to bring more Mike to RADIO.com. Mike has some of the most loyal, engaged fans in all of sports, thanks to his unique ability to build a broad audience with must-listen, highly compelling audio content, always calling it like it is. The ability to tap into Mike’s immediate, live reactions to the biggest moments in sports, combined with the vast library of audio and video content this deal brings to the platform, further cement RADIO.com as one of the leading digital audio platforms in the U.S. for creators, audiences, and advertisers alike.” According to a report by Max Willens in Digiday about the move, the Mike’s On app never really hit the critical mass necessary to survive on its own. He writes, “Since its launch, Mike’s On has accumulated a small cluster of subscribers, though new downloads have slowed to a crawl over the past few months, with the app driving fewer than a thousand downloads a month in each of the past four months, according to Apptopia. That audience pales in comparison to the Radio.com app audience, which has been averaging over 230,000 downloads per month over the same period, also per Apptopia.”
WGST, Atlanta Adds New Programming; Re-Brands as ‘640 FOX News Radio.’ New programs added to the lineup on iHeartMedia’s WGST-AM, Atlanta include the Westwood One-syndicated Ben Shapiro show and Mark Levin show, as well as the Key Networks-syndicated “Bill O’Reilly Update” as the station re-brands as “AM 640, Atlanta’s Home of FOX News Radio.” iHeartMedia says, “AM 640, Atlanta’s Home of FOX News Radio, will feature top national hosts including Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Ben Shapiro, Mark Levin, Buck Sexton, Michael Savage and George Noory. Listeners can tune in to hear the latest FOX News at the top and bottom of every hour, as well as frequent traffic/weather reports and local news updates from the Georgia News Network. “This Morning with Gordon Deal,” from Compass Media Networks, is airing in morning drive. The station will also provide around-the-clock news coverage online on the station’s website as well as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook via @640FoxNewsATL.” Station program director Dan Hunt adds, “We are ecstatic to welcome Bill O’Reilly, Ben Shapiro, Mark Levin and all the new voices to Atlanta’s Home of FOX News Radio. With a massive 50,000 watt AM signal and unmatched digital distribution, we are confident that AM 640 will establish itself as a successful news/talk brand in Atlanta”
Bustos Media Tweaks Lineup on KVOI, Tucson. News/talk KVOI, Tucson was acquired by Bustos Media from Doug and Mary Martin’s Good News Communications last fall. Now, the company announces some programming changes to “AM-1030 KVOI The Voice.” Station operations manager Ray Ingegneri says, “When we sat down and looked at the lineup we wanted to keep the local component, but we also wanted to bring a mix of news, business and lifestyle shows, hoping to attract listeners who may be turned off by other offerings in the market.” Syndicated additions to the KVOI lineup include: “America In The Morning”; Good Day Networks’ “On Air with Doug, Jen and Victoria” from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. The station expands its carriage of the Dave Ramsey show to 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. It adds Compass Media Networks’ “Lars Larson Show” to the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot and adds American Private Radio’s “Our American Stories” in the 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot. Late nights and over nights include GCN’s “America Tonight” with Kate Delaney, Westwood One’s Jim Bohannon show and Salem Radio Networks’ Hugh Hewitt show. CBS News and Bloomberg Market Minute Updates are being added to the bottom of each hour. Bustos Media president and CEO Amador Bustos adds, “With this programming change we strive to provide our Tucson audience the best possible talk format and most relevant local news coverage.”
PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from the July 2019 Nielsen Audio PPM survey, today focusing on news/talk radio. Comparing weekly 6+ AQH share data from June to July, about the same number of news/talk stations saw their ratings go up as saw their numbers go down. Year-over-year, 51% of the stations on our panel were down while 36% improved, led by Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM, Washington (+1.6) and iHeartMedia’s WOAI, San Antonio (+1.5). Two news/talk stations ranked #1 in their respective markets (6+) in July: Townsquare Media’s WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” (6.9 share) and Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM, Jacksonville (8.0 share). See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.
TALKERS News Notes. Portland news/talk KEX adds the Premiere Networks-syndicated Buck Sexton show in the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm slot. The show follows the local Mark Mason show and leads into the syndicated Michael Berry program…..As the NFL gets ready to begin its 100th season, Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is kicking off its 33rd consecutive season as the league’s exclusive network radio partner. The season begins with Thursday night’s Packers-Bears game and Westwood One Sports’ Monday night team of Kevin Harlan and Hall of Famer and NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner will call the action. To commemorate the league’s 100th season, Westwood One is producing original programming, including a 100-part short-form series titled, “NFL 100,” that will air Monday through Friday each day throughout the season…..Entercom is presenting a two-hour live, commercial-free broadcast special called, “I’m Listening,” to raise awareness around mental health and mark the start of National Suicide Prevention Week. As part of the company’s multiplatform, yearlong “I’m Listening” campaign, the progam will air nationwide on Sunday, September 8 at 7:00 am across more than 235 stations and via each station’s livestream on RADIO.com in their respective time zones. Entercom chief programming officer Pat Paxton says, “Mental health and suicide prevention are year-round initiatives at Entercom and we are doing our part to end the stigma by encouraging people to talk. Like millions of others, my family has been impacted by mental health issues and the effect it has on friends and families is devastating. ‘I’m Listening’ is when our vast network of radio stations and digital platforms unite on the same day, at the same time, to ultimately save lives. If we help just one person, our time will have been well spent.”…..Hubbard Radio’s WMEN-AM, West Palm Beach re-brands, transitioning from the “640 The Hurricane” moniker to “FOX Sports South Florida.”…..GCN nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs has been a force in helping to get the majority of governors in the U.S. to unite in declaring September 5 Blood Donation Day to help blood banks during National Blood Donation Week (September 2-9).
Hurricane Dorian, Immigration Policy, 2020 Presidential Race, Deadly Dive Boat Fire, Brexit, and Kevin Hart Car Crash Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Holiday Weekend. The status of Hurricane Dorian and the destruction it’s leveled on the Bahamas; the Trump Administration’s immigration policies and treatment of children of migrants; the Democrats hoping to challenge President Trump in 2020; the California dive boat fire that killed 25; the political chaos in Britain over Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy; and comic Kevin Hart’s car accident were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
KOZN, Omaha Broadcasts from Casino on First Day of Legal Sports Betting. Pictured above are “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” personalities John Bishop and Josh Peterson interviewing Caesars Entertainment VP and general manager Samir Mowad as KOZN, Omaha “1620 The Zone” broadcast from Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa on the first day of legalized sports betting.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Columbia, South Carolina, Cumulus Media’s urban contemporary WLXC “KISS 103.1” is launching “The Chubb Rock Show with SiMan Baby” in afternoon drive. The show is hosted by Chubb Rock and SiMan Baby. Station program director Robyn Simone says, “Chubb Rock has the perfect star power ‘KISS 103.1’ listeners will love in afternoon drive. Not over the top, but just enough that our listeners will appreciate not only his legendary hip hop status, but also his commitment to radio. Chubb Rock reminds us why we fell in love with radio in the first place by entertaining, challenging those community issues, and bringing back the love for the music!”…..Beasley closes on its acquisition of urban contemporary WDMK, Detroit “105.9 Kiss FM.” It bought the FM signal and three translators from Urban One for $13.5 million…..“The Ace & TJ Show” and its charity, Radio Family Charity, are beginning to solicit donations in anticipation of damage to the Eastern Seaboard from Hurricane Dorian. The show says “the needs of Hurricane Dorian will last for months and we are seeking donations from radio audiences around the world. Tax deductible donations will be accepted through AceTJ.com or RadioFamilyCharity.org.”
Joe Walsh Says He’ll Challenge Trump for GOP Nomination. As teased on Friday (8/23), former Illinois GOP congressman and talk radio host Joe Walsh officially announced on Sunday that he will begin a GOP primary campaign to challenge President Trump for the GOP nomination. Walsh hosts the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight program on the Salem Radio Network. It’s not clear right now when he’ll leave his radio show, but it’s a safe bet it will be very soon. As a politically conservative broadcasting company, the SRN and Salem Media Group brass can’t be thrilled about Walsh’s decision. However, conventional wisdom says Walsh has no chance to take the nomination from Trump since the president enjoys overwhelming support from Republicans. TALKERS founder Michael Harrison, weighing in on the syndicated host’s announcement states, “The extraordinary amount of press surrounding this development illustrates just how powerful talk media has become during the age of Trump. We all know that talk radio and cable news/talk TV have been consistently influential platforms in the post-Fairness Doctrine decades. However, the sheer measurable power this bubbling influence has amassed in the age of Trump is jaw dropping to say the least. Regardless of your opinion of Donald Trump, the fact that the president of the United States is a huge talk media fan and constantly demonstrates it through his use of social media, shout-outs, and political appointments has been the most significant booster rocket imaginable in elevating talk media beyond junior status to equal-if-not-greater influence and prestige as the so-called mainstream media. Look at the amount of attention his tweets garnered for Wayne Allyn Root last week. The fact that Joe Walsh – a radio talk show host with a microscopically short resume of elective service – could get so much more coverage than former governors William Weld and Mark Sanford sends an important message. Radio and TV talk personalities are, in a growing number of cases, on the same level as major elected officials. In an industry where anecdotal qualitative influence is every bit as important as murky quantitative metrics, everyone in the talk business owes a debt of gratitude to President Trump. All I can say is, Mr. President, ‘Keep listening and watching!’” Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated FOX News had ignored the story. Actually, FOX News published this story on Sunday and devoted reports on FOX News Channel to the story.
Neal Boortz Ends WSB-AM, Atlanta Commentary. Six years after retiring from his daily radio talk show, radio legend Neal Boortz does his last commentary feature for his old flagship station WSB-AM/WSBB-FM. In his final piece for the station, Boortz says he looks forward to paying less attention to the news because he believes the country is headed for disaster due to young people knowing more about LGBTQ history than American history. He says, “I’m going to just enjoy my friends, family and my travels while the rest of you see if you can pull this country back from the brink.” Hear his commentary here.
LaDona Harvey Re-Ups with KOGO, San Diego. Longtime station personality LaDona Harvey signs a new contract with iHeartMedia’s news/talk KOGO, San Diego to continue as morning personality through 2022. Harvey served as news anchor and then midday talk host before being partnered with Ted Garcia in morning drive in 2014. Station program director Brian Long says, “When we re-launched Newsradio 600 KOGO, it was clear that LaDona had the versatility needed to shift from a popular local news/talk host to become a strong morning news personality without missing a beat. LaDona and Ted Garcia together every morning share a chemistry that connects with San Diegans and serves to entertain and inform KOGO listeners every weekday morning.”
New Affiliate Stations for ‘Our American Stories.’ The nationally syndicated “Our American Stories” radio program announces the program is being added to the program schedules at stations including: iHeartMedia’s KHOW, Denver; Bustos Media’s KVOI, Tucson; American General Media’s KVEC, San Luis Obispo; Entercom’s KNSS-AM/FM, Wichita; and Kensington Digital Media’s WRSW-AM, Warsaw, Indiana. Lee Habeeb is host of the program and CEO of American Private Radio, producer and syndicator of the show. Habeeb comments that he’s “grateful for the new markets and the opportunity to bring more listeners together in a positive listening environment. These stations, along with our 210 other affiliate partners are a testament that listeners want more than just political talk. They want a positive experience that radio does really well, which is just what ‘Our American Stories’ delivers.
Ken Lagana Named EVP of Digital Sales for Entercom. Digital sales executive Ken Lagana is appointed to the newly created position of executive vice president of digital sales for Entercom, effective September 10. Lagana was most recently head of sales and marketing for podcast technology firm Megaphone. In this new role, Lagana will lead sales strategy for the company’s digital business, including RADIO.COM, and its newest podcast acquisitions – Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios. Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley says, “I have known Ken a long time and have immense respect for the large digital businesses he’s helped build. Ken has an incredible reputation in the industry for creating innovative programs at scale that solve challenges for marketers. We’re excited to welcome him to the team as we continue to help shape the rapidly growing digital audio marketplace.”
Envision and Radio PA State Network Partner for Sports Report. This partnership between Envision Networks and Radio PA State Network will result in EnvisionVirtualServices Sports Reports being distributed to more than 50 radio stations throughout the Keystone State. The feature his presented by sports reporter Andrew Scaglione who delivers twice-daily reports (and one report on Saturday). Scaglione says, “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has such a rich sports history spanning from the high school level all the way up to the pros. It’s a privilege to provide daily sports reports to stations around the state and keep folks up to date on Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, State College, Williamsport, and everywhere in between.”
Monday Memo: YouTube Tweaks. YouTube is a powerful platform and it’s real crowded. Every second, one hour of video is uploaded. If you just “throw something up there,” you’re probably not capitalizing on the benefits of YouTube. Consultant Holland Cooke suggests that before your video joins that torrent, take a look at some valuable tips here.
U.S.-China Trade War/G7 Summit, Hong Kong Protests, Joe Walsh to Challenge Trump in Primary/2020 Presidential Race, Israel Strikes Iranian Targets, and Andrew Luck Retires from NFL Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The tariff battle between the U.S. and China, the world’s financial markets’ reactions to them, and the meetings that took place at the G7 in France over the weekend; the protests against Chinese aggression in Hong Kong; talk host and former congressman Joe Walsh announces his Republican presidential bid and the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; the Israeli military strikes against Iranian targets near Damascus, Syria; and the shocking retirement from pro football by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Forever Media to Buy Lebanon, Pennsylvania Duo. The stations – news/talk WLBR-AM and adult contemporary WQIC-FM “Soft Rock 100.1” – are being sold by family-owned Lebanon Broadcasting Company to Forever Media. The deal gives Forever 64 stations in 11 markets. Lebanon president Lynn Deppen says, “WLBR/WQIC has been in the Etter family for over 70 years. Since my sons have independent careers, I made the decision to sell to Forever Media. Forever Media is an excellent company consisting of community-oriented radio stations. They empower local managers with key decision-making authority and encourage local community interests to be a factor in any decision.” Greg Guy of Patrick Communications represented the seller in this deal.
Barr Bids Buck Bon Voyage. Pictured above is Premiere Networks personality Buck Sexton (left) with U.S. Attorney General William Barr (right) at Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC. last Thursday night (8/22). Sexton, host of “The Buck Sexton Show,” had an impromptu going away celebration at the hotel as he leaves Washington to move to New York City. Barr made an appearance to wish Sexton well as he returns to his home state.
TALKERS News Notes. Sports media personality Josh Innes is launching a podcast. The former KBME, Houston and WIP, Philadelphia sports talk host tells Forbes’ Jonathan Berr that he intends to target sports fans in Philly and Houston with separate shows for each market. He says he understands that there are a ton of podcasts out there and that compared to big stations, he’s a small business. He says he plans to target local advertisers who can’t afford to advertise on major market radio stations…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Vivianne Linou is promoted to executive producer of WGN, Chicago’s Steve Cochran morning show. The Tribune Broadcasting station promoted Mary Sandberg Boyle from that position to director of news and operations back in May. Linou joined WGN as a producer back in March after having previously served with Entercom’s crosstown all-news WBBM-AM/WFCS-FM…..Alpha Media’s Portland sports talk KXTG-AM drops the FM translator simulcast of its programming. The station signaled the end of the broadcast on K275CH with the re-branding of its social media accounts that eliminate the 102.9 FM frequency…..Saga Communications swaps FM translators as a simulcast of news/talk WGAN-AM, Portland. It goes from W288CU, PORTLAND at 105.5 FM to W253DA at 98.5 FM…..ESPN launches a new college football podcast featuring lead analysts Kirk Herbstreit and David Pollack plus SportsCenter’s Kevin Negandhi. The “ESPN College Football Podcast- Herbie & Pollack” publish three times per week through the season with Negandhi hosting all episodes. Herbstreit will co-host on Mondays and Pollack will do so on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. West Palm Beach country outlet WIRK names Moriah Daniels midday personality. Daniels began her radio career eight years ago as an intern for the then-CBS Radio station, now owned and operated by Hubbard Radio. WIRK operations manager and brand/content director Bruce Logan states, “As a program director, there is nothing better than inheriting great talent! When I started the search to transition ‘New Country 103.1’ from a voice-tracked show to a live and local show in West Palm Beach, I was thrilled to find Moriah sitting mere feet from my office dutifully serving our sales team. She expressed interest, I went through the entire search process and in the end, there was no one I’d rather have as WIRK’s At-Work host.”…..Air personality Pat Gallagher returns to the Madison market to assume the morning show duties on Mid-West Family’s alternative WRIS “The Resistance.” Company VP of programming Randy Hawke says, “Pat helped define alternative music in Madison. It’s so important to have him here and be a part of it.” Gallagher worked in alternative radio in Madison for 27 years before joining Mid-West Family Madison for a brief time then heading to WCNR, Charlottesville, Virginia to do mornings…..Radio personality and doo wop enthusiast Ron Farber appeared on WMTR-AM, Morristown, New Jersey over the weekend as guest and co-host on the station’s “Doo Wop Drive” program from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm on August 23. It was a homecoming of sorts as Faber hosted the Friday night doo wop show from 2005 through 2008…..Air talent Scotty Kay joins the new morning program at Entercom’s country WUSN, Chicago. Kay was most recently on air at Cumulus Media’s CHR KLIF-FM, Dallas “HOT 93.3.” He joins morning show hosts Katie Bright, Jason Pullman, and Erin Creedon on the program…..In Los Angeles, Doug “Sluggo” Roberts is named assistant program director and music director for classic rock KLOS. Roberts currently hosts weekend programs on SiriusXM’s “1St Wave” and “Lithium” channels. He’s also worked at alternative KROQ and adult hits KABC-FM in Los Angeles.
And the (Topical) Hits Just Keep on Coming – Stay focused on China! Although the news itself can hardly be called “good,” news/talk radio continues to be the beneficiary of a non-stop tsunami of intensely compelling topics playing out on multiple tracks that has kept the format a major appointment destination for news junkies as well as people with a casual interest in current events. According to TALKERS research, yesterday’s (8/13) most-discussed topic remained the mysterious and controversial death of Jeffrey Epstein (which it has been all week) followed closely by the economic implications of the US-China trade war. The Hong Kong protests have generated enormous interest and people are still extremely engrossed in the Dayton/El Paso shootings which have spawned opinions and analysis of gun control legislation, violence in American entertainment and the nation’s handling of mental illness. According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “It appears that talk show hosts would be wise to stay focused on China and educate themselves to every aspect of its Communist government’s relentless strategy to compete with US interests on all fronts going forward from a position of unfair trade practices to outright hostility for what will likely be years to come.”
Arizona Coyotes Now Skating With KGME. As part of a multi-platform broadcast and streaming agreement between iHeartMedia Phoenix and the Arizona Coyotes, iHM sports talk KGME “Fox Sports 910” takes over as the NHL team’s principal radio outlet. Additionally, the Arizona Coyotes Audio Network will provide exclusive content via the iHeartRadio app (when the NHL season starts on October 3). Coyotes’ games were previously carried by Bonneville Phoenix-owned KMVP-FM “Arizona Sports 98.7.” According to iHeartMedia Phoenix market president Linda Little, “The entire team at iHeartMedia is excited to be the new home for the Arizona Coyotes, especially at such an exciting time for the team. Working together, we will build our all-in agreement between the Arizona Coyotes and ‘Fox Sports 910’ across our entire iHeartMedia platform of well-known audio brands in Phoenix and on our iHeartRadio app.” The Coyotes were recently acquired by California-based Meruelo Group, whose holdings include Meruelo Media. Coyotes president and chief executive officer Ahron Cohen comments, “We are thrilled to partner with ‘Fox Sports 910.’ As we strive to build and cultivate new Coyotes fans, this multi-dimensional partnership – including iHeartMedia’s multitude of media platforms – provides us with unparalleled touchpoints to a broad cross-section of the Valley’s population. Equally important is iHeart’s ability to deliver an exceptional fan entertainment experience for all of our robust Coyotes content that will enhance our fans’ connectivity to the team.” Play-by-play announcer Bob Heethuis will return for his 15th season with the team and Paul Bissonnette will be back as analyst. All 82 regular-season games will air on “Fox Sports 910” and simulcast on Tucson sibling KTZR “Fox Sports 1450 AM.”
KOZN Prepares Severe Homecoming. Host of “The Bottom Line” on SummitMedia-owned sports talk KXSP “AM 590 ESPN Omaha,” Mike’l Severe, returns to cross-town NRG Media’s similarly-formatted KOZN “1620 “The Zone” tomorrow (Thursday, 8/15) after a five-year absence. Severe and Damon Benning will form “Severe and Benning in the Morning” (6:00 am – 10:00 am). NRG Omaha market manager Mark Shecterle comments that University of Nebraska football national champion Benning and local radio/television sports personality Severe “will offer listeners a new blend of morning sports radio. They will be able to give listeners an intense focus on all local sports. We are excited to bring back Mike’l Severe to the NRG family.” Former morning show co-host Gary Sharp transitions to mid-days (10:00 am – 2:00 pm) replacing Nick Bahe. Shecterle notes that Sharp will have “the platform to fully exhibit his expertise in sports analysis and his legendary interviewing skills. Gary has deserved his own show for a while and we are thrilled that he will be anchoring our mid-day slot. By moving [Sharp] to mid-days, we truly believe we have a sports-talk line-up second to none.” John Bishop and Josh Peterson-hosted “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” continues in afternoon drive (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm), while Nebraska football post game show, “Big Red Over Reaction,” will be simulcast on KOZN’s classic rock cluster-mate KOOO “101.9 The Keg.”
iHM Wheeling/Parkersburg Boosts Bommer to MP. The onetime vice president of business operations for the Wheeling Nailers, Craig Bommer, is named market president for iHeartMedia’s West Virginia stations in Wheeling and Parkersburg. Region president for iHeartMedia Pittsburgh and West Virginia Tim McAleer states, “I am excited for Craig to lead and demonstrate his leadership capabilities as market president by helping to grow each market’s revenue.” Bommer remarks, “This opportunity is a new and exciting challenge in my career path. I look forward to working with everyone to help build upon the success each market has achieved.” The West Liberty University alum began his career at iHeartMedia in 2016 as senior vice president of sales for the company’s Wheeling and Parkersburg stations. Those outlets include: news/talk WWVA “News Radio 1170”; news/talk WLTP “News Radio 910”; sports talk WBBD “Fox Sports AM 1400 Wheeling”; WEGW “Eagle 107.5 The Rock Station”; adult contemporary WKWK “Mix 97.3”; WOVK “Country 98.7”; CHR WVKF “Kiss 95.7”; classic hits-oldies WDMX “Mix 100”; WNUS “Country 107”; and CHR WRVB “102 The River.”
TALKERS News Notes. After working at Premiere Networks the past 21 years, senior director of affiliate sales Tom Garrett departs. Garrett previously programmed in Rockford (Illinois) at WROK & WZOK. In addition he was responsible for non-traditional revenue event marketing for Connoisseur’s Rockford and Quad Cities (Illinois-Iowa) stations ….. The relationship between afternoon drive talent George Plaster and Ryman Hospitality Properties’ WSM-AM, Nashville has come to an end after one month. In a tweet sent out yesterday (Tuesday, 8/13), Plaster writes, “Sorry to pass this [a]long, but I have parted ways with WSM-AM. My intention is to begin a podcast with a target around Labor Day. Thanks to all of you who supported us.” Plaster hosted “Sports Night” shows in Nashville on sports talk stations WGFX “104.5 The Zone” and WPRT “102.5 The Game,” as well as WWTN “Super Talk 99.7.” He took a break from radio three years ago but joined WSM-AM in 2017 for a weekend program; Plaster’s weekday effort commenced July 15 ….. Brand manager/morning host of Townsquare Media Bangor (Maine) sports talk WEZQ “92.9 The Ticket,” Dale Duff, will segue to 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm, effective next Monday (8/19). Duff makes room for Wayne Harvey’s 6:00 am – 8:00 am “Morning Line.” Harvey has worked at Bangor stations WABI-TV and WZON-AM “The Zone.”
The Return of the Pitch Pod. For the second straight year, attendees of “Podcast Movement 2019” can venture inside CUMULUS MEDIA’s Westwood One “Pitch Pod” and tell their story for a chance to win consultative services from the Westwood One Podcast Network. This mini-studio is located in the main hallway of the conference. The Podcast Movement kicked off yesterday (Tuesday, 8/13) and runs through this Friday (8/16) in Orlando at Rosen Shingle Creek.
Urban One, Smith Slapped with Sexual Harassment Suit. On the same day “Hurricane” Dave Smith exited as Radio One Atlanta’s vice president of programming/operations, former urban contemporary WHTA “Hot 107.9” on-air personality Feleg Abraham (using the air name Shorty Mack) filed a lawsuit in the (Georgia) state court of Fulton County alleging multiple instances of sexual harassment by her then-boss (Smith). After working at “Hot 107.9” for 14 months, Abraham left in February 2018 and now does mid-days for Davis Broadcasting Columbus, Georgia urban contemporary WFXE “Foxie 105.” Radio One parent, Urban One regional vice president Timothy Davies last week declined to comment about Smith’s dismissal; however, in a published report last Monday (8/5), Smith claims he was terminated owing to “a misunderstanding.” Urban One executive vice president/chief administrative officer Karen Wishart states, “The allegations made by Feleg Abraham against Dave Smith, both former employees of Urban One, are unsettling. As a company founded by an African-American woman [Cathy Hughes] with a long history of empowering women in the workplace, Urban One takes these allegations very seriously. After Ms. Abraham left Urban One to take a new job, we were notified of her complaint and conducted a thorough, independent investigation. In light of the ongoing litigation, we cannot provide further comment on this matter.” Charges in Abraham’s lawsuit include intentional infliction of emotional distress by Smith; negligent infliction of emotional distress by Urban One; negligent hiring, retention, and supervision; assault and battery; and false imprisonment. The suit claims Smith made “unwanted sexual comments about Ms. Abraham’s body and would often ask her when he would be allowed to see her naked.” It references an incident that allegedly took place on May 22, 2017 in which Smith is said to have trapped Abraham in his office. As Rodney Ho reports in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, a statement regarding the lawsuit released yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, 8/13) by Smith reads, “This is an organized attempt by some former employees looking to capitalize on the #MeToo climate. I categorically deny these disgusting statements. I have no further comment.”
More Music Radio News and Career Moves. Music director and afternoon drive host of Entercom Miami classic hits-oldies WMXJ “102.7 The Beach,” DJ Holiday, adds even more responsibilities as assistant program director. Entercom South Florida senior vice president/market manager Keriann Worley explains, “This is a natural move for DJ Holiday and our station. DJ Holiday has grown up with this music and has an intimate knowledge of the market, having spent many nights spinning at Miami clubs. We’re thrilled to have him step up into the APD role and look forward to his increased contributions to the station’s success.” Holiday, who has been with “The Beach” since it debuted in 2016, opines, “There’s always something new to learn and room to grow professionally. I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my Entercom family for the opportunity to do so.” … KNDD “107.7 The End” mid-day talent “Alyssa” is promoted to music director at the Entercom Seattle alternative outlet. Program director Leslie Scott remarks that, “In her three years here, Alyssa has proven to be a huge music lover, a supporter of all things ‘107.7 The End,’ and a champion of the power of radio. I can think of no better team in alternative than ours and Alyssa’s new position reinforces that.” Alyssa notes, “It is an honor to be part of this incredible team. I’m looking forward to jumping into this role under the guidance of Leslie and [assistant program director/afternoon drive talent] Walt [Flakus].” … Effective this Friday (8/16), seven-month KXOJ “94.1 Tulsa’s Christian Music Station” evening show host Jeremiah St. James adds assistant program director duties at the Stephens Media Group contemporary Christian station. According to Stephens Media Group owner David Stephens, “Jeremiah is one of those rare talents whose potential seems limitless. He is forward-thinking and is more about where radio is going than where it has been.” SMG senior vice president of programming & technology/KXOJ program director Bob Thornton notes, “Jeremiah is a gifted imaging and branding specialist who is going to bring a tremendous amount of energy and new ideas to our building.” ….. Program director Caleb James exits NRG Media Omaha rhythmic CHR KOPW “Power 106.9” and hot AC KQKQ “Sweet 98.5.”
July 2019 PPM Data. July 2019 ratings information has been released for San Antonio, Sacramento, and Pittsburgh. Nielsen Audio’s July 2019 survey period covered June 20 – July 17. Managing editor Mike Kinosian (Kinosian@Talkers.com) provides his “Takeaways” from these three PPM-markets.
Spoken-Word Formats – The rollercoaster ride continues for iHeartMedia news/talk WOAI “News Radio 1200 – San Antonio’s News, Traffic, & Weather,” which was +1.1 in April (4.2 – 5.3, 6+); an equally divided -1.0 in May and June (5.3 – 4.8 – 4.3, 6+); and now +.7 in July (5.0, sixth to fifth, 6+). Up until April when it logged a 5.3, WOAI hadn’t reached the five-share level (6+) since August 2016’s 5.2. For the third month in a row, Alpha Media news/talk KTSA “Stay Connected” loses one-tenth (1.5 – 1.4 – 1.3 – 1.2 – 1.1, #22 to #24, 6+).
In June, KTSA’s sports talk sibling KZDC “ESPN San Antonio” and iHeartMedia’s KTKR “Ticket 760 – San Antonio’s Sports Station” were tied at #32. Both are flat at .3 (6+) and are again deadlocked – this time at #30.
This is the seventh report in a row Texas Public Radio news/talk KSTX (+.3, #16 to #12) logs a 6+-share between 3.3 – 3.7 (3.5 – 3.7 – 3.4 – 3.1 – 3.1 – 3.0 – 3.3, 6+).
San Antonio Music Formats – Roaring back from June’s one-half share loss with a July uptick of eight-tenths (3.8 – 4.6, 6+), Alpha Media adult hits KJXK “102.7 Jack-FM – Playing What We Want” returns to the top ten (#11 to #7). Prior to June – when it slipped to 3.8 – San Antonio’s version of “Jack” last fell below a four-share (6+) in “Holiday” 2018 (3.5). Enjoying a July 2019 jump of eight-tenths as well and zooming from #17 to #11 is iHeartMedia Spanish contemporary KZEP “104.5 Latino Hits,” which records its third bump in succession for a collective +1.4 (2.1 – 2.4 – 2.7 – 3.5, 6+). This (3.5) is the first time in exactly one year that “Latino Hits” hits a three-share (3.1, July 2018). Five successive negative or neutral trends resulted in a nearly 50% decline (-.6) of its 6+-stat (1.4 – 1.1 – 1.0 – .8 – .8 – .8, 6+), but iHeartMedia regional Mexican KQXT-HD3 answers with a gain of seven-tenths to 1.5 (#22, 6+). When Univision Radio rhythmic hot AC KVBH gained one-tenth in June (to 2.1, 6+), it suspended at four a consecutive string of negative or neutral moves that accounted for an overall -1.4 (3.4 – 3.1 – 3.1 – 2.9 – 2.0, 6+). “The Vibe” now adds another six-tenths to 2.7 (#20 to #16, 6+). In mid-April, Tejano KXTN transitioned to KVBH “The Vibe.” While Cox Media Group classic hits-oldies KONO-FM is the market pacesetter the fifth month in a row, “101.1 San Antonio’s Greatest Hits” erodes by -1.1 (8.2 – 7.1, 6+). Whereas May’s +1.1 took KONO-FM to 8.5, its highest 6+-stat since September 2018’s 8.8, July’s 7.1 is its lowest 6+-showing since 6.0 in “Holiday” 2018. “San Antonio’s Greatest Hits” had been in the runner-up slot five successive times before progressing to #1 in March. Significant alternating ups/down continue for Educational Media Foundation contemporary Christian KZLV. In the last four reports, San Antonio’s version of “Positive & Encouraging K-Love” has been +.5 (April); -1.0 (May); +1.5 (June); and now -1.2 in July (3.9 – 2.7, 6+). KZLV spirals from #10 to #16. Entering the July 2019 sweep, Alpha Media regional Mexican KSAH notched three straight positive or neutral trends netting nine-tenths (2.3 – 2.6 – 2.6 – 3.2, 6+). That entire increase drifts away with a -.9 to 2.3 (#13 to #19, 6+). June’s 3.2 was its best 6+-showing since November 2018 (3.3). Four consecutive up or flat trends by iHeartMedia CHR KXXM accounted for an overall gain of four-tenths (3.4 – 3.6 – 3.6 – 3.8 – 3.8, 6+) but “96.1 Now” (#11 to #14) falters by seven-tenths to 3.1, its lowest 6+-stat since December 2018 (3.1, as well). Within two-share range (6+) 19 sweeps in a row before dialing up a June gain of eight-tenths to 3.2 (6+), Univision Radio Spanish contemporary KMYO regresses by one-half share to 2.7 (#13 to #16, 6+). June’s 3.2 marked the first time since December 2017’s 3.0 that “Latino Mix 95.1” hit a three-share (6+). There’s just no separating Cox Media Group-owned KCYY “Y-100 San Antonio’s New Country Leader” and iHeartMedia’s KAJA “KJ-97 San Antonio’s #1 Country Station.” They both showed June decreases of two-tenths and now July losses of one-half share: KCYY is 7.2 – 6.9 – 6.4 (6+) and KAJA is 6.2 – 6.0 – 5.5 (6+). The country rivals are anchored at second and third, respectively. Recent shifts for “Y-100” include: -.8 (December); -1.1 (“Holiday” 2018); +1.8 (January 2019); +.6 (February); -.6 (March); +.6 (May); and -.5 (July). “KJ-97” has been +.5 (September 2018); -1.1 (October); +1.0 (December); -1.0 (“Holiday” 2018); +3.0 (January 2019); –1.9 (March); and -.5 (July).
Spoken-Word Formats – Immediately following an erosion of nine-tenths this time last month, iHeartMedia-owned news/talk KFBK “Sacramento’s News, Weather and Traffic Station” repeats its June 6+ AQH-share (5.2) and market rank (fifth). Co-owned KSTE “Talk 650” continues an alternating down/up pattern that commenced in December 2018 and includes July’s positive spike of seven-tenths (2.4 – 2.3 – 2.5 – 2.3 – 2.7 – 2.3 – 2.6 – 2.5 – 3.2 (#14 to #12, 6+).
In five consecutive sweeps without an increase, Bonneville’s KHTK lost exactly half (-.6) its 6+ AQH share (1.2 – 1.2 – .9 – .8 – .6 – .6, 6+), but “Sports 1140” ends the slide with a one-tenth gain to .7 (#26 to #23, 6+). It is now tied with Entercom’s KIFM-AM “ESPN Radio 1320,” which repeats June’s .7 (#24 to #23, 6+).
Albeit flat in seventh-place, Capital Public Radio news/talk KXJZ notches its third straight increase for an overall +1.5 (3.5 – 4.5 – 4.7 – 5.0, 6+); December 2018’s 6.9 is the highest 6+-stat in its PPM-history. Northern California Public Broadcasting’s KQEI has an October 2018 through July 2019 topline of .6 – .6 – .7 – .6 – .7 – .7 – .6 – .7 – .5 – .7 – .6 (#24 to #25, 6+).
Sacramento Music Formats – There is interesting June 2019 – July 2019 movement for Lotus Communications regional Mexican stations with the KVMX call letters. On the plus side, KVMX-FM – which notched a .3 (6+) in April, May, and June – hangs out a multiple of seven in July to 2.1 (+1.8, 6+) and pops in the top twenty at #15. On the other hand, KVMX-AM, which was trending .9 – 1.1 – 1.4 – 1.7 (6+) for a collective March 2019 through June 2019 gain of +.8, vanishes from print in July. After checking in with a 1.3 (#20, 6+) in June, Educational Media Foundation contemporary Christian KLVB disappears as well. Frozen on 4.2 (6+) in March, April, and May before slipping to 4.1 (6+) in June, iHeartMedia urban-rhythmic oldies KHYL adds six-tenths to 4.7 (6+) as “V-101” progresses from tenth to eighth. Notwithstanding it is #1 the sixth month in a row (including January’s first-place tie with iHeartMedia news/talk KFBK), Entercom-owned KSEG “96.9 The Eagle – Sacramento’s Classic Rock” falters -1.1 in June/July (8.9 – 8.3 – 7.8, 6+). “The Eagle” held the lead position ten consecutive survey periods before shifting to #2 in December. Seven of its recent fluctuations include -1.1 (November 2018); -.8 (“Holiday” 2018); +1.0 (February 2019); -.5 (April); +.9 (May); -.6 (June); and -.5 (July). In each of the last 16 survey periods, Entravision Communications’ KNTY notched a 6+-share between 2.0 – 2.5. That streak comes to an end as KNTY drops eight-tenths to 1.3 (#16 to #19, 6+). That’s not the only thing though that KNTY dropped during the July 2019 sweep: Country “101.9 The Wolf” became regional Mexican La Tricolor and is simulcasting KRCX (1.7 – 1.6, -.1, flat at #18). Returning all of June’s half-share increase and one-tenth more (2.3 – 1.7, -.6, 6+), Spanish adult hits sibling KXSE “104.3 La Suavecita” slips from #15 to #17; June’s 2.3 was its best 6+-stat since 2.4 in November 2018. Three straight downturns (5.6 – 5.0 – 4.2 – 3.7, 6+) by Entercom alternative KKDO produce a combined -1.9 and “Alt 94.7” exits the top ten (#9 to #11). This immediately follows April’s gain of nine-tenths. While it repeats at #2, iHeartMedia classic rocker KYRV “93.7 The River” surrenders three-tenths to 6.3 (6+), thus halting four consecutive upticks that netted a +1.4 (5.2 – 5.3 – 5.5 – 5.7 – 6.6, 6+). Adult contemporary stations hold this California market’s eighth and tenth slots in July 2019. Specifically, Entercom’s KYMX “Mix 96 – Today’s Hits/Yesterday’s Favorites,” without a gain the past three sweeps for a collective -1.6 (6.2 – 5.7 – 4.6 – 4.6, 6+), picks up one-tenth to 4.7 (#8, 6+). Meanwhile, iHeartMedia’s KBEB “92.5 The Breeze” is off two-tenths in June/July (4.1 – 4.1 – 3.9, 6+). “Mix” and “The Breeze” continue at eighth and tenth, respectively. June’s 4.6 was the weakest 6+-stat for “Mix” since September 2015’s 4.5. Formerly “92.5 The Bull – #1 for New Country,” KBEB transitioned to adult contemporary as “The Breeze” in early-November (2018). It netted a +2.1 in three straight positive spikes (2.4 – 3.1 – 3.7 – 4.5, 6+), in advance of March/April’s -.8 (4.5 – 4.3 – 3.7, 6+).
Spoken-Word Formats – As a result of six straight February 2019 through July 2019 decreases (5.1 – 4.6 – 4.3 – 4.1 – 3.7 – 3.3 – 3.2, 6+), Entercom’s KDKA-AM “News Radio 1020” is -1.9 and slips from #11 to #12.
Co-owned sports talk/Pirates flagship KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan,” which dropped seven-tenths in May (6.8 – 6.1, 6+), forfeits the two-tenths it picked up in June (6.1 – 6.3 – 6.1, 6+) but carries on in fourth-place. The ultra-consistent September 2018 through June 2019 topline for iHeartMedia sports talk WBGG 970 AM – ESPN Pittsburgh” is 2 – .2 – .2 – .3 – .2 – .2 – .2 – .2 – .3 – .2 – .2 – .2 (#23 to #17, 6+).
Bouncing back from June’s loss of six-tenths with a July increase of three-tenths, Essential Public Media news/talk WESA “90.5 Pittsburgh’s NPR Station” progresses from tenth to ninth and is trending 4.2 – 3.6 – 4.2 – 3.6 – 3.9 (6+).
Pittsburgh Music Formats – In four straight decreases, iHeartMedia alternative WXDX was an overall -1.8 (4.8 – 4.3 – 4.4 – 3.1 – 3.0, 6+); however, “105.9 The X” erases one-third of that deficit with a July uptick of six-tenths (3.6, #12 to #11, 6+). July 2019’s top three “Steel City” finishers are separated by one-half share. The combination of iHeartMedia classic hits-oldies WWSW “94.5 3WS” gaining four-tenths and co-owned rock WDVE sputtering by twice that margin (9.5 – 8.7, -.8, 6+) results in “3WS” progressing from third to first and WDVE segueing from first to second. WWSW is a combined +1.2 in June/July (7.7 – 8.5 – 8.9, 6+) with July’s 8.9 its best 6+-stat since 13.6 in “Holiday” 2018 when “94.5 3WS” was #1. The six most recent shifts for WDVE, which was #1 the past five reports, are: +.8 (February); +.8 again (March); -.9 (April); +.6 (May); +.6 again (June); and -.8 (July). In four straight upticks, Steel City Media adult hits WRRK was +2.3 (6.9 – 7.4 – 8.0 – 8.2 – 9.2, 6+), but “96.9 Bob FM” relinquishes eight-tenths in July to 8.4, sliding from second to third. In June, “Bob” reached the nine-share level (9.2, 6+) for the first time since December 2017’s 9.0. The just-concluded positive streak directly follows a -1.8 in three consecutive sweeps without an increase (8.7 – 7.7 – 7.7 – 6.9, 6+). As Steel City Media-owned hot AC WLTJ “Q-92.9” records its third straight boost for a net gain of nine-tenths (3.0 – 3.1 – 3.7 – 3.9, unchanged at #9, 6+), Entercom’s similarly-formatted WBZZ “Star 100.7” has its third consecutive down or flat report for an overall loss of nine-tenths (5.0 – 5.0 – 4.4 – 4.1, flat at #8, 6+). The +2.0 advantage WBZZ held over WLTJ in April is down to two-tenths. Apparently, it is that time again for Forever Media to pull its Nielsen Audio subscription as five Forever Media stations that have been listed in April, May, and June disappear from print, as they’ve done before. The five are: classic hits-oldies WKPL (1.7, June 2019, 6+); classic country WLYI (1.4, June 2019); country WOGI (.9, June 2019, 6+); country WOGG (.8, June 2019, 6+); and classic hits-oldies WPKL (.7, June 2019, 6+).