iHeartMedia Ups Joe De Angelis to SVP of Promotions. This corporate promotion to SVP of promotions for the iHeartMedia Markets Group for Joe De Angelis comes after serving as director of marketing and promotions for iHeartMedia New York and national event brand manager since 2015. In his new role, De Angelis will “oversee promotions efforts across iHeartMedia’s entire roster of iconic brands and franchises — broadcast and digital — and align promotional efforts across iHeartMedia markets by creating and spearheading iHeartMedia’s Promotions Center.” De Angelis will report to Scott Hopeck, division president for the iHeartMedia Markets Group. Hopeck says, “I’m thrilled to promote Joe to senior vice president of promotions. During his time with iHeartMedia New York, Joe has proven that he is more than qualified for this role. He has extensive experience overseeing all marketing and promotions initiatives for our New York City stations, as well as our national tentpole events. Joe is a natural leader and an exceptional collaborator. I’m confident that he will effectively evolve how we develop and execute promotions for our brands and our partners.”
Audacy’s Bennett Zier Honored with MLK Jr Community Leaders Award. Radio executive Bennett Zier – who serves as Audacy Virginia SVP and market manager – was honored by The Urban League of Hampton Roads at its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leaders event with the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leaders Award. Zier says, “I am honored to receive this award on behalf of the Audacy stations in Hampton Roads. It’s our goal every day to embrace our local communities and partner with local leaders to build awareness in key areas like education, health and job growth…all while promoting compassion in our daily lives.” The award is presented to individuals or groups who exemplify service, demonstrate the values modeled by Dr. King, and make significant contributions to the Hampton Roads community. This year, Pharrell Williams served as the keynote speaker for the virtual event to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and recognize dedicated leaders in the Hampton Roads community.
Compass Media Networks Promotes Doug Ingold. Eight-year Compass Media Networks staffer Doug Ingold is promoted to vice president of affiliate sales for entertainment & music programming, effective immediately. Ingold will continue to be based out of the company’s Los Angeles office and will continue to spearhead distribution of some of the company’s entertainment shows, including “Big D & Bubba,” “Dave & Mahoney,” “Free Beer & Hot Wings,” “Rick Dees,” “Pop Crush Nights,” “Taste of Country,” “Ultimate Classic Rock” and many others. Ingold comments, “Compass Media Networks commitment to music & entertainment programming is strong and I’m grateful to be contributing to its long-term growth. It’s a privilege to serve our affiliates and partners with a tremendous roster of talent, shows and digital assets. Many thanks to our team for their support and much gratitude to Peter Kosann, Hiram Lazar, and Adam Wilbur.”
‘Today’s Homeowner’ Announces Backyard Makeover Promotion. The nationally syndicated home improvement television show “Today’s Homeowner” announces the 2022 edition of the “Backyard Paradise” promotion is now accepting entries through February 13. The winner of this contest, sponsored by Pavestone and Quikrete, will receive a backyard makeover and be featured on “Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford.” Lipford’s Today’s Homeowner Media also syndicates a weekly radio program of the same name. Lipford says, “You can’t go wrong when developing an outdoor living area for your home. This contest is a highlight for me every year because it’s rewarding to work with homeowners who want to improve and invest in their homes. My team and I get to help bring a dream to reality, plus share some creative, practical inspiration with our audience.”
TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that public radio WBEZ-FM’s parent company “is moving forward on plans to acquire the Chicago Sun-Times — a merger designed to assure survival of the money-losing newspaper while creating one of the nation’s largest nonprofit local news organizations.” Feder says that the “financial terms were not disclosed, but major funding is expected from Michael Sacks, lead investor in the Sun-Times, along with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Pritzker Traubert Foundation…..PodcastOne announces the launch of the “Cobra Koves” podcast and vodcast with beloved “Cobra Kai” star Martin Kove. The podcast will make its debut tomorrow (1/20) and will feature Kove and his children, fraternal twins Jesse and Rachel, as they recap episodes of the Netflix global hit television series, share stories from the original Karate Kid trilogy of films and give insight into their close-knit family bond…..Today’s episode of ABC News’ flagship daily podcast “Start Here,” is the 1,000th episode of the program hosted by Brad Mielke…..The PGA TOUR and SiriusXM sign a multi-year extension of their broadcasting agreement, which will continue to deliver extensive tournament coverage on the SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio channel for subscribers nationwide through 2024. The deal provides for live coverage of every round of 38 PGA TOUR events throughout the season.
COVID-19, Midterm Elections/Trump & the GOP, Biden Press Conference, Violent Crime, Inflation/Supply Chain, Ukraine Standoff, Trump Organization Investigation, and Synagogue Attacker Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/18). The high rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, SCOTUS on Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, and mask purchase; the battle for control of Congress in the midterm elections and Donald Trump’s relationship with the GOP; today’s President Biden press conference; the rise of violent crime in America’s major cities; high retail and oil prices and the effect of the broken supply chain; relations between the U.S. and Russia over the Ukraine; the New York AG’s investigation into the Trump Organization; and the prior criminal record of Texas synagogue attacker Malik Faisal Akram were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Monday Memo: Say It Shorter. In this week’s concise column, consultant Holland Cooke barely says ANYTHING, “and that’s the point.” Read it here.
The Presidential Race, Biden VP Choice Speculation, Vote-By-Mail Debate, and Stimulus Exec Orders Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend (8/8-9). The November presidential election, speculation over Joe Biden’s pending VP selection, the failure of Congress to arrive at a new stimulus package with President Trump responding by signing contestable executive orders to move the process along as well as the controversy over his ongoing allegation that voting by mail encourages voter fraud were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this weekend according to TALKERS research of the most talked about topics on issues-oriented news/talk radio. Other heavily discussed topics over the weekend included the school closing debate and COVID-19 stats and projections.
Pending Business: Talk to the Winners. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes about how radio sales professionals should have faith in the resilience of local, small business based on the premise that many WILL survive the COVID-19 era. He suggests that radio sellers seek out those whose innovation clearly has them on a winning track and talk directly to them, customizing campaigns that are in sync with their efforts. Read it here.
Update: WAMU-FM Sexual Harassment. As we reported here last week (TALKERS, 8/5), American University-owned public news/talk outlet WAMU-FM, Washington, DC is in a state of chaos over sexual harassment allegations. WAMU-owned publication DCist ran a Rachel Kurzius-written story detailing allegations of harassment and improper behavior by former WAMU-FM reporter Martin Di Caro. Numerous employees were asking for station general manager J.J. Yore to resign, something he said he was not prepared to do. That situation changed, however, late last week as the station’s six-year general manager has indeed stepped down. Vice president of people and external affairs/chief of staff Seth Grossman states, “American University thanks JJ for his years of service to WAMU; we wish him well as he pursues his next endeavor. We are announcing a series of critical steps designed to address issues in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, human resources, and management, as well as how matters of misconduct are handled at WAMU. These actions are a combination of immediate and longer-term steps to accelerate WAMU’s work to enhance culture and workplace. The changes will provide important support to the WAMU staff, who we thank for continuing to focus on producing award-winning journalism that the Washington, DC region relies on amid this period of change. We believe these actions will offer support for the entire WAMU team and provide a foundation for the station’s next chapter.” An interim general manager will be named in “the next four to six weeks.” In addition, a human resources employee relations consultant with “proven experience in improving organizational culture and creating inclusive workplaces” will be put in-place. Interim chief content officer Monna Kashfi becomes the permanent chief content officer, overseeing WAMU and DCist. WAMU’s former chief content officer, Andi McDaniel, left the station last month to join Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ-FM, Chicago as president and chief executive officer; McDaniel begins those duties next month. As indicated in the The DCist piece, McDaniel was well aware of Di Caro’s behavior, having signed off on a “Level III Final Written Warning for Serious Misconduct” given to Di Caro after “almost two years” of complaints.
Coronavirus Affects Cumulus’ Q2 Numbers. Second quarter figures for Cumulus Media include a 47.8% year-to-year revenue decrease to $146 million. The company witnessed its net income transition from a gain of $42.9 million to a loss of $6.4 million and adjusted EBITDA dropping from $61.8 million to -$6.4 million. Despite the pandemic’s material impact on revenue, Cumulus Media president/chief executive officer Mary G. Berner explains, “The company generated over $90 million of cash in the quarter through quick and decisive expense actions, strong working capital management, and the completion of sale of land in Bethesda, Maryland. Ending the quarter with nearly $200 million of cash, we have entered into an agreement to monetize our tower portfolio for more than $210 million, proceeds which will further add to our liquidity and contribute to significant incremental debt paydown.” She adds, “Our demonstrated ability to rise to a challenge, strong liquidity position, and resilient balance sheet are critical assets as we operate through this uncertain environment. We believe we remain very well-positioned to drive long-term shareholder value through continued aggressive debt reduction and the execution of our growth initiatives.” Broadcast station revenue was down 51.6% to $114.2 million. Spot revenue was off 55.6% and network revenue declined by 42.7%. Meanwhile, digital revenue was up .7% to $20.3 million.
COVID-19 “Impacts” Townsquare Q2 Results. Commenting on selected results for the second quarter that ended June 30th, Townsquare Media chief executive officer Bill Wilson remarks that, as expected, the company’s “second quarter financial results were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Net revenue and Adjusted EBITDA declined 34.5% and 93.1%, respectively, as compared to the prior year. Advertising net revenue throughout the quarter, however, “experienced sequential improvement,” Wilson reports. “Together with our Live Events, net revenue has experienced the brunt of the negative business impact.” To Wilson’s point, one second quarter highlight is that, compared to the second quarter of 2019, Live Events net revenue decreased 99.5%. Wilson observes that by the end of the second quarter, “Advertising net revenue had materially improved, from -42.1% in April to -29.6% in June and continued to show improvement through July and early-August.” Townsquare Interactive added approximately 900 net subscribers, ending the quarter with approximately 20,750 subscribers, with Wilson commenting, “Townsquare Interactive’s growth continued in the second quarter, with net revenue increasing 10.5%, at an Adjusted Operating Income margin in excess of 30%, marking the ninth consecutive quarter of 850 (or more) net subscriber additions. During this pandemic, the Townsquare Interactive team became a tremendous resource for their local clients by strengthening online presence and capabilities and powering their online communication strategy. Our thesis has always been, that Townsquare Interactive is a recession-resistant subscription business and will continue to grow its revenue and subscriber base throughout the year.” Wilson explains that Townsquare Media “enacted approximately $1.7 million of monthly fixed cost savings during the second quarter, in addition to the reduction of variable costs related to the decline in revenue, which led to total direct operating expenses declining 14.8%, compared to the prior year. In addition, we have reduced our planned capital expenditures, which declined 30% in the second quarter compared to the prior year. Our board of directors elected to cease paying our quarterly dividend moving forward. Even with all the challenges and unknowns during this pandemic, we have not had to alter our core strategy. Instead, the pandemic placed a spotlight on the need to double-down on executing our existing long term strategy. We believe our ‘Local First’ strategy, together with our talented team and diversified and differentiated product offering, ensures that Townsquare will emerge from this crisis well-positioned for the future. Although a very tough Q2, we believe our revenue, profit and cash flow results will be among the best in the radio – as well as in the local media – industry.”
Why Are “You” Voting? That’s the simple question iHeartMedia is putting forth to listeners, cultural influencers, athletes, and musicians. It’s in advance of the November election, of course, when – in addition to the presidential contest – Americans will be voting for 35 Senate seats and all 435 House of Representative seats. Soundbites start today (Monday, 8/10) and run until Election Day (11/3). President of iHeartMedia entertainment enterprises John Sykes states, “With voter turnout expected to hit record numbers, ‘Why I’m Voting’ presents a rare opportunity for people of all backgrounds and beliefs to have their voices heard by millions of their fellow Americans before we cast our votes.” Listeners can record/submit their own 20 second or less audio or video message. Meanwhile, also debuting today (8/10) and running through Election Day is iHeartMedia’s longer-form “Why I’m Voting” podcast, which will feature conversations with a wide-range of celebrities on why/how this year’s election will shape our future. The podcast will showcase personal stories behind why voting means so much for our nation. The “Why Are You Voting” series of soundbites will air on iHeartMedia’s 850+ broadcast radio stations in 160 markets, podcasts, social media platforms, and the iHeartRadio app.
Podcast Ad Spending to Surpass $1 Billion Next Year. That forecast further predicts that more than one in five digital radio ad dollars will go toward podcasts. By the end of this year, podcast ad spending in the United States will reach $782 million, up 10.4% from last year, giving it a 21% share of the US digital radio ad market. Spending is expected to jump nearly 45% next year to $1.13 billion. Insider Intelligence eMarketer forecasting director Shelleen Shum comments, “Growth in podcast advertising spend will be more resilient this year relative to digital radio advertising as a whole, which will see double-digit declines. The continued growth in podcast advertising is no surprise, as investments have made podcasts accessible to a wider audience. The news genre, a focus of many podcast advertisers, has performed well during the pandemic. While some ad campaigns were paused due to the uncertainty from COVID-19 lockdowns, we expect a rebound in Q3 and Q4. One key challenge in podcast advertising is the lack of uniformity in measurement. [The Interactive Advertising Bureau] has released a set of guidelines to establish a common set of ad metrics for podcasts, which should bring some standardization to the industry and give advertisers more confidence.” This year, 105.6 million people in the US will listen to podcasts, the first time podcast listening will surpass 100 million.
KYW Silences Familiar Sound. Owing to pandemic-related budget cuts, a number of well-known voices on spoken-word and music-intensive formats across the country have been eased off the air. A longtime fixture at Entercom Philadelphia’s KYW “News Radio 1060” is gone, but it had nothing to do with the bottom line or COVID-19 – and it isn’t a human. The station has eliminated the teletype sound effect that – for decades – has been played underneath its news broadcasts. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, KYW program director/brand manager Alex Silverman remarks to The Philadelphia Inquirer, “They stopped making the ribbons for the trusty teletype in 1986 and our supply finally ran out; so, old reliable is out of commission until further notice.” To that, co-owned WIP “Sports Radio 94” brand manager Spike Eskin mocks in a tweet, “Just excuses again from Alex Silverman. Are we to believe he couldn’t find a new one on Ebay, or simulate the sound somehow? Does he think we are fools?” On a more serious note, Silverman states, “As technology has evolved over the years, so has KYW. The sound of the station should reflect the modern, nimble, multi-platform news organization we’ve become.” KYW has recently updated its jingle and logo. Entercom’s other top ten market news and news-talk hybrids include: WCBS-AM and WINS, New York City; KNX, Los Angeles; WBBM-AM & WCFS-FM, Chicago; KCBS-AM, San Francisco; and KRLD-AM, Dallas.
Leadership Training Program Accepting 2021 Applications. Designed to prepare senior-level broadcasters to advance into ownership or executive positions, the NAB’s Broadcast Leadership Training (BLT) program is accepting applications through August 19 for next year’s session. BLT program founder and dean/ ShootingStar Broadcasting founder, president, chief executive officer Diane Sutter states, “As we transition to a hybrid online and in-person model, we look forward to expanding the reach of the Broadcast Leadership Training program. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we cultivate the next class of diverse industry leaders and equip them with the knowledge and training to advance their careers.” As it moves into its 21st year, this executive MBA-style program teaches the fundamentals of purchasing, owning, and operating radio and television stations to senior-level broadcast professionals. All education sessions planned through the end of 2020 will be held online, with the starting gathering to be held next month (9/24 – 25). Broadcast professionals from all areas of the industry, including general managers, sales managers and department heads, as well as regional and corporate executives, are encouraged to apply. Fellowship opportunities are available for women and people of color. The complete schedule will be made available in early-October.
TALKERS News Notes. Starting one week from today (Monday, 8/17) and lasting through next Thursday (8/20), ABC News Radio is set to cover this year’s Democratic National Convention and plans to do the same the following week (8/24 – 27) for the Republican National Convention. Aaron Katersky and Karen Travers will anchor; Alex Stone, Ryan Burrow, and Jim Ryan are slated to serve as reporters; and Steve Roberts joins for analysis. Multiple one-minute “Status Reports” will air each night, as will the network’s daily Brad Mielke-hosted podcast, “Start Here.” Meanwhile, each day during the conventions, the Karl & Klein-hosted podcast “Powerhouse Politics” will release special editions featuring interviews and analysis … Former iHeartMedia Jacksonville senior vice president of programming Tommy BoDean joins Cumulus Media as operations manager of its four-station Melbourne (Florida) cluster, which includes sports talk WLZR “1560 The Fan.” Cumulus Media regional vice president Pete DeSimone comments, “I am really excited Tommy is joining the Cumulus Melbourne team. He’s going to make an immediate impact – and at a time [when] programming and operational leadership are critical.” BoDean adds, “The world we live in is changing every minute; radio has not just an opportunity, but an obligation, to get plugged in and help. Now is the perfect time to step into a role that both challenges and excites me every day.” In addition to his OM duties for WLZR and classic rock WROK “95.9 The Rocket,” BoDean will be the day-to-day program director for CHR WAOA “107.1 A1A” and country WHKR “102.7 Nash FM.” He previously was operations manager for iHeartMedia Cincinnati and programmed Nashville CHR WNFN “Hot 106.7.” … Effective today (Monday, 8/10), Bustos Media Tucson’s KVOI “AM 1030 The Voice” adds “The Joe Walsh Show” to its weeknight (7:00 pm – 9:00 pm) lineup and shifts “Our American Stories with Lee Habeeb,” which had been in that slot, to 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm … Twenty-year Spokane television and radio journalist Teresa Lukens will return to Morgan Murphy Media Spokane’s KXLY-AM “920 News Now” next Monday (8/17) as morning drive co-host. After three years as a reporter on KXLY-TV’s “Good Morning Northwest,” Lukens transitioned to radio as morning host on co-owned KXLY-FM “Classy 99.9 FM” and then as news anchor on KXLY-AM. Lukens left KXLY-TV in 2010 and hosted “Health Matters” on Spokane public television outlet KSPS.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Every Friday this month, iHeartMedia San Antonio joins forces with San Antonio Metro Health for the “Friday Night Virtual Dance Party” (7:00 – 7:30 pm). Participating stations within the iHM cluster include adult contemporary KQXT “Q-101.9”; CHR KXXM “96.1 Now;” country KAJA “KJ-7″; and Spanish contemporary KZEP “104.5 Latino Hits.” According to iHeartMedia San Antonio senior vice president of programming Jason McCollim, “There is nothing like the power of music. [We] are excited to partner with our friends at San Antonio Metro Health for ‘Friday Night Virtual Dance Party’ [and] look forward to raising our community spirit during these challenging times – all while abiding by the state’s safety guidelines to fight the COVID-19 virus.” Mayor Ron Nirenberg notes, “We want to send an encouraging and positive message to San Antonio to keep doing the things that make our city great, but do them in a safe way so we can continue to stop the spread.” … A country music special hosted by four-time Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan is among several, three-hour ABC Audio Labor Day weekend specials. “Luke Bryan: Born Here Live Here Die Here” takes listeners through each song on Bryan’s new album, which has produced three #1 singles. “Labor Day Rock Salute: Frontline Edition – From Speakeasy” honors frontline workers who stepped up during COVID-19. Hosted by ABC Audio’s Matt Wolfe, the special features hits from artists including ZZ Top, Alice Cooper, and Stevie Nicks. Top rock artists will also share what they’ve been up to during lockdown. Meanwhile, the Aaron Katersky-hosted news special “How America Works Now” explores how people are coping through the pandemic. It questions what the future of American life and labor may look like, and puts a spotlight on those adapting to the new normal … “CMT After MidNite with Cody Alan” takes over 12:00 midnight – 5:00 am duties in Santa Rosa, California on Amaturo Sonoma Media Group-owned KFGY “Froggy 92.9 Today’s Country.” Alan comments, “Our show is excited to be a part of the ‘Froggy 92.9’ lineup. We already feel like part of the ‘Froggy’ family. I can’t wait to get to Sonoma for a visit to wine country.” Amaturo Sonoma Media Group vice president of programming and operations Jim Murphy notes, “Cody creates unique, multiplatform content that really resonates with country fans; we couldn’t be happier to welcome him to the ‘Froggy’ family. The station’s revised lineup includes: Amber & Tanner (5:00 am – 10:00 am); Jenn (10:00 am – 3:00 pm); Dano (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm); Lia (7:00 pm – 12:00 midnight); and “CMT After MidNite with Cody Alan” (12:00 midnight – 5:00 am) … Former four-year wakeup duo at Hubbard Broadcasting St. Louis’ WIL “New Country 92.3, Bud Ford and Jerry Broadway (“Bud & Broadway”), sign with Houston-based SuiteRadio for morning show syndication, gearing up for next month’s start (9/7). The show will be represented on a market exclusive basis by Colbert Media Group. Prior to exiting WIL this past May, “Bud & Broadway” worked in Tulsa and Dothan, Alabama.
TALKERS EXCLUSIVE: A Conversation with Heidi Harris. As reported in TALKERS yesterday (6/16), KMZQ, Las Vegas morning host Heidi Harris has tested positive for COVID-19. She told her listeners on the air and via Facebook yesterday that she’s tested positive for COVID-19. Harris writes that she started with a cough last Thursday and, after getting worse that night, called in sick on Friday. She says she got considerably sicker over the weekend with intense body aches but did not suffer breathing troubles or nausea. She attempted to do her show yesterday from bed via phone. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison conducted a phone interview with Harris yesterday afternoon. To listen to the entire conversation, please click here.
PPM Analysis: All-News. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s May 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on all-news. Kinosian notes that “whereas the highly unusual statistical oddity from the March 2020 sweep in which every news station meeting our ratings criteria managed to post a 6+ improvement, all but two eligible news outlets experienced some degree of erosion in the May 2020 survey period (April 23 – May 20).” Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington (+0.3) and Entercom’s business news WDCH, Baltimore (+0.1) were the two news stations to see weekly, 6+ AQH share gains. However, almost 70% of all-news stations saw their 6+ numbers rise from the May 2019 survey to the May 2020 survey. Just one all-news station – Entercom’s WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago ranked #1 in May, though three others ranked #2. See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.
Art Bell’s Dark Matter Digital Network Re-Launches. The Dark Matter Digital Network that Art Bell created before his death in April of 2018 is re-launching through the efforts of Bell’s former show producer David Rubini who is now serving as DMDN’s operations director and executive producer. Rubini says that beginning today (6/17 – what would have been Bell’s 75th birthday) affiliates can pick up “Best of Art Bell” in addition to the new “Midnight in the Desert” show hosted by Nathan Stolpman on weeknights, Alexis Brooks on Friday nights, famed author and researcher Mike Bara (Ancient Aliens) on Saturday nights, and Hollywood director and actor Sean Stone (Born On The 4th of July, JFK, The Doors) hosting Sundays. Rubini says, “Dark Matter Digital Network has been intoxicating to many PDs who have a desperate need to find a traditionally unique, time-tested, and reliable programming alternative that can serve them both late nights and overnights. Dark Matter Digital Network and “Midnight in the Desert” fills this void.”
Beverlee Brannigan Exits SVP of Programming Post with SummitMedia. In an announcement via Facebook, radio pro Beverlee Brannigan says she’s left her SVP of programming position at SummitMedia less than six months after accepting the promotion from her previous Wichita market president and general manager position and corporate vice president of radio programming post. She writes, “Friday was my last day with SummitMedia. Business. It happens. Here’s what I don’t want you to say about that: ‘Radio sucks. I’ll never listen to those stations again.’ That’s dumb and mean. Business is hard, and my former colleagues and friends are putting their hearts into making their radio stations the best they can be. So please listen more. And advertise there, because it works… Another thing I’d like is more cat pictures and memes about punctuation and grammar showing up on my timeline. You know where to find me. See you soon.”
TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WGN-AM, Chicago is in talks with Garry Meier to take over the afternoon drive daypart on the station after current PM drive host Roe Conn’s contract runs out at the end of this year. Feder says his sources confirm Nexstar Media Group EVP Sean Compton is talking Meier about the move. Meier has been off terrestrial radio since exiting WGN in 2014. He’s been podcasting since 2016. Meier and Conn worked together as “Roe & Garry” on Cumulus Media’s crosstown WLS-AM from 1996 to 2004. Meier left WLS after being unable to come to terms on a new deal…..Nationally syndicated “Free Talk Live” announces two new affiliate stations are adding the show to their program schedules. Missouri Ozarks Radio Network Inc’s KWPM-AM/K286CK, West Plains, Missouri is carrying the “Free Talk Live” Saturday evening show. Dimes Media Corp’s KWWV-HD2/K253BR “K-News 98.5” is adding the Saturday and Sunday programs…..Entercom reports that, according to comScore, RADIO.COM grew its U.S. monthly unique users by 6 million in May 2020 versus May 2019, calling it the “fastest growing digital audio platform in the United States in May.” The company adds that RADIO.COM’s “total monthly active users across (MAU) all platforms is now over 40 million, with strong MAU growth also contributing to the platform’s expanding first-party data set and rapidly growing addressable audio impressions across both streaming and podcast.”…..As reported by The Current, Chicago Public Media announced it has laid off 12 and is ending the production agreement with the music show “Sound Opinions” as a result of the “financial pressures from the pandemic.” “Sound Opinions” is hosted by Chicago-based music critics Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot. The program will continue to air on CPM’s WBEZ-FM, Chicago and its affiliates across the country, but CPM will cease to produce it after August 28…..Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media announces the two companies have laid off more than two dozen employees and have cancelled, “Live from Here,” the national program that evolved out of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” “Live from Here” was hosted by Chris Thile…..The NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers and Estrella Media have struck a deal for Estrella’s KRCA-TV, Los Angeles and KBUE-FM “Que Buena” to serve as the official Spanish-language TV and radio homes of the Los Angeles Chargers.
SiriusXM Acquires Simplecast Platform. The combination of SiriusXM’s newly acquired podcast management platform Simplecast with its monetization platform AdsWizz “creates an end-to-end solution that enables creators to publish and generate revenue from their podcasts, all in one place.” SiriusXM offers no details on the financial aspect of the acquisition but says, “The acquisition expands and strengthens SiriusXM’s and Pandora’s tools and monetization services for podcasters and publishers.”
COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Beijing Coronavirus Flareup, BLM Protests/Statues Controversy, Trump’s Police Executive Order, John Bolton Book, Presidential Race/Tulsa Rally, Social Media Censorship, Financial Markets Activity, and China-India Himalayan Battle Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/16). The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., the states with rising and falling numbers, and projections for future cases and deaths; the outbreak of COVID-19 in Beijing; the Black Lives Matter protests, Seattle’s CHOP zone, and the controversy surrounding Confederate and Colonial-era statues; President Trump’s police training executive order; the Trump administration’s suit to prevent former national security adviser John Bolton from publishing his book; the presidential race and President Trump’s planned Tulsa rally; the reactions to Google’s and Facebook’s treatment controversial content and ads; the world’s financial markets react to the pandemic and racial strife; and the battle between China and India over a Himalayan border region 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 weekend country music radio show “Buckwild Saturday Night” – hosted by Bryan “B-Dub” Washington – changes its name to “B-Dub Radio Saturday Night as it transitions to distribution via Skyview Networks. B-Dub says, “I am beyond excited to partner with Skyview Networks for the rebrand into ‘B-Dub Radio Saturday Night.’ The team at Skyview Networks has shared detailed and impressive ideas that will continue growing the show and adding to the listener experience through our amazing affiliates. I’m thrilled to be part of this new vision!” Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones says, “Country radio programmers are constantly seeking partners who offer high-quality content and talent. B-Dub is the partner for them. With an ability to create a weekly party for his listeners, B-Dub will continue to grow his radio network and offer a smart investment return for his advertisers.”…..Nationally syndicated radio personality Tino Cochino is launching a new podcast titled, “The Aircheck,” in which he sits down with other radio stars from around the country to share stories about radio. Cochino’s recent guests have featured a who’s who of talent, including Bobby Bones, JoJo Wright, Ebro Darden, J-Si Chavez, and more. He says, “I love radio. To me, the personalities are and have always been the stars. The thing is, they’re the ones always doing the interview. No one ever interviews them! That changes now.”
Cumulus Announces Furlough and Pay Cut Plans. It was the last of the large radio companies to take drastic measures, but Tuesday (4/7) Cumulus Media CEO Mary Berner made her employees aware of the company’s plans via a video message. Berner told her workforce that the Covid-19 plan was temporary and will be implemented in the coming days. As part of the plan, Cumulus’ salaried staffers will take three non-consecutive weeks of furlough over the course of 15 weeks that begins on April 20. For the group of employees who don’t have supervisors or don’t have anyone else who can cover for them, they will work for 90-days without pay, beginning April 16. For those employees whose duties have been reduced or eliminated, they are on a 90-day furlough, starting April 16. Berner said the company intends to bring all furloughed employees back when full-scale business operations resume. She is taking a 50% pay cut during this period and says the executive leadership team is taking a 25% cut and is giving up incentive compensation for the year. She said, “Even though these are intended to be temporary actions, I know they are going to land hard – really hard – and that is in the emotional and financial toll that a furlough or salary cut will take on each of you, but also in terms of the increased workload the vast majority of you will have to take on during your co-workers’ furlough weeks. I am truly sorry and sad about this announcement. None of you deserves this.” It’s unclear how the company is dealing with its union-represented air staffers.
‘The Mighty 990’ in Memphis Offering Week of Free Advertising. Memphis news/talk KWAM-AM/W300DE “The Mighty 990” is offering small businesses in the Memphis market a free week of advertising. Starnes Media Group says, “It’s just one significant way the news/talk radio station is lending a helping hand to the community during the global pandemic.” Company CEO Dalton Glasscock adds, “We’ve covered the stories of neighbors and small businesses in this community sacrificing to help in this fight against our invisible enemy. These people, their businesses, and their stories have inspired us to do what we can to help them and other businesses that need an extra hand during this time.” The company adds that Glasscock and president Todd Starnes are not taking their salaries during the pandemic and are committed to their staffers.
‘Cats Roundtable’ to Air on WABC, New York. The nationally syndicated “Cats Roundtable with John Catsimatidis” begins airing on “TALK RADIO 77 WABC” in New York at 9:00 am this Sunday (4/12). Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Media recently closed on its purchase of the radio station and assumed operations. Catsimatidis’ show features “A-list guests from politics, business, science, and more.” Guests on the program have included: Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Senators Rand Paul, Richard Blumenthal, Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles Schumer, Secretary Hillary Clinton, and more. Catsimatidis says, “It’s exciting for me to have my show on the legendary 77 WABC. WABC is a staple in talk radio and a vital part of New York City. I love New York, and I’m looking forward to welcoming all the new listeners from 77 WABC.” Red Apple Media and WABC Radio president Chad Lopez says, “John’s personal relationships give him unprecedented access to world leaders and newsmakers. We’re delighted to welcome ‘The Cats Roundtable’ to our lineup of great talk shows and to give our advertisers the opportunity to connect with John’s engaged listeners.”
TALKERS News Notes. The content creation deal between iHeartMedia and Aaron Mahnke is extended and includes two more years of new content for the popular “Cabinet of Curiosities” podcast, two new seasons of “Unobscured,” as well as an executive producer role for the newly launched hit “Strange Arrivals,” additional seasons of “Noble Blood” and a new scripted series set to launch this fall. Additionally, the partnership will add a slate of five new podcasts to feature groundbreaking talent including Rabia Chaudry – attorney, advocate, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, Adnan’s Story…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that former WGN-AM evening host Justin Kaufmann is returning to his public radio roots at Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ-FM to host a two-hour, Saturday afternoon call-in show on the coronavirus pandemic. Before joining WGN five years ago, Kaufmann worked for WBEZ for 21 years…..Entercom sports talk WFAN, New York announces the second season of the Travelers Insurance-sponsored Sunday morning program, “Talkin’ Golf with Ann Liguori,” is airing on the station through June 28. Entercom programming SVP Mark Chenoff comments, “Ann is a WFAN original and continues to serve as our premier golf reporter, also covering the U.S. Open Tennis Championship and other special events for the station. No one is more dialed into the sport than Ann and we’re looking forward to the return of her show, giving listeners an inside look at movers and shakers in the game, including players, celebrities, authors, broadcasters and other newsmakers in the world of golf.”…..iHeartMedia Cleveland’s news/talk WTAM and rock WMMS-FM and three local TV outlets joined together last Saturday for a broadcast fundraising effort to help raise more than $150,000 for United Way of Greater Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to assist families in need during the Covid-19 crisis.
U.S. Coronavirus Cases and Death Toll, the Hydroxychloroquine Debate, Trump WHO Criticism, Wisconsin Primary, Acting Navy Secretary Resigns, and Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). The number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. and the death toll; the debate over prescribing the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to combat the coronavirus; President Trump’s criticism of the World Health Organization and his threat to withhold U.S. funds from the organization; the decision to go ahead with Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Wisconsin; acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigns from his post after his controversial badmouthing of the USS Theodore Roosevelt captain; and the state of the presidential race 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. International advocacy organization Global Citizen and the World Health Organization are presenting “One World: Together At Home” a program that will be globally televised and streamed in support of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s taking place on Saturday, April 18, 2020 at 8:00 pm EDT on ABC, NBC, ViacomCBS Networks, iHeartMedia, and Bell Media networks and platforms in Canada. “The virtual broadcast will show unity among all people who are affected by COVID-19 and will also celebrate and support brave healthcare workers doing life-saving work on the front lines. At this critical moment in history, Global Citizen is also calling on philanthropists to join and support immediate COVID-19 response efforts as part of the organization’s Give While You Live effort. Investors, changemakers and foundation leaders are being urged to actualize their giving and invest quickly in related efforts like stronger health systems and vaccine development.”…..A casualty of the coronavirus-related programming changes at Entercom includes the end of “The TJ Show” on CHR WODS, Boston “103.3 AMP Radio.” The program, hosted by TJ Taormina with co-hosts Loren and Producer Matt, has aired on the station since 2013. Taormina served with iHeartMedia’s WHTZ, New York on the Elvis Duran program prior to joining WODS…..The Compass Media Networks-syndicated “DeDe in the Morning” program adds new affiliate stations: WLGZ, Rochester “105.5 The Beat,” KFXZ-FM, Lafayette, Louisiana; KJMP-AM, Ft. Collins; KJMZ-FM, Woodward, Oklahoma; and KKST-FM, Alexandria, Louisiana. DeDe McGuire states, “Our show is a family. We share our laughs and reveal our personal stories about how we are coping with this pandemic and the new normal it’s creating in our lives. We are all in this together. Connecting to family, friends, and community is more important than ever.”…..Programming pro John Shomby exits his NASH director of programming position and WKDF, Nashville PD role with Cumulus Media. He joined Cumulus in 2016 after serving as director of programming for Max Media’s Norfolk station group for 13 years.
PPM Analysis: All-News. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s December 2019 PPM survey with a focus on all-news stations. As the calendar inches closer to the holidays each year, listening to spoken-word radio usually dips to some extent and the end of 2019 was no different. Fifty-three percent of all-news stations saw their 6+ weekly AQH share decline from the November survey to December, with 33% going up and 13% staying flat. More concerning for all-news operators was the year-over-year decrease. Seventy-three percent of all-news stations were down from December 2018 to December 2019 with just 27% improving. The lone big gainer there was Entercom’s KCBS-AM, San Francisco in which it put together a 2.1 share increase. KCBS-AM was also the only all-news station to rank #1 in its market in December. WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago ranked #3, as did Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington. See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.
NOW POSTED: New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” 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 on the website of its flagship station, iHeartMedia’s WONK-FM, Washington, DC (1/3). The new episode titled, “Roaring Not Boring Twenties!” looks back at this past week of December 30, 2019 – January 3, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Curtis Sliwa, talk show host, WABC, New York; Gary Sutton, talk show host, WSBA, York, PA; J.D. Hayworth, radio-TV talk host / former US Representative (R-AZ); Christopher Ruddy, CEO, Newsmax / Newsmax TV; Graham Mack, talk show host / program director, FIX Radio, London, UK; and Don Imus (1940 -2019), legendary talk show host. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on WONK-FM, Washington, DC on Friday evenings between 6:00-7:00 pm. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KFNX, Phoenix; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA as well as appearing on the iHeartRadio App. To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.
Entercom Announces New CBS Sports Radio Lineup; ‘The DA Show’ to Mornings. The CBS Sports Radio network has a new lineup for 2020, Entercom announces. Entercom SVP of programming Jeff Sottolano says, “Our new CBS Sports Radio lineup will provide enhanced programming for fans and further cement our place as a leader in national sports coverage. Damon Amendolara – “DA” – has continued to demonstrate that he is a rising star in the format and will excel with his move to mornings. We are thrilled to add the Westwood One-produced Pat McAfee program to the network lineup and happy to introduce our audience to Zach Gelb at night.” Westwood One remains the exclusive sales and distribution partner for the network. The daily lineup is as follows: “The DA Show” in AM drive; “The Pat McAfee Show” from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon; “The Jim Rome Show” from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm; “Tiki and Tierney” from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm; Zach Gelb from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm: “Ferrall on the Bench” from 10:00 pm to 2:00 am; and Amy Lawrence from 2:00 am to 6:00 am.
Mary Dixon Appointed WBEZ-FM, Chicago Morning Anchor. Former triple A WXRT-FM, Chicago morning drive co-host Mary Dixon – recently let go by the Entercom station as part of a number of air talent moves – is signing on with public outlet WBEZ-FM as morning news anchor and local “Morning Edition” host. The Chicago Tribune says Dixon begins training next week and takes to the air in February. She takes over for Lisa Labuz who is moving to the midday anchor position. Dixon had co-hosted the morning show on WXRT with Lin Brehmer for the past 20-plus years. Brehmer moves to the midday show on WXRT.
TALKERS News Notes. New York sports talk personality Bart Scott will not begin his radio show with Alan Hahn on ESPN’s WEPN “ESPN New York” until January 20. According to Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, Entercom threatened legal action to keep Scott from starting on time – he was expected to start yesterday (1/2). But an ESPN spokesperson says WEPN GM Tim McCarthy wanted to give Scott some time off since he finished his stint with WFAN by working right up until Christmas…..iHeartMedia Erie launches a new station airing podcasts available on the iHeartRadio platform. The station WLTM-FM (just across the state line in Mina, New York) is branded “iHeartPodcast 95.9 FM” and showcases “today’s most popular podcasts,” allowing listeners to discover them through the radio. iHeartMedia Erie SVP of programming Joe Lang says, “We’re thrilled to welcome the iHeartPodcast Channel to the Erie community. Now our local listeners have even more access to a variety of their favorite iHeart podcasts, while helping them discover new podcast content all through the power of radio. From true crime to history, comedy to food, this station will offer a wide variety of topics every week.”…..iHeartMedia North Dakota launches the new “Dakota Farm and Ranch Report” – a three to four-minute report that airs five times on weekday mornings on news/talk KFYR and country KBMR in Bismarck, North Dakota; country KLTC-AM, Dickinson, North Dakota; and country KCJB-AM in Minot, North Dakota. North Dakota rancher and broadcaster Scott Bachmeier joins iHeartMedia Bismarck as farm and ranch director and host of the “Dakota Farm and Ranch Report.” iHeartMedia North Dakota market president Charlie Thomas says, “We realize farming and ranching in the Dakotas is unique and we wanted to offer a custom informational show that would focus on international, national, and state agricultural issues, but also dedicate a fair amount of time to the issues that affect farms and ranches a little closer to home.”…..Newsday’s Neil Best reports that John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman will return to call New York Yankees games on Entercom-owned radio flagship WFAN, New York for the 2020 season. This will be the duo’s 16th season behind the mics together…..Condolences to the family and friends of former Montgomery, Alabama talk host Mark Montiel, who passed away recently. Montiel, also a practicing attorney in the area, worked at Cumulus Media from 2011 through 2017, hosting his own program on news/talk WLWI-AM. Cumulus Montgomery operations manager Rick Hendrick tells the Alabama News Network, “Working with Mark Montiel was awesome. He was very outspoken. He’s like me, just very outspoken and very opinionated which makes good radio for us here at Cumulus. It was awesome to work with him.”
U.S. Embassy in Iraq Protests and Middle East Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories This Week. The violent protests at the U.S. embassy in Iraq and the subsequent killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. air strike was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 on this week’s chart is the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Close behind at #3 is the 2020 presidential race, followed by the New York City Hanukkah attack and the related rise of anti-Semitism and race relations 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. In Pennsylvania’s Lancaster-York-Harrisburg market, programming and on-air pro Ronnie Ramone is upped to program director for Hall Communications’ hot AC WROZ “Fun 101.3.” He’ll continue hosting the evening show on the station. Cluster VP/general manager Billy Baldwin says, “Ronnie has been instrumental in building the ‘Fun 101.3’ brand in Central Pennsylvania. He has been our go-to guy on so many things for so long and we are excited to give him this opportunity.”…..At iHeartMedia’s Wichita cluster, senior vice president of programming Jim Dorman takes over the program director role for adult contemporary KRBB “B98.” He also is PD for country KZSN. Additionally, alternative KTHR, Wichita program director Manny Cowzinski adds PD duties for sister CHR KZCH “Channel 96-3.” Dorman says, “Manny has shown he has the passion and skills to not only program alternative ‘ALT 107-3,’ but also program ‘Channel 96-3.’