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Thursday, June 17, 2021

| June 17, 2021

Weekly Reach, Average Audience Post Highest Levels In 14 Months. As the nation continues to reopen and returns to pre-pandemic routines, the industry experiences another month of radio listening gains. According to results from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM survey period, radio’s weekly reach is at its highest level since March 2020 and has grown each of the past four months. In the latest sweep (May 2021), radio’s reach surpassed 122 million weekly listeners, which is within two million of where it was before lockdown precautions took effect last year. In May 2021, radio’s Average Quarter-Hour (AQH) audience also scored its highest level since March 2020. Coinciding with vaccination rollouts and more normal commutes, AQH audience levels have increased 11% since January. PPM’s year-over-year (May 2020 – May 2021) weekly reach and AQH comparisons stand at a 108 index and 120 index, respectively. From a weekly reach perspective, May 2021’s radio audience is 8% larger than this time last year, while the AQH audience is 20% larger versus May 2020. May 2021 listening gains were widespread, with all major dayparts at or near AQH peaks since COVID-19 began. Weekday morning drive and weekends hit their highest audience levels in 15 months. May 2021’s weekend AQH (6.6 million) is 300,00 higher than March 2020’s 6.3 million, before the peak of the lockdown. Even though news/talk is lower than in prior months (12.6% in May 2021, compared to May 2020’s 13.6%), it does remain the most-listened to format in PPM markets. Registering its third gain in a row (4.1% – 4.2% – 4.4% – 4.6%), sports talk posts its highest AQH share since COVID-19 began, surpassing October’s high point (4.5%) when football season was in full swing.

Round One of May 2021 PPM Ratings Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). In presenting his “Ratings Takeaways” from this round of markets, Mike Kinosian notes that, while it erodes by one full-share from April 2021 (9.6 – 8.6, 6+), Cox Media Group Atlanta’s WSB-AM & WSBB is the only mainstream news/talk outlet to reach #1 (24th consecutive month, 6+). Meanwhile, the lone news/talk stations from the aforementioned metros that finished in the top 20 (6+) and posted an April 2021 – May 2021 increase are Cumulus Media’s WBAP, Dallas (3.2 – 3.4, 6+) and Townsquare Media-owned WKXW, Middlesex (3.8 – 4.1, +.3, 6+). Off one-half share and three-tenths, respectively are Audacy NYC news siblings WINS (3.2 – 2.7, #11 to #14, 6+) and Mets key station WCBS-AM (2.7 – 2.4, #15 to #16, 6+). Cumulus Media San Francisco sports talk KNBR (Giants) improves by eight-tenths (4.3 – 5.1, 6+) to progress from fourth to third. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete “Ratings Takeaways” here.

IBA/Vipology Technology Contest Creates Nearly $1 Million In Local Sponsorships. During an eight-week “Key Word Contest” (April 19 – June 11), participating Independent Broadcasters Association (IBA) member stations collectively generated approximately one million dollars of revenue from local sponsors. IBA president/Adams Radio Group chief executive officer Ron Stone notes, “Hundreds of our member stations were able to generate new revenue from our group contesting. “Vipology’s technology, member execution/management, and data follow-up was nothing short of spectacular. We are planning a second contest for the fall; many participating groups have already indicated their interest in participating again.” Vipology CEO Chris Peaslee adds, “From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Pittsburg, Kansas, I’m proud of our team for building the technology and supporting hundreds of stations across the country in their effort to sound big on-air and powerful in their markets.” Participating stations’ on-air personalities gave three key words throughout the day. Listeners were then encouraged to enter the words on the IBA “contest widget” on that station’s website. Listeners correctly identifying the day’s ‘Winning Key Word” became eligible for that day’s random drawing to win $1,000.

Shattuck Set To Join WTIC-AM. Formerly the senior editor of Lowell Massachusetts’ “The Lowell Sun,” Tom Shattuck will become the mid-day host (10:00 am – 2:00 pm) on news/talk WTIC-AM “1080 News Talk” next Monday (6/21). The Audacy Hartford outlet will feature all-local programming from 5:00 am to 6:00 pm. Audacy Hartford senior vice president/market manager Stephanie Perl opines, “Radio is best when it is local, when we can discuss and look at the local issues affecting our listeners. Being able to expand our local weekday programming further separates WTIC-AM from other radio stations in the state and we look forward to unveiling this new slate of content to our audience.” According to Shattuck, “[WTIC-AM] has been serving the people of Connecticut for almost 100 years. I’m truly honored to be given the opportunity to contribute to the legacy of this great station. These are extraordinary times and I look forward to talking about our politics and culture with the thoughtful, astute WTIC-AM audience.” Shattuck previously was editorial page editor of The Boston Herald and executive producer of Boston Herald Radio. In addition, he spent four years at Boston’s WTKK as executive producer of the afternoon drive show and was a content manager, web designer, and executive producer at cross-town news/talk WRKO. In other WTIC-AM changes, morning show co-host Brian Shactman will add “Extra Time with Brian.” As of next Monday (6/21), the station’s revised 5:00 am – 6:00 pm lineup will be: “WTIC Sunrise Special” (5:00 am – 5:30 am); “Mornings with Ray and Brian” (5:30 am – 9:00 am); “Extra Time with Brian” (9:00 am – 10:00 am); “The Tom Shattuck Show” (10:00 am – 2:00 pm); and “The Todd Feinburg Show” (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm).

TALKERS 2021 Was a Success! The 24th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important conference, the Talkers Convention, took place last Friday (6/11) on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. The event was a presentation of TALKERS in association with Hofstra’s multi-award-winning radio station, WRHU. More than 50 industry leaders from talk radio and cable news/talk TV spoke during a non-stop day of presentations and panel sessions. Due to strict regulations adhering to COVID-19 protocols, attendance was limited to a sellout crowd of 175 people which was reached about a week prior to the event. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison comments, “We were delighted to be able to join forces again with our colleagues at Hofstra – the site of our very successful 2016 event – and be able to actually present a live conference in an extremely COVID-19 compliant environment which Hofstra was equipped to provide. The convention achieved its goal to boldly address key existential issues facing the talk radio and talk media industries at this dramatically critical juncture.” TALKERS will be posting extensive coverage of the event in the days to come including video documentation recorded under the direction of Art Vuolo covering every speech, presentation and panel discussion. Stay tuned for details.

TALKERS News Notes. After a five-year run at KNBR “The Sports Leader” and KTCT “KNBR 1050,” program director Jeremiah Crowe is set to depart the Cumulus Media sports talk facilities the middle of next month. A new assignment has not been announced for Crowe, who is reportedly relocating to Las Vegas … Starting next Wednesday (6/23) at 9:00 am, Audacy Chicago sports talk WSCR “670 The Score” will air a 24-hour “What About Chicago?” radiothon. In partnership with former Chicago Bears player Sam Acho, the radiothon will benefit Athletes For Justice and the Austin Harvest program. WSCR afternoon talent Danny Parkins comments, “I hate when people who don’t care about our city ask ‘What about Chicago?’ in bad faith. The name ‘What About Chicago’ is a defiant response and this radiothon will hopefully highlight what Chicago is really about: A Chicago radio station partnering with a Chicago charity with a mission to help improve the lives of Chicago kids in a Chicago neighborhood.” … In acknowledgement for its protest coverage following the death of George Floyd, Audacy San Francisco all-news KCBS-AM & KFRC has won a national Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Sigma Delta Chi award for “Best Radio Breaking News Reporting.” KCBS-AM & KFRC director of news & programming Jennifer Seelig comments, “I’m incredibly proud of my team’s thoughtful and compelling protest coverage. On behalf of everyone at KCBS-AM & KFRC, I’d like to thank SPJ for this prestigious honor. [We strive] to deliver comprehensive coverage of stories that resonate with our audience. This recognition underscores our unwavering commitment to our community.” KCBS-AM & KFRC was the only commercial station in the country to win in any category … Even though its officials have not released an official statement, Cox Media Group continues to rectify digital damage apparently caused by a ransomware attack. Those trying to stream a CMG station hear the following, “This stream is currently unavailable and we are working diligently to bring it back online. Our radio stations continue to broadcast 24/7; you can listen to us over the air – thanks for your patience.” Cox Media Group news/talk outlets include WSB-AM & WSBB, Atlanta; WHPT, Tampa, WDBO, Orlando; and WOKV-FM, Jacksonville.

Facebook Censors Harry Hurley’s “Heavy Hundred” Post.  A post regarding Townsquare Media Atlantic City news/talk WPGG “WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM & 1450 AM” morning host Harry Hurley being named to the TALKERS list of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America (“Heavy Hundred”) has been censored by Facebook. In an article posted this morning on the “WPG Talk Radio” website, Hurley (pictured with TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison at TALKERS 2021) says that his story about receiving the honor was taken down by the social media giant with the explanation that it does not meet Facebook’s community standards and that the URL to the feature is considered spam. To read the entire article, please click https://wpgtalkradio.com/facebook-censored-my-post-about-talkers-magazine-honor/. 

Now Saluting “Kentucky Colonel” Roten. WVHU “News Radio 800” morning talk host Tom Roten was recently presented a plaque commissioning him as a Kentucky Colonel, the highest honor awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions as Kentucky Colonels are presented for contributions to the community, state, or nation, and for special achievements of all kinds. The honor stunned Roten, who happened to be emceeing a grant award ceremony. Kentucky Colonels executive director Sherry Crose spoke of Roten’s commitment to the community and years of promoting charitable organizations and then made the surprise presentation. Having just marked his 20th anniversary at the iHeartMedia Huntington, West Virginia – Ashland, Kentucky station, Roten remarked, “This is such a tremendous honor – I am very grateful.” Roten has interviewed hundreds of guests from the region including many from the Commonwealth. He regularly talks to state and federal lawmakers from the Bluegrass State and speaks to representatives of many Kentucky charitable groups. For over 10 years, Roten served as public service director for iHeartRadio’s Huntington-Ashland cluster and has written/produced hundreds of PSAs for non-profit organizations. Approximately 30 Eastern Kentucky charities received a portion of $2.1 million in grants that the Kentucky Colonels will award this year. Kentucky Colonels are that state’s ambassadors of goodwill and fellowship around the world.

Total Subscribers To Paid Audio Services Double in Six Years. According to data from Edison Research’s “Share of Ear,” 47% of Americans 13+ now subscribe to at least one paid audio service. That’s just over double what it was in 2015, when 23% had a paid subscription. Edison Research president Larry Rosin comments, “While much of this doubling of the numbers is the redirection of money that was going to physical music formats to music streaming subscriptions, there is also the trend of more people paying to avoid commercials. I believe we’ll see more subscription efforts in the future, particularly from radio companies. Bauer Media in the U.K. recently launched a subscription radio service that offers commercial-free versions of their radio brands and other content. Such efforts are likely to be launched in the U.S. as well.” Growth has come across the board from SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Audible audiobook subscriptions to music streaming services such as Spotify Premium, Apple Music, and Pandora Premium or Plus.

KCUR Enlists Edgell As Midwest Newsroom Managing Editor. Effective July 6, public radio news/talk WFYI, Indianapolis project manager/assistant editor Holly Edgell will join University of Missouri-Kansas City’s similarly-programmed KCUR, Kansas City as managing editor of the Midwest Newsroom. KCUR general manager Sarah Morris states, “We are thrilled to have had such a strong pool of candidates and delighted that Holly will be joining the Midwest Newsroom as a KCUR employee. Holly has extensive leadership in working with newsrooms across the midwest and beyond. She will help form and create a highly functional and collaborative team for the hub.” NPR managing editor for collaborative journalism Kenya Young adds, “We’re excited to see Holly join our team of stellar managing editors leading the hub newsrooms across the country. Holly at the helm ensures our mission to plan shared coverage and create stories that reach local, regional, and national audiences. Holly will be an agent of change in the midwest region; I look forward to seeing how she shapes collaborative journalism within our network.” KCUR is lead partner in the NPR-formed Midwest Newsroom, a collaborative among Nebraska Public Media; Iowa Public Radio; St. Louis Public Radio; and NPR.

iHeartPodcast Network Adds Three True Crime Mysteries. The new entries include: “Missing On 9/11”; “After The Uprising: The Death Of Danye Dion Hones”; and “Algorithm.” From the producers of “Missing In Alaska,” “Missing On 9/11” traces the whereabouts of a woman living near the World Trade Center who disappeared on that horrific day. John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski-hosted “After The Uprising” is an 11-part series that examines the truth behind the hanging death of a St. Louis Black Lives Matter activist. From iHeartMedia and Tenderfoot TV, Ben Kuebrich-hosted “Algorithm” is an examination of a reporter’s algorithm he claims can detect serial killers.

Friday, November 13, 2020

| November 13, 2020

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “It’s Democracy Stupid!” looks back at this past week of November 9 – November 13, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, North Georgia; Chip Franklin, talk show host, KGO, San Francisco; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network / medical physician; Blanquita Cullum, talk show host, WCGO, Chicago; and Paul Vandenburgh, talk show host / station owner, WGDJ, Albany, NY. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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