TALKERS CONVENTION SPOTLIGHT: Navigating Year Three of the Trump Presidency. The president’s idiosyncratic governing style, his social media habits, and his war on the media have made the Donald Trump presidency one of the most challenging for talk radio hosts – but they’ve also made his presidency a bonanza for hosts who handle it properly. Talkers 2019: Telling the Story, set for New York on Friday, June 7, is featuring Phil Boyce, who is Salem Media Group SVP/spoken word format and VP/operations Salem Radio Network, as he delivers a presentation titled, “Navigating Year Three of the Trump Presidency.” In this session, Boyce explains the programming strategies his Salem personalities use to capitalize on the Trump presidency. There is still time to register but the conference is rapidly approaching sellout status. To see the entire up-to-the-minute agenda and for registration/hotel information, please click here.
Changes Take Place at WICC, Bridgeport. Programmer Mike Bellamy exits news/talk WICC-AM, Bridgeport, Connecticut as Connoisseur Media takes over operation of the station under an LMA. Connoisseur is acquiring the station as part of a swap with Cumulus Media. Bellamy, who’d been with the station for 12 years, announced his departure in a Facebook post. Bellamy also co-hosted the morning drive show with Tony Reno. He remains on board and air personality Melissa Sheketoff moves to the morning show as his co-host.
KYW, Philadelphia to Present ‘Jill on Money Live.’ Philadelphia all-news outlet KYW Newsradio is presenting “Jill on Money LIVE” – a local event featuring CBS business analyst Jill Schlesinger at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel on May 22. The live chat is in support of Schlesinger’s first book, The Dumb Things Smart People Do with Their Money: Thirteen Ways to Right Your Financial Wrongs, and will focus on matters pertaining to retirement, college financing, insurance, real estate, and more. Schlesinger’s presentation will be followed by a question and answer session with audience members.
TALKERS News Notes. Talk show host Joe Madison is being asked to be the keynote speaker at the NAACP’s 110th annual convention taking place in July in Detroit. Madison hosts a daily morning show on SiriusXM’s Urban View channel. He’s being asked to address the Membership Luncheon on July 23…..The talk radio scene in Delaware gets a profile from Out & About magazine’s Ken Mammarella, who talks with staffers from WDEL, Wilmington and WXDE-FM, Lewes for the piece. WDEL’s Rick Jensen, WXDE’s Dan Gaffney, WDEL programmer Chris Carl, and WDEL’s Allan Loudell, all talk with Mammarella for the story you can read here…..TMZ is reporting that Westwood One syndicated talk star and DailyWire founder Ben Shapiro and his family were the target of “serious death threats” and that the FBI has taken a suspect into custody in Kent, Washington. The investigation and subsequent arrest of the suspect came after Shapiro filed a report with the Los Angeles Police Department…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WMVP “ESPN 1000” sports talk host David Kaplan has a new deal to remain in his other gig as a personality on NBC Sports Chicago. He hosts the weeknight “SportsTalk Live” program on the cable channel and his new contract will allow him to take on new duties, including “creating ‘fan-focused content’ over a variety of platforms.”…..Political commentator and activist Charlie Kirk is launching a new podcast on PodcastOne. “The Charlie Kirk Show” will feature “the inside scoop on the biggest news of the week and what’s really going on behind the headlines.” Kirk says he considers the new show “a report from the frontlines of the culture war, and what’s really going on from America’s college lecture halls to the halls of Congress.” The debut episode features an unfiltered interview with Donald Trump, Jr. and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle…..SiriusXM is again offering subscribers comprehensive coverage of the this Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. The satellite radio service has a deal with Horse Racing Radio Network to cover all Triple Crown races – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes – as well as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The wire-to-wire race broadcast of the Kentucky Derby is provided by NBC Sports Radio and produced in partnership with HRRN and Westwood One.
WFDF, Detroit Adds Michael Baisden Show for PM Drive Time. Detroit talk station WFDF “910 AM Superstation” is adding the Sun Broadcast Group-syndicated Michael Baisden show for afternoon drive, airing from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm, starting May 6. The Baisden show is described as “four hours of music, engaging content, daily thought-provoking conversation, and is the premier destination for listeners to be entertained, inspired, and educated.” WFDF CEO Kevin Adell says, “I’m excited to bring Michael Baisden back to the State of Michigan on ‘910AM Superstation,’ the full-power station with 50,000 watts, because we do a super job,”
Trish Johnson Promoted to CFO of NAB. The National Association of Broadcasters announces the promotion of Trish Johnson to chief financial officer and SVP of finance. She rises from her previous SVP and controller, finance position. NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “In her two years at NAB, Trish and her finance team have demonstrated consistency and keen professionalism in steering our organization’s finances. NAB member stations are well served by Trish’s competence and leadership, and we are pleased to reward her with this well-deserved promotion.” Prior to joining NAB in 2017, Trish worked for Public Broadcasting Service and public TV station WETA-TV, Washington DC.
Barr Hearings/Mueller Report Aftermath, 2020 Presidential Politics, Rising Anti-Semitism Statistics, Southern Border Crisis, Trump Tax Returns/Business Records, Venezuela Unrest, NBA Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/1). The testimony of Attorney General William Barr before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the wake of the release of the Mueller Report; the Democrats vying to face President Trump in 2020; the global rise in anti-Semitism and the attack on the LA synagogue; the status of the migrant influx at the U.S.-Mexico border; the attempts to get President Trump’s tax returns and his suit to prevent Deutsch Bank and Capital One from releasing his business’s records; the political instability in Venezuela; and the NBA playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. The deal that transfers ownership of three Panama City, Florida stations – adult hits WASJ-FM, classic rock WRBA-FM and country WKNK-FM – from Powell Broadcasting to Gulf Coast Broadcasting closes. Powell decided to sell the stations after suffering damages to the facilities and tower from Hurricane Michael in 2018. Gulf Coast paid $375,000 for the stations. Prior to the hurricane, Powell had sold WPFM-FM, Panama City to Educational Media Foundation for $472,000…..The Hollywood Reporter is premiering a new video conversation series titled, “Emerging Hollywood,” hosted by The Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne Tha God. The weekly series will feature “on-the-rise voices in entertainment sharing their views on topics including inclusion, racial politics, gender, and body positivity.” The first guest is “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah. Charlamagne says, “I don’t do interviews. I do conversations. I love conversations because through conversation, you hear people’s stories, and through people’s stories, you get information and inspiration. That’s all I want people to get out of these conversations is information and inspiration.”
Townsquare Announces Stations Acquisition; Deal Worth Approximately $281 Million. Townsquare Media, LLC announces that it has executed definitive documentation related to three transactions with Cumulus Media Holdings, Inc. and Peak II Holding LLC which, upon consummation, will result in Townsquare acquiring assets including 71 radio stations in 15 markets. After the deal is consummated, Townsquare will own 312 radio stations in 66 markets and have operations in 25 states, making it the third largest owner of radio stations in the United States and the largest, “best-capitalized owner and operator of radio stations solely focused on small and mid-sized markets.” In a press release this morning, Townsquare reports it is acquiring assets including 53 radio stations (three of which will be assigned to a divestiture trust) in 12 markets (Battle Creek; Cedar Rapids; Danbury, Connecticut; Faribault-Owatonna, Minnesota; Kalamazoo; Lansing; Portland, Maine; Portsmouth-Dover-Rochester, New Hampshire; Quad Cities; Rochester, Minnesota; Rockford, Illinois; and Waterloo, Iowa) from Cumulus for cash. Townsquare is also acquiring Peak, which owns assets including 11 radio stations in two markets (Boise and Fresno) for cash and equity units of Townsquare. Finally, Townsquare will exchange certain assets including five radio stations, in Fresno it is acquiring from Peak, for Cumulus assets including 15 radio stations in two markets (Dubuque and Poughkeepsie) and a de minimis cash settle-up payment in favor of Townsquare. In total, Townsquare will be acquiring 68 stations from Cumulus, three of which will be assigned to a divestiture trust, and eleven Peak stations, five of which will be exchanged to Cumulus, resulting in a net increase of 71 stations. Townsquare expects to finance the transactions with a mix of secured and unsecured debt financing, Townsquare equity units and cash on hand. Townsquare has received debt financing commitments from its various financing partners in connection with the transactions and will complete its financing in compliance with the covenant package of Townsquare Radio, LLC’s existing Senior Unsecured Notes indenture. “These transactions represent the continued evolution of Townsquare Media into one of the nation’s largest local media companies and allow us to reach a scale which opens the door to new strategic opportunities,” comments Townsquare Chairman and CEO, Steven Price. “The assets we are adding to our portfolio are market leading brands with strong competitive positions in their respective small and mid-sized markets. We are excited by the opportunity to deploy our differentiated local-media strategy across a broader footprint in order to better serve our communities and our advertising clients.”
Cumulus Announces Expected Dial Global Acquisition. Cumulus Media Inc. issues a press release this morning announcing “a series of strategic transactions that solidifies the company’s position as a leading producer of high-quality content and continues to reshape its footprint focused on the top 100 markets.” The transactions announced today include:
• Acquisition of Dial Global, Inc. for $260 million in cash (consisting of approximately $45 million attributable to equity and the retirement of $215 million of debt)
• Sale of 53 radio stations in 12 small and mid-sized markets to Townsquare Media for $238 million in cash (inclusive of the acquisition of net working capital)
• Swap with Townsquare Media of 15 radio stations in two small & mid-sized markets in exchange for the receipt of five stations in Fresno, CA (market #68)
“These transactions give us the necessary scale to provide the marketing and enterprise solutions our advertising and affiliate partners require,” said Lew Dickey, CEO of Cumulus. “Our goal is to be the leading producer of premium audio content distributed through multiple platforms while continuing to build our broadcast platform in the top 100 U.S. markets.”
The acquisition of Dial Global will add sports, news, talk, music and programming services content – enabling Cumulus to provide a wider variety of options to approximately 10,000 U.S. radio stations, other media platforms and international platforms. New content acquired through the Dial Global acquisition will include NFL, NCAA, NASCAR, Olympics, AP Radio News, NBC News and other popular programming. Cumulus expects the transaction to be deleveraging based upon identified cost synergies of approximately $40 million, with additional upside from revenue growth potential through the creation of new content vehicles for broadcast radio advertisers. Additionally, Cumulus believes the opportunity exists to distribute premium, curated audio content across emerging new media platforms. Further, Cumulus intends to service broadcasters’ demands for premium content and enterprise solutions in Europe, the Americas and Australia.
WGN, Chicago Announces New Lineup. Yesterday (8/29), TALKERS reported the reuniting of Chicago radio personalities Wendy Snyder and Bill Leff on Tribune’s WGN, Chicago. Now, the station issues a release detailing the programming changes – some of which were reported a few weeks ago – that take place on Tuesday, September 3. As reported earlier, Steve Cochran assumes morning drive duties; he’s followed by Wendy & Bill from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; husband and wife team Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano (pictured at left) air from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm and Garry Meier continues to host the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot. David Kaplan maintains his 7:00 pm show start but wraps at 11:00 pm when Pete McMurray, who expands his role with the station, starts hosting the 11:00 pm to 2:00 am program. As reported earlier this week, Nick Digilio becomes a full-time host with the station on the 2:00 am to 5:00 am slot. Weekends are spotlighted by the return of Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey (pictured lower right) to the station in the Saturday 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot beginning September 14. Other changes include: “The Design Dude with Frank Fontana” airing from 6:00 am to 7:00 am, followed by “Mr. Fix-it with Lou Manfredini” from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. When not affected by sports preemptions, Bill Moller will follow Kathy and Judy from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm and “Sports Central” will remain in the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot. The Sunday lineup will introduce a new show dedicated to the discussion of the Chicago political landscape. Chicago Tribune writer Rick Pearson will host “Chicago Way: Politics with Pearson” on Sundays from 7:00 am to 9:00 am. “The Dean Richards Sunday Special” will follow at 9:00 am, extending an additional two hours until 1:00 pm. In addition to his Saturday show, Bill Moller will air from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Brian Noonan remains in the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm time slot, followed by the return of Chicago treasure, Rick Kogan, from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Comedian and media personality, Patti Vasquez, will air from 11:00 pm to 2:00 am. Playing a feature role in the future of WGN’s new lineup will be “720 Snackables.” These spotlight segments will live online and on-air as interviews, video shorts, and podcasts. They’ll feature the WGN family of experts including Dean Richards’ “A-List Interviews,” “Legally Speaking with Karen Conti,” “Bertrand on Books” with Steve Bertrand, “Flavor HD” with Hannah Stanley & Dane Neal, “Steve Dale’s Pet World,” Paul Green’s “Paul & The Politicians,” “Good Cents with Ilyce Glink,” and more.
Chris Carl New RTDNA Chair. WDEL, Wilmington, Delaware director of news and programming Chris Carl is the new chair of the Radio Television Digital News Association. Pictured here is outgoing chair Vince Duffy of Michigan Radio (l) passing the gavel to Carl (r). Carl notes that for the first time in the organization’s history, the RTNDF chairman, RTDNA chairman and RTDNA chair-elect are all radio people as Duffy moves to the Foundation chair for the next year, and the membership elects Amy Tardif of WGCU-FM, Fort Myers as the chair-elect.
Odds & Sods. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is set to make regular appearances on CBS Radio’s KDKA-FM “Sportsradio 93.7 The Fan.” Every Tuesday he’ll join the “Vinnie & Cook” show at 11:00 am…..Guaranty Broadcasting’s KYPY, Baton Rouge flips from classic country to a simulcast of sister sports talk WNXX “104.5 ESPN”…..New Jersey Devils hockey will continue to be heard on CBS Radio’s WFAN-AM/FM and beyond. The club signs a new, multi-year deal with the station to keep games on for the ninth straight season beginning in October…..Clear Channel moves Portland Trailblazers basketball from news/talk KEX to sister sports talk KPOJ for the coming season to avoid preemptions…..Bob Smith retires from his post as host of “1370 Connection” at pubcaster WXXI, Rochester, New York after a 25-plus-year career with the station. Smith suffered a stroke in April and is still undergoing rehabilitative care.
More Than $3.3 Million Raised in Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. Entercom sports radio WEEI and regional cable sports channel NESN have teamed up for 12 years to air a two-day radio-telethon to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. This week’s event helped raise more than $3.3 million – about the same amount raised the year prior. This puts the 12-year total at more than $34 million. Entercom Boston vice president and market manager Jeff Brown states, “The outstanding generosity of our listeners across New England year after year not only supports a great cause but betters the lives of those who need it most. These past two days have been the most emotionally rewarding for the entire WEEI and Entercom Boston family this year. We remain both humbled and thrilled to have played a role in helping the selfless team at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in their fight against cancer.” A check was presented at last night’s Red Sox game. Pictured (from l-r) are: Red Sox owner John Henry, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino, Entercom Boston VP/market manager Jeff Brown, Jimmy Fund director Suzanne Fountain, WEEI executive producer Joe Zarbano, WEEI director of marketing Adam Ralston, NESN president Sean McGrail, and Wally the Green Monster.
Wilmington, NC Sports Talk Show Adds Saturday Edition. The weekly “Sports Connection” show hosted by Port City Daily sports writer Joe Catenacci adds a Saturday edition that begins a run on Sea-Comm-owned rock WBNE, Wilmington “103.7 The Bone.” Joe Cat’s show began as a co-operative effort between the Port City Daily and Sea-Comm news/talk WNTB and WLTT airing Monday evenings from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Beginning tomorrow (8/31) Catenacci and co-host Cori Stukes will broadcast live every Saturday from Hell’s Kitchen on Princess Street in downtown Wilmington. He says in the Port City Daily, “Over the last eight months, we have connected the local community with some of the top names in sports from across the country. Even with a focus on local, we continue to get some of the household names when it comes to industry. Locally, every high school football, basketball and baseball coach has made an appearance on the show at least once, as well as UNCW coaches and players.”
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is picked up by a number of new affiliate stations, including: WCKG-AM, Chicago; WBAT-AM, Marion, Indiana; KENT-AM, Parowan, Utah; WRSB, Canandaigua, New York; WASB, Bridgeport, New York; W286AE-FM, Fairport, New York; and WNZS, Bangor, Maine…..“Late Night Health Radio” with host Mark Alyn joins the programming lineup at KABC, Los Angeles…..Talk Media Network’s “Frontlines of Freedom” with Lt. Col. Denny Gillem is added to WFPA, Fort Payne, Alabama…..The “Unlock Your Wealth” feature by Heather Wagenhals is added to affiliate stations WPGR, Pittsburgh; KFIV, Modesto and KWSX, Stockton, California; and WEZO, Augusta, Georgia.
U.S. Syria Action Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 26-30. The question of whether the United States should take action against Syria was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the March on Washington anniversary tied with American race relations. Following at #3 was Miley Cyrus’ performance at the MTV VMAs and at #4 was the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.