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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

| June 10, 2020

iHeartMedia Extends Furloughs for 90 Days. As first reported by Billboard, iHeartMedia announces to staffers that it is extending the companywide furloughs for another three months due to the coronavirus pandemic that has “had a significant impact on advertising revenue.” The company says it will be some time before radio station staffing levels will return to full status. This extended furlough for certain staffers will now last through September.

Pennsylvania Attorney Targets Townsquare Media with Investigation. Bensalem, Pennsylvania attorney Howard G. Smith announces an investigation “on behalf of Townsquare Media, Inc. investors concerning the Company and its officers’ possible violations of federal securities laws” in which he’s seeking qualified clients. This comes a day after the company filed a Form 8-K with the Securities Exchange Commission in which it disclosed that it had discovered an error in projected cash flows that were utilized in its valuation model. As a result, the company is reporting an impairment charge of approximately $39.4 million for its licenses and an impairment charge of approximately $69.0 million for its goodwill. It reported that certain financial statements for fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019 should no longer be relied upon and would be restated due to the error. Townsquare says it is “reassessing its previous conclusions regarding the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. Based on this assessment, the Company expects to report material weaknesses in the Company’s internal controls and therefore conclude that internal controls over financial reporting and disclosure controls are not effective.”  Smith says in a press release that “on this news, the Company’s share price fell $1.20, or nearly 19%, to close at $5.28 per share on June 9, 2020, thereby injuring investors.”

KXL, Portland Promotes Three, Adds On-Air Personality. At Alpha Media’s Portland news/talk KXL “FM News 101,” spoken word content director Bruce Collins announces the promotion of three news team members and the addition of another. Current morning and afternoon drive news and traffic reporter Brett Reckamp moves to the co-anchor chair on the station’s “Portland’s Morning News” program. He’s joined by co-anchor Veronica Carter. Previously, she’s served as West Coast regional news director for iHeartMedia and news anchor/reporter for Entercom’s WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM and Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM in Chicago. KXL assistant news director Jim Ferretti is promoted to news director and Jeremy Scott is promoted to full-time morning and afternoon drive traffic reporter. Collins says, “It’s awesome to have such a strong staff and be able to promote from within. With the addition of Veronica Carter and the promotion of key personnel, it puts KXL in an extremely strong position.”

WGN-AM, Chicago Adds ‘Sunday Standards with John Williams’ to Weekends. Chicago heritage news/talker WGN-AM adds a second music program to its weekend programming schedule beginning June 21 with the launch of “Sunday Standards with John Williams.” The Nexstar Media Group station says that following the success of “The Sinatra Hours with Dave Plier,” which ranked #2 with adults 25-54, it’s adding the new program hosted by midday talk personality and Great American Songbook aficionado John Williams to air from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm. The show will feature a wide range of artists, including Sammy Davis, Jr., Nat King Cole, and Burt Bacharach, along with more modern artists like Linda Ronstadt, Barry Manilow and Amy Winehouse covering those songs. Williams comments, “Some of the hits we play go back 85 years, others go back 15 years. The music is really nice to listen to, and that’s the idea. I think there’s something really big about WGN Radio, a 50,000-watt AM station, energizing this music all over again – and getting people something they need right now.” Left out of the new Sunday program schedule is “The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson” that’s been airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm weekly. WGN general manager Mary Boyle says, “The success of ‘The Sinatra Hours’ has proven there is an appetite for nostalgia. This music is hard to find, and certainly not on free, over-the-air radio. John Williams has a passion for this kind of music, so it’s a natural fit.”

Kevin Wall Takes Over Afternoons on KMZQ, Las Vegas. Talk show host Kevin Wall is joining Kemp Broadcasting’s KMZQ, Las Vegas to handle the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show. The station says that “together with morning drive host Heidi Harris, the addition of ‘Live and Local with Kevin Wall’ gives Las Vegas Valley radio listeners more local talk than any other Vegas radio station.” Wall – who has served with such talk outlets as KFI, Los Angeles and KSFO, San Francisco – was most recently hosting a talk show on Royce International Broadcasting’s KBET, Las Vegas. Prior to that he was the afternoon personality on Entercom’s crosstown KXNT. Kemp EVP Marty Basch says, “Now more than ever with what’s happening in our country and locally, KMZQ will have Las Vegas’ only live and local morning show with Heidi Harris, and now afternoons with Kevin Wall. It’s Las Vegas radio’s ‘Dream Team,’”

Bob Adams Exits Saga’s Portland Station Group. According to a story in the Portland Press Herald, Bob Adams has exited his general manager role at the Portland cluster of Saga Communications stations that includes news/talk WGAN-AM and seven music brands. The paper says that a memo sent to station staffers from SVP of operations Chris Forgy and Saga president and CEO Ed Christian indicated the reason for Adams’ departure was the need for a “more defined growth pattern” and that “a change was necessary.” The company expects to name a new general manager within the next few days. Adams’ exit comes after a number of high-profile air talent were recently laid off, including WGAN-AM talk host Ken Altshuler and music programmer and jock Randi Kirshbaum.

Round Two of May PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s May 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s May 2020 survey period covered April 23 – May 20. You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets and he reports that a number of all-news and news/talk stations that saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares go up in April as a result of coverage of the coronavirus pandemic are starting to see those numbers fall. Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM, Washington dropped seven-tenths to a 9.3 share but stays in the #1 position in the market. Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM, Washington adds three-tenths and climbs into the #2 spot. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston gives up a half share to finish May at a 4.8 share and the #6 rank. Sister all-news WBZ-AM also forfeits a half share for a 5.9 share finish and the #4 rank. Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle bucks the trend, adding three-tenths to wrap the May survey with a 7.2 share and the #1 rank. Meanwhile, Entercom’s all-news WWJ, Detroit drops seven-tenths to a 5.7 share and falls into the #2 rank in the Motor City. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

TALKERS News Notes. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that the status of ESPN Radio personality Trey Wingo is up in the air as the sports media giant mulls its options. He currently co-hosts the morning drive show with Mike Golic. Marchand says ESPN is “reshaping its radio and NFL presentations” and with Wingo’s contract up, it’s not clear what his status with ESPN is. He says the company would like Keyshawn Johnson – who’s currently heard on O&O KSPN, Los Angeles – and Max Kellerman on its national radio platform. Johnson’s contract is up at the end of the summer…..Cumulus Media’s sports talk KNBR-AM/FM, San Francisco announces it raised more than $100,000 for Bay Area hunger relief partnering with Giving in Motion for last week’s fund drive. The money raised will provide more than 6,500 family meals, plus 1,300 bags of school supplies and household essentials to Bay Area residents impacted by COVID-19. The KNBR staff will deliver the meals to people in need at specific locations in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Walnut Creek…..Cox Media Group Tulsa announces that it has helped its community partners raise more than $2 million in the first half of 2020. The cluster – including news/talk KRMG-FM, four music brands and three TV signals – says that figure does not include non-monetary fundraising efforts it has pushed through its channels. The cluster partnered with the Community Food Bank to collect more than 774 pounds of food for its annual Spread the Love campaign, collected 220 pints of blood through a drive with the Oklahoma Blood Institute, and diverted more than 93 tons of recyclable items from the dump through the inaugural Big Spring Clean. CMG Tulsa market VP Cathy Gunther says, “During times of great uncertainty, like now, people rely more than ever on the support of community partners to help them get through. This is why we have not only upheld our commitments to our current partners but have gone a step further and added a number of new events to try and help our partners jump-start donations to serve more people who are now reliant upon them.”

George Floyd Funeral/Protests, Police Reform, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Presidential Race, Georgia Election Problems, Russia Probe Review, Financial Markets Activity, MLB Negotiations/NFL Racism Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/9). The funeral of Minneapolis police violence victim George Floyd and the ongoing protests taking place across the country; the calls for the reforming and de-funding of police departments; the rising and falling of confirmed COVID-19 cases as states continue the re-opening process; the November presidential election; the troubles Georgia faced holding efficient voting on Tuesday; the review of the Russia probe being led by John Durham; the world’s financial markets react to the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. unrest; and the negotiations between the MLB’s players and the league and the state of racism in the NFL were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

NEED A GUEST? We’ve Got Some Good Ones for You at ‘Expert Guests.’ Talk media hosts, producers, and bookers are advised to check out the newly expanded “Expert Guests” section of TALKERS. It is updated on a weekly basis with outstanding experts and personalities available by telephone, Skype, or Zoom for booking on radio, TV, and online talk shows. This week you’ll find a wide array of guests that includes an expert on how to generate lost revenue due to COVID-19 via online marketing, an author who writes about Islamic matters, and an expert on finance who puts the race-oriented protests, demonstrations, and riots into perspective from an economic standpoint – plus a whole lot more. To visit “Expert Guests,” please click here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Seattle classic hits outlet KJR-FM “95.7 The Jet” announces the debut of its new morning show, “95.7 The Jet Mornings with Jodi & Bender.” The iHeartMedia station notes that Bender previously served as a morning host on its KBKS “106.1 KISS FM” where he “became one of the most impactful on-air personalities in the Seattle region.” Jodi has served with KJR-FM since 2011. iHeartMedia Seattle market president Robert Dove says, “Putting Jodi and Bender together gives ‘95.7 The Jet’ a dynamic morning show that will be entertaining and provide civic values to our great city of Seattle. Whether it’s Seafair or Seattle Children’s Hospital, Jodi, Bender, and KJR will be there to shine a light on the good things happening in the Emerald City.”…..iHeartMedia announces that Mark Manuel is the new program director for classic rock KCQQ, Quad Cities. He’s been serving the station as APD and webmaster. He says, “I’m really grateful for the opportunity. After chasing a morning host dream for two decades, I found that I really enjoyed the programming aspect of radio for the past five years. I especially want to thank iHeartMedia for believing in me and giving me this opportunity. I’m happy to continue to be part of the team for years to come.”

Thursday, September 13, 2012

| September 13, 2012

Les Moonves Tells Investors Network Sports Radio Biz is “Found Money.”  That CBS is bullish on sports is not news – CBS CEO Les Moonves has said that before.  But he reiterated his company’s dedication to the industry and – citing the new CBS Sports Radio Network venture – called it $10 million to $15 million worth of “found money.”  Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills yesterday, Moonves told the conference the sports radio network business is a $150 million industry, “With our deal with Cumulus, we have reach.  We’re in nine of the top 10 markets.  We have the capacity to put on a lot of stuff.  We think right away we’re going to get about 10% of the market.  That’s going to be a significant hit right away and that should grow.  It’s a great marketplace; rather easy to do.  As far as we’re concerned it’s 10 or 15 million [dollars] of found money that we think will grow.”  CBS is entering into a fast-growing marketplace already dominated by ESPN and with entrenched radio players Fox Sports Radio Network, Yahoo! Sports Radio and new entrant NBC Sports Radio – a partnership between NBC and Dial Global.  Sure, there’s a ton of money in sports media right now, but how fast this market gets saturated is a question industry watchers are pondering.

Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Gets Television Profile with DISH Network Deal.  Talk show host and digital media pioneer Glenn Beck is soon to be seen on television after his TheBlaze, Inc. agrees to a deal with DISH Network to have his online 24-hour news, information and entertainment network available on the satellite TV provider.  Under terms of the deal, TheBlaze will be available to DISH viewers on channel 212 as part of DISH’s America’s Top 250 package or a la carte for $5 a month.  The channel launched Wednesday at 5:00 pm ET.  It’ll be available as a free preview for all DISH customers through September 26.  In a statement, Beck says, “TheBlaze has helped revolutionize television over the internet and now we are excited to bring the revolution back to traditional television.  TheBlaze will be home to news, information and entertainment programming with the facts and stories people care about most and we look forward to kicking things off with DISH.”  Mercury Radio Arts president Chris Balfe blogged about the success of Beck’s new venture and how this deal came to pass.  “Prior to our initial launch I was often asked why we didn’t pursue a traditional cable channel.  There were several factors, but the biggest was that we wouldn’t have been able to build the channel we wanted back then without giving up control.  To get on the air we would have had to partner with a large media company that could provide us with the staff, infrastructure and distribution necessary to launch a new network.  That was something that we simply were not willing to do.  The whole point of starting our own network was to be free from outside influences  — giving that independence up right away in exchange for distribution was a non-starter.  And so we found another way.  But now, a year later, everything has changed.  Our subscribers’ enthusiasm and support has allowed us to make the necessary investments in programming and infrastructure, and we’re now in a position to launch a cable and satellite channel without losing control.”

Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Promotes Julie Talbott.  The president of content and affiliations for Premiere Networks is upped to a new post – president of content and affiliations for CC’s National Media Groups.  Talbott retains her oversight of Premiere Networks but adds new duties as she’ll answer to Kevin Dorsey, president of the National Media Groups who, in turn, reports directly to chairman and CEO John Hogan.  A statement from Clear Channel notes Talbott’s “new role will include leading and maintaining key affiliate relationships to sell and service Premiere Networks, Total Traffic Network and iHeartRadio, Clear Channel’s industry-leading digital radio platform.  The new position will provide the company’s affiliates with a simplified and streamlined point of contact for communicating and conducting business across Clear Channel’s diverse group of subsidiaries.”  Talbott says, “I enjoy working with our clients and partners, and this alignment of our affiliate efforts will allow us to better serve and communicate with stations throughout the U.S.  I’m looking forward to working with the amazing teams across the company as we continue to demonstrate the unique relationship CCM+E has with our audience.”

Cox Media’s KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa Names Levi May Program Director.  The PD post at KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa opened up when long-time programmer Drew Anderssen moved to Cox Media’s Orlando news/talker WDBO-AM/FM.  Levi May served as WDBO’s assistant PD prior to his new position in Tulsa.

Talk Radio Weekends: Two Sure Shots.  Talk radio consultant Holland Cooke offers advice on weekend programming for talk radio stations that fits in with the P1’s weekend lifestyle and has the opportunity for bringing in revenue.  Sure, it’s lifestyle-oriented stuff but while many of those categories are well-serviced by nationally syndicated programs, Cooke says these two suggestions are tailor-made for local professionals.  Read Holland Cooke’s piece here.

 

WVON, Chicago News Pro Sharon McGhee Loses Battle with Cancer.  Journalist, writer and radio news director Sharon McGhee died in Columbia, Missouri on September 11 at age 54 after a long battle with ovarian cancer.  She joined urban talk WVON, Chicago in 1997 and was promoted to news director the following year.  She left the radio business to focus on her love of the arts and entertainment and in 2007, wrote the critically acclaimed “The Pocketbook Monologues” and subsequently directed multiple staged performances across the United States.  McGhee returned to WVON in 2008 as news director and resigned from that position in 2010 due to health reasons.  WVON president Melody Spann Cooper states, “Sharon McGhee was one of the most creative people I’ve ever known.  Her determination, passion and drive brought her to Chicago where she excelled in everything that was on her professional and personal agenda.  She was a rare breed determined to do it her way, and she did.”

Former Merlin Media News Pros Land with Virtual News Center.  News staffers Veronica Carter and Katherine Kelly were two of the news pros who worked at Merlin Media’s FM news outlet in Chicago and exited the station when it flipped formats.  They join the team at Virtual News Center which describes itself as “the largest independent provider of local news for radio heard on over 175 stations in nearly 80 markets.”  The company works on a cash direct basis or via barter through Envision Radio Networks.  Veronica Carter spent her 25 year radio career in Illinois, Indiana, and California, heavily involved in all facets of news reporting and anchoring.  On her Merlin experience she says, “Working for Merlin Media was short lived, but an adventure to say the least!  Glad to be with Virtual News Center, it’s actually fun doing newscasts all over the country!”  Katherine Kelly worked in Peoria, Illinois and the Quad Cities as well as in Seattle and Chicago.  Kelly anchored news as a part of some of the country’s top morning shows.  She also helped launch the Oprah Radio Network on Sirius XM.  She states, “I am incredibly honored to be joining the team at Virtual News Center.  Now I can cover just as many cities without leaving home!”

New Jersey 101.5 Reporter Honored for Series on Teen Drug Abuse.  The New Jersey Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse honors New Jersey 101.5 reporter Stacy Proesbtle with its Community Service Award.  Proesbtle is pictured here (from l-r) with NJ 101.5 brand manager Eric Johnson, NJ 101.5 news director Eric Scott, Proesbtle, and Council executive director John Hulick at the Council’s 21st annual Summit at the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick, New Jersey.  Proebstle’s five-part series about the abuse of heroin and other opiates among New Jersey’s youth focused on prescription drug abuse, accidental overdoses, how abuse often begins at home and  the fact that prescription drug abuse can happen to anyone.  Proebstle talked to recovering addicts, parents, prevention specialists, substance abuse professionals and law enforcement officers to address current trends and issues along with possible solutions.  On receiving the honor, Proesbtle says, “I’m absolutely delighted to receive this honor on behalf of the station and most genuinely grateful.  It validates the importance of community service and giving back to one’s community.”

Cumulus San Francisco Inks 49ers for 12-Year Extension.  Appearing on sports talk KNBR, San Francisco’s Murph & Mac morning show, Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey joined 49ers CEO Jed York to announce the stations and the NFL clubs have agreed to a 12-year contract extension to keep the team’s games on KNBR, news/talk KGO and rock KSAN in the market.  During that appearance on the program, Dickey said, “While the trend in radio has been for shorter deals with sports teams, this 12-year partnership demonstrates the commitment of KNBR and Cumulus to the 49ers, and further cements KNBR as the ‘Sports Leader in Northern California’ for almost 25 years.”

WEEI, Boston Helps Celebrate Red Sox Broadcaster Joe Castiglione’s 30th Anniversary.  Prior to last night’s Boston Red Sox game, Entercom sports talker WEEI celebrated the 30th anniversary of play-by-play announcer Joe Castiglione with an appearance at the WEEI studios by Castiglione on the afternoon drive “Big Show” with Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley.  The evening also featured a half-hour pre-game tribute show that included a video at Fenway Park and on-field recognition from the team.

Conservative Chuck Morse and Liberal Dr. Patrick O’Heffernan Split.  Veteran Boston-based conservative talk host Chuck Morse and California-based liberal Dr. Patrick O’Heffernan have ended their left-right internet talk radio program, “Fairness Radio with Chuck Morse & Dr. Patrick O’Heffernan,” after it became impossible to work together, according to Morse.  The two will host separate programs on the internet and affiliated radio stations.

 

Long-Running Speaker Series Continues with Author of ‘Fast and Furious’ Book.  WNDB, Daytona Beach talk host Marc Bernier (at left) conducted his 80th “Town Hall” interview and live broadcast in The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University “President Speaker Series,” with Townhall.com investigative reporter Katie Pavlich (at right) before a live audience on Wednesday, September 12.  Pavlich is author of Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up (Regnery 2012).  Photo: Arthur J. Byrnes.

U.S. Ambassador Killed in Libya Strike, Cairo Unrest, Obama-Netanyahu Relations, and Chicago Teachers Strike Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/12).  The death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens after a violent assault on the U.S. consulate; violent anti-American protests in Cairo; reports of President Obama’s snubbing of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama Administration’s Iran policy; and the continuing Chicago teachers strike were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.