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 on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM in Washington, DC. This new episode titled “BLM and MLB!” looks back at this past week of July 20-24, 2020. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, Gainesville, GA; Lars Larson, talk show host KXL, Portland/Compass Media Networks; Thom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD Media; Steve Trevelise, talk show host, New Jersey 101.5/WIP, Philadelphia; and Dr. Renee Kohanski, forensic psychiatrist/commentator, “MD Edge Psychcast.” 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 WRKO, Boston; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; 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; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; Pioneer Valley Radio in 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.
Mike Francesa Announces Retirement from WFAN and RADIO.COM. New York City sports talk legend Mike Francesa announced on Thursday’s program that this afternoon’s program (Friday, July 24) would be his last regularly scheduled show on “The Fan.” He told his listeners, “Tomorrow night will be my last regularly scheduled broadcast on ‘The Fan.’ I have been discussing this with the company for a while. We agreed I would stay until sports came back. The reason – I have cut back dramatically. This has been a very strange year. It has made me think about different things and do different things.” Francesa has been at Entercom’s WFAN for 33 years. He left the station at the end of 2017 when his contract ran out and WFAN replaced him with Chris Carlin, Bart Scott, and Maggie Gray, but Francesa returned four months later and resumed his afternoon show, bumping the trio to middays. At the end of 2019, Francesa’s schedule was dramatically changed as he began hosting a half-hour program on WFAN and a full hour on the company’s digital platform RADIO.COM. Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts moved from middays into the afternoon drive slot. Senior vice president and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Mike has been the heart of WFAN for over 30 years, and though his day in and day out presence has come to an end, that bond happily will continue. The future of WFAN as the premiere sports platform in New York is bright, and that is in large part to the foundation that Mike has helped build.”
WHUB-AM, Cookeville, Tennessee Celebrates 80th Anniversary. Pictured above (from l-r) are Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton, WHUB program director and morning drive host Brent Fleshman, and Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter recognizing the 80th anniversary of the Zimmer Broadcasting station. It went on the air on July 20, 1940. Fleshman – a 2016 NAB Marconi winner for Small Market Personality of the Year – tells TALKERS magazine that the company recently built a brand-new studio specifically for the news/talk station to accommodate more guests.
iHeartMedia Adds Sports Talker to Eau Claire, Wisconsin Market. There’s a new sports talk outlet in the Eau Claire, Wisconsin market as iHeartMedia drops the classic hits simulcast on WBIZ-AM/W254CN and launches “98-7 The Fan” on the two signals The station cherry-picks sports talk shows heard in other Wisconsin and Minnesota markets for its programming. Morning drive “The Power Trip” and 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show “The Common Man” emanate from the company’s KFXN, Minneapolis “KFAN” and late morning “Nine to Noon with John Kuhn” and afternoon drive “Drew & KB” are based at WRNW-FM, Milwaukee “97.3 The Game.” iHeartMedia SVP of programming Dave DeVille says, “The Chippewa Valley is often a house divided when it comes to Wisconsin and Minnesota sports teams. We’ve curated a home base station for all sports fans to enjoy.” The station will air Chippewa Valley area high school sports and professional sports including Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Wild, Minnesota Vikings and Milwaukee Bucks.
TALKERS News Notes. WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is celebrating its 40th anniversary on the air. Walt Palmer is director of broadcast operations, engineering, and programming for the Resort Broadcasting Co station. He tells TALKERS magazine, “‘Sunny 92.7’ music morphed to ‘The TALK of Delmarva,’ providing 20 hours of live programming, 10 of which are live and local. Resort Broadcasting has assured listeners it is committed to serving the local communities with news, talk, sports, and information.” The station features local hosts Mike Bradley in AM drive, Jake Smith in late mornings, and Duke Brooks in afternoon drive…..SmartTalk Radio Network and WCGO, Chicago talk radio personality Blanquita Cullum – host of “The Hard Question” – is the moderator of the Voices Against Trafficking international human rights forum that will stream via Facebook Live on July 29 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm ET. Cullum tells TALKERS magazine, “Human trafficking is the world’s fastest-growing, multibillion-dollar criminal industry exploiting men, women, and children across the globe. This program will feature leading national and international human rights activists sharing details on many aspects of the current state of human trafficking.” Guest speakers include: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, numerous U.S. members of congress, internet safety leaders, law enforcement experts, and survivors who are forging a new path for human rights…..Entercom’s St. Louis news/talk KMOX “News Radio 1120” renews to serve as an outlet for Kansas City Chiefs football play-by-play and will simulcast broadcasts from sister station WDAF-FM, Kansas City “106.5 The Wolf,” the team’s flagship station.
Birach Broadcasting Flips WCXI, Detroit to News/Talk. Detroit outlet WCXI-AM flips from oldies to conservative talk using a lineup of conservative talk shows from Premiere Networks and FOX News Radio. Branded “Freedom 1160 WCXI” by owner Birach Broadcasting Corporation, the station’s lineup consists of: “FOX News Rundown” from 5:00 am to 9:00 am, Glenn Beck from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, “FOX Across America with Jimmy Failla” from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, Guy Benson from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Buck Sexton from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Dan Bongino from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight, and “Coast to Coast AM with George Noory” in overnights.
Schools Opening Debate Top News/Talk Story for Week of July 20-24. The debate over how to safely open schools this fall was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the spike in COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future cases. Coming in at #3 was talk about health care, vaccine development, and the $1.95 billion deal for Pfizer to develop a vaccine, followed by the state of the U.S. economy and the GOP-crafted stimulus package 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 complete chart here.
Independent Broadcasters Association Organizes. The new Independent Broadcasters Association announces that it has filed articles of incorporation in the State of Minnesota and is “officially in business.” Founding organizer Ron Stone of Adams Radio Group says, “We filed the articles last Friday, on a day where we were 96% of our 3,000-station goal. 2,877 stations had signed up, represented by just under 600 owners / operators. We continue to have additional owners signing up every day.” He adds that the initial board of directors has been selected and includes: Deborah Barrera, R Communications; Kristin Cantrell, Seven Mountains Media and Cap City Communications; Darrell Calton, Iliad Media Group; Allen Dick, Dick Broadcasting; Mike Flood, Flood Communications; Kenneth Forte, R&F Communications; Charles Johnson, Northstar Broadcast; Kimberly Martinez, All Pro Broadcasting; Gregory Pretko, Southern Stone Communications; Kelly Radandt, Woodward Radio Group; Tony Renda, Renda Broadcasting; David Stephens, Stephens Media Group; Ron Stone, Adams Radio Group; Tony Richards, Kensington Digital; Cindy Taylor, Ohio Midland Newsgroup; Rebecca White, Salem Media (of Indiana); and Sandra Woodruff, Northwest Indy Radio. Stone adds, “Our first board meeting will be scheduled for next week, to decide mostly organizational matters and to approve our business plan. We will have a conference call with everyone that has signed up on www.radioiba.org schedule shortly after the board meeting to review the business plan and goals of the IBA.” New members are still being accepted.
TALKERS Magazine Publishes the 2020 Heavy Hundred. The editors of TALKERS magazine announce the publication of the 2020 edition of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America – what has become known over the years as the Heavy Hundred. This year’s Heavy Hundred is compiled by the editors of TALKERS magazine using such factors as: ratings, revenue, courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, recognition, service, talent, and uniqueness. We acknowledge that it is as much art as science and that the results are arguable. The editors would like to acknowledge that the publication of this year’s list was delayed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the radio industry. However, it’s also important to note that it is times like these that talk radio personalities have the opportunity to become an even more important part of their listeners’ lives by delivering the information they need and providing the opportunity to hear debate about and take part in discussions concerning the events affecting their lives. Those who do that well are usually rewarded with success. We are proud to publish the 2020 Heavy Hundred in which we salute those hosts our editors believe are serving their listeners and advertisers in way that puts them among the “most important.” See this year’s Heavy Hundred here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Bringmethenews.com reports that Northern Lights Broadcasting has let go of alternative KQGO “Go 96.3” morning show “Ben and Dana” – Ben Holsen and Dana Wessel – in a budget-related move. Wessel tweeted to listeners: “Got some news to share. I was let go by ‘Go963.’ Covid is having a big impact on a lot of businesses and radio is no different. I wanna say thanks and send love to all my colleagues, especially Ben for putting up with me every morning. I have been at ‘Go’ since the day it launched and poured my heart and soul into it.”…..Cox Media Group Orlando moves CHR WPYO afternoon host Danie B and evening personality Kevin Kon to the morning drive daypart as “Danie & Kevin Mornings on Power 95.3.” WPYO brand manager Will Calder says, “I have been watching their chemistry for years and they truly are the best of friends and have the kind of relationship with each other – and our listeners – that make those deep memorable, emotional connections. Moving them to mornings felt like such a natural fit as they will definitely take over Central Florida.”…..iHeartMedia appoints Christopher Squire vice president of sales for its Philadelphia station group, effective immediately. Squire was most recently general sales manager for Townsquare Media’s Trenton-Princeton stations. Senior vice president of sales Jeff Moore states, “I am thrilled to add Chris to our team. He is someone that I’ve gotten to know over the past few years and have been impressed by his leadership qualities, his ability to build meaningful relationships with client partners and his dedication to helping the people he works with succeed. His positive outlook and enthusiasm are contagious and I can’t wait to continue to build on our team’s success with his help.”…..Sales and management pro Johnette Cochran has been director of sales for Adams Radio Group’s five station Salisbury-Ocean City, Maryland operations consisting of five music brands since December of 2019. Now, she rises to vice president and general manager for the cluster. She says, “I’m delighted to grow into this position with Adams Radio Group. Becoming a general manager has always been my goal and I am blessed to have this opportunity on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware. I have been connecting to the community in a limited way during Covid, and now I’m free to truly get out and get to know the people in this great market.”
Clear Channel Releases Results of ‘Audio Space’ Study; Growth in New Platforms Means Audio Consumption Is ‘Additive.’ The study was a combined effort with MediaVest and Clear Channel Media + Entertainment and surveyed “thousands of audio listeners who use one or more of the following audio sources personal music collections (CDs, iTunes downloads), broadcast radio, streaming AM/FM radio, custom online playlists, satellite radio, online music videos and digital music channels on TV shows.” Among the results of the study is the conclusion that “because of the use of alternate audio devices, time spent across audio platforms continues to increase and growth in audio is predominantly additive.” The goal of the study was to determine when, why and how consumers choose different audio platforms and some of the conclusions reached are: afternoon drive (3:00 pm to 7:00 pm) generally sees the highest usage; the car remains the most popular location for audio listening throughout the day; 63% of teens listen to more than two audio platforms a day – the highest of any demographic; broadcast radio is the most popular audio platform; listeners choose broadcast radio to stay connected to “the world,” top drivers for radio usage are its accessibility, timely news, traffic, weather, engagement with radio personalities and discovering new music; personal music collections (CDs, iTunes downloads, etc.) are about control with 81% choosing the platform to control or customize their listening experience. Custom playlists are also about control and follow with 67% choosing the platform for this reason; 41% of consumers are willing to listen to ads in exchange for free online audio. Ads related to the music consumers like and optimized for the time of day are most powerful. MediaVest EVP and research director David Shiffman states, “In the audio space, most measurement focuses on a single audio platform, rather than a complete view of the landscape. Our goal in working with Clear Channel – with its extensive experience in both live and digital radio – was to generate a real-time and accurate view of the audio space, which we believe is going through an evolution similar to television. Marketers have embraced the concept of multi-screen consumer behavior, but audio media also provides a tremendous opportunity for them to connect with their target audience throughout their day.”
2014 CES: Innovate or… Reporting for TALKERS from the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas is media consultant Holland Cooke who writes that one of the hottest topics during CEA CEO Gary Shapiro’s interview with FCC chairman Tom Wheeler was spectrum auction; that all of the five FCC commissioners where there and he was able to ask a question or two about AM revitalization of Ajit Pai; about some very revealing stats that show why smart broadcasters are taking advantage of posting video to YouTube (and why you should, too); and even more about the ‘connected car’ that is the focus of so much of the audio and information sector at the show. Read Holland Cooke’s report here.
Saga Portland President Pahigian Prepares To Exit. Fifteen-year Portland Radio Group president Cary Pahigian broke the news to his staff yesterday (1/8) he will soon be leaving the Maine operation. According to Pahigian, he told Saga vice president Warren Lada about a year ago that he was evaluating his next professional challenge. “I was certainly happy and fortunate to be working with the finest group of people I have ever met,” Pahigian wrote in a staff memo. “Still, the impending 15-year mark was activating an area in my brain that had been quiet for years. Warren asked me to forge ahead and see how I felt at the end of 2013. The only way to properly examine what I wanted to do and aggressively pursue that opportunity, was to focus on it 100%. It would be impossible to conduct that process and still remain at my best with the demands of this job.” Pahigian continues his duties at the operation until his successor is hired. Prior to his 15-year Portland, Maine tenure as president of the eight-station cluster, Pahigian was a 26-year-old station manager at heritage Boston outlet WBZ-AM; corporate vice president of operations for Sconnix Broadcasting; and he programmed Philadelphia’s WIP.
WABC, New York to Air Bob Grant Special. The longtime home to late talk radio pioneer Bob Grant will air a special broadcast in his honor this weekend. Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York – where Grant worked daily from 1984-1996 and again weekly from 2009-2013 – is airing the special program that “will feature notable moments from the talk show host as well as comments from broadcasters inspired by Mr. Grant. Also, included in the special are thoughts and comments from members of Mr. Grant’s immediate family.” WABC program director Craig Schwalb said, “WABC is proud to produce this special to honor the late Bob Grant, a true legend in our industry. We hope our listeners will enjoy this opportunity to remember his contribution to WABC and to the city of New York.” The show will air Saturday 1/11 at 5:00 pm and Sunday 1/12 at 4:00 pm. Grant died on December 31, 2013 after an illness at age 84.
WEEI.com Keeps Its Team Intact. All contributing writers and columnists of Boston’s WEEI.com have signed new contracts for this calendar year. Alex Speier, Mike Petraglia, DJ Bean, Christopher Price, and Jerry Spar will continue blogging, opining, and reporting breaking sports news for the site, as well as appearing regularly on Entercom-owned Boston sports outlet WEEI-FM. They join Kirk Minihane and Celtics beat writer Ben Rohrbach. Last week, “Dennis & Callahan” morning show co-host Minihane signed a long-term deal as the site’s opinion editor. “It is a privilege to work alongside such a talented and dedicated group of sports journalists,” comments site editor Rob Bradford. “There isn’t another sports radio station in the country with WEEI’s commitment to enterprise journalism. Boston sports fans have come to expect us to be first with breaking news and commentary wherever they engage with our brand.” WEEI brand manager Kevin Graham remarks, “[These guys] live and breathe Boston sports and they are respected throughout the Boston sports landscape for their journalistic integrity. In this sports-crazed market that boasts some of the most esteemed writers in the business, they stand among the best-in-breed.” WEEI.com recently won the 2013 RAIN Internet Radio award for “Best Streaming Radio Station in America.”
WTOP, Washington Touts Page View Growth. Hubbard Radio all-news WTOP, Washington, DC reports that it realized “a 30% overall increase in page views to WTOP.com, averaging more than 22 million page views and reaching more than 1.8 million unique users per month.” The organization adds that “a number of major news stories in the nation’s capital contributed to this growth, including sequestration, the government shutdown, and the Navy Yard shooting. WTOP.com also strengthened its commitment to unique local content with the launch of two new verticals – Living and Technology – and the introduction of the live blog for breaking news…WTOP’s growth can also be attributed to its strategic use of social media. Traffic to WTOP.com from Facebook and Twitter grew by 150% in 2013, making WTOP one of the top five social media players in the DC market.” WTOP director of digital media John Meyer says, “While news judgment will always be the primary factor in story selection, we have editorial meetings throughout the day, using a variety of statistical tools to determine how our homepage is performing. Armed with the most recent data on what people are searching, clicking, and sharing, we can adjust accordingly.”
Mark DePrez Named VP/GM at Farm Journal Media. Former longtime WOWO, Fort Wayne general manager and Federated Media COO Mark DePrez joins Farm Journal Media as VP/GM of the company’s radio business. In this position DePrez will oversee such shows as “AgriTalk with Mike Adams” and “American Countryside with Andrew McCrea.” The company also reports that a new commodity markets-focused show hosted by Chip Flory is being prepared to launch in the early spring. Farm Journal Broadcast SVP Brian Conrady says, “We are thrilled to have Mark join our team. Radio has quickly become an important part of Farm Journal’s integrated go-to-market media strategy, and Mark has the experience, the talent and the tenacity to further spur this growth.” DePrez comments, “It’s fascinating to see the role radio plays as part of an integrated marketing solution in agriculture. I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot about Farm Journal’s cross-platform content and how radio can fit. I’m excited to be part of this expanding radio business.”
Jimmie Kaska Named Sports Director at WBIZ, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The new title for Jimmie Kaska comes as he takes over the sports director role at Clear Channel’s WBIZ, Eau Claire, Wisconsin from Mike Sullivan who held the position for the past 40 years. The station notes that during Sullivan’s tenure, “he was responsible for getting games on the air involving local teams performing in over 200 venues in 30 states, one territory and two foreign countries. Of those roughly 8,000 games, only two did not get on the air. Sullivan also negotiated rights fees and made other arrangements for airing over 10,000 games involving professional and college teams in Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as nationally broadcast events. WBIZ-AM was the first 24-hour sports station in Wisconsin, and one of the first 10 in the United States when the format debuted in 1992. The station format was switched in 1994-95, but then returned to the all-sports format in 1996, and has remained all-sports since then.” Kaska serves as PD for WBIZ and sister news/talk WMEQ. He states, “It’s crazy to think that the first job I had in my life when I was 17 would be the same one I’m doing today. It seems like every year I find something else to take charge of, and of all the roles I have here, this one will be the most visible and most important. It’s my goal that I continue the long tradition of being one of the best and most active sports radio groups in the country. The mentoring I’ve received from Mike Sullivan has been invaluable to both my career in broadcasting and to life. I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity.”
Advantage Systems Brings Reed Bunzel and A. Darryl Davis Aboard. Sales and marketing firm Advantage Systems Inc. announces Reed Bunzel and A. Darryl Davis join the company as revenue development managers. The company says, “Bunzel has been leading a charge for the radio industry to use digital media to grow revenue since digital first appeared, and he has joined Advantage Systems, Inc. to help stations do just that. Bunzel, current president of Bunzel Media Strategies, will be working with broadcasting groups throughout U.S. and Canada to help them with a revenue generation program designed to incorporate traditional media with new interactive solutions provided by Advantage Systems, Inc.” Bunzel comments, “What I find interesting is that RAB’s just-released data shows that radio’s digital revenue was up 3% in the previous quarter and 7% in the first half, but I saw another study today predicting 16% growth in digital advertising next year. That tells me that radio is severely underperforming in the digital era. It needs to be smart and catch up.” Regarding Davis, Advantage Systems VP for sales Frank Kulbertis states, “Darryl has a history of doing programs similar to our Advantage Plan program that included schedules and digital products for television so he was a perfect fit as a new revenue development manager for us.” The company says Davis will work with broadcast groups to grow their advertising revenue. The program includes extensive sales training, new business leads in the local market, a focused workshop to educate local business owners on traditional and new media, 12-month advertising commitments along with turn-key creative services and the ability to generate digital revenue thru inclusion of interactive solutions.
Odds & Sods. Consumer finance expert Rodney Anderson is hosting a daily, one-hour program on Clear Channel’s news/talk KFXR, Dallas airing from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm…..Hearst’s news/talk WBAL, Baltimore inks the MLB’s Baltimore Orioles for another two seasons. The O’s have been heard on WBAL for all but 15 of the team’s 60-year history in the city…..WestwoodOne has the national radio rights to the remaining NFL playoff games – including Super Bowl XLVIII – that resume this weekend. While Scott Graham hosts the pre-, post-game and halftime shows for all four games, the WestwoodOne stable of in-game announcers and analysts are lined up for the four games airing this weekend.
Chris Christie Bridge Traffic Scandal, Robert Gates Book, War on Poverty Anniversary, and Dennis Rodman North Korea Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/8). The scandal involving New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s staffers allegedly closing lanes in Fort Lee New Jersey near the George Washington Bridge as a form of revenge against the town’s Democratic mayor; the new book from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in which he’s critical of Obama Administration officials and the president and vice president; the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s “war on poverty”; and former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s tumultuous return visit to North Korea were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.