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.”
Roland Martin Joins iHeartMedia’s Black Information Network. Journalist Roland Martin is becoming part of iHeartMedia’s BIN – Black Information Network – programming initiative as a commentator. His podcast “#RolandMartinUnfiltered” is also being made available on the iHeartPodcast Network. BIN: Black Information Network is iHeartMedia’s recently launched “24/7 comprehensive national audio news service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate, and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.” In his role with BIN, Martin will exclusively curate custom commentary segments for BIN to be broadcast daily throughout the network’s 24-hour news feed. His commentary will be available on more than 250 platforms and 2,000 devices, as well as on local AM/FM broadcast radio stations in numerous U.S. cities. Director of news operations Tanita Myers says, “When we launched BIN: Black Information Network, we knew how extremely important it was to provide a forum for trusted voices within the Black community and there’s perhaps no one more trusted and reliable in Black media today than Roland Martin. He has built a legacy that has paved the way for other Black journalists and continues to use his platform to bring a much needed perspective on topics that matter to both Black Americans and the nation in general.” Martin comments, “I am excited to provide daily commentaries to BIN. We are living in a time where we need more coverage about the issues facing African Americans. In addition, I am really thrilled to partner with the iHeartPodcast Network to distribute and market the ‘#RolandMartinUnfiltered’ audio podcast. We have seen tremendous growth with the daily video show, and we can’t wait to do the same with the audio podcast.”
TALKERS Magazine to Publish 2020 Heavy Hundred on Thursday (7/16). This Thursday (7/16), the editors of TALKERS magazine will publish 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 look forward to Thursday’s publication of the 2020 Heavy Hundred in which we salute those hosts our editors believe are serving their listeners and advertisers in ways that put them among the “most important.”
Edison: COVID-19 Affects Morning Show Listening. According to data from Edison Research’s Share of Ear study, U.S. radio listeners 13 and older began their morning listening 75 minutes later that before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country. Edison says that “pre-COVID-19, the point in the day when 50% of those in the U.S. age 13+ recorded their first entry of their audio day was around 7:15 am. During Q2 fielding of Share of Ear, it was not until 8:30 am that half of respondents had recorded any audio usage.” Edison Research director Laura Ivey says, “This finding challenges our thinking about how those in the U.S. listen to audio during traditional drive times. With many people staying at home or working from home during Q2, they did not engage with audio as early as they did pre-COVID. This data shows that if Americans continue current work patterns, audio strategies may need to be adjusted.”
Westwood One: Direct-To-Consumer Retail Sales Continues to Surge. The data comes from the second annual Direct-To-Consumer Media Attribution and Awareness study in which Westwood One with LeadsRx and MARU Matchbox is seeking to understand the marketing effectiveness of direct-to-consumer firms and the state of their brand equity. Noting that even before the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce was surging (e-commerce represented 11.8% of total U.S. retail sales up from 6.9% in the first quarter of 2015) the study sought to examine direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands who sell online and the marketing practices that lead to success. Cumulus Media|Westwood One chief insights officer Pierre Bouvard says, “Direct-to-consumer brands are entering their second act now, seeking to grow through market penetration and attract the masses via TV and AM/FM radio. This study validates the brand-building sales effect of broadcast media as TV and radio drive seven times the search and site traffic lift of Google and Facebook.” Another finding from the study is that AM/FM radio is a catalyst for increased effectiveness of Google and Facebook ads during the pandemic. During 2019, Facebook and Google ads saw a 15% increase in performance due to AM/FM radio advertising. During the pandemic in Q2 2020 radio’s impact on Google/Facebook performance surged to 20%. See more here.
IAB: COVID-19 Cuts Projected U.S. Podcast Revenue in Half. The U.S. Podcast Advertising Revenue Study from IAB includes results from 2019, projections for 2020 and beyond, and a detailed industry analysis. The key revenue takeaway is that IAB had projected podcast revenue to rise 29.6% in 2020, but after the coronavirus pandemic struck, that figure has been revised to an increase of 14.7%. The positive news is that projections indicate the third and fourth quarters of 2020 should improve. That said, U.S. podcast revenue is nearing the $1 billion mark. Looking back, the study finds the total market year-over-year revenue estimate increased 48% to $708.1 million in 2019, from FY 2018’s total market estimate of $479.1 million. Another finding relevant to news and news/talk radio pros is that the calculation of 2019 podcast advertising revenues based on genre indicates that news podcasts grabbed 22% of the podcast revenue, leading the pack (comedy was in second place with 17% of the podcast revenue). See more here.
TALKERS News Notes. In Boston, Beasley Media Group is teaming up with RCN Business to award a total of $200,000 in marketing support to assist the Small Business Association Grant Program. The companies say they have created a customized program designed to help local businesses get back up and running, without having to worry about marketing budgets. The program is offering designated small businesses the opportunity to be considered for a $10,000 media schedule to use on one of five Beasley Media Boston radio stations – including sports talk WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub.”. A total of 20 small businesses will be selected to receive a grant to help advertise…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that conservative talk host Joe Walsh’s new program on suburban WCGO-AM, Evanston and the affiliated GAB Radio Network is moving from a delay broadcast slot to the live 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm time slot. Walsh, a former U.S. Representative from Chicago and a former WIND-AM talk host, has been back on the radio for about seven weeks. WCGO general manager Chuck Duncan says, “I think this will probably come as welcome news for his Chicago listeners as they can now interact with him live versus having to listen via stream in order to participate. His call volume has been off the charts, with major activity from New York, Philly, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas and Miami, and his streaming audio numbers are the highest we’ve ever seen from any show on the station — averaging about 2,700 unique instances a day.”…..FOX Sports Radio is touting its success on digital platforms in the absence of live sports. Premiere Networks says June 2020 was FSR’s second-best month ever in terms of podcast listens. “Year over year, the network’s total podcast audience grew 88%, bringing the monthly total to more than 16.5 million for the FOX Sports Radio Podcast Network. On the streaming front, FSR’s audience grew 70% from April 2020 to May 2020. The following month, May 2020 to June 2020, FSR’s streaming audience grew an additional 13%. Year over year, FSR’s streaming was up 55%, marking the network’s second-best streaming month of all time.”
Radio Pros Paul Vandenburgh and Mimi Griswold Among 2020 Inductees in NY Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The board of directors of the New York State Broadcasters Association announces the Hall of Fame Class of 2020. This year’s class includes WGDJ-AM, Albany owner, general manager, and talk host Paul Vandenburgh; Galaxy Media Partners VP of programming Mimi Griswold; WNBC-TV, New York anchor David Ushery; and WVVH-TV, Hamptons owners Greg and Ernie Schimizzi. NYSBA president David Donovan says, “The Class of 2020 represents the best in the broadcasting profession. While the inductees represent a cross section of broadcasters from across the state, they share one key characteristic. They have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to serve their local communities. We are honored to have them join the ranks of the legendary broadcasters from New York.”
COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Trump vs Fauci, Schools Opening Debate/Foreign Students Lawsuit, Presidential Race, Portland Unrest, U.S.-China Tensions, Washington Redskins Name Change Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/13). The soaring number of new COVID-19 cases in numerous U.S. states and projections for future cases; President Trump’s divergence from Dr. Tony Fauci on the seriousness of the pandemic; the debate over opening U.S. schools in the fall and 18 attorneys general sue the White House over the foreign students ban; the November presidential election; the protests and clashes with police in Portland, Oregon; the U.S. challenges China’s claim to territory in the South China Sea; and the NFL’s Washington Redskins agree to change the name of the team 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. In Providence, Hall Communications announces that it is elevating afternoon drive host and production director Kevin Palana to program director for country WCTK-FM “Cat Country 98.1.” Palana is taking over for company VP of programming Bob Walker who is moving south to lead programming at the company’s Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida operations. In this role, Palana will also program classic hits WNBH, New Bedford, Massachusetts “BIG 101.3.” Palana says, “I want to thank Tom, Bob, and everyone at Hall for this opportunity. I grew up in this market and there is no place I’d rather live. I look forward to working directly with Courtney Kelley and Brian Mulhern of ‘Cat Country’ mornings and the entire staff in Providence and New Bedford.”…..Townsquare Media’s hot AC KCIX, Boise “MIX 106” brings Angie Morales into the morning drive show alongside John Moug for the “Moug & Angie Mornings” program. Moug says, “Townsquare Media has given us this incredible opportunity to connect with the Treasure Valley in a real way. We’re here to have a ton of fun, laugh until we’re light-headed, but also not hide from the real-world issues that we’re all facing on a daily basis. Plus, the fact that I get to do this show with one of the funniest people I’ve ever met takes the cake!”…..iHeartMedia Boston’s WXKS-FM “Kiss 108” and the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents are launching “Kiss 108’s Chromebooks For Kids” – a fundraising campaign to purchase Chromebooks for local students to use at home and in the classroom. Now through Labor Day weekend, “Kiss 108” is encouraging listeners to make a donation and support students in the community.
Monday Memo: 1,000 True Fans. “Broadcasters know things podcasters don’t,” but consultant Holland Cooke explains that “podcasters have an opportunity to grow audience that broadcasters don’t.” And in this week’s column, HC points to a podcasting business strategy he’s recommended for years. Read it here.
COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Fourth of July Holiday, Trump Mt. Rushmore Rally/Presidential Race, BLM Movement/Confederate and Colonial-Era Monuments, U.S.-China Tensions, Ghislaine Maxwell Case, and Sports Leagues Plan Re-Openings Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The spiking of COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future infections; the Fourth of July holiday and concerns about large gatherings; President Trump’s rally at Mt. Rushmore and the November presidential election; the Black Lives Matter protests and the movement to remove Confederate and colonial-era monuments; the U.S. and Chinese military tensions in the South China Sea; Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged former madam Ghislaine Maxwell is indicted; and the plans to re-open pro sports leagues in the U.S. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Pending Business: Updating Your Unique Value. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column about the changing “unique” value that your news/talk radio station has. He says that since radio is no longer the preeminent free utility that it once was, salespeople should take time to re-evaluate what makes their station “unique.” Read it here.
iHeartMedia Gets KGB-AM Calls for San Diego News/Talker. The acquisition of San Diego news/talk outlet KFMB-AM by iHeartMedia from Local Media San Diego is complete and the station has received permission from the FCC to change the call letters to KGB-AM. As part of the deal in which Tegna sold KFMB-AM and KFMB-FM to Local Media San Diego for $5 million, Tegna required the stations give up the KFMB calls. LMSD in turn sold KFMB-AM to iHeartMedia for $1.2 million. iHeartMedia San Diego market president Melissa Forrest says, “The KGB call letters are legendary in San Diego and we’re excited to make them a part of AM 760’s next chapter as San Diego’s talk station.” iHeartMedia has kept the program lineup largely intact with local hosts Mark Larson (10:00 am to 12:00 noon) and Mike Slater (12:00 noon to 3:00 pm) in the mix among syndicated programs. Former station talk host Brett Winterble exited the station earlier this year and is now afternoon drive host at Entercom’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte.
‘New Jersey 101.5’ Presents Next Event in Town Hall Series. On Wednesday (7/8) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the next in its series of Town Hall broadcasts to help New Jersey residents and businesses dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The station says that according to a survey by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, nearly 40% of New Jersey business owners are depleting their personal savings to survive pandemic closures. New Jersey 101.5 VP and head of news and digital content Eric Scott adds, “Businesses are still hurting, and we will connect them with the help they need. But we also want to celebrate their unique innovations that are allowing them to operate in these challenging times.” Experts on this week’s panel include: Michele Siekerka, president & CEO, New Jersey Business & Industry Association; Marilou Halvorsen, president & CEO, New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association; Kristin Fitzgerald, communications manager, Six Flags Great Adventure; and Dr. Ronald Nahass, epidemiologist, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Scott and his guests will answer live, call-in questions from listeners throughout the hour.
Herman Cain Being Treated for COVID-19. Former WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta talk host Herman Cain announces via Twitter that he’s been diagnosed with COVID-19 and that symptoms were severe enough that he’s been hospitalized. The message notes that Cain has not been put on a respirator. It also says there is no way of knowing how or where Cain contracted the illness. It’s being noted in numerous reports that Cain was hospitalized on July 1, the same day he sent a tweet saying masks will not be required at Donald Trump’s Mt. Rushmore rally and that “people are fed up.” Cain was present at Trump’s Tulsa rally and had traveled before and after that event, including to current hot spot Arizona. Cain hosts a talk show on his website and hosts a weekend talk program on Newsmax TV.
WPHT, Philadelphia Presented Major Homegrown Two-Hour Independence Day Weekend Special. Located in the birthplace of America, it was only apt for news/talk giant WPHT, Philadelphia to present a homegrown two-hour holiday special celebrating the 244th birthday of the nation that aired twice over the weekend. The program titled “Independence Day 2020: Hope and Inspiration for America at the Halfway Point of a Very Tough Year” focused on American heroes – local as well as national officials and military figures – telling their stories and talking about the comeback of our great nation. The special was written and hosted by WPHT mid-morning personality Dom Giordano who tells TALKERS, “We got a great response from our listeners and sponsors who enjoyed the information and ‘feel good’ aspect of the program that although recognizing the difficulty of these tough times, approached the issues in a much-needed uplifting and inspirational manner.”
AJ Punjabi Named Market President for iHeartMedia’s Charleston, SC Cluster. Media sales pro AJ Punjabi is named market president for iHeartMedia’s Charleston, South Carolina station group that includes news/talk WSC “News Radio 94.3” and five music brands. He was most recently general sales manager for Cox Media Group in Miami. iHeartMedia Carolina’s area president Ron Hill says, “We’re excited to have AJ join iHeartMedia as our market president in Charleston. He’s a dynamic leader with a proven track record of building strong relationships and success for his company and their clients. AJ’s experience and leadership skills make him one of the best executives in our business, and he’ll be an excellent addition to our team serving the Low Country.”
‘myTalk 107.1’ Twin Cities Raises Almost $150,000 for Neighborhood Rebuilding Fund. The Hubbard Radio talk station says that “in an effort to lift up and rebuild minority-owned businesses on Lake Street and on the Northside of Minneapolis, as well as in St. Paul’s Midway and Frogtown neighborhoods, ‘myTalk 107.1’ [KTMY] on-air personalities poured out their hearts, sharing stories of the business owners whose lives were negatively impacted with their thousands of listeners.” In partnership with the Neighborhood Development Center, the two-week awareness and fundraising campaign “myTalk Neighborhood Rebuilding Fund” raised $149,515. The station says that its four programs – Jason & Alexis, Donna & Steve, Colleen & Bradley, and Lori & Julia – encouraged their listeners to contribute to the Neighborhood Rebuilding Fund. The Jason & Alexis morning show featured “10 stories in 10 days” – allowing an entrepreneur whose business was destroyed or negatively impacted during the unrest to share their story with ‘myTalk’ listeners. KTMY program director Amy Daniels says, “This is what community looks like in the Twin Cities. ‘myTalk 107.1’ listeners and 20 of our advertising partners joined together to rebuild our neighborhoods, uplift businesses, and bring hope. The Neighborhood Development Center was the perfect partner to tell small business stories and distribute the money to all who need it.”
TALKERS News Notes. Sales pro Jessica Schwartz is named director of sales for Townsquare Media’s WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” and WPST-FM, Princeton. She was most recently VP of sales & marketing at iPlay America. She begins her new role on August 10. She says, “I am beyond excited to join the team at Townsquare Media. With a strong and diverse portfolio of broadcast and digital solutions, positive work environment, and the best team in the market, I know we will continue to grow these two fantastic stations.”…..BIA Advisory Services is presenting a webinar on July 14 at 11:00 am ET called “U.S. Local Radio: State of the Industry Now and in 2021.” BIA estimates U.S. local radio advertising will be $12.8 billion in 2020, comprised of $11.4 billion for over-the-air revenue and $1.4 billion for digital revenue. Although this estimate is lower than its earlier expectations, BIA says there are bright spots for the industry and opportunities for a strong rebound from the effects of this pandemic. Register for the webinar here…..NuVoodoo Media Services is offering a free webinar on Wednesday (7/8) at 1:00 pm ET called “Marketing in the New Abnormal.” The company will share the latest findings of its Ratings Prospects Study XVI and “important insights for marketing radio brands during uncertain times.” You can register here…..The Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame board of directors announces it is postponing its 9th Annual Induction Ceremony scheduled for Saturday, August 8. For now, the organization is hoping to reschedule this year and says tickets for the August 8 date will be honored for the new date…..Former longtime producer of the Neil Rogers show, Jorge Rodriguez has died at the age of 55. A post on the Neil Rogers Tribute Facebook page by former cast member Boca Britany (formerly Boca Brian) lauds Rodriguez but offers no cause of death. Rodriguez produced the Neil Rogers show during its time airing on WIOD and WQAM in Miami. He leaves behind two daughters, Sabrina and Arabella.
Blanquita Cullum Named to The Texas Radio Hall of Fame and Awarded Prestigious Sammy Award. Legendary talk radio personality and broadcast industry figure Blanquita Cullum has been named to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2020 and is the recipient of this year’s Sammy Award. The Sammy Award is presented each year to a “trailblazing” female broadcaster. In a statement made at the presentation, Josh Holstead, operations manager of the Texas Hall of Fame said, “Each year, the Texas Radio Hall of Fame recognizes the outstanding contributions and achievements of a trailblazing female broadcaster. Named for legendary female personality Mary “Sam” Stoddard, this year our Board of Directors bestow this honor on San Antonio’s Blanquita Cullum. From humble beginnings as a copywriter at K-BUC, Blanquita became one of the most recognized and respected women in Alamo City radio, and eventually a nationally recognized figure after taking her talents to Washington, DC. It gives me great pride to see a person so deserving receive this accolade.” Cullum achieved success with her program “The BQ View” in national syndication on the Radio America network in the 1990s and as a pioneer of the modern era of talk radio while serving as the executive director of the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts. She also received a presidential appointment by George W. Bush to United States Broadcasting Board of Governors (now the US Agency for Global Media) where she served from 2002 to 2010. She was also the founder of the Young American Broadcasters Program which helped identify upcoming radio talent and provided them with scholarships. She is a veteran of San Antonio radio stations KITE, KTSA, and KSJL, as well as KENS-TV. She served as White House liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and executive assistant to the deputy director of FEMA during President George H.W. Bush’s administration. Commenting on Cullum receiving the Sammy Award, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison stated, “Ms. Cullum’s contributions to the growth of talk radio’s modern era both on air and behind the scenes are indeed worthy of this great honor.” At present, Cullum hosts a daily program “The Hard Question” on WCGO, Chicago which is syndicated on the SmartTalk Radio Network.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Dave Hill joins Cumulus Media’s classic rock KCFX, Kansas City “101 The Fox” as program director. Hill was most recently with iHeartMedia Indianapolis where he was SVP of programming. Cumulus EVP of content & audience Brian Philips says, “Dave Hill impressed us with his pure programming creativity and vivid imagination. ‘The Fox’ rules classic rock in KC, but we don’t take our legacy for granted. Dave’s fresh perspective and rich experience will help keep us on top.”…..iHeartMedia flips WAKZ, Youngstown, Ohio from CHR to hip hop as “Real 95.9.” It will feature Premiere Networks’ “The Breakfast Club” in morning drive. iHeartMedia market president and VP of programming Keith Kennedy says, “Top 40 has evolved and ‘Real 95.9’ is the only station you’ll hear everywhere in The Mahoning Valley, playing today’s biggest hip hop and R&B hit songs.”
iHeartMedia Launches BIN: Black Information Network. This new venture is a standalone unit within iHeartMedia that will be the “first and only 24/7 national and local all news audio service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate, and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.” iHeartMedia says BIN: Black Information Network “is focused on service to the Black community and providing an information window for those outside the community to help foster communication, accountability and a deeper understanding.” It is being led by Tony Coles – who also serves as division president of iHeartMedia markets group – as president of the unit. Tanita Myers – most recently with Reach Media – will be director of news operations. iHM says national founding partners are: Bank of America, CVS Health, GEICO, Lowe’s, McDonald’s USA, Sony, 23andMe and Verizon. Content will be available on the iHeartRadio platform and on “dedicated all-news local AM/FM broadcast radio stations providing local news, weather traffic and sports in addition to national news – all focused on the Black community and from the Black perspective – in markets including Atlanta, Augusta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Columbus, GA, Detroit, Greenville, Macon, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Norfolk, Riverside, San Francisco and Seattle, with additional local markets being added over the next 60 days.” BIN will also provide the news service for iHeartMedia’s 91 hip hop, R&B, and Gospel stations across the country. iHM says, “BIN’s unique partner supported business model is tailored to its mission of providing comprehensive, accurate and trusted information and news. The national Founding Partners of BIN: Black Information Network will support building this new platform for Black journalism and trusted news, and this partnership support will enable BIN’s focus to be on providing a reliable, responsible, and responsive news service to the Black community without the daily pressure of ratings.” Coles says, “BIN: Black Information Network will fill a void by providing continual news and objective information with full focus on the Black community. We began developing our 24/7 Black news source last year, and events of the last few weeks, especially the senseless and tragic death of George Floyd, highlighted the need for this network. Now is the time for our voice to be heard, and I could not be prouder of our work and the team we are assembling at BIN.”
PPM Analysis: Has Pandemic-Related Listening Peaked? TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian wraps his “extra” ratings reports on the effects pandemic-related radio listening has had on Nielsen Audio’s PPM survey data by asking if pandemic-related listening has peaked after its unusual April spike. He says that in the PPM era, month-to-month gains or losses of a full share or more are noteworthy. “To underscore the genuine rarity of what transpired in the April 2020 survey period, there were nearly four times as many of these swings then as were registered in April 2019. Indexed against April 2020, roughly 70% as many stations notch declines of -1.0 or greater, while only approximately 40% as many stations rack up a +1.0 or more (May 2020 versus April 2020, 6+).” Kinosian says what’s truly amazing is that 75% of sports talk stations were up (weekly, 6+ AQH share) April to May with no live sports play-by-play since March. See Kinosian’s entire report here.
Chicago Radio Host William Kelly Sues Illinois Governor and Chicago Mayor Over COVID-19 Restrictions. Illinois business owner and WCGO-AM, Chicago talk show host William Kelly – along with three other plaintiffs – are suing Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Major Lori Lightfoot, complaining that their acts violated the plaintiffs’ rights under several sections of the station constitution, violated their rights to equal protection under the law, and that both exceed their authority in several instances. Kelly says, “We have filed suit for the people of Illinois. Every other lawsuit has, so far, missed the mark. Lives are being destroyed. People are going bankrupt. If we succeed, Mayor Lightfoot and Gov. Pritzker will pay a price, in the form of legal damages, for the terrible harm they’ve caused to people’s lives and liberties.” See the complaint here.
TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that former WGN-AM station manager and VP of content Todd Manley and his consulting company EarSight Studios is working with Crain’s Chicago Business to produce its podcast, “Crain’s Daily Gist.” Crain’s Chicago Business publisher and executive editor Jim Kirk says, “We are thrilled to partner with Todd to help us grow our audience in audio. We’ve had tremendous success with ‘The Daily Gist’ since its debut last year, and we expect even stronger growth with Todd’s production help.”…..According to a story at Crossing Broad, Entercom Philadelphia personality John Barchard is leaving the sports talk WIP-produced podcast “Go Birds” that he co-hosts with Eliot Shorr-Parks and James Seltzer. Citing family and health as concerns he must put to the forefront, Barchard says the decision to leave was his and he calls it one of the hardest decisions he’s had to make…..ESPN promotes commentator Pablo Torre to full-time host of the “ESPN Daily” podcast. This is part of a new, multi-year contract for Torre, who will also make appearances on ESPN shows such as “Highly Questionable” and “Around the Horn.” Current “ESPN Daily” host Mina Kimes is joining the network’s NFL Live team as an analyst and will host “The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny” football podcast. She will continue to be a key contributor to “ESPN Daily.”
This Year’s Gracie Awards to Be Streamed on September 10. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation announces the 45th Annual Gracie Awards will be streamed virtually on September 10. The Gracies Gala, originally scheduled for May 19, was intended to be held at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills and the Gracies Luncheon, originally scheduled for June 24, was intended to be held in New York City at Cipriani 42nd Street. The 2020 honorees will now be celebrated through a series of digital acceptance speech montages along with a virtual awards ceremony. AWM/F executive director Becky Brooks says, “The leadership of AWM/F, which annually presents the Gracies as our largest fundraiser, has had one singular focus – to appropriately acknowledge and celebrate our outstanding winners in whatever manner is feasible this year. Therefore, we have made the decision to shift this year’s events to virtual experiences to ensure recognition of all winners in this very important year.”
NEED A GUEST? We’ve Got Some Good Ones for You at ‘Expert Guests.’ Talk media hosts, producers, and bookers are advised to check out the newly expanded “Expert Guests” section of TALKERS. It is updated on a regular basis with outstanding experts and personalities available by telephone, Skype, or Zoom for booking on radio, TV, and online talk shows. This week you’ll find a wide array of guests that includes experts on the Chinese Communist Party, the USA gymnastics scandal, presidential race strategy, progressive rock, diversity management, campus safety during police reform, and much more. To visit “Expert Guests,” please click here.
SCOTUS Abortion Ruling, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Black Lives Matter Movement/St. Louis Guns Incident, Russian-Taliban Bounty Allegation, U.S.-China Relations, Iran Issues Trump Arrest Warrant, and Sports Leagues Plan Seasons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/29). The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Louisiana law that would have limited abortion options; the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in re-opening states and projections about future infections; the protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and the case of the St. Louis couple who drew weapons on protesters; the allegation that Russia is offering the Taliban bounties for killing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and President Trump’s reaction to the story; relations between the U.S. and China as the latter clamps down on Hong Kong; Iran issues an arrest warrant for Trump and numerous other officials in the death of General Qasem Soleimani; and sports leagues making plans to open or re-start their seasons 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. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the launch of the nationally syndicated “American Top 40” show, Premiere Networks announces that this weekend (7/4-5) host Ryan Seacrest will begin a yearlong celebration that will include his highlighting an iconic artist moment from the show’s archives every weekend – including interviews with the stars and the show’s creator and original host Casey Kasem. Listeners will also have the opportunity to win prizes and one-of-a-kind experiences throughout the year. Premiere president Julie Talbott says, “Over the past five decades, ‘American Top 40’ has become a cultural touchpoint for millions of people around the globe. Casey Kasem created the gold standard that we carry on today, and we’re so proud of how Ryan has expanded that legacy. He’s taken the show to new heights over the past 16 years with added reach, engagement, and technology, while continuing to drive impressive results for our partners.” The program debuted the weekend of July 4-5, 1970…..Legendary rock bank U2 is getting its own channel on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The U2 X-Radio channel launches tomorrow (7/1) at 3:00 pm ET. p.m. ET, exclusively on SiriusXM Channel 32. SiriusXM says, “U2 X-Radio is U2 as you have never heard them before. An extraordinary and unique audio experience exploring the band’s history, idols, influences, and current passions, plus inspiration, conversation, culture, commentary and ideas from the band and guests. All curated by U2. The dedicated and exclusive channel will come to life with music and radio shows that celebrate music from across the globally acclaimed, four-decade career of Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, including their biggest hits, deep cuts, live concert recordings and rarities, as well as music from artists that are connected to or inspire the band.”