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Friday, November 12, 2021

| November 12, 2021

Legendary Radio Figure Al Herskovitz Dies at 90.  One of the radio industry’s most-liked and enduring figures, Al Herskovitz, has passed way in Bradenton, FL on November 11 at the age of 90 after suffering an episode of cardiac arrest. Herskovitz was an alumnus of many top American radio stations and broadcast companies including: WPRO, Providence; WIP, Philadelphia; and WPOL-AM/FM, Los Angeles, as well as CapCities Communications among others where he served in program director and station manager capacities for a number of years. In early 1986, Herskovitz and Michael Harrison formed H&H Broadcasting, Inc. and acquired WSPR, Springfield, MA which they transitioned from an adult contemporary music format to a seminal spoken word approach they dubbed “Supertalk” – a precursor to the modern style of talk radio that boomed onto the scene during the 1990s. H&H owned and operated WSPR until late-1988. When TALKERS was launched in 1990, Herskovitz joined the company and served as its senior director of marketing until his recent retirement in 2019 at the age of 88. In the 2000 presidential election he served as the Steve Forbes campaign’s media advisor. Herskovitz was an active member, right until his passing, of the Sarasota, FL-based Media Round Table – a group of working, retired and semi-retired media professionals from around the country who currently live full- or part-time in Florida. Harrison states, “Al was like a brother to me and a rock in my life. He was a friend, a partner, and a mentor, not to mention one of the most dependable and decent human beings I could ever have been blessed to have as a close associate over the decades. Even into his late-80s, Al was sharp and energetic. He knew as much about the radio business and stayed abreast of the ever-changing technology of the digital era as if he were a bright millennial on the leading edge. He was, indeed, remarkable!” Herskovitz was born and raised in Bridgeport, CT – the son of hard working Jewish Hungarian immigrants, the late Leo and Elsie Herskovitz. He’s a veteran of the United States Army where he served and saw action in the Korean War. He is pre-deceased by his beloved wife of 53 years, Eileen Herskovitz who passed away in 2012. Herskovitz’s colorful career, spanning almost seven decades, brought him into contact with some of the world’s most colorful individuals in politics, show business, sports and business. These experiences are documented in a memoir titled, The Tall, Skinny Jewish Kid with Eyeglasses from Bridgeport: A Radio Guy’s Chance Encounters with the Colorful and Famous (Talkers Books, 2018). A graveside service will be held at Skyway Memorial Gardens, 5200 US Hwy 19 N, Palmetto, FL 34221 https://www.skywaymemorial.com/ at a date and time to be announced.  Check the Skyway website or Talkers.com for further details.

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the 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. This new episode titled, “Inflation Nation,” looks back at this past week of 11/8 – 11/12. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSClaire Carter, commentator, Good For You Radio/founder, Good For You NetworkRichard Neer, talk show host, WFAN, New York; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston/founder, Scamicide.com; Joe Madison, talk show host, SiriusXM Satellite Radio; and Brian Kilmeade, talk show host, FOX News Radio/FOX News Channel. The 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 WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; 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; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast NetworkPioneer Valley Radio, 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.

WRKO, Boston Raises Almost $200K for Disabled American Veterans. Boston news/talk outlet WRKO-AM “The Voice of Boston” raised more than $192,000 during its sixth annual DAV Radiothon to benefit the Disabled American Veterans Department of Massachusetts. The iHeartMedia station held the 13-hour radiothon yesterday (11/11) and with WRKO personalities Jeff Kuhner, Barry Armstrong, and Howie Carr encouraging listeners to donate. Funds are designated for the DAV of Massachusetts’ homeless shelter and transportation programs. iHeartMedia Boston VP of news, talk, sports Rob Sanchez says, “It’s an honor for AM 680 WRKO to dedicate Veterans Day to help the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our great country. Our generous listeners always amaze me and have once again shown their support to raise $192,082 for the DAV of Massachusetts.” Since 2016, DAV Radiothon has raised over $800,000 to benefit veterans in the community.

NPR and Edison Research Spoken Word Audio Report Indicates Young, Multicultural Listeners Drive Consumption While Mobile Listening and Podcasts Add to Increases. The results of the NPR and Edison Research 2021 Spoken Word Audio Report – based on a national online survey of 1,000 adults 18 and over who listened to spoken word audio in the last month – reveals “the continued increased consumption of spoken word audio in the U.S. and the drivers behind the growth.” The report finds 75% of those in the U.S 13+ (212 million people) are monthly spoken word audio listeners, and 45% (127 million people) are daily spoken word audio listeners. Spoken word audio listening is up 40% in the past seven years, and up 8% year over year, with the share of time spent listening to spoken word audio reaching 28% of time spent with all audio. A look at a seven-year trend shows dramatic increases among young and multicultural listeners. The study shows 26% of 13-34-year-olds’ audio time is spent with spoken word audio, an increase of 116% over 2014. Similar increases are noted among multicultural listeners: Black listeners spend 22% of their audio time with spoken word (an 83% increase over 2014); Hispanic/Latino listeners spend 27% of their audio time with spoken word (an 80% increase over 2014); and White listeners now spend 29% of their audio time with spoken word, a 26% increase over 2014. Digital listening is also changing the spoken-word audio landscape. Mobile listening has increased 278% over the past seven years, with one-third (34%) of all time spent listening to spoken word audio being done on a mobile device. The increase in consumption on a mobile device holds for all ages, not just younger demos. Of all spoken word audio consumed by those 13+, 22% of it is to podcasts, a 176% increase over seven years ago (8%). You can find out more about the study here.

Season Two of ‘We Interrupt This Broadcast’ to Debut on November 22. The podcast docuseries “We Interrupt This Broadcast” is back for season two with episodes beginning streaming on November 22. Together, season one’s “JFK Assassination” episode and season two’s “The Killing of Lee Harvey Oswald” episode commemorate the November 22 and 24 anniversaries of these historic events, revealing never-before-heard audio and revelations from broadcasters and journalists who were covering these events in real time. Listeners are enlightened with impactful details that did not previously make the airwaves or subsequent historical accounts. The series is hosted by legendary broadcaster Bill Kurtis and narrated by Brian Williams and is “a celebration of the art of journalism and the heroism of journalists who broke the news and reported the captivating details from the front lines of these iconic moments.” Season Two episodes include interviews and thrilling new details by broadcasters, TV journalists and historians who were entrenched in these notable moments: Oswald Assassination; Watergate: Nixon Resigns; Challenger Explosion; Rescue of Baby Jessica; The OJ Simpson Slow Speed Chase; The Oklahoma City Bombing; Y2K; Hurricane Katrina Slams New Orleans; Election Night 2016; and War of the Worlds – The Original ‘Deep Fake’, which recently began streaming on its historic anniversary. Brian Williams says, “Podcasting allows us to get it right – we get to tell the story calmly and accurately. If we do it right, it will bring people as close as possible to the feeling of being as fortunate as we are to have this job. It’s been a tremendous privilege and honor to live through breaking stories as they are happening, right alongside our viewers. Listening to ‘We Interrupt This Broadcast,’ you’re going to feel that same tension, excitement, mystery, and urgency that we felt in the moment as we broadcasted.” The docuseries is produced by i4 Media Ventures, LLC and is repped for ad and sponsorship sales by New York and Los Angeles-based Crossover Media Group Sales.

TALKERS News Notes. A three-hour special Thanksgiving program from CBS Audio hosted by Gil Gross is available for air Wednesday November 24 – Sunday November 28. The show consists of three hours of bright and informative conversation about America’s most beloved holiday, including: culinary “horror” stories of Thanksgiving dinners gone wrong; the harrowing story of Squanto, the Native American credited with saving the Pilgrims and inaugurating the American Thanksgiving; how a train with 260 tons of frozen turkeys brought about the creation of the frozen TV dinner; bringing back vintage Thanksgiving recipes and creating innovations in the traditional Thanksgiving meal; and how Thanksgiving and football became married family traditions…..Boston public media outlet GBH names Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel the new co-hosts of “Morning Edition” at GBH News. Alston rejoins GBH from WBUR, where she is a host of the NPR podcast, “Consider This,” produced in conjunction with GBH. Siegel is currently the host and producer of the Washington, DC-based daily news podcast “POLITICO Dispatch.” GBH general manager of news Pam Johnston says, “Our audiences have told us that mornings matter most when it comes to news. They look to us to get the information they need and set the tone for the day ahead. With Paris and Jeremy as co-hosts of ‘Morning Edition’ at GBH News, our audiences will get local stories from different perspectives. They’ll engage with a pair of dynamic, smart and accomplished journalists who possess a real knack for understanding and dissecting the complex stories of our time.”

Inflation, Supply Chain and Economic Politics Top News/Talk Story for Week of 11/8-12. Soaring consumer goods and fuel prices, the supply chain breakdown, labor woes, and economic politics combined as the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was COVID-19 vaccines and mandates, the Aaron Rodgers controversy, and school board battles, followed by the January 6 investigation tied with social media & journalism at #3. 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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

| September 28, 2021

Binnie Media Names Michael Czarnecki Director of Brand Operations.  Radio programming pro Michael Czarnecki is named director of brand operations for Binnie Media, owner and operator of 15 signals in New Hampshire and Maine. Czarnecki joins the company from iHeartMedia where he most recently served as program director of WONK-FM (WWDC-HD2) Washington DC. Before that, Czarnecki was program director for iHeartMedia’s WRKO, Boston. At Binnie Media, Czarnecki will work alongside Binnie Media VP of programming Heath Cole, who says, “In his new role, Michael will work closely with our marketing, promotions, news/talk, and music initiatives in all formats. We are very excited to have Michael joining us on the programming leadership team.” Binnie Media president Massimo Rosati adds, “Michael’s skillset and energy combine to make him the perfect addition at Binnie Media.” Czarnecki, who began his radio career at WGIR in Manchester, New Hampshire, comments, “I am thrilled to be joining the Binnie media team. This is a return home for me, it’s full circle. Special thanks to Massimo Rosati and Heath Cole for making this incredible opportunity possible.”

SuperTalk Mississippi Unveils ‘SuperTalk Mississippi Outdoors with Ricky Mathews.’ The new weekly program “SuperTalk Outdoors with Ricky Mathews” will air on Mondays from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm across the 12-station SuperTalk Mississippi network. Mathews is the former publisher of the Times-Picayune, NOLA.com, Mobile Press-Register, and the Sun-Herald. He retired in 2016 as president of Advance Southeast before joining SuperTalk Mississippi Media as the host of “Coast Vue” in January of 2020. He says, “Enjoying the outdoors is a big part of our Mississippi heritage. It’s part of our DNA in this state. Hunting or fishing or just simply soaking up the endless number of other outdoor recreational activities is at the core of this great state. I’m thrilled to be the host of this new show.” SuperTalk Mississippi Media owner Steve Davenport states, “Ricky has been a compass for our company and always seeks to forge a path toward improving our great state. He understands the importance of Mississippi’s outdoors, one of our greatest resources. I am confident that he will use this opportunity to engage and educate the public and will work to lead the conversation in this state about Mississippi’s outdoors.”

2021 Radio Mercury Awards Finalists Announced. The finalists in this year’s Radio Mercury Awards have been announced and 149 radio/audio spots and campaigns made it to the finals of this year’s 30th anniversary awards. The Radio Advertising Bureau notes that this year marks the first time all categories were open to all languages. The submissions were created by advertising agencies, brands, production companies, radio stations and digital companies. The 2021 finalists range from regional to large advertising agencies and radio stations, as well as national and local advertisers from categories including automotive, consumer packaged goods, entertainment, government services, healthcare, insurance, nonprofits, quick-serve restaurants, telecommunications, travel and hospitality. Entries were judged on their creativity, originality, execution and effective communication of a brand’s message. Robin Fitzgerald is chief creative officer at BBDO Atlanta and chief judge for the 2021 Radio Mercury Awards. She says, “This year’s Radio Mercury Awards is celebrating the work that came through in 2021 and acknowledging the awards’ 30-year history. It was great to hear the amazing work, and I can’t wait to celebrate the winners in November.” RAB president and CEO Erica Farber adds, “Every year, the Radio Mercury Awards shines a light on the best of the best in radio creative, and this year is no different. This year’s finalists showcase a wonderful range of audio work that leverages the medium and delivers for the advertiser.” The Radio Mercury Awards winners will be presented at 6:00 pm ET on November 17 during a virtual ceremony. See more at www.radiomercuryawards.com.

Cumulus Media Creates Audio Active Group. The company calls the new division “an audio media and creative advisory group for marketers and agencies.” The Audio Active Group is being led by Pierre Bouvard, chief insights officer of CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One and that this is the “natural evolution from a sponsor-focused research and insights group to a true comprehensive marketing advisory. The company says the Audio Active Group partners with clients to measure the impact of the entire audio campaign (not just the CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One investment), specializing in the following areas: 1) Audio creative best practices: Advising on the development and testing of sonic logos and advertising creative; offering recommendations on how to optimize and enhance current creative; advising on how to deploy new creative strategies to meet campaign objectives; 2) Media planning: Providing recommendations on daypart mix, flighting, weight levels, podcast genres, and AM/FM radio programming formats to meet campaign objectives, based on audience analytics; 3) Strategic allocation within audio: Advising on the right mix of ad-supported audio platforms; and 4) Measurement of the entire audio investment: Advising on the right approach for brands to measure campaign effectiveness, including brand lift, sales effect, and search and site attribution. Cumulus EVP, marketing and president, Westwood One Suzanne Grimes states, “One-third of brands in audio today are new to the medium. As major brands discover audio, they have lots of questions about audio creative strategy, media planning, and campaign measurement, and we have a deep understanding of what audio campaigns can accomplish. Under Pierre’s deft leadership, we are the only company that measures the impact of the entire audio investment and uses our trove of creative-testing and campaign-effectiveness data to help guide clients’ media investments and creative strategy.”

Cumulus Media Wichita Falls Offices Burglarized Overnight. According to a report from Texomashomepage.com, the offices and studios of Cumulus Media on Call Field Road in Wichita Falls, Texas were burglarized sometime early this morning (9/28). The story notes that the Wichita Falls Police Department responded to a call from a Cumulus employee who arrived early this morning to find the building had been “burglarized and ransacked.” Authorities say “there is extensive damage to the office areas of Cumulus Media and Henderson Appraisals.” Additionally, a station vehicle was stolen from the parking lot.

COVID-19, Biden’s Infrastructure and Spending Plans, Debt Ceiling Issue, Afghanistan Withdrawal Hearing, Border Crisis, Trump Georgia Rally, Chips and Labor Shortage, and R. Kelly Conviction Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/27). The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., boosters, and mask & vaccine mandates; this week’s debates on President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan and his $3.5 trillion spending plan; the battle over the U.S. debt ceiling and a possible government shutdown; today’s congressional testimony from Pentagon brass about the withdrawal from Afghanistan; the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and the status of Haitian migrants; former President Donald Trump’s weekend rally in Georgia and his role in the GOP; the global silicon chip shortage, supply chain woes, and the labor shortage; and singer R. Kelly is convicted of sex trafficking charges were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pioneering Radio Programmer Christine Cooper Spindel Dies at 97. The Memphis Commercial Appeal has the obituary of former WDIA, Memphis programmer Christine Cooper Spindel, who passed away in Urbana, Illinois last week at the age of 97. As her daughter Carol Spindel states, Christine Cooper Spindel was a pioneer both as a female program director at WDIA in 1948 and for hiring an all-Black programming staff. Spindel appeared in Martin Scorsese’s 2003 PBS documentary, “The Blues,” to talk about her role in hiring the Black DJ staff that included legendary bluesman B.B. King.  Memphis music historian Robert Gordon is quoted in Bob Mehr’s story saying, “Instead of caving in to the racist pressures all around her, she persisted, and we as a city — and also we as blues lovers — all benefitted. Chris Spindel is evidence of how ordinary citizens have the power to change the world.” The story goes on to say, “In 1948, WDIA was still a small struggling outlet, when [co-owner Bert] Ferguson, Spindel and the station’s production head Don Kern decided to take a risk and hire Nat D. Williams, a Black high school history and social studies teacher, to host an afternoon program directed at Memphis’ large Black radio audience. ‘It was an unprecedented thing to do. Although Black people were accepted as entertainers… to put a Black man on the air was actually to empower Black people. They could speak in their own right,’ recalled Spindel. ‘I heard this phrase a lot and I deplore the phrase, “We must keep these people in their place” and their place was not in front of a microphone. It was to be subservient to the white community. But we tried to change that.’”