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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

| June 2, 2021

Superadio Networks, Bloomberg Radio, and Key Networks Partner to Present ‘Bloomberg Black Business Beat’. A collaborative effort between Key Networks, Bloomberg Radio, and Superadio Networks LLC results in the syndication of the specialty feature “The Bloomberg Black Business Beat” to radio stations across the U.S. The program is hosted by Renita Young and presents a daily look at the intersection of culture and commerce affecting Black American audiences. Topics range from the latest trends in Black-owned businesses and profiles of Black entrepreneurs, to a continuing look at diversity in the workplace and an inside look at the business of entertainment. Superadio president Eric Faison says, “We’re excited to partner with Key Networks to bring ‘The Bloomberg Black Business Beat’ to an audience that is looking for information on business trends, consumer news and finance and deliver it in a compelling and fast-paced format.” Key Networks’ chief revenue officer Dennis Green says, “Key Networks is proud to partner with Superadio to bring ‘The Bloomberg Black Business Beat’ to listeners and advertisers across the country. The feature provides a wealth of information related to business and finance that is important to Black audiences. ‘The Bloomberg Black Business Beat’ will inform and educate listeners and provide affiliates with high-quality iHeart content.”

New Execs Appointed at iHeartMedia Salt Lake City. At its Salt Lake City operations, iHeartMedia promotes Judy Copier to market president and Joyce Wirthlin rises to SVP of sales. Copier has served with iHeartMedia Salt Lake City for 10 years, most recently as SVP of sales. Copier takes over for Stu Stanek, who has been with iHeartMedia for more than 20 years and is retiring as market president. Copier says, “I am very appreciative of the opportunity to take over the reins and lead this talented team in Salt Lake City. I feel very fortunate to have worked alongside Stu for several years and know his wisdom and insight have been invaluable in preparing me for this role. I’m also excited to promote Joyce to SVP of sales – the strength of her leadership will be a great asset. I’m proud to be part of the iHeartMedia family, one that recognizes that our organization is built on, and succeeds because of, the very talented people I get to work with every day.” In addition, to these changes, Jeff McCartney was appointed to the SVP of programming role in January of 2021, rounding out the market’s executive team.

‘LI News Radio’ Wins Eight Press Club Awards. Long Island news/talk WRCN, Riverhead “LI News Radio” took home eight Press Club of Long Island Media Awards at the organization’s May 28 ceremony. The JVC Media station’s “Breaking it Down with Frank MacKay” won in seven categories. JVC Media president and CEO John Caracciolo says, “The Press Club of Long Island is a professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.  ‘Breaking it Down’ airs Monday through Friday at 2:00 pm on ‘LI News Radio’ and it is one of the leading celebrity radio talk shows in the nation with thousands of daily listeners on many of our JVC stations, as well as other affiliates and partners. The entire team at JVC is so proud of Frank. He brings a passion to this medium and has a fantastic interview and storytelling style that just makes his show appointment listening for all. I am very excited about the future of Frank MacKay and the ‘Breaking it Down’ program.”

WWO Blog: Targeting ‘Ready to Go’ Customers. This week’s Westwood One blog analyzes a recent Nielsen study that investigates which media audiences have the greatest purchase propensity as the nation continues to emerge from the pandemic. The group of people that considers itself “ready to go” is one that “perceives less risk, feels safer, and indicates their cities are emerging from crisis. The study indicates that in the “ready-to-go” group “advertisers can find a desirable consumer group that over-indexes in having children aged 2-11 (117), having an annual income of $100K+ (113), and working outside of the home (114). Compared to the average, the “ready-to-go” consumers are 5% more likely to listen to AM/FM radio in a typical day.” Data from the study shows that in the automobile category, “podcast listeners (+43%) and AM/FM radio listeners (+18%) are more likely to make an auto purchase in the next 12 months versus the average consumer and heavy TV viewers.” In the restaurant category, “heavy AM/FM radio listeners and podcast listeners are more likely to dine out: 63% of heavy AM/FM radio listeners intend to dine out at either a quick serve or sit-down restaurant within a month. More than half of podcast listeners also intend to dine out after COVID-19 restrictions ease.”

Meredith Tiger Joins Audacy as Director of Corporate Communications. PR pro Meredith Tiger joins Audacy as director of corporate communications and PR. In this role, Tiger will help drive overall communications strategy for the company, including leading communications support for key business initiatives, crisis communications, event communications, and talent relations, and will serve as a key company spokesperson, reporting to Ashok Sinha, SVP, head of corporate communications & PR. Tiger – most recently serving with HBO Max – will lead strategic communications for Audacy’s digital, research, podcasting, corporate social responsibility, diversity, equity and inclusion, and other divisions within Audacy’s portfolio, while also increasing industry awareness for the company through executive visibility and thought leadership programs, including key speaking engagements and press opportunities for Audacy’s executive leadership team. Additionally, she will spearhead consumer publicity for the company’s tentpole live events. In her role, Tiger will partner closely with employee communications, local market communications efforts and corporate social media.  Tiger says, “It’s an exciting time in our industry and I am thrilled to have joined the team at Audacy. It’s clear that based on the leadership, this is a first-class operation and I’m looking forward to collaborating with some of the top creative and communications professionals in the field.”

TALKERS News Notes. In recognition of Pride Month, Audacy unveils a month-long multiplatform campaign called, “Celebrations in Pride,” presented by Stella Rosa Wines, that includes a series of on-air content heard on CHANNEL Q, the award-winning LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network, and select Audacy stations. “Celebrations in Pride” will also be available digitally via station streams on the Audacy platform and Audacy.com/Pride. Audacy SVP of programming and music initiatives Michael Martin says, “We’re delighted to leverage our national scale and local connection to celebrate Pride Month through this exciting and entertaining campaign. We look forward to connecting our audience to our industry’s biggest superstars and influential allies of the LGTBQ+ community and delivering powerful everyday content throughout the month.”…..The National Association of Broadcasters is hosting a special event on June 17 at 2:00 pm ET on NAB Amplify to announce and celebrate the 2021 recipients of the NAB Engineering Achievement Awards and Digital Leadership Award. The special session titled, “The Future of Media and NAB Technology Awards,” kicks off with a keynote conversation with Mike Chapman, a partner and Americas media lead at management consulting firm Kearney, who will discuss the future of media, including trends to watch, with Sam Matheny, executive vice president and chief technology officer of NAB…..In celebration of Black Music Month, Urban One announces the release of its new podcast series, “For the Culture, A History of Black Music.” The podcast features six episodes focused on the impact of several Black music genres on popular music today, including Gospel, Funk, Philly Soul, Trap and Hip Hop, Go Go, and Chopped and Screwed and present interviews with music makers from each genre. Reach Media syndicated radio host Angie Ange hosts the podcast and presents content designed to entertain and enlighten Reach Media’s national audience with real discussions and insights from pioneers and celebrities who have contributed to the national/global rise of locally originated sounds in hotbed music markets…..audiochuck network announces that the popular true-crime podcast, “Park Predators” is dropping a second season. Hosted by investigative journalist and accomplished podcaster Delia D’Ambra, “Park Predators” explores the evil hiding among the beautiful landscapes of the national parks and forests within North and Central America.” AdLarge handles ad sales for the podcast.

COVID-19, Worker Shortage, Tulsa Massacre Anniversary, Voting Rights, Vote Audits/Sydney Powell Claim, and JBS Hack Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/1). The fast-declining rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about vaccine hesitancy, and the simmering Wuhan lab leak theory; employers in the U.S. are complaining about the lack of available workers as the country fully re-opens; the anniversary of the Tulsa “Black Wall Street” massacre; President Joe Biden appeals to Americans to support voting rights and appoints Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the administration’s efforts to defend voting rights; the 2020 vote audits taking place in Arizona and New Hampshire and former Trump lawyer Sydney Powell’s claim Donald Trump could be “reinstated”; and the ransomware attack on meat giant JBS were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

| May 12, 2021

Audacy Names Spike Eskin VP of Programming for WFAN, New York and CBS Sports Radio. Sports and radio programming pro Spike Eskin is being promoted to vice president of programming for Audacy’s WFAN-AM/FM, New York and CBS Sports Radio, effective July 1. Eskin, who has been brand manager for the company’s sports talk WIP-FM, Philadelphia, will take over for longtime WFAN programmer Mark Chernoff, who is stepping down from his roles with Audacy on June 30. Audacy New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Spike has the vision, creativity, and drive to craft the next chapter of the iconic and influential WFAN brand. Along with CBS Sports Radio, his experience will be ideal to fuel our sports production powerhouse of 48 hours a day of original audio, 12 hours of quality television, all alongside a vibrant digital and social experience for both New York and the nation. As a longtime colleague of Spike, I am excited that he has joined our all-star team and have no doubt that he will succeed.” Speaking about his new role, Eskin says, “I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity to help lead WFAN into its next chapter. It’s an iconic station with incredible talent, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m grateful to Chris Oliviero and Audacy for the opportunity. Working at 94WIP over the last decade has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’m grateful to David Yadgaroff for his belief in me and the staff who stepped up to every challenge.”

Urban One 2021 First Quarter Net Revenue Declines 3.6%. The 2021 first quarter financial results for Urban One, Inc. indicate net revenue was approximately $91.4 million, a decrease of 3.6% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $36.4 million, a decrease of 3.3% from the same period in 2020. The company reports operating income of approximately $23.8 million for Q1 of 2021 compared to an operating loss of approximately $27.3 million for the same period in 2020. Net income was $7,000 compared to a net loss of approximately $23.2 million during the first quarter of 2020. Adjusted EBITDA was approximately $28.8 million in Q1 compared to approximately $32.3 million for the same period in 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins III, states, “Normalizing for approximately $1.4 million of Richmond gaming chase costs, which were one-time in nature, our Adjusted EBITDA was down approximately 6.3% year-over-year, which was encouraging in the context of pre-COVID radio comparatives for January and February and a lack of political revenues. It is worth noting that compared to Q1 2019, which was a pre-pandemic and off-cycle political quarter, our Adjusted EBITDA was up by approximately 4.1% (and by 9.1% after normalizing for the Richmond gaming project). Our core radio advertising was down approximately 13.7% for the quarter, with January -28.4%, February -19.9% and March +8.8%. Currently for second quarter, core radio is pacing up over 70%, with April finishing at +89%. Our digital business had another strong quarter, with revenues up 64.6% and Adjusted EBITDA up by approximately $3.2 million. Cable TV revenues were down 2.6%, but Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $24.8 million was 14.5% higher than Q1 2019 (approximately $21.7 million), which is a more realistic comparison than the COVID-impacted Q1 2020, during which content production and marketing were effectively shut-off. Under the circumstances, we delivered a solid first quarter, and I anticipate further sequential improvements in Q2.”

Longtime WFAN, New York Programmer Mark Chernoff Named to New York State Broadcasters Association 2021 Hall of Fame Class. One of the four broadcasters joining the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame this year is longtime WFAN, New York program director Mark Chernoff, who’s been behind the programming helm of the legendary sports talk station for almost 30 years. The NYSBA says, “While known for his sports programming, Mark started his career at music stations including the legendary WNEW-FM from 1985-1989. He was the program director at ‘K-Rock 92.3 FM’ from 1989-1993 which included working with the legendary Howard Stern. Mark again worked as K Rock’s programming director from 2004-2006, where he helped develop the unique ‘Free FM’ format as a response to subscription-based satellite radio services and had the opportunity to work with  Opie and Anthony. He even worked as a rock music DJ for more than a decade. Mark joined ‘The Fan’ in 1993. At WFAN Chernoff oversaw iconic shows such as ‘Imus in the Morning’ and ‘Mike and the Mad Dog.’ Chernoff’s skills were put to the test as he rebuilt WFAN’s programming following Imus’s comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. He managed the legendary Mike Francesa and Chris Russo. Chernoff brought Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton to the station for a morning show that saw ‘Boomer & Carton’ reach No. 1 in the market during their decade-long run. In a recent Newsday interview, Audacy SVP and New York market manager Chris Oliviero stated, “When people think of WFAN, names like Imus, ‘Mike & The Mad Dog’ or Boomer [Esiason] often come to mind, but no name has been more responsible for the consistent excellence of THE FAN than ‘Chernoff.’”

Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights Release Podcast Download – Spring 2021. The sixth Podcast Download report from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights is “a comprehensive evaluation incorporating several studies that examine podcast audience and advertiser trends over the past five years.” This sixth installment was released to coincide with the IAB Podcast Upfront as part of Cumulus Media’s commitment to share insights and research findings with the podcast community. Cumulus Media EVP, marketing and president, Westwood One Suzanne Grimes says, “Our new Podcast Download Report underscores the power of the podcast. Listeners look to podcasts for stories, for entertainment, for learning, and for escape, especially in a year of such upheaval. Audiences soared as listeners experimented with a broader array of content genres and used more distribution platforms than ever to listen to their podcasts.” Some of the findings include the conclusion that the pandemic was a podcast listening accelerant. The study reports that among weekly podcast listeners, the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for increased podcast listening. In March 2021, 53% of weekly listeners reported spending more time with podcasts since the pandemic, up +29% from July 2020 (41%). See more about the study here.

WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids Programmer Randy Lee to Retire. According to a report by KGAN-TV, Cedar Rapids, longtime news/talk WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids program director and on-air personality Randy Lee will retire at the end of this month after a 46-year career in broadcasting. Lee has been the program director at iHeartMedia’s WMT-AM for the past 32 years.

SummitMedia Promotes Tom Scott to Vice President of Engineering. Radio engineer Tom Scott is promoted to vice president/engineering for SummitMedia, LLC. In this role, Scott will manage engineering for all SummitMedia Markets throughout the U.S. SummitMedia CEO Carl Parmer says, “We are delighted for Tom to direct all engineering efforts for SummitMedia. It is certainly a well-deserved promotion. His depth of knowledge and strategic vision will be invaluable to us as we continue to innovate and evolve the technical side of our business.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new weekly podcast from CNN Audio titled, “The Handoff,” and starring CNN anchors Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon debuts later this month. CNN says, “Each night during the primetime hours of CNN’s television programming, viewers witness the deep love, honest candor, and respect that these two anchors – and friends – have for one another in their unscripted ‘handoff’ conversations between shows. Now, with no broadcast clock to hold them back, they are stepping out from behind their anchor desks to come together and ignite even more personal and hot topic conversations. Nothing is off limits.”…..Actor Rainn Wilson and author Reza Aslan are teaming up with Kast Media to serve up their podcast, “Metaphysical Milkshake,” set to debut on June 15. Wilson, known for his Emmy-nominated role as Dwight Schrute on the NBC series “The Office,” and Aslan, author of three internationally best-selling books including bestseller, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, “bring their unique backgrounds, philosophies, and curiosities to create a podcast all about life’s big questions.”…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” – nationally syndicated by Talk Shows USA – adds radio stations KHOB-AM, Hobbs, New Mexico and WGAN-AM /FM, Portland, Maine to it roster of affiliates.

Voting Rights Bill Debate, Cheney vs GOP, COVID-19, Pipeline Hack, Israel-Gaza Fighting, Border Crisis, and Gates Divorce Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/11). The debate in the U.S. Senate over the For the People voting rights act; Liz Cheney addresses the U.S. House as the GOP prepares to strip her of her leadership role for challenging the “stolen election” narrative; COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the U.S., mask guidelines, and India’s soaring death toll; the gas shortage in the Eastern U.S. due to the DarkSide pipeline hack; the shelling between Israel and Hamas in Gaza; the migrant crush at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Joe Biden administration’s immigration policy; and the controversy over the Bill and Melinda Gates divorce and the Jeffrey Epstein connection were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

| March 25, 2021

Cumulus Fires One and Suspends Two at WGRF-FM, Buffalo After Racists Remarks on ‘Morning Bull Show.’ One member of the “The Morning Bull Show” at Cumulus Media’s classic rock WGRF-FM, Buffalo “97 Rock” has been fired and two other members have been suspended after they did a bit that involved comparing the color of famous Black women’s skin to burnt toast. Spectrum News reports that Cumulus fired Rob Lederman and suspended Rich Gaenzler and Chris Klein. Gaenzler also lost his gig as arena announcer for Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits games and the University of Buffalo says Gaenzler will not be considered for stadium announcer next fall (a position he’s held in the past). At least two advertisers pulled their ads from the station as Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the West Herr Auto Group canceled their current ad schedules. Cumulus issued the following statement: “Cumulus Media operates from a clearly defined set of programming principles and there is no question that Rob Lederman’s comments made on The Morning Bull Show are in direct violation of those principles. We swiftly terminated him and suspended the remainder of the show’s on-air talent. We apologize and deeply regret the incident.”

WBEN-AM, Buffalo Extends Bauerle and Bellavia Shows to Cover Limbaugh Daypart. According to a report in the Buffalo News, Entercom’s Buffalo news/talk WBEN-AM is going to fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart long occupied by “The Rush Limbaugh Show” by expanding the midday David Bellavia and afternoon drive Tom Bauerle shows. Beginning on April 5, the David Bellavia show air from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and Tom Bauerle’s program will air from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The station will add a 9:00 am to 10:00 am program hosted by AM drive co-host Brian Mazurowski and producer and fill-in host Joe Beamer. To fill the 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm hour created by Bauerle’s move, WBEN will air “The News Hour with Tom Puckett and the WBEN News Team.” Program director Tim Wenger says in a memo to staff, “This lineup gives us the ability to super-serve the market with the most compelling stories and topics on the minds of people in Buffalo and Western New York and establishes us as THE go-to outlet for full LIVE coverage all day long.”

Dana Loesch Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The leading female news/talk radio host in America, Dana Loesch, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Loesch has been syndicated by Radio America in the 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm ET time slot for the past seven years and is considered one of the leading players in a growing field of competitors seeking to be cleared on stations looking to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Rush Limbaugh. Loesch, a staunch conservative described as a “next generation” talker, is the author of three highly influential books: Hands Off My Gun: Defeating the Plot to Disarm America (Hachette, 2015), Flyover Nation: You Can’t Run a Country You’ve Never Been To (Sentinel, 2016), and Grace Canceled: How Outrage is Destroying Lives, Ending Debate, and Endangering Democracy (Regnery, 2020). Harrison and Loesch discuss the state of the talk radio industry as it enters the post-Limbaugh era along with her views on the gun control debate in the wake of the latest wave of mass murders in the news.  They also tackle the big questions about the future of the Republican Party, Donald Trump and the conservative movement in America.  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.  Don’t miss this!

Round Three of Nielsen Audio’s February PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s February 2021 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. Nielsen’s February 2021 sweep covered February 4 – March 3. All-news and news/talk stations that typically see a decline in listening following a presidential election kept the attention of listeners due to the chaos that followed the elections and that continued into the new year with the January 6 Capitol attack and the incoming Biden administration. In this report, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Portland, Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM drops from #1 to #2 after losing two-tenths to finish the February survey with a 6.0 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share). Urban One’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte sheds 1.1 shares to finish with a 5.5 share and slides to the #4 rank. In Sacramento, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFBK remains ranked #1 even while losing six-tenths and wrapping the survey with a 9.6 share. There’s a second-place tie in Salt Lake City as iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-FM dips nine-tenths and Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM is flat – both posting 7.0 shares. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets – as well as the first two rounds – here.

Nielsen: Women Make Up 45% of Podcast Consumers; Kids & Family Most-Listened-To Genre. The new Podcasting Today report from Nielsen indicates that the top genre among female podcast listeners in the U.S. is ‘kids & family,’ with a 77% audience composition while true crime is fourth with a 60% audience composition (health & fitness and arts are second and third, respectively). The rest of the top 10 is: religion and spirituality (58%), education (54%), society and culture (53%), fiction (50%), and TV, film, and music (48%). “Perhaps what this tells us is that regardless of characteristics such as gender, podcasts listeners are a diverse group with diverse interests and that women are among the most voracious consumers of podcasts of all types and subjects.” Nielsen states, “Women are savvy consumers of news, information, and other media across devices. They also make up 45% of all podcast consumers over-indexing in podcasts across all genres. This is a coveted demographic for marketers and advertisers, as female-led households in the U.S. increased 41% in the last five years. No matter what media they’re consuming, truth, transparency, and real representation matter.”

TALKERS News Notes. A new podcast deal is announced in which iHeartMedia partners with Will Packer Media for a slate of original scripted and unscripted podcasts to the iHeartPodcast Network. iHeartMedia says, “The new partnership builds on the success of the true crime podcast ‘Fight Night,’ which launched on the iHeartMedia platform in October 2020 and was co-produced by Will Packer and James Lopez, president of Will Packer Productions. ‘Fight Night’ examined one of Atlanta’s most infamous armed robberies from the night of Muhammad Ali’s historic 1970 return to boxing.”…..ABC Audio unveils its new podcast “Inside the Oscars,” hosted by ABC News’ Ginger Zee. ABC says the six-part series dives into everything listeners want to know in the one-month countdown to an Oscar Sunday that will be like no other, including how filmmaking and the way we enjoy movies has changed. The first episode of “Inside the Oscars” is available today (3/25) with new episodes posting Thursdays…..Entercom and Global Music Rights announce a long-term partnership that allows Entercom to perform GMR’s catalog of hit songs across all of its platforms. Entercom says the multi-year deal starts immediately and paves the way for a strong partnership between the rapidly growing audio content and entertainment platform and the boutique performing rights organization featuring some of music’s most talented hitmakers. Entercom chief David Field adds, “We are excited to partner with Irving [Azoff] and the team at GMR. They represent some of the top talent on radio today. The combination of Entercom’s reach and GMR’s music is a huge win for our audience.”

Biden’s Immigration Policy, COVID-19, Cuomo Troubles, Georgia Voting Bill-Dem’s For the People Act, Suez Canal Blocked, Deadly Boulder Shooting/Gun Control, Biden Press Conference, and Chinese Cotton Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/24). The growing crush of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s response; the rising number of COVID-19 cases in some U.S. states, concern about variants, and vaccine rollouts; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is accused of giving his family priority in COVID testing, he faces allegations of sexual harassment, and engineering a cover-up over nursing home COVID deaths in the state; the Georgia bill that would restrict voting and the House Democrats’ For the People voting expansion bill; the freighter creating a roadblock in the Suez Canal; the slaying of 10 at a grocery in Boulder, Colorado and the larger issue of gun control; today’s first live press conference for President Joe Biden; and the allegation that Xinjiang cotton is made in Chinese detention camps were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

| March 18, 2021

Kim Komando Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Talk radio’s leading expert voice on computers and digital technology, Kim Komando, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Komando is an outstanding broadcaster and modern-day thinker who produces, hosts, and distributes a weekend, long-form radio talk show and short-form features about computers and digital technology from her studios and headquarters at WestStar MultiMedia Entertainment in Phoenix, an independent syndication firm that she runs with her husband Barry Young, a legendary radio personality in his own right and an extremely adept businessman. Together, they built a multimillion-dollar empire based on her keen intelligence, outstanding personality, and extraordinary understanding of the new era. Her programs are heard on more than 400 stations across the country. She also hosts a separate business-oriented computer show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. According to Harrison, “Kim – a wife, mother, entrepreneur, broadcasting executive, and former TALKERS magazine Woman of the Year – has been a major radio talk show host and commentator, not to mention newspaper columnist for more than 25 years, disseminating information about computers and technology to the masses and playing a significant role in ushering in this amazing new era in the wiring of the human nervous system. It’s been five years since she’s been a guest on this podcast and the world has changed a whole lot since then… so we figured it’s about time to have her back and do some catching up.” In an extraordinarily candid, free-wheeling conversation, Harrison and “The Digital Goddess” take a deep-dive into a wide variety of aspects of modern radio’s complex relationship with digital technology offering sharp insight into this new era of politics, business, communications and culture. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com. Don’t miss this!

Urban One Reports 2020 Q4 Revenue Up 7.3%; Full Year 2020 Revenue Declines 15%. The fourth quarter of 2020 was a winner for Urban One as political, digital, and cable TV advertising helped push the company’s net revenue to $113.5 million, an increase of 7.3% over the same period in 2019. For the full year of 2020, Urban One reports net revenue of $376.3 million, a decline of 15% over the full year 2019. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $51.9 million, an increase of 51.3% from the same period in 2019. The company reported operating income of approximately $34.5 million for fourth quarter, compared to operating income of approximately $12.1 million for the same period in 2019. Net income was approximately $26.4 million compared to a net loss of approximately $7.9 million for the same period in 2019. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins III says, “The company had an extremely strong fourth quarter, driven by record levels of political advertising and strong demand for our digital and cable TV advertising inventory. In combination with ongoing cost controls, this resulted in a 51% increase in Adjusted EBITDA. All of our operating divisions were able to grow Q4 Adjusted EBITDA year-over-year, and I was particularly pleased with the performance of our digital business, which delivered approximately $6.4 million of Adjusted EBITDA for the full year, an increase of 587% from prior year.” Urban One breaks out its report by segments and, for the fourth quarter of 2020, radio advertising was down 19%, political advertising was up 2083%, digital advertising was up 57.3%, and cable TV advertising was up 5.4%.

Westwood One Creates New Early Afternoon Show Hosted by Dan Bongino. Conservative commentator and podcaster Dan Bongino is the host of a new, daily talk radio program being syndicated nationally by Westwood One live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET. The program launches on May 24 and will air on Cumulus Media news/talk stations that aired the Rush Limbaugh show, including in top 10 markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Bongino is a former Secret Service agent and NYPD officer that WWO says “is uniquely positioned to provide commentary and analysis that directly questions the philosophical underpinnings of both the Left and Big Government Republicans.” Bongino’s Westwood One podcast had more than 117 million downloads in 2020. He also serves as a commentator for FOX News Channel. He says, “I’m excited to embrace the immense power of radio to connect with my listeners live for three hours every day. This is an incredible privilege, and I pledge to honor the trailblazing work of those who came before me.”

Report: ‘Tensions’ Between iHeartMedia and GMEI Over Stock Deal. According to a report in Campaign, British firm Global Media & Entertainment Investments’ seeking permission from the Federal Communications Commission to acquire up to 49.99% of iHeartMedia’s stock as a foreign investor is a source of consternation for iHeartMedia which only wants to allow GMEI to acquire up to 9.99%. Gideon Spanier’s piece indicates that GMEI bought 8.7% of the company last month – without first seeking permission from the iHeartMedia board – and that seems to be the issue. GMEI says it’s surprised by iHM’s move to limit its acquisition to 9.99% since it ran its 49.99% plan by iHM lawyers last month. But iHeartMedia states in a filing with the FCC, “Because iHeart had no advance knowledge of GMEI’s intention to acquire stock in excess of 5% of iHeart’s voting and equity, iHeart had no ability to prevent the acquisition of its publicly traded stock above the amount permitted under the FCC’s rules without [seeking] a declaratory ruling [from the regulator]. GMEI’s independent investment decision” to buy its 8.7% stake “caused” an “inconsistency with the FCC’s foreign ownership rules.” iHeartMedia passed a resolution last year that any shareholder wishing to acquire more than 10% of its stock needs approval from the iHM board. But GMEI says petitioning the FCC for permission to own 49.99% is a separate matter and says its intentions are not hostile and that it wants to “co-operate and work together.”

TALKERS News Notes. The national radio network FOX Sports Radio – a division of Premiere Sports Network – adds its content to new affiliate KGA-AM, Spokane and in doing so hits the 600-station mark. Stephens Media Group Spokane operations manager Kent Jones says, “As the flagship station for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, we are thrilled to add the wall-to-wall sports coverage provided by FOX Sports Radio. This is an exciting time for Gonzaga and Spokane. FOX Sports Radio’s amazing lineup of talent with their coverage of the tournament and everything sports allows us to provide the best sports programming for Spokane, both now and throughout the year.”…..ESPN announces that the podcast “The Right Time with Bomani Jones” expands from two shows per week to three, publishing on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule. The new Friday addition will feature weekly conversations with The Undefeated’s Domonique Foxworth, whose previous visits ESPN says have been some of the most popular episodes from both download and social media engagement perspective. Jones says, “The last year has been great for ‘The Right Time,’ so I’m glad we can give more to our listeners. I also can’t wait to follow through on something those listeners have long wanted, a weekly spot with Domonique, one of the most intelligent and entertaining talents at this company.”…..PBS SoCal and KCET, Southern California’s flagship PBS organizations, announce a new partnership with Southern California Public Radio’s flagship radio station KPCC-FM, Pasadena to deliver free, local daily news programing across multiple platforms throughout Southern California via a new on-air and online program called “SoCal Update.” KPCC and LAist chief content officer Kristen Muller says, “This community-owned, local, public media news collaboration sets a new model for trusted local news and journalism in Southern California as NPR and PBS are two of the most fair and accurate sources of news that exist in the world today. We look forward to this exciting new partnership with PBS SoCal and KCET.”…..Boston public media producer GBH announces an expansion of its award-winning local arts coverage, adding digital writer James Bennett II to its news team. Bennett comes to GBH from New York Public Radio where he covered classical music for classical radio station WQXR and contributed to “New Sounds” and WNYC. GBH general manager Pam Johnston comments, “We recognize the importance of arts and culture to the local community, with leading arts organizations breaking new ground on a regular basis. James is an inventive and accomplished writer with deep knowledge in the arts. As part of the GBH News team he will further strengthen our robust cultural coverage.”

COVID-19, Atlanta Spa Slayings/Racism, Democrats’ Assault on the Filibuster, the U.S.-Mexico Border Crisis, Cuomo on the Ropes, Storms Hit U.S. Southeast, Texas Man Arrested at VP Harris’ Residence, U.S.-Russia Relations, and Candace Owens-Cardi B Spat Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/17). The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, the rollout of vaccines, and rising case numbers in Europe and South America; the shooting deaths of eight people at Atlanta-area massage parlors and speculation about anti-Asian sentiments; Democrats’ attempts to eliminate the filibuster from the U.S. Senate; the masses of child migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s facing allegations of sexual harassment and the investigation into the COVID-nursing home scandal; destructive storms cause damage in the U.S. Southeast; a Texas man is arrested on weapons charges outside of Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington; Russia recalls its U.S. ambassador after Joe Biden calls Vladimir Putin a killer; and the spat and potential legal tangle between conservative commentator Candace Owens and hip hop artist Cardi B 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.