iHeartMedia Reorganization Plan Awaits Confirmation. The Modified Fifth Amended Joint Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization for iHeartMedia is awaiting confirmation by United States Bankruptcy Court Judge Marvin Isgur. Yesterday’s filing of the confirmed plan will allow iHeartMedia to erase $10.3 billion in debt off its books, leaving it with $5.75 billion in debt once Judge Isgur has signed the order. Last month, the court approved iHeartMedia’s separation from Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings as part of the reorganization plan. Yesterday’s filing will permit iHeartMedia to begin to implement the plan without seeking authorization from the court. As is usual in bankruptcy cases, once the plan is confirmed by the court, most other claims against the debtor are discharged. In this case, the judge rules that certain liabilities the company is required to honor after the effective date – called a Cure Claim – and that includes the BMI license agreements, an almost $600,000 payment to SoundExchange LLC, and its Framework Digital Distribution Agreement with Sony Music Entertainment. Additionally, the new iHeartMedia must honor all SAG-AFTRA contracts and must assume all contractual agreements with the Denver Broncos. Once signed, iHeartMedia will be in a period between Confirmation and the Effective Date. There are several hearing dates scheduled and they are: January 10 to consider all confirmation issues other than those scheduled to be heard on January 17, and January 22; January 17 to consider all issues concerning the CCOH separation settlement, other than those issues scheduled to be heard on January 22, and any issues continued from the January 10, hearing; January 22 to consider all remaining issues concerning consideration of the class action settlement related to the CCOH Separation Settlement and the GAMCO Motion; and January 23 to consider all remaining confirmation issues.
‘Our American Stories’ Surpasses 160-Affiliate Mark. The nationally syndicated “Our American Stories” program adds a number of new affiliate stations and now has 163 total affiliates. The program is hosted by Lee Habeeb who is also president of program producer American Private Radio. He says, “Stations told us they wanted a radio program that wasn’t always about politics, to give listeners a break from the news cycle. More importantly they love the topics we share every night and we take great pride in putting stories together that touch our listeners’ hearts and minds. People walk away feeling better when they listen to ‘Our American Stories.’” The program is described as “a two-hour, daily radio magazine program that showcases Americans from various industries, including sports heroes, musicians, film performers, political or cultural icons, business leaders, military heroes and more.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison is extremely fond of this program stating, “I fully expect ‘Our American Stories’ to be the surprise breakout program of 2019. It is the classiest, best-researched, meticulously produced, dependable piece of quality content to come down the pike in years. It is conservative news/talk’s knock out answer to public radio and will become an institutional part of the genre for years to come.”
Wayne Allyn Root: I ‘Got the Ball Rolling’ on Trump’s Wall Option. Las Vegas-based, nationally syndicated talk show host Wayne Allyn Root says he first talked about the idea that President Trump can declare a national security emergency and use $25 billion from the Pentagon budget to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Root points to his November 17 column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal that details, among other things, that the president can declare a “national security emergency” and use military money for the project. Root says, “I shared this column and my idea with my audience on both my Newsmax TV show and USA Radio show in the days before publication. Then I flew to Wyoming as keynote speaker for the Wyoming GOP annual dinner on Friday 11/16/18. I shared my idea with that audience. Result. Two standing ovations. That column was handed directly to President Trump by my great friend Lee Lipton at Mar a Lago on 11/18/18. President Trump has talked about this exact option all week in the media. It’s the hottest topic in the country. My idea started this all… I’m sure it will come up in Tuesday night’s national presidential address.”
Mike Gallagher Films LifeLock Ad on NYC Streets. Nationally syndicated talk radio star Mike Gallagher is pictured above on the streets of New York filming commercials for identity theft prevention firm LifeLock. Gallagher has been voicing spots for LifeLock – as have many talk radio hosts since LifeLock is a big advertiser on talk radio – but not long ago he needed the company’s services. The Salem Radio Network talk host was the victim of a personal security breach when someone accessed his personal information, changed his cellphone number, and tried withdrawing $25,000 from Gallagher’s checking account. He credits LifeLock with alerting him to the compromises and acting to protect his personal assets. He says, “I’ve proudly done their commercials for years. But after seeing for myself how they swing into action, I believe anyone is stupid not to have LifeLock protection.”
Eric Zane Launches Daily Podcast. After being let go by Cumulus Media last week due to the format flip of WBBL, Grand Rapids from sports talk to country music, morning personality Eric Zane tells Mlive.com he’s doing a daily podcast designed to pick up where his radio show left off. He’s offering the show to listeners for free and for a fee with various options, including video. Zane tells MLive he hopes to reach a sizable audience via his 18,000 Twitter followers. He says, “Most people get some content via podcast or streaming content and they’re a different audience. They’re zeroed in because of the programming. They seek it out as opposed to background noise. I won’t ever say radio has no place because it’s still great to get in your car and push a button and there it is. This medium (podcasts), which was laughed at five, 10 years ago, isn’t laughed at anymore because it’s very viable.”
Steve Triplett to Lead Beasley’s Tampa Stations. Sales and management pro Steve Triplett is named vice president and market manager for Beasley Media Group’s Tampa cluster that includes financial talk outlet WHFS-AM and six music radio stations. Triplett has been serving as interim market manager and director of sales for the Tampa operations. He says, “Over the past four years, Beasley Media Group has created something truly special in Tampa. We have a team of the finest media professionals in the industry and it’s an honor to continuing serving them in this new capacity.”
PodcastOne Partners with LadyGang for Podcast Network. “The LadyGang” podcast recently celebrated its 200th episode and 40 millionth download. Now, PodcastOne is entering into a deal with the brand for a podcast development, production, and marketing deal to launch The LadyGang Network on PodcastOne. The network will feature a female-driven, all-star lineup of pop culture, reality television, and motherhood trend-setters. PodcastOne says the deal combines its vast resources and reach with The LadyGang’s brand power and curated talent lineup. The inaugural program under this new network will be “Mama Said with Jamie and Jenna,” hosted by Jamie Lynn Sigler and Jenna Parris. Additional programs will be announced soon.
Hogenson Communications to Rep Americans for Tax Reform Campaign. Talk media is the target for Americans for Tax Reform and it has hired Hogenson Communications to represent the organization to talk media for its 12-month campaign. Scott Hogenson states, “We’re proud to have been selected by Americans for Tax Reform as their talk media partner. As America’s preeminent tax policy organization, ATR brings a lot to talk media audiences by breaking down complicated policy issues in a way that everyone can understand.”
KNUS, Denver Hosts Boyles and Tubbs to Broadcast from Vancouver, BC During Fact-Finding Mission. Talk show hosts Peter Boyles and Steffan Tubbs – air personalities on Salem Media Group’s news/talk KNUS, Denver – will broadcast live from Vancouver, British Columbia during their fact-finding mission to the city’s safe injection sites. The Denver City Council passed an ordinance that will create safe or supervised injection sites for users to inject heroin, opioids and cocaine in locations that will employ trained medical personnel. The KNUS remote broadcasts will take place on Friday (1/11).
iHeartMedia Unveils New iHeartRadio Features at CES. The company announces a number of new consumer technology integrations for its digital platform, iHeartRadio. At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, iHeartMedia unveiled new integrations including the Honda Dream Drive Platform, the new Bixby from Samsung, Roku devices, and Google’s Android TV and Android Auto. It also launched the fully redesigned iHeartRadio Family app on Amazon Fire Tablet with iOS and Android coming soon.
Border Wall-Government Shutdown, U.S.-Syria Policy, Tlaib Israel Statement, Kim Jong Un-Xi Jinping Meeting, NCAA Football Championship, and NFL Playoffs Action Among Top News-Talk Stories Yesterday (1/7). The battle over funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall and the related government shutdown; the Trump administration’s military policy in Syria; the controversy over freshman congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s comments that GOP senators are more loyal to Israel than the U.S.; North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping; Monday night’s NCAA football championship game; and the NFL playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. The nationally syndicated Ty Bentli show is off Cumulus Media’s New York City country outlet WNSH “NASH FM 94.7.” What was originally called “America’s Morning Show” back when Blair Garner was lead host and has twice morphed since then has been the only morning show on the stations since its inception. Now, afternoon drive host Jesse Addy is sitting in hosting mornings as the station teases a new program…..In Los Angeles, “volunteer” air personality Greg Beharrell is named evening host on Cumulus Media’s classic rock 95.5 KLOS…..Afternoon drive host, APD and music director Mark Razz is promoted to program director for Beasley Media Group’s country WXTU, Philadelphia. With this new role, Razz will move from afternoon drive to middays. Beasley Philly market manager Joe Bell comments, “Nobody deserves this opportunity more than Razz. He has been an integral part of 92.5 XTU’s success for years and has demonstrated the leadership, commitment and creativity that you look for in a PD. Plus, he’s an amazing talent, is loved by listeners and respected within the industry.”…..Midday personality Corey O’Brien is named assistant program director and music director at Broadway Media’s alternative KXRK, Salt Lake City “X96.”…..Buffalo market radio pro Joe Chille is named morning drive host at Townsquare Media’s adult contemporary WMSX, Buffalo “96.1 The Breeze.” Chille was a longtime personality at WJYE prior to its becoming WMSX. Most recently, he’d been handling part-time duties at Radio One Buffalo’s oldies WECK-AM…..Beasley Media Group names Sean Varicalli host of the “KICKS Wake up Crew” morning show on country WKXC-FM, Augusta, Georgia. Varicalli was most recently midday jock and APD at Curtis Media Group’s country WQDR, Raleigh…..Alpha Media’s WKXI, Jackson, Mississippi “107.5 Kixie” replaces the Tom Joyner show with the Premiere Networks-syndicated “Steve Harvey Morning Show.”
Swenson Out at Entercom Washington; Phil Zachary to Assume Market Manager Role. According to several consumer media reports (including the Philadelphia Business Journal) Entercom Hartford SVP and market manager Phil Zachary is leaving the cluster to assume the same role at the company’s Washington, DC operations. The company has not commented publicly about the change, but the report indicates Zachary will take over the position from Steve Swenson. Zachary moved to the Hartford cluster from the market manager position at Entercom’s Boston operations just after the CBS RADIO deal closed last November. His duties also included oversight of the Providence and Springfield, Massachusetts markets.
Radio Station Imaging Master and Syndicated Show Host, Nick Michaels Dies. Holland Cooke Pens Tribute. One of the radio industry’s most influential voice over artists and musical curators, Nick Michaels, reportedly died of a sudden heart attack in his Pinecrest (Miami), Florida home on Friday (5/25). Michaels was the host, writer and producer of the long-running, American Voice Corporation syndicated classic rock show, “The Deep End,” heard on music stations across the nation and the imaging voice of numerous major/medium market news/talk and all-news stations. He was known for his rich tone and thoughtful – almost poetic – approach to copy that made him one of the most distinguished performers in the radio business. Michaels’ media career began in advertising in his native Canada where success brought him to New York City in the late 1970s. He appeared as the voice in many major national radio and television spots for a variety of major products and television programs. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison and Nick Michaels joined forces five years ago as Michael & Michaels co-producing a Memorial Day one-time special, “The Classic Rock Summer of ’13 Kick-Off” – a two-hour countdown of the most popular summer songs from the AOR era. Harrison says, “The industry has lost a legend and I have lost a friend. Nick was a one-of-a-kind talent and a passionate proponent of everything good about the kind of radio we grew up with and love.” Media consultant, RT America TV host and special TALKERS correspondent Holland Cooke, a very close friend of Michaels, penned a tribute to the late broadcaster. To read it, please click here. In July of 2015, Nick Michaels appeared as a guest on the PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” To listen to a clip from that conversation, please click here.
WQTX, Lansing Sports Talk Host Suing Fellow Michigan Personality. What sounds like a feud between two sports talk hosts that goes back a few years is now a lawsuit in the state of Michigan. According to the Lansing State Journal, WQTX, Lansing sports talk host Ryan Schuiling is suing WBBL, Grand Rapids-based sports talker Bill Simonson and his employer, Cumulus Media, for defamation. Schuiling alleges that Simonson made “false allegations” in a column he wrote on the blog Detroit Sports Rag, including accusing Schuiling of attempting to “orchestrate some alleged sexual interaction with Mr. Simonson’s daughter.” Schuiling says Simonson sent the link to the story to the IBEW – one of Schuiling’s sponsors – and that the actions have caused him emotional distress and have affected his professional standing in the community. Simonson says the allegations in the suit are untrue and lack merit. See the story here.
PPM Analysis: News/Talk. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his analysis of the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s April 2018 PPM survey, today focusing on news/talk. Five news/talk stations saw (6+) increases of more than one full share from March to April, and four of those benefitted from the start of the baseball season. They are: Entercom’s KMOX, St. Louis (+2.3); Scripps’ WTMJ, Milwaukee (+1.9); iHeartMedia’s WLW, Cincinnati (+1.6); KOA, Denver (+1.4); and Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City (+1.2). Meanwhile, iHeartMedia’s WTKS-FM, Orlando “Real Radio 104.1” is up 2.6 shares since April of 2017, and Emmis’ WIBC, Indianapolis is up two full shares. Four news/talk stations ranked #1 in their respective markets in April: Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta; KOA, Denver; KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City; and Townsquare Media’s WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5.” Read the whole report here.
Price: Protect Your People, Protect Your Brand. By now, most broadcasters are aware of the tragic deaths of the two young television journalists from WYFF-TV, Greenville, South Carolina who perished while covering Subtropical Storm Alberto over the weekend. While the accident appears to have been a matter of bad timing – a tree fell on their SUV while they were driving – business continuity expert Howard Price writes that it is occurrences like these that should make all broadcasters review their safety protocols to make sure they offer the best safety practices to staffers. Read his piece here.
Radio Journalist Bob Fuss Dies at 64. Former longtime CBS Radio News reporter Bob Fuss died in Falls Church, Virginia on Sunday (5/27) after a battle with a rare form of leukemia. During his long radio news career, Fuss served as Capitol Hill correspondent for 16 years. During that time, he covered the impeachment of President Clinton, the Florida presidential election re-count, and the 9/11 terror attacks. He covered the House and Senate for CBS Radio and reported national political stories until his retirement in 2014. CBS News general manager Craig Swagler writes about Fuss saying, “After his retirement, he wrote a book about his life, Kidnapped by Nuns: And Other Stories of a Life on the Radio, drawing from his work and personal experiences in 50 states and 70 countries. The book briefly addresses what listeners couldn’t see: he was disabled. He writes he was born with defects his parents were told could end his life before adulthood. He beat the odds and described himself as ‘a busy and active kid’ who ‘never let anything slow me down.’ That attitude held true throughout his adult life; unable to walk without crutches, he never allowed the handicap to deter him from attaining his career goals or pursuing activities like snorkeling and skiing.” Swagler adds, “Bob was an extraordinary reporter with a true skill for making complicated stories relatable for everyday people. Not only was Bob an outstanding journalist he was an all-around optimistic and funny person. A true joy to work with.”
TALKERS News Notes. In the Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana market, Cumulus Media names Aaron Criswell vice president and market manager for the five-station cluster that includes sports talk KRMD-AM “The Ticket Sports Radio” and four music-formatted stations…..Chris Forgy is promoted within Saga Communications to the newly created corporate position SVP of operations. In making the announcement, Saga CEO Ed Christian comments, “Chris is a world-class broadcaster whose contributions to Saga will be very important and strategic as he joins us in the corporate office.” Most recently, Forgy was president and general manager of the company’s Columbus station group…..The Arizona Broadcasters Association announces that Art Brooks is exiting the president and CEO position after a near 30-year stint. Brooks says, “I leave the ABA proud of the many things we have been able to accomplish together in my nearly three decades of leadership and will remain ever grateful for the many friends I have made in the Arizona broadcasting community. I’m eager to explore my next adventure both personally and professionally.”
U.S.-North Korea Summit, Subtropical Storm Alberto, Ireland Abortion Vote, Starbucks Bias Training, Solo Film, Memorial Day Holiday, MLB Action, and NBA Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The off-again, on-again summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un; subtropical storm Alberto hits the Southeast U.S.; the aftermath of Ireland’s vote to repeal the ban on abortion; Starbucks’ plan to close all stores today (5/29) for companywide bias training; the newest Star Wars film Solo; the Memorial Day holiday; Major League Baseball action; and the NBA Conference Finals were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro Rebecca Wilde is becoming a personality on the “Wicker in the Morning” program with Jeff Wicker on Entercom’s hot AC WTVR-FM, Richmond. Entercom Virginia SVP Bennett Zier comments, “We’re thrilled to bring Rebecca back into the Richmond mix and look forward to having her reconnect with our community. Rebecca’s drive and enthusiasm will ensure we continue to deliver the engaging local content our listeners look forward to daily on ‘Mix 98.1.’” She previously worked on-air in the market at hot AC WURV and hip hop WBTJ…..Longtime Myrtle Beach personality David “Prez” Spindler retires from Dick Broadcasting classic rock WYAV “Wave 104.1” Station operations manager Charlie Steele says, “We wish Prez the best with where life takes him next. He’s spent a long time in the radio trenches and will be missed.”
iHeartMedia and Creditors Still at Odds Over Asset Shift. According to a report from Bloomberg, iHeartMedia and a number of its creditors have broken off talks to try to resolve the rancor over iHeartMedia’s shift of 100 million shares of Clear Channel Outdoor to a new subsidiary called Broader Media. Creditors including D. E. Shaw, Canyon Capital, Franklin Advisers and Franklin Mutual sued iHeartMedia over the move claiming that it violates the debt covenants. iHeartMedia argues that’s not the case and the move is designed to allow the company to deal more effectively with its $20 billion in debt. iHeartMedia told a Texas judge that if the creditors’ bond defaults are allowed to proceed, it would cause as much as $15 billion of the company’s debt to come due quickly and that would force the company into bankruptcy protection. The creditors argue that is not what they are trying to accomplish. iHeartMedia SVP and treasurer Brian Coleman says the company’s maneuvers are part of its Project Indigo, a long-term strategy designed to allow it to study ways to deal with its debt.
The Panama Papers, The Presidential Race/Wisconsin Primary, Iran Arms Shipment Case, North Korean Nuke Threats, Tennessee Bible Bill, and NCAA Championship Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/4). The so-called “Panama Papers” that reportedly link numerous world leaders to schemes to hide wealth in off-shore accounts; the activities of the candidates for president and today’s Wisconsin primary; the capture of illegal arms being shipped by Iran; the threats of nuclear attacks by North Korea; the controversial Tennessee bill that makes the Bible the official state book; and Monday evening’s NCAA Men’s Basketball championship were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Eric Zane Lands at Sports WBBL, Grand Rapids. After exiting the nationally syndicated “Free Beer and Hot Wings” show based at Townsquare Media’s rock WGRD, Grand Rapids, Eric Zane has landed the morning show gig at Cumulus Media’s crosstown sports talk WBBL, effective April 7. Zane officially left the show in mid-February after being absent from the program without explanation. It appears Zane’s departure was the result of a contract dispute. Now, he’ll compete in the Grand Rapids market directly with his former co-hosts Gregg “Free Beer” Daniels and Chris “Hot Wings” Michels. The “Free Beer and Hot Wings” show is syndicated nationally by Compass Media Networks.
Lineup at ‘Altitude Sports’ in Denver to Launch on Friday. The newest sports talk radio station in the Denver market will officially launch on Friday, April 8 – the home opener day for the Colorado Rockies. Much of the news about Stan Kroenke-owned KRWZ, Denver (recently purchased from Entercom) is not really news as it’s been rumored and reported in the Denver media for some time. Here’s the lineup: Josh Dover hosts “The Morning Lineup” from 6:00 am to 7:00 am; the morning show will feature Tom Helmer, Lauren Gardner (an Altitude TV reporter), and former Denver Nuggets star Scott Hastings. Middays will be hosted by Vic Lombardi and Kyle Keefe. The station will also carry play-by-play of the NBA’s Nuggets, the NHL’s Avalanche; the MLS’ Colorado Rapids; and the National Lacrosse League’s Colorado Mammoth.
Odds & Sods. There’s been a morning show and midday program re-build at CBS RADIO’s KHTK, Sacramento. Carmichael Dave is now joined by Kayte Christensen and former midday host Nate Goodyear. In middays, Jason Ross is partnered up with newcomers Ken Rudolph and Damien Barling. Jay Johnson joins the station as executive producer…..Long Nine Inc.-owned news/talk WMAY, Springfield, Illinois adds an FM translator to its broadcast with the addition of W234CC, Sherman, Illinois at 94.7 FM.
Dr. Toni Grant Dead at 72. The cause of death is unknown at this time, but the Los Angeles Times is reporting that former radio talk show host and psychologist Dr. Toni Grant died in Beverly Hills on March 27. Grant’s radio career was launched on KABC, Los Angeles in 1975 in the overnight daypart. Her show eventually moved across town to KFI. It went into syndication and at its height was heard on some 180 affiliates. She was off the air from 1990 to 1997 when she re-entered the business. She last worked on air at KABC in 2001. Read the Times’ obit here.
Cool Job Opportunity. “PowerTalk 1360 and 1280” is searching for a local talk show host for afternoon drive in California’s Central Valley. Applicants must have spoken-word experience. General necessities include a passionate, opinionated, outspoken, larger-than-life personality with decidedly conservative values, obsession for news, politics, pop culture, and sports. The ideal candidate will bring an intuitive understanding of the unique values, morals and issues of the California Central Valley and be in sync with those values and perspectives. You must have the ability to speak to the audience as one of them; put a voice to their thoughts and beliefs…much more important than professional polish or experience. In a perfect world you have spent time working in the Central Valley but you don’t have to presently live in the Modesto/Stockton area. You will fully embrace the role of a LOCAL personality: specifically address and engage the LOCAL community issues, organizations, and interests, capitalize on endorsement opportunities, serve as station ambassador, be visible at all community functions, spearhead station and cluster community outreach. You must understand and dedicate your performance to the bottom line: your goals are ratings and unique visitors. See required skills and submit resume and demo here.