Round Four of May PPM Survey Results Released. The fourth and final round of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM sweep has been released for 12 markets: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Mike Kinosian presents his “Ratings Takeaways” from these markets. After ballooning by more than four full-shares in April 2021 (5.6 – 9.7, +4.1, 6+), the highest (6+) gain by any station in all 48 PPM markets (March 2021 – April 2021), Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ relinquishes one-half share to 9.2 (6+). Even so, “Wisconsin’s Radio Station” is the solitary mainstream news/talker from these 12 metros to achieve #1 status (May 2021, 6+). Cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WISN “News Talk 1130” forfeits eight-tenths (7.4 – 6.6, fourth to third, 6+). In other head-to-head news/talk battles, iHeartMedia Raleigh’s WTKK “106.1 FM Talk” improves by two-tenths (5.0 – 5.2, seventh to sixth, 6+), while Curtis Media Group-owned WPTF “News Radio 680” gains three-tenths (1.8 – 2.1, #16 to #14, 6+). Nashville’s format share dips a combined seven-tenths: Cumulus Media’s WWTN “Super Talk 99.7” (7.1 – 6.7, third to fourth, 6+) and iHeartMedia-owned WLAC “Talk Radio 1510” 2.2 – 1.9, flat at #17, 6+) drop four-tenths and three-tenths, respectively. At the same that Cumulus Media Providence’s WPRO-AM & WEAN “News Talk 630 AM & 99.7 FM” sheds two-tenths (4.8 – 4.6, sixth to seventh, 6+), cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WHJJ “News Radio 920” improves by that margin (.7 – .9, #21 to #19, 6+). West Palm Beach is a completely mixed bag: iHeartMedia’s WJNO “News Radio 1290” is up one-half share (3.0 – 3.5, ninth to seventh, 6+); cluster-mate WZZR “92.1 Real Radio” surrenders eight-tenths (2.0 – 1.2, #13 to #17, 6+); and Hubbard Broadcasting-owned WFTL “News Talk 850” is flat at 2.0 (steady at #13, 6+). Three Hartford news/talk facilities populate the top 20: Audacy’s WTIC-AM “News Talk 1080” (5.1 – 4.7, -.4, flat at #8, 6+); Red Wolf Broadcasting-owned WDRC-AM “The Talk of Connecticut” (1.0 – .8, -.2, stays at #15); and iHeartMedia’s WPOP “News Radio 1410 AM & 100.9 FM” (unchanged at .2, #18 to #17, 6+). Read Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (and the three previous market groups) here.
Saga Communications Declares A Quarterly Cash Dividend Of $.16 per share. The dividend will be paid in about four weeks (7/16) to shareholders of record on June 30, 2021. It will be funded by cash on the company’s balance sheet. Including this dividend, Saga Communications will have paid over $72 million in dividends to shareholders since the first special dividend nine years ago (2012). Saga currently intends to pay regular quarterly cash dividends as declared by the board of directors. Going forward, the board may also consider declaring special cash dividends, stock dividends, and stock buybacks.
Media Consultant (and TALKERS columnist) Holland Cooke Ties-the-Knot. Moments after filing this week’s TALKERS Monday Memo column, noted media consultant and TV talk show host Holland Cooke was married to his longtime friend, Sarah Collins. The happy couple is pictured at their private ceremony in Key West, Florida. Ms. Collins is a financial analyst and fellow New Englander.
Audacy Expands Crooked Media Partnership. It does so by carrying “Lovett or Leave It” across Audacy original station Channel Q and the LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network. The podcast will be heard each Monday from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm on Channel Q stations in 32 markets and via the Audacy app, effective next week (6/28). “Lovett or Leave It” is hosted by former President Barack Obama’s speechwriter Jon Lovett and features guests that include comedians, actors, journalists, activists, and politicians. Audacy executive vice president of programming Jeff Sottolano remarks, “The show’s quick and witty flair for discussing the most relevant topics surrounding today’s political and pop culture landscapes is what differentiates itself; we look forward to welcoming the show to the Channel Q family.” Crooked Media senior vice president of programming Sandy Girard states the podcast is “where Jon Lovett talks about everything from the most pressing political and social issues to what everyone is bingeing on TV, to the latest trends in scientific advancement – all with his incredibly intelligent and hilarious point of view. We’re so excited to expand our partnership with Audacy to bring ‘Lovett or Leave It’ to even more listeners around the country and to kick it off with our special Pride episode ‘Out of The Closets and Into the Streets.’” Popular “Lovett or Leave It” segments include “The Rant Wheel,” where each guest delivers a prepared rant to a hot cultural topic, and “The High Notes,” where listeners share personal anecdotes about finding optimism in these challenging times. Lovett co-founded progressive media company Crooked Media with Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor in 2017. He co-created the NBC-TV comedy “1600 Penn” and wrote speeches for former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Newsmax Adds Ellis, Gidley. Former senior legal adviser/personal counsel to Donald Trump – Jenna Ellis – and onetime top official in the Trump White House – J. Hogan Gidley – join Newsmax as on-air television contributors. Newsmax chief executive officer Christopher Ruddy comments, “Jenna Ellis brings a sharp mind and pointed legal commentary and constitutional analysis to the workings of our court system as it works to defend our liberties and freedoms. She is a strong addition to our growing lineup. Few know the media, Washington and the future of the GOP better than Hogan Gidley – we’re glad to have him on Newsmax to offer our viewers his valuable insights.” Ellis opines, “Newsmax consistently gives viewers an independent perspective on the news of the day. I look forward to continuing to be part of their coverage and bringing the truth as Americans strive to have their voices heard.” Gidley adds, “I’m extremely grateful to Mr. Ruddy and Newsmax for this new and exciting opportunity. I will draw from my experiences in public service to provide Newsmax viewers my detailed analysis and unvarnished opinion regarding so many difficult issues facing the American people.” Ellis is special counsel with the Thomas More Society and allied attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom. Once the deputy district attorney in Colorado’s Weld County, she hosts a daily podcast, “Just The Truth.” Gidley was deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy White House press secretary in the Trump Administration. In 2020, he joined the Trump re-election campaign as national press secretary. He previously was communications director to Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, senators Elizabeth Dole and Rick Santorum; and was executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party.
Komando To Deliver More Tech Insider Tips. Stemming from an increase in listener demand, Kim Komando will debut a one-minute “Komando Digital Life Tech Tip” in three weeks (7/21). The daily vignette will be offered to stations and streaming services without charge and will carry a 60-second commercial. Komando’s digital insider tips will reportedly include: how to stop robocalls by changing one smartphone setting; ransomware prevention secrets; and the best parental control smartphone apps. Talent management firm Sound Mind’s founder/president Kraig Kitchin comments that Komando – who writes a column for “USA Today” – is “entertaining and helpful; Kim continues to make great radio.” In addition to her weekend three-hour call-in “Kim Komando Show,” which airs on 420 stations (and the American Forces Radio Network) to an estimated 6.5 million listeners, she hosts “Daily Tech Update” seven mornings a week on 389 stations.
TALKERS News Notes: A three-hour CBS Audio Independence Day Special will be available for airing July 2 – 5. Among the topics/guests on the Gil Gross-hosted celebration of America’s Birthday are: Family-safe alternatives to DIY fireworks; behind the scenes of the Capitol Fourth of July Concert with the National Symphony; “The Men Who Lost America” author Andrew O’Shaughnessy on how Great Britain’s bad decision-making helped us win The Revolutionary War; Broadway/TV star Betty Buckley shares her thoughts about “1776, The Musical” reopening with an all-female cast; and Polish General Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s role in winning the war and his attempt to buy Thomas Jefferson’s slaves in order to set them free … Meanwhile, one of three ABC Audio specials to affiliates for use over the July 4th weekend includes ABC News Radio entertainment correspondent Jason Nathanson-hosted “Press Play.” The three-hour special deals with ways Americans are having fun this summer as the country begins to reopen. It explores how people are entertaining themselves through the shows they’re watching, the music they’re listening to, and the activities they’re doing. In addition, “Press Play” highlights America’s most rapidly growing sport—Pickleball—and introduces listeners to some of its biggest fans.
Facebook Establishes Live Audio Rooms. Next steps were revealed yesterday (Monday, 6/21) as Facebook pushes into the social audio and podcasting spaces, taking aim at (among others) Clubhouse, iHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter Spaces. Per an Adweek report, the social media platform is “rolling out Live Audio Rooms on iOS for public figures and select Facebook groups in the United States, as well as making select podcasts available to U.S. listeners.” Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms offer a standard set of features. Event hosts appear in profile icons at the top of the screen; listeners appear in the bottom half as smaller icons. There is no limit on the number of listeners allowed in and as many as 50 people are able to speak at once. In addition to live captions, notifications are made when friends or followers join a room. Facebook will use automated technology and human reviewers to moderate content in Live Audio Rooms. According to CNET, “Users who repeatedly violate Facebook’s rules won’t be allowed to create or speak in a Live Audio Room.” Facebook is building new audio tools for creators to develop and launch “Soundbites,” or short-form audio clips that will launch later this year.
NOW POSTED: New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. The new episode titled “Show Us Your Matzo Balls!” looks back at this past week of April 6-10, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Holland Cooke, media consultant / talk show host, RT America; Rich Zeoli, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Vince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media Group; Matthew B. Harrison, professor of law, Western New England University / associate publisher, TALKERS; Victoria Jones, executive director, the DC Radio Company; and Chad Lopez, president, Red Apple Media. 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; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver “Freedom 93.7”; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA. To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), please click here www.MHWrap.com. 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.
Smash Returns to Air in St. Louis on Suburban Talker. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Joe Holleman reports that on-air pro Asher Benrubi, a.k.a. Smash, is returning to the airwaves in the St. Louis market on Metroplex Communications’ talk station WBGZ-AM, Alton, Illinois. The “Smash Daily” show will air from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Smash was an air staffer at legendary rock outlet KSHE for years but left in the late 2000s to care for his wife, Debbie, who eventually died from breast cancer in 2016. He tells the paper that the opportunity to host a two-hour, interactive show “just seemed like the right place to start.”
Townsquare Media Out of Compliance with NYSE. The company has until the end of September to figure this out and file its 2019 annual report after failing to file the report with the New York Stock Exchange on time. Townsquare Media says that differing opinions by its former and current accounting firms on assessing a non-cash charge for indefinite-lived intangible assets is the root of the problem. The company states, “We continue to work diligently to complete the preparation of our financial statements in order to be in a position to file the Form 10-K with the SEC as soon as possible.”
WIOD, Miami Holds “Share-a-Thon” Fundraiser. This weekend, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WIOD, Miami “Newsradio 610” is holding a 72-hour Share-A-Thon fundraiser to benefit the Miami Rescue Mission/ Broward County Outreach – an organization serving the homeless and the community in need in South Florida. Station program director Grace Blazer says, “In these difficult times when we are asked to stay home it’s fitting for us to help those who don’t have a home. We know money can be a concern for many right now, but we ask our community to make donations starting at one meal which is $2.10.”
Radio Stations Airing Easter Sunday Services. Some of the radio stations planning to air Easter Sunday services include Nexstar’s WGN-AM, Chicago. WGN will broadcast Holy Saturday Easter Vigil and Sunday Easter Mass for Catholics that will originate from Holy Name Cathedral. In Cleveland, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTAM will broadcast a Catholic mass that will be held at the Cathedral of St. John The Evangelist in downtown Cleveland. JVC Media is partnering with Orlando Christian contemporary outlet WPOZ-FM “Z88.3” to broadcast the station’s Stay-at-Home Easter Sunrise Service on country WOTW, Windermere, Florida; country WXUS, Gainesville-Ocala; and news/talk WRCN, Long Island “LI News Radio 103.9FM.”
Entercom Pittsburgh to Hold Radiothon to Benefit Food Bank. On Tuesday (4/14), Entercom’s Pittsburgh radio stations – including news/talk KDKA-AM and sports talk KDKA-FM – are producing the “Feed the Need Radiothon” to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. The radiothon aims to fund 100,000 meals to help displaced workers who are using the emergency drive-up distribution sites as well as food pantries in and around the Pittsburgh region. Entercom Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “Radio serves as a lifeline for local communities and brings them together in times of need. Pittsburghers always come together, and this is no exception. We are looking forward to leveraging our voice to help our friends and neighbors through the ‘Feed the Need Radiothon’ in partnership with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. We hope to do our part and help our community during this pandemic.”
Hubbard Radio West Palm Beach Offering Free Air Time for Local Charities. The West Palm Beach cluster of Hubbard Radio stations is starting the Fight Back Give Back program to help local charities raise awareness and funds during the Covid-19 crisis. To provide charities a voice, the company is committing to donate up to $1,000,000 worth of commercial airtime in April and May to get their messages out on stations including news/talk WFTL and sports talk WMEN “FOX Sports 640.” The company says, “We’re happy to lend our microphone to the organizations that do so much for our community. ‘We’re in this together’ is being widely used right now, but there are no truer words. We hope this opportunity will help the not-for-profit organizations we work with day in and day out, get through this time a little easier.”
Covid-19 Statistics and Projections Top News/Talk Story for Week of April 6-10. The statistics related to confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths and the models projecting future cases and deaths were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the jobless claims and the state of the American economy. Coming in at #3 was the precarious state of the country’s health care system, followed by U.S.-China relations and the controversy over President Trump’s criticism of the World Health Organization 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.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Earlier this week, iHeartMedia’s music radio morning shows – including New York-based “Elvis Duran and The Morning Show” and “The Breakfast Club,” Nashville-based “The Bobby Bones Show” and Los Angeles-based “On Air with Ryan Seacrest” and “Big Boy’s Neighborhood” – extended their on-air time by an hour or more “because of increased listener demand received through daily call-ins and social media feedback during the COVID-19 pandemic.” iHeartMedia chief programming officer Tom Poleman states, “Given the amount of positive feedback our stations were receiving from their listeners, our on-air talent began asking them if they should stay on air longer in the mornings – and the response was incredible. For example, Elvis Duran received more than 65,000 likes and more than 12,000 comments when he asked his social media followers about extending his morning show. This listener feedback, combined with the data we are seeing with our on-demand shows, is a testament to the connection that our radio personalities have with their listeners, and the fact that broadcast radio still holds such a unique place in American culture especially during a time of crisis.”…..Cumulus Media’s KATC-FM, Colorado Springs re-brands as “Cat Country 95.1” and unveils its new lineup that includes “The Cat Country Morning Show with Wendy & Bo” starring Wendy Labree and Bo Jaxon; Michelle Rodriguez in middays; and program director Mike Dylan remaining as PM drive host. Westwood One’s “Nights with Elaina” and “The Blair Garner Show” air in evenings and overnights, respectively. capping the weekday schedule…..New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy game a shout out to the WWPR, New York-based “The Breakfast Club” program for helping encourage an executive order to extend the grace period for insurance payments for those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Murphy said at a press conference, “I got asked for this by some friends of mine at ‘The Breakfast Club’ on 105.1, Charlamagne and DJ Envy and Angela Yee, the other day. And this was in the works – we didn’t have a definitive answer – so I want to give them a shout out for helping give us even more impetus to get this done sooner than later.”…..Classic hits KCMO-FM, Kansas City morning host Kelly Urich is riding his bicycle 100 miles this morning (4/10) to raise money for Harvesters Community Food Network. He challenged his listeners to pledge 50 cents for every mile he rides. Kansas Citians quickly responded, raising more than $6,000 in just a few hours.